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Irvin campaign roundup

Monday, Jun 13, 2022

* Greg Hinz

The easy explanation is that, despite the $50 million he was staked by Citadel chief Ken Griffin, Griffin may well be outspent by Election Day by a combination of incumbent J.B. Pritzker, Bailey benefactor and packaging mogul Dick Uihlein, and above all the Democratic Governors’ Association. All have run ads intended to help Bailey and hurt Irvin.

The Irvin folks have been left pretty much whining about it, griping—including via some film of me interviewing Bailey—that those bad ol’ Democrats are messing around in “our” Republican primary. They say their foes collectively could have spent $75 million by Election Day.

But there’s a bigger problem—beyond, that is, using my picture in an ad, which is never a good idea. The problem is that Irvin from the beginning has tried to walk an increasingly untenable tightrope, running as a tough-guy conservative in an increasingly hard-right party when, in fact, he’s pretty much a moderate. That may have been a good strategy to get to the general election, but first Irvin had to get through the primary, and in a year in which the primary is in June and not the usual March, his foes “had time to gang up on him,” says one top GOP insider.

Irvin in the time left seems to be trying to argue that he alone can beat Pritzker in the fall. But that message is all positive. On the issues that seem to count to the GOP base—abortion, COVID mandates, fealty to Donald Trump, et al.—Irvin has been unwilling or unable to distinguish himself from his foes. That, I suspect, leaves neither moderates nor conservatives terribly happy or inclined to go out and get him elected.

* I think there are other issues. Crime just doesn’t poll as well as most pundits would have you believe, for one. Irvin’s over-reliance on that issue without talking about things that people really care about have hurt him. Let’s go back to the original Sun-Times/WBEZ polling story

In one of Bailey’s commercials, he displays a softer side of himself, emphasizing his worn hands holding two fistfuls of corn and tying the shoe of a granddaughter.

“These are the hands of a farmer, strong and determined, a grandfather’s hands, supportive and caring,” running mate Stephanie Trussell says in the ad. […]

“Bailey is courageous, and he says it very clearly what he is for, and I admire that,” she said. “He is not taking necessarily a popular opinion, but he’s doing the right thing.”

Keefe also said she considered Irvin’s reliance on Griffin’s tens of millions of dollars a liability and “very troubling.”

“There’s going to have to be some payback there,” she said, questioning whether Irvin truly could act independently of his uber-wealthy patron. “I’m not sure what side he’s [on] except the side to make Ken Griffin happy and to be the governor.”

Irvin just doesn’t seem authentic to too many people. And he hasn’t really given us a glimpse of that “softer” side of himself.

JB Pritzker knew in the 2018 primary that he had to somehow sell his billionaire self to liberal primary voters, who mostly hate billionaires. He ran several campaign ads designed to do that (talking about his late mom, driving an elderly woman to the polls, etc.). It worked.

If you’re coming out of almost nowhere and you’re relying almost solely on one person’s billions, then you’d better come off as authentic and independent and you’d better find a way to firmly connect with voters. Pritzker did. Irvin hasn’t.

* And this stuff doesn’t help

That’s a Pritzker ad, by the way.

* More…

* Down in polls, Irvin says a vote for Bailey is vote to re-elect Gov. J.B. Pritzker: The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ, seemed to confirm trouble for the campaign, finding Bailey with 32% support among likely GOP primary voters compared to Irvin’s 17%.

* Richard Irvin launches new message in battle for GOP governor nomination: A vote for Bailey is a vote for Pritzker: “Republicans are rejecting Richard Irvin because he’s a career Democrat and his campaign has been nothing but desperation and lies,” Bailey spokesman Joe DeBose said of Irvin’s new attacks. “Darren Bailey is the true conservative in this race who will defeat Pritzker and fight for working families and taxpayers.”

* New poll has Bailey with significant lead over Irvin in Illinois GOP governor primary: The economy leads in areas of concern with 44%. Crime and corruption garnered 11% each. Taxes were 10%, followed by Second Amendment issues (9%), abortion (8%), something else/not sure (5%), education (2%) and COVID-19 mitigations (1%).

* State Week: Polls show Bailey in front as Irvin changes strategy

- Posted by Rich Miller        

37 Comments »
  1. - LOL - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:01 am:

    Irvin’s new message is a vote for Bailey is a vote for Pritzker and Pritzker’s new message is a vote for Irvin is a vote for Pritzker.

