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Brady’s path to victory

Monday, Sep 23, 2013

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

For a moment, let’s flash back to a poll I commissioned last month. The August 13th Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll surveyed 1,102 likely Republican primary voters.

The poll found that 74 percent of Republicans wanted GOP gubernatorial candidates to choose a running mate who was “more conservative” than the candidates themselves. Another 18 percent said ideology made no difference and a mere 7 percent said they wanted a more liberal running mate.

The poll found that 73 percent of Republican women and 75 percent of men wanted a more conservative running mate. 79 percent of seniors, who tend to dominate GOP primaries, wanted a more rightward pick. 77 percent of collar county Republicans, 73 percent of suburban Cook and Downstate Republicans and 69 percent of Chicago Republicans wanted the candidates to look to their right when picking their lieutenant governor candidates.

As you probably already know, Illinois changed its laws on running mates. Before, lieutenant governor candidates ran independently in primaries. Now, candidates for governor are required to choose a running mate before they begin circulating nominating petitions.

Fast-forward to today. So far, anyway, the gubernatorial candidate who has by far heeded this poll result the most is state Sen. Bill Brady, who was, socially anyway, the most conservative candidate in the race to begin with.

Brady did not try at all to “soften” his ideological stances by picking a more moderate candidate. Unlike state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who chose a sitting state Representative as his running mate, Brady went outside the state party establishment and selected a former suburban mayor of a wealthy small town named Maria Rodriguez. Ms. Rodriguez has spent the past few years running a far-right statewide tea party-affiliated organization for Adam Andrzejewski, who wasn’t a particularly great statewide candidate in 2010, but did build a heck of a large list of devoted tea party activists, partly because of his executive director Rodriguez,.

Sen. Brady was outspent by more than 7-1 by Andy McKenna in the 2010 gubernatorial primary and almost 3-1 by Sen. Dillard. Despite some polling which showed McKenna leading near the end, the previously unknown’s support turned out to be paper thin and he dropped like a rock in the last few days as the election became “real” to voters. Dillard, for his part, was hurt badly in the closing days by McKenna’s attacks on him for cutting a TV ad for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

But nobody so much as touched Brady, and Republican primary voters turned to him at almost literally the last minute. The only poll I know of which caught Brady’s late surge was a privately commissioned We Ask America poll taken the weekend before the primary election. Brady hadn’t been tainted by hardcore attacks and he was ideologically “pure” enough for GOP primary voters, so he ended up being the default choice. Chicago political reporters, taken completely by surprise, raced down I-55 to Bloomington on primary night to cover Brady’s victory rally.

Despite Dillard’s rightward lurch since losing that 2010 primary, Brady is still likely considered the more “authentic” conservative. And his choice of an outsider tea party leader as a running mate will almost certainly help him lock down the right side of the party.

The difference between now and then, of course, is that Brady won the 2010 primary and he has to be taken seriously by the other candidates. He won’t get a pass between now and March by the big-spending Bruce Rauner or by Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford. This is why Brady’s well-known inability - even reluctance - to raise big money could hurt him badly.

But the idea for 2014 is still the same as 2010. Stay to the right, stay focused on painting his opponents as being far to his own left, pick a running mate who bolsters his conservative credentials and who will “keep him honest,” and try to make the electorate believe that he’s the most “electable” Republican because he’s been there before and has learned how to do it.

I personally never make predictions. The latest polling had Brady leading the pack, although the top three (Brady, Rutherford, Rauner) were all bunched up within 7 points of each other. What I will say is that Brady appears to have a plan that deals with Republican primary voters as they are and it could very well work. More money would help, however.

As always, subscribers have full crosstabs and all the questions asked in that poll.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:38 am:

    –Sen. Brady was outspent by more than 7-1 by Andy McKenna in the 2010 gubernatorial primary and almost 3-1 by Sen. Dillard. –

    I didn’t realize the spending gaps were that large. They make Brady’s kprimary victory that more impressive.

    He’s the guy to beat.

    How do the other Republicans go after him? You can’t knock him for holding views shared by the majority of primary voters.

    I guess the only punch you can toss is that he lost the general last time out. But only Rutherford can claim he’s won anything statewide.

    What do Rauner and Dillard say? Rauner’s never won anything and Brady beat Dillard.

  2. - J. Nolan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:41 am:

    Can we just acknowledge that despite being outspent last time around that the only reason Brady won primary was because he was the only downstate candidate. Now he has even less money and another downstate candidate to compete with. No path.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:44 am:

    Brady stops with the “RINO” aspect of hammering Payton Prep Clouter Bruce Rauner and keeps up with the…

    “If you are looking for someone who has given tens of thousands given to Rahm Emanuel and Rich Daley then I am not that guy.

