Yours truly emcee'd the event, which kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance by my friend Circuit Court Judge Daniel B. Shanes. I noted in my opening remarks that the event was one of our regular "Leadership Council" breakfasts, which are a complimentary thank-you to the Federation's top donors - Our Gold, Silver and Bronze Circle donors. I didn't really need to sell those in attendance on the mission of the Federation, but I took a minute to note that the funds raised by the Federation allow us to to staff and maintain a professional, full-time headquarters, that is accessible for meetings, candidate support, voter outreach and provides a base of operations, in addition to financial and project support to the Republican Central Committee.
I then provided a brief update on Senator Mark Kirk's condition, and Lake County Republican Chairman Bob Cook provided the customary recognition of elected officials and candidates (although in a room full of candidates, Bob joked that it might be simpler if he just introduced those few who did not seem to be running for something!) We then we got right into the program.
The format of the breakfast was a candidate forum in which we asked each of the candidates to come up and give a 3-4 minute talk on themselves and why they felt each was the best candidate for his or her office. A brief Q&A session followed each set of candidates. Almost all of the candidates attended, including:
State's Attorney Candidates: Louise Hayes, Mike Nerheim and Bryan Winter
Coroner Candidate: Steve Newton
Circuit Court Court Clerk Candidates: Keith Brin and Jerry Dietz
Record of Deeds Candidates: Bob Bednar and Marty Blumenthal
One of the other points I made in my comments was on the value of primaries. While most candidates (maybe all of them) really dislike (hate?) them and really wish they had no opponent, primaries can serve very important purposes in that they give us, the voters, a real choice among candidates who share our values and philosophy, to enable us to make individual decisions about who we feel is the best candidate.
On the candidate side, it tends to make people work harder, earlier, raise money and refine their skills and message. While it can be expensive and demanding, by and large, the winners of primaries tend to emerge battle tested and in a better position to take on the Democratic nominee. Above all, primaries need not be destructive, if conducted with honor and professionalism, and if we call pledge to come together after the race to support the successful nominee against their Democrat counterpart in the fall general election.
Based on the enthusiasm in the room and the quality of our GOP candidates for office, I have no doubt in my mind that if the Republicans can get their message out, we will enjoy great success at the polls come this November.
So, as you have come to expect, here are the pix:
County Board Candidate Jeff Werfel, Coroner Candidate Steve Newton and County Board Candidate Scott Helton
Everyone had a great time chatting, networking and noshing.
County Board Chairman David Stolman and former Lt. Governor Corrine Wood.
Circuit Court Clerk Candidates Jerry Dietz and Keith Brin take questions after their presentations.