Tom Kacich: GOP not yet done berating Barickman
Count the Ford County Republican Central Committee and McLean County Republican Party Chairman John Parrott among those upset with state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, for his recent vote in favor of same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Republican precinct committeemen in Ford County last week passed a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with Barickman's Feb. 14 vote.
The committeemen were most upset, said former Ford County GOP Chairman Eric Thompson, that Barickman had voted contrary to the state party's position on same-sex marriage.
The party platform, adopted last year, states that "laws should strongly support and celebrate the loving commitment a man and woman make to each other in marriage. Our laws should strongly support and celebrate a loving, married couple bringing new life into the world and rearing their children in a secure and nurturing environment from conception to adulthood. No law should undermine the importance of that union, divide that union nor unduly burden the efforts of parents to rear a family in a safe and nurturing environment."
The platform also states that "anyone elected as a Republican should strive to self-direct their activities and policy positions to uphold these principles as the unifying basis for the Illinois Republican Party."
Thompson said the issue came up at a regularly scheduled meeting of the GOP central committee last weekend.
"People were saying, 'What are we going to do about this? Doesn't this mean anything?'" he recalled. "After listening to this for about 15 minutes, I thought the only thing you can do is to have a resolution and vote. I had not canvassed for votes or talked to people ahead of time or anything. I came into that meeting cold. But I said we should vote on this and see where we stand as the Ford County Republican Central Committee."
Basically, Thompson said, the resolution said that the central committee "does not agree with the vote that Jason Barickman cast on same-sex marriage and that we stand by the Illinois Republican platform."
The vote on the resolution "was not close," he added.
Still, there was no call for Barickman to resign or for someone to run against him in 2016, Thompson said.
"I'm not saying that wouldn't happen if there are a couple more sour votes on very serious issues. Let's be realistic," he said. "If you're not going to abide by any kind of uniformity or code of beliefs, that's not going to weigh very well."
Asked if any Republicans are talking about challenging Barickman in 2016, Thompson said, "Not that I know of.
"But this is a serious stand. There is a lot of concern over this issue," he said. "It's kinda like buying Cracker Jacks. When you buy Cracker Jacks, you know there is a surprise in the box. When you elect an official, you don't expect surprises like that, especially when they campaign in manners uncharacteristic of the way they vote on some issues later."
Meanwhile, Parrott, the county chairman in Barickman's new home county, said Barickman "has a lot of enemies" among Republicans because the vote.
Until last year, Barickman was the Republican Party chairman in Champaign County. He moved to Bloomington to run in the 53rd Senate District.
"The outpouring of dissatisfaction from Republicans in McLean County has been overwhelming, along with other county chairmen calling me and talking to me about how disappointed they are in Barickman's vote," Parrott said. "He had told us repeatedly that he is conservative and that he is opposed to extended rights or special rights, or for gay marriage. And now he's done a 180."
It's worth noting that Barickman and Parrott have a history. Parrott supported Shane Cultra in the Cultra-Barickman showdown two years ago when both wanted to take Dan Rutherford's Senate seat after Rutherford was elected state treasurer.
Parrott declined to say if he wants to see another Republican challenge Barickman in 2016.
Barickman declined to comment.
GOP locked out in Urbana
Last week, while on the WDWS morning show with Dave Gentry and Elizabeth Hess, I incorrectly stated that it had been "forever" since a Republican won a contested race in ultra-blue Urbana.
Turns out it's only been 11 years since U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, an Urbana native, carried his hometown in a three-way congressional race versus Democrat Joshua Hartke and Green Party candidate Carl Estabrook. Johnson got 43.13 percent of the 9,506 votes cast in Urbana in that congressional race, besting Hartke (39.28 percent) by more than 350 votes.
The last time a Republican won a two-way race in Urbana was 1998, when Sheriff Dave Madigan got 36 more votes than Democrat Arthur Slates. Madigan got 69 percent of the vote countywide, but just 50.2 percent in Urbana.
And to illustrate what Republican Rex Bradfield is up against in this year's mayoral election in Urbana, the last GOP mayoral win there was in 1989, when Jeff Markland defeated Donald Willis 58 percent to 42 percent. A five-election Democratic winning streak began four years later when Tod Satterthwaite defeated Markland by 53 votes.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.