Election Countdown: Four Weeks to Go

Well a lot has happened in this last week which, if it is any measure, means we are in for a roller coaster ride up to November 4th.  We saw the House fail to pass a bailout bill, the Senate pass one, a Vice Presidential debate viewed by record numbers of people, and finally a bailout bill passed and signed by Bush.  Phew!  Not only did I participate on a panel discussing the VP debate for our local CBS News, but I had the amazing opportunity to reflect on all of this again on Bruce Dumont’s Beyond the Beltway political debate radio show.  I am not sure where to begin except maybe with the Vice Presidential debate.  I think we saw the Sarah Palin we expected to see:  dynamic, energetic, geniuosly straight talking and visionary.  We saw a some what tamed, if not neutered, Joe Biden who worked incredibly hard to create a record for Barack Obama that clearly failed to match his own and paled in light of Palin’s.  The “misstatements” put forth by Biden just demonstrated how hard it must be for him to claim that Obama on his own his ready to lead our country.  From claiming Obama helped kick out Hezbelloh from Lebanon, that Obama warned the Treasury in a phantom letter, and Palin’s oil plan taxed the same windfall profits as Obama’s (which is clearly not true) all the way to going to Katie’s Restaurant, which hasn’t been in business for decades, Biden didn’t seem committed to the vision and leader he has been brought on to support.  Putting on my partisan hat, Biden seems more like Obama’s babysitter than a trusted advisor, put there to make sure Obama stays on track with the Democratic party.

And what about this bailout bill?  I think it is important to keep in mind how we got into this mess.  There is no coubt that the central engine driving this was Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac.  On one end, they drove banks to take greater risks on homeowners and then managed to hide these risks in packaged mortgage swaps that were traded to banks and investment banks.  With the assistance of credit rating agencies rating these packages with assurances of the government as the insurer, these tainted packages were injected into the system without the approriate flags.  No doubt, excited Wall Street bankers, hungry for the upside and and not willing to parse through these risks created a frenzy that Fannie Mae and Freddie were glad to fuel.  Predatory lenders and housing advocates took advantage of these rates and subprime mortgage opportunities to boost their own numbers as well.  However, have no doubt that the central gate keepers to all of this were our government sponsored entities that were protected and shielded by some very driven members of congress who refused to question the system.  There is no doubt that McCain led the fight to reform these entities and saw what was coming down the pipeline and unfortunately, disarmed by his unpopularity, Bush was unable to garner the support in Congress to correct the situation.  The Democratic feeding frenzy regarding these loans had far too much momentum.  That said, what is important to remember is that we are seeing a breakdown in our financial markets, which is having an effect on the economy.  This is not a result of economic policies such as spending, balancing budgets, promoting job growth or tax policy, all which fundamentally drive our economy.  So to say this is a result of Bush policies is patently false and nothing but political rhetoric.  At the heart of this is Democratic attempts to take over personal and private decisions and reengineer them to grow the economy.  There is nothing that Obama has said that would show that he is different from his colleagues.  A vote for Obama is a vote for four more years of Pelosi and Reid failures.

McCain is clear that his vision is to keep private decisions, like health care, investments, and education in the hands of those people who are best able to create, innovate and negotiate the best choices for themselves.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are perfect examples of how Democratic policies will get us into big messes and how their tax, spend, and penalize the innovator policies fail. 

It is clear that many challenges, not just the economy, confront the next administration.  There is no doubt that on the front burner, burning even hotter, is the fact that we are fighting two very complicated and important wars.  These are just two of the battles on the war on terror front.  So much more goes into their success such as intelligence, nation building, diplomacy, strategic alliances, weapons defense, and on the ground infrastructure.  Only McCain understands this and has the capabilities to manage this.  Every proposal offered by Obama has as its number one component the reduction of our defense committments.  This should be alarming.  He is not committed to steering the economy and fighting these two wars.  Make no mistake, he plans to end these wars, successfully or not and attempt to reengineer our economy.  It should bother voters that his chief economic advisors are Raines and Johnson, who each headed up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Penny Pritzker, whose own bank failed while she was at the helm as a result of too many subprime mortgages.  We cannot trust that Obama will see us through all these crises.  He will easily trade in our national security in order to secure his and the Democratic congress’ control of our economy.  We saw what happened with Fannie and Freddie.  With Obama, we know we will lose these wars and we can be pretty sure he will only further entrench our economy into a recession.  Let’s choose a leader who can bring us certain victories.

