Thursday, January 14, 2010

ABC-7 Chicago, Illinois Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Debate: It’s all about reform and resisting tax increases

ABC-7 Chicago, League of Women Voters (“LWV”) and the Better Government Association (“BGA”) sponsored a televised debate last night for the seven Republican Primary gubernatorial candidates.

All in, nobody out

The powers that be decided to invite all seven candidates to participate in the debate and they all accepted. Of late, the apparent front-runner, Jim Ryan, has declined some of the forum and debate invitations. So has Andy McKenna, Jr., who has the most money to spend on paid media.

80,000 votes could win this race.

However, unlike last night’s Democratic Senate candidate debate, there was little basis to exclude anybody from this forum. In 2006, the Republican Guv Primary drew almost 700, 000 votes. With the possibility of severely cold weather on the “moved up primary election day,” February 2, 2010, some knowledgeable pols are suggesting as few as 500,000 voters will turn out for the Republican Primary. If the candidates end up with a relatively equal split, which is a distinct possibility, 80,000 votes, or so, could win the Primary.

Everybody has a shot, but for some it is a long shot.

Given the Chicago Tribune polling results of early December, which had Jim Ryan at 26% and McKenna, Brady and Dillard at 12, 10 and 9 %, respectively, all of those folks had to be included. Further, although Andrzejewski, Schillerstrom and Proft could be viewed as “2nd tier,” with 6%, 2% and 2% respectively in the Tribune poll, the reality is that each of those candidates has a shot, albeit a long shot, of winning.

First, each of these candidates has a legit campaign organization and is presenting issue positions within the mainstream of the Party. Second, Adam’s substantial net worth [said to be about 10 million dollars], Proft’s smart, well presented ideas and Schillerstrom’s successful experience as DuPageCounty Board Chairman all argue for inclusion of these candidates in the debate.

The one minute candidate impressions

Although the essentially League of Women Voters format [See here, with Joe Ryan of the Daily Herald substituting for Laura Washington of the Sun- Times] didn’t allow for a very lively discussion, viewers of the program‘s array of candidates did get a sense of what the candidates would be like as Illinois Governor.

Jim Ryan would be solid and tough, with a tendency for his answers to drift off topic. Andy McKenna is an improved version of his 2004 Senate run—more relaxed and comfortable with a camera. Senator Brady has a good command of the issues and his TV presence has improved over his 2006 run for Governor. Senator Dillard also has a good command of the issues.

Andrzejewski and Proft had the most to gain from their inclusion of the debate. As both lack prior political experience and a political base, their mere inclusion in the debate elevates their perceived political experience. Further, being the “idea guy,” and being very good at bantering, this kind of event is made to order for Dan Proft, especially if he can harness and contain the anger [and he did so last night], much of which is motivating Proft’s campaign.

Opposition to a general sales or income tax increase

As they have stated before, each of the candidates, except Proft, emphasized he would oppose any increase in the general sales or income tax. Proft went further and argued for a 50% decrease in the individual and corporate income tax. Moreover, if an increase in the sales or income tax occurred prior to their coming into office, they would seek a repeal after being elected. Finally, each Republican candidate for Gov claimed to be the candidate for reform, with each having his own twist.
Berkowitz anticipates blogging further on this topic, including the press availabilities that followed the debate, later today,