    I don’t even have Arne Duncan on my speed dial.

    If you are looking for someone who Bill Daley is the best to be governor, I am not your choice…”

    It plays in the Primary, will have “legs” in the General with the Daleys and Rahm Emanuel not the most Popular, and you get away from the ignorant “RINO” statement, which makes Bill Brady more and more “extreme” to the voters, and reminds them of 2010.

    Good work Brady Crew, now, indeed, get some cash in a hurry, and keep … keep this message in the rotation, using PPC Rauner as your photo negative, and at the same time keeping all that easy stuff to slam PPC Rauner on the front burner as you define Bill Brady, through the “resume” of Payton Prep Clouter Bruce Rauner.

  4. - Cassiopeia - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:48 am:

    There were 4 people on the ballot in 2010:

    - Quinn 46.79 %
    - Brady 45.94
    - Cohen 3.64
    - Whitney 2.70

    Do you think that Quinn is more popular now?

  5. - votecounter - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:50 am:

    The problem the other candidates have with Brady is if they attack will it supplement his lack of cash? Rauner can go after him for being in the General Assembly for 20 years but that will just bring his name recognition up. This situation just screams for another conservative candidate to come into this race.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:51 am:

    - Cassiopeia -,

    It also matters who gets their voters to the Polls, and who can make the best case to vote for them, or in Quinn’s case in 2010, who NOT to vote for, and have the GOTV and Ground Troops on Election Day to get dragged over the Finish Line.

    Quin wins.

    He does.

    Until someone beats him again, he is on an Electoral Roll.

  7. - too obvious - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:04 am:

    All in the GOP field have huge flaws. I could definitely see Brady getting the nomination again, despite his own flaws.

  8. - LincolnLounger - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    I don’t think Brady is the “one to beat,” wordslinger. The last primary campaign was so fractured that Brady used an overwhelming downstate vote to sneak in. With Rutherford in the race, one candidate from DuPage instead of many, and all the dollars floating around, I don’t see it happening this time.

    Brady cannot talk about running government like a business since his homebuilder business went into bankruptcy. He has no significant campaign apparatus, and a disdain for raising money. His campaign seems to be, “I came close and Jeb Bush told me to run again because he had to run twice.”

    Bill is a nice guy, but he has had two bites at the apple already. This is #3, and a lot of us are exhausted with a candidate whose thin veneer is now like an eggshell. He has no goodwill factor because many of us believe he squandered the last race when he was doing a barbecue in his own district and planning appointments and cabinet slots for a transition the last week instead of campaigning and GOTV.

    I don’t have a dog in the hunt yet, but Bill Brady is yesterday’s news.

  9. - Quincy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    For wants Oswego Willy I think you and I are voting for the same person. GO BIG BILL BRADY

  10. - Samurai - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    What really is the definition of “Republican Base” in Illinois. Conventional thought would be that the base is comprised of those who are fiscally and socially conservative. This is certainly the case nationally. The significance of the base for elections is who reliably votes in primaries. Therefore, a fiscal and social conservative (i.e. Sen. Brady) would be considered the favorite to win the republican primary. However, considering that Illinois is a Democratic leaning state, does the definition of republican base expand to include those who reliably vote in the primary, but are socially moderate. Not sure if there is a breakdown of the percentage of Social-Economic Conservatives versus the Social Moderate-Economic Conservatives. From my view, there is a considerable proportion of republicans who faithfully vote in primaries and are moderate on social issues. But, I suppose regardless of the numbers, if there is only one Social-Economic Conservative, there are insufficient moderate votes remaining if those votes are split.

  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    LL, I’m not a believer in the Legend of the Mighty United DuPage GOP vote.

    Last time out, the DuPage primary vote was 12% of the statewide total. That’s hardly the Dem equivalent of Cook (by the way, 21% of the 2010 GOP primary vote was cast in Cook).

  12. - J. Nolan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:31 am:

    I think it is helpful to look at this map>>

    Brady was able to overcome his abysmal showing in the Cook county and collars area by pulling 40%s in downstate counties all over the place. With Rutherford in the race this simply will not happen again. How can Brady win again by doing WORSE in the places he had to run up the margins in 2010?

    Rauner has no base of support so I envision him getting his solid 12-15% anti-union above all else vote. Now who are the only two left who are well(ish) respected in all areas of the State? Dillard and Rutherford.

    Can Dillard compete in all areas? Yes? Can he run up margins anywhere? Only possibly DuPage. Can Rutherford compete everywhere? Yes. Can Rutherford run up margins anywhere? Yes, Central Illinois, Maybe Southern, Suburban Chicago.

