Ambitious Republicans may want to avoid Schaumburg the last weekend of this month. TeaCon 2011, a gathering of Tea Party activists from all over the Midwest, is taking place at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Tickets for the two-day conference start at $159.
The keynote speakers: Glenn Beck, who used to have a show on the Fox News Channel, and conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart. Beck and Breitbart were also the headliners at last September’s Right Nation rally in Hoffman Estates. Republican gubernatorial nominee delivered a five-minute speech, promising “to take back our government and energize the system to bring private sector jobs to the state of Illinois.”
State Senator Bill Brady never got a chance to do that. In an upset defeat, he lost to Gov. Pat Quinn a few months later. Brady’s alliance with the Tea Party -- he attended its right-wing bloodfeasts all over the state -- turned off voters in Cook County, who provided Quinn’s margin of victory.
Senate candidate Mark Kirk blew off Right Nation, and was condemned by his Libertarian opponent as “not a real conservative.” Maybe not, but Kirk is now a real senator.
TeaCon organizers have invited all the Republican presidential candidates for 20-minute interviews, and will conduct a straw poll at the end of the session.
“[Y]ou will be able to submit questions the media won’t ask and get answers the media can't get,” promises the promo on Meetup.com. “This will be an opportunity for tea party groups from across the Midwest to voice our choice on who should be the next President of the United States. The 2012 election is too important to let the political establishment and mainstream media pick our candidate.”
No word on whether any candidates have accepted. Illinois isn’t a big GOP prize. The primary isn’t until March 20, two weeks after Super Tuesday, and a Republican has no chance of winning President Obama’s home state.
And as Brady and Kirk demonstrated, in Illinois, avoiding the Tea Party is better for your career than embracing it.