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Ditka says he didn’t endorse Hughes

Thursday, Oct 22, 2009

* Republican US Senate candidate Patrick Hughes has been caught in what could easily be portrayed as a lie. Earlier this month, Hughes sent out a press release touting an endorsement by former Bears coach Mike Ditka. Hughes also claimed that Ditka had agreed to serve on his campaign finance committee.

Well, the Team America blog got in touch with Ditka’s people and the coach provided this flat-out denial

“I never publicly officially endorsed him and certainly did not agree to serve on his finance committee.”


The Ditka press release appears to have been scrubbed from Hughes’ website.

Hughes has been positioned as the most likely longshot primary opponent of GOP Congressman Mark Kirk. This Ditka thing, however, shows that Hughes just ain’t ready for prime time.

* Speaking of Mark Kirk, RollCall takes a look at staff hires for the two top Democrats hoping to replace him in Congress, Dan Seals and Julie Hamos

Seals has tapped the Strategy Group to do his mail and Adelstein Liston to do the media for his third try to win the 10th district seat. Meanwhile, campaign manager Patrick Mogge is also running the show for Seals for a third time.

But Seals has also brought a few new faces to the table, including polling firm Anzalone Liszt Research and research firm Link Strategies. Also new to the campaign are Finance Director Mimi Rodman, Field Director Erik Smith, Political Director Barb Cornew and Treasurer Harry Pascal. […]

Campaign manager Julie Sweet most recently managed author Tom Geoghegan’s (D) long-shot special election bid in the 5th district, which was won by now-Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). Field Director Russell Griffin served in the same capacity for Rep. Donna Edwards’ (D-Md.) triumphant primary bid over then-Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.). Political Director Eric Danko is a former campaign aide for Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.), while Finance Director Kari Lundstad-Vogt most recently served as a job bank coordinator at EMILY’s List.

They are joined by Press Secretary Christopher Lackner, who most recently worked with Sweet on Geoghegan’s special election bid. Hamos has also signed up Will Robinson and Tierney Hunt of the New Media Firm to do her media, Diane Feldman and Melissa Diemand of the Feldman Group to do her polling, Lloyd Betourney of the Public Response Group to do her direct mail and Brett Di Resta of the Maccabee Group to do her media.

* Related…

* 4 more unions to endorse Giannoulias

* Front-runners for Kirk’s Illinois seat are lagging in money chase

* Candidates show their own money in race for Illinois Senate seat

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Sewanee - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:09 am:

    The press release says Ditka told a crowd that he supported Hughes. Anybody here in attendance during the speech in question? Seems like an easy way to identify who’s right.

  2. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    I’ve said this before, but anyone can get a good quote/endorsement from da Coach if you hold your event at Ditka’s, especially if he’s been at the bar for a while.

    More to the point, who on earth cares what Mike Ditka thinks of politicians? The guy is a bozo when it comes to politics.

  3. - WOW - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:30 am:

    Seals seems to have the better consultants(by that I mean better history of winning in IL) than Hamos but she has more money.

    Seals has underperformed the last two times he ran. No offense to anyone but why would you keep the same manager.

  4. - jumpingjohn - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:34 am:

    Well…Hughes did talk about how Ditka would serve on his finance committee. But then again, he said that he had commitments for $400k and was only able to raise, what, just over $380k, and $250 of that was his own money! Leaving his money raised at…$130?

    I don’t know what type of operation they’re running, but Hughes seems to be trying to get by on lofty, ambitious claims that continue to come up false.

    This is a solid opening for Zadek.

  5. - Fred - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    Hughes was caught red-handed in a lie. He also claimed raising $400k but only raised $130k.

  6. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    How can Hughes be trusted? he lied over something so silly. Did he really think that having Mike Ditka’s endorsement would help?

    I wonder if Charlie Johnston “got Ditka’s endorsement” for Hughes the same way McSweeney (who ran and lost in the 8th in 2006)got Ditka’s endorsement.

    How can anyone trust what Hughes says when he lied about something so simple?

    How will Hughes respond to questions about his inability to vote for several election cycles?

    Arrington, Lowery, Kirk, Kuna, Wallace, Zadek don’t seem to have the problem Hughes does!

  7. - just sayin' - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:49 am:

    Pat Hughes, you’re a decent guy and you could beat Kirk. It’s in you.

    But you HAVE to get a serious team working for you.

    Look out of state and bring in a Top Gun campaign manager. It’s gonna remain amateur night as long as you rely on the same old Illinois hacks.

  8. - shore - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    my condolences on the death of your pal. Good to see you back.

    The jewish vote is something to watch in the general election. Mark did very well with it because he was better on Israel but not of the republican candidates have any foreign policy experience and so it may be tougher to keep them. In an area where the gop needs every angle it can get, this could be a problem.