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Convention Day 3: Service

Each day, there is an assigned theme and that is the focus of the groups and speeches for that day.  The first day was Service, and due to the truncated event as a result of Gustav, all efforts were focused on the relief efforts for the Gulf states.  Day 2 was about Reform and everyone focused on how McCain is different and will make changes in DC.  And yesterday was Prosperity, and while the speeches focused on reducing taxes, improving the economy and reforming government and spending, the real work done by the delegates was SERVICE.  I along with many, many, many other delegates spent much of the day packing care boxes for the folks down in the Gulf region.  I wanted to share with you some photos, very brief snapshots of those efforts:

Assembly line relief efforts

Assembly line relief efforts

Boxes filled with food ready to go to the Gulf

Boxes filled with food ready to go to the GulfA fellow Illinois delegate putting together care packages

It was amazing to see you how so many people could do so much in such a short amount of time.  I haven’t heard the final numbers, but there were Target and Fed EX trucks lined up waiting to be filled with boxes.  I also had the opportunity to hear Senator Brownbeck and Michael Steele speak at a conference discussing the role of religion and faith in a politician’s life.  Michael Steele moved the audience (including some to tears) in telling the story of his own adoption and his gratitude to his natural mother for choosing his life. 

Here I am with Sen. Brownbeck (excuse the glare)

Here I am with Sen. Brownbeck (excuse the glare)

I had some time to kill before the big night.  It was Sarah Palin’s big night and she spoke along with Steele, Romney, and Guiliani.  Where do I begin?  The excitement and the secuirty were at an all-time high and Guiliani kicked it off by attacking the attacks on Palin’s family.  Sarah truly was, even by the New York Times account, “electric”.  It was so exciting to be on the floor for her speech even though I could only best see her on the jumbotrons around the arena.  Nevertheless, she hit a home run again (so far she is batting a thousand) as she took on questions of her experience and Obama’s directly.  She was charming and to the point and even hinted at her own ability to handle foreign policy based on her proximity to Russia.  I think we will see her depth more and more as the weeks come.  No doubt she has sealed her support in the Republican party and has demonstrated she can cross partisan lines. 
So far, for me this convention has been indescribable.  The warmth and sincerity of each person I meet and their committment, not only to getting McCain elected, but to the work they do back home is incredible.  Everyone is down to earth and approachable, even the seemingly remotest of celebrities.  I want to conclude by adding a picture with Karl Rove taken the other night who on the floor with us was friendly, unassuming, generous with his ear, thoughts and time and hilarious!  I wish more than anything America could see the Republican party I see.  We are here to do work and we love this country but we love our families and communities even more by the work we do everyday in home.  Away from the cameras and the lights and the glitz, each person – celebrity, pundit, politician, delgate, volunteer or journalist – really cares about how our lives will be shaped by these efforts and events. 

I wish you could see what a warm and sincere man he is.
I wish you could see what a warm and sincere man he is.

I am truly humbled and honored to be here this week. 

Convention Day 1

The view of the convention from the Illinois seats

The view of the convention from the Illinois seats

Well, as a write this my feet are blistered and I am about to collapse.  And it is only Day 1.  I must learn to pace myself.  The day began with a breakfast meeting for all the Illinois delegates in our hotel.  There we learned about the logistics and the reduced schedule due to Hurricane Gustav.  In fact, many events were reduced or moved up due to the shortened working session of the convention.  After breakfast, I spent the morning with Bobbi Peterson meeting all sorts of fellow delegates and state officials along with many of our media.  One of the nice things is that our local media (including  the Tribune and Sun Times editors as well as Channel 2 (CBS), Channel 7 (ABC) and WGN reporters) are staying with us and participating in many of our activities.  It is a chance for the media to meet each of us and get our input on the story, the issues and our view of the convention.  After breakfast, I joined my husband’s college roommate on a very unusual art tour at the Chambers Hotel.  The hotel has several art installations and a gallery throughout its lobbies including a video project that has security camera footage of guests in their rooms (although really it has actors but it looks like the real thing).  After a quick lunch, it was off to St. Paul and the XCel Energy center for the convention.

