Tonight, at the Drake Hotel, Illinois Republicans are going to do what Republicans do best: throw a party to celebrate having lots of money.
The GOP'ers, upset about sending their hard-earned money to Springfield and wary of inside-the-Beltway politicians, are expected to donate over $700,000 to the campaigns of state Sen. Bill Brady and U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk.
In return, they'll be treated to a speech by Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who has lived his entire life inside the D.C. Beltway.
It’s going to be an expensive night out.
An individual ticket is $500, but that only gets you dinner and the chance to mingle with other people who have $500 to spare.
At the top of the pyramid is the Lincoln Cabinet. Donors who raise $50,000 are entitled to premiere seating for ten, a private VIP reception, special recognition in event materials and a “one-year membership to the Illinois Republican Party’s Lincoln Cabinet.”
Republicans are expecting over 200 people, a sign of how successful the GOP has been in fundraising this year.
Mark Kirk, who was listed on the program but is now scheduled to make a video appearance, raised $2.2 million in the first three months of 2010 -- more than twice the amount of his Democratic rival, Alexi Giannoulias. Part of their success is due to the fact that Republicans are out of power, and eager to get back in. Part is due to the missteps of Democratic candidates.
“We’ve raised more in the first quarter than the party did all last year. I think there is a lot enthusiasm,” said Party Chair Pat Brady. “The Democrats keep giving us opportunities every day -- bringing in lot of new donors.”
Steele’s appearance is a sign that Republicans are smelling blood here in Illinois. Taking a Senate seat and the governorship from the Democrats in Barack Obama’s home state will be a huge embarrassment to the president.
The entire statewide ticket will be at the dinner, including lieutenant governor candidate Jason Plummer, attorney general Steve Kim, secretary of state candidate Robert Enriquez, comptroller candidate Judy Baar Topinka, and treasurer candidate
The only other big-time Republican missing will be Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria, who will also make a video appearance. But, sadly, not providing complementary copies of his GQ spread.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to properly attribute a quote to Party Chair Pat Brady.