    Oh, also, one currently has half the support in polls as the other and one has 1/3 of the money. I don’t know, it seems clear to me…

  13. - too obvious - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    I think by March, gop primary voters will be so disgusted with Rauner, Dillard and Rutherford slamming each other, they’ll just go with the guy they know again, Brady. Very possible.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    I have no “Choice” yet…

    I am agreeing with the strategy, not with the Messenger.

    Honestly have not decided, but I have decided that being a top donor to Rahm Emanuel and Rich Daley, and calling Arne Duncan to clout your Denied New Trier Daughter into Payton Prep is someone I might have a problem voting for …

    See how easy that was to say, you three, and I never once typed “RINO” …

  15. - J. Nolan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    too obvious - Rutherford is the only one staying out of the mudslinging so far as has been reported here on capfax. Brady is not being shy right now by any means.

  16. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    @LincolnLounger - FWIW, Bradys homebuilding business developments appear to be active again, at least the last time I ventured along the east side of B-N. Also its worth noting that downstate is not a monolith. Last time Dillard beat Brady downstate around Springfield and Adam A. took the Metro East and Kankakee, and Brady still won.

  17. - Downstate - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    I don’t see the conservative elements of downstate working for any one particular candidate. That wasn’t the case in 2010, when Brady was able to get both Tea Party groups and business people to support him. I don’t see either group offering the same level of backing. And, it seems that many business people are coalescing around Rauner.

  18. - Oak Tree - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    Brady may have to contend with Rutherford as his huckleberry. Dillard and Rauner may have the bucks but that won’t necessarily get them the votes. People “turn off and tune out” media political ads anymore. The “saturation factor” often acts as a negative factor with the voters. If Brady continues to walk “the high road” in the campaign, I believe his only real threat might be Rutherford.

  19. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Brady was not a winner against one of Illinois’ lamest governors. While Brady may remain an option to many GOP voters, his loss to Quinn will keep him from winning a nomination again.

    I sense that poll respondents are not yet sold on any candidate yet, so their default choice from the last election is still their answer.

    Brady is a proven loser.

  20. - Cassandra - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Well, a possible plus for the Republicans, if they can figure out how to use it. The Democratic primary race is over. The Republican race is where the conflict is. All kinds of free publicity from media desperate for a little bit of drama to cover. As opposed to “Governor Quinn announces……”

  21. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Bill Brady didn’t cause the housing bubble or economic crash. Lots of good hardworking folks and business people got stung pretty badly by the Masters of the Universe.

  22. - walkinfool - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    I don’t know that those who voted for a “more conservative” running mate didn’t assume they were talking about Dillard, Rauner, or Rutherford at the top of the ticket.

    Perhaps they realized any move to the middle required for a GOP candidate to win the general, would be softened by conservative bona fides at the second spot.

  23. - N'ville - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    The Democrat party’s need to elect Quinn governor in 2010, despite his unpopularity and ineffectiveness, was “the map”. I doubt that fervor will be duplicated in 2014, and maybe even the opposite within the party structure. Brady was so close that people can actually consider what might have been, but for a half a vote a precinct. That message can convince Republican primary voters that he has the strongest message to beat Quinn.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    ===Brady was so close that people can actually consider what might have been, but for a half a vote a precinct. That message can convince Republican primary voters that he has the strongest message to beat Quinn.===

    Um, no.

    Brady lost it the last 3 weeks of the Election, with moderates, with women, and with the undeniable fact of ZERO Election Day apratus and NO “GOTV” to find, collect, and vote Pluses.

    Kepp telling yourself that people “can consider what might have been …”

    … and the Democrats, and Quinn, and Terry Cosgrove, and the Unions … they … they will consider “Mission Accomplished.”

  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:58 am:


    Rauner has no base of support so I envision him getting his solid 12-15% anti-union above all else vote. Now who are the only two left who are well(ish) respected in all areas of the State? Dillard and Rutherford.

    ===Can Dillard compete in all areas? Yes? Can he run up margins anywhere? Only possibly DuPage. Can Rutherford compete everywhere? Yes. Can Rutherford run up margins anywhere? Yes, Central Illinois, Maybe Southern, Suburban Chicago.===

    This is really nice, and sweet, and packaged so well …

    But until any of these campaigns can indentify, control, harvest, and VOTE … the IDENTIFIED PLUSES…that they find with an honest to goodness ground game …

    It’s all hat, and no cattle.

    At least … at least say, “Yeah, that is how those areas work out, if anyone can do anything in the Precincts …”

    ===Brady was able to overcome his abysmal showing in the Cook county and collars area by pulling 40%s in downstate counties all over the place. With Rutherford in the race this simply will not happen again. How can Brady win again by doing WORSE in the places he had to run up the margins in 2010?===

    How about … working … and finding … voters?


