Illinois Values Voters Forum: Rep. Joe Walsh, State Rep. Morrison, More

-By Warner Todd Huston

On Saturday morning, Dec. 3, I attended an event put on in Carpentersville, Illinois by Allen Skillcorn. The Illinois Value Voters Forum was billed as a forum on social issues, but it was also a great opportunity to have a nice friendly chat with several Illinois politicians on a variety of issues, not just those “values” issues we generally associate with social conservatism.

Results of Straw Poll Below the Fold

The Panel

Panelists included 8th District Congressman Joe Walsh, 54th District State Representative Tom Morrison, former State Rep Penny Pullen (currently of the Life Advocacy Research Project), and Bruno Behrend who was on hand to represent Adam Andrzejewski’s Open The Books Portal Project, a website where you can learn how much your public officials are making off the taxpayers. Along with the panel above, quite a few local officials and candidates in the hunt for the GOP nomination in their district also came out to meet and greet attendees.

Allen Skillcorn introducing Rep. Joe Walsh

Rep. Joe Walsh and Bruno Behrend

The first question posed by moderator Skillcorn was “when does life begin,” a common enough question for the values crowd. Ever the rebel, Congressman Walsh went on a ten-minute discussion on why we need to change Congress to GOP control and why we need to send “the right kind of Republicans” to Washington. But, after the stump speech, he did answer the question: “at conception,” of course.

The rest of the panel generally agreed with that, but I’d like to dwell a bit on Walsh’s stump speech. He reminded us of the fiscal disaster that this nation faces and he said that we should not forget that “the Republican Party helped us get here and we have to say that forcefully and respectfully.”

But Walsh saw a “revolution” stirring with the Tea Party and the 2010 midterm vote, one that has “only just started.”

“We are trying to take this thing called government and shrink it and tame it so we the people can better control it. But we need to get a Republican Party that will do that. This means we can’t send Republicans that are more interested in getting reelected to Washington. We need them to get there and do the hard work.”

Walsh noted that the Washington Post called the few House Republican rabble rousers like himself the “apocalypse caucus” because they feel that government must be fixed but that they might have to be “burn it down” first. Of this group, Walsh said, “we need to make the apocalypse caucus three times bigger.”

Sadly, Joe felt that the party was not ready to fight the battles that are ahead.

“If Obama is reelected we won’t be able to get rid of Obamacare and if he has the chance to appoint more justices to the Supreme Court it will be a disaster for decades. But even if we take the Senate and keep the House we’ll get an establishment that says ‘but we must protect this majority’ and won’t take on the big issues. We need at least another two election cycles to get ahead of this and we need to put in Republicans that will fight,” he said. “It won’t be a victory unless we send the right kind of Republicans to Washington,” Walsh reiterated.

As to Obamacare, Walsh said that we need to put a clear “final nail” in Obamacare. He also noted that it was vitally important to prevent a second Obama term so that he won’t put more left-wingers on the Supreme Court.

Rep. Tom Morrison and Penny Pullen

Now, back to the conception issue. The other three members of the panel stuck a little closer to the question. Bruno Behrend (sitting in for Adam Andrzejewski and also the go-to education guy for the Heartland Institute) said that we should be unapologetic about our principles because, “life is a more powerful issue than choice.” State Rep. Tom Morrison said that he thinks life begins at conception and went on to note that he also doesn’t favor any exceptions for rape or incest. “Why sentence a child to death for what his father did,” Morrison asked. Morrison also said that even with Democrat control of Springfield we are only a few votes short of a pro-life majority. For her part, Penny Pullen agreed.

Pullen went on to discuss the gay marriage issue. She noted that with the civil unions statute we already have defacto gay marriage. In fact, she notes that the statute is pretty much marriage in everything but name. But, she warned, the gay lobby is not after “marriage,” it is after the state benefits that come with it. This, she says, will add to an already over burned state pension system.

Behrend agreed. “The gay lobby is setting out pickets in a greater battle to attack Illinois churches,” he said. “They want to be able to sue churches” for violations of supposed civil rights. Behrend recommended a book called After the Ball A book that laid out the marketing plan for pushing the gay agenda written in the 1990s. This book, Behrend told us, is how they won the issue and is a book from which we could learn a few things.

Someone in the audience noted that Kane County already has the second highest rate of civil unions in the state.

