Saturday, April 01, 2006

There is some serious smoke being blown

There was a front page store in today's Moline Dispatch talking about how competitive and expense the 2006 race to represent the Illinois 17th Congressional District was going to be because there is no incumbent running. There was a prediction that it could be even more expensive than in 1998 when the Republicans last mounted a serious challenge for the seat. All I could think when I read it was "someone is blowing some serious smoke."

Take a look at the map of the 17th Congressional District. It was obviously drawn to include every urban Democratic precinct in north western and west central Illinois. This was done after 1998 to make it a safe Democratic district and the other districts, Dennis Hastert’s and Ray LaHood’s districts, safe Republican seats.

In 1998 national polls showed the voters tilting toward the Republicans. The national Republicans targeted races where they thought they had a chance to win a Democratic seat, including the 17th District in Illinois. Things are very different this year. In addition to the redrawn district the poll numbers are very different. This year the polls show the voters tilting toward the Democrats and everyone expects Democrats to pick up seats. No one expects any safe Democratic seats to be lost to the Republicans, except possibly some local experts blowing smoke.

So when someone is blowing smoke at you it is a good idea to figure out why. In the case of the newspaper story it probably was a case of a reporter and a political expert pretending they had a more interesting and exciting race to cover than they actually do.

But other smoke is going to be blown at the Democratic precinct committeemen of the 17th Congressional District over the next few weeks by people hoping to get a particular person selected as the Democratic nominee. Sometimes it will be obvious who is being promoted and sometimes not. Someone trying to get Mike Jacobs selected, for example, will emphasize how important it will be for the nominee to be someone who can raise a lot of money. Someone supporting Phil Hare will emphasize how important it is for the nominee to have the support of Evan’s campaign and office staff and Lane’s friends in Congress. Mark Schwiebert supporters will emphasize how important it is for the nominee to be a proven vote getter who is attractive to swing voters.

Be sure to note that for any of this smoke to work the smokee has to be convinced that the race will be very competitive. If the precinct committeemen know that anyone they select as the Democratic nominee is going to win in November then they can select whoever they personally like and ignore any talk about who would make the strongest candidate in November. Also note that the supporters of candidates not thought to be popular with the precinct committeemen will be the most vigorous smoke blowers. Some may even post hysterical comments in response to this blog entry.


Anonymous said...

I agree this would help Jacobs as he is the best fundraiser of all the choices. However, are yyou realy accusing Jim Winship, professor of political science at Augustana college to be making this up or in on a secret plot. Mr Winship is a good man and to imply some sort of conspiracy tword Jacobs from him is rediculous.

Dave Barrett said...

Anonymus 6:39 AM
Please read more carefully. You must have missed the sentence: "In the case of the newspaper story it probably was a case of a reporter and a political expert pretending they had a more interesting and exciting race to cover than they actually do."
I was very careful not to accuse them of having any political motive. However, even as casual reader as you are you picked up the idea that if they were trying to influence the decision in Mike Jacob's direction they would say exactly what they said.

Markjonhson said...

Jacobs best trait is that he can attract "independent and swing voters." Mike won endorsment from the Illinois Education Assocaition, Firefighters and Polic officers, the NRA, the Farm Burea, Barack Obama and the League of Independent voters. To attempt to narrow Jacobs as someone that can only raise money misses the point of raising the money. To raise money one has to have broad base of support. Not from the party as will be the problem for Hare and Boland. Only Jacobs has proven he can raise the dough and win votes in a diverse wide georgraphic area. Schweibert has never run outside of Rock Island and never raised a dime, and will turn off rural voters. In addition, Schwiebert will have to contend with his anti-labor record as Mayor of Rock ISland and not being a Democrat.

The ket here is to keep Rock Island candidates from killing each other and letting some unkown (Chuck Shulz) sneak in!

Dave Barrett said...

markjohnson, what a clever and subtle person you are. The whole point of my blog was that it does not matter how electable one potential nominee is compared to the others because it is a safe seat and the whoever the Democratic nominee is he/she will win. You post a comment that argues that your favorite is more electable in November than the others. You must be claiming that I am all wet in a very subtle and indirect manner. Since you do not attack my position in a straight-forward fashion I cannot refute your position. Very good. I really appreciate someone who is clever and subtle.

The Inside Dope said...

Excellent observations Dave. I think you're spot on. I also think the reason for this was as you stated, reporters and an expert getting together and chosing the story line that sets up a more competitive race than reality might dictate.

Expect more smoke from those supporting Jacobs as well. As you're getting a taste of already, they'll pretty much ignore what you write, and seem incapable of grasping the points made, but will take every opportunity to submit whatever campaign copy they can invent.

paladin said...

