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Political distancing acts?

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 5:04 a.m. CDT

The  controversial Joe Walsh is handing out endorsements right and left – well, actually, just right. The tea party favorite recently got in trouble for uttering racial slurs on his WIND 560 AM radio talk show. But he said he was simply using the words in a discussion about why the elites think it's acceptable to use some slurs but not others.

Last week, Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, fired off a news release after one of his supporters got into an event at Walsh's Lake County farm. The backer took a photo of Yingling's Republican rival, Rod Drobinksi, R-Wauconda, at the shindig.

Yingling's statement, which referred to Walsh as an "outspoken racist," included a photo, saying it showed Drobinksi and Walsh embracing. Maybe the two men embraced at some point – Drobinksi said he didn't recall that they did – but it wasn't in Yingling's photo. Rather, Walsh and Drobinski appear to be shaking hands or handing off a mic. 

Yingling's news release contended that Drobinski "enthusiastically" accepted Walsh's endorsement. In an interview with Lake County Suburban Life, Drobinski said he wasn't aware of any official endorsement from Walsh. 

But the Illinois Review, a conservative website, covered the event and indicated that Walsh, a former congressman who lost his bid for re-election after one term, endorsed a number of GOP candidates, including Drobinski.

The other recipients included Senate candidate Jim Oberweis and a number of state legislative hopefuls, including those from Cook and DuPage counties.

Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner's campaign didn't take part in the event. 

"The Rauner campaign did not want the Walsh Freedom army to walk with their literature yesterday," Walsh told the Illinois Review. 

The event happened at Walsh's farm north of Wauconda, according to the conservative website. Nearly 450 showed up for a barbecue. 

Walsh said he attended the event so he could get volunteers to go door to door for him.

Was Drobinski distancing himself from Walsh when he said he wasn't aware of an official endorsement? Possibly. But one could argue – as Drobinski did – that Yingling was distancing himself from powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan. Yingling recently told Lake County Suburban Life that he didn't "have much involvement" with Madigan, the Democrat who has run the House – and, many say, state government – for all but 2 years since the early 1980s. 

A couple of years ago, the Republicans offered to pay for the expenses – lavish dinner and all – for any Democratic representative who wanted to have a campaign event with Madigan. The only catch: The candidate would have to get his photo taken with the speaker.

Not surprisingly, the GOP had no takers. But the point was made: While the Democrats vote for Madigan as speaker every two years, they don't want to be seen with him.

'A very simple existence'

In late May, Lake County sheriff's deputies found Adeline "Dolly" Helwig's submerged body in her pumphouse.

I wrote about the 87-year-old after getting a news release from the Sheriff's Department, speaking with her neighbors. The Lake Villa woman was described as someone who liked to garden and disliked charity.

One of her neighbors sent me an email recently. He said he would like to learn about how her family settled in that house in the 1950s.

"I know they moved from Chicago to that house on Arcade, but neither the father nor mother drove a car," the neighbor wrote.

Her father, Frank, worked downtown and would take the train from Fox Lake to Chicago every day, "but I don't know how he got to the train – someone must have drove him," the neighbor said.

"Dolly never drove either, but it seemed like there was always a neighbor willing to take her grocery shopping, etc. Dolly and her family truly lived like people did a hundred years ago – a very simple existence, but they always seemed happy," the neighbor wrote.

"Perhaps it's a lesson to all of us in these hectic times."

David Giuliani is news editor of Lake County Suburban Life. He may be reached at 847-231-7524 or dgiuliani@shawmedia.com.

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