Seals Beats Dold

April 6, 2010

First quarter fundraising reports are out, and it looks like there has been quite a few dollars raised here in the 10th District.  Bob Dold released his numbers earlier this week, reporting substantial numbers, including just over $500,000 raised and $377,672 for cash on hand.  Unfortunately for him, Dan Seals reported much more impressive numbers.  Seals raised $662,773 for the first quarter, with the all-important cash on hand at $460,000.

So, Seals raised about $160,000 more than Dold and also has a little over $80,000 more in cash on hand.

No word yet from the Dold campaign on their reaction to Seals’ numbers.


Bob Dold (R-Tea Party)

April 4, 2010

The Tea Party movement has been one of the more interesting stories of the past year. Crowds of people have been expressing anti-government views in rallies both large and small. Pundits like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are tapping into the anger of these people to sell books, gain television viewers, and to do whatever it is that Sarah Palin plans to do with her career.

However, the most interesting part in my mind is seeing how Republican officials and candidates react to these groups. Some have denounced the groups. Scott McClellan, former press secretary for George W. Bush, recently said “[The Tea Party is] a divisive protest movement that plays too much to people’s fears and hatred.” David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, said that Tea Party rhetoric is filled with “wild accusations” and “paranoid delusions”.

Other Republicans, such as our very own 10th District candidate Bob Dold, have chosen to cozy up to the Tea Partiers. Back in February, Dold said that “the Tea Party has a great voice out there.” In addition, he was a featured speaker at a recent Tea Party event. This is the same Tea Party, by the way, whose members shouted racial and homophobic slurs at Democratic Congressmen on the eve of the health care vote. These are the folks who are toting guns at rallies. The ones who believe President Obama was not born in Hawaii. The ones who believe that “death panels” are going to kill their grandparents.

The Tea Party represents the most radical wing of the Republican party. How is it that Dold thinks that siding with the tea party is going to win this thing for him? I don’t think the Tea Party is particularly big in the 10th, even though the national outfit has begun to notice our district. Is he hoping Sarah Palin will come in and save the day for him?

Seals Update

March 18, 2010

I received breaking news today from the Seals camp. In an email sent to supporters, the Seals campaign revealed their campaign staff has a new addition. Details in the message below.

We’re Growing!

We wanted to give you an update on the changes that have occurred within the campaign since the primary as we gear up for the General Election. In an effort to bring in more resources and talent to the campaign, Dan and Pat began the search weeks ago for a new campaign manager.

We are happy to announce the newest member of our team, David Mason, who will serve as Campaign Manager for the General Election. David is a veteran of numerous federal, state, and local campaigns across the country and we are very excited to welcome him aboard.

Pat Mogge, who has served as our campaign manager for the 2006 and 2008 General Elections, and the 2010 Primary Campaign, will take on a role as Senior Advisor to the campaign. Pat will focus on campaign strategy and district outreach, helping to deepen the campaign’s relationships throughout the district.

As you know, our consultant team is still one of the best in the business. It includes: Eric Adelstein and Ann Liston from Adelstein-Liston as media consultants, Terry Walsh of The Strategy Group for direct mail, both with the campaign since 2006; and Jeff Liszt of Anzalone-Liszt Research, who began conducting our polling in 2009.

This is a major shift, as Dan Seals has had the same campaign manager in all of his previous campaigns. This tells me that Seals is serious about winning this race. He’s bringing in new blood to a team fresh off a victory in a tough primary, which you need to do if your organization is going to grow and succeed.

Aside: I’m reprinting the Seals email because they sent it to me. If the Dold campaign would like to send me anything, I will gladly write about it if it is newsworthy.

Seals Makes Red to Blue List

March 11, 2010

Good news for Dan Seals, as he was named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue list. The 2010 list has thirteen candidates on it, most of whom are running in districts currently held by Republicans. The listed candidates will receive additional funds and support from the DCCC and their donors. With this selection, the Illinois 10th will almost certainly be one of the biggest races in the country.

Our Candidates

March 8, 2010

Although I’ve talked a bit about Dan Seals and Bob Dold already, I thought that now was a good time to delve a little further into each candidate.

Dan Seals holds a solid position at this point.  The voters of the 10th district know who he is.  They are, for the most part, familiar with his positions on issues.  And, fortunately for Seals, his positions on issues fits very nicely into the 10th.  Seals is socially moderate, supporting gay marriage and abortion.  He’s a fiscal conservative, preferring to focus on job creation and smart spending instead of simply cutting taxes.  He supports the President, but he has also made it clear that he will not be a rubber stamp for the administration, disagreeing with the President’s course of action in Afghanistan.  Seals has one possible liability; he is a 3-time candidate.  However, primary voters already knew this and still selected him as their choice, despite facing another well-funded primary challenger.  So far, Seals has been able to turn what could be a negative into a positive, mostly by leveraging the relationships built with local organizations and voters over the last few years.