    It’s comical how bad the Irvin team is. They ran a terrible campaign and in the last two weeks it’s not getting any better.


  2. - Nick - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:03 am:

    Irvin’s fatal flaw as it seems is he basically ran a campaign where every single thing he ran on could ricochet back to him.

    Pritzker’s worst nightmare? Multiple quotes praising the governor.

    Bailey a closet Democrat? Text messages hating trump.

    Tough on crime? Risky bet when you were a criminal defense attorney…


  3. - Friendly Bob Adams - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:04 am:

    Who would have thought 20 years ago that Illinois would have three billionaires running campaigns for governor?


  4. - Norseman - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:05 am:

    Irvin is a manufactured candidate, looks like a manufactured candidate and stumbles rhetorically like a manufactured candidate. The Trump GOP likes authentic crazy and they will get it with Bailey.


  5. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:08 am:

    Saw an Irvin ad I hadn’t seen before this morning. On police and crime again.

    You just don’t get it, do ya?


  6. - NotRich - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:08 am:

    Only 1 true winner in this R primary.. Mike Z and that big pay day he’s taking with him back to Tennessee on June 29


  7. - Pundent - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:15 am:

    It’s entirely possible that the primary voters believe that it’s Griffin/Irvin who are messing in “our” Republican primary.


  8. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:19 am:

    “That’s a Pritzker ad, by the way.”

    That’s marvellous. They were probably holding that back for the general until the most recent polling.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:24 am:

    For Z, it’s not his fault, the checks cash the same.

    Z has already won, and will win each and every time hired.

    Not faulting, if you get paid, embrace it.

    As Goldberg is my favorite, and Z likely cares “less than less” to my thoughts, how all this all equates to this post is…

    … Mayor Irvin had a story to tell, to spin, to find a lane, and had a seasoned, downstate, female, conservative, legislator as a running mate.

    With $50 million and a story… you can do things.

    Crime, anger, phony, oppo research, that all not only didn’t help, many a day it worked against Z’s Crew.

    Then again, they aren’t asking me, they *are* cashing checks, and the idea that Z or anyone should be responsible to build a GOP party again… that part is most laughable… Z has no responsibility to build anything except maximize the opportunity to win election(s)

    This primary could be a disaster, strategy could be seen as a huge part of it, but the party itself is a super minority in thinking a super minority supporter agenda wins Illinois, statewide.


  10. - Roman - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:24 am:

    == Irvin is a manufactured candidate…The Trump GOP likes authentic crazy and they will get it with Bailey. ==

    Yes. Trump has fundamentally change the GOP electorate. The playing field in an Illinois primary is different now than it was when Irvin’s handlers last engineered a primary win for Rauner eight years ago.


  11. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:31 am:

    Some may wonder why the real Irvin isn’t running, the moderate mayor of Aurora and not the Rauner shop creation. This is the real Irvin, someone who sells out for big bucks. Now it’s apparently coming back to hurt him in his own party. Burning the bridge at both ends, can’t be trusted by either side.


  12. - vern - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:37 am:

    Is it just me or has the “new Irvin messaging” not really emerged? The press is being pretty generous describing the “a vote for Bailey is a vote for Pritzker” line as new. He’s been calling Bailey a Democrat all year. There haven’t been any splashy new ads I’ve seen, definitely nothing that would constitute a change in strategy.

    If he’s still dark on Facebook, we’re now into week 3 of the purported “reassessment.” The time for a Hail Mary pretty much expires in the next 72 hours or so. Doesn’t feel like one is coming though. It feels more like they’ve closed up shop.


  13. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:48 am:

    Given the poll results on the other thread, a significant share of likely Illinois GOP Primary voters were never going to embrace an African American big city mayor as their eventual nominee. There was no way Z or anybody else could present Irvin in a way that was compelling to Trump voters who now seem to dominate the ILGOP sadly.

    Had Griffin given Schimpf that cash, they might have had a chance. But then, Schimpf probably wouldn’t have sold out to get the cash. I guess we’ll never know.


  14. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:49 am:

    Phony is spot on.

    In a group of very GOP folks last week the race was a hot topic and most of those folks just couldn’t get past the fact that they knew Irvin just wasn’t a Republican. Authentic is what they were looking for and they know Irvin just isn’t it.

