Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mike Ditka Denies Official Endorsement of U.S. Senate Candidate Patrick Hughes (UPDATED x3)

U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Hughes, a staunch conservative running for the GOP nomination in a rather crowded Republican primary field, which includes presumptive front-runner 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk, recently made headlines with the announcement that legendary former Chicago Bears coach "Iron" Mike Ditka had endorsed his candidacy.

Hughes stated in a press release a few weeks ago that:

Former Chicago Bears Football coach and Chicago sports legend Mike Ditka has endorsed the candidacy of Patrick Hughes for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming February 2 Republican Primary.

Speaking to a gathering of Hughes supporters at Ditka’s Restaurant last night, Da Coach said, “I pledge all my support to Patrick Hughes and I will help him in any way I can. Patrick Hughes stands for the same mainstream values that Mike Ditka stands for. Patrick Hughes knows who he is and what he believes. He knows that Washington is not the answer to all of our problems today.”

Said Hughes, “I am truly humbled tonight by the strong expression of support from Coach Ditka. My great admiration for him is not only based on his success on the football field and as a business man, but also because of his success in life as he has given so much of his time and energy to help the less fortunate among us in Chicagoland.”

Ditka’s endorsement of Hughes came just days after a declaration of neutrality in the Illinois GOP Senate race by RNC Chairman Michael Steele. ***

The story was widely carried by AP and other MSM sources and noted on Capitol Fax Blog. Hughes also bragged about Ditka agreeing to be on his finance committee. Hughes also, of course, touted all of this on his own website.

As recently as Monday of this week (10/19), Hughes was still crowing about the Ditka endorsement, with a Twitter/Facebook post noting that the story had been picked up by Huffington Post.

Um, timeout, calls Da Coach.

Mike Ditka's representatives are now denying that the revered former NFL player and coach ever made any endorsement and, what's more, have clearly stated that Hughes does NOT have Ditka's endorsement.

As we told you earlier (although we were admittedly skeptical), and has been discussed in detail over on conservative blog Illinois Review, fellow U.S. Senate candidate Andy Martin was the first to call out Hughes on this issue some days ago. Martin contacted Ken Valdiserri, Executive Director of the Gridiron Greats organization, to determine whether or not the report of Ditka's endorsement was true. Martin reported on his blog back on October 15th that Valdiserri denied that the endorsement had issued in a series of e-mails, which Martin posted on his blog.

I personally spoke with Mr. Valdiserri earlier this week and he confirmed the e-mails to Martin, and referred me to Coach Ditka's attorney for further information. Before he did, however, he told me that the Hughes campaign never gave Ditka a chance to review the press release before it was sent out, and that while Ditka endorsed some of Hughes' political views, "He [Ditka] does not recall officially endorsing Hughes or agreeing to be part of his finance committee" at the Hughes event and, moreover, it is clear that "he is not officially endorsing Pat Hughes." Valdiserri criticized Hughes for not following "proper protocol" and taking inappropriate liberties with Ditka's positive comments at the dinner, and publicizing those as an official endorsement.

Valdiserri put out a press release last week that clearly stated that Hughes was wrong and did not have Ditka's endorsement. Martin also cited the press release on his blog, which was where I first saw it.

After I spoke with Mr. Valdirserri's, at his invitation, I then contacted Mike Ditka's attorney, Steve Mandell, who referred me to the press release, which I obtained directly from Mr. Valdiserri yesterday. The release (dated 10/15/09) stated:

“Pat spoke at the restaurant last week and presented small government and Reaganomic points of view,” said Ditka. He asked if I would endorse his candidacy and I indicated I supported his views”. “We were never given the opportunity to agree to a press release which claimed I ‘officially endorsed his candidacy,” said Ditka, The release was put out the following day by Hughes’ PR firm.

“I have long supported civil rights and would never support advocacy for the exclusion of African Americans, or any race, color or religion,” said Ditka. “All you need to do is come to my restaurant and see the diversity of our employees, customers and friends.

“These claims and rhetoric are obviously ‘politically motivated and while I may have endorsed some concepts discussed to his gathering at the restaurant, I never ‘publicly officially endorsed him and certainly did not agree to serve on his finance committee,”

Additional background for all of this is that Martin previously criticized Hughes when one of Hughes' operatives wrote a letter suggesting that senate candidates Eric Wallace and John Arrington (who happen to be only the two African-American GOP candidates) should drop out of the race to clear the field for Hughes. Martin threatened a picket of Ditka's restaurant where the Hughes event had been held, hence the denial of supporting racism that was sandwiched in the middle of the Ditka press release.