    That’s a ton of staff for what now amounts to a 3 month campaign. I can’t imagine more than 1 or 2 ads and 1 or 2 pieces of mail.

    Coulson getting badly outraised isn’t good. Generally career politicians have lots of contacts to call to get them to help. Apparently not in her case.

  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    Thanks for playing, Mr. Hughes, Vanna has some lovely parting gifts.

  10. - SweetSteph - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 11:23 am:

    About time Seals made some changes. How does the saying go:

    Beat me once, shame on me, beat me twice, we should do it a’ thrice!

    Anyways, this GOP Senate Primary seems like there’s not much there. While I don’t know how significant it is even if he did get ditka’s endorsement, I wonder if the same media outlets that covered the initial announcement will cover this snafu. Of course they’re gonna have to read about it here first!

  11. - SweetSteph - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 11:25 am:

    Hamos has the money and establishment support. If she can become the pro-Israel candidate, I like her chances in this primary.

  12. - Levois - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 11:25 am:

    LOL! If he stays things should get messy real quick!

  13. - shore - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 12:02 pm:

    Sweetsteph, she basically reiterated Tehran’s talking points on the berkowitz show and showed she knows nothing about Iran, an issue of great concern for jews for more than a generation now in the district. Neither she nor seals are considered sufficiently pro-Israel.

  14. - shore - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 12:03 pm:

    Seals is also perhaps the first candidate in history for a federal office to put out a bio-video about himself and screw up his alma mater and fail to mention any work experience. Significant in that he’s been out of college for 16 years now.

  15. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 12:10 pm:

    ===basically reiterated Tehran’s talking points ===

    Take a breath.

  16. - Ghost - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:09 pm:

    I always wonder what is going through somone like Hughes mind when they do something like this. i.e. what makes any of this sound like a good idea at the time…

  17. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    Maybe, just maybe Hughes could have been viable if:
    - he voted in some of the most critical elections in the last 10 years
    - he was able to raise at least as much money as he “claimed” to have in pledges vs. the lackluster pile of pennies in his last report
    - he didn’t continually lie about “Da Coach”, “Da Money” and “Da Opponents”

    His 15 minutes are up and STILL nobody knows who he is.

  18. - Conservative Republican - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:14 pm:

    There is a lot of hot-tempered piling on against Hughes on this story.

    Rich starts his post with the sentence “Hughes has been caught in what could easily be portrayed as a lie.”

    Reading the Team America post linked as support for that sentence, including comments, it does not appear that Hughes “lied” but rather that Ditka (or more correctly, Ditka’s “people”) are now claiming, three weeks later, that Ditka neither endorsed Hughes nor agreed to serve on his finance committee.

    It appears more accurate to say that Ditka is backtracking on an earlier reported endorsement, and not that Hughes “lied”, or even could be fairly portrayed as “lying”. Note that we do not have any audio on Ditka either from the original Hughes event or in support of the current “press release” claiming now that Ditka “never” endorsed. Seems like a good bit of weaseling on this by Ditka.

    In reading Rich regularly, there appears to be plenty of garbage going on for him to fairly fulminate about, but I don’t see cause for him to misrepresent what facts there are to know about the incident to suggest that Hughes lied. This post seems to me to be more bullying (of an inexperienced, but personally accomplished, candidate) than reporting or sharing opinion.

  19. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:15 pm:

    Flag on the play! Hughes gets ejected from Dikta’s bench.

  20. - Team America - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:17 pm:

    The Hill has an article up now.

    Candidate Hughes seems to have declared nuclear war on Da Coach. He doesn’t seem to realize that you lose this fight as soon as you decide to lace up the gloves with Ditka. Regardless of who said what at that event, the only way out of this for Hughes was to meekly apologize for misunderstanding the Coach and slink away, hoping no one noticed. Hughes was too proud to do that, so he’s going to have to deal with the fallout.

  21. - Naval Gazing - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:21 pm:

    Hughes messed up, but Kirk has a history of telling some whoppers too.

  22. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:26 pm:

    good for ditka. glad he da coach won’t let anyone walk all over him like hughes tried to.

  23. - CarterK - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:45 pm:

    Rich, I followed the link to the initial Team America post about Hughes/Ditka. He has a link to the new Hill article that details this whole situation. Noteworthy is a quote in which Pat Hughes calls out Mike Ditka for backtracking, saying that he did in fact endorse him, and whatever he says now is “succumbing to some pressure”.

    Who does this Hughes guy think he is calling out Mike Ditka like that?

  24. - Team America - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    Just saw this. Looks like Hughes and Camp Ditka are trying to lock this thing down before it gets completely out of control.


