Andy McKenna has jumped out to the lead in the latest Chicago Tribune poll for the Republican primary for Governor of Illinois.  Jim Ryan’s numbers have tanked, dropping 8 points, and Kirk Dillard has moved up to become one of the frontrunners.  Here are the results of the latest poll along with the percent change since the Tribune’s last poll in December:

  Latest  Poll % Change since Dec
McKenna 19% +7
Ryan 18% -8
Dillard 14% +5
Brady 9% -1
Andrzejewski 7% +1
Proft 6% +4
Schillerstrom 2% -
Someone else 6%  
Undecided 17% -21

I’m among the quarter of the electorate that has yet to decide on a candidate.  I know the candidate I like the best, but I’d like to vote for a conservative that can win.  McKenna, Ryan and Dillard are unacceptable, which leaves us with Brady, Adam or Proft.

What should we expect?

McKenna looks to remain the favorite.  He’s running commercials slamming Ryan and Dillard for supporting tax increases, deservedly so.  His new TV spot also shows Dillard appearing in a commercial for Barack Obama during his 2008 Presidential Campaign.  Many voters are unaware Dillard did a commercial for Obama since it primarily ran in Iowa before the caucuses.  Only in Illinois could a candidate who appeared in a commercial for Barack Obama run in a Republican primary. 

Jim Ryan’s support should continue to collapse.  He was leading when he entered the race based entirely on name ID and his numbers have dropped precipitously ever since.  Ryan doesn’t have any issues that can help turn things around.  He’s supported tax increases, he’s against the second amendment and he already lost to Rod Blagojevich.  Choosing Jim Ryan to run against the Democrats would be like rehiring Dick Jauron to coach the Bears. 

McKenna’s lead is not a surprise in this weak field of candidates.  McKenna spent $1.3 million in advertising in 2009 alone, not counting his spending in January leading up to the primary.  In terms of fundraising, “outsider” McKenna has been able to tap the insider contacts he developed as chairman of the Illinois Republican party.  McKenna also borrowed over $1.7 million from his wife to help stay on TV and radio.  Borrowing $1.7 million from your wife is one thing, but imagine borrowing $1.7 million from your wife to run for office and not winning.

Who has the cash to win?

The important data to look at besides polling is money in the bank.  Who has enough bullets left to win the fight?  Here is the estimated cash on hand for each campaign based on their semi-annual disclosure reports up to 12/31/2009 and donations reported in January 2010:

Gov Hand 2

McKenna is dominating the money battle.  Dillard remains competitive thanks to a couple of $250,000 donations (including one from Jack Roeser) and money from the Illinois Education Association (IEA).  Ryan won’t compete for the lead while being outspent by McKenna 4 to 1. Adam is on the radar because he’s loaned his campaign over $800,000 thus far.

Is it time for Adam or Dan to drop out?

Two conservative candidates are political outsiders and could bring real reform to Springfield – Adam Andrzejewski and Dan Proft.   They’re the only candidates receiving support from tea party groups across the state.  Unfortunately, they’re splitting the conservative reform vote.  Proft has shown some movement in the polls due to his radio commercials and debate performance, but he’s still only even with Adam.  

Conventional wisdom says that Brady is also splitting the conservative vote, but his strongest support remains downstate.  If Brady were to drop out his voters may go to Dillard, who is currently leading downstate with 22% of the vote.  Adam and Dan probably have a better chance if Brady stays in the race.

This isn’t a decision we, the voters, are able to make since the primary is only 10 days away.  We can campaign as hard as we want for our guy in this primary, but time is running out.  Rallying around one Scott Brown is possible, but fighting for three Scott Browns simultaneously and hoping one of them wins is not going to happen.

I have no recommendation on who should drop out and who should endorse what candidate.  Now is not the time for us to say “That’s why everyone should vote for Adam.” or “Vote for Brady because he has the best chance?” or “Dan Proft is my favorite”.  The voters don’t need to be convinced, the candidates do.  It’s time for the candidates to come together and support the man they believe has the best chance to win and save this state from it’s rapid decline.  I have no recommendation on who should drop out.  This is simply an observation that unless it happens, we’re going to be stuck with Andy McKenna as the Republican nominee for Governor.  Adam and Dan need to show us real leadership before it’s too late.

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