Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mike Ditka Endorsement Flap Leaves U.S. Senate Candidate Pat Hughes With a Black Eye (UPDATED)

As we reported in detail beginning Thursday, conservative U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Hughes served himself up a whole mess of trouble by touting what he claimed he understood to be an endorsement by legendary Chicago Bears player and coach Mike Ditka, only to find that Ditka did not back up this claim when fellow senate candidate Andy Martin called it into question. As we explained previously, Martin had threatened to picket Ditka's restaurant in response to an open letter from one of Hughes' operatives that singled out Eric Wallace and John Arrington (who happen to be the only two African American candidates in the GOP primary) to bail out of the race to clear the field for Hughes against Congressman Mark Kirk. Dikta's camp then sent out a press release that very clearly indicated that Ditka did not endorse Hughes' candidacy, nor did he agree to serve on Hughes' campaign finance committee (which Hughes has also claimed).

"...while I [Ditka] may have endorsed some concepts discussed to his [Hughes'] gathering at the restaurant, I never ‘publicly officially endorsed him and certainly did not agree to serve on his finance committee.” [October 15, 2009, press release]

On Thursday, after having confirmed the Ditka press release that Da Coach had clearly disavowed the endorsement, we at Team America ran with the story early Thursday morning, which was quickly picked up by Capitol Fax Blog and prompted a detailed story by The Hill (which quoted Ditka's representatives as clearly denying any endorsement had issued). HuffPo also picked up on it later in the day.

After sending the Hughes and Ditka camps into full panic mode, they came up with a terse joint statement in the afternoon on Thursday that stated that Dikta, as of that afternoon, was endorsing Hughes, but would not serve on his finance committee due to his personal and business commitments. And, by the way, they were done talking about it, and would not address questions with any media.

Wow. Didya get all that?

Here it is in slow-motion: Hughes sent out a press release claiming that Ditka "endorsed" Hughes. Whether or not Ditka said so at the evening event that Hughes paid for at Ditka's restaurant is a matter of debate, but Hughes admits he never ran the press release by Ditka for approval before he sent it out. It made the news, but Ditka never complained that Hughes was publicly claiming the endorsement (assuming he noticed). That is, until Andy Martin complained to Ditka and threatened to picket his restaurant. Ditka's team then sent out the press release saying that Dikta did NOT endorse Hughes. Martin called off the picket, and everything was fine, until Team America decided to write about it. Hughes and Ditka huddled and decided the only way to save face was to have the coach issue an endorsement that very day but strike a deal that he would not be on the finance committee (note that nowhere in the press release did Ditka say he wrongly previously denied having issued an endorsement).

So, did Hughes ever actually have the endorsement prior to Thursday, October 22? According to Dikta's prior press release, no. That's why the Thursday press release was carefully worded to say that an endorsement was issued as of that day (so let's just all have it clear that Hughes original claim of an endorsement was not exonerated by the Thursday press release, as some have implied).

Now, was Hughes lying when he previously claimed that Ditka had endorsed him? Doubt it. As readers know, I know Pat, and he's not a liar. But the real issue is, did Hughes ever drop the claim of the endorsement when he found out that Ditka had disavowed it, or try to clear up the issue at that time? Apparently not. Instead, the whole thing boiled up until it took on a life of its own, and both Hughes and Ditka sent out the Thursday Hail Mary press release trying to throw water on the fire. They then went into lockdown mode and stated that they would make no more public statements on anything related to any of this.

Regardless of Hughes' campaign team's desperate desire to put this disaster behind them, it's clear that the issue will not die just because they refuse to discuss it further. Hughes' fellow candidate Eric Wallace noted the issue on his own campaign website and perceptively suggested that the whole thing was much less of an endorsement than simply damage control. It was the talk of the day on not just one, but two comment strings over at conservative blog Illinois Review (while some commentors seemed to back Hughes and some did not, many agreed it was a complete mishandling of the situation by the Hughes campaign and made them look like they were not ready for prime time). Several other blogs have also taken note and written about this. And even Carol Marin noted the "smackdown" of Hughes in her Sun-Times column.

And to really put the icing on the cake, Andy Martin is back to threatening to picket Ditka's restaurant.