Got all that? Good. So far, however, no official retraction and apology appear to have issued from the Hughes campaign (despite the fact that Andy Martin called him out on this days ago). And while one might speculate that the initial press release may have been due to overzealousness on the part of the Hughes campaign, it doesn't explain why Hughes is still touting the "endorsement" even in light of Valdiserri's statements (as heavily publicized by Martin, and now confirmed by Team America) that no official endorsement was actually authorized by Ditka. Maybe the message from Mr. Valdiserri somehow didn't penetrate...?

As I have noted before, I went to law school with Pat Hughes, studied with him for hours on end back in school, and have considered him a friend. He's smart, a man of strong beliefs, and generally a good guy. But it seems Pat really stepped in this one. If you, as an unknown candidate, go around proclaiming a coveted high-profile endorsement (not to mention financial support) by someone like Ditka (who is practically worshipped by many in Chicago) to gain much-needed legitimacy and name recognition, you better make darn sure you have his permission and unreserved support. And fess up quickly if you made a mistake. Of course, the window for that has already passed.

Newbee candidates rarely survive major mistakes like this one, especially at the level of a U.S. Senate campaign.

UPDATED 1:20 p.m.: The Hill has a detailed article up. In it, Hughes says anyone who disputes his version of the 'endorsement' at the event is not telling the truth:

“I would be speculating as to what their intentions are, but clearly they’re succumbing to some pressure,” Hughes said in an interview. “Any statement made that the coach did not officially or actually endorse me, I believe, is not true. I was endorsed, and that’s why I said I was.”

Um, this is DA COACH we're talking about, Pat.

Pat doesn’t seem to realize that you lose this fight as soon as you decide to lace up the gloves with Ditka. Regardless of who said what at that event, the only way out of this for Hughes was to meekly apologize for misunderstanding the Coach and slink away, hoping no one noticed. Hughes was too proud to do that, so he’s going to have to deal with the fallout.

UPDATED x2 1:55 p.m.: Looks like Hughes and Camp Ditka are trying to lock this thing down before it gets completely out of control.


The campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Hughes has issued the following official statement with approval of the Mike Ditka organization:

“As of October 22nd, Mike Ditka is endorsing Patrick Hughes for U.S. Senate. This statement is being issued jointly by Mike Ditka’s organization and the U.S. Senate campaign of Patrick Hughes. We have no further comment on anything that has been discussed or reported in any media.”

Due to Coach Ditka’s numerous business and personal commitments, he will not be serving on Patrick Hughes’ finance committee.

Patrick Hughes is a successful real estate developer, husband, and father, resides with his wife, Susan, and their three children in Hinsdale.

So, whatever you do, don't ask either side any questions about it.

UPDATED x3 4:35 p.m.: Huffington Post seems both amused and confused by the Hughes/Ditka kerfuffle.


Old Viking said...

Good-bye, Pat Hughes. Your two point five seconds of fame are now officially over.

Anonymous said...

Pat Hughes.....

See-Ya....wouldn't want to Be-Ya.

I assume this Ditka Debacle will reach the mainstream news today?

Don Grayson said...

Hughes lied about "raising $400,000". It turns out he only raised $130,000.

Pat Hughes lacks integrity.

Anonymous said...

For more background on the source of the story, read this:

Team America said...

The original source is one thing, but we've independently confirmed it with Ditka's folks, in case you didn't read the entire post.

Hughes is not getting out of this by trying to turn it on Andy Martin.

Try again.

Anonymous said...

I hope that Hughes will lose most of his support, this week. The best candidate, in that race, is Dr. Eric Wallace. He's pro-tax cuts, pro-welfare cuts, pro-life, and pro-gun rights.

Conservative Veteran

Anonymous said...

Looks like Hughes has a Ditka problem.

Conservative said...


Mike Ditka can backtrack all he wants due to the fear of the musings of an apparently unstable person - Andy Martin - however, nothing can back track from the truth...MIKE DITKA DID COMPLETELY ENDORSE PAT HUGHES FOR SENATE AT HIS RESTAURANT.

