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Illinois Conservative Summit, Full Report

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
September 4, 2009

As mentioned in the earlier post, I was invited to cover the Illinois Conservative Summit sponsored by the United Republican Fund of Illinois.

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The URF is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and is Illinois’ oldest, independent, conservative GOP organization. The URF’s charge is to advance conservative policies and principles by supporting candidates that will advance limited government, individual rights, free enterprise, and traditional values.

Today’s forum is a Q and A session with six Republican candidates for governor where a set of four fixed questions and one candidate specific question was asked each candidate. Each candidate got 20 minutes for the whole session and were warned that they’d be cut off if they tried to filibuster. At the end a 9-question “lightening round” where the candidates were to offer short answers was given each candidate. I have to say that only one candidate came close to going over and even he had basically answered all the questions etc. so all the candidates were kind enough to stay within the 20 minutes time span (Only Kirk Dillard went on long enough during his opening statements that he wasn’t able to answer all the “lightening round” questions). The candidates were presented in alphabetical order.

**Straw Poll Results at the end of this report**

Among those in the Audience were several GOP notables some of whom were:

… and many others that I am sure I missed (and apologies for that).

The program opened up with a few words by U.S. Representative Peter Roskam. He had an amusing take on how everyone in Congress reacted when the CBO reported how much Obamacare would cost. He had a story about what it was like as he sat in session with the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures as an example of how the news was received. Roskam said that when the CBO reported that Obamacare would cost over a trillion dollars “the air left the room.” He went on to joke, “I was almost… almost… ready to feel sorry for the Democrats” over the wild spending that Obamacare would force on the nation. Roskam felt that we Republicans need to keep these issues at the front as we have a nation just now ready for our message.

After a few words by Steve Rauschenberger of the URF and Roskam, WIND AM talk show host Cisco Cotto took over as the host for the event. And so, here are my notes on the Q and A session with the candidates.


The Candidates:

(Note: the following is generally my summation of the candidate’s replies in my words. The candidate’s words will be in quotes. Also, I missed a few questions here and there, so apologies for that. It was a lot to take in, for sure and I am no shorthand expert!)



Adam Andrzejewski

Campaign Website

Opening statement

America’s dreams are under attack because we haven’t done enough to protect those dreams. “I don’t have Springfield experience, I am running against it.” Adam has a long history of fiscal responsible policies for government and has worked for transparency with his organization For The Good of Illinois.

What would you do to improve the dismal fiscal situation in the state?

If the GOP raises taxes we will be out of it for a generation. I will not raise taxes with spending cuts and efficiencies in government. I’ll audit the state. We can save 3 to 5 billion. I’ll follow the balanced budget clause, no gambling expansion.

How will you create jobs if you become governor?

Trial attorneys need to be brought to bear and worker’s comp needs to be reformed. Companies get away without paying into worker’s comp and Attny Gen Lisa Madigan isn’t prosecuting them. We need sunlight in union contracts as well. After this reform we will be the magnate of America for job growth.

What is your plan for education?

Financial transparency for school funding. Bust the cap on charter schools. School funding should be on a per child basis with the eventual model of vouchers for the money to follow the kids. Private schools should be supported and charter schools encouraged.

What will you do to end culture of corruption and put integrity back in government?

Adopt Jindal’s standard. Candidates must post income tax returns. No immediate family members can take gov’t contract or a gov’t position.

Closing statements

“This race is a battle for the heart and soul of our party.” Real reform, cut spending, create efficiencies, shared sacrifice that defends the tax payer. We are just on the verge of the economic spiral of Michigan and we need reform that will halt that. “I have no political baggage. I am an outsider without Springfield experience.”

  • Do you support civil unions or gay marriage in the state?= Against
  • Would you support a constitutional amendment to sanctify male/female marriage?= Support
  • Would you make Illinois a right to work state?= Support
  • Do you Support state funding for stem cell research?= Against
  • Are you for allowing sanctuary cities in Illinois?= Against
  • Are you for the moratorium on executions?= End it
  • Do you support the extension of gambling?= Against
  • Do you support the freedom of choice act?= Against
  • Are you for concealed carry permits?= Support


Bill Brady

Campaign Website

Opening statement

I have a good business background and long service in state gov’t. We are hurting from poor fiscal policy and “as a business man with political experience” I am ready to fix it. I am also a social conservative protecting innocent human life and traditional marriage.

What would you do to improve the dismal fiscal situation in the state?