Bob Dold is more difficult to analyze than Seals, simply because there is less information about him.  Based on what I have read and seen, it looks like Dold is a fairly typical conservative Republican.  He wants lower taxes, strong defense, and the health care reform bill to die a painful death.  Unsurprisingly, he has worked on selling himself as a moderate Mark Kirk Republican.  I’m not so sure that the comparison is a good one.  In the primary, Dold says that he supports Roe v. Wade, but he does not support the public funding of abortion or late-term abortions, while he does support parental notification.  He’s also been “recommended” by the Illinois Federation for Right to Life.  As they explain on their site, they cannot endorse Dold because he considered a pro-choice candidate.  However, due to his many agreements with Illinois Right to Life, he was “recommended” above all of the other candidates.    Also, Dold has been supportive of the Tea Party movement, saying they have a “great voice.”  No matter your feelings on the Tea Party and their positions, I think it is easy to agree that they are not moderate.  Remember that this is the same Tea Party and the same pro-life organization that refused to support Mark Kirk and actively worked against him in some instances.

My concern is this:  Dold seems to have an awful lot of stock Republican talking points in his issue positions.  As I’ve said before, the 10th is a very independent district.  Would freshman Congressman Dold vote against his party if the time comes?  Is he too conservative for this district?  Maybe he’ll show us an independent streak during the campaign.  I hope so, because it will make things more interesting.

Money will be vital to both campaigns, as the winner of the money race will have more opportunities to reach the voters.  It’s also very possible that this election could come down to the final push.  At this point, it is futile to try and predict how this race will turn out.  Either way, it should be an entertaining campaign to watch.

The 10th and the Money

February 25, 2010

The 10th District has been home to some big races in the last two election cycles so it’s hard to imagine the 10th District race to be bigger–but it will be.  The district has become competitive over the last few years due to changing demographics.  As Illinois has grown steadily more Democratic, the 10th District has shifted in that direction as well, changing it from a relatively safe moderate Republican district into the swing district it is today.  10th District voters are (in general) well-off, socially liberal and fiscally conservative.  In 2006, Dan Seals was able to ride a Democratic wave to a close defeat, even though he received minimal support from the national party.  In 2008, Mark Kirk was able to hold off Dan Seals in another narrow victory.  Now that he has moved on to run for U.S. Senate, we are left with the rare opportunity of a swing district with no incumbent.  All of this leads to one major conclusion; this race is going to be expensive.

In 2006, Mark Kirk raised and spent over 3 million dollars.  In 2008, that number jumped to nearly 5.5 million.  Dan Seals also raised and spent a lot of money, though not quite as much as Kirk.  He totaled just under 2 million in 2006 and 3.5 million in 2008.  Kirk’s abilities as a fundraiser are top-notch, and both the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) were heavily involved in the 2008 race.  Seals should benefit through his familiarity with both the big donors of the 10th District and the higher-ups of the DCCC.  Dold will have some work to do to ensure that he is on equal financial footing.  I don’t know what his district-wide name ID is, but I am certain it’s much lower than Seals.  He doesn’t have the advantage of incumbency or the time to rack up a campaign warchest.  Chicago is one of the most expensive media markets in the country.  A week of ads on network television will run you about a half million dollars.

Yes, that’s right.  One week.  Half a million.

Doing a little rough math, Seals and Dold are going to need to raise over 2 million dollars each, if they want to win that is.  Anything less would threaten the ability to execute a full ad blitz in the final days of the campaign.  Both men have already received help from the national parties, and they will continue to do so.  You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from Seals and Dold as the campaign moves forward.

CQ Politics has just 18 of the 435 Congressional races listed under “Tossup”.  IL-10 is the only one in Illinois.  Dan Seals and Bob Dold are smart, attractive, scandal-free (as far as we know) candidates who ran strong primary campaigns.  The national parties will both have this district near the top of their lists.  We are fortunate enough to be able to see the best that the Democrats and Republicans have to offer.

Stay tuned for my next post in which I will be looking more closely at the candidates.

Primary Recap

February 23, 2010

The first step in setting the stage for the general election is to analyze the primary race.  The way that a candidate runs a primary campaign will often provide big clues to what he or she will do in the general election.

I’ll start with Dan Seals, simply because we know more about him.  Seals started the primary in a favorable position, but he also faced a strong challenge coming from State Rep. Julie Hamos.  Hamos, a Springfield veteran, received the money and endorsements from establishment Democrats.   Seals also had the challenge of history; since he had run and lost in both 2006 and 2008, he risked being branded a loser.  Fortunately for him, his years in the district translated into endorsements and support from local township organizations.  With his huge lead in name identification and his relationships with local democrats, Seals was able to run a quiet, efficient campaign.  He didn’t have to make any crazy promises or pull any stunts to beat Hamos, just used a solid organization that did exactly what it needed to win and nothing more.

