|I'd like to know the Cohen camp's postage bill|
What should we say about a political campaign that tries to appeal to Latino voters by “celebrating” Hispanic Heritage Month, but manages to look ridiculous by sending their mailing out so late that they miss the month-long holiday?
That is what has been accomplished by the independent gubernatorial candidacy of Scott Lee Cohen, who wants to give people an alternative to the two major party candidates running in this year’s general election.
TO DATE, COHEN seems to have accomplished one thing. He is running a campaign that deserves to be taken more seriously than that of Rich Whitney – the Green Party nominee. Let’s not forget that the Greens in Illinois are an officially-recognized political party theoretically equal to Democrats and Republicans.
Cohen’s legacy to Illinois politics could be that he sucks up so much of the third-party energy in this cycle that the Greens won’t get a single candidate to reach the 5 percent minimum vote required to remain as a legitimate political party.
I have been paying extra attention to the Cohen campaign’s mailings in large part because he’s about the only candidate who is burdening me with his leaflets – all of which play off his mediocre image of stick-figures labeled as “career politicians.” Scott Lee is portrayed as the alternative to the faceless mass.
The reason that he’s the only one who is sending me anything is because I live in a relatively boring part of Cook County. By that, I mean the area is politically solid enough for the Democratic Party’s candidates that campaigns rarely feel the need to include us in the areas they target with controversial mailings.
WITH THE EXCEPTION of one home a couple of blocks from me where the owner has erected a dozen lawn signs touting every single GOP hopeful (from the big boys of Brady and Kirk down to the county board president hopeful Roger Keats) he can think of, my neighborhood isn’t exactly flooded with political signage.
So most of what I have seen is Cohen spending that $5 million that his campaign is estimated to have on hand for this general election cycle (along with the $2 million of his own money that he spent back in the primary election cycle).
I have to give him credit. These aren’t cheap mailings he is putting together. They are easily of the quality of the political pieces I have seen being sent out on behalf of Quinn or Republican William Brady.
If one didn’t know any better, they might think that Cohen himself is a major party candidate for governor of Illinois who deserves to be thought of in the same class as the major party candidates – instead of a guy who consistently gets about 5 percent of the voter support in various polls – better than the 3 percent that Whitney usually gets in those same polls.
NOW I REALIZE I have followed the campaign cycle much more closely than real people do. So I am aware of the personal problems Cohen has had that make political observers think of him as someone who is too much “damaged goods” to be taken seriously as a candidate.
Yet I look at his mailings and I look at the advertising signboards and television spots airing on the various cable channels, and I realize this man is getting his name out to the public. It must be nice to have about $5 million to spare (the figure that I have seen estimated that Cohen will spend on his general election gubernatorial bid) on a campaign that has no chance of actually winning.
Maybe some of us don’t think Cohen has what it takes to deserve to be taken seriously. But that kind of attitude probably misses the point. Cohen has the potential to snatch votes from people who might be so disgusted with this year’s electoral cycle.
Which is why I feel the need to nitpick him, particularly for the mailing I received Saturday that says Cohen celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. Written in both English and Español, it includes a list of historic dates, along with photographs of such Latino luminaries as golfer Chi Chi Rodrigues, United Farm Workers founders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and guitar player Carlos Santana.
IT WOULD HAVE been nice, except I received it on the day AFTER the end of Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15). Somebody on the Cohen campaign deserves a kick in the culo for sending this mailing out a month late.
It is even worse, in my mind, than the mailing Campaign Cohen sent me that told me of Early Voting Centers, and even included a blank where the card was personalized with the address of the voting center located nearest to my home. Except that the facility the Cohen people picked for me really isn’t the closest.
I realize that in the larger scheme of things, these gaffes are downright trivial. So before I sound like a total grouch, I must also credit one piece of political mail I received from Scott Lee. Headlined, “Politics as Usual,” it shows cartoon depictions of Cohen’s major party opposition.
A confused-looking Quinn pocketing cash for his “staff” while handing us a “higher tax bill.” The alternative? An angry looking Brady tearing to shreds a “minimum wage law” and a “humane care for animals act.”
COHEN CAME UP with an image that summarizes what many people think of the two major candidates. This may be the piece I save for my own personal collection from years past of campaign buttons, fliers and bumper stickers (perhaps I’ll put it up next to my “Schmidt Happens” from 1998).
Because at the very least, the Cohen campaign has come up with the slickest operation of any batch of political amateurs destined to take less than 5 percent of the vote come Election Day.