Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween, Democrats!

We'll be back to our regular programming tomorrow.

Thanks to for the pic.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mark Kirk Wins Milton Township Straw Poll

At the big Milton Township (DuPage County, for anyone who doesn't know where that is) dinner event tonight, Congressman Mark Kirk handily won the straw poll.

From Illinois Review, which liveblogged the event, here are the results:

US Senate #
Kirk -- 224
Arrington -- 3
Hughes -- 55
Lowery --4
Martin - 0
Thomas -- 2
Varga -- 1
Wallace -- 15
Zadek -- 0

Pat Hughes Needs the Primary Ballot Process Explained to Him, or a Math Lesson (UPDATED)

I wasn't planning to keep piling on rookie U.S. Senate candidate Pat Hughes (at least not today), but he doesn't appear to understand the primary election process, among other things, or is just really bad at math.

Today over at Illinois Review Pat Hughes denies that he did not have enough signatures to file as of 8:00 a.m. on the first possible day, which was this past Monday, Oct. 26th. Rather, he claims this is all part of his strategy to wait until the last minute on November 2nd to file and jockey for last place on the ballot (assuming he realizes that a few other GOP contenders may have the same idea). Whether you can believe him, considering his campaign recently seemed pretty desperate for signatures as we reported earlier today, Pat also doesn't seem to know that you have to declare a political party in Illinois when you grab your primary ballot. Pat says at IR:

"We'll be filing on Monday with the intention of getting the last place on the ballot. If you can't get the top spot, and bottom is second best. We had a one in 16 shot at getting the top spot in a drawing if we all filed at 8:00 AM Monday morning, so we're waiting," Hughes said. (TA's emphasis)

Um, 1 in 16? While there are a bunch of GOP hopefuls in the U.S. Senate race that we know of (Kirk, Arrington, Wallace, Zadek, Martin, Thomas, Lowry, and Hughes), that only totals up to eight.

If you add in the DEMOCRATS to Hughes' total (Giannoulias, Jackson, Hoffman and Meister) that is four more, which totals 12, but is still not close to 16.

But as most of us understand, Hughes will not be competing against the Dems for ballot position in February. It will just be Republicans, so we're back down to 1 in 8 as far as chances to be top ballot dog go, and as it turned out, only five of the eight filed last Monday.

There's also the possibility that one or more candidates would be knocked off during any challenges which would further increase your odds of getting that top spot.

Now, he's going to have to figure out how to be last when potentially two other GOP candidates may have the same plan. I'm assuming if you hand in at the last minute (literally), there is a similar lottery to jockey for last position. That makes Hughes' odds potentially as bad as 1 in 3 to get last, which isn't too much different than his chances would have been to be first, as it may turn out.

Given how bad Pat is at calculating odds, I'm not too sanguine about how well he can execute this strategy either.

UPDATED 2:30 p.m.: In a different article today at IR, two other GOP senate contenders are mentioned that I did not reference above, a Tom Kuna and an Ed Varga. That brings the total GOP field up to 10, but even with the four Democrats, that only makes 14 total, not 16. So Hughes' math is still off, at best, if he understands that the Dems won't be on the ballot with him, but the closer total makes it seem even more likely to me that he doesn't have a clue about the parimary ballot process and assumed all candidates would be on the ballot together.

Multiple Choice Quiz: A 'Show of Strength' Is A) Having Enough Petition Signatures or B) Not Having Enough Petition Signatures

My old friend attorney Pat Hughes is running for U.S. Senate, and while I wish him well in his life, I can't say very much for how he's run his first political campaign, especially in comparison to the fearsome campaign machine that's been assembled by 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk.

Lawyers by trade are experts (or should be) in clever use of words to express ideas or arguments, such as in legal briefs or contracts. We like to call it "wordsmithing," perhaps to give ourselves the illusion that lawyers actually create something of value somewhere along the line... (ha ha).

Trying to parse words or arguments can get you into trouble and lose credibility when you make too much of a stretch, however, as once again Pat has contorted reality by claiming that his failure to file his nominating petitions like everyone else was a show of 'strength.'

Here's the blurb that caught my attention:

Patrick Hughes, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, said his petitioners, a combination of volunteers and paid staff, are still out gathering signatures so that he can make a show of strength when he files. Hughes said he would rather file last and get the last position on the ballot than file at the beginning of the period and have only a one in five or six chance of being listed first.

“It’s kind of like those strategies on how to pass a multiple choice exam if you don’t have a lot of time,” he said. “My belief is that you’re actually better off having the last name on the ballot.”

So, let's get this straight - admitting that you're still scrambling to get enough signatures to file for the nomination by the deadline is a show of 'strength'? That must be some unusual use of the word 'strength' of which I was not previously aware.

Earlier this week, Rich Miller at Capitol Fax Blog published an e-mail from a Hughes representative that he'd gotten a hold of, which said (as Miller redacted it):

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2009 10:02:38 -0700
Subject: Illinois Upcoming Election


My name is xxx xxxx and I work for a company called Proud to be Republicn [sic](; We are assisting Pat Hughes in finishing up with his campaign signatures and need some help.

We are located in Oak Brook and have been acquiring signatures locally but would like the assistance of a college organization to help us with the younger population. Your group has acquired a large number of followers and seems to understand the problems that Illinois is going through. If you or any other members of your organization would be interested in helping us support Pat Hughes please contact me.

Feel free to call me at (800)xxx-xxx or via email at I will forward you all the information we have avaliable [sic] on Pat Hughes. He is also paying for signatures which is a nice incentive. Please remember the petitions are due on Monday so this is an urgent matter. (emphasis added by TA, mispellings in the original as noted)

Now, the interesting thing here is not so much that Hughes had to resort to paying people to collect signatures for him (lots of campaigns that are not established do that - heck, even Terry Link did that, with disastrous results, as we all remember), but that the e-mail implies that Hughes was desperate to meet that Monday Oct 26th filing deadline, and would have, if he'd had enough signatures. Yet, his attempted spin in the news is that he's biding his time to come in with a show of 'strength,' and try to grab the last ballot position. Well, it's not too hard to see that this is a face-saving move based on a lack of sufficient sigs on filing day.

