Hull Was the Party Leader’s Choice?

errr…Matt Yglesias argues this, but it is a gross misreading of the Illinois political scene and the national party in the state. The myth has grown that Hull was the frontrunner and had the organizational support because he had the ability to self-fund. Certainly some looked at that as a positive, but I think I’m a reasonably good analyst for Illinois politics and I had Hull in the third position up until the last few weeks. The reason was he had some organizational support including Mell and behind the scenes, the Governor. But the candidate most friendly to national party leaders was Dan Hynes who has a father who is a national committeeman and was tied into the party hierarchy.

Even then though, Barack was always considered a strong contender. I dare say no one thought he’d win the race with over 50%, but no one argued that the organizational preference of the party was for Hull.

The organization isn’t a single thing in Illinois for one thing. Hynes was tied to the old ethnics. Barack had the ascendant black leadership headed, but not ruled by the Jacksons and Hull had the Governor’s folks. Adding to it both Pappas and Chico had elements of the leadership supporting them.

Hull himself followed a Corzine like strategy, but he did it solely on his personal fortune, not at the behest of the DSCC which largely stayed out of the deal.

In short, national blogger doesn’t get Illinois politics.

Via Os-Blog which covers similar points.

Netroots and the DCCC

Kos has an interesting post up on the DCCC’s methods of weeding out credible candidates. Kos puts it as more opposed to each other than I think they may be–though I wasn’t involved in the discussions, I’m not sure the difference can’t be bridged.

Since there is little way to weed out candidates who won’t work hard except fund raising, it is almost always the tool decide where to direct resources. This works generally for several reasons. First, it shows someone is working hard. Lazy candidates aren’t going to make it so weed them out by how much money they can raise. With a good personal friend running I can tell you how brutal the whole dialing for dollars deal is. Kos puts the number at 8 hours, but that just includes calls and not followups plus all of the events you have to attend. And if you write thanks yous that open up the wallets the second time, its even more brutal.

Second, it tells you that someone has some kind of support out there. Not all candidates are appealling and as a general rule, the appealing ones can raise cash if they work hard.

I’m not worried about the netroots boosting marginal candidates too much, because even if you can raise an amount on-line, the only way it’ll continue is if big donors open up. Kos makes this point so maybe I’m more with him, but the concern isn’t misplaced, it just assumes that raising cash is easy on the net.

You’ll notice when I talk about Democratic challengers in Illinois, only three are mentioned. It isn’t that I don’t like the others–Tim Bagwell in the 19th is great, but he can’t raise any cash and he isn’t going to be able to get his message out without it. Bean has fantastic numbers given her position. Renner is doing decently, but needs to pick up, and Cegelis needs to leverage her relative web success with big donors now. But they all show promise. Other candidates haven’t been able to raise that money and if they can’t charm money out of someone, I don’t know how they are going to charm votes out of more people.

The DCCC is right about needing to focus on candidates who are strong and fundraising is the key measure available. On the other side, they shouldn’t be reluctant about the net roots because surprises happen and the net is only an entry way to being taken seriously. You still have to work hard to get to the next level.

The Obama Conundrum

The speech on Tuesday night and the fawning of the press afterwards certainly makes it hard for the Illinois GOP to come up with a credible candidate. Obama already has $4 million and a 20 point lead over his last opponent and the runner up in the primary. Worse, Kerry is up around 15 or so which tracks closely with Obama’s numbers before Obama got national attention. So finding a candidate willing to take on what looked like a suicide mission previously, now is even more daunting.

In relation to a lot of the complaining about Obama getting a free pass, well yes. To a degree he is. Part of it is his incredibly engaging presence. Part is due to the lack of a Republican challenger. Part is due also to that many of the local reporters know his record and given he isn’t a gross incompetent, figure that reporting it is their job, but making news isn’t. And how do you compare a non-existent record or even position statement to a record? Yes, the media should do better, but there are reasons for the focus away from issues.

The larger issue for the Illinios GOP is they are in a pickle. First, no one is going to believe that the eventual nominee is going to win so raising money is virtually impossible at this point. Who is going to run against a guy who is a national star and has a $4 million head start before he rocketed to national fame? And even if there is someone out there, what is their agenda for the election–it won’t be winning, but perhaps building themsevles up for another run.