For all aspiring candidates seeking to understand how all of this works, and how to effectively manage your message and image in the media, you can pretty much take all of this as a textbook example of how NOT to do this. Ever.

Will any of this matter to GOP primary voters in February? Perhaps not directly. But, as the candidates jockey for position and support among the GOP county and township chairmen and committeemen, and other leaders (who have a big influence on GOP turnout and support in the primary), a debacle like this can erode your party support and stop any momentum you may have in its tracks, as people question your ability to lead and manage a crisis. If you can't handle this, how ya gonna handle Afghanistan?

UPDATED 10/25/09 4:25 p.m.: You know, just for kicks, I checked in on Pat's campaign website to see if he's added the Ditka endorsement he received last Thursday. Nope. Hmm... isn't that a bit odd? Pat had apparently scrubbed the previous "endorsement" (as Pat claimed after the event at Dikta's where coach made some nice comments about Pat but later denied it was an official endorsement) from his website sometime earlier last week (I have before and after screenshots, but I doubt anyone cares enough to have me upload them)--and I noted that the scrubbing was done even before Team America started writing about the Ditka press release last Thursday (also odd).

If Pat is so proud of his endorsement (although from The Hill article referenced above, it seemed like Pat was about ready to cut Da Coach loose and label him as a liar, until the two apparently patched things up at the last minute) then why isn't it back up on his website? I wonder if maybe part of the "settlement" was that aside from last week's desperate Thursday afternoon joint press release, Pat would never mention the endorsement in the media again. I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Anonymous said...

Nice work. Primary over, conservatives taken to the woodshed, catwoman having conniptions, nightmares about having a GOP Senator.

You notice team america she never discusses todd stroger or blago. Perhaps her elite education and parternship at a major downtown law firm leaves her too busy to read actual newspapers.

Oh wait.


Anonymous said...

Catwoman has the audacity to write some total BS crap about Kirk forcing Mike Ditka to take back his endorsement, etc. etc. Have her prove what she says. That lying creep need a trip to the woodshed. And as for being part of any law firm, elite or otherwise, that's a joke in an of itself. She has some shared leased space in the same building on Skokie blvd. where Congressman Mark Kirk has his main office. She is such a loser it's almost funny.

Anonymous said...

I'm not fond of "catwoman's" rantings either, and will even say that she's posted some very hateful things.

However, I'm puzzled by the attention she sometimes gets on this blog. It's not as if anyone posts anything on her blog, so it would seem that her circle of influence is quite limited.

Anonymous said...


you can't underestimate the verbal weapons of mass destruction that that woman, the bitter and aging horribly lauren beth gash (of the alumni from paul simon's office she had the least successful career0, and their thugs have unleashed on the north shore against Mark and republicans. It's a failed era of politics in Illinois that's coming to an abrupt end. Team America should absolutely name and shame these scum and make sure that 10th voters know that they are wrong.

Good news is that their days are numbered as our area turns blood red. And yes you can sure as hell bet Mark will be voting for conservative justices, gun rights, national security, pro-business interests, and not for some claptrap hyde park liberalism in the senate.

Get used to it.


Anonymous said...

Right on, Foklaes. One can only hope that the divisiveness, the bitter, ugly, vicious rantings of Gash and Gill are, indeed, coming to an abrupt end. They have hurt the cause they fought to build, but building on shifting sand is never a good idea. Let's not concentrate on those bitter pills and spend time and attention building a rock-solid 10th District we can all be proud of led by Senator Mark Kirk.

Anonymous said...

lauren, and catwoman are in a brutal fight for the title of north shore's biggest loser. Pup would be in the bunch but he's from the socialist 9th. I'll never forget the f-bomb used to describe her by her former campaign cos from gephardt's office who called her the worst candidate he'd seen in 20 years.

the problem in the party is that longterm the christian conservative base has no agenda anymore and is hated everywhere-think liberals in 1977, they are most of the party and frankly I am ready to see them and their arrogant b.s. jettisoned like a twinkie in front of a fat kid. The problem is moderates like mark have no agenda-read the whining by all the former moderates like charlie bass and tom davis in their recent op-eds.

