My friend and fellow Augie alum State Senator Dan Duffy has cared little for kow-towing to the GOP establishment (or indeed, the General Assembly establishment as a whole) ever since he got to Springfield. I find it pretty refreshing.
True to form, Duffy has publicly expressed his disappointment with the GOP pick to replace State Rep. Mark Beaubien in the 52nd District, whose recent passing left a big hole in the budget acumen of the State House Republicans. It made a certain amount of sense, then, that the pick to replace Beaubien is the state house Republican budget director, Kent Gaffney, 44, of Lake Barrington.
Duffy told the Northwest Herald, however:
“In typical Illinois fashion, the job went to a political insider. Even though many good candidates with outstanding real-world experiences applied for the position, a House Republican staffer was handed the job."
While the McHenry and Lake County Republican leadership held an open recruitment, soliciting resumes and conducting interviews with 10 or so candidates, the ultimate decision was made by State. Rep. Mike Tryon (in his capacity as McHenry County GOP Chairman), Lake County Republican Chairman Bob Cook, and 8th District Central Committeeman Gene Dawson. Tryon and Dawson supported Gaffney, while Cook stated that he would have rather chosen someone who was more active in local politics and had proven electability.
Gaffney told the Daily Herald,
“I used to think you'd have to be crazy to be one of these guys,” Gaffney said of the representatives he worked with. “But as a staffer, you sometimes find yourself understanding the issues better than some of the legislators because you're explaining them to them.”
I don't know Gaffney, and I did not have a particular favorite among the contenders (the Barrington area and the other towns in the 52nd District are a little out of my territory), but I am hopeful that whether its Gaffney or another person who winds up as the GOP candidate in 2012, that we will keep this seat.