The issue of how Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is allowing the gay lobby to chase out religious-based adoption agencies from the business of giving needy children a home through adoption was then brought up. An audience member noted that it is only the kids being hurt by Madigan’s left-wing driven gay “rights” agenda. It was decades ago that the state went to groups like Catholic Charities and pleaded for them to help place these poor children that had no family. But now the state is destroying that helping hand by attempting to force religious institutions to break their religious beliefs and hand children over to gays. Worse, it was noted by several in the room that the state is not able to or even willing to take up the slack that the end of faith-based child services will leave in the state. This will have a serious impact on the state’s neediest citizens.

Penny Pullen chimed in with a point here. “The state is saddling our society with this politically correct social engineering by eliminating religious-based child services from being able to handle adoptions,” she said. Tom Morrison added that, “it is just good public policy that a child have both a mom and a dad living in a married home.”

So, how do we win, what is the good message? Bruno Behrend answered that one.

“The message that will win nationally,” Behrend said, “is that if you’re spending, you’re taxing. Politicians like to say they voted against raising taxes, but look at what they voted to spend on. You can’t spend more without raising taxes. Tell people that they are going to lose their freedom long term if this continues. And as important as it is to win the presidency next year, we need to win back the Senate.”

Behrend went on to lament that Illinois does not have enough well-funded public interest law firms to take the state to court for violating its own statutes, rules, and laws. As noted by an audience member, the Thomas Moore Society is out there, of course, but Behrend wanted to see a group like the Institute for Justice open an office in Illinois. The problem, he said, is that conservative moneymen and donors in Illinois are “too tepid” and won’t think big enough or long term enough to fund these sorts of efforts with their donations. The only way to reverse the criminal atmosphere in Illinois, Behrend insisted, is to force the state to begin toeing the line on the laws it already has on the books.

“Our side is afraid of its own shadow,” Behrend lamented. “They are happy to take the crumbs from the Democrat’s table and afraid to make the bold moves to roll back the problems of this state.”

At the end of the morning’s session some candidates to watch were mentioned. Those candidates include:

  • Brad Halbrook is taking on left-wing Republican Roger Eddy in the 110th State House District.
  • Michele Piszczor, a conservative Democrat facing House Speaker Michael Madigan in the 22nd District
  • Tim Elenz running as a conservative Democrat trying to knock off extreme leftist Mike Noland for the Ill. 22nd District State Senate seat

On Michele Piszczor’s race, it should be noted that this 25-year-old young woman has some guts. She’s already had her tires slashed by the thugs that work for House Speaker Michael Madigan, so the threats are already underway. In fact, Madigan goons have gone around with Piszczor’s petitions so they can steal names away from her. These petitions they intend to gather then destroy to prevent signers from being allocated to her campaign. Typical dirty tricks. But if Madigan was so all-powerful why are they worried about this young woman’s challenge? It’s all more evidence of the low down, dirty tricks of the hatemongers in power in Springfield.

Finally, also in attendance and in no particular order: David McSweeney, candidate for 52nd District State Rep; Jon Zahm, operative and activist; Terry Hunt, candidate for Kane County Auditor; Tom Hartwell, candidate for Kane County Circuit Clerk; Cliff Surges, candidate for the 33rd District State Senate seat; Andrew Palomo, candidate for the 8th Congressional District; Lennie Jarratt, candidate for the 31st District State Senate seat; Sarah Lauzen representing Chris Lauzen who is running for the Kane County GOP Chairman; Janet Silosky, candidate for the 98th District State Rep; Dr Bob Tiballi, candidate for Kane County Coroner; and Jack Cunningham, candidate for the 11th Congressional District. I know I am missing a few, here, so apologies to those that I am not listing. No slight intended.

An enjoyable time was had by all. Thanks to Mr. Skillcorn for hosting.

Straw Poll Results

Newt Gingrich – 48%
Ron Paul – 22%
Rick Santorum – 11%
Michelle Bachman – 11%
Herman Cain – 4%

Here is a little taste of what we saw. Rep. Joe Walsh’s closing comments:

Bill Baar also has some Joe Walsh video from later in the day.

About Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's, and all Breitbart News' other sites,,, and many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs across the country to discuss his opinion editorials and current events as well as appearing on TV networks such as CNN, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and various Chicago-based news programs. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston and follow him on Twitter, on Google Plus , and Facebook.
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