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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tony Peraica for Illinois Governor

This would definitely be a very controversial endorsement because Peraica just got his clock cleaned in the most recent Cook County State's Attorney's race in 2008. Yet, if the Illinois Republican Party wants to show that they are serious about ending corrupt business as usual, then the best candidate is Tony Peraica. I have known and supported Peraica for several years now, and Peraica is one of the very few Illinois politician that makes fighting corruption his platform.

The best way to describe Peraica's dedication to fighting corruption is through this story. Peraica is currently on the Board of Cook County. He was on this same board when John Stroger, the father of the current Cook County Board President, was the President. Several years ago a contract came up before the Board. Stroger was attempting to move the contract past the board in 72 business hours when the rules stated clearly that it was supposed to be no less than 96. Peraica investigated the contract and realized that one of Stroger's buddies was the recipient. Peraica rallied the entire board and the board voted 15-2 against Stroger's motion to move the contract forward. Then, with cameras rolling, despite actually losing 15-2, Stroger smacked the gavel and said the motion passed. Peraica fought Stroger all the way through the federal courts system until a federal judge finally sided with Peraica and said a 15-2 loss is in fact a loss, and the motion had no business passing.

This story is not only emblematic of the sort of ingrained corruption in Illinois but also in Peraica's dogged determination in fighting it. Here is how local political writer Dick Simpson describes Peraica's credentials as a crusader against corruption.

"[Peraica] opposes political corruption and has promised not to accept campaign contributions from county employees or vendors who do business with the county. He pledges not to raise taxes and to cut the budget, and he proposes a referendum to consolidate four tax-collecting agencies to save taxpayers' money. But can a Republican be elected on the platform of a smaller government, eliminating corruption and lower taxes?

"Peraica says 97 departments of county government can be cut to 35. He supports the 7 percent property tax cap pending in Springfield and would work for fundamental property tax reform later. He would cut the size of county government. Because 1,300 to 1,500 of the county's 27,000 employees leave each year, unnecessary jobs could be eliminated without having to fire large numbers.

Peraica is the only Illinois Republican that I can think of with a clear pedigree as a crusader against corruption. If the Republicans are to use this moment to wrestle power back in this state, they must make it clear that we aren't going to replace one corrupt regime with another. The history of politics in Illinois is that one party rules until the corruption gets to be too much and then the other party rules. The pattern never stops and we replace one form of corruption with another. The story of the indictment of REPUBLICAN power broker William Cellini shows that this state isn't run on ideology or parties, but rather it is run by corruption. It is run with a few power players sitting behind the scenes calling the shots.

If that is to stop, the state needs someone not tainted by the corruption. The reality is that this state has very few politicians like this. In 2001, Peter Fitzgerald lost his political career because he dared to nominate Patrick Fitzgerald, no relation, as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The powers that be in Illinois were none too happy that an outsider was chosen to oversea their political business. The powers that be were looking for a consummate insider, someone eyeing a cushy lawyer gig later. In other words, the powers that be wanted someone they could control. They couldn't control Fitzgerald. As such, powerful Illinois legislator Bob Kjellander and House Speaker Denny Hastert lead an effort to strip Peter Fitzgerald of all Republican support in the party in Illinois. His political career was over.

That is the politics in Illinois and if the Republican Party nominates the typical candidate they will likely get someone that wants to play the same game that Blagojevich played. The Republican Party has one player that I can think of that will have credibility when they say that the era of corruption in Illinois is over. That person is Tony Peraica and he is my recommedation for Governor of Illinois.

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