ROSEMONT -- GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brady is confident that by November 2, 2010 Cook County voters will be well acquainted with him. A state senator from Central Illinois’ Bloomington, Brady disregarded Democrat speculation that recent polling indicated him with a ten-point lead and high favorables simply because voters don’t know him and Governor Pat Quinn hasn't yet started attack ads.
During a short sit down interview with area online media reporters Saturday, Brady said several wedge issues could weaken the Democratic stronghold in Cook County where 40 percent of the state’s voters live. To win in November, Republicans must woo to their candidates discontented Democrats and independent suburban voters.
Placing union leaders' demands over community welfare is one issue that soundly resonates against Democrats in communities hit hard by unemployment and business closings, he said. “A clear defining difference between us and the Democrats is if you just take business, and look at the 'big boxes' that want to be built in Chicago,” Brady said, “They’re willing to put the livelihood and the quality of their citizens at bay for their political interests because they want to win favor with union leaders.”
"Big boxes" has become a term commonly used to describe retail chain stores such as WalMart, who often hire non-union workers.
“Look at the arrogance of the power structure in Cook County when you have a WalMart or a big retailer that wants to go into a southside community that doesn’t have business development that, frankly, doesn’t have appropriate feeding options or grocery stores nearby. It produces jobs, hundreds of jobs, and brings revenues into the schools,” Roupas said.
“They’re saying, ‘No we don’t like your corporate practices, and we’d rather sacrifice hundreds of jobs, tax revenue and economic growth," Roupas went on. "Frankly, to most minority communities, the Democratic leadership goes in and says ‘we’re there for you.’
"It’s just shocking the way they’re willing to sacrifice the quality of life for others to hold onto their political power. I think you can make no mistake about it, that’s what they’re doing by preventing major retailers from going in to a lot of these underdeveloped communities in the city of Chicago.
Roupas said Bill Brady’s been the only candidate to consistently bring that touchy topic up throughout the primary. Brady continued, building off Roupas' theme.
“It helps us with minority communities, it’s truth, it’s real,” Brady said. “It points to the dynamic differences between the political fiefdoms and the continuation of power for a few against the people they represent,” Brady said. “It really bothered me when – to counteract this -- they actually put $10 million into last year’s budget to help alleviate the “food desert” problem. We could have made hundreds of millions in tax revenue by letting the private sector alleviate the food desert problem.”
And ironically, those “food deserts” – the term used to describe economically-depressed areas major fresh produce retailers avoid because they drain major grocers’ financial resources – are a key element of First Lady Michelle Obama’s emphasis in fighting childhood obesity.
Allowing corporate entities like WalMart or Target doesn’t just bring in discount sales items, big box supporters argue, they most often serve as the center of a productive economic resource that can change a community.
“By the way, you won’t find too many free-standing big boxes. Generally, we developers are willing to give land to a big box just to make the land sales of the surrounding properties. Because once you get an anchor like that, dry cleaners, fast food and all the other benefits come in,” he said. “Construction, revenue and all the permanent jobs are a fraction big boxes will have on the area.”
Brady said school choice and term limits are also topics about which Chicago and Cook County voters are interested in hearing more. Minority communities understand firsthand the failure of schools, how it affects their children’s lives and their neighborhoods. They know how frustrating it is to have overbearing political personalities bully away campaign challengers. Minority communities understand the need for term limits.
But it’s not the issues that’s the challenge, Brady said. It’s that the Republicans have historically failed in presentation of the message.
“Our message has to resonate and be inviting to minority communities. We have to collectively reach out and invite them to join our cause,” Brady said. “I think Rev. Meeks is helping us with his voucher legislation. It’s helping us on the big box issue. We’ll pick a couple of key issues that speak to specifics, but more so to general philosophy. We have to tell them what’s in it for them – fresh food, affordable food, jobs, a say in your child’s education. “
Brady’s confident that over the next few months, he’ll have the money to introduce himself to Cook County voters.
“The reason we didn’t do as well in Cook County is because we weren’t on TV here,” he said. In the 96 counties where he ran ads, Brady won 78 of them in a six-way primary. He will need to raise huge sums of campaign cash to run in the Chicago market, but he’ll be able to run campaign ads in the Chicago market to drive these issues to Chicago voters.
“People will understand I’m a businessman, I care about making Illinois a business-friendly state, and want jobs for Illinois families. We will get that out,” Brady said.
“Our polling data shows that they know me, they like me, and they know why they like me. I’m a businessman that cares about jobs, I’m not a career politician, and we’ll live within our means.
“The school choice thing appeals to people and term limits are things that appeal to people. The foundation is that people are just dying for an economy that works.”
See Bill Baar's take on the bloggers' coffee with Brady HERE.