Illinois Republicans in Florida for the party's national convention are ostensibly there to make the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket official. But unofficially the gathering is also an early campaign stop for politicians looking to make a bid for governor or the US Senate in two years. Major donors, committed Republican voters, and top party leaders are all in a central location, which makes it the ideal place to schmooze. State Party Chairman Pat Brady says he'd rather the focus remain on the approaching fall elections, rather than one two years away:
"You know I hope not because we have a mission in 2012 and that's to elect as many Republicans as they can and to support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the President race. People can do it. I would prefer they didn't. I think we need to focus on the task at hand, which is the 2012 election."
Even so, there's an undercurrent of posturing. And plenty of time for it. With today's national convention meeting cancelled, the Illinois delegation will likely be cooped up in its hotel all day and night. Senator Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and Congressman Aaron Schock of Peoria are a few of the politicians in Florida whose names have been tossed around as potential candidates for higher office.
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