And from someone who was actually there (Larry, you weren’t there; Andy Martin certainly wasn’t there), there is no manner of interpretation that would lead anyone to believe or conclude anything otherwise. I have never heard a more ringing and complete endorsement of a candidate in my life. Mike Ditka specifically said that he endorsed Pat; that he would support Pat and his campaign in any way that Pat needed; committed to providing Pat money; he urged, actually demanded, that everyone in attendance do the same because Pat believes in the same things that Mike Ditka believes in and the Pat would be good for the country. Anyone else you can discuss the matter with that was actually there (and not under a compulsion to lie or distort the facts for the Ditka camp, for whatever reason) will concur with this. I know this for one simple reason, it is the truth.

I am uncertain of what “protocols” are required, but stands to reason a completely truthful statement of the events of that night at Ditka’s restaurant would not need “approval” by anyone (other than someone that would want to re-write history).

Further, why did it take so long for Ditka and his camp to try and clarify their actual endorsement of Pat Hughes? Why did this claim of only a partial endorsement of Pat Hughes come after the alleged protest of Ditka’s restaurant? Because while Mike Ditka may claim to be an American and a conservative, he really is just a coward who would not stand up to one small person and his lies to support what he believes in. It’s fairly sad.

Larry, I have to say, for someone who “claims” to be Pat’s friend and law school buddy you sure don’t act like it…Augustus Caesar had better friends! Next time you decide to run a little blog, why don’t you do a bit more investigation rather than taking one person’s version of the facts and history…especially when it comes to your “friend.”

Elsie Comer said...

Hughes lies to us about Ditka's endorsement.

And he told a good conservative, Eric Wallace to get out.

Hughes should get out and back Wallace.

Team America said...

Conservative, you need to take a breath, you'll live longer. Whatever the truth is with the "he said, she said" if that's the game Pat wants to play with MIKE DITKA of all people, then Pat's not as smart as I remember him to be. Whether Ditka and Hughes disagree on the events of the night, that's for them to argue about. I reported what Hughes said, and what Ditka said about it. The most important point appears to be now that Hughes DOESN'T have the endorsement, and that he has offered no retraction or correction that he does.

Anonymous said... new at this or something? Is this you Hughes? If so, please listen. YOU DON'T HAVE THE ENDORSEMENT.

In fact, the more you discuss that you DID have it is a simple and accurate reflection of a very well known don't belong in this race.

Get are wasting the State's time.

Conservative said...

I breath fine, thanks.

Why would someone retract a comment that was true?

If Mike Ditka would like to change his mind due to being a coward, that is his perogative. But he should not be allowed to lie and claim it to be the truth and have addle minded people gobble it up without question.

You certainly write the piece as if what Ditka said is the truth...not exactly fair "blogging." But you can tell whatever lies you like to yourself.

Conservative said...

Anonymous - are you new to critical thinking?

The point is not the endorsement; it is that people are claiming a lack of integrity and honesty by reporting the endorsement...which is both untrue and absurd.

Anyone who knows Pat knows him to be one of the most honest and forthright people you would ever meet and the thought that he would issue a statement that was not 100% accurate is absurd.
Do you now understand the reason for my post?

Anonymous said...

Conservative--- sounds to me like your beef is with Ditka, if you really beliebve what you're saying. Maybe you should call him and complain and not grip about people who report what both sides are saying. You going to call the AP and complaint to them too when they run a sotry?

Fact is, the only thing for a candidate like Hughes to do is to apologize meekly, ackowldge that he doesn't now have the endorsement, and slink away quietly. He's never going to win against DA COACH!!!!

Conservative said...

I think I am losing IQ points on this blog...I am going to go bang my head against the wall.

Anonymous said...

Conservative, before you go, you better go find out why Hughes scrubbed all references of the Ditka endorsement from his website.

Conservative said...

I thought that would have been obvious? Ditka is now changing his story, so the links would be pulled.

Anonymous said...

So is that the only admission by Hughes that he deosn't have the endorsement, or is he going to issue a retraction???

Conservative said...

Stay tuned...

Team America said...

Well, when Pat has a statement ready, we'll be happy to post it here.

Anonymous said...

So Conservative, this is all Ditka's fault?

Anonymous said...

Hey Conservative....

You may want to set your sights on a race more to your level of County Dog Catcher?

Back to the minors dumb*@#.

Zambuca Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Love me some Sambuca!

Anonymous said...

