Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GOP Scores Big Convert In Paul Vallas

A leader among leaders in the effort to bring about real reform of education in this country and a life-long Democrat is switching party allegiance in his home state of Illinois to run as a Republican for Cook County Board President in 2010 according to the Sun-Times Carol Marin. Marin writes of Paul Vallas' decision to switch parties and run on the GOP ticket:

The speed-talking, reform-minded maverick who was CEO of Chicago Public Schools under Mayor Daley, then lost the 2002 gubernatorial primary to Rod Blagojevich by just 25,000 votes, went on to make a national name rescuing school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans.

Now, he told the Chicago Sun-Times, he is coming home for good at the end of the year to run for president of the Cook County Board in 2010.

Not as a Democrat, which he has been all his life, but as a Republican.

When I worked for the Illinois legislature back in the 1980s, Vallas served as Director of the Economic & Fiscal Commission. He knew more about state government than any guy I ever met in government and was a true watchdog for the taxpayers. Vallas later served as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's Director of Department of Revenue and then became CEO of the Chicago public schools after the legislature handed oversight of the schools to the Mayor's Office. Vallas made a lot of progress in improving the school system but was thwarted in his efforts by community organizers, including then-State Sen. Barack Obama and his terrorist pal, William Ayers. Frustrated, Vallas moved on to Philadelphia where he won praise from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendel, a former mayor of Philadelphia and past DNC Chairman. Vallas is currently working with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jendal in rebuilding the New Orleans school system. Vallas ran a very close race for the Democratic nomination for governor in Illinois in 2002 but lost to the machine-backed candidate, Rod Blagojevich.

The GOP's ability to convince Vallas to switch political parties and run as a Republican in what is one of the biggest Democratic counties in the nation and home to President Barack Obama is quite a feat. No Republican has been elected to the office of Cook County Board President since former Gov. Richard Ogilvie was elected to that post nearly 50 years ago. Marin's story notes that Obama's planning committee for last year's Democratic convention in Denver tried to get Vallas as a speaker but he turned them down. Shortly before the November presidential election, Vallas spoke out publicly about the failed efforts of Obama and Ayers in reforming Chicago's public schools through nearly $50 million in funding from the Annenberg Foundation. "There was a total lack of accountability. If you went back and asked, you'd be hard-pressed to find out how the money was spent," said Paul Vallas, the city's school superintendent when Obama chaired the Chicago Annenberg Foundation from 1995 to 1999. "Very little of the money found its way directly into the classroom," Vallas said. Most frustrating, Vallas said, was that Annenberg under Obama and Ayers funded groups that fought his mission, under Mayor Richard Daley, to impose uniform standards and stricter accountability in low-performing schools.


Sir Hailstone said...

Two Words: Ed Vrdolyak

Gary R. Welsh said...

Not a fair comparison at all. Vrdolyak was a crooked self-dealing alderman who had burned out after losing the council wars with Harold Washington. He brought a lot of negative baggage and little else with him when he switched parties. Vallas' public record is stellar, and he's never been accused of any self-dealing. The Democrats will have a tough time attacking him when you take a look at all of the favorable things they've had to say about him over the years. If the Dems plan to run Stroger again, Vallas has a decent shot.

Sir Hailstone said...

I found this bit and it really sums up the situation as I see it. Paul Vallas is using an unused spot on a general election ballot knowing he has no chance in hell of knocking off Stroger Jr in a Dem primary:

"Paul Vallas is NOT converting to the Republican Party. Vallas is simply leveraging the party for the sake of his political expediency."

We need to distinguish between people who switch to the Republican for ideological reasons, and people who switch because it's political expedient for them to do so (in most cases because having an "R" next to their name is the only way they are likely to get on the ballot for the general election)

We should welcome former Democrats who join the GOP in good faith because they are no longer comfortable with the RAT agenda. This is especially true if voted their convictions for conservative items when they were in the RAT party, and that they butted heads with the RAT party leaders and were constantly under fire by their party and disliked/distrusted/hated by the rank and file Dems. In many cases such individuals were forced from the RAT party and far from "helping" their political ambitions, becoming a Republican actually makes it harder for them to win election (like Reagan converting in '62 followed by the RAT party landslide in California in '64). Examples include Ronald Reagan, Phil Gramm, Virgil Goode, and Norm Coleman (I don't count LIEberman since he was purged from the RAT over a single issue, and then went crawling back to them anyway and continues to caucus with the socialists as a so-called "independent")

However, we should shun those who casually toss an "R" next to their name on the ballot in a random election cycle solely because they stand little chance of winning the RAT nomination for the office due to a crowded primary field of bigger name Democrats in the race. This is especially true if they've always gotten along with the RAT Party leaders in the last, and spent their careers happily advancing RAT policies and RAT politicians without question. These people are NOT "becoming Republicans", they are using the GOP as a vehicle to get into a new office and will abandon any "loyalty" to the GOP at their earliest convenience. Examples include Michael Bloomberg, Arlen Specter, John N. Kennedy (the RAT state treasurer of Louisiana, not the former President), and now Daley stooge/Chicago Machine yes-man Paul Vallas.

Will we make the same mistake with Vallas and "get behind" him in the primary, like our RINO leadership seems intent on doing -- simply because he's a "big name" candidate who is putting an "R" next to his name on the ballot?

Vallas is even worse than Kennedy. He did not run as a "moderate Democrat" when he opposed Blago in the RAT primary for Governor, he ran as a LIBERAL Democrat. He got where he is by being appointed by Daley. His office, Chicago Public Schools CEO, is notoriously once of the poorest run political institutions in the nation. He and Arne Duncan have nothing to be proud of.

Granted, we don't have many good options here. Crook County has over 5 million people and I think we would be the 18th largest state in the nation or something if it were its own state. Like most urban areas it is overwhelmingly Dem and the lack of Republicans here directly led to the statewide downfall of the GOP. We're not going to get a Republican mayor of Chicago any time soon so the only option is County Board Chairman Vallas, if elected "Republican" Chairman (technically Cook County Board President, as the county leader has far more powers than the chairs of other countries), would be Chicago's version of NY's Bloomberg and LA's Riordan.

The other choice is running the McCain-like Tony Percica again (being that he's 70-80% conservative and is pro-life, pro-family, anti-tax-and-spend, etc., but he's also a huge backstabber who has made tons of conservative enemies along the way). At least Peracia is anti-combine, but the fact he helped Topinka win the nomination for Governor makes it hard for me to stomach him in the primary. Vallas vs. Pericia....ugh not a fun choice.

Then there's State Senator Matt Murphy. There's a good choice -- beat a RINO in the primary, one of the FEW Republicans to buck the trend and win election to an open senate seat in 2006 (granted, in one of the most Republican parts of Cook County), smart, charismatic, excellent track record, integrity. The problem is he'd face a huge uphill battle trying to get elected President of an overwhelmingly (70%+) RAT county, and running him for this office would end the possibility of running for State Treasurer in 2010, an office he'd probably win and be better suited for (an excellent suggestion from Phil Collins)

So I will never support RINO Paul Vallas in the primary, but I'm torn. I really fear we will never win Crook County. Last time around the Dems ran the worst candidate ever, Todd "Urkel" Stroger, and he still managed to get in via huge vote fraud and massive black turnout, even though Percia won about 15 out of 50 wards in Chicago (compared to Bush's 1 of out 50, and McCain's 0 out of 50). If we can't defeat a pathetic joke like Stroger, who can we beat?