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Rutherford pledges not to go negative

Monday, Aug 26, 2013

* Greg Hinz

He won’t go negative, says Mr. Rutherford, perhaps hoping that one of the other candidates, state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, will do the job for him, or perhaps knowing that attacking Mr. Rauner would invite massive retaliation from a man who plays hardball.

Rather, he says, it will be by playing his own game: working the precincts and county board chairs, carefully spending his $1 million war chest and emphasizing his success as one of only two Republicans to win statewide office since 2002. (The other is Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.)

“The Republican Party base is looking for someone they have a relationship with,” he says. “I’m the guy who’s won. I got more votes than Pat Quinn did last time.”

Good idea or not?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 8:49 am:

    If Dan and the other “two” do NOT try to “define Payton Prep Clouter Bruce Rauner, and use that defining to frame who they are in the GOP Primary…

    They will lose.

    The 11th Commandment by Ronald Reagan was towards other Republicans, not “Wanna-Be” Democratic Donors who Clout their Daughter through Rich Daley and also donate monies to both Rich Daley AND Rahm Emanuel.

    Stay positive with PPC Rauner means a loss in March.

    It does.


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 8:54 am:

    Somebody has to define Rauner before his ludicrous con job takes hold in the public mind.

    Maybe Aaron Schock can form a PAC. He’s in the majority on Ways and Means. He can host a few funders.

    What goes around, comes around.


  3. - Deep South - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 8:58 am:

    By going negative, the other candidates will beat each other up…confirming the negative, obstructionist tact of the current crop of right wing extremists. By running his campaign on his own terms, Rutherford will appear to be the rational adult who has a vision and a positive plan for Illinois. I really think more and more people are getting fed-up with the G-No-P and are looking for solid leadership and innovation.


  4. - Mouthy - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:02 am:

    Should read that “I won’t go negative until I have to”.


  5. - Loop Lady - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:03 am:

    Dan is drinking way too much of his own kool-aid…please list three accomplishments he can run on besides his own belief in himself…


  6. - Been There - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:14 am:

    I agree with Mouthy. Plenty of time down the road to make a decision to change your mind. And having others do it for you. I think its best for Dan to start out on the positive. But as Poshard found out the hard way when he said he wouldn’t take PAC money, he should have sucked it up and took it at the end.


  7. - A Casual Observer - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:26 am:

    Dan Rutherford will astutely announce a well-respected GOP conservative woman as his Lt.Governor which will help to assure himself of the GOP woman’s vote. He can always use her as his “gentle” club to bludgeon Rauner and his ties to Rahm if he needs to do so. A woman can easily kill a fly with a hammer instead of a sledgehammer. Dan is considered very likeable and he is not about to destroy that image on either Dillard or Rauner.Dan has always been the energizer-bunny when it came to offering his personal time to other GOP candidates and GOP county chairmen to speak at their fundraisers over the past years. They won’t forget his efforts on their behalf, either. Rutherford will be viewed as the GOP cowboy wearing the white hat and riding the white horse (and rightly so). He will also prove to be the most formidable Republican candidate for Governor in the general election in November as well.


  8. - dave - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:28 am:

    It is never a good idea to commit to not going negative. Ever. Negative campaigning is simply a part of the process. You need to be able to define your opponents, or at least push back against your opponents’ definitions of themselves.


  9. - LincolnLounger - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:31 am:

    “Negative” is a lot like potato salad — everybody’s got their own idea as to how it should be. Is pointing out verifiable facts about Rauner “negative”? I don’t think so.


  10. - Norseman - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:31 am:

    There is going negative and then there is going negative. I’ve seen this type of pledge before only to see ads that come out from the candidate that discusses the other candidate’s “record.” I’ll judge whether he was serious about his pledge after the campaign.

    I believe he’s hoping that the others will bloody themselves and he can look like Mr. Clean. The problem with this type of strategy is that you have to depend on others to get the job done. In this case, I don’t think they will have the money to get the job done so Rutherford will have to define the “record.”


  11. - Rahm'sMiddleFinger - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:31 am:

    Why do candidates run negative ads despite the fact that voter profess to hate them? Because they work! Pledging not to go negative is really bad idea. You don’t win over any voters with your pledge And if you need to change your mind because the race is down to two credible candidates, you’ve hamstrung yourself.

    Dumb move.


  12. - walkinfool - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:34 am:

    The IL GOP candidates’ handbook for campaigns: announce publicly you will not go negative, one week before an already created and bought negative piece hits.

    I’ve seen this play out like clockwork dozens of times, and is considered sadly laughable among insider campaign folks. The Dems don’t play it exactly the same way, but rather see an announcement of “no negative campaigning” by a GOP candidate as the signal for them to get ready for the attack — and to launch their own over-the-top negative barrage.

    A weird mindset on both sides.

    Rove wrote about using this tactic on national races, but it really is a variation on an old Saul Alinsky theme.

    Perhaps Rutherford will not be using the “handbook” this time around.


  13. - Some Guy - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:53 am:

    “offering his personal time to other GOP candidates and GOP county chairmen to speak at their fundraisers over the past years”

    Ah yes, he has carried some water by speaking about he should be elected govenor. Honestly, people should stop allowing him to speak because he offeres very few ideas that will “right” the ship. He often talks about how he counts paper clips in his office. Really? How much do we pay you to save a couple pennies? Also, he makes very poor movie choices to watch whille working out…


  14. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 9:56 am:

    http://blogs.rollcall.com/rothenblog/six-things-losing-candidates-say/

    6 Things Losing Candidates Say
    Rothenberg Political Report, last week…


  15. - OneMan - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    I suspect someone else will release the hounds on Raunner, also he may figure, correctly IMHO he can’t afford the expense of going negative on Bruce.


