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Their paths to victory

Monday, Dec 23, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Paul Green, the Director of Roosevelt University’s Institute for Politics, has penned a long, but interesting look at the history of Republican gubernatorial primaries which includes a preview of how all four candidates could win. He doesn’t include the union involvement aspect, but otherwise it’s pretty good stuff. Click here to read it all. An excerpt…

I believe it’s fair to say that if politics was a poker game, Bruce Rauner would be “all in”. His vast wealth has propelled him into the political limelight against three opponents – all of whom have political experience and governmental records. Thus, Rauner is a wild card – he can use his dollars to attack and not have to worry too much about his political past.

In order to win this political melee – five things need to happen.

    First – Rauner will have to debate his opponents – all of whom are debate veterans. Rauner cannot simply hide behind his commercials. In these debates, Rauner must show both issue and political competence and a thick political skin when the political arrows are aimed directly at him.

    Second – in his all-out assault on Springfield and its politicians, Rauner cannot overplay his “negative” hand; he must also have a “positive” hand as well.

    Third – Endorsements – Rauner will need them. Especially from the state’s major newspapers. This will show that besides his wealth, the editorial writers recognize public policy substance and governmental ability. He would then publicize these endorsements through his various media outlets.

    Fourth – The Rahm Factor. Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel cannot become an issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Rauner must convince some fence-sitting GOP voters that he is a real Republican who will be a party player if elected.

    Fifth – Finally, Rauner has to piece together a geo-political vote base that carves deeply into Dillard’s suburban/collar strength and Brady and Rutherford’s central and southern Illinois muscle.

This further explains why Rauner is pursuing local party endorsements so heavily. His opponents are calling him a Democrat in Republican clothing. If that’s so, he can say, then why are all those GOP organizations backing him? Yeah, they’re getting some cash out of the deal, but as those endorsements pile up it’s pretty tough to say that so many Republican leaders are selling out to a closet Democrat.

Also, few people actually watch gubernatorial debates. It’ll take a big mistake to make much of a difference.

* Here’s his take on how Bill Brady could win

Few could argue with the analysis that State Senator Brady was a very fortunate 2010 gubernatorial primary winner. Among the major candidates – he alone owned vote-rich central Illinois while his collar county foes carved each other up in the northeastern part of the state.

In 2014 Brady’s regional base will undergo a challenge from Rutherford (Livingston county) and Bruce Rauner’s television ads. Four things need to happen for Brady to win another narrow victory.

    First, not only must he hold his central Illinois base but, unlike 2010 he will have to campaign vigorously north of I-80.

    Second, given the above, he needs to use his vote for pension reform (only GOP gubernatorial candidate to support SB-1) to appeal to suburban/collar county Republican voters who in 2010 were frightened by his hard line social issue positions.

    Third, again back to the first point – he must remind voters south of I-80 that he has been a longstanding consistent conservative voice in Illinois politics.

    Fourth, and most iffy, he needs the other three candidates – especially Dillard and Rauner to tear each other up during the campaign debates and in their speeches.

* Kirk Dillard’s shot

Barely lost the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary (193 votes) – due to DuPage county and the rest of the collars having their votes splintered among several candidates - including one who withdrew from the race – Dillard now seeks collar county unity in his rematch with Brady and the other candidates.

In order to win this all-out battle, Dillard needs four things to happen.

    First – he needs to raise enough dollars to compete with Rauner for the suburban and collar county vote. Undoubtedly, he will be out-spent, but he must have enough media to play up his gubernatorial competence against Rauner’s all-out assault on him and politicians in general.

    Second – his mentor, former Governor Jim Edgar, must be more active in this primary than he was in 2010. He needs to remind GOP voters that not so long ago Republicans ruled the state mansion by electing center-right candidates like Dillard and that the ultimate opponent is Governor Pat Quinn.

    Third – geo-politically, Dillard needs to unite remaining collar county and northwest and southwest Cook County GOP organizations behind him arguing on background and experience, he should be their candidate. He needs to close this deal as soon as possible.

    Fourth – assuming all four will participate in televised debates – Dillard needs to kick back hard on his Republican brand as Rauner will definitely go after him on his friendship with current and past Democratic colleagues in Springfield.

Dillard faded in 2010 because he was attacked over his Obama TV ad.

* Treasurer Rutherford’s path

A Republican statewide office holder should have an advantage in a four-way primary against two state senators and a businessman. However, Rutherford in 2010 had a weak opponent in a low publicity race – thereby making it essential in 2014 that he re-introduce himself to Republican voters. It may seem strange to say, but Rutherford – like Rauner – has no specific regional base. His home area is between Brady’s central Illinois and Dillard’s DuPage county.

In order for Rutherford to come out on top, he must do four things.