The trip to the center was interesting.  The security is incredibly tight and we had a state trooper on our bus and police escort the whole way.  We did not see any protesters but we hear they are here.  Going through the metal detectors was efficient and thorough and then we were in.  My first activity was to meet Tamika Thompson a Young Voices reporter for Tavis Smiley’s show.  It was a great opportunity to talk about why I am writing this blog and how I got it started.  I also got to share some of my views on some of the issues, especially the choice of Palin as VP, and share some of my experiences as a First Timer.  You can tell who we are because we are taking pictures at every turn.  Then it was into the convention hall for the beginning of the first session.

Convention hall before the delegates arrive

Convention hall before the delegates arrive

After a call to order, the pledge and the national anthem, those of us participating in the working committees were called to leave the floor and go to their committee meetings.  There are four working committees, the Rules, Platform, Credentials and Permanent Organizaiton, and each consists of one male and one female delegate from each state.  Our committee nominated and approved the slate of officers for the RNC Organization.  With that work done, we returned to the floor to hear from various party officers and then we had remote feeds from each of the gulf state governors (all Republicans) who remained home to manage the effects of Gustav.  As a result, many of the later events became fundraisers.  And then Laura Bush and Cindy McCain each spoke about the crisis facing our southern gulf states and gave out fundraising information.  The speeches were short and serious and both women are just so gracious that is was moving to see them speak.  Because our seats are located right next to Fox News podium, we have front row seats to their coverage, and we had the privilege to watch close up Greta Von Susteren’s interview with both women.   After leaving the floor I had the privilege to meet Sen. Sam Brownbeck at a gathering for the Catholics for McCain.  By the way, they had really good cheeseburger sliders.  After hobbling out to the bus back to the hotel, I finally got to sit down and put my feet up. 

There is no doubt that there are challenges facing this convention.  Gustav and Palin’s daughter have affected the media coverage of the event and as a result, Americans are not able to see that there is real work being done.  Not only are delegations getting together to help raise funds for relief efforts, but a lot of work is going on within each delegation.  I hear my fellow delegates talking constantly about the issues facing their districts and the changes they are working for.  Not only is it an opportunity to network, but to share information whether it is about how to deal with a certain public offical or how local officials resolved problems.  It puts to rest the notion that conventions are merely media events.  It is a genuine sharing of party ideals and getting to know the people who are working hard to make their districts or states better.  I feel like I have become Pollyanna, but I am encouraged by our political process as I see the real work up close.   No doubt our campaign faces some challenges but I am so confident now that the delegates and candidates are up to these challenges and will meet them head on with grace, dignity and honest hard work.

Convention Eve: My Arrival in Minneapolis

Posing with Honest Abe

Posing with Honest Abe

The cast of American Carol

The cast of American Carol

Tomorrow is the first day of the RN Convention.  I have to admit I was incredibly excited this morning as I packed my bags for the airport.  The convention, however, has taken on a different atmosphere as everybody tracks the path of Hurrican Gustav.  In light of the likely disaster, the actual workings of the convention have been reduced to the bare minimum business.  Tomorrow’s session will only include the official opening of the convention and the work of the committees.  There will be no prime time showcase speeches and President Bush has cancelled his appearance.  Even some of the more public events have been cancelled as well.  I think this is appropriate.  It is hard to celebrate when a large contingent of the country is being evacuated from their homes.  Also, instead of promising action on behalf of Americans, party members want to commit themselves to actually serving the needs of Americans.  I definitely sense a strong atmosphere of concern for those along the Gulf Coast.  But there is still work to be done here and many people here seem more committed to getting important things done efficiently and without too much waste. 

I have already begun the part of meeting my fellow delegates, not only from Illinois but around the country.  On the plane I sat next to Bobbi Petersen from Will County and she was such a delight.  She seems to know her way around these things which is helpful to a first timer like me.  At the baggage pickup when we arrived, she was able to introduce me to two other delegates from our flight.  We also spotted Mo Rocca from the Comedy channel.Then we all got to be interviewed by our local TV station, WGN about our arrival.  My husband recorded it so I can’t wait to see it.  I proudly wore a Cubs hat given to me at the last minute by my son before I left so it did its work.  After finding our way to the hotel, we were greeted by IL GOP officials and tons of “stuff”.  I’ve been to business conferences before but this is even better.  Lots of snacks, tchothckes, books, souvenirs but my favorite is the AFLEC goose that says “AFLEC! AFLEC!” when you press it.

