Bipartisan, or Part of the Chicago 'Combine' — Ray LaHood, the Machine's Man in the Obama Administration

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood represents the Illinois Combine in Obama’s Cabinet. His history in Illinois politics is that of a Republican chameleon. So it’s no surprise he gets high marks from MSM pundits.

For example, as LaHood prepared to retire from the House, Mark Shields gushed over him,

After 14 admirable years of representing Peoria and central Illinois in the U.S. House, Republican Ray LaHood has made the House a more civil, more decent and more personal place…Listen to the testimony of U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Democrat who is so tough he’s widely rumored to eat nails and spit rust: “I’ll miss him dearly.”…As somebody who clashed often with his own hyper-partisan GOP leadership in the House, [LaHood] admits: “I survived Gingrich, Armey and DeLay. I’m still here. They’re all gone.”

LaHood & Obama

In December 2008, David Broder described LaHood as:

…a leader in the uphill struggle for comity between the parties; and a throwback to the days of his old boss Bob Michel, the minority leader who resisted the scorched-earth tactics of Newt Gingrich…his accepting Obama’s offer goes beyond the signal it sends of the new president’s seriousness about outreach to moderate Republicans. As transportation secretary, LaHood will be at the center of the road and bridge construction projects Obama plans to make the highlight of his almost trillion-dollar stimulus program… LaHood, who witnessed but did not welcome the Gingrich “revolution” in the House, has watched with growing alarm the decimation of the GOP in Illinois and surrounding states.

The MSM loves LaHood because he’s a Bob Michel Republican. LaHood was an aide to Michel, former House Republican Minority Leader, and was elected to his seat after Michel retired. Bob went along to get along. Ray followed suit.

michellahood

LaHood has long been an Illinois Combine Republican. For example, in 2004 he didn’t support the reelection of Illinois Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald

In 2004, Fitzgerald beat Democrat incumbent Senator Carol Moseley Braun. Braun and Obama both worked at Allison Davis’s Chicago law firm that provided services to slum landlords, like Tony Rezko. Fitzgerald bucked the Combine on a couple of big-ticket federally-funded Illinois projects, one involving a $13 billion expansion of O’Hare Airport.

Fitzgerald sponsored the assignment of Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald put Republican Governor George Ryan in jail, and has indicted former Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich, along with other Combine operatives. Illinois’ independent-thinking Republican senator was a threat to the Combine. He had to go.

As far back as 2002, LaHood was working to oust his fellow Republican from the U.S. Senate. In late 2002, Rep. LaHood told the Chicago Sun-Times:

I’m thinking about trying to make sure Peter has an opponent” in the 2004 Republican primary. “I think we can do better than him.” Soon thereafter, Illinois Republican leaders made it clear Fitzgerald would have trouble raising money for reelection and would have to spend several million from his personal fortune. Sen. Fitzgerald decided to retire and return to banking.

In 2004, State Senator Barack Obama was running against Republican Jack Ryan for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Fitzgerald when Ryan’s campaign mysteriously blew up. A California court opened his previously sealed divorce records wherein Ryan’s ex-wife, Jeri, alleged strange sexual tastes on Ryan’s part. (Some suggest that former Chicago Tribune political reporter, David Axelrod, helped persuade the Tribune to pressure its sister paper, the Los Angeles Times, to pressure the California Judge Robert Schnider to open the Ryan divorce records, although both Ryans opposed the move.)

CNN reported LaHood’s reaction to Ryan’s situation:

…the Illinois congressional delegation had been largely silent about Ryan, leaving him to fend for himself. One Republican, Rep. Ray LaHood, had even called for Ryan to withdraw from the race.

As the Ryan controversy built, the Chicago Tribune reported:

The political impact of the revelations on Jack Ryan’s candidacy will play out over the next several days. One prominent Illinois Republican, U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood of Peoria, said he was “shocked” that Ryan would run for public office carrying such baggage and called on him to get out of the race.

Ryan eventually withdrew from the race. Barack Obama handily beat his replacement, Alan Keyes.

Back on January 29, 2010, when President Obama spoke before GOP House members at the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, LaHood and Obama struck a pose of LaHood blocking for Obama in the presence of Republicans.

blocking

So what’s new? LaHood has been blocking for Obama for years.

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