Dave, it's my understanding that the 17th has been moved from Safe Dem to Leaning Dem by Congressional Quarterly, but still, whoever is appointed by the Democrats will probably win. But I wonder what would happen if the press and spokespeople for both Republicans and Democrats, just came right out and told the truth? What if they told us that our congressman will be decided by 721 Democrat committeepersons and not the voters----nothing to see here folks, just move along---oh yeah, and be sure and VOTE. har!har!

Dave Barrett said...

The Inside Dope, thanks for that comment that reflects and comments on what I actually wrote. I appreciate it.

Paladin, I agree with you that it is a shame when retiring politicians manipulate the system so that they can appoint their own successor. This should not happen in a democracy.

Anonymous said...

I think my representative mike Boland would make a great congressman, hes always been an adocate for the eldrly and his office has helped my family out alot, he would continue the tradition of good constenet service that Mr Evans did

Anonymous said...

The fact that the GOP is stuck with Zinga doesn't hurt Dem chances either. While Evans circumvented primary voters by announcing late, he also lulled the GOP into renominated such an unimpressive candidate.

That said, the district only went Kerry by 3%. That's not a ton of wiggle room. If Jacobs ends up getting another position handed to him (despited only two years in (un)elected office) because of who he's related to I wonder if some Dems, especially those outside RI County, will be dismayed enough to stay home?

It would take a perfect storm of a great GOP candidate, tons of national GOP support and an apathetic Democratic base for seat to switch parties. Given Zinga, the forecast should stay rather sunny for Democrats, unless the other two factors come together in a weird way.

Phil Hare knows the district and the House better than anyone in IL-17 with the exception of Evans. I don't think his abilities to sway the "machine" should be underestimated, either. I think he's a safe, solid choice who could hit the ground running and wouldn't piss anyone off not named Jacobs.

Anonymous said...

People are overestimating Jacobs ability to raise money.
For years Brunsvold had no opponent in the primary or general and he would raise over a $100,000 every year.
The money Jacobs is receiving is to buy his influence and votes for his current position.

Dave Barrett said...

I deleted your comment because you seemed to be responding to statements that did not exist in my entry or any of the other comments. If you repost your views try to state exactly where we can see the statements you are arguing with: for example "Anonymous 4:49PM You are all wet when you say that Jacobs has been bought. He has only been rented.. " or something like that.

Anonymous said...

If you can't take a mans money then vote against him you ought to leave the business. No man owns Jacobs. He only bows to his maker.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the I74 bridge over the Mississippi river. There is a image of Lane Evans at night on one of the pillars.

middleoftheroad said...

If you don't think this seat can turn Republican send Phil Hare, Mike Boland, or Mark Schwiebert and find out.

Only Mike Jacobs has the highest single farm Bureau rating in Illinois. Only Mike Jacobs is able to raise the m,oney to win in the fall. Only Mike Jacobs won election in four out of the 20 or so counties in the District. Only Mike Jacobs has been endorsed by Barack Obama, Lane Evans, the Building Trades, UAW, AFSCME, SEIU, Firefighters, Police Officers the Illinois Education Assocation., No other candidate mentioned thus far can make any of those claims.

Jacobs to Congress and McNeil to the Illinois Senate. That's the best play!

Anonymous said...

Good grief. Jacobs has yet to be elected dogcatcher. 46% of Democrats in RI county wanted nothing to do with him, would rather see a kid in the statehouse than Jacobs Jr. What do you think is going to happen in the other 20 counties where voters aren't so used to punching Jacobs on their ballots that they don't notice the first name is no longer "Denny"?

wa5rbucks said...

These voters won't be viewing Mike Jacobs through tainted glasses. These voters will look at who Mike really is. That's why Jacobs ran up huge election numbers in rural communities. They were not tainited by negative stories in the D/A and viewed the two candidates on merit. By the way Jacobs won with 57.5% of the vote and carried rural commutites with a 67% margine. I think Mike Jacobs will be pleased to get away from the pettiess that has developed among Rock Island Counties sefl-appointed gatekeepers and elites.

A new poll shows Jacobs leading with voters in the 17th Congressional District. So much for your theory 8:00 PM. Now if Jacobs can find a way to throw the decision to voters and not insiders!

Harvey Wallbanger said...


Yes.... Jacobs will win big if he can focuse on the uninformed vote and stay away from the informed voters that know more about him and vote against him.

Excellent obvservation Anon.


Anonymous said...

Whatever happens in RI county is going to get ugly over all this. I wouldn't want to be involved in this tug of war between over 700 precints would you? Who would want to follow Lane? No matter what you do you will be held up to him and that won't be easy.