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  Keyes remains hot GOP topic in Illinois lieutenant governor race
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ContributorCOSDem 
Last EditedCOSDem  Jan 27, 2006 05:53pm
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CategoryNews
MediaNewspaper - Chicago Tribune
News DateFriday, January 27, 2006 11:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionAlan Keyes' calamitous U.S. Senate bid in 2004 became a focal point Thursday in the Republican race for lieutenant governor when two of the contenders argued over who was more responsible for importing the Maryland conservative.

During a forum before the Tribune's editorial board, Steve Rauschenberger, one of the contenders for lieutenant governor, said GOP governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka was to blame for Keyes' candidacy because she was head of the state Republican Party at the time. But Topinka's running mate, Joseph Birkett, noted Rauschenberger was one of the first to push Keyes' name as a candidate.

The appearance of the four GOP lieutenant governor candidates--Rauschenberger, Birkett, Sandy Wegman and Lawrence Bruckner--highlighted the party's political fissures beyond the existing divisions between conservatives and moderates.

Rauschenberger, a state senator from Elgin who is the running mate of Chicago businessman Ron Gidwitz, said Topinka tossed Keyes "under the bus" immediately after the GOP state central committee selected him to challenge Barack Obama. Keyes, selected as a replacement after Jack Ryan dropped out of the race, was beaten by a historic margin.

"She was state party chairman," Rauschenberger said. "If you accept leadership of the party and your party calls a candidate, finding a TV camera to make sure you said that you've washed your hands of your own nominee is not what I call leadership."

But Birkett, DuPage County's state's attorney, said Rauschenberger was instrumental in suggesting Keyes to his good friend and state central committee member, state Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford. Rauschenberger later employed top Keyes' campaign staff members for his now discarded bid for governor.
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