Turelli’s Replacement Shaw is GOP Insiders’ Choice

July 5, 2012

Upon receiving the news release on Friday, June 29, that Mark Shaw — West Deerfield Township Republican Chairman and Lauren Turelli’s campaign manager before Turelli exited the 59th District race on June 12 —  had been selected to take Turelli’s place on the GOP ballot over that of Dr. Mark Neerhof, I was not a happy camper. 

The retirement of Karen May (D-58) left an open seat that Democrats wish to retain here in northern Illinois, but which Republicans want brought over to their side of the aisle in Springfield. 

The Democrats seem to have chosen a strong independent-mined candidate for District 59 in Scott Drury, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, who promotes himself as an independent voice who will work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to fight for fiscal reform and jobs, encourage business growth, strengthen our children’s education, and protect our families and neighborhoods.   

Feeling the need to hear directly from Dr. Neerhof reaction to what amounted to being cast aside like an old shoe after having spent months on the campaign trail (Neerhof entered the race in August of 2011 before Karen May retired.), I scheduled an interview with Dr. Neerhof and his wife, Betty, in their Lake Forest home the day after the much disputed June 29th Mark Shaw announcement.

The facts behind the misdirected and politically-connected selection of Mark Shaw to replace Lauren Turelli in District 58 exemplifies a political kerfuffle that every voter in Illinois needs to be aware of to make informed and educated decisions this fall and in future elections. 

What the facts show is that the selection of Mark Shaw over Dr. Mark Neerhof was blessed and supported by Republican Establishment members Ed Sullivan, 51st District representative; Tom Cross, Minority Republican Leader in Springfield; Bob Cook, Lake County GOP Chairman; and Lauren Turelli, in what amounted to a political exercise that was promoted as being legitimate, but which amounted to a charade to lend credence to Bob Cook’s selection of Mark Shaw to fill Lauren’s slot in the District 58 race.

1. In August of last year Dr. Neerhof asked Ed Sullivan (with his wife present) if Springfield would be supportive of his campaign effort is he became a candidate in District 58, to which Sullivan replied that the HRO (House Republican Organization) never became involved to lend a hand financially in
primary elections. 

In a complete about face, the Turelli campaign received $50,000 plus from the HRO controlled by Tom Cross.  Neerhof was left to fend on his own. 

2.  Cook, in informing Neerhof that Shaw had been chosen to replace Turelli, gave as a reason that Shaw had his campaign team in place and ready to go.  Did Neerhof’s campaign efforts and his time, dedication and money spent over a period of seven months count for nothing? Is there any evidence of a team for Shaw?

3.  In the same conversation, Cook falsely informed Neerhof that Louis Atsaves, precinct leader of Moraine Township, had pulled his support from Neerhof to now favor Shaw, to which Cook later admitted his information was based on a rumor.  Atsaves maintains his support of Neefhof.

4.  Cook then suggested to Neerhof that had he been more involved in Republican and civic-type activities over the years, he would have been selected.

It is true that Shaw can show an active record in many Republican and civic activities in the past and at the present time.

Neerhof’s background is not flush with outside activities.  Participation in church activities, his work as an executive board member of Docs4PatientCare, and the extensive medical knowledge and expertise he could bring to the House to reform this state’s desperately needed and broken Medicaid system evidently were not stellar enough to have Neerhof continue his campaign, a campaign in which he lost in March to Turelli by only 558 votes, despite Turelli’s huge initial advantage in name recognition from having challenged Karen May in 2010. 

I would be remiss not to admit to supporting Lauren Turelli when she first challenged Karen May in 2010.  Upon meeting Dr. Mark Neerhof in 2011 after his announced candidacy to challenge Karen May for her District 58 seat, I became a loyal supporter of Dr. Neerhof, as can be noted in my Thursday, March 8, 2012 article posted at Illinois Review.

Was Dr. Mark Neerhof ever asked if he wanted to continue on with his campaign after Turelli dropped out the 58th District race? Dr. Neerhof’s answer to me was “no.”   Neerhof further remarked, ” If Mark Shaw believed he was such a great candidate, why didn’t he initially run instead of Lauren Turelli?  Instead, he became Turelli’s campaign manager.”

Within the Republican Establishment can be found the answer; the Establishment calls the shots!

Mark Shaw represents the ideal Republican Establishment candidate, the type of candidate who will support, without question, Republican House Minority Leader, Tom Cross.  Such support has enabled Cross to exert the power and control needed to maintain his leadership role in Springfield. 

Many rank and file Republicans are of the opinion that it is time for Cross to go, believing that with Cross at the helm of the Republican Party, the party will continue to wander in the wilderness, rudderless, without sound policies to give Illinoisans reason enough to vote Republican.

In contrast, Neerhof, as a Republican political outsider and a conservative doesn’t measure up in the eyes of the Republican Establishment either here at home or in Springfield.    

With enough public outrage, both Bob Cook and Mark Shaw could be made to resign and Neerhof given a chance to resume his campaign for the 58th House seat.

Is it any wonder why the American people have become disrespectful and wary of politicians and their political institutions? 

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