Monday, May 31, 2010

How Pat Quinn Wins

A Quick note: this is my first post in a long time that focuses on race analysis without too many demographics. I used to have posts similar to this one in 2008 and early 2009 but I stopped because the horse race world was quiet. Now that election day is coming closer, I will do race analysis posts similar to my 2008 ones. Also, I will soon bring back the Senatorial and Gubernatorial rankings. Now onto the post:


In Illinois, Rod Blagojevich (D) was impeached in early 2009 because he tried to sell Obama's Senate seat. Pat Quinn (D), the Lieutenant Governor replaced him. Now Quinn faces Downstate State Senator Bill Brady (R) who is very conservative. Brady won an upset by 200 votes in a crowded field in the February primary with big margins Downstate but he was crushed in the Chicagoland area. The campaign has barely started but Quinn is getting off to a poor start. Recently, he replaced his running mate Scott Lee Cohen (D) because Cohen was accused of domestic violence. The new candidate, Sheila Simon (D) is a professor from Downstate and yes, she is the daughter of the late Senator (not singer) Paul Simon (D). Although no poll have been released on this race since May 2nd, all polls show Brady with a high single digit or low double digit lead. Yes, Pat Quinn is behind but he can still pull off a win. Here is what he needs to do:

  • Distance himself from Blagojevich as much as possible. To do this, he needs to highlight how he was isolated from the Governor and did not speak with him for all of 2008. Also, he needs to highlight how Blagojevich said Quinn was not a member of Blagojevich's administration in 2006.
  • Highlight his ethical background: where he launched a panel to examine corruption in the University of Illinois. Also, he should highlight how he never used state money to pay for his trips, meals and hotel stays. If Pat Quinn wants to win, he needs to demonstrate he is not another corrupt Chicago politician.
  • Make the race about Brady: Quinn needs to paint Brady as who really is; a downstate social conservative. He needs to run ads showing Brady wants to eliminate the State Board of Education and how Brady voted against increasing the minimum wage.
  • Campaign hard in the suburbs: Quinn is from Chicago while Brady is from Bloomington which is Downstate. Brady should win almost every county (if not every county) in Downstate so Quinn needs to win as many suburban voters as possible.
  • Highlight Brady's positions while campaigning in the suburbs: Quinn needs to highlight how Brady opposes abortion even in cases of rape and that Brady voted against a bill to ban gay discrimination not with marriage but in the workplace. Brady even voted against a bill to increase funding for stem cell research and supports teaching intelligent design. Brady even supports concealed handguns and Chicago is mostly pro gun control. These are the issues that made the suburbs trend towards the Democratis in the 1990's. Although the social issues will motivate Democrats to turn out and vote, Quinn should not get carried away because the main issue for voters is the economy and jobs. If he can make his campaign in the suburbs half about Brady's social issues but half about how Quinn will create jobs, Quinn should win.
  • Do not bring up his tea parties unless they are absolutely necessary: in 1978, Quinn told people to send teabags to the current Illinois Governor due to state legislator pay raises. He could say he was one of the first real tea party people but this should depress Democratic turnout and Brady will win Downstate anyway.
Overall, Quinn should prove he is more connected to Chicagoland issues than Brady is but Quinn needs to define himself instead of being the "not Brady" candidate. Yes, Downstate is important and Democrats need to win in rural areas in states like Missouri to win elections. In Illinois though, Chicagoland has so many people so a Democrat can do well there, get crushed in Downstate but still win.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

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