Well, well, after months of running what amounts to essentially a primary campaign against four term incumbent 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk, newbie Democratic candidate Jay Footlik has finally woken up to the fact that he first needs to beat his nemesis, Dan Seals, in the primary election in February 2008. If you can get past Seals, Mr. Footlik, there will be plenty of time to worry about how to defeat Kirk. But up until this week, the Footlik campaign was acting as if Seals did not exist.
On Friday afternoon (while Dan Seals was fretting over whether to continue his stand against Hollywood Video late fees, see post below), Footlik issued a press release chastising Seals for refusing to debate him, and rather cleverly dug up some old Dan Seals quotes from the last election cycle, in which Seals lobbied hard to get Mark Kirk to engage him. See the Footlik press release here. Among other quotes, Seals was noted as saying that "it is absolutely essential for the voters to hear our contrasting visions for America.” [Dan Seals for Congress Press Release, 8/4/06]. Footlik can't understand why Seals is running away from him at the speed of light, and refuses to engage in what would be sure to be a left-wing lovefest of a debate.
Well, Seals apparently didn't spend the entire last cycle not picking up a few tricks, at least, because according to the Footlik press release, Seals has already turned down two debate challenges. Of course, this is not to say that Mark Kirk gave Seals the complete stiff arm on debates last season, as even the Footlik press release acknowledges that Seals (while all the while ranting about Kirk avoiding him) actually blew off a scheduled debate in Waukegan in November 2006.
If I were Seals, I wouldn't be eager to debate Footlik either. First, as the Dem candidate with more local name recognition, why give the upstart challenger a platform? Good enough strategy for Kirk, good enough for me, figures Seals. Of course, let's see how fast Seals changes his tune if he does win the primary and goes on to repeat his uphill battle to get face time with the incumbent.
Second, from what I've seen of Footlik, he would wipe the floor with Seals in a debate. The only example I can provide of Footlik is not really debate footage, but does give you an taste of Footlik's fairly impressive command of foreign affairs (at least compared to Dan Seals), as shown in this video clip courtesy of our local videoguy Lee "peace at any price" Goodman. See the clip here. Some context for this clip is in order, as our friend Mr. Goodman no doubt intended to embarrass Footlik by challenging his position on the continued bombing of Hezbollah by Israel back in summer of 2006. The fact that Goodman posted this clip on his site shows that Goodman thinks that any politician that is willing to use military force in defense of anything, even Israel, is clearly deranged. But, if you watch the whole thing, I think Footlik comes off as pretty knowledgeable and convincing, at least in comparison to how Dan Seals responded to the question of whether the U.S. would support Israel in the event of an attack on Israel by Iran, as shown here. Also compare Seals' pacifistic view on the Hezbollah situation in comparison here.
It's clear that right now both Dem candidates ought to be pulling out all the stops to be able to emerge the victor against Kirk. Neither of them can afford to bring anything other than their "A" game in this primary war. So far, Seals has not been doing too well with his lackluster campaigning (see post below for his flub of a fundraiser in Chicago a few weeks ago) and futzing around with his new gig at The Point website. But, until yesterday, Footlik didn't appear to get the fact that he has to earn the right to make a run at Kirk. Maybe he's finally gotten the message and we'll start to understand why Footlik over Seals, or vice versa. But, a debate would help. Even TA would go to that. Seals and his former primary opponent last time around, Zane Smith, engaged in a number of debates in which they tried to out-left each other. See here, again courtesy of Lee Goodman.
Based on the evidence thus far, I'll take Footlik over Seals. But then, the question becomes, why Footlik instead of Kirk? It's not clear to me that Footlik's take on foreign policy is much different than Kirk's, even on the war, as both men seem to agree that the war should end, but that pulling our troops out immediately to leave an unstable situation and power vacuum primed for exploitation by Iran (heck, even the top three Dem presidential candidates refuse to say that they will be able to get the troops out in their first term if elected). But, that's a battle we can discuss in February, maybe.