Mark has never really had a modern cohesive agenda going back to his first campaigns in 2000 where he talked about BICRA, ANWR and YUCCA. None of the schlubs running for his seat this year have it either and it's dissapointing and revealing.

Obama will get re-elected in 2012, but I'm confident we'll make gains and start to set up for a long term revival in 2016 where republicans in places like illinois and california lead the way back, the way it was democrats like clinton and gore in former democrat strongholds in the 90's in the south reinventing their party.


Andy Martin said...

U. S. Senate candidate Andy Martin sticks the fork in Carol Marin, and Pat Hughes

Picketing set to resume at Ditka’s to protest racist remarks by
Ditka, Caprio and Hughes

Republican for U. S. Senator
“He works for all
the People of Illinois”
Suite 4406
30 E. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611-4723
(866) 706-2639


Andy Martin links to an accurate summary of “Ditkagate”

Picketing set to resume at Ditka’s; watch for details

(CHICAGO)(October 26, 2009) Because of the great amount of media “disinformation” about Ditkagate, and Carol Marin’s dishonest attempt to credit Mark Kirk for exposing Pat Hughes’ incompetence as a candifate, we provide the following link to a blog where the facts are correctly summarized:

As for Mark Kirk, he knows where to go when he wants to steal a conservative idea: Andy Martin’s blogs. Attaboy Markie.

Chicago Tribune: Andy Martin is an “absolutely brilliant campaigner.” [2/25/78] Just ask Pat Hughes what it’s like to run against Andy.

Readers of Obama: The Man Behind The Mask, say the book is still the only gold standard and practical handbook on Barack Obama's unfitness for the presidency. Buy it.
Book orders: or Immediate shipment from or signed copies (delayed for signing) from the publisher are available.
URGENT APPEAL: The Committee of One Million to Defeat Barack Obama raises money to oppose President Barack Obama's radical agenda and also to support
Please give generously. Our ability to fight and defeat Barack Obama's political agenda is directly dependent on the generosity of every American. "The Committee of One Million to Defeat Barack Obama has no bundlers, no fat cats and no illegal contributions. Obama is opposed to almost everything America stands for," says Executive Director Andy Martin. "But while Obama has raised a billion dollar slush fund, his opponents lack sufficient resources. Americans can either contribute now, or pay later. If we do not succeed, Obama will."
Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of broadcasting background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He is currently promoting his best-selling book, Obama: The Man Behind The Mask and producing the new Internet movie "Obama: The Hawai'i years." Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of

Martin comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York.


Andy's columns are also posted at; [NOTE: We frequently correct typographical errors and additions/subtractions on our blogs, where you can find the latest edition of this release.]

MEDIA CONTACT: (866) 706-2639 or CELL (917) 664-9329 (cell not always on)
© Copyright by Andy Martin 2009.

Anonymous said...

Catwoman does not not allow responses to her postings, she clears them all first. So her comments on her blog go uncontested, giving her the glowing feeling of speaking in an echo chamber.

I did notice recently that her blog is again endorsing the Pup for Congress. Small print this time. A barely mentioned type of endorsement as compared to all the glowing articles and impassioned defenses of yesteryear!

And let's be fair to Democrats out there. I know they like to avoid talking about Blagojevich, Stroger and other nightmares. But Blagojevich and Stroger are not the only ones to blame. All those who supported Blagojevich and Stroger are also complicit.

Complicit as well are those who voted for the "leadership" in Springfield that has turned state government into one of the laughingstocks of the nation? Ethics reform a year later? Still waiting! A budget more fanciful than Dr. Seus' Cat in the Hat? Yes! Who voted for Cullerton and Madigan? Perhaps we should ask: which Democratic Senators and Representatives from these parts voted AGAINST Madigan and Cullerton two years ago?


Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

Anyone with any door-to-door stories this week?

Spent a number of days going door to door rounding up signatures for good Republicans (and myself as a Precinct Committeeman) to run in the primary.

This time around? The common response I'm getting is: "Republican? Yeah, no problem! Where do I sign?" or "Yes, I'll sign all of them."

They all seem pretty determined. Other comments: "He's not one of the crazy Republicans now is he?" And: "Already? Aren't you early?"

Anyone else getting reactions going door-to-door? I've always found those reactions more valuable than polls or from listening to candidates telling me what the public ought to be upset about or concerned about.

Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

It's obvious that you are pro-Martin which makes you completely unreliable as a source of anything.

It's going to be a long winter for Anthony Robert Martin-Trigona.

Team America said...

You don't have to be in love with Andy Martin to acknowledge that he was correct on this one.

Is that really the best you can do?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Team America said...

Um, no Anon 3:17. You want to post an anti-Andy Martin manifesto, go do it somewhere else. He's no threat to Mark Kirk, and I don't need the hassle, even if I am a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

King Louis Astaves the Ellen Slayer,

Right on buddy.

As for Democrat hypocrisy, bear in mind that if thugs like Denny Hastert, judy baar topinka, and andy mckenna had had their way we would have never had blago or stroger or the state democrat party brought down when they got rid of peter fitzgerald. When we look at candidates like beth coulson we need to make sure we aren't getting more of that junk.

Team America said...

To the Anon poster from Annandale Virginia who hates Andy Martin - I'm getting tired of deleting your hits on Andy Martin. Go peddle your diatribes against Martin somewhere else. My blog, my rules. Take a hike, bozo.

Anonymous said...

The endorsement was mentioned once or twice yesterday/today in the comments section of Carol Marin's recent column by Hughes' folks.

Team America said...

Having Hughes' folks or supporters talking about it on other blogs is one thing, but the absence of a mention on his official campaign site is interesting, if not downright suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Look Team America,

I lived in Illinois from 1968 to spring of 2009. My family and I know a little about Chicago politics and we will not be pushed around by someone who has a public blog about Chicago politics. If you are going to post something by a so-called candidate, then I am going to respond to it. If you do not want me to respond to comments about Andy Martin or offer the public factual information about him, then remove information containing his comments. Otherwise, accept it as part of life or remove your blog from public.

You were the one who asked me "Is that was the best you can do?"

I responded to your challenge and now you try to shut me down. Good Luck!

Team America said...

Dear Mr. Annandale: Let me explain how this thing works.

It's my blog. It's not a free-wheeling public forum, and it's not a public park where you can set up your soapbox and spew whatever you like, and people are free to listen, or not, as they choose.

Again, my blog, so I get to make the rules. I get to decide what the subjects under discussion are. I pride myself on not deleting comments for taking a different viewpoint and having an intellectual debate on the issues, but you are not expressing a viewpoint, you're just smearing one of the candidates. Believe me, I'm not in the business of defending Andy Martin, but I don't have to provide you with a forum to do it. When I challenged you to come up with something better, I meant with something that wasn't related to Andy Martin, since you seemed to be trying to take a dig at me, the Blog or the GOP in general. Now that it's clear that you simply have a personal axe to grind against Martin, I don't feel the need to deal with it. Take it somewhere else, or you'll just keep getting deleted.

Thanks, The Management

October 25, 2009 7:37 PM

Anonymous said...

Point well taken Team America. I apologize. You are correct and I will respect your wishes as to what to post and what not to post. Again, I am sorry.

Team America said...

Um, let's not play stupid, kids. I can tell the last poster was from over at LakeCountyEye (Crazy4Glf, is that you?), not Mr. Annandale, so let's not try to be childish about this. Looks like I'll have to enable comment moderation for a few days until the latest crop of crazies go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Team America,

the price of success is the attraction of morons. Just delete them, don't think twice and moveon.

We need to move past hughes, he's got no shot at winning this seat and the party needs to be about more than mark.

Also looking at the tenth dems if you want any more of an idea what a sleeze gash was look at the fact taht she still uses Honorable in her title. She's been out of office for a decade and did 5 terms as a bumblef-ck state rep. Yuck.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone find it odd that the Kirk supporters are making hay of other people's endorsements when many people on Kirk's "endorsement" list say they never promised him an endorsement? Illinois Review has reported about that before. I did a little research into it myself. Seems Mark Kirk counts anyone who ever shook hands with him in a hallway as an “endorsement”. Mark Kirk's fundraising letter claims both Stickney Twp. GOP committeeman Mike Olik and 1st Congressional District committee Steve Daglas endorsed him. Both these gentlemen have told me personally that they did not and have been neutral in the U.S. Senate primary.

Who's telling the truth?