Here's a free tip, Pat - while it's great to get the first position (and you may be right that second-best is the last position, especially in a crowded field), ballot position generally is not worth much except when a race is low-profile, down ballot, and the voters are generally unfamiliar with all the candidates. At most, it may be worth a point or two in a close race. But in a case like this, where Congressman Kirk is leading the field handily with name ID (which will only go up as his ads begin to hit) and crushing his primary opponents with fundraising, if my campaign were based on grass roots support and hitting the local committeemen and township/county chairmen (as Pat's is), I would want to be standing in line with 10,000+ signatures bright and early on the first day of filing. Then you issue a press release trumpeting that fact, and talk about how conservative Republicans all over the state were flocking to your banner, and how you had to turn signed petitions away because you were receiving so many. THAT's a show of 'strength.' Obviously, Hughes wasn't able to pull that off. And now, he's only raised expectations for how many signatures he will need to file by this coming Monday to not look like a complete laughingstock.

No one, no matter how committed they are to a candidates' ideology, wants to feel their vote is being wasted. If Hughes can't convince primary voters he's got a realistic chance against Kirk, he will get no more than a token 'protest' vote.

Sometimes, even the most creative legal argument doesn't work. And sometimes it really hurts your case. Court's adjourned.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who Will Replace Kathy Ryg? Recent Filings in 59th Legislative District Indicate a Hot Race; Dan Sugrue Endorsed

It looks like the race to replace recently retired State Representative Kathy Ryg in the 59th Legislative District may be a hot contest for both Republicans and Democrats. Although only two candidates, appointed incumbent Democrat Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, a businesswoman, and Republican Dan Sugrue, an attorney from Green Oaks, filed their nominating petitions on Monday October 26th, we've been waiting for the expected entrance of several other candidates who also declared their intention to run for this spot.

Yesterday, two of those candidates made their filings, and it's game on in the 59th District primary. We've not heard much about Buffalo Grove Trustee Lisa Stone as a possible candidate lately, but we'll have to see.

On the Dem side, Buffalo Grove Mayor Elliott Hartstein filed midmorning yesterday, and will challenge the newly-appointed Sente in the primary. When Hartstein did not file on the first day, we were suspicious that some back-room deal had been cut among the Dems to get Hartstein out of the race. That appears not to have happened (yet), so this should be a primary race to watch. Hartstein has great name recognition and will give Sente a real fight. If he wins, he will face the GOP winner in the general election without the advantage of incumbency that Sente would bring, and would be taken as a sign of weakness and a possible pick-up opportunity for the GOP.

Sente appears to have learned a lot from Kathy Ryg about being out in the district and interacting with constituents. She's done more in the past few months than some legislators do all year in terms of hosting meetings and greetings. But, Sente is no shoo-in; just recently she was criticized in the Daily Herald for not taking a position on campaign finance reform when asked by the Herald editorial board. Newspaper people hate it when politicians won't give them a straight answer.

On the Republican side, declared challenger Mohan Manian showed up to file against Dan Sugrue, who previously ran a good race on little resources against Ryg. Mohan is a good guy, but the advantage belongs to Sugrue with his experience and name recognition. Sugrue signalled his intentions to run against Ryg again, before she announced her retirement, and deserves credit for sticking with the fight when no one else was interested in taking on the popular Ryg. Dan is off to a good start and he deserves the support of the party. Sugrue is endorsed by the Team America Blog.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NRCC Adds IL-10 Hopefuls Coulson, Dold and Green to its "Young Guns" Program

The Hill notes today that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has added three contenders for Congressman Mark Kirk's seat (he's running for U.S. Senate, just in case you missed it) to its "Young Guns" program: State Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, and businessmen Bob Dold and Dick Green. Winnetka attorney Bill Cadigan was left out (one may presume based on his lower fundraising numbers for Q3 compared to the others). Dark horse candidate Paul Hamann (who filed petitions yesterday) was also left off.

State Senator Michael Bond Fundraiser Abruptly Canceled Due to Ethics Concerns

Greg Hinz at Crain's has a great scoop on why a State Senator Michael Bond fundraiser featuring the Illinois Transportation Secretary, Gary Hannig, was abruptly canceled. More at Capitol Fax Blog.

This isn't the first time Bond has tried to leverage his state legislative clout over road-related projects into campaign contributions, and you can bet it will be an issue in the upcoming battle with County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt for this seat. We'll see how well Bond does without Aunt Geo to back him up.

BTW, the word on the street is that Bond has left Allstate, where he was a financial analyst (although he claimed a much loftier title and acted like he was a CFO or something). TA also hears that his workgroup held a potluck lunch in his honor. After he left.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who's Missing from First-in-Line Filers Today?

Well, now that the dust has settled, we can take stock of those candidates whom we had heard for weeks, if not months, that they were serious about campaigning, and that they alone had the winning formula, but for some reason didn't show up today in Springfield to be in line to assure themselves at least a chance to be first on the ballot.

In the U.S. Senate race, everyone you might have expected to file did so, with the very notable exceptions of Cheryle Jackson on the Dem side, and conservatives Patrick Hughes and Eric Wallace on the GOP side. Hughes may have been too busy dealing with the bad PR from the Ditka kerfuffle, or perhaps he did not pay well enough to incentivize the paid army he tried to hire to acquire signatures. So where was that groundswell of conservative support? Don't they know how to sign their names? I have no idea what Wallace's excuse is.

As Greg Hinz at Crain's noted on his blog today:

[T]he fact is, most well-functioning campaigns usually file on the first day, so they're eligible for the top ballot spot. Feel free to speculate as to whether any or all of the above are having trouble with their campaigns.

In the 10th district, everyone whom we expected to file did, including Republican candidates Bob Dold, Dick Green, Bill Cadigan, Beth Coulson and even some guy named Paul Hamann, who we've scarely heard a peep out of. Dems Dan Seals and Julie Hamos filed, but Dem attorney Elliot Richardson did not show, although I'm not sure if we really expected him or not.

Dem Terry Link filed for Lt. Governor, but I sure hope someone is going to check his petitions. The first clue is to look to see if all the names are in alphabetical order and correspond to phone book pages. Next, cross-reference them against the death registry. You get the point.