    First – Needs to make his statewide office a huge positive – thereby contesting all his rivals in all voting regions;

    Second – Given his state treasurer position, he must outshine his debate foes with facts and figures on solving the state’s budget, pension and debt problems;

    Third – Must raise the second most campaign funds to combat Rauner’s media blitz with his own ads showing that governmental competence beats campaign rhetoric;

    Fourth – Needs either Brady or Dillard to garner large margins in their home base areas.

He also needs to drastically refine his theme.



  1. - Norseman - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    Their paths to victory need to be paved by money. Unfortunately, only one of these candidates has shown the ability to come up with that money. We’ll see what the union effort brings to the table, but the Rauner path seems to look golden.

  2. - MEP - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    This is the best way I’ve heard it put yet. I think Rauner has the clearest path to victory because he has the most control over his path. I think his biggest difficulty will be the debate, but everything else seems doable. My money is on him getting the Chicago Tribune’s endorsement.

  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    Green gives way too much weight to debates. They’ll be a factor only if a candidate screws up royally in one.

    If you agree with his other factors in “paths to victory,” then you can count out Dillard because of this:

    –First – he needs to raise enough dollars to compete with Rauner for the suburban and collar county vote –

    Not going to happen.

  4. - Chi - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    Baron von Carhartt getting the Tribune’s endorsement is a safer bet than the Harlem Globetrotters.

  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    ===I think his biggest difficulty will be the debate===

    He sticks to his crisp talking points better than anyone else, so I’m not so sure he’ll have problems.

    Yeah, the others know more about government, but GHWB knew a whole lot more about government than RWR in 1980 and look how that turned out.

    Dillard endlessly meanders, Rutherford talks about compromise. Brady has talking points and could do well.

    But, few actually actually watch gubernatorial debates here. So, unless something crazy happens, I don’t know that they’ll have a gigantic impact.

  6. - Norseman - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    Rich and Word are on point regarding the debate point.

    The whole path to victory discussion reminds me of the meaningless “keys to victory” discussions by the sports talking heads during football games. Well here’s the obvious key to victory here - you need resources, either money or Willy’s famous ground game.

  7. - Toure's Latte - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==First – Rauner will have to debate his opponents==

    I wouldn’t bet on that. Rauner is running against Quinn, and will debate Quinn, and get ripped up by Quinn, but a primary debate? Rauner’s people would be crazy to allow that after all that ad and township money put him in the driver seat.

  8. - A guy... - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:36 pm:

    All 4 of them will debate. Period. There’s no way on Earth he’s going to let 3 guys just pound him without any rebuttal. He’s been in forums with them already. There’s not a great debater in the bunch, and having 4 guys up there makes it a lot less of a debate anyway. Add to that, few people will watch it. The people who tend to do badly or “royally screw up” in debates are the most desperate candidates. That won’t be him. He will annoyingly perhaps stay on point through the entire muddled exercise.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    To the Post,

    Debates are not going to be a mitigating factor, unless something so catastrophic happens, free media carries the water. That is the “3″s reality

    Prof. Green’s take is really good outside of that, but for me it comes down to the “Race of the ‘Rauners’”;

    Will “Bruce Rauner” outrun, outspend, outflank, outwork, out Ground Game the “3″ before anyone, including the free media or Unions, can “educate” the Primary voters, and the “3″ can get a Ground Game themselves to vote their identified “pluses” against the REAL Bruce Rauner, Rahm, Rich Daley, Payton Prep, notwithstanding.

    That is the “race”.

    - Norseman -, we may need a 4th cubicle.

  10. - Darienite - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    ==by electing center-right candidates like Dillard==
    Sorry Paul. Maybe he was one in 2010, but he’s not running like one now. And it may be a reason Edgar has not made many appearances with him to date.

  11. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    OW does Rauner have a ground game? it seems like he has been relying heavily on tv/radio and ad’s. Reminds me of the staudy Rich has mentioned before about how kissing babies is still the most effective way to win….

  12. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Dillard, Brady and Rutherford might want to study how Ilya Sheyman went after Brad Schneider on giving money to Mark Kirk at the Vernon Township Democrats endorsement session.

    That takedown that left Brad Schneider dazed.

  13. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:03 pm:

    ===That takedown that left Brad Schneider dazed===

    Um, dude, he won.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    - Ghost -,

    I am “old school” almost to a fault;

    Got to ID “pluses”, and vote your ID’d “pluses” to win. Rauner hasn’t shown an apparatus to do it. Yet.

    Dillard lost it on the precincts, 193 voters were out there to be “had”, no ground game.., loss.

    Same with Brady and Cook County.

    I am just “old school” that way.

  15. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:12 pm:

    If you think you have nothing to learn from people who fail to win elections, you won’t learn anything from them.

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:48 pm:

    Just as a baseline for analysis purposes:

    There were about 767,500 GOP gubernatorial primary votes in 2010.