    The campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Hughes has issued the following official statement with approval of the Mike Ditka organization:

    “As of October 22nd, Mike Ditka is endorsing Patrick Hughes for U.S. Senate. This statement is being issued jointly by Mike Ditka’s organization and the U.S. Senate campaign of Patrick Hughes. We have no further comment on anything that has been discussed or reported in any media.”

    Due to Coach Ditka’s numerous business and personal commitments, he will not be serving on Patrick Hughes’ finance committee.

    Patrick Hughes is a successful real estate developer, husband, and father, resides with his wife, Susan, and their three children in Hinsdale.

    Um, so, whatever you do, don’t ask either side any questions about it.

  25. - Conservative Republican - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:08 pm:

    Team America, looks to me like a “save” by the Hughes campaign. Despite Hughes’ ability to procure a clear endorsement in writing, your disdain remains fairly obvious.

    At least you have the good grace to update your post and acknowledge factual developments, even if they run in Hughes’ favor.

    I wonder why Rich Miller isn’t updating his post (its now 2:07) accordingly and instead sticking with the “Hughes lied” inference and the “not ready for prime time” slam? A save is a save.

  26. - SeenaBecker - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    So Hughes now admits to lying about Ditka being on his finance team.

    I especially like Hughes’s PR flak line:

    “We have no further comment on anything that has been discussed or reported in any media.”


  27. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:19 pm:

    Looks like Hughes and Camp Ditka are trying to lock this thing down before it gets completely out of control.

    Too late. Looks as if it’s gone from bad to worse now. I’m just sorry to see Mike caught up in all of this because I really like him. He’ll “survive” obviously, but the whole situation is still quite unfortunate.

  28. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:20 pm:

    –Neither she nor seals are considered sufficiently pro-Israel. –

    Shore, not only do you assert Jews are monolithic on all issues and strategies regarding Israel’s defense, but apparently you speak for them all as well.

    How is it that the 10th District is monolithic, but Israel is not?

  29. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:22 pm:

    That Hughes is quite a modest guy. He claims Ditka’s endorsement and doesn’t even hold a press conference, cut a video with him or both to publish a picuture. Maybe he’s just shy.

  30. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:33 pm:

    Hey, CR, bite me.

    I was writing the piece while you were claiming I was so biased.

    I’d call you a moron, but I wouldn’t want to insult morons.

  31. - bwana - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 2:54 pm:

    You tell em Rich! you are to polite,CR Go…..ah never mind, the funny thing is heres yet another example of the Ill. GOP eating their own. They will live forever!

  32. - shore - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 3:20 pm:

    Back to the point. Kirk has dodged a major bullet in having no serious conservative challengers. He can save the dough, and doesn’t have to get pushed into pandering to the right on judges. If hughes got close Mark would be hit hard on NRA votes, abortion, other things. Because the intense challenge hasn’t materialized a lot of stuff that would have depressed the base won’t show up.

    As Borat would say, Happy Times.

  33. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 3:36 pm:

    Yeah! What Rich said!

  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 5:57 pm:

    Ouch!!! Don and Roma, in harmony, saying “That would be us”!

  35. Pingback GOP Senate Candidate Caught Overplaying Mike Ditka’s Endorsement | Obama Biden White House - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 7:03 pm:

    […] In a bizarre political mix-up, former Bears coach Mike Ditka denied having endorsed Patrick Hughes, the Hinsdale developer running for President Obama’s former Senate seat, or agreeing to serve on his finance committee. But hours after the news was reported on the blog Team America and picked up by the widely-read Capitol Fax blog, the two men released a terse joint statement designed to smooth the damage. […]

  36. - Bubs - Thursday, Oct 22, 09 @ 9:10 pm:

    Pat Hughes is a decent enough guy, and earnest in what he is doing, but he is a one-phrase parrot: “Mark Kirk sucks. Mark Kirk sucks. Mark Kirk sucks.”

    It only goes so far, even with people angry over the Cap & Trade vote by Kirk.

    But he will get the really hard core vote, the ones who would vote for Lenin over a Moderate Republican.

  37. - VanillaMan - Friday, Oct 23, 09 @ 9:05 am:

    Back to square one for Hughes.

  38. - I know Charlie - Friday, Oct 23, 09 @ 10:11 am:

    What do you expect from a guy that is stupid enough to hire Charlie Johnston as his campaign manager

  39. - Andy Martin - Friday, Oct 23, 09 @ 11:43 am:

    The real Pat Hughes???

    Pat Hughes’ “sixty days of disaster” as a Senate candidate

    Andy Martin says D. Paul Caprio, Jon Zahm and Patrick Hughes are embarrassments to the Republican Party

    ANDY MARTIN /2010
    Republican for U. S. Senator
    “He works for
    the People of Illinois”
    Suite 4406
    30 E. Huron Street
    Chicago, IL 60611-4723
    (312) 440-4124


    Pat Hughes launches a disastrous U. S. Senate campaign, and ends up pitting conservative against conservative

    How can Hughes run a statewide campaign on forty thousand dollars?

