Monday, March 20, 2006

McSweeney beats Salvi, winning 8th CD Republican Primary

...[I]t is not gender that decides the 8th CD Republican Primary. Same old, Same old. It’s Message, Organization, Resources and good, old fashioned hard work. McSweeney, having done it longer, better and more persistently, edges out Kathy Salvi in a close race.
The 8th Congressional District [North West Cook, West Lake and McHenry counties], as most know, is now a two candidate race between trial lawyer Kathy Salvi and investment banker David McSweeney. If you did a poll last week, it probably was a statistical tie. However, McSweeney pulls it out. A pretty trial lawyer [Kathy Salvi] can take you so far in life, but only so far.

Kathy’s strength is a pretty, constant smiley face and the argument her supporters cling to is that you need a woman to beat a woman—the Democrat 8th CD first term incumbent Melissa Bean- who, I might add, is not a trial lawyer, but she has a pretty face, too. The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet, on Chicago Week in Review on Friday, added a variant of the latter argument, arguing that although she thought McSweeney had been ahead, Sweet now thinks Kathy has momentum on her side and that she was running against three men, so she had that gender advantage as well.

Kathy does have a pretty face. No disputing that. However, contrary to Sweet’s perspective, Kathy is running against one guy, David McSweeney. The only other major candidate, Rep. Churchill, hasn’t been able to keep up with the air war between Salvi and McSweeney. McSweeney has put 1.9 million dollars into the race. Kathy, with more name recognition to start with from hubby and two-times state-wide loser Al [Salvi], has only had to put 1.2 million dollars into the race.[BTW, as a young lawyer, Kathy actually taught Big Al how to try cases].

A lot of that 3.1 million dollars is being spent by the McSweeney and Salvi campaigns on very expensive Chicago Broadcast TV media buys, as well as Cable and radio. Churchill can’t get in that game and his name recognition from being a State Rep. in the area for two decades doesn’t offset his disadvantage related to the McSweeney and Salvi media buys.

Aaron Lincoln, Ken Arnold and Jim Mitchell did not have sufficient resources to be players in this race, although they did participate in virtually all forums. That’s what 800 signatures allows you to do in a U. S. Congressional race: put your name on the ballot and clog up the forums.

So, what Sweet meant by saying that Kathy Salvi was running against three guys only Lynn Sweet would know. One guy, really [McSweeney]. Two guys maybe, at least until last month [McSweeney and Churchill]. Three guys? I don’t think so, Lynn. Five guys, if you want to count names on the ballot.

David McSweeney’s advantage is not that he has spent more, but that he has spent enough to take advantage of what else he has put into the race. The guy did get some name recognition and organization from having run in the ’98 Primary against Crane. But, much more importantly, he has had a well run organization in place for about a year, and for Kathy it has been less than five months—and her organization reflects too much Al Salvi and too little Kathy Salvi.

McSweeney formulated his positions before he entered the campaign a year ago and he has revised, honed and worked on them throughout the year. He has been walking precincts for over a year, with a very focused effort on Republican Primary voters.

Kathy Salvi has done very little of any of that. How could she? She has been doing the campaign for, at best, a third of the time that McSweeney has put into it. When she came on my show in October, she appeared to be a candidate in search of answers for issue statements. She even appeared hesitant to state she is Pro-Life—even though she has been a well known pro-Lifer for a long, long time. Instead, she wanted to read to me from her Republican Platform binder. It was a very peculiar performance, especially for somebody who has been around and participating in campaigns, including her husband’s, for quite a while. [Watch Kathy here].

Further, Salvi stated on my show, when I pressed her, that she opposed non-economic damage caps in medical malpractice cases because she did not think the caps would lower insurance premiums. The answer is straight out of Trial Lawyer 101, and of course the Salvis made their fortune as trial lawyers. Salvi accepted no more invitations to return to the show. Now, Salvi is trying to say her position is that legislation in the “tort reform,” area is a state issue, not a federal issue, allowing her what she thinks is a good dodge. Funny, she didn’t say that back in October on "Public Affairs."

McSweeney came on the show five times, spaced out over the course of a year. He answered all questions, demonstrating he knew national issues and he was not hesitant to take a stand on any issue—social, domestic or foreign policy. This is the candidate voters meet when they open their door to him as McSweeney walks the precincts. Which candidate voters meet when they meet Kathy Salvi nobody quiet knows.

Kathy has tried to argue, somewhat ironically, that McSweeney was running negative ads. However, the voters could see that McSweeney’s ads weren’t negative. They were issue ads that pointed out, correctly, the position that Salvi took against non-economic damage caps. Salvi embarked on her own negative ads, arguing that McSweeney was a bad guy for running against Cong. Crane in ‘98. That argument won’t wash, not unless Salvi wants to argue former U. S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald [who has endorsed McSweeney] is a bad guy because he, too, once ran against Cong. Crane. Then Salvi argued McSweeney voted to raise taxes as a Palatine Township Village Trustee. However, that argument was false and McSweeney ran ads saying so. Advantage, McSweeney.

So, at the end of the day, it is not gender that decides the 8th CD Republican Primary. Same old, Same old. It’s Message, Organization, Resources and good, old fashioned hard work. McSweeney, having done it longer, better and more persistently, edges out Kathy Salvi in a close race. I am predicting McSweeney wins by five points, just over the margin of error of most Cong. Dist. polls. On the one poll that counts, it is no longer a statistical tie.