Former Rep. Joe Walsh Goes From Floor Speeches in Congress to Talk Radio in Chicago

Rep.-elect Joe Walsh, R-Ill. speaks to the media during a news conference at the GOP headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
National Journal
Cameron Smith
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Cameron Smith
Aug. 25, 2013, 8:30 a.m.

“Based on my two years in the House, I’d say it’s safe to say I was very out­spoken,” said former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill. “I made a point to be very dir­ect.”

Walsh, 51, a tea-party act­iv­ist who ac­know­ledges that the term “light­ning rod” ap­plies to him­self, said that not long after los­ing in Novem­ber to now-Rep. Tammy Duck­worth, D-Ill., he was ap­proached by an AM ra­dio sta­tion in Chica­go dubbed “The An­swer” about do­ing a talk show.

“I’m guess­ing that them con­tact­ing me had something to do with my time on the Hill,” said Walsh, who was known for his col­or­ful lan­guage and no-com­prom­ise ap­proach to gov­ern­ing in his one term.

“I’m here to raise hell,” said Walsh of the three-hour show he hosts dur­ing the even­ing com­mute in the Chica­go area. “The Illinois Re­pub­lic­an Party is a damn joke. I’ve been go­ing hard on them. I go after D.C. and Chica­go, too. I go after [Chica­go May­or] Rahm Emanuel hard. One-third of each show is loc­al and the oth­er two-thirds is na­tion­al. So I get to go after every­body.”

The trans­ition to ra­dio was “on one level seam­less, on an­oth­er hard,” Walsh said. “Sit­ting in a stu­dio by my­self, learn­ing to speak in a dif­fer­ent en­vir­on­ment is tough. But I find it to be a great plat­form. I find the in­ter­ac­tion to be great. And to be hon­est, it’s not just tea-party act­iv­ists listen­ing in. My hunch is some of my listen­ers hate what I say.”

Walsh said that the rule of thumb is two hours of prep per hour of show, and said that he keeps up to date by read­ing on­line pub­lic­a­tions and speak­ing with his former col­leagues in Con­gress.

The ra­dio show also provides Walsh with a ven­ue to ad­voc­ate for his Grow Up and Be Free PAC, an or­gan­iz­a­tion that Walsh calls a “grass­roots move­ment” for people who look at the gov­ern­ment and say, “Don’t take care of me, I want to take care of my­self.” Ac­cord­ing to Walsh, the PAC also sup­ports worthy can­did­ates with money for cam­paigns.

“The battle lines are between people who be­lieve in free­dom and lim­ited gov­ern­ment and those that be­lieve in de­pend­ence,” said Walsh. “We’re see­ing a civil war in pub­lic policy. I’m do­ing the grass­roots army, the PAC, be­cause we’ve been trained for the gov­ern­ment to give us crap. I’m try­ing to re­train the pub­lic.”

Walsh ad­ded, “I miss the fight on Cap­it­ol Hill. It’s taken a couple months to get used to it. I could run again next year. I could run again in two years. Who knows? I’ve been trav­el­ing the state con­tinu­ing the fight for free­dom-based liberty can­did­ates. I star­ted a PAC, I’m grow­ing the move­ment. You bet­ter be­lieve I’m gonna jump back in at some point.”

Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily‘s Where Are They Now series catches up with law­makers who left of­fice in Janu­ary to find out what they are do­ing. It will run throughout Au­gust.

What We're Following See More »
John McCain Paid Secret Visit To Syria
5 hours ago

Senator John McCain paid a secret visit to Northern Syria over the weekend during his trip abroad. McCain reportedly went "to speak with American officials and Kurdish fighters leading the charge to push ISIS militants out of Raqqa, the jihadist group’s stronghold." The trip was organized with the help of U.S. military.

Trump Budget to Call for Major Cuts
6 hours ago

"The Trump administration will deliver its first budget to Congress in mid-March, and the president confirmed Wednesday it will contain major cuts for federal agencies." The blueprint, expected to be released in mid-March, will not include the kinds of specifics usually seen in White House budgets, but rather will instruct the heads of agencies to "do more with less."

More Republicans Trust Trump than GOP Members
7 hours ago
Sanders Acolytes Taking the Movement Local
9 hours ago

"While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold." From Washington state to California to Florida, Sanders loyalists are making good on their promise to remake the party from the ground up. And just last week, a "group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents."

McMaster Requires Congressional Approval
9 hours ago

Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.