    Of those, Brady and Dillard each got a little more than 155,000, or 20% of the vote. Brady spent virtually nothing. Dillard had a lot of metro competition.

    Rutherford, obviously, is a statewide winner.

    Is there any reason to believe the pie will be bigger? Does Rauner’s TV spending bring in more voters?

    IF the four of them are chasing 800,000 votes, this isn’t over by a long shot. As it is, first one to 250,000 probably wins it.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    - wordslinger -,

    Spot on. If any of the 4 campaigns can ID and actually vote 160,000 “Pluses”. Vote them. Get solid 160,000, they win.

    That is the target numbet

  18. - foster brooks - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 2:10 pm:

    As goofy that Illinois politics is I’m going with ballot position on this one. Lol

  19. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    Just taking a quick look at the four candidates’ recent D2s and Rauner remains in a category all of his own.

    Again, this is not just another rich guy. This is a rich guy who has a lot of people dropping big money on him — and not on the other guys.

    More and more, it’s Illinois money, too — routinely, 10K, 25K a crack from the Gold Coast and North Shore. The GOP money boys have made up their minds.

    That’s double-duty money. Not only does it go to Rauner’s campaign, but it’s money that, potentially, could have gone to one of the other three candidates.

    Rutherford, Brady and Dillard won’t have a chance to whack Rauner with paid media. Brady and Dillard will have trouble getting on TV to re-introduce themselves.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    - wordslinger -,

    It’s what Durkin is facing with the primaries.

    Every dollar to defend is actually 2 dollars to the Caucus, one spent, one to raise again.

    The monies are real to everyone but Rauner.

  21. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 3:38 pm:

    The money is real to Rauner…. real easy to come by that is….

  22. - Snucka - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    Rauner is clearly more serious than Gidwitz and probably even McKenna. However, the Illinois GOP primary will not be won with advertising alone. The party is not well-organized. They haven’t held the governor’s mansion for 12 years. They’ve not held a majority in the House for 17 years or the Senate for 10 (with no end in sight).

    With the party in such a weak position, the winner will need to not only convince voters to vote for him - he will need to convince them to vote in a GOP primary at all. The candidate who actually presents a plan and a seems to have the best shot at beating Quinn will win in March. And as Willy said, in a low-turnout race it will come down to field organizations. Rauner may be buying endorsements, but it remains to be seen whether those endorsers will bring to bear an Election Day GOTV effort. If they do, and if Rauner’s team can coordinate their efforts, he can win. If not, it’s anyone’s election to win.

  23. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    I wonder how Rauner will kiss babies…does carhartt make babaies?

    I can see is now, with help from his friends… black limos canvassing neighborhoods with chauffeur’s in suits wearing Ubiquitous carhartt jackets going door to door…please sir, vote for Rauner….


  24. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    The one thing you can count on for sure, given the lack of resources from Rauner’s GOP opponents, is that there will be a major media takedown before March.

    Ideology has nothing to do with it. More than one media outlet will want to score rummaging around Rauner’s dirty laundry.

    There’s just so much hypocrisy on the surface. Dig a little bit, who knows what you get?

    Book it. Think Al Hofeld (creepy personal injury lawyer). Think Blair Hull (card counter, blow, dead chick in the garage, smacking the wife around). Think Jack Ryan (giggity).

    The legend in the Eternal Victims circle is that Axelrod took down Ryan over the hinky divorce stuff.

    The truth is, Gen. Borling sikked his dogs on Ryan, and two of the most conservative outlets in the state, the Tribbies and Channel 7, went to court in California to open up the divorce records.

    Thank them, for Obama.

    Big Brain Bruce and Wrapports might be on board with Rauner, but I guarantee that reporters at both papers will get in serious takedowns before it’s all over. And the TV and radio stations will steal them.

    Bruce, get ready, it’s coming.

    I’ve given you a lot of advice in the last few months, and have checked the mailbox, but yet I see nothing.

    Dude, don’t be a Trump. Nobody likes that kind of businessman.

    Tell you what, cut a check here on Dec. 23 for Lutheran Social Services. That’s money well spent on the side of the angels and good p.r.

  25. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 4:13 pm:

    Given that around 20% of the IL working population are directly or indirectly affected by the recently passed pension “reform” bill, whether and how those employees / retirees show up to vote in the primary is the big question. If a significant percentage show up, pull a GOP ballot, and vote “anyone but Rauner”, that could significantly change to results from 2010. And if it is an orchestrated vote in favor of just one candidate, it could outweigh a lot of factors. The big question is which candidate will they vote for? My guess, if they do show up, is it will be Rutherford because he seems to be the most moderate on the issues state employees care about.

  26. - Statesman - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    If Brady is to win, perhaps he should step up the fundraising. Perhaps he can engage a former Blagojevich bag man… oh wait, he’s done that already.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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