Then it was off to the premiere of the Michael Moore satire, An American Carol.  And yes, there was popcorn, sodas and movie candy like Milk Duds, Junoir Mints and Twizzlers.  The movie had some funny parts and many of the cast members along with Director David Zucker were there so it was fun to hear them talk about the film.   I sat with a really nice McCain delegate from Massachusetts named Monica and got to hear about how hard it is to be a delegate in Romney land.   I could definitely get spoiled.  The next stop was a Red Carpet reception for all the Delegates which had not only really good food (the food at American Carol was the best so far) but very interesting exhibits including a miniature White House, historical displays, an Air Force One fuselage, a Lincoln impersonater and even Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty.  Also, tons of McCain/Palin items for sale, so lots of shopportunity.  On the way to another event, I got to see Sen. Lieberman arrive at his hotel.

My final stop was to the nightclub, EPIC, which had goody bags and Vodka and Nutrisoda drinks (they tasted like Flinstone chewable vitamins) and met a large crew from the North Dakota delegation.  We met Connie who is also Secretary of the Contest Committee and she will be calling the roll call as the official in charge.  It was really interesting to hear from an expert at these things and to hear her enthusiasm for the convention and the VP pick, especially from a true veteran.  I also learned that there is a nudist among their delegation which is rather funny given they live in North Dakota.  I also learned of the friendly rivalry with South Dakota.  That actually brings to mind that every where I have been and everyone I have met is excited to be here, proud of their state and there is a feeling that we are all part of team working for this incredible goal.  I know it sounds hokey but it is really true.

As a I get ready to collapse, I am looking forward to a day of real work and getting to know so many more people.  Food Ratings:  American Carol had the best hors’douevres, and an A+ for the movie snacks, a C- for the vitamin drinks.

Convention Countdown: 3 Days to Go and a VP!

What an exciting day.  Obama and the Democrats have had their big night and by all accounts it was as expected:  a lot of smoke and mirrors (literally), a well delivered speech laying out pie in the sky promises, and the “crowning” (not my words but an ABC reporter’s) of their nominee.  But the celebration seems to be shortlived as McCain is set to announce his VP, in yet another historic move. 

As I am writing this, Fox News is reporting that they have confirmed that the VP will be Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska.  I am thrilled to have both a woman and pro-lifer on the ticket.  Just this morning someone asked me who I thought it might be and I said that based on the conference calls I have particpated on and the tidbits I get from within the campaign, I thought it would be a surprise.  When I said it may very well be a woman and Palin, people thought I was crazy.  Wednesday evening, during one of our weekly delegate conference calls, we heard about the platform committee’s work and got a clear understanding of what will be the cornerstone issues.  After the call, in discussing it with fellow delegates, the tea leaf reading was that the VP may very well not be Romney or Pawlenty.  All of the work of the last couple of days has been about reading tea leaves but now we can move forward on defining the Party and  getting our message out to voters.

So what is in the Platform?  Well one of the most prominent issues is the Supreme Court and appointments to the federal bench generally.  This is probably the one area in which the President alone has the greatest effect on our lives.  It is clear that Senator McCain is pro-life and the courts are the most important battlegrounds for that issue.    To emphasize those values, Palin as VP would underscore McCain’s committment to upholding the value of every human life.  But I am politicizing and what is more important is to relay that it seems like the Platform Committee work is well underway.  Look for a big discussion on the courts and a heavy handed look at Joe Biden’s failure as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to get qualified, intelligent judges appointed and his politicizing of appointments.  Remember he led the attack on Robert Bork the most qualified man never to be appointed.  I have also been actively helping out the Catholic Working Group from the campaign which is McCain’s organized effort not only to reach out to Catholic voters, but to address and consider those issues that Catholics and other religious folks are most concerned about.  It has been a great opportunity to meet Josh Lynch, the director and to see the great events they are sponsoring.  In addition to a Mass, there will also be talks including a very timely one by Archbishop Chaput who has written a book “Render Unto Ceaser”, which addresses the faith/political life dichotomy.  You may remember Chaput who recently criticized Sen. Biden who is being touted by the Democrats as the Catholic candidate.  Based on the responses to McCain’s strong convictions expressed at the Saddleback debate and with Biden, a Catholic, as VP nominee, this group will be working hard during the campaign.  Look for more information on these efforts in the weeks to come.

