Illinois` Oberweis: “Bush Runs Tight Ship On Immigration.” But It`s Sinking


[See
also:
Memo From
The Midwest—Immigration Idiocy In Illinois
, by Dave
Gorak
]

No
other conclusion can be drawn: George W. Bush`s

Republican Party
is more willing to take a licking in
crucial November Senate elections than to allow its
candidates to discuss illegal immigration.

Nationwide, there are at least three such cases—New York,
California and Illinois. In all three, the Republican
challenge is so feeble that the incumbents are
essentially running unopposed.

But
nowhere has the Republican death wish been more visible
than in

Illinois
.

As
Dave Gorak explained on VDARE.COM yesterday, the Illinois
Republican State Central Committee has resorted to the
absurd step of importing radio talk show host

Alan Keyes
, a Maryland resident, to accept the GOP
Senate nomination.

Keyes, who had previously dabbled in presidential
politics, replaced the primary winner,

Jack Ryan,
who withdrew because of a

sex scanda
l.  (It was a very Republican

sex scandal:
the two protagonists were married and
there was no sex. But that`s another story.)

During its search, the GOP Committee pointedly ignored
conservative Jim Oberweis, even though he had finished
second in the primary.

Oberweis is, in many
ways, an ideal Republican candidate.  The successful

Oberweis family dairy
has been serving Illinois for
more than a century. Oberweis, who holds a MBA from the

University of Chicago,
is currently Chairman of the
Board of Oberweis Dairy. He also manages profitable
investment firms and mutual funds. He had money to
finance his campaign.

Best of all for the
Republicans, Oberweis, as he told me in a recent
interview, “supports 95% of what President George W.
Bush has done.”

But, oh, that
remaining 5%!

Oberweis dared to do the unthinkable: he injected

illegal immigration into his campaign.
(Illinois
is among the six most immigrant-impacted states.)  He
disagreed, very vocally, with Bush`s January proposal to
give illegal immigrants amnesty. [See


Outcry on Right Over Bush Plan on Immigration
,

By Rachel L. Swarns, NYT, February 21, 2004]


“Bush is dead wrong about
amnesty,”

Oberweis told me.

On
the campaign trail, Oberweis talked about illegal
immigration. And voters listened.

In
recalling his time on the stump, Oberweis told me:


“It was amazing. Across a
wide spectrum of voters, people clearly support
immigration reform. But the

press
and the

elites
were bitterly opposed.”

Oberweis continued,


“They set out to punish
me for talking about illegal immigration, no doubt about
it. The Latino groups tried to organize a

boycott
of my ice cream stores. And the media

never missed a chance
to paint me as a racist or
demagogue.”

I
asked Oberweis if at any time anyone from the press asked
him a thoughtful question about immigration. “No,
never,”
he replied.

But,
after Ryan withdrew, Oberweis was passed over without so
much as a look-see.

A
disappointed Oberweis tells me that the selection process
was “a sham:”


“Individuals interested
in the Senate job were told to submit a paragraph to the
Central Committee outlining their credentials. Those
credentials would be reviewed and those candidates
considered qualified would be invited to make a
presentation to the Committee.


“I submitted a paragraph
and never heard a word. Keyes never submitted anything
and he`s running for Senate.”

 

Oberweis told me:


“It seems like a question
of basic fairness to voters. In the Olympics or any
competition, if the winner is declared ineligible or
withdraws, it usually goes to the runner up."

Oberweis, to his credit, refused to back down from his
position that illegal immigration

hurts American workers
. And, while he accepts that he
could have done a better job of stating his position,
Oberweis maintains that illegal immigration is a valid
issue.


"If I can`t express my
own views and my own beliefs, then I`m not going to be
involved,"
he
said.

At
the end of my interview, I asked Oberweis if he felt that
the Bush Administration might have torpedoed his
candidacy.

He
told me that he asked that exact question of Lori Raad, a
member of the White House political development team.

According to Oberweis, Raad denied that Bush had anything
to do with snuffing him out.

Concluded Oberweis, “We`ll never know—but Bush runs a

tight ship
on the immigration issue.”

Now
Keyes, the hand-picked choice of the Illinois Republican
State Central Committee, is getting hammered by favorite

Barack Obama.

According to a

Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll,
Keyes` candidacy could
hurt other Republicans in local and legislative races.
Nearly three in ten voters said they were less likely to
back GOP candidates because of the way party leaders went
about settling on Keyes as their candidate.

More
than twice as many voters have a negative impression of
Keyes than a favorable one.

Black voters, white suburban women, independents and even
conservatives all favor Obama over Keyes.

Oberweis acknowledges that beating Obama would be tough.
But he feels that by talking about illegal immigration he
could have forced Obama to do the same.

As
it stands now, neither Keyes nor Obama mentions
immigration.

The

Bush Republicans
have got their tight ship—but it`s

sinking
.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.