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Bill Brady held a “blogger coffee” on Saturday morning at a restaurant in Rosemont.
There wasn’t any coffee, and there were only three bloggers. Brady spent about 15 minutes answering mostly friendly, leading questions in a booth near the bar. He was egged on by Lee Roupas, chairman of the Cook County Republican Party.
Below, a condensed transcript of what went down.
Bill Baar’s West Side: You must be crazy to want to be governor.
Brady: In Illinois's system, there's only way for someone to step in and lead, and that's in the office of governor. You've got Mike Madigan with his veto fiefdom, and then the president of the Senate, whoever it is, establishing that.
But as governor, I can put some real meaningful policies in place that can help everybody. I look at Illinois as a business. We're competing against 49 other businesses called states, and if we make Illinois work for the people and not the politicians in power, it can be the best business/state in the nation.
Roupas: Look at the arrogance of the power structure in Cook County when you have a Wal-Mart, a big retailer who wants to go into the South Side community that doesn't have a lot of business development, doesn't frankly have good grocery stores nearby, produces jobs and tax revenues, and they're saying, 'No, we don't like your corporate practices enough, so we'd rather sacrifice hundreds of jobs, tax revenue and economic growth in frankly mostly minority communities. It's just shocking the way they're willing to sacrifice the quality of lives of others to hold onto their political power.
Brady: It helps us in the minority communities. It's truth. It's real. And it points to the dynamic differences between the political fiefdoms against the people they represent. They actually put $10 million in 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.
Illinois Review: Do you have a couple of wedge-type issues to appeal to Cook County? One of the issues has been that you're not well known in Cook County, and there's been some kind of pessimism about you being able to reach into some of the minority communities.
Brady: Me not being known has nothing to do with anything but the fact I haven't been on TV. We'll solve that. People will know me. Where I had the money to have limited TV buys, 96 counties where I won 78 of 'em, our polling data shows they know me, they like me and they know why they like me, because I'm a businessman who cares about jobs and not a career politician.
The school choice thing appeals to people. The term limits thing appeals to people. When you reach into the minority communities, which we have been horrible at.
Last general election for governor, we got 14 percent of the black and Latino vote. That's 25 percent of the vote, by the way. We cannot ignore it. When we asked why, we blatantly found out that it's not because of issues. Those communities are with us on the family issues. They're with us on the school issues. The problem is, we've been AWOL. The Democrats have been propagating those communities, if not monthly, weekly, then daily. Our message has got to be inviting. We simply haven't invited. The school voucher is helping us. The big box issue is helping us. Fresh food, jobs, affordable food, a say in your child's education.
Ward Room: I understand one of the reasons you did well in the primary was being the only Downstate candidate. I talked to one of your spokespeople who said something like, 'We need a governor who's not from northeastern Illinois.' Some people feel there's been some anti-Chicago rhetoric in your campaign. How do you assure people you're going to be the governor for all of Illinois?
Brady: I will tell you that there's a bias against Chicago politicians, not just Downstate but in Chicago. You guys know it better than anybody. I believe Chicago's the greatest large city in the world. As goes Chicago, so goes Illinois, and as goes Illinois, so goes Chicago.
What I offer is the reality, but above reality, the perception that we've got someone at the helm who understands all of Illinois rather than the political fiefdoms trying to maintain their power base. Mike Madigan only cares about two elections, his legislative district and his leadership position. That doesn't have anything to do with anything but his legislative district. We need someone who's broader based, someone who's not in it for a career, who's got a livelihood outside of it, and whose livelihood has nothing to do with their political efforts.