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The epic collapse of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s campaign for Governor, which was buoyed by $50 million from billionaire Ken Griffin, goes down as one of the more disastrous campaigns in Illinois politics in recent memory.
While both Republican Andy McKenna for Governor in 2010 and Democrat Blair Hull for U.S. Senate in 2004 spent oodles of their own cash ($24 million for Hull, McKenna was in for around $3 million), Irvin’s campaign blew millions of dollars that belonged to the richest person in the state and his nearly single benefactor. Furthermore, Irvin was considered far and away the favorite to win the GOP primary against low name ID, poorly financed competition. Hull, you may remember, was beaten by some guy named Obama.
I was asked on Quad Cities Public Radio this weekend how I would have run Irvin’s campaign differently. To be fair, I’ve never managed a statewide campaign and nobody has written me $50 million in checks to do whatever I want with. Here’s what I told Robin Johnson off the cuff:
“I would have let Irvin be Irvin. I would have prepared him on the issues at hand, but I’d rather him go down saying ‘I didn’t support Donald Trump because I found him too divisive’ or ‘I voted for Donald Trump in the General but not the primary.’ If you go down with that, then so be it because you can’t change that environment.
Primary voters notwithstanding, because primary voters are rabid, blood thirsty [partisans], that everyone is so rabid that I felt like there was a window for someone to come in and be the grown up in the room.”
We asked readers what they would have done differently with Irvin’s campaign. Here were some of the best responses:
“The consultants running the show simply chose the wrong candidate. A candidate that voted in a majority of Democratic primaries over last ten years plus said nice things about Pritzker was never going to be acceptable to the Republican vote, no matter how much money was spent or how vicious the attacks were against party regulars and fundraisers.”
“The real question is did the consultants screw up because they no longer understand Illinois because they left a couple years ago or never did because they are from Atlanta/DC or did they knowingly fleece Griffin for as much money as possible?”
“Answer the damn Trump question, did you or didn’t vote him. Either you say you voted for him or go home. Being an anti Trumper is a non starter in 2022.”
“Respect the voter. (Ultimately something Mike Z, [Griffin’s campaign guru] doesn’t do. No respect for voters.”
“Mr. Griffin let himself to get led down the road of no return. Obviously a smart guy, but politics is a different game than finance. He let his distaste for Pritzker get in the way of good judgment.”
“Even with $50M the fundamental challenge is while most political people knew Irvin was a Republican, he voted in Democratic primaries.”
“You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. He is/was not governor material and should not been enabled by Griffin to take up some much of the primary season.”
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July 27, 2022 at 10:04AM