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Meeks/Brady Blockbuster?

"Every idea that republicans have ain't bad...every idea that democrats have ain't good"

  So spoke the Reverend Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago) as he stood alongside republican candidate for governor Senator Bill Brady on the proposed southside site of a WalMart Supercenter.  Later, Meeks took Brady on a tour of his House of Hope megachurch a few blocks away.

  The words and visuals stunned the crazier-than-ever state of Illinois politics.

  Meeks, who is arguably the most politically potent African-American elected official in the state, cautioned reporters not to consider the morning's event an endorsement of his senate colleague Brady.  The two have differed on many issues, including the question of whether Illinois should increase the income tax to help the resolve the budget deficit.

 The Wednesday morning news conference, the reverend insisted, was a demonstration that the senators shared a belief the Chicago City Council should resist union lobbyists and allow WalMart to build dozens of stores in the city to create thousands of jobs in low-income neighborhoods.

  "Just because you have disagreement with a senator on one area, if you agree with him on another area you should be able to stand with him and work on that area," Meeks said.

  But Brady couldn't resist the opportunity to take a shot at his democratic opponent Governor Pat Quinn.

  "We are here today promoting an agenda that frankly, the governor's office has failed to promote over the last eight years," said Brady.

  Democrat Meeks, who was first elected to the Senate in 2003 as an independent, worked with Brady and other republican lawmakers last spring in his failed attempt to pass a school vouchers bill.  It would have allowed parents of children in the worst-performing Chicago Public Schools to move their kids to private or parochial schools, using each child's share of state funds to pay the tuitions.

  If Brady were elected governor, Meeks is certain the Bloomington conservative would not only muscle a few more republicans to support vouchers but also would sign the bill in a heartbeat.  Meeks told me he is just as sure that Governor Quinn would not sign a vouchers bill.

  Also noteworthy, Brady is no "johnny-come-lately" to the WalMart fight.  Last October, he campaigned at another proposed southside site.  He clearly is not conceding the usually-democratic African-American vote to Quinn. 

  So is Meeks considering an eventual endorsement of Bill Brady for Governor?

  "All things are possible. That's what the scriptures teach us. All things are possible," said Meeks.





I've seen several polls where conservative Brady is running 5 to 10% better in the Black and Hispanic communities than Kirk is. That gives lie to the establishment claim that only a liberal Republican like Kirk can win.

I'm not saying the opposite. I'm saying many voters of all demographic groups realize the challenges of the future are not the same as of the past. And the establishment politicians like Kirk and Quinn are still living in a pre-historic paradigm.

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