We need to cut fees for business. Cut spending. We need to look at every area of the state budget. “Ill gov’t needs to learn to do with less” just like everyone in the voting public. Refinance the debt.

How will you create jobs if you become governor?

“I’m not going to create jobs, I’m going to create the environment to bring business into Illinois.” We have got to make Ill a competitive place to live and work. We’ve chased people out of the state and we need to make Ill. A job destination state. We can’t rely on gaming.

What is your plan for education?

I have voted for a voucher system in Chicago. We rely too heavily on property taxes. Shift funding from property taxes to general funds. Parental choice, tax credits, charter schools are included in my reform ideas.

What will you do to end culture of corruption and put integrity back in government?

We need to elect honest people. Some laws need to be changed. Eliminate pay to play. Adopt federal limit on campaign contributions. Redistricting is a most corrupting force, so we need to reform that away from the political process and more on a mechanical process.

What have you led the way on?

I am a strong advocate for NOT relying on raising taxes. Improve the economy and that will “raise all boats.”

Closing statements

We need a leader who can turn this state around. Time for downstate to be more influential. Sick of Chicago running the show.

  • Do you support civil unions or gay marriage in the state?= Against
  • Would you support a constitutional amendment to sanctify male/female marriage?= Support
  • Would you make Illinois a right to work state?= Support
  • Do you Support state funding for stem cell research?= Against
  • Are you for allowing sanctuary cities in Illinois?= Against
  • Are you for the moratorium on executions?= Against moratorium
  • Do you support the extension of gambling?= Against
  • Do you support the freedom of choice act?= Against
  • Are you for concealed carry permits?= Support


Kirk Dillard

Campaign Website

Opening statement

“I represent a 15-year record of mainstream conservatism.” Senator Chris Lauzen and I are the only conservative lights in Springfield. Longtime chairman of the conservative legislators association. I support tort reform. I passed the “choose life” license plates. I am for abstinence education funding. I’d like to see hospitals to have religious services for disposal of fetal tissues instead of treating them as simple garbage. I am active in the Thomas Moore Center. I am for limited government. Lift regulations to spur new business and jobs to come to Illinois. I believe in Reagan’s model of inclusive conservatism and I believe in Reagan’s 11th commandment. We need to get rid of the “junk yard dog” style of campaigning against our fellows (referring to candidate Dan Proft). No tax increases and as Jim Edgar’s staffer I downsized government. “We eliminated debt without a tax increase.” I am against gambling and was not a supporter of video poker expansion. Eliminate sales tax on gas. I supported and pushed HB35 that puts state salaries, contracts, etc. on the internet for fiscal transparency.

What would you do to improve the dismal fiscal situation in the state?

We need to make Ill. a “destination economy.” Medicaid is the state’s largest expense. Will work to eliminate the 10% of Medicaid that is fraudulent to save $. Review every program in the budget for cuts. Just 1/3 of the Dems new spending eliminated would save several billion. Go thru the state budget and cut funding without a tax increase.

What is your plan for education?

Ron Gidwitz is my chairman and he and I will have a summit on the education budget to revamp it and reform it.

You were in a campaign commercial for Obama, how can conservatives trust you are on their side?

I did not endorse Obama, but I was in a campaign commercial. That ad was about ethics, not support of Obama. I co sponsored an ethics reform bill with Obama and I was supporting him in the fact that he took heat from his own people on his own support of that bill. It was not an endorsement of Obama but an endorsement of his stance on that ethics bill.

  • Do you support civil unions or gay marriage in the state?= Against
  • Would you support a constitutional amendment to sanctify male/female marriage?= Support
  • Would you make Illinois a right to work state?= Perhaps, but it isn’t realistic due to the strength of unions in Ill.
  • Do you Support state funding for stem cell research?= Against
  • Are you for allowing sanctuary cities in Illinois?= No benefits for non-residents
  • Are you for the moratorium on executions?= Time Ran Out
  • Do you support the extension of gambling?= Time Ran Out
  • Do you support the freedom of choice act?= Time Ran Out
  • Are you for concealed carry permits?= Time Ran Out


Matt Murphy

Campaign Website

Opening statement

“We have a tremendous opportunity to take the mansion back, but we’ll win it on our values.” Jobs and corruption will be the center piece issues. We need to differentiate ourselves from the Dems and if we don’t we will lose. I have never voted for a tax hike. People are looking for outsiders, a break from the past. Jobs and corruption are the issues. We need to bring the citizens that left back to the state.