I am uncertain of what “protocols” are required, but stands to reason a completely truthful statement of the events of that night at Ditka’s restaurant would not need “approval” by anyone (other than someone that would want to re-write history).

At a minimum, the Hughes campaign might have wanted to extend the courtesy of having Ditka or someone on his staff review their press releas(es) prior to distribution.

Anonymous said...


Pup has a better chance at finding employment than Hughes has at winning this seat. Team Kirk has passed their first test in neutralizing the conservative establishment.

Back to reality. The Hill ran a devastating story today on the 10th cd race. Looks like coulson is fading badly. Hamos appears to be claiming to be pro-israel, which is true only if you are comparing her positions to hezbullah's. Perhaps she'll dig up pup's barking to ol'friend Lee Goodman where he told lee he'd let Israel get nuked by Iran.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of my old Sen. Geo-Karis days. Someone who was "there" "heard" or "overheard" her say she was going to retire.

Didn't matter what she stated over and over later on and her actions to the contrary, it was always "I was "there" and I "overheard."

Sometimes people hear what they think they want to hear. If Ditka put out a press release saying he actually didn't endorse Hughes, then respect that.

Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

The first question is, did Hughes hear what was said, or did he hear what he wanted to believe was said?

The second question is, what difference does it make, since he clearly doesn't have an endorsement now.

The third question is... no, wait, no need for another question. Hughes is toast.

Anonymous said...

Who would win…..a F-5 Tornado or Ditka?

Team America said...

All together now...


Anonymous said...

Hold On Hold On Hold On!!!!!

What if the tornado's name was Ditka?

Anonymous said...

So now Hughes was just lying about Da Coach's membership on the Finance Committee.

Ppplease - Hughes - you are NOT ready for the United States Senate

Patrick said...

Remember Ditka endorsed super-liberal Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Ditka at least did a TV add for Quinn.

I have lost count ... is Ditka for or against Hughes?

If Hughes screws up his only endorsement, how can he be a Senator?

Joe McCarthy and the Red Scarecrows said...

Not since Dan Seals' gas stunt have I seen something backfire so badly.

Anonymous said...


If you had a facebook fan page on facebook I would join, but pat hughes is gone. It's far more important now to make sure thuderDAN segrue, Hamilton Chang, Change is in my name, and others make it into office and that pup and Tehran Julie Hamos are sent to the unemployment line, well I guess in pup's case he never left.

This is where our attention needs to be focused. If we dont get either house in springfield or the governors mansion, the democrats will control redistricting and then we could lose this seat. Some of us might have to have comrade jan, others might have to have melissa bean. We need to focus our fire on targets that are still standing.


Crazy4glf said...

Hmm, where to begin.

The idea that one faction is pro-life implies that the other one is anti-life. If one becomes more specific saying anti-abortion, it implies that all those in favor of choice (in GOP speak: keeping the government's hands off of my ability to make decisions) are not necessarily pro-abortion. We believe in the unencumbered right to make choices just as the GOP believes in the right of some to make millions of dollars on fake 'profits' and for individuals to choose to carry/use their guns wherever the heck they want.

Pro gun rights: someone with a concealed carry permit in Florida 'accidentally' killed an innocent citizen this week. I guess he or she didn't attend the NRA gun safety class. Good thing he wasn't in Chicago or another CPS student may have been shot. (How do we help fight crime amongst teens - how about not making it easier to get guns and carry them in cars, national parks, and religious buildings?)

Pro welfare cuts? How does this square with being pro-life? Ensuring that all people have sustenance, when their family may not be able to. Again, if one is in favor of abstinence only education and is anti-Roe, is it not possible that the need for private or government assistance will increase in a statistically significant manner?

Tax cuts: like those financed by borrowing from China that had Mark Kirk's seal of approval. Now, all of a sudden, borrowing for allegedly untoward or unnecessary purposes like say pandemic flu prevention and treatment is wrong, wrong, wrong.
I'm glad we had those tax cuts because we'd be so worse off if we didn't! And what would've happened to seniors' savings if there was partial privatization of Social Security?

When Ditka was considering a run for office, he wouldn't have gotten my vote. Mr. Martin -who knows something about untoward comments and behavior- will not get my vote, and Mr. Hughes (sometimes strong will or strong opinions can be the wrong opinions, TA) will not get my vote. Neither will Alexi by the way.

SouthSide said...

Eric Wallace is a better candidate than Pat Hughes