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Thursday, April 13, 2006 08:21 pm

The Hype

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Where’s the fire? Nowhere. Gov. Rod Blagojevich picked up a major endorsement this week from the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois — for whom, as first responders, a few seconds can be the difference between life and death. The governor arrived 23 minutes late. At least he didn’t disappoint. The governor’s notorious for being fashionably late. About half an hour passed before he made it to his reelection announcement in Lincoln Park in February. A couple of years ago, Hot Rod was slow to the funeral of Senate Majority Leader Vince Demuzio, also by about 20 minutes. Speaking at Springfield’s Firehouse No. 1 earlier this week, Blagojevich plugged his proposals to provide free preschool and health care to all kids in Illinois, saying that he likes waking up in the morning and fighting for the state’s senior citizens and children. I just wonder how many times the governor hits the snooze button before he finally gets out of bed.
Not such a Dolce vita After a press conference by GOP gubernatorial nominee and state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, a mob of journalists cornered a Rod Blagojevich campaign volunteer who’d shown up to distribute a list of questions and video record the news conference, by his admission, at the behest of Blago mouthpieces Sheila Nix and Doug Scofield. The young man stood firm at first. He deferred all inquiries to Nix and Scofield but, after some intense goading, finally ’fessed up, identifying himself as Nick Dolce and admitting that the Blagojevich camp had indeed put him up to it. Though visibly shaken up by the full-court interrogation by the press, Dolce told me later on the elevator that, if asked to, he’d probably do it again.
UNDETERRED A couple weeks ago, Springfield Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil said that he was considering running for the 17th District congressional seat — soon to be vacated by 12-term U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, who is battling Parkinson’s disease. Since then, Evans — who is well liked both in the Land of Lincoln and on Capitol Hill — has tapped Phil Hare, a longtime aide, as his preferred successor. Yet, McNeil says, he’s still thinking about going for it. Running for Congress, he says, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and he’s not discouraged by Evans’ endorsement of Hare. “If you don’t seek it, you may never find it,” McNeil says.
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