    It’s like people think “voters” just magically know that “X” is best/worst/whatever … and nothing can be done to “find” voters”, and nothing can be done to “change voters’ minds”.

    This … is why My Party loses.

  26. - Logic not emotion - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    I think Rauner is out. The obvious knock against Brady is that he lost last time in an election that should have been won (and which Dillard probably would have if he had won the primary). Do you Brady and Rutherford will split downstate to leave a path open for Dillard this time?

  27. - Logic not emotion - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:26 pm:

    Oswego: You’re right. I’m not convinced that the GOP has a good ground game at all. From my perspective, the GOP is a mess at local, state and federal levels. As badly as things have gone with Dem control, a golden opportunity should exist for the GOP if they could just get their act together. I’m not confident they will. In fact, I’d even bet against it.

  28. - Shore - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    column is right. brady has a one word message- CONSERVATIVE and the credentials to back it up. Until he or they are destroyed it’s his to lose.

  29. - Samurai - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 1:14 pm:


    Pardon the Election 101 question, but it seems the Dems have a built in ground game with union members and ward folks who have varying motivators to GOTV. Motivating Republican committee members, let alone your ordinary republican voter, to walk the precincts and GOTV is difficult. Suggestions on improving the ground game?

  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    - Samurai -

    Don’t need to re-invent the wheel.

    The George W. Bush “precinct operations”, how to recruit and find Pluses block by block, harvet them, how they build with coordinators…

    It’s out there, it’s not difficult, if the campigns are not afriad to roll up some sleeves, identify “pluses”, build infastructure, supply it, commit to it, excahnge information, get “Plus” lists ready for GOTV, work the precinct Election Day, and coordinate the voting of the harvested “Pluses”

    The model is out there.

    It is exactly like a football team commited to the “running game”. You don’t break of 20 yard runs until the end when all resistence is at its weakest. The first quarter is about the 1 or 2 yard runs into a wall.

    It’s out there, and there are a ton of people in My Party that know how to do it.

  31. - walkinfool - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    If 70%+ of Republicans are really to Brady’s right, the state and Party are in real trouble.

    More likely they just want at least one hard conservative on the ticket.

  32. - J. Nolan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 8:04 pm:

    Basically what I am saying is that if what I said about the map is true, there is no amount of awesome ground game that can make up the votes for Brady to defy the fundamentals of the race.

  33. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 9:26 pm:

    - J Nolan -,

    With respect,

    ===I think it is helpful to look at this map…===…

    ===…there is no amount of awesome ground game that can make up the votes for Brady…===

    When there is NO Ground Game, you can not logically say anything would change, would NOT change, can change, is, was, or speakes to the support 100% of what is found and voted.

    Can’t. There is nothing to base the absence of the Ground Game factoring in how turnout was changed. Impossible to see, because by not having it, it can NOT be measured.

    The only factor that is constant IS the LACK of a Ground Game to counter results from “wishful thinking” and uncontrolled turnout, based on ZERO that any Campaign controlled.

    Can’t measure how good, bad, lousy, special, intense… any of the Ground games were in harvesting, and voting Pluses at a rate that was controlled by turing out the vote for their candidate.

    To dismiss the idea that a Ground Game, that did not exist, would be impactful in turnout and plurality defeats the whole purpose of GOTV and finding your voters and the whole idea of a Campaign, which is to get the most votes is not logical come 2014, when some Campaign that is smart does bould one, and can impact coter turnout, “pluses”, the narrowing of a plurlatioly and even the resucing of a Plurality.

    Otherwise, we should just run ads, hope for voters to come out, and guess which of the people might thing a campaign is good.

    We tried that in My Party too many times … with too many loses.

    Again, with respect…

  34. - J. Nolan - Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 11:31 pm:

    Sorry but I have tried but cannot make any sense of what you just said - especially the beginning 2/3.

    **”When there is NO Ground Game, you can not logically say anything would change, would NOT change, can change, is, was, or speakes to the support 100% of what is found and voted.”**


    Ill say it again…

    “My voting percentage points are based on the assumption that a candidates ground game cannot be so bad or so great as to change the fundamental aspects of the map in a four way primary and where the candidates will get their votes from - except on the margins. In a general is where the ground game becomes more important than anything else.”

    I am saying that all four candidates will have whatever resemblance of a ground game that they have but none of them are so great or so bad (from what I know) that it will be enough to change the fundamentals of the map in a four way primary and WHERE each of there votes come from - except on the margins (like Dillard could have beat Brady by 500 votes if he had a ground game in 2010).

    I still do not understand how Brady can win when he will do worse in places he ran up margins in 2010. He can do all the voter “targeting”, “harvesting”, and “finding” he wants but he can never equal what he did downstate with Rutherford in the race. Care to disagree?

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