Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What kind of person gives money to political longshots? Not many, for sure

Robert Enriquez of Aurora
The reality of campaign finances and contributions is that the corporate types that often have to deal with government in their business dealings try to hedge their bets. They make donations to both sides of the partisan aisle.

Their biggest money goes to the people they’d really like to see win. But they also make small donations to the other candidate, so that they can try to claim some sort of favor is owed – should that other candidate win on Election Day.

BUT THEN, THERE are the fringe candidates – the ones who have just about no chance of winning. What kind of person bothers to give money to them?

It was with that thought in mind that I specifically singled out the campaigns of Steve Kim and Robert Enriquez, and took the time to look up the pre-election reports they were required by state law to file on behalf of their campaigns for attorney general and secretary of state.

As it turns out, it didn’t take long to look up either, since neither one has received much in the way of donations during the past three months. Kim had the grand sum of $15,760 in his campaign fund as of the beginning of this month.

That makes him the big bucks candidate compared to Enriquez – who only had $6,288.50.

SO MUCH FOR the idea that Republican candidates are the ones with the big campaign bucks. They are, except for their fringe guys who are merely filling out the ballot. Nobody is about to waste money on them.

This appearance with GOP treasurer nominee Dan Rutherford is one of the few pieces of aid the Republicans have provided to their attorney general nominee Steve Kim. Photograph provided by Kim for Attorney General.

I say that because when one looks at their past reports for money received earlier in the year, one sees that both Kim and Enriquez got the requisite donations from the Republican Party committees and transfers from the campaigns of Mark Kirk and William Brady to help them get started.

But since their campaigns have shown no traction, they literally have been cut off by the GOP types.

Kim’s lone party contribution was a $500 donation made on Aug. 2 by the Peru-based LaSalle County Republican Century Club. Enriquez can’t even claim that much party support – although his list of in-kind donations (not actual cash, but services on behalf of his campaign) includes a $3,000 listing from Oct. 1 from the Illinois Republican Party, which described their gift to the Enriquez campaign as $3,000 worth of media production.

WHICH PROBABLY MEANS there are some ads and fliers meant to bolster Brady and Kirk that also included Enriquez’ name because he is the secretary of state nominee.

Otherwise, there are just a few stray donations. In the case of Kim, several were made by healthcare organizations that apparently hope to have some influence with the north suburban attorney if, miracle of miracles occurs, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan actually loses.

One of those, $2,000 on Sept. 15 from Skokie-based Compmed Home Health Inc., was actually Kim’s largest donation.

There also are a few individuals and groups that gave Kim money whom, because of their names, I suspect are interested in him because of his Korean ethnic origins. Such as the $300 he received on Sept. 18 from the University of Illinois at Chicago Korea Education Group.

WHICH IS MORE than Enriquez can claim. He has a few donations from insurance-related companies, including his largest donation of $1,000 on Sept. 3 from Eagle Insurance Agency of Chicago.

He also has $750 received from a couple of Florida-based companies.

In short, these two reek of political independence by default. Any desire by the Republican establishment to seize back significant influence within Illinois state government doesn’t include either of these two candidates.

It means that I wasn’t that far off the mark in the days after the primary when I suggested that we should disregard any campaign rhetoric the GOP might try to toss our way about how their ticket contains an ethnic balance because of the presence of Korean-American Kim and Honduran-American Enriquez.

I HONESTLY BELIEVE that if the party thought they could take either the state attorney general or secretary of state’s office, they would never have let either of these two guys anywhere near the ballot. Now, they’re doing the next best thing by keeping them so minimally financed that there’s no way they’re going to be able to grab any level of attention for Election Day.

Of course, we probably should keep this in perspective, since another independent candidate, Scott Lee Cohen for governor, likely would be in the same situation. I haven’t seen any significant evidence that his ample paid media campaign strategy is being covered financially by anyone other than his own bank accounts.

The State Board of Elections has Cohen acknowledging that he lent his campaign $1 million on Oct. 8 – presumably to help pay for the final burst of advertising meant to get his name out to the public.

But if not for his checkbook and a willingness to use it, Cohen likely would be in the same state as Kim and Enriquez


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