Such a case is a disaster for downballot races who at least need somone the hardcore supporters can latch on to as a reason to go out and vote. Without them, the three House races that are somewhat competitive become serious problems as do competitive State Lege races.

I’ve long asserted that the GOP never thought they’d win this year anyway. The polling situation was dire for Peter Fitzgerald and then the situation didn’t get better. What they wanted to do is limit losses in down ballot races. The Illinois GOP realized the President would perform poorly in Illinois, but a strong Senate Candidate would at least provide a strong rallying point for the troops even in a losing effort.

If Steve Rauschenberger were the nominee, it’s hard to see how he wins, but one can easily see that he would appeal well enough to the base and probably make it close enough so there might be some hope. A few others could probably have done the same. Some, like Jeff Berkowitz, argue Jack Ryan was that guy, but I don’t see how. That’s an argument for a different day.

Jeff and I do agree that this creates a national problem as the race stands now. Barack is essentially free to travel beyond Illinois and campaign for other Democrats and for John Kerry in swing states. I limited that affect to only black voters, which was stupid, and Jeff is right–Barack’s appeal is far greater than that and he could be a rallying cry for young voters and others who don’t traditionally vote in large numbers, but do tend towards Democrats.

Just to pile on a bit more, the press’ fawning over Barack-and his visit to local markets in swing states would suck the oxygen out of any race.

So all of a sudden, a disaster for the Illinois GOP which only surprises in it’s ability to recreate the Titanic sinking every six months or so, becomes a larger problem for the President’s reelection strategy.

As I said yesterday, this is not in Karl’s plans. So Karl has to plot to get a credible candidate on the ballot. I’ll leave the Jack! bit out since it now seems moot and I don’t buy he’d be a strong candidate. I think the press would have hounded him into the ground and been relatively justified in doing so.

Rauschenberger sees the writing on the wall in this election and he has ambitions. In fact, the best thing for him is how he has been courted throughout the process and not having to fight a bruising battle against Barack. His stature has gone up and his problems raising money during the primary will be a thing of the past for whichever state office he pursues in 2006.

Peter Fitzgerald isn’t stupid. In fact, in today’s New York Times, he says:

“Taking the Republican nomination in Illinois for the U.S. Senate under the current circumstances would be akin to accepting a cancer transplant,” said Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald, the Republican whose decision to step down after six years has left his seat in contention.

“You wouldn’t have thought this search could be any harder than it was a week ago,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “But it just got harder because of the nationwide rollout of Barack.”

Those who remember Peter’s 1998 effort will recall that he was a mediocre campaigner at best. Honest and thoughtful (if wrong), but not dynamic nor terribly available.

So, if you are Karl Rove, what do you do?

Well, burying Jim Oberweis would be a start. The last thing you want is the darling of the press being attacked by a guy toxic to Latinos, a key demographic that you can’t lose by too much. Bush would probably have to have a Sister Soulja moment with Oberweis if that were to unfold, and hence it won’t unfold.

Then who else? Lightweight back benchers or potential up and comers hungry for any shot? Either is better than nothing, but if they are severely underfunded they will only be a mild tether to Illinois for Barack. And it frees Barack up to raising funds for others which, as an astute politician, Barack certainly understands will leave him in a stronger position once he enters the Senate.

I won’t go as far as to say that Barack will win the election for Kerry, but he certainly puts a positive face on the issues Democrats want to fight on and took the edge off the base’s anger. He will be a natural press story for the rest of the campaign and he’ll be a money magnet. I always thought he’d win fairly handily, but now he may have an impact well beyond Illinois.

The Vigil Is Ended

Jack Ryan has officially withdrawn from the race to be the next U.S. Senator from Illinois.

Hmmm..what made him decided on Wednesday to finally end his candidacy?

And is Proft on suicide watch?

UPDATE: I don’t think the link is working so Sharad in a Kos diary passes along these instructions:

Go to www.elections.state.il.us Go to candidate filing on the left side of the page, click on it. Then select general election 2004. And click on latest withdrawn

And from comments–did he use the form Austin Mayor or Trigg sent in?

Enquiring minds want to know.