In some local races, no Dem candidates filed against State Reps. Ed Sullivan Jr. (51st) or Mark Beaubien (52nd), but I'm sure if no Dem does, they will appoint a sacrificial lamb to be able to have a race. Sid Mathias (53rd) pulled a Dem challenger, Linda Birnbaum. Republican Lauren Turelli is going to have a go at Karen May in the 58th Dist. Our hero, Dan Sugrue, will try to best Kathy Ryg's replacement, Carol Sente, in 59th. Sugrue is supposed to have a primary challenger, Mohan Manian, but he apparently did not file today. Sente, for that matter, was supposed to be challenged by Buffalo Grove Mayor Elliot Hartstein, but he did not file today either.

Eddie Washington up in Waukegan/North Chicago's 60th District did not have a Dem challenger file (we heard a while back that County Board Commissioner Angelo Kyle was going to try again, but no filing today, at any rate), and no GOP contender filed, although I'm sure one will be appointed if need be. Republican JoAnn Osmond (61st) has a Dem challenger, Scott Pollak of Antioch. Incumbent Sandy Cole (62nd) has a primary challenger, Paul Mitchell, as well a Dem opponent in the general, Rich Voltair of Round Lake Beach.

And for those who don't understand why any of this matters: Read the latest column by Charles Krauthammer on the Obama administrations's attempts to bully and control those that might disagree with them. All politics is local folks, and it starts here with you.

Mark Kirk Files for U.S. Senate with Maximum Number of Signatures; Update on Other Candidates to Come

I have been getting reports from the scene in Springfield at the State Board of Elections that the line for 8:00 a.m. filers has not yet been completely processed, so although the SBE has a continuously refreshing list of filers up on its website, we won't know which candidates were first in line to be elegible for top ballot position in each race until later. We'll keep you up to date as we're informed, but for now, Mark Kirk has filed for the U.S. Senate (no sightings or listing for Pat Hughes or Eric Wallace yet, although Martin, Arrington, Lowry and Thomas have also filed). See his press release below:

Kirk Files Nominating Petitions for U.S. Senate with Maximum Number of Signatures Allowed by Law

On first day of filing, five-term GOP congressman’s campaign files with legal maximum 10,000 signatures from 59 Illinois counties;

With dominant grassroots organization in place, non-partisan poll shows Kirk leading Giannoulias 52-23 among independents

Springfield, IL – On the first day to file nominating petitions for the 2010 Illinois primary election, five-term GOP congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk today announced his U.S. Senate campaign filed with the legal maximum 10,000 petition signatures collected from 59 counties across the state. Under Illinois law, candidates for U.S. Senate must file with a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum of 10,000 petition signatures.

“I want to thank the thousands of people across Illinois who helped us demonstrate the early strength of our statewide grassroots support,” said Kirk, who completed a 40-city statewide tour in August. “With growing deficits, corruption rampant and unemployment rising, the people of Illinois are looking for reform-minded leadership to rescue our economy, restore fiscal discipline and turn the page on Rod Blagojevich. In uniform and in Congress I dedicated my life to helping our fellow citizens and I will bring this record of service and reform to the United States Senate.”

According to recent polling, Congressman Kirk leads all primary opponents by at least 57% while running tied or ahead of all likely Democrat opponents. An October 8 poll conducted by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies showed Kirk taking 61% of the Republican primary vote with all other candidates receiving less than 4%. An October 14 non-partisan Rasmussen survey of Illinois voters showed Kirk tied with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias at 41% while leading Democrats David Hoffman and Cheryle Jackson 43%-33% and 43%-39%, respectively. The Rasmussen poll also showed Kirk with a strong lead over both Giannoulias (52%-23%) and Jackson (52%-19%) among key independent, swing voters.

Earlier this month, Kirk for Senate reported raising nearly $3 million for the election cycle and more than $1.6 million during the third quarter alone – outpacing Giannoulias by more than $500,000. The Kirk campaign now counts 12,000 volunteers around Illinois who offered to circulate petitions, display yard signs, walk in parades and help spread enthusiasm for Kirk’s candidacy.

Congressman Kirk’s list of key Republican endorsements continues to grow, including Gov. Jim Edgar, House Leader Tom Cross, Senate Leader Christine Radogno, U.S. Reps. Biggert, Shimkus & Roskam, Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, and a growing number of county, township and local activists. The Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Campaign Chair, John Cornyn (R-TX), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) joined a large list of U.S. Senators that endorsed and contributed to Congressman Kirk’s campaign.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Let's Get Back to Business and Look at Alexi's Ethics

Now that we pretty much took care of the main GOP primary competition, it's time to begin focusing on the general election for U.S. Senate. Until proven otherwise, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is the guy to beat, and the State GOP has already turned their gunsights on him in a big way. This past week, the State GOP sent around the following press release and link to video, that speaks volumes about the trustworthiness and ethics shortcomings of Alexi, and is a nice precursor of what we can expect during the general election campaign. No wonder the White House was desperately looking for an alternative candidate. While a number of bloggers were talking about this last week, since we were preoccupied with the Ditka-Hughes kerfuffle (Hey, I had thought getting smacked around on endorsement claims only happened to guys like Dan Seals), we are playing a little bit of catch-up, but this is definitely worth taking note of.

Listen by clicking below. Press release is printed below the video link.

Ethics Alert: Giannoulias Breaks Pledge to Local Radio Station, Takes PAC Money

The Illinois Republican Party is blasting Democrat Alexi Giannoulias for accepting third-quarter contributions from special interest political actions committees (PACs) after telling a local radio station he “personally” thought politicians should swear off contributions from special interest PAC-like unions.

As State Treasurer, Giannoulias accepted more than half a million dollars from corporate and special interest PACs since 2006. But when he appeared on WLS’ Don Wade and Roma program on July 27, 2009 (key quote at 4:34), Giannoulias said he would oppose all special interest money, including union support.

Alexi: So I’m also proud to be the first candidate running for the U.S. Senate in the history of the state of Illinois not to take money from lobbyists or from corporate PACs

Roma: In that spirit of swearing off corporate PACs and lobbyist contributions, what about all special interest money, from unions, from trial lawyers, from, zero PAC money, is that something that you think politicians should all do?

Alexi: I personally do.

According to the Giannoulias’ third-quarter fundraising report, Alexi for Illinois received $40,350 from special interest PACs -- $30,000 from union PACs alone.