In speaking with fellow delegates, it is clear that we are an excited and energized group.  I am amazed at how many first time delegates, like me, there are.  I think this speaks volumes about the process and the direction of the state party.  Having fresh new faces active in a party brings a lot.  I am also amazed at how many veterans are continuing to serve their country by becoming delegates.  It not only shows the confidence that our military personnel have in McCain as the next commander-in-chief, but how important our national security and defense is as an issue.  Terrorism is not going away and to think that we can keep at bay through negotiation and law enforcement is not sufficient. 

If the pundits are right and that the Democratic convention, but for a few highlighted speeches, was slow, lackluster and not an exposition of the ideas of the party, I think we will see the opposite from Minneapolis/St. Paul.  The “vibe” I get (and yes, I can generate my own enthusiasm) is that people are excited to get out there and showcase the new and bright talent of the Republican Party, to show that it is not a party mired in old stereotypes and worn out ideas but has a fresh, optimistic and innovative look towards the future.  Yeah, I am a little corny, but am psyched to be part of that.

Convention Countdown: One Week to Go

It is one week before delegates arrive in Minnesota for the Convention.  The last month has been a series of weekly conference calls, either with the national campaign or the local delegation officials.  Much of these calls deal with logistics:  hotel information, transportation, meal and briefing schedules and, yes, what to wear.  It may sound superficial, but because the event is televised and there will be lots of media looking for stories and interviews,  you should assume you will be caught on camera or interviewed by some news outlet.  I have to say, as someone who does not dress up for work everyday, this is helpful information – how formal? how business like? what level of casual?  It has also given me a small license to shop which, as my sister says, is a “shopportunity”.  But these calls are also a good way to feel the pulse of the campaign and how it changes from week to week.  One of the early calls suggested that one way to get the Republicans into the media spotlight is to offer our individual stories as delegates.  It is clear that when looking at my fellow delegates, the Republican party is a diverse and interesting group of people, many of whom are a far cry from the “country-club, business owning, white, higher income” stereotype.  So, in one sense, this blog is a way to get “my story” out there, let people know that Republicans represent normal people who spend most of their time doing normal everyday things for and with their families.  Another clear direction is that we are encouraged to speak about the kind of person McCain is and about his family and accomplishments, but disparaging other candidates is not supported by the campaign.  This has been McCain’s consistent strategy from the primaries into the general election:  this is about issues and the differences on these issues, it is not about slinging mud.

One of the overwhelming parts is the inundation of invitations to events:  not just food related, but real substantive presentations.  My first invite was to an event sponsored by a No Tax Organization, but then the next was to a movie premiere.  Since I am a huge movie buff, I responded with an immediate yes to see “An American Carol”, a satire poking fun at Michael Moore and Hollywood liberals.  I hope there is free popcorn.  But since then, there are invites to discussions on many hotbutton issues, from taxes to the Supreme Court.  The Federalist Society (of which I have been a member) is hosting a truly bi-partisan debate on the future of the Supreme Court between Ted Olsen (former Solicitor General under Bush) and Lawrence Tribe (liberal Harvard Law Professor and litigator).  And these events are just the extra-curriculars,  things to attend apart from the actual delegation meetings and daily briefings and the actual Convention itself.  My sense is that food is the real draw, but I will let you know how things taste.  I guess I could have a special food critic section to this as well.

Because the names of the delegates have been given to the press, I, like many of my co-delegates, have had requests for interviews.  I have had the opportunity to speak to the NY TImes/CBS News, our local Daily Herald and have requests for a couple of national talk shows.  It really is exciting.  Some of the interviews are about who I am, how I got to be a delegate and what are my views on the state of the war, the economy and who might the VP pick be.  But others are less open and more specific, like responding to poll-like questions.  The problem with those poll-question interviews is that the answers they are looking for are supposed to be black and white.  What I have learned is that there is no pure yes or not answer to something like:  Will McCain continue the policies of George Bush?  Well, on some things, yes, in principle, but maybe no in terms of manner.  I also find it important to distinguish my own personal views and hopes from that of the campaign and McCain himself.  Making those distinctions and keeping those views separate is probably the hardest part.   But the questions themselves are incredibly insightful into the media strategy for covering the campaign, and to some extent, revealing where the liberal bias is and what direction it is taking the coverage.   

