Okay, yeah he's still in the race for the Republican nomination to face off against incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich, D-IL, but it looks like Ron Gidwitz, former CEO of Helene Curtis and ex-Illinois State Board of Education chairman has virtually no chance to win next spring's Republican primary for governor here in the Prairie State.
And I'm writing this just four days after he officially announced his candidacy for the top job in the nation's fifth largest state.
So what's doomed his campaign so quickly? The Evergreen Terrace apartments in Joliet.
According to the Joliet newspaper Herald-News, Ron Gidwitz and his family own about 1 percent of Evergreen Terrace. These apartments have been described by one Joliet official as a "hell hole," according to AP.
Says Joliet Deputy City Manager James Shapard:
There are people that die there with great frequency. They die of bullet wounds, stab wounds. There are children who are raped there. There are young women who are raped there. There are older women who are raped there. There is a considerable amount of drug dealing going on," Shapard said.
Before you jump to conclusions and think that the attacks on Gidwitz come from Democrats (by the way, I have no idea what Shapard's political affiliation is), think again. From the same AP article comes these comments Peter Fitzgerald:
In October 2003, former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-IL, called the conditions at Evergreen Terrace "inhumane" and urged HUD to reject refinancing (of Evergreen). He said Joliet should be allowed to redevelop the property and place residents in better and safer living arrangements.
Fitzgerald said he toured the complex and was overpowered by the smell of urine, saw exposed wiring and broken elevators and heard from residents about problems ranging from rodents to rampant crime.
From the Joliet Herald-News, comes these remarks:
And Councilman Joe Shetina, a longtime Republican, does not believe Gidwitz will survive a GOP primary against any solid candidate, even without Evergreen Terrace hanging around his neck. The apartment complex will be an added drag on his campaign, Shetina said.
"It's a blight, and he's the cause of it," Shetina argued.
Fine, a reasonable person may say, Evergreen Terrace is a wretched place, but Gidwitz and his family only 1 percent of it. What of the other 99 percent?
From that same Herald-News article:
The (Illinois Housing Development) authority's report lists Gidwitz Associates, a limited partnership, as having a 1.01 percent ownership stake in Evergreen Terrace. And members of the family also have interests in Burnham Residential Venture I Corp. and Burnham Residential Venture I LP. The two entities hold a combined 1 percent stake in the complex, according to the state agency's report.
"The Gidwitzes have refused to identify the owners of Evergreen Terrace," said City Attorney Jeff Plyman. "We've asked for that information in a lawsuit, and we believe we're entitled to it. We'll do whatever is necessary to see who profits from this project."
Naturally, Gidwitz is working on damage control, according the Northwest Daily Herald.
Sunday at 9:30 am and pm (CDT) Gidwitz will be interviewed on WBBM-AM Radio's "At Issue." It'll be webcast, too.