It’s no secret that the Chicago media is no friend to conservatives, but a recent report from Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery, where he compares GOP primary winner Paul McKinley to “Spanky the Clown” borders on unhinged animosity.
Flannery filed a video report recycling the news that new media outlets have reported for the last month (the candidate placed it at the center of his campaign) that Paul McKinley, GOP nominee for the Illinois Second District congressional seat, is an ex-offender. McKinley, who spent time in prison for armed robbery in the 1970s, has paid his time, speaks openly about the program “Street Repentance,” and is seeking to repay his debt to society through his activism.
In his victory, McKinley more than doubled his closest Republican opponent’s votes in the poorer urban south side of Chicago, a news story in and of itself, as the conservative message reached areas that had never embraced Republicans before.
But Flannery–and other reporters like the ChicagoTribune’s Bill Ruthhart–can’t get over the voters of the district selecting McKinley as their nominee and appear to see it as their responsibility to disqualify him from public life.
While the media largely ignored McKinley’s electric performances at candidate forums throughout the primary, with his victory, they find themselves having to cover a candidate who says he is “the last thing they want to see coming to Washington.”
Unfortunately, Flannery, who also referred to McKinley’s election by the voters as an “ugly surprise,” had a willing accomplice for his attack piece in the form of local Republican Chris Robling.
Robling, referred to in the report as a “GOP activist… that has helped lead public and private meetings about rebuilding the GOP in Illinois,” says on-camera that “he [McKinley] is not a real Republican, obviously, and he doesn’t represent the Republican Party.”
Breitbart News contacted Robling to ask why he described the Republican nominee as “not a real Republican.” Robling began by saying that, after Flannery’s piece aired, he had received phone calls from friends about “what’s his name.” He said they told him that McKinley is “reformed” since his days in the past, and that he could be a good candidate.
Robling also said he had never met McKinley or heard anything about him prior to agreeing to speak about him on-camera in the interview with Flannery.
Had Robling bothered to do a simple a Google search on the candidate and now-nominee, he might have been familiar with McKinley’s conservative views on the need for smaller government, pro-life family values, and a strong belief in the right to bear arms, in addition to speaking openly about his past.
But it was McKinley’s campaign message against “The Machine” that resonated with voters across the Second District, ultimately leading him to be elected as the Republican nominee.
Chris Cleveland, Vice Chairman of the Chicago GOP, disagreed with Robling, telling Breitbart News, “I’ve never seen a candidate that fired up crowds with an electric effect like he has in this campaign. He is very politically astute and has a depth of understanding of his constituency like I have never seen.”
Cleveland added that McKinley’s candidacy raises an important question: “What is the role for ex-offenders in our society–and if the media believe McKinley’s past should be glued to him forever, what do they think about all of the other members of our society who served their time and paid their dues?”
Robling ended his segment with Flannery by saying that it is important for the Republican Party to reach out to “other areas.” And on an earlier local Fox Sunday Morning appearance, he said, “As a Republican Party nationally, and certainly in Illinois, we have to have something to say in every neighborhood.”
We can’t say we’re only going to go here, or we’re only going to go there. We have got to go out into every neighborhood in Illinois and be relevant with a message that’s important to the folks who are facing really difficult times.”
Referring to McKinley’s electoral success in neighborhoods on the South side of Chicago, I asked Robling if he could name one candidate better than McKinley to spread that “message” to “every neighborhood,” but he did not comment. He did add, “We have to end the GOP-alternative drought, which has been raging in vast swaths of Illinois. Offering a viable choice to the confirmed ghost pay-roller Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) is our job. The primary voters have made their call, now we must do that job as best we can.”
It is worth noting that Flannery and Fox Chicago represent the only Chicago outlet that has yet to cover the emerging scandal behind the Democrat nominee, Robin Kelly, for an ethics investigation during her time as Chief of Staff for former State Treasurer Alex Giannoulias.
It would appear that the type of candidate Robling suggests the party so desperately needs is, in fact, Paul McKinley. As the voters declared on Tuesday, and as is reflected on McKinley’s website, McKinleyforCongress.com:
“I was so happy to finally find a candidate that has the same values as I. That is, family values and the protection of human life. I believe these are the most important of the issues yet they seem to be the least among others.” -Sally D.
“Paul McKinley is the best shot we have to beat the Chicago Machine. He is a Conservative that has lived it and can beat it.” -T. D.
“Congrats to the grassroots very own Republican Paul McKinley for Congress. Keeping it Real about the machine has changed the Chicago political landscape.” -Will J.
“Good Luck Paul. I like your message. Win or lose, I salute you for making the attempt. Regardless of what happens, don’t give up the fight.” -Vince Z.
As for McKinley’s reaction to the Flannery-Robling attack, he told Breitbart News it was the type of thing he expected all along:
They have every right to scrutinize my past, but they can’t ignore the will of the voters of the second district, who believe in redemption, and realize there is no greater threat to The Machine than my candidacy for the U.S. Congress…
My results across the district, and especially within the city of Chicago, prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that voters from the rural farming communities in the south end of the district to the inner-city urban communities on Chicago’s south side, voters are hearing our message, and getting on board.
McKinley’s past as a convicted felon is clearly an important aspect of his candidacy, and fair game in this political race.
McKinley added one last comment, “After Mike Flannery’s report, we received an influx of support, and our phones rang off the hook, especially within the local community who felt Flannery’s segment exposed his own disdain for the voters’ will in the 2nd Congressional District who believe in redemption.”
“Folks who forgot about the Republican Party a long time ago are paying attention, and getting on board,” he said.