Pubdate: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Associated Press


CHICAGO - House Speaker Dennis Hastert smiled Friday when asked what
Illinois Republicans are looking for in a candidate to replace Jack
Ryan in the race for U.S. Senate.

"Somebody that can win," Hastert said. "Raise money and win, that's
the key."

A new name making the rounds a day after state Sen. Steve
Rauschenberger declined to run is Andrea Grubb Barthwell, the Bush
administration's deputy drug czar who resigned Friday to explore the
possibility of a candidacy.

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, meanwhile, has yet to publicly
say if he was even interested.

Barthwell, a physician from River Forest, had been deputy director of
the Office of National Drug Control Policy since 2002, focusing on
reducing demand for drugs.

Federal law barred her from seeking the Republican nomination while
she worked for the government, so Barthwell said she resigned so she
could legally discuss the possibility with state GOP leaders.

She said she received no assurances that she would be chosen or that
Ryan would file the papers to formally remove his name from the
ballot, which he has yet to do.

"I'm interested, I want to be considered and I will make myself
available to those who make that decision, but I am not assuming that
I will be the candidate and I am not assuming that once I get all the
information that I need, that I would want to run in this particular
race," Barthwell told The Associated Press.

Financial backing from the party is one big issue, she said. Another
is just how much support the candidate would get from the national

Ryan, the millionaire investment banker-turned-teacher who won
Republican primary in March, said two weeks ago that he was dropping
out of the race because the release of embarrassing sex club
allegations in his now-public divorce records would detract from the

Republicans have struggled to come up with a candidate who could take
over with just four months to campaign and raise money before the election.

The Illinois Republican State Central Committee, which will choose the
nominee, has said it hopes to name a candidate by next week. That
person would go up against Democrat Barack Obama, a state senator who
has gained national attention and strong financial backing in his bid
to replace retiring Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

"It's not that we can't find anybody. We want to get the right fit,
but we're up against a timeline that isn't conducive to raising the
kind of money you need to compete," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a
member of the Republican State Central Committee.

"I don't want to sugarcoat stuff. This is a problem. It's not an
insurmountable problem," he said.

Many of the people who have expressed interest in the nomination have
limited support among party leaders, and others with the name
recognition or money to be strong candidates have turned the party

"The state party is moving forward on the vetting process, and we are
confident that we will have a strong candidate soon. With his record
so far out of the mainstream, Barack Obama is beatable," Illinois GOP
chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka said in a statement. She said Barthwell
"seems like an attractive candidate."

"I've heard nothing but good things about her," Dillard said.

But Barthwell is also an unknown in Illinois politics, even to many
party leaders.

"Who? Don't know her," Hastert said when asked about her

Barthwell, a native of Michigan, moved to Chicago in 1980 after
graduating from the University of Michigan Medical School. A
specialist in addiction medicine, she has served as president of the
Illinois Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Society of
Addiction Medicine. She also was a founding member of the Chicago Area
AIDS Task Force and hosted a weekly local cable show on AIDS.

Federal drug czar John Walters praised Barthwell in a statement after
her resignation.

"Her passion for protecting the health of all Americans has been
inspiring. We wish her well," he said.

If Barthwell were chosen to face off against Obama, it would be the
first time in history that two black candidates battled as the
parties' nominees for a U.S. Senate seat.

The public attention to a race between two black candidates would help
offset her lack of campaign funds, Dillard said.

Another possible GOP candidate is businessman James Oberweis, who
finished second in the primary but alienated many with his attacks on
illegal immigrants.

Some party activists are trying to draft Ditka, although Ditka has not
signaled any interest in the race. House Minority Leader Tom Cross of
Oswego sent an e-mail to supporters Friday saying, "This movement is
for real. We need your help to 'Draft da Coach'."

A message left for Ditka Friday with his publicist was not returned. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake