Even though I said I wasn't going to, I watched the "interview" (can't call it a debate, in my opinion) last night on "Chicago Tonight" between Jay Footlik and Dan Seals, the two Democratic hopefuls who seek to defeat Congressman Mark Kirk this fall.
Or is Jay Footlik's real target not this fall, but fall 2010? Or is it really something else altogether than trying to wrest Mark Kirk's 10th District seat from him, where so many have failed before, including Dan Seals?
In watching the interview last night, I was struck once again by how NICE Jay Footlik takes pains to be, which forces Dan Seals to also be NICE, which about made me want to vomit (Carol Marin's total softball questions and virtually no follow-up only facilitated the nicey-nicey atmosphere; hey, can we all grab a latte after the show, guys?).
I have to say that I am no fan of negative campaigning. Number one, it's not fun to watch or be involved with; number two, it generally doesn't go over well on the North Shore (I've been involved in some negative campaigns and I think going negative turned out to be a mistake in at least one case, although in another, the opponent was (and still is) so slimy we had no choice); and number three, it tends to turn off the public and give everyone in politics a bad name.
If you look at Hillary and Barack going ballistic on each other lately, while it makes for some fun from the sidelines (at least if you are a Republican), when it's your party that's doing the interparty mudslinging, it's not so much fun to watch (look at Chris Lauzen and Jim Oberweis beating the snot out of each other in the race for Denny Hastert's seat in the 14th CD).
So, while I don't condone negative campaigning, you do have to do something to exploit your opponent's vulnerabilities if you really expect to have a shot at winning, especially when there are few differences between the candidates' positions, and what differences there are, are "in the family" as Footlik put it last night. Footlik has lobbed a few small grenades at Seals (like his real estate mailing of several "affordable" houses in the 10th District, as a dig to Seals' statement that he cannot afford to move into a district of millionaires), but has not capitalized on the professor-gate issue (save for an interview given by Footlik's campaign manager to JTA), nor has Footlik really gone after Seals for his lack of experience, especially in foreign policy (Seals speaks JAPANESE, and that's his idea of foreign policy experience???--really, that's what he touted last night to Carol Marin).
So, is Footlik really serious about this race? Does he expect to lose and bow out gracefully, endorse Seals and then go off to whatever job awaits him? Or, perhaps, does Footlik plan to hang around in his rental house, have his second child and settle in for a few months to see if Kirk hangs on, and when he does, will Footlik announce right away as the next guy to try to take down Mark Kirk? What do y'all think?
ON THE STATE SCENE: Here's some good analysis on the GOP strategy and chances against the state Dems, given the debacles in Springfield on the budget and RTA funding, as well as our not-so-popular governor Bag-O'-Chips. Hat tip: Capitol Fax Blog.