    Kinda too bad for Irvin - he could have kept his head down for four more years and ran for Governor (if JB doesn’t want it) on the Democrat side of things and done very well.


  15. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 11:59 am:

    -Had Griffin given Schimpf that cash, they might have had a chance.-

    I had the same thought over the weekend, but re Sullivan, as a potential Question of the Day topic - would he have had a shot if he was the anointed one by Griffin?


  16. - Roadrager - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:03 pm:

    ==I had the same thought over the weekend, but re Sullivan, as a potential Question of the Day topic - would he have had a shot if he was the anointed one by Griffin?==

    I don’t know if the phonier phony would be the best play here. Then again, Sullivan seems better at sticking to the script, so maybe.


  17. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:03 pm:

    I think Sullivan’s messiah complex and lust for a theocracy might have turned off Griffin. But maybe I’m giving him (Griffin) too much credit.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:05 pm:

    ===Had Griffin given Schimpf that cash, they might have had a chance.===

    I was chastised having that thought, because Schimpf is/was pro labor… so it was a non-starter.

    Thing is, Local 150 supports Irvin, and if creating a whole Candidate Irvin was easier than working with a pro-labor Schimpf through the primary… what exactly did Griffin think he needed to win anyway?


  19. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:09 pm:

    ===so it was a non-starter.===

    I mentioned that I didn’t think Schimpf would sell out over Griff’s agenda in exchange for the cash he’d need to win. But he’s also the only candidate in the field who could credibly called an establishment Republican.


  20. - The Way I See It - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:21 pm:

    The R base wants a candidate as close to Trump as possible when the man himself would get in the low 40s in a general. Running a non Trump R candidate is going to result in a primary loss, Running a Trump candidate will result on in a loss in the general. If Griffin really wanted to be rid of Pritzker, perhaps running a candidate in the Dem primary was his best route. Either way money he burned on this foolishness won’t be noticed by Griffin.


  21. - vern - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:26 pm:

    Schimpf and Sullivan might’ve done better as Griffin’s standard-bearer. I think that list also extends past current governor candidates though. From the slate, Demmer, Bourne and maybe Milhiser could’ve gotten through the primary easier than Irvin. It’s not really knowable if those candidates would have a shot in the general, I don’t think they’d be that much weaker than Irvin.

    There also weren’t many Irvin alternatives discussed publicly before the slate came together. I remember Dillard campaigning for Griffin’s blessing but that always seemed like a non-starter because of 2014. But there’s plenty of basically normal Republican elected officials all over Illinois who could’ve skated through the primary on Griffin’s cash. Griffin and co tried to get fancy and it seems to have backfired spectacularly.


  22. - Left of what - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:41 pm:

    It’s pretty funny to me that the tone on here the last week has shifted from “mike z knows how to win a gop race in illinois” to “he’s won becayse he was paid well .”

    It’s OK to admit he’s washed and out of touch with what his own party wants. He won big with kirk 2010, Davis 2012, and rauner 2014. That was a markedly different republican party and political landscape. Trump really shifted things and that old playback likely isn’t going to work now.


  23. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===It’s pretty funny to me that the tone on here the last week has shifted from “mike z knows how to win a gop race in illinois” to “he’s won becayse he was paid well .”===

    It’s been well documented well before last week that Z has been paid well… as is any person like him in the field of running campaigns.

    There’s no tone, it’s noting the obvious since and even before Rauner.

    Winning races make you a winner. Losing this race won’t take away any other race Z or any other person had won prior.

    It’s a “what have you done fir me lately” kind of job too.


  24. - Pundent - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:46 pm:

    Griffin and his tea never took the other primary candidates seriously. They felt that their money advantage and a field perceived as incredibly weak would be easy to swamp. They campaigned as if they were only focused on Pritzker and the general. They misread where the party is at. That may ultimately be to their detriment.


  25. - AC - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 12:54 pm:

    There’s a lot of discussion about which Griffin funded candidate could’ve performed better than Irvin. After watching the Rauner administration and Irvin operate under the same playbook, and I am convinced the answer is none of the candidates could’ve done much better. Anyone who had to operate under a script that made them look like a phony would’ve struggled, regardless of their skill or background. There are some scripts that an unlimited budget and an all star cast can’t fix.


