Monday, July 11, 2005

Pat ready to debate for Guv; Judy not so much.

Pat O’Malley indicated to me yesterday that that he is still thinking about running for Governor. Pat had told me this spring that he would make a decision about the Guv race after the state legislative session had concluded. Yesterday, he set no time limits on his decision. O'Malley did confirm that he would be attending the Republican Jewish Coalition Gubernatorial Candidates Forum on July 31, 2005 in Skokie with six of the seven other actual or potential Republican Gubernatorial Candidates: Gidwitz, Brady, Lahood, Oberweis, Rauschenberger and Birkett.

Reliable sources indicated to me that potential gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka has told the RJC what she has told most other candidate forums: She won’t be attending because she is not a candidate, at least not yet.

One surmises that the real reasons for Topinka’s decision to stay away from Guv candidate forums are four-fold: (1) Topinka figures she is ahead in the name recognition game, as indicated in most polls—so why help her competitors catch up by giving them a platform where they can appear as an equal to her, (2) the Rose Garden phenomenon: why risk taking a tumble and getting a headline “Conservative [fill in the blank] beats up on moderate Topinka,” giving [fill in the blank] some traction, (3) positions on issues are not her strength, so Topinka wants to avoid taking positions as long as possible—especially in front of the Republican base and (4) the Republican base, who tend to dominate these forums, is not Topinka’s strength.

Topinka’s strategy is to build on Corinne Wood’s 27% in the 2002 Guv primary and try to get it up to at least 35%. If Topinka faces at least two conservatives [and the other five candidates get out of the race], she figures she has a shot. Even if Topinka gets only 35%, if the two conservatives were to split the remainder equally, Topinka wins. Judy figures she might be able to get her primary number up to 40%, if she can get liberal Democrats, especially women, who are upset with Blagojevich to pull a Republican ballot. Considering that it is unlikely that Hot Rod will draw a challenge in the Primary and that a possible contested Democratic primary for Treasurer [say between State Rep. Fritchey, State Rep. Boland and Chicago City Clerk Jim Laski] may not excite many Democrats-- especially liberal, female Democrats—Judy could build up a [Pro-Choice] Democrats for Topinka faction that could carry her to 40% in the primary, more than enough to beat back two social conservatives.

In light of the above, you can see why Topinka will not shed any tears if she misses a few Republican candidate forums. Neither Topinka’s base nor her path to a primary victory is likely to be found at such forums.


Pat O’Malley broke some more news yesterday, confirming that his wife, Mary Judith, and he are expecting their third grandchild to be delivered today. Perhaps that means that Pat will adopt a new nickname if he runs for Guv—Grandpa Pat? A kinder and gentler Pat? Could it be? Although Pat and many of his supporters would no doubt say that he has been kind and gentle all along, a kinder and gentler image is the kind of publicity that money can’t buy—or can it?
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