Dec. 9, 2009
Candidate Patrick Hughes has received an endorsement from the Vernon Township GOP. The Illinois Review said, "[Rep. Mark]Kirk lost the US Senate endorsement outright to Hinsdale Businessman Patrick Hughes who grabbed the Vernon endorsement with 64.3% of the committeeman vote."
by Kay B. Day
Republican strategists have their hands full these days, in the aftermath of NY-23 and the postlude to party leaders’ endorsements of candidates like Gov. Charlie Crist. Still striking a nerve is the fiasco with DeeDee Scozzafava, a Republican who ended up endorsing a Democrat despite the fact the GOP spent nearly $1 million on her candidacy. Then there was fallout over Crist’s so-called anointment in a primary field that included popular former speaker of the House Marco Rubio, a fallout that transcended Florida and had a national impact. Current conditions are enough to give any GOPer worth his salt a headache or two. And now Republicans in Illinois are seeing another bold candidate jump into a primary battle: Patrick Hughes.
Hughes is dueling with Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) for GOP rights to oppose a Democrat in the 2010 election for President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat. Obama barely warmed that seat before mounting his own surprise battle for the Oval Office. The seat, as most know, is currently held by Sen. Roland Burris, a Democrat who acquired the seat via Illinois’ scandal-plagued former governor who is also a Democrat.
Often, a real political narrative really does read better than fiction.
Early deadline poses challenge
Hughes has had to scramble because the primary will be held in February. Derring-do seems too small a word, considering the battle he faces. But there’s always a silver lining in political clouds. Hughes has a lot going for him.
For one thing, he’s not a Washington insider, and that alone is enough to create momentum. He practiced law for two prominent firms in Chicago before leaving that profession to build homes and develop real estate. This foothold in the private sector gives him a perspective foreign to many current Washington politicos. Hughes sums up a value conservatives from both major parties have come to embrace. “The last thing Washington needs,” he said, “is more Washington.” And he’s speaking to the grassroots with that common sense approach. “It is time we start protecting the American taxpayer with lower taxes, smaller government and responsible spending.”
It’s also useful to note Hughes won an online straw poll at the Senate Conservative Fund headed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). The political newcomer won 74 percent of the vote.
Hughes’ GOP opponent has a few “issues”
Hughes’ most significant GOP opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk, voted ‘yes’ on HR 2454, the Cap and Trade bill that more appropriately might be called ‘Cap and Raid.’ Influential bloggers at Red State dubbed Kirk a ‘quisling Republican’ for supporting a bill that will impact both income and lifestyle for every single American. One net effect of the bill will transfer U.S. wealth to so-called ‘developing countries.’
Kirk, however, has a recognizable brand among Republican leaders because he’s served in the House of Representatives for five terms. But he is a conservative with “issues.”
National Journal reported that a recent attempt by Kirk to get an endorsement from Gov. Sarah Palin—through an “intermediary”—fell flat.
Kirk has also defied grassroots social conservatives with leftist votes on hot button issues like the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act and late term abortion.
And Red State, a website whose scope should not be underestimated, continues to lob criticism. One blogger at the site, identifying himself as a GOP precinct committeeman in Central Illinois and a Tea Party leader, offered a stark recommendation to the congressman: “[M]ark Kirk should drop out of the race.” That sort of statement from a precinct committeeman should give any candidate pause.
Hughes’ Main Street connect
It might be argued that only a Washington outsider can bring order to a federal government that might be described as “obese.” Hughes said a political action committee he headed helped, through grassroots work, get 19 Democrats to vote against the current Illinois governor’s tax increase.
His bio reflects a Main Street upbringing, growing up in a small apartment on the Northwest side of Chicago with his parents and two brothers. Like his Florida counterpart, Rubio, Hughes believes that with “hard work and an abiding faith in God, you can do anything.”
Hughes opposes Cap and Trade, the expansion of the federal government and increased regulation. He supports energy independence for America with an all-of-the-above approach common among conservatives in both parties. He is a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment, and his campaign lit notes the razor-sharp contrast to Kirk’s F rating from Gun Owners of America.
He said he decided to run for office after watching politicians let government spending get out of control while our economy continues to suffer. “As a businessman and capital investor,” he said, “I know that limited government spending and the removal of oppressive taxes and unnecessary regulations will lead to economic growth.”
Hughes lives with his wife and three children in Hinsdale.
His political approach is across-the-board Main Street. He describes a revelation of sorts inspired by a child recently:
"I was at a parade in Bloomington, walking along the route when I stopped to talk to one of the kids watching. He was sitting in his wheelchair and we talked about the parade and the day’s events. After we finished chatting I stood up and put my hand on his head and told him I hoped he enjoyed the rest of the day.
Then his mother stepped forward and very sincerely said 'Thank you' to me. As I finished the rest of the parade route I thought about the power that public officials really have. I was just a candidate for U.S. Senate walking in a parade, but it really meant something to that little boy when I stopped to talk to him.
A U.S. Senator has a responsibility to make this country a better place for all Americans and I believe by bringing real conservative values back to Washington we can make this country a place where everyone has an opportunity to achieve their own version of the American Dream."
Hughes certainly has a battle ahead, but it appears he’s got the stamina to fight for his ideals.
The GOP grassroots persona has most definitely risen and in the aftermath of NY-23, it appears leaders are, appropriately, taking note.
[Ed. Note: On Thursday, Dec. 10, at 5 p.m., Patrick Hughes will be a special guest on ‘What’s the Buzz,’ a popular Northeast Florida conservative talk show on AM 1320 WBOB hosted by Lenny Curry and Cindy Graves. Hughes’ visit is in addition to a visit on the same day’s program by former speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio.]