Illinois Republicans tried for years to keep Jim Oberweis out of public office, and for years, they succeeded. Oberweis, who owns North Aurora’s Oberweis Dairy, lost races for U.S. Senate, governor and Congress.
Oberweis was such an abysmal candidate that the party wouldn’t even give him the 2004 U.S. Senate nomination after Jack Ryan withdrew over a sex scandal, despite the fact that Oberweis had finished second. (He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way with an ad in which he flew over Soldier Field in a helicopter and claimed it could be filled by the number of illegal immigrants who sneaked across the border in a week.)
Instead, party leaders asked Alan Keyes to move here from Maryland to take the fall against Barack Obama. After half a dozen losses, Oberweis’ enemies began calling him “The Milk Dud.”
Now, The Milk Dud is getting his revenge on the party establishment. Last November, after lowering his ambition to a Fox Valley state senate seat, he finally won an election. That toehold inside the state capitol is all Oberweis needs to attempt a coup against the moderates in his party, so he can begin to infect it with the Oberweis brand of intolerance that’s been turning off voters for the last decade.
Oberweis is trying to convene a special meeting of the Illinois Republican Party Central Committee to dump chairman Pat Brady, who recently expressed his support for same-sex marriage.
According to the Daily Herald:
In Illinois, a party chair can be ousted with a three-fifths majority weighted vote from state party committeemen. Committeemen’s votes are weighted by how many voters in each congressional district cast ballots in the previous primary, giving the most politically active districts the most power.
For now, at least four committeemen are in favor of Brady’s removal. Several other committeemen, as well as Demetra Demonte, the Republican Party’s national committeewoman from Illinois, did not return calls seeking comment.
Oberweis is receiving support from a likely source: former Rep. Joe Walsh, who is attempting to extend his political career as a right-wing provocateur and radio host. Today, Walsh issued this statement, agreeing that Brady is not intolerant enough to lead the party back to the 20th Century, when Ronald Reagan was president:
Two weeks ago, I publicly called on Pat Brady to step down as Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. Pat is a good guy, but as he has still not retracted his public statements on same sex marriage, again, I call on him to step down. He can't, in his position as Chairman of the Party, publicly refute a major piece of our Party's Platform. It was a slap at all Republicans who believe in traditional marriage.
The Republican Party is a big tent and welcomes all viewpoints. Pat can have his own individual positions, but the Chairman of the Party must publicly support the Platform and be one of its most ardent spokespersons. Pat Brady is no longer in a position to be that spokesperson. For the good of the Party, he should step down.
Between them, Oberweis and Walsh have won two general elections and lost four. With those enemies, I think Pat Brady’s job is safe.