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Although they disagree on taxes, abortion, and 2nd Amendment rights, President Bush has asked former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar to seek the GOP nomination for Sen. Peter Fitztgerald's (R.-Ill.) seat.

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Bush Backs Edgar for Senate Seat from Illinois

Although they disagree on taxes, abortion, and 2nd Amendment rights, President Bush has asked former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar to seek the GOP nomination for Sen. Peter Fitztgerald’s (R.-Ill.) seat.

Although they disagree on taxes, abortion, and 2nd Amendment rights, President Bush has asked former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar to seek the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R.-Ill.).

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said last week, "The President did call Governor Edgar and did urge him to run for the Senate."

Edgar, long an adversary of conservatives, recently held a private dinner in Chicago to discuss a Senate bid. His fellow diners included Illinois Republican National Committeeman Bob Kjellander, National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Jay Timmons, and NRSC political director Patrick Gray, and Carter Hendron, who managed Edgar’s two gubernatorial bids.

"He’s really, really seriously considering the Senate race," said Kjellander.

Kjellander conceded that Edgar is more moderate than Fitzgerald (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 92%). "I’m pro-life and he’s pro-choice," said Kjellander. But he quickly added that "we lost every statewide office and both houses of the legislature last November, and Jim’s the only Republican who can win. And keeping a Republican majority in the Senate is what I care about."

As a gubernatorial candidate in 1990, Edgar promised the National Abortion Rights Action League he would veto any pro-life legislation. (Kjellander pointed out that Edgar now supports the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban). Edgar also said he would support a 20% income tax increase to fund education. A year later, as governor, he proposed a $1.6 billion income tax increase in return for a cut in property taxes, but Republican legislators killed the deal.

As governor, Edgar became increasingly hostile to gun rights. In 1997, he vetoed a bill supported by the National Rifle Association that would have reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor a first offense for carrying a concealed handgun.

Many Republicans now willing to accept Edgar were critical of Fitzgerald for voting for gun control, campaign finance "reform," and environmental legislation. "Peter would leave his ideological roots at home and desert people who first elected him six years ago," said conservative State Sen. Ed Petka, one of Fitzgerald’s early 1998 backers. Yet, Fitzgerald remained the most conservative senator from Illinois since Everett Dirksen, who served from 1950-69. He clearly is more conservative than Edgar.

Fitzgerald was an outspoken advocate for Bush judicial appointees, voted pro-life, and made enemies within his own party by opposing pork barrel projects such as expanding O’Hare International Airport.

Republican former state legislators Tom Johnson and Tom McCracken, both strong conservatives, had been eyeing the nomination. Both have indicated they would step aside for Edgar.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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