Hastert: ‘It’s time to turn the tide in Illinois’
BY DAVE MCKINNEY firstname.lastname@example.org August 28, 2012 10:46AM
George Engelbach, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, is surrounded by delegates at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 28, 2012 before the start of the day's Republican National Convention events. The 2012 Republican National Convention is expected to host 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. AFP PHOTO Robyn BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages
Updated: October 29, 2012 10:57PM
CLEARWATER, FLA. — One of the most-respected faces of Illinois Republicans, former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Plano, rallied the state GOP faithful Tuesday with a familiar message: Turning Illinois red starts with unseating Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
“It’s time to turn the tide in Illinois,” he told a few hundred delegates and guests at the state GOP’s morning breakfast meeting.
Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, cited the concentration of power in Madigan’s hands — state Democratic Party chairman, state House speaker, funder of political races.
“If you want to change the Republican Party, you start right here in Illinois and change the House of Representatives in the state of Illinois,” said Hastert, whose political protege, House Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego would be in line to succeed Madigan if Republicans regain the House.
Hastert’s anti-Madigan reference is a familiar theme this summer for Illinois Republicans, who have made “Fire Madigan” their rallying cry going into the fall elections.
The state party this week launched a website (www.firemadigan.com) where trinkets like coffee mugs, golf polos and even dog T-shirts can be purchased, all emblazoned with the “Fire Madigan” credo.
Hastert also touted the most threatened members of the GOP’s congressional delegation from Illinois, including U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale and U.S. Rep. Robert Dold of Kenilworth, whose districts were radically redrawn by Democrats in a bid to reverse Republican gains in the collar counties from 2010.
Biggert will be facing former Democrat U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville in November, in the new 11th Congressional District, which includes Aurora, Naperville, Plainfield and Joliet.
Dold is running in the redrawn 10th Congressional District, which covers much of Lake County, against Democrat Brad Schneider of Deerfield.
After his speech, Hastert condemned the “legitimate rape” comment by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, but stopped short of calling on him to step down from his nationally watched U.S. Senate race against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill.