The problem for political parties of all stripes is that no matter how hard party leaders may try, sooner or later someone somewhere carrying the party banner is likely to say something essentially indefensible.
For the Republican Party in Illinois, that candidate today is Susanne Atanus.
Atanus made headlines when, at a meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board, the candidate for the 9th Congressional District seat currently held by Democrat Jan Schakowsky said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.
The Illinois GOP was quick to distance itself from Atanus, who lives in Niles and is running in the March 18 Republican primary against David Williams. It’s not the first time Atanus, 55, has run. She lost the GOP primary in 2010 and was taken off the ballot in 2012.
In a statement to the Chicago Phoenix, Andrew Wellhouse, communications director for the Illinois Republican Party, said the party would not support Atanue and called on her to leave the race.
“The offensive statements by Susanne Atanus have no place in the modern political debate, and she has no place on the ballot as a Republican,” he said. “Her candidacy is neither supported nor endorsed by the leaders of our party, and she should withdraw from the race immediately.”
The Chicago GOP also disavowed Atanus, with chairman Adam Robinson saying “Atanus is not in any way affiliated with any of our efforts in the Chicago GOP.”
What’s interesting is, judging from her current and past statements, the candidate’s position on whether God controls the weather and makes diseases as punishments for gay rights and abortions may not even be the most “out of the mainstream” parts of her platform.
For example, during her endorsement session with the Daily Herald, says she has been calling Rep. Schakowsky and other politicians on numerous occasions in an effort to get them to back her plan to “get rid” of the nation’s stock indexes, such as the Dow Jones Industrial, Nasdaq and S&P 500.
Atanus says the indexes serve to “rip off” Americans and, by extension, Schakowsy, a known liberal, is in favor of allowing the highest-earning Americans to get “richer and richer” by not supporting Atanus’ plan.
As well, in response to a candidate questionnaire about President Obama’s planned 2014 military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Atanus said believes terrorists would not attack America if they received “excellent and consistent returns on their investments.”
In fact, in 2010 she has said there should be no such thing as a “down” investment market, and proposed a plan that would create 60 percent to 90 percent investment returns and allow companies make 250 percent to 350 profit as part of a government sponsored stimulus plan.
Williams, Atunus’ primary challenger, is himself hardly a standard-bearer for mainstream Republican campaigns. For example, he called General Motors a “loser” company for needing a federal bailout in 2008, and he favors what he calls a "fair" tax — a 23 percent national sales tax on all new goods and services, to replace the federal income tax and other taxes.
More recently, Williams also has a domestic violence order of protection that was filed against him by a Washington, D.C. judge in December.
Either way, Schakowsky, who has served in Congress since 1999 and is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, hardly seems like she has anything to worry about.