What would you do to improve the dismal fiscal situation in the state?

“We cannot raise taxes, period.” Ill. is one of 7 states with fewer jobs now then 10 years ago so a tax increase would doom us. On pensions, we need to stop making promises we can’t keep. Eliminate a corp. income tax and keep spending raises at the rate of inflation. Worker’s comp, tort reform and Medicaid reform is a must.

How will you create jobs if you become governor?

“If you don’t fundamentally understand that the American businessman is what drives the country you can’t succeed.” We need to tell the job creators that we support them.

What is your plan for education?

We need competition in schooling. Expand charter schools. In chronically failing areas I’d implement a pilot voucher program. We are spending $12,000 per pupil now and grades and test scores are falling, this shows that what we are doing now is failing.

What will you do to end culture of corruption and put integrity back in government?

“The first thing I would do is not steal anything! Point one in the platform is I won’t go to jail and my wife said she won’t eat bugs on TV.” The problem in the state is that we crush business on one hand and then embarrass citizens for living here by our political corruption and this has to end.

Since you are a lawyer, how do you feel on tort reform?

I had the highest record of voting for tort reform and against trial lawyers in the state senate. “One of the reasons we suffer from diminished opportunity is because of our out of balance tort system.” I recognize the importance of tort reform and have a record to back it up.

  • Do you support civil unions or gay marriage in the state?= Against
  • Would you support a constitutional amendment to sanctify male/female marriage?= Support
  • Would you make Illinois a right to work state?= He’d have to consider that
  • Do you Support state funding for stem cell research?= Against
  • Are you for allowing sanctuary cities in Illinois?= Against
  • Are you for the moratorium on executions?= Support death penalty, but we need safeguards for its use
  • Do you support the extension of gambling?= Licenses are too close to places of general population. After time reverse suburban licenses change locations so that leisure gambling happens by tourists
  • Do you support the freedom of choice act?= (wasn’t sure of the act) he’s pro-life
  • Are you for concealed carry permits?= Support


Dan Proft

Campaign Website

Opening statement

I’ve run campaigns, Operation Homefront Illinois, business, and been involved in local and state government. “But this election is about who is going to take the fight to the Democrats and who will present a clear, conservative program that will bring business back to the state.” Also “we need to speak with moral clarity and speak with honesty to propose big system changes.” That is what I offer.

What would you do to improve the dismal fiscal situation in the state?

“Opposing tax increases is a beginning, not an end,” Mike Madigan is the real governor. The end is making Ill. a growth state. We need to cut taxes, 50% cuts in corporate and income taxes both. One time cuts on spending doesn’t cut it. We need to have constant statutory spending caps. I’d support “population growth plus inflation spending hikes” and no more. “State government isn’t broken, it’s fixed… the fix is in” with Democrat corrupt. Going forward on pensions we have to increase retirement age and end practice of spiking and double dipping in the pension system.

How will you create jobs if you become governor?

Ill. is the 13th largest economy in the world. We are competing against the world, not just surrounding states. Slow the rate of spending growth, lower taxes, improve friendliness to business. We need worker’s comp, tort reform as well.

What is your plan for education?

K-12 spent 32% more and stats are declining. Change how money flows into education. We are sponsoring the “death of civilization” by not educating our kids properly. I support send a check to parents for the full amount of what the state spends on their kids for education if they qualify for federal free or reduced lunch program support. This way parents can chose their own schools. Money should follow the student.

What will you do to end culture of corruption and put integrity back in government?

I will improve our reputation by “just being myself.” No laws will help stop corruption. We need to vote for politicians that are not corrupt in the first place. We have a gov’t that is too big and handing out goodies to people and that is where the corruption stems from. “The policy side” is the real focus to change the culture of corruption. Make gov’t smaller, dump regulations, and tighten gov’t and this will make corruption less prevalent.

Closing statements

People think that a new governor will fix everything, but it is not an HR management problem, it’s policy. Our government has systemic problems not just who is in the guv’s mansion. Our pols have got the policy choices wrong. “We need to advance the flag, not just wave it. You have to build non-traditional coalitions” to support better policy.

