Friday, September 3, 2010

EXTRA: Superficial, or not?

How does gubernatorial candidate Scott Lee Cohen seriously expect to win come Election Day when he still has all those awful stories about his personal life (which he can’t honestly deny) swirling about?

The strategy seems to be to ignore it to the point where he hopes that the electorate has such a short memory that they won’t bother to recall it on their own, while also getting his name out to the public in so many ways that some voters may well walk into the voting booth on Nov. 2 and recognize his name before any others.

I HAPPENED TO be driving along Interstate 80 near the Illinois/Indiana border on Friday, and noticed several of the billboards were advertising the Cohen for governor campaign. What caught my eye is that these were the digital billboards, meaning they weren’t just some poster pasted up that the weather would eventually pick away at.

My point being that this kind of advertising costs money, serious campaign dollars. Which means Cohen is likely paying for this out of his own pocket – which was the strategy he used during the primary for lieutenant governor to outspend (just over $2 million) all the other Democratic campaigns for that office put together.

It’s not like there are just a few cheap posterboard yard signs being erected for Cohen on front lawns (although I must admit when I was at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday to see the Chicago White Sox lose 2-1 to the New York Yankees, I was more amazed at the number of Cohen campaign signs I saw throughout the Bridgeport and Armour Square neighborhoods).

Which means I won’t be surprised to see Cohen on television soon, using campaign ads to further peddle his name to the public and make it appear that he is the equal to either Pat Quinn or William Brady. And yes, if his website is any indication, he’s going to keep letting us know how he has organized job fairs, which does create the superficial image of a person trying to help others find work.

AT A TIME when many people are concerned about the economy, it may play better than Quinn trying to remind us that his Republican opponent is the one favored by the conservative ideologues who truly would think nothing of trying to impose their own social agenda through a series of partisan bills.

I still remember 1995, which is one of the most whacked-out years the Illinois General Assembly and state government ever experienced. It took the Illinois Supreme Court the next few years to strike down the most ridiculous of the measures that got passed into law during that brief era of Republican domination of Illinois state government.

Personally, I don’t think Cohen can win the gubernatorial election. But he may create the climate where a Brady campaign can win with less than 50 percent of the vote, all because Cohen is putting up the veneer of a legitimate candidacy, which means I (once again) have to say that political people disregard Scott Lee at their own risk.

The only difference is, this time people won't be able to blame news-gathering organizations for their lack of knowledge about Cohen.


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