SPRINGFIELD - Dressed in blue blazer, tan pants and a white shirt, one of the "LaRouchies" who made their mark on Illinois history two decades ago was back in the Statehouse Thursday. Mark Fairchild, who turns 50 on Tuesday and now lives in Lansdowne, Pa., is a full-time organizer with the Lyndon LaRouche movement.
In 1986, Fairchild stunned the Illinois political establishment when, already a follower of LaRouche, he won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, and another LaRouche follower, Janice Hart, won the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.
The result was that the winner of the Democratic nomination for governor that year, Adlai Stevenson III, formed a third party so he didn't have to run with Fairchild. With the help of the Democrats' disarray, Republican Jim Thompson was easily re-elected as governor that year.
Fairchild held a Statehouse news conference Thursday to advocate federal legislation proposed by LaRouche that would ban home foreclosures for two or three years and establish a new federal agency to oversee all federal and state banks.
The legislation would be called the Homeowners and Bank Protection Act of 2007. Fairchild said it's needed to stop runs on banks.
State Rep. Charles Jefferson, D-Rockford, is lead sponsor of an Illinois House resolution, HR 761, apparently fashioned after the LaRouche language urging Congress to enact the foreclosure moratorium. The bill would allow homeowners in the interim to make the equivalent of rental payments.
Jefferson said he got the idea from Missouri Democratic State Rep. Juanita Walton of St. Louis, but "after I talked to her, then some of Lyndon LaRouche's people started to call."
"We do realize there's ties to Lyndon LaRouche, and that's why we're being very cautious at this point to make sure there's (no) undercurrent as it relates to some of the things that he might be trying to do. ... I think it's a good resolution overall. I think we're suffering through people losing their homes and mortgages and banks going under for whatever reason."
Jefferson was not at the news conference, but said that he met Fairchild later Thursday outside the House chamber.
Fairchild, meanwhile, also thinks U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should resign, and Vice President Dick Cheney should be impeached.
On the night of the 1986 primary election, Fairchild said Thursday, major media outlets in Chicago were saying that then-state Sen. George Sangmeister was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.
"I went to bed about midnight disgusted, and it was about 4 o'clock in the morning that some of my friends burst into my bedroom and demanded that I get up and listen to the radio, and the announcer was saying, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know quite how to say this, but George Sangmeister ... now seems to be losing to a LaRouche supporter named Mark Fairchild.'"
"I've wondered about that for quite a number of years," Fairchild said, "how is it possible that the major media, with all of their access to information, could possibly be mistaken in that way?"
Political observers have long said that the common-sounding names of Fairchild and Hart were the reasons they won over Sangmeister and that year's slated Democratic candidate for secretary of state, Aurelia Pucinski. Fairchild doesn't buy that spin, saying he believes the policies of LaRouche were the reason.
"I'm looking forward to meeting with the governor and telling him that I'm sure it was his nice-sounding name that got him elected," Fairchild said facetiously.
He also said he thinks Stevenson "tragically committed an act of political suicide" by forming the third party to distance himself from Fairchild.
LaRouche ran for president several times, but Fairchild said LaRouche just turned 85 and is still pushing policies, has 300 full-time organizers in the United States and offices in at least a dozen countries, but is not seeking the presidency because of his age.
"LaRouche ... has been promoting for at least 15 years the idea of a high-speed railroad to connect Russia and the United States," Fairchild said. "It would be a 3,700-mile-long railroad including a tunnel under the Bering Strait, which would actually be the longest tunnel in the world, about 65 miles long."
LaRouche served five years of a 15-year sentence for mail fraud and conspiracy, after being convicted in 1988 of deliberately defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from supporters of his presidential aspirations.
"That was a very dark episode in American history," Fairchild said. "Lyndon LaRouche was thrown into prison in an outrageous kangaroo court, held as an innocent man and a political prisoner." He called the case an "outrageous mockery of the Constitution."
Fairchild, who is married, said Hart is no longer with the LaRouche movement, and he's not in contact with her.
Fairchild said that when he recently visited city hall in Chicago, he found that people remembered the 1986 election when he told them who he was.
"It was kind of like they knew that they knew I was somebody, but they couldn't quite put their finger on it," he said. "And then when I said 'LaRouche,' they said, 'Oh, yes.'"