Polish Nobel winner Walesa campaigns for Tea Party candidate in Illinois governor’s race

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As the Scott Brown effect reverberates across the country, a little-known Tea Party candidate enlisted the help of Poland’s Lech Walesa to come from behind in a bid for the Illinois governor’s seat. Adam Andrzejewski, a 40-year-old businessman and third-generation Pole welcomed the Nobel Prize winner’s endorsement on Friday during a luncheon in Chicago.

In almost 30 years on the international political stage, Walesa has campaigned for only one other American candidate — Ronald Reagan.

“There are many similarities between the Tea Party movement and Solidarity,” said Bruno Behrend, the campaign’s policy director. “Obviously we are not dealing with Soviet Russia, but there are lessons to be learned on how to deal with a corrupt government.”

The GOP primary is on Tuesday and in addition to Andrzejewski includes four establishment Republicans, among them two state senators and a former Republican party state chairman. Andrzejewski gained attention two weeks ago when 93 percent of respondents in a straw poll of Illinois Tea Party organizations endorsed him. Both Rasmussen and Public Policy polling show Andrzejewski within 8 points of the front-runner with 20 percent of the voters still undecided.

Walesa issued a statement about Andrzejewski and his experience in business, saying, “I still remember when some 30 years ago, my opponents were similarly critical of my lack of political background. History has shown, however, that in order to create real change, new factors are sometimes necessary.”

Walesa was an electrician who led labor strikes in opposition to the communist Polish government starting in 1980, considered the beginning of the fall of the Iron Curtain. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and became Poland’s first democratically elected president in 1990.

Andrzejewski first connected with Walesa on a fact-finding mission to Poland in November, and later enlisted his help in an effort to strengthen the Polish-American business alliance while also looking for lessons in political maneuvering.

At the luncheon on Friday about 400 people heard Walesa speak for 20 minutes about the ills of government bureaucracy and the importance of transparency. Andrzejewski has promised to put all state spending online in real time and fully audit all state finances. In the wake of impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Walesa said Andrzejewski’s political inexperience is an asset.

Of his partnership with Walesa the candidate told The Daily Caller he felt, “humbled and privileged to have put together a campaign that resonated with Lech Walesa — friend of Reagan, of Thatcher, of Pope John Paul II and founder of Solidarity — who ended communism without firing a shot.”

“We’re seeing a Scott Brown surge — volunteers are pouring in to work the phones and knock on doors” during the final days before the primary vote, said Brian McDaniel, the campaign’s communication director.

Andrzejewski made his fortune in a phone-book publishing business he started in 1997, and seeded his campaign with $700,000 out of his own pocket in his first run for office.

The other candidates in the race are:

  • Kirk Dillard, state senator
  • Andy McKenna, former Republican State Party chairman
  • Bill Brady, state senator
  • Jim Ryan, former Illinois attorney general
  • Dan Proft, political consultant