Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bean more Cash on Hand; McSweeney more Cash Inflow this Quarter

Revised and links added on Friday at 2:00 am
Things are starting to pop in the 8th Cong. District race, a district whose voters fall into three areas north or northwest of Chicago: Northwest Cook County, 35%, West Lake County, 50% and McHenry County, 15%. Today, the buzz was in large part about “money,” or more precisely—as Milton Friedman, the most influential and perhaps the best economist of the 20th Century would say-- “campaign income and campaign cash.”

Professor Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics and the father and the most articulate proponent of the concept of school vouchers-school choice, always emphasized as one of his basic themes in his graduate economics course on "Money," at the University of Chicago the important distinction in economics between a flow item, e.g., income and a stock item, e.g., cash or assets . Much confusion in economics stems from a failure to understand that difference and its significance for economic analysis. More on this topic in a subsequent blog post, perhaps.

The Eighth Cong. District is thought to be one of the Top 20 competitive races in the country. The Democrats have the advantage of incumbency. On the other hand, it is a Republican district, with President Bush beating his challenger, Senator Kerry, 56% to 44% in 2004. The pundits are fairly evenly split, with some calling the 8th CD a toss-up, others labelling it as leaning for Bean and still others calling it as leaning for McSweeney [See here].

First term Congresswoman Melissa Bean [D-Barrington] reported this afternoon that she had almost $2.17 million in cash on hand [a stock item], giving her a $1.7 million advantage in the size of her campaign bank account over her Republican challenger, David McSweeney [R-Barrington Hills]. McSweeney won a hotly contested six person primary in March, but was left with a depleted campaign bank account.

McSweeney outraised Cong. Bean in this last quarter by more than fifty thousand dollars, but the Bean campaign emphasized that was with the help of major Republican fundraisers VP Cheney, House Speaker Hastert and potential presidential candidate and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. [Watch McSweeney-Giuliani June 18 Public Affairs episode . On the other hand, although McSweeney had, as of June 30, only about $470,000 in his campaign bank account, his personal assets range from about two to eight million dollars, quite a bit higher than Bean’s and that personal wealth could allow McSweeney to narrow, if not eliminate, the 8th CD incumbent’s financial advantage, should that be necessary.

Candidate McSweeney [ Watch McSweeney on the Issues: June 4th and March 26, 2006 Public Afffairs Episodes ], a former investment banker, exhibited little concern today, in a telephone interview, about Bean’s cash on hand advantage, saying, “I am going to have the resources necessary to run a winning campaign.” McSweeney noted that Senator and potential presidential candidate John McCain [R-AZ] is being featured at a fundraiser expected to raise about $125,000 for the 8th CD Republican Nominee this Saturday night at the Barrington Hills home of Tom Fitzgerald, brother of former U. S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald [R-IL]. Senator Fitzgerald, a big booster of McSweeney’s candidacy, is flying in to attend the McSweeney funder and will join about one hundred other McSweeney supporters at the event.

McSweeney and his campaign manager, Jim Thacker, were pleased with the last quarter’s $600,000, or so, total contributions [a flow item]. McSweeney was also pleased to be celebrating his younger daughter Melissa’s 13th birthday tonight with a family dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

The McSweeney campaign report will show $200,000 to $300,000 in accounts payable to vendors and such, but neither McSweeney nor campaign manager Thacker viewed that as an excessively high figure that would detract from the McSweeney campaign effort. Thacker said that the last two quarters in a campaign [July- Nov. 7] are usually the strongest for a challenger and he emphasized that McSweeney has already raised over 1.2 million dollars if you include both the pre and post-primary effort. Bean campaign spokesman Brian Herman’s response, in a telephone interview this afternoon, was that the strength of the Bean campaign’s fundraising speaks for itself.

A perhaps more important bit of factual history that Thacker raised is that McSweeney contributed almost two million dollars to his primary campaign and that, along with the money he raised, allowed him to spend one million dollars on broadcast TV. Campaign Manager Jim Thacker’s point is that TV advertising raised McSweeney’s name recognition substantially, helping him win the primary.

More importantly for this race, Thacker asserted that David McSweeney’s name identification, as a result of all that previous broadcast TV advertising and other efforts by McSweeney before and after the primary, is now on a par with incumbent Congresswoman Melissa Bean. Bean campaign spokesman Brian Herman declined to comment on Jim Thacker’s statement about the name ID of Bean and McSweeney. However, Herman said he was quite pleased with the $548,000 that Congresswoman Bean raised during the last quarter.

When asked about Bean’s cash on hand advantage, Thacker noted that Cong. Bean heads into this campaign without the universal labor union support that she had in 2004. Thacker argued that’s what happens “when a candidate goes back on her word,” referring to Congresswoman’s decision to support CAFTA. Bean campaign spokesman Brian Herman responded, “Cong. Bean never said that she would vote against CAFTA-- before, during or after her election.” [See here for a partial transcript of and link to a January 29 episode in which Cong. Bean discusses her CAFTA vote and other issues].

McSweeney Campaign Manager Jim Thacker also argued that having third party candidate Bill Scheurer on the ballot is another challenge for Cong. Bean. Thacker argued that much of the union support that Cong. Bean is losing is migrating over to Bill Scheurer, who while not a single issue or two issue candidate, has criticized Bean sharply for her views that generally support the war in Iraq and her vote in support of CAFTA. Bean campaign spokesman Herman responded that Cong. Bean has broad support in the community that includes organized labor, business owners, parents, students, and seniors. And, Herman argues, that support only keeps growing.

Although Scheurer is running on the “Moderate Party,” ticket this time around, he ran in the Democratic Primary against Melissa Bean in 2004, and lost with about quarter of the vote. The conventional wisdom posits that Scheurer, because of his Democratic Party roots, stance on the issues and prior run against Bean, will draw more from Cong. Bean’s support than McSweeney’s.

However, Scheurer believes that his base is made up of independent voters, which he thinks constitute 40% of the 8th CD, and he thinks he can attract Republicans as well as Democrats. [See here]. Candidate Scheurer said that because he had to focus on obtaining almost 14,000 signatures to get on the ballot as a third party and because he faced a potential challenge from the Illinois Democratic Party to his nominating petitions, he has only just begun to engage in fundraising. [See here]

Thacker also argues that McSweeney has a substantial grass roots advantage over Cong. Bean. When I reminded Thacker that Bean works her district hard, too [Bean started running essentially in 01-02, which was her first run against then 33 year incumbent Cong. Crane and then kept going after her loss until she beat him 52% to 48% in 2004], Thacker argued that at parades and other events in the District, McSweeney has two to four times the participation rate of Bean supporters. Herman offered no response to that statement.

McSweeney continues to blast Bean for not responding to his repeated requests for twenty-four debates [one in each District township], noting on a telephone press conference this morning that Scheurer and he are taping a “Public Affairs,” episode this Sunday and that Bean could be there [since it is not a session day], but she will not be.

When I stated at this morning's McSweeney press conference that Cong. Bean's campaign spokesman Brian Herman indicated he would get back to me soon as to Bean’s availability for debates in August, September and October, McSweeney said that Bean has to stop hiding behind spokespeople and start participating in forums and debates, as McSweeney is. Bean campaign spokesman Brian Herman offered no response to that, other than to state that he advised me previously that Cong. Bean would not be available for a potential appearance or debate on my show until Congress recessed in August.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at