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The "New Look" G.O.P.

  Perhaps viewers saw during the republican gubernatorial debate what political reporters have taken note of at most of the other events involving the seven candidates:  There was virtually no discussion of abortion, gay marriage, school prayer, gun rights and those other social issues so dear to the far right wing of the Illinois Republican party.

  Could it be that the G.O.P. finally "gets it" and understands that its candidates for statewide office are better off not being publicly "cornered" into taking positions on matters actually beyond the control of the governor's office?   

  One reason there are no statewide republican officeholders in Illinois is because in recent elections, right wing pressure in primaries has forced the party's candidates into positions that have made them unelectable against democrats in general elections.

  During the ABC7 debate and at other events, the republicans have used their promises to cut spending and not to increase taxes as the tests of their conservatism.  The burning question for primary voters has become which candidate can do the best job selling those promises in the fall and keeping them should he be elected governor. 

  When they attack each other it's to point out "baggage" that might bog down one opponent or another against the democratic nominee, such as Jim Ryan's relationship to Rezko co-schemer Stuart Levine, Andy McKenna's connections to the political establishment, Senators Brady and Dillard's voting records and so forth.

   The attacks and counterattacks at some of the other forums have been downright nasty.  As Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Pearson noted, the ABC7 debate was "civil and sane" by comparison. 

  And again, no mention of those "issues" .


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