Bob Dold is the owner of a pest control company and a first-time candidate.  Since he was a political unknown, he was able to place himself in an excellent position in the race.  State Rep. Beth Coulson, the frontrunner in the race, had the organizational support and the endorsements from heavyweight Republicans like Jim Edgar and John Porter.  In fact, Dold faced a lot of the same challenges in his race that Seals faced on the Democratic side.  His opponent is a known elected official with big endorsements behind her.  Dold came out strong touting his business credentials.  He positioned himself as moderate but further right than Beth Coulson.  She didn’t say or do much during the campaign beyond touting her endorsements.  Dold took advantage of this vacuum by creating memorable ads (the Dold with a “d” and not an “e” song was a bit odd but definitely catchy).  In the end, his work with township organizations and the people of the 10th carried him to a solid victory over Beth Coulson.

The 10th District primaries boiled down to a battle between establishment politicians and grassroots organizations.  Dold and Seals both showed that a concerted effort to connect with the people can overcome a lead in endorsements and money.  It will be very, very interesting to see how both of these campaigns change their narratives to suit the general electorate and each other.  And I’ll be looking at that later this week.

The General Begins

February 19, 2010

It has certainly been nice taking a couple weeks off after the primary. Not only has it let me recharge my batteries, but it has also given the Seals and Dold campaigns some time to transition into the general election.

I thought I’d jump back into this race by offering a general overview of how it might play out. The primary is all about capturing a small margin of the electorate and doing everything in your power to get them to turn out. In the much larger general election, that strategy won’t work. The ground game stays important, but the air war ramps up in intensity. This race will be expensive; as one of the top House races in the country there’s no way that it won’t get pricey. DCCC Chairman Congressman Chris Van Hollen was in town today for a Dan Seals fundraiser, so I’m certain the DCCC will be heavily involved in this race. Given the attacks that came out right after primary day, both the NRCC and the DCCC will probably spend a lot of money here over the next 9 months.

So, my plan is to take a look overall at strengths and weaknesses of Dold and Seals, along with a look at how they ran their primary campaigns, the likely cost of the election, and whatever else I feel like.

If there are any suggestions or other things you’d like me to touch on, please let me know via comments or email (

And again, thanks for reading. The primary was fun to cover; I hope you’ll stick with me through the general as well.


February 3, 2010

Well, we’ve certainly seen some close races tonight. Seals holds on to win, 48-46%. Dold comes up stronger than I had thought and posts a solid 8 point victory over State Rep. Beth Coulson. Arie Friedman, who had been generating a lot of buzz going into election day finishes a disappointing 4th place. Alexi held off a late Hoffman charge to win 39-33, with Cheryle Jackson picking up 19 percent. Mark Kirk, as expected, won handily. The Governor’s race is too close to call on both sides at this point, with Pat Quinn and Billy Brady holding onto slim margins.

As far as my predictions went, I think I did pretty well. Looks like I’ve biffed on the Governor’s race, but my picks for U.S. Senate and the 10th District were dead on, even though the Seals-Hamos contest was closer than I had thought it would be.
Congratulations to all of tonight’s winners. The general election campaign starts tomorrow.


February 1, 2010

Tomorrow is Election Day, and I hope that all of you have either voted early or will be voting tomorrow. Since so many of our fine 10th District candidates will be out of the race by tomorrow night, I thought it would be interesting to share my predictions for this race and a few others across the state.

Illinois Governor

Democrat – Dan Hynes. I think the early prison release scandal will prove to be too much for Quinn. Hynes wins a squeaker, 51-49.

Republican – Jim Ryan. Ryan will coast by on name recognition. McKenna will finish closely with Dillard. Ryan wins with no more than 30% of the vote.

U.S. Senate

Democrat – Alexi Giannoulias. Money and name recognition win the day here. Alexi holds off Hoffman’s late charge due to his late ads. Cheryle Jackson will only come away with about 15 percent of the vote. Giannoulias wins 45-35.

Republican – Mark Kirk. This one should be no surprise to residents of the 10th District. Kirk is a strong candidate who will, at the very least, put up a strong showing in the general. Kirk in a landslide, say 65 or 70%.

Now, saving the best for last, I continue the mission of this blog to give you my thoughts on the 10th District Congressional race.

Democrat – Dan Seals. Despite the best efforts of Elliott Richardson, this has always been a two-way race. Julie Hamos had a lot of buzz at the start of this race, in addition to a lot of establishment endorsements and money. However, it is the community ties built by Dan Seals over the last 5 years that will ultimately give him the nomination for his 3rd run. Dan Seals comes away with this one, 60-40.

Republican – Bob Dold. Like the Democratic race, this shook out to a contest between 2 people, an insider and an outsider. While Beth Coulson has the endorsements of powerful Republicans like Jim Edgar, Dold’s work in building a grassroots campaign will bring him to victory. Endorsements don’t win elections, a solid ground game does. Dold comes in over Coulson 35-30.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say that I’ve really enjoyed sharing my thoughts on the news and events of this Congressional primary race. Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to covering the general election.