Laura Washington: GOP operative Brady shows no love for Trump

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“I just always thought that the guy was kind of a pig,” Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, says of Donald Trump, shown campaigning Friday in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. | Justin Merriman/Getty Images

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“I just always thought that the guy was kind of a pig. I always have thought that,” Pat Brady said.

This lifelong Republican, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party, was talking about the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.

He saw Donald J. Trump coming, but that’s no consolation for him, or us.


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In deep-blue Chicago, people think Republicans eat holy rolls for breakfast, breathe fire at lunch, and wear horns to dinner.

Brady defies that stereotype. He is a stalwart GOP activist, not a knee-jerk ideologue. Brady, 55, is a social moderate and fiscal conservative. He’s a fun-loving, keen political operative who knows his stuff, but he doesn’t take the stuff too seriously.

So I felt his pain when, back in March, on the night of the Illinois primary, we watched the election returns roll in at the ABC-7 green room. Trump handily took Illinois. Brady’s guy, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, posted a distant third. Brady was pacing the floor, checking his cell and shaking his head.

Fast forward to another green room, where we met up Wednesday for a debate watch panel at the Chicago History Museum.

I asked the lifelong Republican: How does it feel to watch Trump crash and burn?

Trump, Brady replied, is no Republican.

“He doesn’t represent Republican principles. We don’t believe in torture. We’re not isolationist. We believe in secure borders, but we don’t believe in building a wall and throwing people back. His tax policies are not consistent with Republican ideals. He’s the only candidate I’ve ever seen in my lifetime that hasn’t advocated for entitlement reform.”

Besides, “among the many issues I’ve had with him, I’ve always thought he was a goof.”

That goof may be single-handedly destroying the GOP, and perhaps, democracy.

“He is attacking the institutions of democracy and saying this election is rigged,” Brady said. “Never in the history of the United States has this ever happened. And he’s trying to delegitimize Secretary Clinton’s election, which to me is dangerous.”

The White House is gone, but all is not lost down-ballot, he argues.

The “real races,” Brady says, are in the Illinois House, where Gov. Bruce Rauner is making a Herculean push to shave Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s Democratic supermajority.

“Downstate might help us because there’s a lot of support south of I-64. Where we have some contested races, that (Trump) might actually turn our vote out.”

He credits the current Illinois Republican Party Chairman, Tim Schneider, and Rauner’s team. They are stealing Madigan’s playbook: Door knocking.

“They went from phone calls to door knocks like the speaker’s done for years. And they are way ahead on door knocks, even from where they were in 2014.”

That, he adds, is “a lot of personal contact that I think is going to make a big difference.”

Then there’s Rauner’s money. Late last week, Rauner, a former venture capitalist, and his wife, Diana, donated $9 million to a fund aimed at electing Republican legislators, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

As I was writing this column, I realized I had forgotten the question.  Who will Brady vote for on Nov. 8?

“Jill Stein. Green Party,” the lifelong Republican replied in an email. “Want Greens to get to number so they are on ballot in 2018.  Helps our side.”

You are going to need it.


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