The tea party is down but not out, say Jan and Phil Peterson of the Ford County Tea Party.
"I think we were kinda in shock when we got defeated so badly," Jan Peterson, who heads the group, said of the results of the November election, including the re-election of President Barack Obama and Republican losses in Congress and the Illinois General Assembly. "I think we need to go back to the old Republican Party, before it got dominated with people who had their own special interest and don't listen to the people anymore. They need to go back to that and talk to us. They are out of touch with the American people."
Added her husband: "A lot of people were shocked. We had no situational awareness at all of what was coming. We had no perception of what was coming."
A Rasmussen Reports poll this week found that only 8 percent of Americans say they are members of the tea party, down from a high of 24 percent in April 2010, just after passage of Obama's health care law.
"I don't think our membership is down. I think people are not in the open as much as we were 3-1/2 years ago, when things started. People are still as active, we're just more behind the scenes now," Jan Peterson insisted.
Phil Peterson said that in Ford County, almost half of the Republican Party committeemen are affiliated with the tea party. But he acknowledges that Ford County is an outlier.
"We're an extremely conservative county," he said. In fact, Obama got only 27.6 percent of the Ford County vote in November, among his worst showings in Illinois.
But he still thinks the rest of the country eventually will come around to Ford County's thinking.
"Many of us have the opinion that until people actually suffer a little bit and see the consequences of electing some of these guys, that you're not going to be able to talk to them and reason with them," he said.
It's not the message that's the problem, Jan Peterson said, it's the messengers.
"We were working our tails off all over the country. We were doing our part. But the Republican Party in Washington and in Springfield was not doing its part. That's really why we lost it. That's my thinking anyway," she said.
Her husband agreed, saying Republicans are "the crummiest communicators in the world."
He said his group will continue to work with "the Republican Party and other organizations that have conservative values" and will begin to gain disciples again.
"We haven't gone anywhere. We're just sort of biding our time and picking our arguments and our issues closely," he said. "We have not gone away. We will not go away."
Hays/Langendorf money. State Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, and his unsuccessful Democratic challenger, Michael Langendorf, already have filed their campaign disclosure reports for the last quarter of 2012.
Hays' report shows he collected $28,594 in the last quarter and spent $25,004. But for the entire two-year election cycle, reports show he raised $201,487 and spent $124,133. Expenditures included everything from laundry expenses for when Hays was in Springfield and candy for parades to billboards, brochures and political consulting.
Langendorf's shows that he spent about $4,824 in his campaign and was even able to repay himself a $5,000 loan he had made to his campaign and to reimburse two donors for most of their campaign contributions. Most of his campaign expenditures were for postage, printing and an ad in The News-Gazette.
Since Langendorf received 15,240 votes in the Nov. 6 election, he's the early favorite for most economical use of campaign contributions by a major candidate. He spent just 32 cents for each vote he got. Hays, who got 26,479 votes, spent $4.69 per vote.
Rietz reimbursement. One of the great benefits of running unopposed is that you don't have to ask for or spend any money in a campaign. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz is an example.
The Democratic prosecutor had no election opposition this year and so was able to repay herself part of a loan she had taken out more than eight years ago. Rietz reported paying herself $4,106 from a $12,000 loan she made to her campaign in 2004.
The repayment leaves her with no cash in her campaign fund, but don't read that as an indication that she has decided not to run again in 2016.
"I just got tired of having to send in all the reports," she said. "When the time comes I will reopen (the campaign committee) if necessary."
Stratton money. Les Stratton, who hopes to unseat Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing in the Democratic primary this spring, has filed his campaign statement of organization with the State Board of Elections, reporting $2,200 on hand. Prussing has not yet filed.
Baby Barickman. Jason Barickman, the former Champaign County Republican Party chairman who today becomes a state senator, also is celebrating fatherhood for the second time.
Last week Kristin Barickman gave birth to Walter James Barickman at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. Walter was born six weeks early but still weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces. He was transferred to St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria for observation, and probably will remain there for the rest of the month.
But the baby is getting stronger daily, his father reported.
The Barickmans have another son, Augie, 11/2.
Kacich wedding. On a personal note, my wife and I were thrilled to attend the beachfront wedding last week of our oldest son, Matt, and the former Jackie Firmand, who grew up about four blocks from our home. We had a grand time in Mexico, meeting Jackie's extended family and getting further acquainted with her parents, Ali and Matt. We're excited to welcome Jackie to our growing family. And I'm proud of Matt for continuing the tradition among Kacich men of marrying up.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at email@example.com.