Bob Romanik for state representative, eh. Maybe his campaign slogan will be: “At least you know up front that I’m a liar and a crook.”
Romanik is a twice-convicted felon. In 1997 he obstructed justice by lying 150 times to a grand jury probing Tom Venezia and Amiel Cueto’s $48 million video gambling racket. Then in 1999 Romanik was convicted of bank fraud involving a $1.5 million loan to construct the now defunct Jewel Box cabaret in Washington Park.
Once Romanik was a shotgun-toting police chief in Washington Park. Later he ran strip clubs: businesses his longtime companion and his son took over when he could no longer hold a liquor license. Then came the gambling ring and prison years. Now he is best known for his political rants as the “Grim Reaper of Radio” on his KQQZ-AM 1190, as well as for billboards putting St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern’s head on a bikini-clad woman’s body — thanks so much for that image, Bob.
Romanik on Monday filed as a Republican to replace state Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis, who is retiring from the 114th Legislative District. Also running is Democrat Latoya Greenwood, whose father is chief of the East St. Louis school board and the city’s Democrats.
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Only in Illinois — and that’s actually the case — can a convicted felon serve in the statehouse. Romanik’s convictions disqualify him from running for a local school board or city council, but a quirk in the Illinois Constitution allows felons to serve in constitutionally-defined offices. He could run for anything from St. Clair County Board up to the governor’s office.
Maybe sending Romanik to the statehouse is just the thing. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect purgatory than being a Republican in Springfield.