  26. - JS Mill - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 1:04 pm:

    ====Had Griffin given Schimpf that cash, they might have had a chance.====

    If you remember, Bailey went hat in hand for the Griff money too. The attempt didn’t last long, but he definitely wanted it. That would have been interesting.

    Sullivan would not have been much more successful. Just too phony with, I suspect, some more skeletons yet to be revealed.

    The Irv team is basically telling everyone that he really isn’t the guy the ILGOP faithful want but he is the only one with a shot at a win. A funny message and a definite loser, it would appear, with the current gop.

    I will enjoy the general.


  27. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 1:22 pm:

    Comment on another post but better fitted here…. Few observations…. The Z Rauner Team could set the record for the most (3) campaigns lost in a single primary election. This was accomplished with the support of $50+ million. This will be on the books for a long time. Rich, your article is spot on. Whoever the insider is that told you ‘Regular’ downstate republicans are with Irvin is living in a world outside of my understanding. I happen to be a Regular republican and do not support Irvin. He is a corrupt democrat that shouldn’t be in our primary. Chatter, although not scientific, is almost completely negative towards Irvin. The Z Rauner Team can’t see this because it involves knowing what is going on at the local level which means hard work.


  28. - Primate - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 1:22 pm:

    Sorry. That was my last post


  29. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 1:44 pm:

    That word “regular”.

    Perhaps we don’t have a regular GOP voter anymore.


  30. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 2:31 pm:

    == Perhaps we don’t have a regular GOP voter anymore==

    We do, it’s just that “regular GOP voter” doesn’t mean what it did a few years ago.


  31. - Real - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 2:52 pm:

    The IL GOP voters are just not buying the Rauner/Griffin agenda anymore. They are manufacturing candidates to run as Republicans in order to push through a special interest agenda.


  32. - Radical Candor - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 3:04 pm:

    A remarkable coincidence and a reminder.

    Almost 5 years ago this week, Bruce Rauner cleaned house and made a hard move to the right in an attempt to reboot. (Spoiler: it didn’t work.)

    The first-term governor fired his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and his spokesperson, among other aides. And then State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who helped lead the grand bargain attempt to resolve the two-year budget stalemate, resigned from office July 1.

    Rauner threw open the doors of the Gov’s office to Illinois Policy Institute. He hired its president, Kristina Rasmussen, as his new chief of staff, and its vice president of policy, Michael Lucci, as a deputy chief. Rauner also brought on Laurel Patrick, a former spokesperson for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as his communications director.

    Rasmussen wrote a memo to staff with a phrase some of us still like to call out: “I’m honored to join you as we position Illinois to become the most prosperous, compassionate, and free state in the nation… Mutual respect paired with radical candor (*winner*) will make this an even greater place to work.”

    Waiting for Bailey to call out for “radical candor” and welcome to his team Rasmussen, Lucci and Co.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 3:09 pm:

    - Radical Candor -

    A very noteworthy day.

    Also added, one Diana Rickert, whom is credited with “as a white male”, and while her path isn’t as direct as the wholly failed IPI folks, given the polling we are reading today about GOP voters polled and racism and whites, the failed experiment of IPI is also a failed experiment where race was a prong where all the newbies failed this state in their roles too.

    With respect.


  34. - David Thompson - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 4:47 pm:

    IF Ken Griffin were smart and really wants to defeat Pritzker, he would freeze Irvin’s $$$, let Bailey win the primary and then put $300 million into Bailey.


  35. - MisterJayEm - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 5:07 pm:

    “The easy explanation is that, despite the $50 million he was staked by Citadel chief Ken Griffin, Griffin may well be outspent by Election Day…”

    Leave it to Greg Hinz to explain that his hero’s candidate would be winning if only he weren’t losing.

    – MrJM


  36. - Primate - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 5:22 pm:

    Radical Candor - You sure Z was fired? I thought Rauner offered to keep him around. Maybe I don’t remember things correctly.


  37. - Radical Candor - Monday, Jun 13, 22 @ 7:22 pm:

    Primate @ 5:22pm
    Correct, I don’t think Rauner fired Mike Z.

    OW @ 3:09pm
    Good shout out for Diana Rickert. Agreed. Feels like a rerun in many ways. And since it’s Mike Z and some of the same BTIA players who lived through Rauner 2.0, all the more surprising Irvin collapsed.


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