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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008 01:32 pm


Local Republicans are standing by their man

Untitled Document It seemed like a good idea at the time: Calling Rudy Giuliani the party’s “best chance at victory in the general election,” on Dec. 19 the Sangamon County Republican Party gave the ex-mayor of New York City its endorsement for president. For much of December — really, for the better part of 2007 — Giuliani held an edge over his Republican rivals in most national polls. Giuliani’s compassionate-cowboy persona was also expected to play well going into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses even though he didn’t campaign there.
But not only did the former frontrunner finish in sixth place in the Hawkeye State, Giuliani has yet to even break into the top three among vote-getters in any primary contest so far. That hasn’t deterred county GOP chairman Tony Libri from supporting Giuliani, however. “I’ll put it to you this way: You can win all the Shermans and Chathams you want, but you still have to win the big city,” Libri says. Libri, who serves as Sangamon County circuit clerk, still believes that Giuliani is the most electable Republican come November. He adds that Giuliani is the only Republican seeking the nomination who is committed to winning Illinois. Libri acknowledges that Giuliani’s moderate leanings on abortion and gay rights may not sit well with some local conservatives.
“You can support all the losing candidates you want, and at the end of the election you won’t have anything,” he says. “Giving us 85 percent of what we want is better than 40 percent of what we want. He might not give us everything we want, but he gives us more than the other side.”
Giuliani has spent several weeks campaigning in Florida — a veritable buffet of Republicanism that was key to deciding the outcome of the 2000 general election. Voters in the Sunshine State go to the polls on Jan. 29; if Giuliani doesn’t do well in that critical test, the atmosphere at the local Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Luncheon, which Giuliani is scheduled to keynote, is likely to be glum. Illinois holds its primary on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5. Libri says Giuliani’s willingness to spend time in Springfield before the critical vote was one of the reason precinct committee members endorsed the candidate.
None of the other Republican contenders, Libri says, has made plans to campaign in central Illinois. “They assume it’s [Barack] Obama country,” he says, “and that may be true, but why ignore the state’s Republican voters?” 

Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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