Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Democrats for Brady?

A friend called to tell me that Democrats are secretly supporting conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady because they predict he’ll be a one-termer. So they’ll grit their teeth for four years and then run a Democrat (who is not Pat Quinn) who can keep the office for multiple terms…

A friend called to tell me that Democrats are secretly supporting conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady because they predict he’ll be a one-termer. So they’ll grit their teeth for four years and then run a Democrat (who is not Pat Quinn) who can keep the office for multiple terms.

Turns out my friend was half right. There are Democrats working for Brady; but they are working for Brady because, they say, he’s just what’s needed by the state of Illinois, which is teetering on fiscal insolvency. He’s a proven businessman, they say, while Pat Quinn is nice and well meaning but ineffectual and indecisive—the anti-businessman, so to speak.

The ringleader—the guy who is recruiting Democrats to work (stealthily mostly) for Brady—is Dean Vallas of Palos Park. Vallas signed on as a Brady volunteer—Cook County finance co-chairman—before the Republican primary. He is the younger brother of Paul Vallas, the former Chicago public school chief and the runner-up to Blago in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The Vallas brothers are not new to Republican politics. Paul had considered running earlier this year as a Republican for Cook County board president. Meanwhile, Dean has given money to Republicans—Tom Cross, Adeline Geo-Karis, and, as early as 2006, to Bill Brady. Still, he says, “I have supported Democratic candidates most of my life.” When he threw his support to Brady, “My friends called me and asked, `What are you, Karl Rove?’…. Good friends didn’t want to talk to me.”

“Bill’s a down-stater, completely independent,” says Vallas, 54, a retired businessman, in explaining his party switch. (In a subsequent conversation on Tuesday, he called Brady “a downstate yokel” who did not have the support of the Republican establishment.) Most important, he adds, Brady “has been in business [a family home construction company] for his whole life, has had to meet a payroll—knows what it’s like not to sleep on Friday night because you can’t make the Saturday payroll.”

Brady’s other quality, continues Vallas, is that “He’s not part of that old guard”—the insider culture that has made a mess of the state. Pat Quinn, he says, is “a real good man, and, I think, he was thrown into a very tenuous position. I just don’t think he has the political skills to navigate around a Mike Madigan.”

One of Vallas’ recruits is a lawyer who ran for a minor office in the 2010 primary, lost, but “learned the ropes doing it.” He’s doing fieldwork in the southwest suburbs where he now lives, although he’s a product of the South Side’s 19th Ward Democratic powerhouse—the ward that produced the Hynes family dynasty, as well as Sheriff Tom Dart and his political mentor and predecessor, Michael Sheahan. The lawyer describes himself as a Democrat who wants “a fresh face”—someone who “owes nothing to Mike Madigan.”

Another Vallas recruit, a woman who asked me to call her a “political worker”— although she’s actually much higher on the totem pole—says Brady is the first Republican she has ever supported. She says she voted in the Democratic gubernatorial primary but not for Pat Quinn, whom she calls “well intentioned but [not] strong enough to tackle the problems that Illinois has.” She adds: “I’m a firm believer that people in executive roles—governor, mayor, Cook County board president—need to be business people because it’s an executive position as opposed to a legislative one.”

Asked how many Democrats are working for Brady, Dean Vallas hedges, refusing to offer a number, but claims “more and more everyday.” He says he talks everyday to Democrats who are “sitting on their hands, not doing anything to help Quinn.” A recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters confirms Quinn’s lukewarm support among Democratic voters. The poll released Monday shows Brady with a 13 point lead over Quinn, 50-37. It also found that “Brady earns support from 93 percent of Republicans, while just 66 percent of Democrats favor Quinn.”

So is Paul Vallas—who his brother says is definitely not running for mayor—also supporting Brady? No, says, Dean, and “I wouldn’t even ask him.” He says that Paul’s current work formulating a plan to build public schools in Haiti and consulting for the schools in New Orleans requires him to maintain ties to pols of both stripes, including Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Share

comments
4 years ago
Posted by crabbyone

Why do government workers like cops and firemen back GOP candidates who believe in limiting and eventually eliminating government pensions?? Duh!!

