Excited by election prospects, local GOP plans comeback

100 gather at country club, delighted to find other Republicans


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By BOB SKOLNIK, Contributing Reporter

Editor's note: The update to this article involved a slight change to the wording of a quote.

As election rallies go, last night’s Republican rally held at the Oak Park Country Club was a pretty low key affair. No flags, no bunting, no music, not even a microphone. But for the 100 or so local Republicans who showed up it was enough to be with like minded folks, something especially welcome for that rare species, an Oak Park Republican.

Pat Fiorini and his wife Marcia have lived in Oak Park for 34 years.

“I’m surrounded by Democrats and socialists,” Pat Fiorini said. “They disagree with me on everything and think I’m crazy.”

Marcia Fiorini said it was a relief to see other local Republicans.

“I was beginning to wonder if they existed around here,” Marcia Fiorini said.

Former Wednesday Journal columnist Tom Carraher said when he was growing up Oak Park was a Republican town.

“That’s how I was brought up,” Carraher said. “That’s how Oak Park was in the 70’s when I was raised.”

Carraher too said that it was reassuring to see other Republicans.

“We make jokes about having a meeting in a phone booth, but when you see something like tonight you know there are a lot more of us than you think,” Carraher said.

The rally was an annual event that River Forest Township Republican Committeeman Tom Cronin has been holding since he was elected committeeman in 2006.

This year Cronin decided to co-host the event with new Oak Park Township Republican Committeewoman Linda Tibensky who was named to her post this summer after no one ran for the office in February’s primary election.

Tibensky, a retired Spanish teacher who taught at Oak Park and River Forest High School, said her new post has been a challenge.

“It’s been a struggle, a challenge actually,” Tibensky said. “I really think we can get us back on track again and build from the ground up and have a good, strong Republican Party. I think we need at least a two party system in this country. That’s what democracy is all about.”

Tibensky predicted that Republicans would do very well in the election on Tuesday.

“The public of Illinois is mad and they want that change,” Tibensky said.

At the gathering Cronin recognized the fourth annual Walsh Service Award Recipients. Receiving the award -- named after Cronin’s predecessor former state senator Dick Walsh -- were former River Forest Village President Frank Paris and former River Forest village trustee and noted tennis instructor Nancy Dillon. Paris was at his Florida home and unable to attend the event. But Dillon was present to accept her plaque.

The crowd also heard from Congressman Peter Roskam (R-6th District) and a number of Republican candidates including state treasurer candidate Dan Rutherford; 7th district congressional candidate Mark Weiman, a Chicago dentist challenging incumbent Danny Davis in a heavily Democratic district; state attorney general candidate Steve Kim and Elmwood Park mayor and Cook County Board Commissioner Peter Silvestri.

Roskam accused Democrats of “trying to borrow and spend their way to prosperity” as he railed against the huge federal budget deficit.

He was confident Republicans would do very well on Tuesday.

“This cake is baked,” Roskam said. “The American public is going to say to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, this is enough.”

The rally, which had more of an atmosphere of a wedding reception or birthday party, was held in the casual basement bar and grill room of the ornate country club on Thatcher Road. Attendees munched on cheese, crackers, vegetables and meatballs and enjoyed the open bar.

Cronin said the country club was simply a convenient place to hold the annual event and not symbolic of the Republicans being a party just for the rich.

“I hope a lot of those prejudices and stereotypes are gone, long gone,” Cronin said. “They should be.”

Practical considerations made the country club the best place for the event Cronin said.

“This is just a great location for Oak Park and River Forest,” Cronin said. “There aren’t that many places that are as convenient and simple with parking. There’s just a lot of practical issues that come into play when you’re planning an event. We like to serve a little food.”

Bob Gale, a 44 year resident of River Forest said the location of the event influenced his decision to attend although he also wanted to be there because Nancy Dillon taught him, as she did perhaps thousands of others, how to play tennis.

“Although I live a few blocks from here I’ve never been here,” Gale said. “I really wanted to see this place.”

The gathered Republicans were optimistic about Tuesday’s election.

“I think it’s going to be a great Tuesday for us,” Carraher said. “I really do.”


                                    Brady fundraiser upstairs

At the same time the rally was taking place there was a small private fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady being held in a side room on the main floor of the Oak Park Country Club.  Cronin said that he was not informed by the Brady campaign that the fundraiser was taking place.

The rally was free of charge and invitations were sent out to more than 1,300 local Republicans.



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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Alan from oak Park  

Posted: October 30th, 2010 11:43 AM

I want to thank Dan Lauber for a good belly laugh in referring to Mr. Obama as a political moderate Hilarious, truly hilarious.Thanks Dan

Richard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 30th, 2010 3:18 AM

When folks ask me where I live I tell them: The People's Republic of Oak Park...they chuckle and nod their heads. They know exactly what I mean.

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: October 30th, 2010 1:57 AM

I agree with Tad statement but suspect his idea will not be adopted for at least five more days. I think using common sense is the answer to most problems. For instance, it is not common sense for Republicans to invite the press to a country club to hear them complaining about their lawn signs being stolen less than a week before Halloween. Definitely not a great agenda or common sense.

Tad Wefel  

Posted: October 30th, 2010 12:43 AM

Now is the time for everyone to calm down. Republicans, Democrats, "socialists" and "fascists" alike. Economic stress everywhere is leading people to voice opinions that do not lead to progress or problem solving. It's time to start thinking a little less confrontational and a little more rationale. Anyone willing to talk on Oak Park issues in a more level-headed, non-partisan, straight-forward manner is welcome to join me. Let's start problem solving.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 9:37 PM

Looks like even Oak Park Republicans have moved so far to the right that they think political moderates like President Obama are socialists. I fear that the hypocritical Republicans will do well November 2, only because they can exploit the short memory of voters who forget that it was the Republicans who created the conditions that enabled the banking community to collapse the economy. I fear the voters can be fooled again.

Sarah from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 7:32 PM

It is our experience that the tolerance liberal Oak Parkers preach only applies to those with likeminded politics. During the 2004 presidential election season we put in a small Bush-Cheney sign after every neighbor without exception installed a Kerry-Edwards sign. That sign was stolen. We put in another. That too was stolen. So, we installed a large 4x6 sign. One morning we came out of the house to find it bent perpendicular to the ground and tire tracks in our yard.

jean heyes from oak park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 7:03 PM

I have given up on yard signs - altogether. My GOP signs are always destroyed right away. These signs cost candidates money. Funny thing - the democrat signs always remain standing - across the street. I guess I have an ill wind.

Maraya from Oak   

Posted: October 29th, 2010 6:59 PM

When my neighbors pulled up my Bush sign they were so proud of themselves they told me that they not only pulled it out, but threw it in the trash. Impressive. I wonder if they also threw away my Dan Hynes sign?

Joseph Wemhoff from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 5:54 PM

We few Republicans in Oak Park represent diversity of thought. Why doesn't Oak Park celebrate us?

Renee Zoltowski from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 3:00 PM

I have noticed kids walking by my home on the way to the park pulling or knocking down politcal signs. I dont think that democrats are taking the signs, I dont think it is a malicious act, just kids. But I have had signs knocked down or torn out from my yard, too. I am a democrat/independant.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 2:56 PM

in re yard signs -- I am always amused when GOP'ers, who generally disdain the victimization culture when it applies to anyone other than themselves, are so quick to make these claims regarding yard signs. Coming from the other side of the political fence, I can assure them that *everyone* gets yard signs pulled down in this town, and I have to assume it's usually kids who sadly seem not to have any better way to spend their time. These claims of political victimization are simply half-baked.

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