Thursday, March 02, 2006

Gidwitz: The Silky Sullivan of the R Guv Primary?

Can Ron Gidwitz become the Silky Sullivan [See here] of the Republican Gubernatorial Primary. Like the horse, is Ron silky-- if not smooth? After spending a few million dollars on TV ads, Ron moved in the last Tribune poll from 4th place to 3rd , but still with only 11% of the likely Republican primary voters supporting him in the poll. However, like Silky, his ad campaign for his running mate and him is kicking into really high gear as we head into the backstretch.

Seven months ago there were nine actual or potential Republican Guv candidates and I handicapped Ron Gidwitz as 9th, a 250 to 1 shot-- as he reminded me today. The guy I picked to win [Steve Rauschenberger, See here] has dropped to the Lt. Gov. race and is Ron’s running mate.

On the other hand, the candidate [Judy Baar Topinka] I handicapped in the No. 2 position is now the frontrunner, and is being supported in ads by my No. 3 [Jim Edgar] and she has paired up with a candidate [DuPage State's Attorney Joe Birkett, Judy’s running mate for Lt. Gov.] who I handicapped as No. 8 and who never got into the Guv race.

My No. 4, Jim Oberweis, was No. 2 in the most recent Tribune poll, but is trailing Judy 38% to 17%. Oberweis, now in his third statewide primary, was ripped today by the Chicago Tribune for what the paper characterizes as "fabricated headlines," [including that of the Tribune's] in his TV ads. The dairyman/money manager entrepreneur, who estimated his net worth recently at 10 to 50 million dollars, is apparently not pulling the ads, but Rich Miller in Capitol Fax reports that Oberweis said he won't do the same in his next round of ads. As they say, never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

My No. 5, Sen. Bill Brady, was No. 4 in the most recent Tribune, and is trailing Judy 38% to 8%. Yet, he talks as a man who thinks he can win. However, not many seem to agree with him, and conservatives wonder why he is playing spoiler to Oberweis.

So, what can we conclude from all this? Don’t play the ponies. And, if you do, don’t put much stock in the racing form. On the other hand, my No. 2 is now No. 1, so maybe you should.
Jeff Berkowitz: The latest [Chicago Tribune] poll which was [released] a few weeks ago had you down by something like 21 points [actually 27 points] to Judy Baar Topinka; you’ve got 19 days left—

Ron Gidwitz: The only poll that counts is March 21. Anything else you want to know?

Berkowitz: Assuming that poll was not too far off, how do you make that up in the next three weeks?

Gidwitz: Watch us [referring to his anticipated massive TV ad buy?] .

Berkowitz: No specific strategy to come from way behind?

Gidwitz: We don’t share strategy.
Berkowitz: How do you differentiate yourself from your three major competitors in the primary as to how you approach the budget relative to the way they do?

Gidwitz: …Education is my No. 1 priority. My No. 2 priority is health care. My No. 3 priority is bringing jobs to the state, and 2 and 3 are closely intertwined because otherwise we can’t afford to pay for what we need to pay for unless we can increase the job opportunities and the revenue for this state.

Berkowitz: Well, in terms of financing, perhaps, education-- your running mate, [Senator and Lt. Gov Candidate] Steve Rauschenberger a few weeks ago was quoted as saying maybe the people would like to have or approve of a tax increase- an income tax increase from 3% to 5%. Do you agree with Steve on that?

Gidwitz: No, I don’t agree with that. We are not increasing taxes to fund education. …We do not need to increase taxes to fund education. And, I’ve been saying that- you’ve heard me say that more than once.

Berkowitz: So, you do that [increase education spending] by cutting spending elsewhere and giving it to education?

Gidwitz: And, growing revenue. We just heard both of us [Sen. Brady and me] say that revenue grows between 700 and 900 million dollars a year. So there are opportunities—

Berkowitz: That money gets spent on various things, anyway.

Gidwitz: And, some significant piece of it gets spent on education.
Interview this morning with Republican Primary Gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz, following a discussion and question and answer session by Gidwitz and Brady with a group of Union League Club of Chicago members. The session was moderated by David Kohn, a former honcho with 21 year, 10th CD, North Shore Congressman John Porter, who stepped down in 2000, creating an open seat that was won and is still held by Cong. Mark Steven Kirk [R- Highland Park]. David Kohn is now the Director of Public Affairs at the Union League Club of Chicago.