Friday, July 23, 2004

Updated July 21, 12:30 am., revised July 23 at 1:30 pm

Okay, let's go back to June 22, 2004. The Jack Ryan campaign is in a bit of trouble. Obviously, Jack and his staff made a few major missteps. Nonetheless, most astute political analysts on the scene in Illinois would say Jack still had a shot to win and perhaps more importantly, Jack had a better chance than anyone else to win.

If, even at that time, we were going to do an executive search for the best Republican Senate candidate among our pool of candidates, including Jack (the internal candidate) or a replacement (the external candidates), what would our specifications for the position look like. Remember, you now have the equivalent of a four month campaign, especially if you go with an external candidate. If you, the executive recruiter, had five minutes to interview your client (say, a fair and balanced leader in the Illinois GOP), you would come up with the specs, below (with the importance of the spec rated to the right of the spec):

1. Has ability to self fund or is a great fund raiser. Extremely important

2. Pre-Existing name recognition. Extremely important

3. A strong, identifiable pre-existing base of support. Helpful, but not a must.

4. Attractive on the issues important to the Republican Party Base and able to attract swing votes. Very important.

5. Has some Political Experience holding an elected office. Helpful, but not a must

6. Prior support for the Republican Party: Helpful, but not a must.

7. No record of supporting the Democratic Party: a must.

8. Will be liked by the National Senate leaders and the White House. Very important.

9. Is likeable. This could mean simply good looks, the pol connects with voters, voters warm up to the candidate, the candidate is perceived as trustworthy and straightforward, or simply, for whatever reason, voters just like the candidate. Very important.

Jack Ryan, even after the sex clubs stuff, does well on all except 5, and very well on the most important specs: Nos. 1, 2 and 9.

Senator Rauschenberger does well on all except No. 1, but that is an important one.

Jim Oberweis does well on most except 4, 5 and 8 and has some trouble with 9. And, 4, 8 and 9 are very important.

Kirk Dillard does poorly on the all important Nos. 1 and 2, has problems with No. 4 and there is uncerainty on No. 8.

All of the other potential candidates who decided not to pursue the candidacy have major problems meeting these specs. The candidates who are actively under consideration by the Republican State Party Central Committee also have problems meeting the specs. So, why weren't state GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka, RNC honcho and primo lobster Bob Kjellander and elder statesman Jim Edgar able to do this analysis-- which presumably would have compelled them to help Jack recover, rather than push him to withdraw?

Why, indeed? A topic for a separate blog entry.

Moreover, the State Republican Party/party Central Committee, in an extraordinary display of government/political party inefficiency (hard to call their efforts the free market at work), have now consumed 28 days to look for a new candidate to replace Republican Primary winner Jack Ryan. 28 days represents 21% of the time they had until the election, as of Jack Ryan's announced withdrawal on June 25, 2004. A long time to get nowhere?

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs, can be reached at