  • Do you support civil unions or gay marriage in the state?= Against
  • Would you support a constitutional amendment to sanctify male/female marriage?= Supports DOMA, but against a const. amendment
  • Would you make Illinois a right to work state?= Against
  • Do you Support state funding for stem cell research?= Against
  • Are you for allowing sanctuary cities in Illinois?= Against
  • Are you for the moratorium on executions?= Opposes the death penalty completely and is also against the moratorium, says it’s a cop out
  • Do you support the extension of gambling?= Against
  • Do you support the freedom of choice act?= Against
  • Are you for concealed carry permits?= See Below

**UPDATE**

Dan Proft has emailed me the following correction on his answer to the right to carry:

You misreported my answer w/r/t right to carry. I am sure I answered in support of right to carry/concealed carry. I am a lifetime member of the NRA and someone who has been outspoken for right to carry for many years, including in published work.

I know the format of the questions tended to be confusing so people could have honestly misheard/misunderstood the answer to a particular question in the “lightning round”. I would appreciate it if you could make and note this correction.

I have since found an audio clip of the entire event and here are Mr. Proft’s exact words during that segment.

“I support the right to carry”

So, with my sincere apologies, I offer this correction.



Bob Schillerstrom

Campaign Website

Opening statement

If we come together we can elect Republicans. Illinois is not working. The Dems have had their opportunity and it’s clearly not working. “Everyone I’ve spoken to has said Ill. Gov’t has let them down.” We need to make Ill. a place of opportunity but our state gov’t has let us down. I am the only one that has run a fiscally conservative gov’t in DuPage county, a county that is bigger than six states. I’ve held the line in spending. I agree with Indian Gov. Mitch Daniels that said state gov’t revenues are not coming back we need a governor that knows how to run a big gov’t, change the way we do business and hold the fiscal line. I have that record.

What would you do to improve the dismal fiscal situation in the state?

I am opposed to a tax increase because simply raising taxes “is the easy way out.” We have to change the way business is done. We can’t afford to continually enlarge programs. “We can’t afford the Mercedes pension plan.” We have to draw a line in the sand and make pensions less for new employees from this point forward.

How will you create jobs if you become governor?

“I would no longer use the word business as a dirty word.” We need to create a fresh business environment. Cut regulations and taxes. A partnership with business to find what they want the state to do to help them grow. Transportation goes thru this state, all roads lead through Illinois and we have the busiest airport in the world. “We have everything but the leadership to entice business.”

What is your plan for education?

“We have to remember education is for the children not the employees and teachers.” We ned a comprehensive revamp of the school code. Our code has been patched together and it doesn’t work for children. Throwing money at it doesn’t work.

What will you do to end culture of corruption and put integrity back in government?

We have to be responsive and responsible. “We need leaders that make difficult decisions.” We can’t over spend every year. More transparency is a must. We need to do on a state level what we did in DuPage county.

Closing statements

I am not in favor of increasing gas tax. I am very opposed to video poker. It’s bad for Ill. Families. Our county board opposes video poker. I say that the state should cut the budget not look for new sources of revenue. There’s a lot of things that can be cut. “We have a great Republican laboratory in DuPage” and this shows that I can make that happen in the whole state.

  • Do you support civil unions or gay marriage in the state?= Against
  • Would you support a constitutional amendment to sanctify male/female marriage?= Support
  • Would you make Illinois a right to work state?= Support
  • Do you Support state funding for stem cell research?= Stem cell research is very important for many, many reasons. (Apparently he supports funding)
  • Are you for allowing sanctuary cities in Illinois?= Against
  • Are you for the moratorium on executions?= Supporter of the death penalty, against the moratorium
  • Do you support the extension of gambling?= Against
  • Do you support the freedom of choice act?= Personally opposed to abortion, but the country isn’t ready for a ban. For the woman’s choice. Supports a ban on partial birth abortion.
  • Are you for concealed carry permits?= Against

And thus ended the candidate section of the program.

Here Republican National Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte spoke, but I was out of the room and missed her address of what she planned to do as our GOP representative to the national party organization.

The URF folks also wanted to let everyone know that on Oct. 22nd Michelle Malkin will appear at their 75th anniversary celebration event.

Straw Poll Results.

  1. Winner: Adam Andrzejewski- 116 votes
  2. Matt Murphy- 107
  3. Dan Proft- 96
  4. Kirk Dillard- 76
  5. Bill Brady- 46
  6. Bob Schillerstrom- 21

It is interesting to note that two of the the three top vote getters were the political outsiders. Andrzejewski is new to politics, and Murphy is a state senator and not a widely known party member in the state, and Dan Proft is not an elected official but is better known as a political commentator.

I want to thank Dennis LaComb of the URF for arranging my seat at this wonderful forum.

Comments are closed.

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