“Like Rod Blagojevich before him, Alexi Giannoulias launched his campaign pledging reform – but his actions speak louder than words,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said. “As if gambling away $85 million in children’s education savings while skimming money for his own SUV wasn’t bad enough, Alexi Giannoulias is blatantly misleading voters about his campaign contributions. The people of Illinois deserve better than another politician speaking out of both sides of his mouth.”


Background here. More at Marathon Pundit.

In 10th District News: Check out the endorsements that State Rep. Julie Hamos has collected for her Dem primary against two-time loser Dan Seals. It's filled with former Seals supporters, including (at the top of the list) Comrade Jan Schakowsky.

Maybe Seals should have primaried his old political patron Jan (being a 9th District, not 10th District, resident after all). Poor Dan doesn't even have a list of endorsements on his campaign webpage. Hey, Max, what's up with that???

Petition Filing Begins Tomorrow: Petitions for all February primary races may begin to be filed tomorrow. As many people know, you have to be in line at the appropriate office to be first on the ballot (usually if there is more than one candidate in line when the applicable office opens, a lottery is held), and if you aren't there, you lose your chance to be at the top of the list. In a close race, that can make a difference.

I understand Mark Kirk's main problem is that he has over 5,000 signatures too many (you need a minimum of 5,000 but can have only a maximum of 10,000), so he's going to have to sift through and decide what petitions to turn in. I expect we're going to see an attempt to show support from people all around the state by the petitions he selects to turn in.

Will Pat Hughes turn in petitions tomorrow to have a chance to compete for the top ballot slot with Kirk ? The last tweet I saw from Pat implied that he was scrambling for signatures still this weekend... Will any other GOP U.S. Senate candidates even end up filing by the Nov. 2 deadline?

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.

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.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Rasmussen Poll Shows Dead Heat Between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias in U.S. Senate Race

Scott Rasmussen has released a new poll showing a dead heat, 41%-41% between presumptive GOP nominee Congressman Mark Kirk and the Dem assumed top dog, State Tresurer Alexi Giannoulis.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds Republican hopeful Mark Kirk tied with Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 41% to 41%. Only four percent (4%) would choose another candidate, while 13% remain undecided.

That 13% undecided is a bit lower that I might have thought, considering how far out we are from the general election. Real Clear Politics has a short blurb up, but I am sure this poll will get a lot of attention quickly, given how much is riding on this race and its relationship to the White House.

Monday Morning Potpourri: Cadigan, Hughes

Winnetka Attorney Bill Cadigan may have lagged a little in the Q3 fundraising race among 10th District candidates, but he continues to push his endorsements as one focus point of his campaign to succeed outgoing 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk. Recently, Cadigan posted a YouTube video featuring former State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, who endorsed Cadigan. Rauschie, of course, is widely regarded as a sharp state budget expert, who is sorely missed in Springfield, but actually is running again (go Rauschie!).

Speaking of the 10th District, Rich Miller of Capitol Fax speculates in his syndicated column that the 10th District candidates on both sides will be spending some TV advertising money in the extremely expensive Chicago TV market. We'll have to see.

In more campaign news, it appears that U.S. Senate candidates Pat Hughes and Andy Martin have gotten into a "he said, she said" battle over whether former Bears coach Mike Ditka actually "endorsed" Hughes and agreed to serve on Hughes' finance committee, or whether da coach simply made some complimentary remarks on some of Hughes' philosophical positions during a campaign event at Ditka's restaurant a few weeks ago. The debate has even spilled over to conservative blog Illinois Review where they try as hard as they can to keep Andy Martin's name from even coming up, due to Martin's well-known litigious streak. In a rather amusing post, Martin himself has noted that Team America is keeping an eye on Martin's activities, but Martin has yet to receive any mainstream media attention on this series of accusations. It remains to be seen how this turns out, but we'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dan Seals Crushed By Julie Hamos Fundraising Effort; Seals Raises Only $303,000

Oh. My. Word.

No wonder Dan Seals waited until the last possible minute to file his Q3 report. According to, he raised only $303,391 in Q3 to Julie Hamos's $547,000.

More on the meaning of all this later once I can troll through his disclosures.

MAXWATCH: For those of you following this, Dan Seals' "New Media Director" may have been demoted. Just since yesterday, our friend Max "humans vs. zombies" Temkin changed his homepage once again. He's no longer the "New Media Director"; now he simply does "consulting and web design."

Hmm... that almost reminds me of how Seals claimed he was a professor at Northwestern University and then admitted he was just a lecturer, and how he was a "Director" of General Electric Capital (which sounds like a boardroom position) and then became only a "marketing director" (which most likely was a cubicle position). Wonder if these issues are endemic with Seals acolytes as they are with Seals?

Cadigan On Low End of IL-10 Fundraising Race

Things are a bit crazy today but I wanted to let everyone know that GOP 10th District hopeful attorney Bill Cadgian has reported in for Q3 with about $37,000 raised from contributions and a $5,000 loan from himself. He has around $31,000 in the bank, which is close to Elliot Richardson (see post below), who has been working at this a lot longer. The Daily Herald has an article up now.

So, that leaves two-time loser Dan Seals as the very last major candidate in IL-10 to file anything. His results must be pretty shameful. The beauty of it is, we shall know shortly.

Official Q3 Results Begin to Come In; Dem Attorney Elliot Richardson Lags Behind in IL-10 at Under $60K Raised

Today is the Q3 filing deadline, which is when we find out just how bad the candidates who have not yet revealed their fundraising figures for the quarter really did.

On the one hand, sometimes it's better to get out in front of the story if you have bad news to reveal; on the other hand, if it's not an impressive number, maybe you hope that your news will get buried among the thousands of Q3 results that will be reported today from across the country and no one will notice.

Of course, we here at Team America will not take our eye off the 10th District, or the U.S. Senate race.

First up today is Dem Attorney Elliot Richardson, who announced looooong before Dan Seals or State Rep Julie Hamos, the other Dem contenders.

According to, Richardson raised only $57,986 this quarter, loaned himself $15,000 and spent $67,200; in other words, he spent more money this quarter than he actually raised from others.

Not so hot, considering your competitor Hamos raised $545,000 (she claims), and it's also way behind the Q3 results for those GOP candidates that have revealed Q3 fundraising totals.

Richardson has under $35,000 cash in the bank, according to his report.

Maybe it's time to... I don't know... go back to practicing law instead of asking your friends to throw their money away on your behalf? Well, your choice, buddy.