    Andy Martin calls Hughes the “Chumbolone Candidate of the Century,” offers a $25 prize to anyone who can suggest a worse campaign than Hughes’

    (CHICAGO)(October 20, 2009) It hardly seems believable but Patrick Hughes launched his “chumbolone campaign” for the U. S. Senate only sixty (60) days ago in Springfield on August 20th.

    Since then, Hughes has careened from one calamity to another:

    1. Hughes has avoided voting in elections most of his life, and only voted Republican for the first time in 2008. When challenged about these gaps, Hughes said he was “too busy” to vote. If Hughes only discovered he was a Republican in 2008, what did he think he was before 2008? Inquiring minds want to know.

    2. Hughes hired conservative profiteer D. Paul Caprio to launch his senate campaign. By October 1st, Caprio had been thrown under the bus. Why did Hughes dump Caprio? Caprio’s claim that he left after Hughes’ campaign was “up and running” is a face-saving joke.

    3. Hughes says he is an outstanding attorney. Andy Martin disclosed that Hughes had placed himself on “inactive” status with the Illinois Supreme Court. Hughes violated Illinois Supreme Court Rules by holding himself out as a practicing attorney. Hughes was forced to pay past due fees and renew his active status. Jon Zahm smeared Andy for telling the truth.

    4. Hughes claimed he is a “real estate developer.” His major real estate development failed to put a shovel in the ground and was sued for non-performance. Now that’s a development!

    5. Nine of Hughes’ supporters issued a letter to Republican county chairmen saying they supported Hughes, but failed to disclose some of the signers of the letter were on Hughes’ payroll. By mid-October, Hughes’ original nine signers have shrunk to six for a new letter on October 16th (see below).

    6. On August 20th Hughes said he has $400,000 in financial “commitments.” By September 30th, Hughes’ “commitments” have shrunk to $130,000. What happened to the other $270,000 in commitments? Hughes was forced to loan his personal funds to his campaign to make up for the missing “commitments.”

    7. Hughes calls himself a wealthy developer and investor, but came out against extending unemployment benefits to Illinois citizens who are facing the brunt of a brutal recession. Hughes’ remarks were the modern equivalent of “let them eat cake.” Who advised Hughes to take this stand? Caprio? Wealthy developer-in-a-recession anyone?

    8. On October 16th Hughes “adviser” Caprio and five other individuals (down from nine in August) demanded that Eric Wallace and John Arrington withdraw as senate candidates. Caprio & Co. claimed that Wallace and Arrington previously agreed to do so. Both Wallace and Arrington deny any such “agreement to withdraw” exists. Wallace and Arrington are the Illinois GOP’s only statewide African-American candidates.

    9. Hughes claimed he had been “endorsed” by NFL legend Mike Ditka. Hughes also claimed Ditka agreed to serve on Hughes’ “finance committee.” (The “finance committee” with the missing $270,000?) Andy Martin investigated and disclosed that Hughes lied. There was no “Ditka endorsement.” Ditka issued statements denying he ever endorsed Hughes and denying he ever agreed to serve on Hughes’ “finance committee.” In retaliation, Hughes campaign manager Charlie Johnston called Ditka a liar.

    10. Hughes disclosed he launched his statewide senate campaign by spending only $40,000 in two months. An independent (non-Martin) web posting says:

    “Those in the know say the Hughes candidacy is self-destructing. Funds are scarce. No organization. Operatives have quit. He has no damage control on the Ditka scandal.” (Source:, October 19th)

    11. October 19th D. Paul Caprio (him again) launched a “defense” of his role in the Hughes campaign, and triggered a new round of recriminations and counterattacks.

    Where is Hughes in all of this chaos? Good question. Maybe hiding. And he wants to be a U. S. Senator?

    Pat Hughes’ “sixty days of disaster.” What’s next? Stay tuned.

    Closing note: Disillusioned Hughes supporters are very welcome to join Andy Martin’s campaign. Martin is a man whom the Chicago Tribune has called “an absolutely brilliant campaigner.” We are the genuine “conservative answer” to Mark Kirk, focused, friendly and all for Illinois. Please join us.


    WIN THE PRIZE! We believe Pat Hughes’ doofus campaign brands him as the “Chumbolone Candidate of the Century.” We offer a $25 reward to anyone who can come up with a worse statewide campaign by any Illinois candidate (no, Alan Keyes does not qualify; he lived in Maryland) in this century. Send us your suggestions by October 25th. If you can think of anyone worse than Hughes, you win $25.

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