The Illinois field in the race for Governor is getting more applicants than American Idol. I'm no Randy Jackson, much less Ellen, but I like what I see.
Dan Proft is the only candidate with any real ideas - especially about education and how to get genuine ( Vouchers!)reform to our public schools -but Dan has fewer nickels in his jeans than your humble correspondent at the end of the pay cycle. Dan Proft welcomed one of the nicest guys in civic and public life into the hooley - Andy McKenna, Jr.
I met Andy McKenna years ago, when he served on a school board of directors. Mr. McKenna is tough, sharp, no-nonsense, good humored and as chatty as Speaker Mike Madigan. Andy McKenna operates on consensus, but does not dither. He will strike boldly.
Dan Proft grabs large issues and Gigantic political opposition by the belt, pulls the fight in close, tosses his forehead into the chest and pounds the short ribs until the bigger foe can no longer breathe - no breathe/no fight.
Yesterday, the sweet-natured but tough gutted Andy McKenna got a taste of Proft from the bell:
"We can nominate a candidate beholden to a small group of affluent political insiders who give money to both parties. They win when Republicans get elected; they win when Democrats get elected. Either way, you lose.
"Or we can nominate a candidate willing to take the fight to the establishment politicians of both parties, those who are concerned only with peddling influence and dividing up other people’s money.
"I am the only candidate willing to make a clean break from our ignominious past; to hold cynical Chicago Democrats and complicit Republicans accountable for what has happened on their watch; and to chart a future focused on expanding opportunity for people who play by the rules in Illinois.
"The McKenna family has donated thousands of dollars to Chicago Democrats, including Mike Madigan, Lisa Madigan, Dan Hynes, and Dick Durbin. They have also donated thousands of dollars to Republicans and the Illinois Republican Party.
"They hedge their bets, because they are interested in self-preservation. Mr. McKenna has taken indicted Springfield powerbroker Bill Cellini’s infamous ethos to heart, ‘When we're in, we're in, and when you're in, we're in. We're always in.’
"Who’s the ‘we’? I suggest you ask Andy McKenna. But the ‘we’ sure doesn’t include rank-and-file Republican primary voters.
"We have been down this road so many times as a party. Every time we allow the bipartisan combine to select our candidates, we run into a dead end. We cannot make the same mistake again if we want to not only win elections, but also bring about the system-change reform required to make Illinois economically viable. We cannot hope to un-fix Illinois before we un-fix our own party.
"As State Senator Matt Murphy, the other half of ‘Team Status Quo,’ said just a few weeks ago, ‘People are looking for a new face to take us in a new direction, especially on the Republican side…They want to see somebody who can represent a clean break from the past.’
"Sen. Murphy is right. And that is why Andy McKenna is absolutely the wrong candidate to lead our party and lead this state."
I got a feeling here at ringside that we are going to see Dan Proft hammer away at Andy's short ribs round after round.
Now, here's the deal. If Jim Tyree had Andy's money and access to money, he'd toss his coin away. The dough is the stuff that keeps Ow-ees, cuts bruises and bumps from doing too much damage. Unlike Tomato-Candidates, Andy McKenna can devalue time and go round after round with Dan Proft. More importantly, Andy McKenna has a crowd of talented folks in his corner - he has an organization - troops. Andy McKenna has a Notre Dame sense of the field. Yet again and unlike Charlie Weiss, Dan Proft can read a clock and knows that what moves the arms on the tick-tock is the Dough Ray Me!
This just might be the GOP's year - Gov. Quinn got the backing of the Cook County Democratic Leadership, an endorsement from the Purple People Eaters of SEIU and is in a pillow fight with Dan Hynes. That should be gravy for the GOP and Dan Proft just might be the guy to keep them focused and keep the GOP from blowing their toes off - as is their wont. Dog! Yo! - make sure that Judy is out grabbing a smoke during the bouts, Dan.
This brawl might end up with Andy McKenna getting the big belt for Governor. I expect to see Dan Proft holding up Andy McKenna's arm with one hand and swinging the other one like a saloon door on payday in the role of Lt. Governor. This will be Dempsey v.Tunney *1926 all over.
Dan Proft will propbably come over to my 'Hood and flatten my tires for saying that: I would expect no less from a guy who is in the race to win. Andy, Proft can do the hard hitting.
*In his autobiography, Dempsey conceded that he forgot all about the rule: "It's hard to stop what you're doing, standing over a guy and waiting for him to get up."
Tunney, who floored Dempsey briefly in the ninth round, won the 10-round fight and retained the title he had won from Dempsey the year earlier.