More results as I can get them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waiting for Q3 Results to Come In; Plus, Kirk for Senate Website Gets a Facelift (UPDATED)

Well, as of tomorrow, October 15, certain candidates like Dan Seals will no longer be able to hide their dismal fundraising results from public scrutiny.

I'm just guessing, but it can't be good for the pup if Julie Hamos raised $545,000 and Dan hasn't claimed anything. Does he think no one's going to notice if he doesn't say anything?

Well, while we're all waiting with bated breath, check out the great revamped Kirk for Senate website. I like it a lot.

UPDATED: I checked in at and so far, no Seals filing. But, I did head over to his website designer Max "humans vs. zombies" Temkin's homepage to check what he's been up to lately, and it appears that he once again is bragging about being Dan Seals' New Media director, after having previously removed this note. What, does he think we're not paying attention anymore?

Also fun to check out: The "Chicks on the Right" think GOP Congressional Candidate Bob Dold is hot. Check out their site here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

State Rep. Beth Coulson Offers Sneak Peek at Her Q3 Fundraising in IL-10 Race; Q3 Filing Deadline Looms (UPDATED x2)

At last evening’s Libertyville Township Republicans regular monthly meeting at Lake Country Republican Headquarters, State Representative Beth Coulson (R-Glenview) came to introduce herself and talk about her campaign to succeed five-term Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for U.S. Senate. Coulson currently represents the 17th State Legislative District (which comprises all or parts of Glenview, Wilmette, Skokie and other areas), so not all that many people in the Libertyville area were especially familiar with Coulson.

In addition to her deep legislative experience, she touted her fiscal acumen and expertise in health care issues, among other things. She also provided a long list of endorsements from political figures. Notably, Congressman Kirk did not appear on the endorsement list, but he has stated clearly that he is not ready to issue any endorsements in the 10th District primary (and probably won’t endorse at all, if I guess correctly).

Coulson was asked pointedly about her fundraising and whether she expected to be competitive in the crowded GOP primary field (which includes at least two candidates, Bob Dold and Dick Green, who have reported banking in excess of $250,000 cash for Q3 fundraising).

Coulson was not ready to release any firm Q3 fundraising totals last night, but did state that she had raised in excess of $180,000 in the “month” that she had been actively raising money. She also noted that her campaign contributions were coming in large part from hundreds of individual donors, which she suggested showed her broad base of support. Coulson acknowledged that some of that $180,000 was her own money, but declined to state specifically how much.

Fellow GOP candidates and businessmen Bob Dold and Dick Green have claimed specific sums raised in Q3: Dold claims to have raised over $250,000 and Dick Green claiming $295,000 (but with $220,000 coming from his own pocket). The remaining contender, Winnetka attorney Bill Cadigan, has not yet publicly claimed any specific fundraising totals.

On the Dem side, State Rep. Julie Hamos claimed to have raised $545,000, but three-time 10th District candidate (and need we remind anybody, two-time loser) Dan Seals has not yet released his Q3 numbers, as far as I know, and also no word from Highland Park attorney Elliot Richardson.

The deadline for reporting Q3 campaign contributions is this Thursday, October 15, 2009.

UPDATED 1:45 pm.: I received this press release from the Coulson campaign just now:

Coulson Builds Momentum, Secures Key Endorsements
Survey indicates broad GOP support for Coulson

Northbrook, IL - 10th Congressional district Republican primary voters know Elizabeth Coulson and they like Elizabeth Coulson. According to a survey of 300 likely GOP primary voters, Coulson has an outstanding 8:1 favorable to unfavorable rating in her legislative district and a 5:1 favorable to unfavorable rating across the entire Congressional district.

"I am really proud of the support I have in the community I have represented for the past 13 years," said Coulson. "The views of those who have elected me to serve their interests seven times serve as the best indicator of both the job I've done and the job I will do in Congress."

The strong support Coulson has earned from her community over the past 13 years has galvanized Republican leaders locally and across Illinois to back Coulson's Congressional bid. They see Coulson as the GOP's best chance to hold Mark Kirk's congressional seat.

"I served with Beth in the Illinois House before coming to Congress and know her to be a principled, fair-minded person with a proven track record of getting things done" said Aaron Schock, Illinois 18th District Congressman. Beth stands out as one of Illinois' exceptional legislators. Her ability to work with both sides of the aisle demonstrates her level of commitment to moving forward and focusing on solutions, not differences. She is exactly who we need to represent the 10th District."

In addition to Schock, Coulson has received the backing of Congressmen John Shimkus, Tim Johnson and Judy Biggert. Coulson has also been endorsed by some two dozen current and former state legislators who know her and appreciate the leadership she has provided on the range of critical issues from property tax relief to reducing the cost of prescription drugs to opening new markets for Illinois businesses.

Importantly, Coulson's backing includes both conservatives and moderates. "Those supporting me recognize the ability I have demonstrated to bring our party together around common-sense fiscal policies that directly impact people's quality of life," said Coulson.

For the most recent filing period, Coulson raised approximately $180,000 from hundreds of in-district donors in just over a month since announcing her candidacy.

"I'm the only candidate in this race with a proven ability to put together the resources needed to defeat well-funded Democrats," said Coulson. "Our community has rallied to help me in the previous seven elections that we have won. We're going to get it done together again this time."

UPDATED x2: I confirmed with the Coulson campaign that Coulson raised $130,000 and self-funded $50,000. That's more than Dold (who chipped in $10,000) but way less than Green ($220,000).

Kirk Polls Shows Good Lead Over Giannoulias

In a blue state like Illinois, this wasn't supposed to happen. But things are looking good for Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris.

The Hill reports that the Kirk campaign conducted a set of automated polls that showed Kirk with a seven-point lead over Democratic front-runner Alexi Giannoulias, and gigantic leads over his GOP primary opponents.

In other news:

Cadigan: GOP 10th District hopeful attorney Bill Cadigan was on Jeff Berkowitz's show Public Affairs. Read the interview here.

401 (kids): Mark Kirk thinks that given the problems with Illinois' Bright Start college savings plan, a "401 (kids)" plan that puts investment choices in the hands of families, and takes it out of the government's hands, is a good idea. But, even he admits that this fine idea may go nowhere in a Democratic Congress, given the reluctance of Dems to release power over the lives of people once they grab it.