4 years ago
Posted by John Presta

Interesting article. You may or may not know this, but Dean Vallas is a Giannoulias. I assume he still is. In 2006, Dean Vallas (and my political group) collected petitions for Giannoulias pissing off Madigan to no end (Madiagn was pushing Paul Mangieri). Dean Vallas recruited Kevin Joyce to collect petitions. Our petitions were impeccable. A couple friends of mine are working for Quinn on the southwest side and they can't seem to get cooperation from the 19th Ward organization. They don't say no, just don't return calls. They are passive-aggressive. The Quinn people also tell me that the trade unions are rallying behind Brady and have a handshake deal should Brady get elected. John Presta, author of Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers Did It.

4 years ago
Posted by primitive

This is ridiculous. Bill Brady is a far-right reactionary politician. How can Democrats or so-called "progressives" support Brady? If they really wanted to support an alternative candidate that doesn't stand diametrically opposed to literally ALL Of their values, they could support Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate. I can understand Democrats not wanting to support Pat Quinn, but I CAN'T understand them wanting to actively support Bill Brady instead. Why not support someone who actually agrees with their values AND could really use their help to defeat both of the corporatist, mediocre "major" party candidates for governor?

4 years ago
Posted by primitive

This is ridiculous. Bill Brady is a far-right reactionary politician. How can Democrats or so-called progressives support Brady? If they really wanted to support an alternative candidate that doesn't stand diametrically opposed to literally ALL Of their values, they could support Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate. I can understand Democrats not wanting to support Pat Quinn, but I CAN'T understand them wanting to actively support Bill Brady instead. Why not support someone who actually agrees with their values AND could really use their help to defeat both of the corporatist, mediocre major party candidates for governor?

http://www.whitneyforgov.org

4 years ago
Posted by SKEPTICAL

too bad you can't vote "none of the above"

4 years ago
Posted by robertweeed69

Government workers should back GOP pols who want a balanced budget, limited government and economic opportunity. They also should be interested in getting rid of pensions which would give them the opportunity to own their hard earned money and invest it in a 403B (government version of a 401k).

Common sense ...

4 years ago
Posted by BurnhamAL

My prayers are that Democrats come out in force and support Gov Quinn. You may not be comfortable with some of his decisions, I get that; but if you do NOT make that choice believe me that no vote is a vote for the Republican candidate - Brady. The facts are clear, we cannot afford to let Brady set middle class folks back to Bush's policies, please. Opinions are one thing, but facts show that Quinn does care about the working class. Brady will also set us women back too far; he does NOT believe in equal pay, preventative diagnostic test, especially mammograms, etc. Please we don't have but many choices: no vote will certainly put Brady in and this is too big of a mistake. I will be so glad when Quinn begins his live campaign so we can hear the real facts for the middle class. Brady will NOT help so I pray that middle class folks show up at the poles to help President Obama continue our progress.

4 years ago
Posted by BurnhamAL

Another point to consider. If we allow this mistake of allowing Brady in as Illinois governor you all can say good bye to federal funding that helps establish jobs; including keeping jobs like school teachers, firemen and policemen. Remember the facts: Brady who is financially sound does NOT believe that middle class people need any support from the goverment. Mississippi has a Republican governor who wants no federal funding so the teachers, firemen and police are laid off. Our important public service personnel should show President Obama that you appreciate his humble character of caring. So again, Quinn may NOT be hitting all your bells and whistle (and no one can) but trust me, if we do NOT show up at the polls and vote for Quinn - we all will suffer financially which results in emotions being drained. Do NOT look for Brady to care or help because his public record show all the facts and we must know it would be our fault. PLEASE VOTE in November with Democrats to send support for President Obama. May God bless us with spiritual wisdom in our hearts and mind.

4 years ago
Posted by valleygm

Primitve writes: ".... a far-right reactionary politician" BLAH BLAH BLAH, those overused terms, you think are pejoriative, that you use to slur, are meaningless. Please take your anger somewhere else. The status quo has to go, and Brady is the man for the job. A man with good values.

4 years ago
Posted by valleygm

Primitve writes: "... a far-right reactionary politician" BLAH BLAH BLAH, those overused terms, you think are pejoriative, that you use to slur, are meaningless!! Please take your anger somewhere else. The status quo has to go, and Brady is the man for the job. A man with good values.

4 years ago
Posted by PoliticalJunkie

It's sad to think that one can be TOO NICE A GUY to be governor in Illinois! Thinking like that is how the sharks like Blago get the job.

Submit your comment