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Bringing brash politico a tea party coup

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It's not every day that a nationally known politician visits these parts, so the Sauk Valley Tea Party deserves credit for bringing in former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh.

Walsh, who is from the Chicago suburb of McHenry, is unabashedly controversial. But love him or hate him, he takes part in the national conversation.

On Tuesday, he spoke to the local chapter of the tea party at the Rock Falls Eagles Club.

Walsh's speech was his usual brash fare, but when reading the story about his appearance, it was his explanation for President Obama's victory that caught my attention.

"They really targeted three groups of people – young people, single women and minorities. If you look at what Obama did, he spent his whole campaign targeting those people and giving them things."

My quick reaction: So what?

From the beginnings of our democracy, politicians have appealed to specific groups of people. That's how you build coalitions and win elections.

In the last election, Obama wasn't the only one who played this game. So did Romney. They both aired ads in Spanish, which is proof positive that they were striving to "target" Hispanics. That's what democracy is all about.

As for giving voters things, no less a historical figure than George Washington learned that practice as a young man. In 1755, he lost his bid for the Virginia House of Burgesses to a candidate who plied voters with beer, whiskey and rum.

Three years later, Washington learned his lesson and deployed alcohol to win over voters. It worked.

Also at the tea party event, Walsh was asked whether he would run for governor. He left the door open, saying only that he would look at his options.

Could Walsh win the Republican primary for governor? It could happen.

In a crowded field of establishment candidates, Walsh could slip by as the renegade who is willing to challenge business as usual in our state's official capital, Springfield, and unofficial one, Chicago.

In Illinois, the Republicans often are slightly more conservative versions of Democrats – Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, George Ryan being exhibits A, B and C.

That means Walsh or some other conservative could find an opening in next year's primary.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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