Roskam says new Speaker Ryan will plot a 'different direction'

A few weeks ago when Speaker John Boehner announced he'd step down, Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton called on his party to huddle up and talk about its future and pushed for "a plan, not a person" in an effort to unify a split House GOP.

Today, Republicans made Rep. Paul Ryan, whose Wisconsin district is just north of the Illinois border, the next House speaker. Just nine Republicans, none from Illinois, voted against him.

Roskam is satisfied with how it played out.

"He invited House Republicans to go in a different direction," Roskam said of Ryan. "Some people said he laid down demands. I didn't hear them as demands. I heard it as an invitation to be more collaborative." Ryan had sought broad support from Republicans' more conservative group of lawmakers before agreeing to run for the post.

The leadership drama at the Capitol included talk of Roskam as a potential candidate to move up, given his push to force a meeting of Republicans after Boehner announced his exit and an earlier move to change the party's strategy in opposing President Barack Obama's Iran nuclear deal. In the end, though, Roskam backed Ryan.

"You see now the new speaker laying out a new plan," Roskam said.

An alternative

Roskam said Ryan and Republicans will put forth a more "defined effort" to come up with an alternative to the national health care law.

"Up until now, there's been a lot of criticism of Obamacare, but there's not a House version of a replacement," he said. "And I think he's going to push very hard to get that done."

Back at home

What does a Ryan speakership mean to Republicans campaigning for congressional seats in the suburbs?

Roskam says the stability helps.

"He's an incredibly popular figure, and he's popular for a reason," Roskam said.

Still, Democrats are trying to use the leadership fight for their side. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attempted to tie U.S. Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth to Ryan in an effort to make Dold look conservative in a district that has leaned Democratic in some elections.

Dold is seeking re-election, and Democrat Brad Schneider is vying for his party's nomination again, this time against Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.

"Once again, we're seeing Republican congressman Bob Dold prioritize his friendships with his party's leadership over what's best for his constituents, endorsing the repeated failed policies of Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican Party," DCCC spokeswoman Sacha Haworth said.

Dold's campaign spokeswoman Danielle Hagen responded.

"While the DCCC desperately tries to provide partisan political cover for the millions of dollars their donors wasted on do-nothing Brad Schneider's failed campaign last year, the people of the 10th District are sick and tired of their empty Washington rhetoric and absurd parochial attacks, and stand solidly behind Bob Dold's proven bipartisan leadership," she said in a statement.

In the running?

Conservative radio host and former Rep. Joe Walsh of Mundelein says he's still weighing primary runs either for U.S. Senate against Mark Kirk or for Congress against Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano. We asked again because there's just one month to go before the Nov. 30 deadline to submit petition signatures to run for office,

"Yes, I'm still thinking about it," he said.

But, as the clock ticks down, is he gathering signatures needed to get on the ballot?

"Right now, I'm not," he says.

Walsh has been a critic of Kirk in particular on his radio show, but he declined running for office in 2014 after flirting with a couple races.

Freedom Summit

His station, WIND 560-AM, will host an event headlined by conservative media personalities Ann Coulter, Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca on Nov. 14.

According to the station's website, where tickets are available, Hannity is set to speak at lunch. Hewitt and Coulter will speak at dinner.

Follow up

In response to this column last week about medical marijuana sales in Illinois beginning "very shortly," state Rep. Lou Lang says he's meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration and others to talk about how to extend the state's experimental law, which is set to expire in about two years even though no marijuana has yet been sold legally in Illinois.

"The efforts to extend it are ongoing," the Skokie Democrat said.

Rauner this year vetoed a proposal that would have lengthened the trial period.


Republican Rauner and Democratic lawmakers like Lang continue to be deadlocked on finishing a state spending plan that was due months ago.

Wednesday marks one year since the Election Day when Rauner prevailed statewide and Democratic lawmakers retained nearly every one of their seats in the Illinois General Assembly, setting up the conflict still going on today.

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U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton has praised incoming House Speaker Paul Ryan. Associated Press File Photo
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