Pass the ammunition: Mark Kirk is also making headlines for his stance on Afghanistan, where he believes that we need to quickly power-up the troop levels to avoid stagnation in that war:

As Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a reserve Naval intelligence officer, puts it, "A cruise-control policy will end up in a long, bloody holding action. And democracies are not into long, bloody holding actions. We are into `victory or pull out.'

"We have been in this for eight years. If you put this mission on cruise control, people will lose faith in it, even the military will lose faith in it, and that leads to defeat," he said.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Attorney Bill Cadigan Leverages Endorsements for IL-10 Race; Deerfield Police Chief Pat Anderson Comes Out for Cadigan

Republican 10th District Congressional Candidate and Winnetka attorney Bill Cadigan was out over the past few days working the grassroots, including the Deerfield train station, where he was making the rounds with Deerfield police chief Pat Anderson. Anderson endorsed Cadigan after a brief time considering making a run of his own for the 10th District.

You will recall that Cadigan announced his candidacy with the endorsement of former Assistant U.S. Attorney and George Ryan prosecutor Patrick Collins.

Cadigan doesn't believe he's likely to be the top fundraiser among the GOP candidates seeking to succeed Kirk -- indeed, he has not officially posted his Q3 fundraising results, while fellow candidates Bob Dold and Dick Green have posted numbers exceeding way over $200,000 each. But, Cadigan seems to be taking the grassroots approach with lining up local endorsements and working the district, so it's clear he has a plan. Interestingly, Beth Coulson has not released her Q3 fundraising numbers, which may be a troubling sign for her.

Also over the weekend, I got a report from the Wheeling Township endorsement session, which drew a lot of candidates including Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for U.S. Senate. We won't know for a day or two more who the Wheeling Township folks endorse on the various races (and, of course, they may make no endorsement in some races), but from what I heard, Kirk handled himself pretty well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Congressman Mark Kirk Says Baucus Health Care Bill Would Hurt Seniors

From the IL GOP website:

According to the latest CBO score, the Senate Finance Bill has a total cost of $829 billion over 10 years, imposes $424 billion in new taxes and fees over the first 10 years and has over $400 billion in Medicare cuts.


- $133B Medicare Advantage
-$128.8B Hospitals
-$106.3B Inpatient Prospective Payment System
-$22.5B Medicare DSH payments
-$56B Home Health
-$22.2B Medicare Commission
-$22.3B Medicare Improvement Fund
-$19.8B Medicare Part D
-$14.6B Skilled Nursing Facilities
-$23.1B Part B Schedules, Except Physician Services
-$8B CMS Innovation Center
-$11B Hospices
-$4.9B Accountable Care Organizations
-$3B Medical Imaging
-$800M Power Wheel Chairs
-$300M Comparative Effectiveness Medicare Component
-$100M Medigap

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mark Kirk Q3 Fundraising Tops Giannoulias; Looking Ahead to the General (UPDATED x3: Hughes, Green, Hughes)

It's clearly way too early to look ahead to the November 2010 general election for U.S. Senate here in Illinois, but given the Q3 fundraising results claimed by the two front-runner candidates, GOP contender Congressman Mark Kirk ($1.6 million), and Democrat State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias ($1.1 million), it's sure tempting... and many would agree that it seems for now, at least, that these two gentlemen are the men to beat on their respective sides of the aisle.

Rich Miller over at Cap Fax played a little defense for Alexi recently and noted that the difference between Kirk's Q3 numbers and Alexi's could be attributed solely to a $500,000 fundraiser headlined by former presidential candidate John McCain this past quarter... but, so what? Alexi would have no doubt taken advantage of such an opportunity if he could... and whether Obama eventually comes out in support of Alexi remains to be seen. While Obama has gotten his hands messy in other primaries in other states, now that Lisa Madigan is off the table as a Senate candidate, the White House seems to be staying out of this, for now.

What will be interesting is if Alexi gets beaten up by former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman (who raised $400,000 and said he'd loan himself another $500,000) in the primary on ethical issues, but manages to still pull off a primary win, will Alexi be damaged enough that Barack Obama stays away?

As to other contenders, no numbers from Cheryl ROBINSON Jackson on the Dem side, but some other guy named Jacob Meister says he put $1 million into his campaign. Rich reports on this here.

On the GOP side, none of Kirk's other opponents have reported any Q3 numbers, which can't bode well for them. As much as I hate to admit reading Andy Martin's stuff, he points out that GOP hopeful Pat Hughes stated early on that he had "commitments" for $400,000, and Martin suggests that if Hughes' Q3 report shows anything less, then Hughes... well, you can read for yourself.

Given the vast sums of money that this race will consume, and given the millions in cash that the front runners that Kirk ($2.3 million) and Giannoulias ($2.4 million) have at the ready, any candidate on either side that isn't approaching at least half a mil of cash on hand simply doesn't have a prayer.

UPDATED: The Hill reported this afternoon that GOP contender Patrick Hughes raised only $380,000 for Q3 (and has only $340K cash on hand). And, apparently a majority of that $380K was self-financed. So much for the $400,000 in commitments that Hughes claimed when he entered the race.

Fork time for Hughes?

UPDATED x2 10/8/09 12:00 p.m.: Someone told me that Roll Call is reporting that 10th District GOP hopeful and wealthy businessman Dick Green raised $295,000 this quarter (with 266K cash on hand) but that $220,000 of the Q3 total was self-funded.

So far, no word on Q3 results from Beth Coulson or Bill Cadigan.

UPDATED x3 1:30 p.m.: The Tribune's Rick Pearson is reporting that Pat Hughes gave himself $250,000 out of the $380,000 he reported raising in Q3, which means that he raised only $130,000 from supporters. Pearson notes in the article that Hughes announced earlier that he had $400,000 in pledged support, but no indication in the article as to why that support did not materialize (at least not yet).

Monday, October 5, 2009

100,000 Hits

For whatever reason, the 100,000 hit benchmark seems important for blogs, so I figured we'd take note of it. I'm pleased to let everyone know that we passed the 100,000 hit mark around 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, put over the top by all the news that's going on in IL-10 and the U.S. Senate race. Obviously, lots of other blogs get more traffic, but we're fairly narrowly focused here, so I am pleased.

Thanks to all the loyal TA readers that have been with us over the past (almost) two years now!

