There are three Republicans running for their party's gubernatorial nomination. The front-runner is now Attorney General. The one spending the most on television ads is now Lieutenant Governor. Attorney and State Senator Patrick O'Malley thinks he can win by staying with his message and outworking the other two. He dropped by the Zephyr Tuesday evening on a visit through Galesburg.
''I think [Lt. Governor] Corinne Wood is out of it, now. Despite all her spending, her negatives exceed her positives. She hasn't moved in the polls. The race is between myself and [Attorney General] Jim Ryan.''
O'Malley, from South Suburban Palos Park, has seen the solid Republican base in the suburbs erode and blames party members like the pro-choice and selfdescribed moderate Wood for the decline. He vented his greatest hostility toward his fellow party members. ''Republicans have watered down their message so much they don't stand for anything any more. They have started to be more like Democrats: 'let's tone down our principles.' Even in my district, which used to be solidly Republican, I have two Democratic state representatives.''
O'Malley is anti-abortion in the strictest sense -- opposing it even in cases or rape and incest -- and he doesn't waver. He is also pro-death penalty and says his record is consistent. ''I have a pro-life, pro-family record of putting my past principles in action. He doesn't find that incompatible with his call to end the Governor's death penalty moratorium. ''I've been calling it a 'moratorium on victim's rights.' Some of the most egregious cases have come as a result of Jim Ryan's tenure as State's Attorney in DuPage County. He's the one who botched the prosecutions and sent innocent men to death row. The Illinois Supreme Court and the General Assembly have made some changes to better train attorneys and provide DNA evidence. The so-called Governor's Commission and the Attorney General have done nothing. I understand that they are so busy arguing that when the special commission finally reports with some recommendations, there will be a minority opinion as well. What kind of leadership is this from the state's top law enforcement people? The problems are related to the administration of justice, not the law itself. the Attorney General took an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the state of Illinois and he hasn't done so.''
''Now Jim Ryan is reaching out and talking about offering special protections to Gays. That's wrong. I believe in equal protection, not special protection.''
''Jim Ryan promised to root out corruption as Attorney General and the worst incidents took place under his watch. There have been 39 convictions relating to George Ryan's tenure as Secretary of State. Children died. Jim Ryan did nothing. And he wants to be Governor? Republicans had better clean their own house. Our good will with the good citizens of the state of Illinois has evaporated under George Ryan.''
''Jim Ryan and Corinne Wood are joined at the hip with George Ryan. We've got a Governor who makes up the law as he goes along and an Attorney General who ignores the law. We need to clean up our act and I'm the only one who will. We are really good people and we deserve better representation. This stuff has got to come to an end.''Besides railing against his major opponent, O'Malley has proposed several ideas to help with the current economic crisis. He opposes any expansion of gambling but, Without moving them, thinks he can get billions more in revenue from the current riverboat licensees. ''There are nine licenses and they pay only $75,000 plus $5,000 a year yet they showed a profit, after expenses and taxes, of $1.15 billion in 2000. We need to auction off these licenses competitively and get something close to their value. From that revenue, we could pay off the debt on George Ryan's Illinois FIRST scheme and rollback some of the fee increases that fund it now. We could fund more school construction and make critical infrastructure improvements.''
On other issues, he opposes mandatory motorcycle helmet laws and supports gun owner rights; he cosponsored legislation to require Internet filters on school computers.
In the Illinois primaries, candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor run independently of each other but as a team in November. Galesburg State Senator Carl Hawkinson is Jim Ryan's running mate but O'Malley says he gladly run with him if the two were to win. ''I like Carl. I've served on the Judiciary Committee with him. He shares my deep reverence and support for families. I supported him when he ran for Supreme Court.''
O'Malley's campaign is geared to winning the Republican primary. In the process, he's attacking many of the party regulars and faithful -- as Lt. Governor candidate Pat Quinn is doing in the Democratic primary. Whether a victory so obtained can be converted to success in November has yet to be proven.