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Saturday, July 20

Gapers Block

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What I don't know about Steve Rauschenberger could fill a book. Unfortunately for Rauschenberger, that statement goes for most of Illinois' voters, including those likely to vote Republican in the March 16 Primary. Major General John Borling (Ret.), one of only two candidates who has served in the military (the other is Democrat Blair Hull) has a strong military background and is easily the most charismatic (in his own subdued kind of way) of the Republicans, but is otherwise unknown to the Illinois voting public.

St. Senator Steven Rauschenberger

Depending on the poll, Rauschenberger is either second behind Jack Ryan or third behind Ryan and Borling. He presents major complications for Ryan especially, since Rauschenberger is the Republican equivalent of a Democratic Party Man. He worked his way up to the top of the Republican Party in Springfield and is very popular with his fellow state representatives and state senators. The Republican Party in Illinois draws its strength mainly from those state districts, and overwhelmingly the committeemen and elected officials from those districts have swung hard for Rauschenberger, mainly in opposition to Jack Ryan, who many Republicans feel is not experienced enough to work Illinois and is level-jumping in his political career to boot.

Rauschenberger, based out of Elgin, is a cut-of-the-cloth Reagan conservative whom Bob Novak once called a "rising star." By all accounts, Rauschenberger is a budget whiz. Apparently his handling of appropriations at the state level has made him popular on both sides of the aisle and brought him endorsements in previous campaigns from all sides, including a gay-rights activist group, despite the fact that he opposed same-sex marriages or legal unions.

Rauschenberger is the only major Republican candidate who has held elected office and has the most impressive array of endorsements and by the far the strongest Illinois House Republican organizational support. That's the equivalent of a Democrat getting the unqualified support of the Cook County organization. However, he is also the most policy-driven of the Republicans, which will hurt him against more charismatic candidates like Ryan and Borling.

Just the Facts:

Born: Elgin, Illinois, 1957

Marital Status: Married

Ethnicity: White

Education: BBA, Accounting, William and Mary College

1992-Present: Illinois State Senator, 22nd District
?-?: Furniture Retailer.

Official Website:

The Issues:

The Economy: Rauschenberger is a fiscal conservative of the Reagan school, and has given limited support to Bush's tax cuts.

Healthcare: He supported the Republican medicare package, opposed single-payer healthcare packages.

Education: Rauschenberger has not issued any comprehensive policy papers or press releases on this topic.

Foreign Policy: Rauschenberger supported the war in Iraq.

Abortion: He has said that as senator he would "seriously consider" a law over-turning Roe v. Wade.

Affirmative Action/Gay Marriage: He opposes gay marriage, and has not shown any support of Affirmative Action.


Major General John Borling, Ret.

John Borling showed his spoiler abilities at the NAACP-sponsored debates in October. Gruff and no-nonsense, the former Air Force commander, who spent six and a half years as a prisoner of war, deftly handled complicated questions and did not play to the audience. The mostly-black audience appreciated his candor when he responded negatively to a question about reparations, and he got a laugh when he took a shot at socialized medicine: "It sounds great, but oh -- don't get sick!"

If you see Borling's face, you may recognize it -- in the period after September 11, he was all over the local news broadcasts as a military expert. That in tandem with his quick wit and grandfatherly appeal have made him a real contender, jockeying for position behind Jack Ryan. Borling's success has effectively terminated the chances of Andy McKenna and Jim Oberweis, as well as the rest of the field.

Borling projects an image of a statesman, and his ideological flexibility but general integrity will serve him well in the upcoming election. His stance on the issues is not tepid or waffling, but he seems to have a genuine interest in getting at the root of the problem and solving it, rather than toeing the party line -- an image both Jack Ryan and Steven Rauschenberger will surely suffer from in heavily moderate Illinois.

Borling has dogged Jack Ryan throughout the campaign thus far for refusing to consent to a bi-lateral debate. Ryan had initially agreed in principle to debate Borling one-on-one, but has balked since his embarrassing show at the NAACP-sponsored debates. Borling's campaign has made this an issue in and of itself, even titling one press release "General Borling Takes Ryan to the Woodshed."

Despite his lack of record in public office, his high-profile military career puts him in a position to sort of "run on his record," as he has experience in dealing with government at the highest level as well as creating his own policy. Borling will be a strong candidate state-wide in the general election, and as the campaign marches forward may prove to be the most electable of all the Republicans, someone who can play well to the demoralized Republican voters.

General Borling has received lukewarm support, though not outright endorsement, from former Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood, partially because he is pro-choice. Borling is quite active in the Chicagoland area, belong to various economic clubs, leadership councils, and even sits on the board of the National Jazz Museum. He was also a past president/CEO of the Chicagoland area's United Way.

Just The Facts:

Born: Chicago, Illinois, 1940

Marital Status: Married

Ethnicity/Race: White

Education: Graduate, Air Force Academy

Employment History: (dates not supplied)
US Air Force, 37 Years
Director of HyperFeed Technologies
Chairman of Performance Consulting Group
Advisor to AusAm Biotechnology

Official Website:

The Issues:

The Economy: Gen. Borling expressed support for Bush's tax cuts, stressing that he is himself "an employer."

Healthcare: He opposes single-payer, universal healthcare.

Education: Gen. Borling has not issued any policy paper concerning school choice or vouchers.

Foreign Policy: Gen. Borling helped coordinate the first Gulf War, and stood strongly behind the President in this later war.

Abortion: He is pro-choice.

Affirmative Action/Gay Marriage: Gen. Borling said, as it stands, he is against gay marriage/civil union. He position on Affirmative Action is unclear.

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