  16. - woodchuck - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    I think what Dan meant was that he won’t use negative personal attacks, but clearly he will need to distinguish why people should vote for him by calling into question policy and political differences of the others. He tried to be nice in his campaign against Jesse White (no one could beat Jesse White) and had a couple of ads about patronage/family jobs. His difficulty will be the grey area between PAC ads blasting his opponents and then saying he wasn’t involved. People are sick of that. He needs to define why he’s better, why the others are not, and be the rational adult that gives independents, moderates and even a few democrats reason to take a “R” ballot in the primary. The Lt. Governor selection will also be a wild card –attacking a respected woman or a person of another ethnicity, would result in a backlash against Rauner. I just can’t see Dillard of Brady attacking Dan in the primary. They all need to focus on defining Rauner, just not personally attacking him. If any of them beat Rauner, the primary winner will need some of the money from Rauner donors in the general. Let’s not forget that too.


  17. - Loop Lady - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    yep that was a great career move by Dan to run against Jesse White, the man who has gotten the most votes of any pol in the State of IL…I guess Dan got his name out there in that race, but that’s about it IMO…


  18. - SirLankselot - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    It’s a good idea. I briefly met Rutherford at an organization I’m a part of, and he is pretty likeable; he definitely passes the beer test. I don’t see how going negative would help him. Rauner has money, but he’s unknown for now, and it isn’t clear what segment of the party he’s trying to win over. With Dillard’s rightward shift, he and Brady are appealing to conservatives, so they’ll duke it out for those votes. Rutherford can get the moderates and maybe some conservatives, like me, who want to win.


  19. - A guy... - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    Hello. It costs money to go negative, money he doesn’t have. To be effective, you’ve got to do it in the manner that Blago did with JBT, or Obama did with Romney; repeatedly and all over the place. Rauner’s the only one with the dough to do it right. Rauner is continuing a strategy of shooting cans one by one. First Schock. Now Dillard. My guess is Rutherford is next and Brady after that. The polls are suggesting that he cull the herd in that order. The Lt. Gov candidate names I’ve seen are not “attack dog” types. They’re mostly adding geographical, gender and philosophical balance from where I see this. Brady, Dillard and Rutherford should tacitly agree on an approach to this guy and consistently piggyback on each other to make him defend himself on 3 fronts. A few outside allies could help in this effort. One by one, he’ll spend them to political death.


  20. - Keep Calm and Carry On - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    Mouthy nails it.

    This reads more like, “I won’t be the one to breach the peace” than “I’m just going to sit around and let opponents pillory me with a smile on my face.”


  21. - Keep Calm and Carry On - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    Or maybe Don Corleone:

    “But I’m a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall him, if he should get shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he’s struck by a bolt of lightning, then I’m going to blame some of the people in this room. And that, I do not forgive. But that aside, let me say that I swear…on the souls of my grandchildren…that I will not be the one to break the peace that we have made here today.”


  22. - Downstate GOP Faithless - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    This is one of those “nice in theory” ideas, typically espoused by those who are scared they can’t fight a battle on two financial fronts. Eventually reality sets in and candidates are reminded that 2nd place in the Olympics is great, but in an election just means you’re unemployed


  23. - Wondering When - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 11:26 am:

    Everyone should consider that everytime Kirk Dillard goes negative or mentions Jim Edgar they should take a shot, then either stay home or call a cab.


  24. - Will Caskey - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 12:52 pm:

    I’ve been in one campaign where there was a no-negative agreement. It wasn’t even a pledge, there were just two evenly matched candidates in the primary in a race where Democrats had very long odds to win.

    It wasn’t public or anything, just an informal agreement between campaigns.

    My client lost, but going negative wouldn’t have helped given both candidate’s records. The nominee won anyway.

    IF the polling indicates that sort of route would be helpful, that’s the only scenario I can think of that would even possibly warrant it.


  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 1:50 pm:

    I’m probably looking at this from an entirely different perspective and without getting into the details, I don’t see the same picture as Casual Observer (Cowboy hat and white horse, really?) and even if I did, the narrative doesn’t seem to speak much to general, overall accomplishments while in office. So, I guess “negative” might have revealed some moxy or strengths that could help balance the nice guy, great networker image.

    But then again, I’m pretty much decided about this Primary so I’m probably not part of the audience that needs to provide feedback on this topic.


  26. - Just The Way It Is One - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 8:16 pm:

    We’ll see how long THIS lasts. On the whole, just not the wisest way to go in such a High Stakes Campaign–first, it’s nearly impossible NOT to EVER go negative, and, next, sometimes the situation practically deMANDS it! Just baffled by this latest announcement/idea from the guy who appeared either ahead or right close to the top of the list for the nomination…!


  27. - zatoichi - Monday, Aug 26, 13 @ 8:37 pm:

    ‘Won’t go negative’ is one of those stock generic campaign phrases right up there with ‘balance the budget’, ‘will make changes’, ‘do what is right’, ‘make the tough calls’, etc. OK. Yawn.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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