And for those that visit here even though they don't like what they read, you helped too.


Q3 Report: Bob Dold Raises Over $250,000 In IL-10

Team America has learned that 10th Congressional District hopeful Bob Dold has raised over $250,000 in his first quarter of fundraising as a candidate for the GOP nomination to success Congressman Mark Kirk.

Significantly, Dold has only been at the game for roughly a month since he officially announced his candidacy.

In another boost for Dold, he was endorsed by the Elk Grove Township Republicans (which required a super-majority of at least 60%). Illinois Review has more Elk Grove endorsements.

Q3 Report: GOP U.S. Senate Candidate Mark Kirk Raises $1.6 Million in Q3 Fundraising Effort

Team America has the word that the Kirk for Senate campaign raised over $1.6 million in Q3 fundraising.

While Kirk is clearly not going to take his eyes off the primary race, everyone knows that the real battleground will be the general election battle against the eventual Dem nominee; most agree that SEIU-backed candidate State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is still the front-runner, so his number will be very interesting.

Highly doubt that any of Kirk's six other primary opponents came close, but so far, no one else has released any numbers that I know of. Assuming Dem hopeful Alexi comes in with a good result, it will be more clear than ever, I think, that Kirk is the only GOP candidate that has any hope of being able to go toe-to-toe with the Dem nominee.

Also fairly interesting, this weekend, the Elk Grove Township Republicans endorsed Mark Kirk for U.S. Senate (which required a super-majority of at least 60%), which may be significant, since the EG GOP also endorsed conservative downstate Senator Bill Brady for Governor -- and candidate Pat Hughes might well have hoped to walk away with the endorsement from any group that went for a conservative candidate, which constituency is his bread-and-butter as the hopeful 'anti-Kirk' candidate. Illinois Review has more endorsements from Elk Grove, including 10th Congressional District candidate Bob Dold, as mentioned below.

HERE's the Kirk press release:

Kirk Raises More Than $1.6 Million in 3rd Quarter, Nears $3 Million Mark for 2010 Election

Five-term GOP Congressman Sets New Single-Quarter Fundraising Record for Federal Republican Candidates in Illinois

With $2.3 million in the bank, 12,000 volunteers and a growing list of Republican endorsements, Kirk well-positioned for strong victory

Northbrook, Ill. – Five-term GOP Congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk, the leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, today reported his campaign set a new single-quarter fundraising record for federal Republican candidates in Illinois raising more than $1.6 million. That brings the campaign’s total receipts for the election to more than $2.9 million with $2.3 million in the bank.

Kirk launched his bid for Senate July 20th, almost one month into the fundraising quarter. Of the total receipts for the quarter, Kirk raised over $1.5 million after his July 20th announcement. In addition, Kirk’s fundraising pace is accelerating – the campaign raised $190,000 in July, $536,000 in August and more than $900,000 in September. “I am humbled by the overwhelming grassroots support our campaign continues to receive throughout the State of Illinois,” said Kirk, who recently completed a month-long 40-city statewide tour.

“From Rockford to Cairo, from Danville to Rock Island, from Chicago to Metro East, the people of Illinois are looking for a reformer who can reign in spending, lower taxes, create jobs and turn the page on Rod Blagojevich’s culture of corruption. In the days ahead, I will continue to offer common-sense alternatives to Nancy Pelosi’s trillion-dollar government takeover of health care and fight to prevent the government from coming between you and your doctor.”

A large majority of Kirk’s campaign contributions (86%) come from the citizens of Illinois (87% of more than 4,000 contributors). According to state records and the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias raised more than $500,000 from political action committees (PACs) from 2006-2008 and has already raised $18,000 from PACs for his Senate bid.

The Kirk campaign also reported an increase of grassroots support. Kirk for Senate now counts 12,000 volunteers around Illinois who offered to circulate petitions, display yard signs, walk in parades and help spread enthusiasm for Kirk’s candidacy.

Kirk’s list of key Republican endorsements continues to grow, including Gov. Jim Edgar, House Leader Tom Cross, Senate Leader Christine Radogno, U.S. Reps. Biggert, Shimkus & Roskam, Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, GOP County Chairmen’s Association President Randy Pollard, and a growing number of county, township and local activists. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Campaign Chair, John Cornyn (R-TX), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) joined a large list of U.S. Senators that endorsed and contributed to Congressman Kirk’s campaign. A complete list of Kirk endorsements is attached.


Sneak Peeks at Q3 Numbers; Dan Seals Promotes Unauthorized and Outdated Endorsements

Later this morning, we expect to have sneak peeks at a few Q3 fundraising numbers from a couple of the major campaigns in the U.S. Senate and 10th District races, so keep checking back here this morning for updates.

Meanwhile, a story regarding Dem 10th District perennial candidate Dan Seals that we didn't have time to cover last week has been gnawing at me, and I finally figured out why.

First, the story- appears that Seals got himself in hot water last week when he was forced to pull back an announcement that former Congressman Abner Mikva had endorsed Seals in the upcoming three-way primary battle between himself, State Rep. Julie Hamos and Highland Park Attorney Elliot Richardson. Greg Hinz of Crain's writes about it here. Reportedly, Mikva had previously endorsed Seals in 2006 and 2008, and also had given Seals a nod earlier this year before Julie Hamos had announced her intentions to run. It seems that Dan Seals went ahead and tried to leverage Mikva's anticipated endorsement in a fundraising e-mail without checking in with Mikva first, after the change in circumstances. This lead to Team Hamos to fire off a fund-raising e-mail of their own (the re: line being, "our opponent's error"), and a complaint to Mikva, who quickly contacted Seals and told him, sorry Charlie (a nice touch, the CQ Politics article in the previous link is available on Hamos' website!).

Apparently, Mikva and Hamos have a long-standing relationship, and while Hamos will not get an endorsement from Mikva either, it was clear that Mikva wasn't going to let Seals use him as a pawn in his uphill battle with Hamos. It's easy, after all, to get endorsements when you are unopposed in the primary (or may as well be unopposed, when your opponent is Jay Footlik). However, it's worth noting that Mikva has endorsed U.S. Senate hopeful David Hoffman in the Dem primary, so it's not that Mikva appears to be opposed to primary endorsements solely on principle.

