Friday, November 06, 2009

Senator Brady gains slightly in last night’s forum while Dillard, Ryan and McKenna tread water.

As to who won last night’s Republican gubernatorial candidate forum, we ask the question as to which candidate did the best job of helping to move the needle toward the win column.
Retired, wealthy small businessman Adam Andrzejewski. With less than one hundred days left until the February 2, 2010 primary, Adam needs to shake things up now if he is going to have a shot then. Although telling this reporter he has a net worth of ten million dollars or more, it seems as if he will spend one million dollars, or less. That’s not enough for Adam to win this race without some help from his performance at forums, etc. Did he score points last night? Not enough to make a difference. If he isn’t going to spend two million dollars, he is going to have to take more risks at forums and score more points by taking on the front-runners.
Downstate family businessman and State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington): Going into last night’s debate, Senator Brady was a frontrunner
with Dillard, but Jim Ryan and Andy McKenna, the latest candidates to join the race, represent real threats to Brady and Dillard.

Senator Brady has a number of significant factors going his way. With fifteen years in the General Assembly, the only candidate in the race from south of I-80 and a guy who picked up 20% in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary in 2006 (third out of four candidates), Brady has a nice political base and organization, a decent chunk of money, a good physical appearance and a reputation for not making many unforced errors. With all of the above going his way, Brady did not have to take chances and yet he took a few and came out with the needle pointing a little closer to the win column. Another good night for Bill.
Senator Dillard also has a number of significant factors going his way. With fifteen years in the State Senate, a long history with Party establishment figures Thompson and Edgar, Dillard has a good political base and fundraising network. He has had an uneven start, got a boost from the Edgar endorsement and seems to be hitting his stride. However, Senator Dillard has too much to say and too little time to say it. Needs to both shorten and put more punch into his message. Needs more definition as to what he will do as Governor and less discussion of his press clippings. Neither hurt nor helped himself last night.
Andy McKenna, Jr. came into the race last week with the release of a film and a commercial that “had them talking.” Known for his plodding and uncharismatic style, the ad shook things up. His strategy is to continue building brand and name recognition thru TV ads until Thanksgiving, pull back in December and then blitz with another air war in January. He will only selectively engage the earned media in an attempt to control, tightly, his message of “a Springfield outsider, who brings competence, honesty and integrity to the state’s fiscal problems.”

McKenna, Jr. raised two million dollars and put in more than two million dollars of his own money into his 2004 U. S. Senate Primary, but got only 14% of the vote and came in 4th of four serious candidates. He thinks he knows what he did wrong then and is back with what he views as a “new and improved product.”

McKenna is ready to spend more money in a shorter time period. In some respects, McKenna gives the appearance of a guy who is not yet in the lead, but is employing a “prevent defense.” When the other candidates stayed around after last night’s debate for short interviews in the green room, McKenna, Jr. literally ran for the exits as if a pit bull was chasing him. Perhaps he had select interviews set up elsewhere. Or, perhaps uncontrolled interviews are just not a part of his game plan. In any case, he sort of tread water most of last night. He didn’t excite as did his ads, but didn’t hurt himself much. His is a strategy that looks to January TV ads for success.
Dan Proft, former political pundit, campaign consultant, campaign idea man and PR entrepreneur. Proft, running for Governor, is a bit like William F. Buckley, running for Mayor of New York. It was fun to do and fun to watch, in both cases, but winning is quite another matter. Proft and his creative ideas for how to run the State of Illinois are attracting a following. Last night, he ripped McKenna for saying we need to do the best we can, or something like that, for fixing education. As Proft said, Mckenna should have a specific plan (as Proft does), not a bromide, for fixing education, However, to be competitive to in this race, Proft needs to raise about 1.5 million dollars and drop some more of his own wealth into the campaign.
Jim Ryan, former Attorney General and DuPage County State’s Attorney, ran and lost to Blagojevich in 2002. Jim just entered the governor’s race this week. Has demonstrated his personal character and integrity. Appears to have laundry lists of ways to improve education and fiscal responsibility. Needs to hone “his own approach,” as opposed to borrowing the best of his competitor’s stuff. Told this reporter after the debate that he favored a “tax swap,” and 5 billion dollar net increase in taxes two years ago but not now “because we are in a recession now.” Will also have to deal with Stu Levine again and again. Says he didn’t know what Stu Levine was doing in terms of improper government influence and Levine’s own personal life weirdness when Levine was giving money to Jim Ryan’s 2002 campaign. Ryan will have to appear much sharper at forums than he did last night-- if he is going to win this.
Bob Schillerstrom, DuPage County Board Chairman. Bob thinks if he tells us what he did as DuPage County Board chairman, people will vote for him for Governor. I don’t think so. He needs a sharp, concrete plan for the State as Governor. And, he needs it now. Lost points last night and needs to start winning debates and points.