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How a Freshman Rehearsed His Rant

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Until recently, Republican Mike Bost was best known for his rant on the floor of the Illinois state House in 2012. But tomorrow, he’ll be sworn into the 114th Congress.  

The incident on the Legislature’s floor was portrayed as an impromptu breaking point after years of oppression by the Democratic majority. The moment was supposed to doom Bost’s candidacy in the 12th District. But neither narrative was correct. Bost’s rant was more calculated than most observers realize, according to a post-mortem story in The Rothenberg Political Report  on the 2014 race. The piece dives deeper into how outgoing Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Ill., went from a nine-point victory in 2012 to an 11-point loss two years later.  

Here is an extended excerpt from the story:

While Democrats displayed optimism over the video’s potency, Republicans had precisely the opposite reaction. They knew that the Bost campaign needed to be ready (the response ad was filmed at Bost’s home in July even though the ads didn’t start until the fall), but Republicans believed that the anger expressed in the video would be shared by large pockets of the electorate.

What is somewhat ironic about the video and caricature of Bost is that he did not previously have a reputation for being a loose cannon. For years, he was a legislator who kept his head down until more recently when he became the designated “bulldog” for the House GOP caucus.

While it is apparently common knowledge among Downstate Republican insiders, Beltway observers may not know that the Bost rant was apparently staged. He practiced for at least a week in his office, according to multiple sources, even though Bost didn’t know the specific bill that would garner his exercise in emotion.

Sources point to the video as further evidence. None of the legislators or staff in the frame of the shot appear surprised or tried to restrain Bost during his rant. And apparently he made a mistake by not taking the binder clip off of the papers. That limited the desired scatter effect and was the reason why he threw a punch at the stack of paper. The caucus was excited that the video went viral.

“He knew he was going to do it,” according to one Downstate Republican. “Rehearsed or not, he touched a nerve with a lot of people down here.”

And here is video of the clip and CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewing Bost:  


Rothenberg Political Report: Beltway View Clashes with District Dynamic in Illinois’ 12th ($)

Roll Call on the Road: Bill Enyart Challenger Looks to Leap from Illinois House

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Last Chance: 10 Most Vulnerable House Incumbents Political news from the Left, Right, Non-partisan sources in Illinois

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Be the first to know about Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call race rating changes with our new Roll Call politics app!

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