Daily Herald Columnist Eric Krol wielded a sharp pen against House Minority Leader Tom Cross on Friday. The column was pretty harsh and almost seemed vengeful. While they say that you should never pick a fight with someone who buys their ink by the barrel, I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Eric on a few issues.
Krol asserts that Cross "staged a coup against Lee Daniels, then House GOP leader". While that's how it may seem to an outsider and it certainly makes for a more sexy copy, it just isn't true. I was employed by the Leader's office under Daniels, and participated in a few campaigns through the HRCC (Daniel's campaign arm). The "stink" around Daniels had gotten so strong and his organization (HRCC) had atrophied to the point of failing to fund campaigns, that something needed to be done. It wasn't Cross alone that "staged this coup". It was rather a "falling from grace" that happened, and Cross, along with folks like Carolyn Krause, Pat Lindner, Brent Hassert, Skip Saviano, Renee Kosel, and Eileen Lyons filled the void. Did Cross assume the Leadership role in this group? Sure he did, but to claim that he alone took down Daniels isn't accurate.
Krol then asserts that Cross hasn't done enough to rid the party of Bob Kjellander. He says "then late last year, after the issue had pretty much played itself out, Cross called for Kjellanderâs ouster". Ummm....that's just false, Eric. You should know better. A simple Google search would turn up evidence to the contrary. That article is from August of 2005. I won't quote it here, I'll let you guys go read it.
Krol then goes on to say that even if Cross was going to leverage his reach and abilities as House Republican Leader to higher office, he'd face a tough fight for either Governor or AG. That's probably true, but I don't quite know why Krol thinks that Cross taking a Constitutional Office is "unlikely". I guess he thinks Bill Bradey has a better shot, eh? Come on. Cross is THE best Republican leader in the state to lead our party back. He comes from a county that's just outside of the collars, he strikes a moderate approach, and he's willing to build consensus to get things done.
Next, Krol goes after Cross' record of picking up seats in the House. He hasn't won back the majority, that's for sure. If that's what Eric is talking about. He's right. Cross hasn't succeeded. But take a look at what happened this past year. Which way did the state go? Or even...look at the nation. It went democratic. Do you think that's Cross' fault? No, it's not. I'm impressed that he didn't lose more seats. Look at Dave McSweeney. That's a GOP district. Look at Mark Kirk. He barely hung on. Same with Roskam. If you think that next year is going to easier, it won't. Especially if Obama is on the national ticket. Playing defense and picking up a seat or two is the right approach. Just ask Frank Watson. The House Republican's aren't irrelevant.
Krol then says that Cross doesn't "lead". Um...Eric...who wants a top-down approach to government? Who wants a dicatator approach? I know I certainly don't. That's the "old way".
Finally, Krol takes exception with Cross straying from Speaker Hastert to back Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential primary. To me, it's the smartest move Cross and his spokesman David Dring have made (the better story for an enterprising columnist would be to ask how they got hooked up with Rudy. Eric...if you want to go ahead and take that story, I'm ok with that..). If you do have your eyes on the prize for 2010 for Governor or AG, what better way to quietly and soundly build a statewide organization than to run a race for America's Mayor. He'll be able to round up volunteers from every corner of the state. He'll have email addresses, sign locations, volunteers, and donors. Oh yeah...and guess who'll be coming to town to raise money for Cross in 2009? That's right. Rudy.
I've taken a critical eye towards Cross' web and interactive approach, and I think it needs one. They had a great start. They were soooooo far out in front of anyone. They dropped the ball and fumbled a few yards back, but with Rudy's help, and a half-way decent email campaign (with polls), they're on their way to building a successful operation.
They also have some of the strongest pieces in place in personnel. With David Dring and Kevin Artl doing the messaging and media, they'll be as stong an operation in Illinois. They only need to get rid of the small-thinking bureaucratic folks who like to keep everything and everyone buttoned down. Small people with small thoughts who kill ideas aren't good for an organization. They'll ruin you, Tom.