By Jennifer Nevins -
The Illinois GOP has a rocky path back to higher electoral ground in 2020. And so, it might help if the Party’s leadership hobbled over to the side of the road and ejected the most annoying rock in its shoe.
Consider a portion of a recent tweet issued by disgraced former IL GOP Chairman Pat Brady:
Stupid is as stupid does. Looking for someone to support for President in 2020 as it won’t be this goof.
The “goof,” of course, is the President – for whom over two million of us fellow goofs voted in 2016.
After receiving a barrage of pushback, Mr. Brady followed up with this:
Trump cost us 2 congressional seats and as many as 4 house seats last election. I think my focus is correct.
Geez Saint Louise.
The 2020 electoral bloodbath-in the minds of Pat Brady and others like him- has precious little to do with poorly run campaigns from entrenched candidates unwilling or unable to effectively combat their extremist opponents. Nor do the defeats have anything to do with muddled messaging directed towards changing local demographics. And the demoralized Republican base we have all heard about? Forget about it. That is simply a nasty rumor spread by sore Jeanne Ives' fanatics.
A whole lot of ink would have to be spilled in order to properly enumerate all of the ways Brady’s pinning of the blame on Trump doesn’t hold water. So let’s consider just one example. In 2016, Congressional District 14 Representative Randy Hultgren-after some initial hesitation- publicly announced that he was “proud” to cast his vote for Trump.
He went on to win the race.
Fast forward to 2018. In the race’s waning days, he – like Peter Roskam – sought to put as much daylight possible between him and Trump-his reluctant appearance at a Trump rally notwithstanding.
He went on to lose the race.
To hear the ex-Chairman tell it, voters accepted Hultgren’s support for Donald Trump on the heels of a rollicking campaign filled with colorful language and personal peccadillos. In 2018, voters rejected Hultgren’s support for Donald Trump on the heels of a string of executive policies that resulted in one of the healthiest economies the nation has ever had.
Frankly, this rationale is so addled, I’m not convinced it even makes sense to Brady. Then again-logical thought is quite beside the point for all bitter, envy riddled political has-beens who sit on the cusp of irrelevance.
It’s not as if the Party has not faced similarly terrible losses before-and it’s not as if Brady hasn’t come up with similarly stupid solutions to the problem. In 2013 – toward the end of his tenure as Party Chairman- Brady refused to ascribe the 2012 losses to their true primary source: widespread gerrymandering. He instead put the losses down to social conservatism and urged the Republicans in the statehouse to embrace pro-same sex marriage legislation. This caused a damaging party rift.
(Pat Brady subsequently resigned amid the fallout-although you wouldn’t know this from his brazen commandeering of whatever stage or microphone misguided Republicans or the media continues to offer him.)
Undaunted, in 2016 he was back at it again, as he was allowed,-without proper standing- to propose a revamp of the party platform to remove the marriage plank. As everyone knows, the measure was soundly defeated and he retreated to his St. Charles domicile with his ACLU-funded tail between his legs.
The result of his progressive crusading? A further divided party too engaged in internecine warfare to focus on winning races. It is not an exaggeration to say that Pat Brady the failed Party operative is like a barge captain who after ramming into a bridge, hollers from the shore about how to repair it.
So how do we regain a piece of the ground we lost in 2018? Simply put, by fixing the mistakes of the past: savvy campaigning, better messaging, and perhaps most importantly-outreach to private union members whose economic self- interest makes them ripe for a strong commitment to border security and businesses. Ironically, President Trump showed us the way forward as he captured more union votes than any Republican candidate since Reagan in 1984.
Perhaps the problem here is that it is precisely Trump who set the best example of what to do. One gets the feeling that Trump could offer Illinois a sack of Congressional seats and Brady would refuse them simply because it was Trump that was holding the bag.
Despite the division he has sown – both in the past and in the present – Pat Brady is still given a platform among respectable people. He still speaks at Republican fundraisers. GOP leaders still take his calls.
The question is this: Will they still take his advice?