So what really happened here? Did Mikva let Seals know before Seals sent his e-mail that the anticipated endorsement was withdrawn (and then did Seals send the e-mail anyway), or was Mikva perhaps more at fault for not being clear enough with Seals that Mikva was withdrawing his support? Who really knows the real truth behind the timing. And do we care that much? --if one were so inclined, we could just put this down as a Dem inter-family squabble and then move on.

But, perhaps even more troubling is the continued pattern of Dan Seals playing fast and loose with the truth in many different ways. While we won't get back into the issues of professor-gate today (it's all in the blog archives anyway), we noticed recently that at Dan Seals' new website, he proudly displays a number of newspaper statements about himself that for all the world seem to be current endorsements.

However, they are all from previous elections.

But, you'd never know it, because none of the quotes are dated, and none of them have any context given.

Just for example, the Chicago Tribune is quoted as stating that "Dan Seals is an impressive candidate." All well and good.

But the quote is from October 2008 and let's look at the full quotation from the Tribune's endorsement of Seals' opponent, Congressman Mark Kirk:

Republican Rep. Mark Kirk faces Democrat Dan Seals in the north suburban 10th District. Seals is an impressive candidate, and he came close to beating Kirk in 2006. We wish Seals were running in the 9th District, where he lives. But he's not.

Instead, he's running against one of the most thoughtful, independent and effective members of the House. Kirk is a leader on environmental issues, including the protection of Lake Michigan. He is a strong advocate for embryonic stem-cell research. He's a workhorse on local concerns, known for having a diligent staff. Voters should look beyond partisanship and embrace their pragmatic, get-it-done congressman. Kirk is endorsed.

Seals obviously had lots of time to build up a collection of snippets of nice things newspapers have said about him (especially when the issue at the time was comparing him to primary opponents like Zane Smith and Jay Footlik). Unless you are a complete doofus (hmm...), run often enough and someone will find something nice to say about you to take the sting out of the real truth (even Jim Oberweis has to have had somebody say something good about him, somewhere).

But to promote those quotes as if the Chicago Tribune and other MSM sources were currently promoting Seals over opponents Hamos and Richardson are a disingenuous tactic that would have me (if I were Seals' opponent) just as peeved as the Mikva debacle. Maybe those campaigns will step up and take note before Team Seals takes them to the cleaners by duping unsuspecting voters with stale endorsements.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Barack Obama No Tony Blair As Chicago Loses in First Round of Olympic Voting (UPDATED)

Well, it looks like the magic may have officially left Camelot. After putting their personal and political reputations on the line, Mr. & Mrs. Obama failed to do what former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was able to do: bring home the Olympics.

I dunno, maybe despite how much Obama has done in terms of apologizing for the United States under George W., maybe the world just isn't ready to forgive us.

No doubt we'll have a few days of blame, second-guessing and finger-pointing as to why Chicago was canned in the very first round. But not everyone supported the bid, and now perhaps those people that stood up and argued that the Olympics would distract the City from tending to things like improving education, fighting crime, ending corruption and reforming the budget, may get some more traction.

On the other hand, I just spoke with an associate of mine in our Philly office and he wasn't even aware that President Obama had gone to Copenhagen to pitch for the Olympics. A little perspective on all this is always a good idea.

UPDATED: Point/counterpoint: Zorn tries to shield Obama from Olympic blame, Pearson says tag him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Note to Illinois U.S. Senate Candidates: Show Us The Money! (UPDATED x4: Hughes, Dold, Hamos, Hughes)

Yesterday at midnight was the Q3 fundraising deadline for the Illinois race for U.S. Senate. Over the next 15 days, we will see where the various contenders are in the quest for campaign cash.

Congressman Mark Kirk has predicted that this will be a $20 million ante to carry the GOP candidate through the general election. Who can raise that kind of cash, besides Kirk? Well, the Q3 reports will tell us if anyone else even has a chance.

Oh, by the way, "commitments" don't count. They don't show up on the balance sheet, and if your supposed 'supporters' have given you nothing but a promise, not only is it unclear if that cash will ever truly materialize, you can't spend a promise today on advertising, materials, campaign salaries, etc.

Most likely, the successful candidates will trumpet their results well in advance of the October 15th disclosure deadline, so I am waiting with great interest to see how the GOP contenders (as well as the Democratic candidates, for that matter) did.

UPDATED: Cap Fax Blog is reporting that Da Coach has endorsed Pat Hughes. Well, if Mike Ditka sends a few million dollars along with the endorsement, it would help Hughes catch up in the fundraising department, but somehow I doubt that's going to happen.

UPDATED x2: TA hears that GOP 10th Congressional District candidate Bob Dold was very pleased with his fundraising numbers for Q3, having blown past several internal benchmarks that the campaign increased over the course of the quarter. We'll have actual numbers for you as soon as they are released. (TA's note: someone questioned in comments if this post meant that I'm 'for Dold'. TA has not yet picked a horse in the 10th CD race. TA's policy is that we will pick up newsworthy, generally positive tidbits about the GOP contenders, either from the street, news sources, or directly from the various campaigns if they want to send me stuff. Nothing I write should imply an endorsement of any GOP candidate unless I expressly say so. Thanks.)

UPDATED x3: Cap Fax Blog noted the first of many official fundraising announcements to come in IL-10, this one from Dem Julie Hamos for $545,000. Let's see if she cleaned Dan Seals' clock.

UPDATED x4 8:00 a.m. 10/2/09: Looks like Pat Hughes' announcement of da coach's endorsement didn't get much traction given that Chicago is obsessively focused with the Olympic announcement today -- or is it because no one really cared? One might suggest that Ditka is a bit overexposed with restaurants, pork chop sauce, wine and his own lingerie football team (hey, how's that for promoting 'conservative' values???).

I didn't see any evening news coverage last night (let me know if I missed it), and only a few short stories (here, here) in the MSM are showing up. I agree with Marathon Pundit that it was a very odd choice of a day to make such an announcement, especially since the real value in paring Ditka's name with Hughes is not because Ditka is going to influence anyone's vote for U.S. Senate -- it's simply for the name recognition that Hughes is desperate to establish and can't afford to get any other way. Is this another a sign of Hughes' lack of political experience? If you don't have any political experience, as Hughes does not, you're going to contend it's not necessary, but it shows up in the execution of a campaign in rookie moves like this.