State Sen. Dan Cronin, head of the DuPage County Republicans, said Tuesday he has been talking off and on with former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas about a GOP run for governor or Cook County board president.
Cronin seems warm to the idea.
"I think he is geniunely interested," Cronin said, noting he talks to him often enough to have his number in his cell phone.
That Vallas may jump to the GOP ticket came out at the Republicans' press conference about a late campaign radio ad aimed at helping the party fight off challenges in closely contested suburban races.
Of course Animal Farm has heard these rumors before -- in fact House Republicans have also received phone calls in recent months from Vallas emissaries -- but Cronin's account appears to provide a solid indication Vallas could actually be serious.
Cronin said he plans to travel to New Orleans, where Vallas now heads the school district, on business in the near future. He will meet with the former Democrat while he is there.
Cronin views Vallas as perhaps part of a strong return effort by Republicans come 2010.
"We have hopes and a very ambitious plan for 2010," Cronin said.
By no means does Vallas have a clear path to office in Illinois and there is still talk about him being in line for an appointment in an Obama presidency.
First of all, his name recognition among average voters may not be has high as some party insiders think.
Plus, by the time he runs, he would have been out of state for nearly a decade, meaning he will be open to the "carpetbagger" attack.
Moreover, there are a number of GOPers in line to run for governor and one wouldn't expect them to back down for an ex-Dem whose loyalty to the party is in question. It also remains very unclear how he would act in an executive office.
On the other hand, Vallas may have a better shot at Cook County Board president if he can get some real funding and a serious ground campaign. Even then, it would seem a longshot.
Then there is Tony Peraica -- who is on his way toward losing a second countywide run.
Cronin said he intends to make some moves to strengthen the GOP in neighboring Cook County. When asked if Peraica was part of those plans, he flatly said "no."