Illinois Republican Gubernatorial Bill Brady acknowledges applause during a debate between the Illinois Republican candidates for Governor in Springfield, Ill., Monday, Dec. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
GOP Gov. candidate Bill Brady celebrated his long-delayed victory in the Republican primary with an eight-city flyaround on Monday.
Guess which city wasn't on that itinerary. Begins with a 'C'? Ends with an 'ago'?
That's right -- Brady's plane touched down in Rockford, Moline, Quincy, Cahokia, Marion, Champaign and Peoria, before finally coming to rest in his hometown of Bloomington. No Chicago stop.
Brady won his primary by running as the Downstate candidate, rallying rural voters to defeat six Chicago-area opponents. Apparently, he plans to run the same campaign against Pat Quinn. Chicago politicians are rightly criticized for being ignorant of any part of Illinois south of I-80. Brady is the opposite. He doesn't want to go north of the highway.
“The policies that have been placed by the machine politicians over the last six to eight years, have hurt the very economic fabric and opportunity that our state provides, and it’s time to change that,” Brady told supporters in Champaign.
In case the word "machine" wasn't explicit enough, Brady told a Moline crowd that it's time for a governor who's not from Chicagoland.
But c'mon: Brady's dumb to frame this election as a battle between the Chicago Machine and any town with a grain elevator or a coal mine. That worked in the primary because his opponents split the suburban vote. It's not going to work in the general election.
Worse: it will further marginalize Downstate Republicans, who used to ally with suburban voters against big, bad Chicago. The suburbs have been turning Democratic in recent years, so those votes can longer be counted on.
“A lot of pundits don't believe Republicans can win statewide offices in Illinois,” Brady told a Lincoln Day Dinner at Peoria’s Hotel Pere Marquette. “But you and I know we can. Just like the states of Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey were challenged, Illinois can rise above it. We can reach out to independents and Democrats, through the Republican Party, and build the strongest groundswell of support with principles, values and economic development.”
Maybe they can, but not if they write off the part of the state where three-quarters of the voters live.