-By Warner Todd Huston
On Thursday night I attended the Chicago Tea Party meeting which featured a jazzed up first term Congressman Joe Walsh who came to announce in which District he’d take a crack at running to affect his reelection to Congress. Without stringing you along, Walsh chose the newly redistricted 8th for his run.
The Chicago Tea Party event was held at Chicago’s famous Cubby Bear restaurant right across the street from The Cub’s Wrigley field stadium.
With the Democrats in control of how Illinois’ electoral map was redrawn — due to the fact that the Illinois GOP has practically no power at all in the state — Walsh became the chief target that Democrats wanted to eliminate for 2012. Walsh’s home is currently in his 8th District, but redistricting casts his home into the 14th District, a district that is already represented by Randy Hultgren, also a solid Republican (and also a freshman congressman To boot).
A full House for Joe’s announcement at Chicago’s favorite Cubby Bear Pub
Initially Walsh announced plans to primary Hultgren and run in the newly jiggered 14th District. But as the weeks rolled on that prospect seemed an increasingly dismal idea. To primary another Republican would have meant a very, very bloody primary fight, one that would do neither Hultgren nor Walsh — nor Republicans for that matter — any good at all regardless of who won the primary.
This led Walsh to a hard decision and that is what brought him to the Cubby Bear that night.
Walsh gave about a 13-minute speech on what he saw as the issues facing America as we near the 2012 elections. By turns defiant, humbled, and weary, Walsh ran through the gamut of emotions, but gave an effective, red-meat speech that the Tea Partiers in attendance very much enjoyed.
The Congressman told the crowd that he was not one of those politicians that was desperate to be a Congressman, but that he felt called to serve in this time of utmost urgency because he and “maybe 20″ other Joe Walsh-styled Republicans were all that stood between the forces that would destroy our country and our ability to “take back our nation.”
Walsh said that he made “an equal number of enemies in both the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment” and that the experience of his first year in Congress left him “thoroughly exhausted, beaten and battered, more tired than you can ever imagine.” But that weariness aside, Walsh feels that we are “at war in this country” and this spurs him to stay in the game.
Here is a taste of Joe’s central point as you can see in the full announcement video at the bottom of this report.
Every body asks me all the time, “what’s it like, Joe, to be a congressman? Are you having a good time?” My answer is always the same, “No. I didn’t think I was going to have a good time”
I went there to stop this president. I went there to grab my Republican Party and shake it up back to its core roots. I went there to go to war. And every day has felt like war, every week has felt like war, every month has felt like war. Folks we’re at war. This country is going through a revolution for the very soul of America. The media doesn’t get it. Neither political party truly, truly gets it yet. And that’s OK. They’re gonna get it.
But this is a war, this is a revolution, if you will, to get us back to what our founders envisioned. To get us back to freedom and limited government. To get us back to the original American dream.
As your Tea Party conservative freshman I can tell you right now being in Washington almost a year, we’re winning this war even though it doesn’t feel like it.
His entire wind up to his big announcement was filled with this sort of chronicle of his first year in Congress.
But as he wound down his stump speech and came to his announcement of where he planned to launch his campaign he gave us some of the reasons why he chose the newly redistricted 8th.
It Just didn’t feel right to me to stay out in the 14th in a nice safe Republican District, take out another Republican in a primary, when the Democrats have drawn an 8th District — my old district, my current district — a new 8th District and reconfigured it to be very Democratic and we Republicans are just going to let that seat go!
It didn’t feel right because one thing we know is that whoever that Democratic nominee is he or she is on the wrong side of this historic fight. So that fight, that fight is my fight. That fight is our fight. And so if we have to live with this Democrat map I will run for reelection in that new 8th and I will run against Tammy Duckworth or Raj…. (interrupted by cheers)
I will run for re-election in that new 8th, I tell you folks it will test, it will certainly test my theory, which I think is all of our theory. This country right now is at a precipice and you either believe in a freedom-loving America, or you believe in Barack Obama’s America where everything EVERYTHING, is dependent on big government. And we spend away our futures.
Most Americans I believe are with us whether they’re in Elk Grove or Wauconda, whether they’re in Addison or Woodstock. I reuse to believe, refuse to believe that most Americans want to be dependent upon government and lose their freedoms. I will not believe it and this run in the 8th will prove we’re right.
But many questions remain. This will still be a hard fight. Just because Walhs is a sitting Congressman and this is his reelect campaign, the establishment GOP is not easily lining up behind him. His new district holds few of the Tea Party supporters that got him elected last year and he’ll have to make new friends before this primary begins.
Because of his late decision, several local groups have already lined up behind one or another of the other three announced candidates in the new 8th District. Joe will have to scramble to gain ground as each of these three have had a jump start on him in the new 8th.
Then there is his decision of the physical locale of his announcement. The near north side neighborhood in which he took the stage is not in his new district. Many question Joe as to why he picked this venue instead of announcing any where in his new district.
I think the answer to that was in the long line of TV cameras that lined the back of the Cubby Bear! TV gave Joe the coverage he was seeking, for sure. Holding this announcement in the city was helpful in getting the media turn out.
Joe mingling with the crowd
In any case, the race is on and Joe has made his decision. All eyes will turn to the other three announced candidates to see what they will do now. (Those other three are Richard Evans, Andrew Palomo, and Darlene Ruscitti)
Right after his speech, I asked Joe what made him choose the newly redistricted 8th. After saying that he thinks Tea Party ideas are secretly accepted by many Democrats, Joe insisted that he wanted to reach out to them in the newly redrawn 8th.
For those interested, here is the full video of Joe’s announcement speech. Naturally I am using a flip cam, so sometimes the video is a bit jumpy as I moved around. You try to hold your arm up in the same position for thirteen minutes without wavering!
Part Two (Announcement at End of Video)
Me and Joe Walsh – I’m sporting a 1920′s era Stetson Select Quality fedora, yes I said it was made in the 1920s and I am in Chicago