And finally, there is my participation on the Permanent Organization Committee.  During the Convention, I will be meeting with RNC officials along with two delegates (one man and one woman) from each state to nominate those party members that will serve the party in an official capacity.  It is important because those whom we choose will be responsible for the party’s and the convention’s organization.  The most famous committees are probably the Rules and Platform Committees and they have already been working hard.  I am looking forward to seeing up close the inner workings of the party and getting to know delegates from other states.

My Journey

In early 2007,  with the encouragement of a friend on the Illinois McCain Finance Committee, I signed on to support Senator McCain.   The Senator was strong on so many of the issues I care about:  national security and defense, lower taxes, pro-life and the committment to support non-activist judges.  It seemed early to pick a candidate since there were so many different choices out there but it was a great opportunity to commit to the right person at the early stages of a campaign.  Back in the spring of 2007, through the summer and even in the fall, it looked like it was going to be Guiliani or Romney , with everybody waiting to see what Thompson was going to do.  What a long way since then.  In September, I was asked by Julie Brady, another McCain delegate and the real workhorse in the Illinois vounteer efforts, if I would like to be on the ballot as a delegate.  Because I live in the 9th Congressional district, heavily gerry-mandered to be very liberal/Democrat, I sometimes wonder if it was because the campaign had to find at least one interested Republican in the district.  Little did I realize what that was going to mean!  Again, because of the very strong liberal presence, I had to get creative about how I got signatures for my petition.  Most of the time, I was pleasantly suprised by the support from friends, neighbors and strangers from the other side of the aisle.  But there was always the surprising “There is no way I would support the Republicans” even from people I knew.  I wasn’t even asking for a vote!  It made me realize that politics run deep, even if you are just asking to be on the ballot.  The best part was having the opportunity to learn more about Evanston and the rest of the district and meet so many incredible people.  Out in Des Plains and Park Ridge, I met some of the warmest and truly committed people and that reenergized my committment to be involved, however possible. 

The next few months were pretty quiet since the liberal candidates were more popular in a relatively liberal district.   But then the national tide turned and McCain quickly became the front runner.  By the Illinois primary in early February, it became McCain’s race to lose and the momentum in Illinois and the district really picked up.  Even though the campaign was way behind in dollars, the philosphical support was rolling in.  The excitement of watching the primary results that Tuesday night, along with the other delegates, was incredible.  All of a sudden it was all McCain.  It wasn’t just whether a pledged delegate won the district, but there was friendly competition among the delegates in the same district as to who got more votes.  I know that I benefited tremendously by not only being pledged for McCain, but also having my name first on the ballot  It did not hurt either that Karen Berkowitz, in the Evanston Review had published the week before a really nice interview with me and my family.  (See “Delegates Hope to Make History”, January 31, 2008, Evanston Review, www.PioneerLocal.com)

So that is how I came to be a delegate.  The real fun and work has already kicked in.  I have had some great opportunities to participate in local events but the real start was the Illinois Republican Convention, in Decatur, IL in June.  Decatur, by the way, is the birthplace of the Republican Party, started by none other than Abraham Lincoln.  It makes being an Illinois Republican extra special and extra authentic.  The convention was not only a great place to learn and participate in the work of the state party, learn about its goals and mission, but to meet other active Republicans – delegates, committeepersons, office holders, fundraisers, the whole gamut.  Although I have come to know well many of the Evanston Republicans, who are starting to come out of the woodwork, it was great to meet others, even from Cook County and the city of Chicago.  Yes, there are Republicans in Chicago.  It is quite clear that the state party is committed to putting forth strong, honest office holders and to end the corruption and even appearance of it within the party and state government as a whole.  There is a lot of work to be done, but it is not impossible.  The party clearly is working to support new, hardworking (and conservative!) candidates and is focusing on the integrity of the person.  Aaron Schock, the state representative from Peoria, and Brendan Appel, running for state rep. in Glenview are two that come immediately to mind  I have to say that attending the state convention has re-energized my own personal committment to being an active Republican and to supporting my local officials as well.  We have so many extraordinary young bright and ethical people waiting in the wings and it is exciting to be part of that.  If I feel this way after the state convention, I can’t imagine what will happen in September in Minneapolis/St. Paul.