Tag Archives: John Fritchey

IL-5 Democrats’ Post Election Twitter Hangover

Post March 3rd, my life hasn’t been the same.  Maybe my inbox isn’t full of candidates’ emails.  Maybe I’m not getting Facebook event invites at the same rate.  Or maybe my Twitter feed isn’t filled with election talk.

I guess I missed the quick-hitting and breaking news nature of Twitter.  So, I took a closer look at what the leading Democrats’ of the IL-5 race have been up to on Twitter post-March 3rd.

The answer is not much.  And I’m surprised quite frankly.

Democratic nominee Mike Quigley had a slew of Tweets on March 4th (I chalk that up to election win high), three updates on March 5th and one update on March 8th.  Quigley still has a general election to win!  I understand that his Republican and Green Party opponents have a one in a million shot at upsetting him, but Quigley still needs to keep his 1,000+ plus Twitter followers engaged and motivated.  If not, an even lower turnout in the general election will put Quigley at a disadvantage when everyone knows the Republican and Green strategies are about turning out voters to capitalize on voter apathy.  Plus, Quigley should be the district’s next congressman and I think he should have practice Tweeting updates to followers who want to stay informed about what their elected official is doing and thinking.

I saw that Sara Feigenholtz has not posted any updates since the day after the primary election.  She’s also got over 1,000 followers and even though I remember her having a Twitter profile as a state representative (seperate from her congressional Twitter profile), I did not see her revert back to that profile.  That leaves a lot of people who supported her hanging with no outlet to stay connected.  The election was an avenue leaving Feigenholtz with a higher profile for herself and she could continue that upward trending leadership role with additional communications via Twitter to constituents.  Plus, given the rumors that she is interested in Quigley’s Cook County Board seat, it might be nice to get some popular support behind her from Twitter followers.

John Fritchey’s Twitter snooze is a similar story.  No updates post March 3rd and no invitation to the 100 plus followers of his congressional campaign to join his other profile (as a state representative).  After all, Fritchey’s congressional Twitter profile should be deleted at some point soon, but not before he invites those followers to his normal Twitter page.

A closer look at Fritchey’s regular profile shows that he protects his updates!  For crying out loud, isn’t Twitter’s purpose to broadcast messages to anyone who will listen?!?!  He should change that ASAP.  I mean, in the age of Blago and Burris, people are expecting some transparency from their elected officials…especially if they’re on Twitter.

The biggest surprise though is Tom Geoghegan.  I’m not sure that he is thinking he has a political future post March 3rd, but I think a lot of other people think he does.  Geoghegan was arguably the candidate with the greatest national following, given his popularity with the netroots and mentions from major national publications and journalists.  Yet, his Twitter profile also doesn’t have any updates post March 3rd.  If Geoghegan was interested in running for office at some point in the future, it’s important that he pick up his Twitter game and start communicating.  And if he has decided not to pursue political office again, well I think he has an obligation to let his public know that as well.

As I’ve said on this blog before, Twitter is not nearly as effective when thought of using it as part of a campaign than taking a long term view.  That’s really what is needed for people to feel loyal and trusting of political leaders, and I would argue is necessary for long term support.

IL-5 Cost Per Vote and What the District Dems Need to Do

Three days after the IL-5 election won by Mike Quigley, what else could there be to talk about?

Photo Credit: Flickr User melfeasance

Photo Credit: Flickr User melfeasance

Well, one big issue, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Given the short election and the abysmal turnout, it’s interesting to think about the amount of money raised in this race and what kind of spending it took to win or be competitive.  It seems the amount of money raised and the number of donors to each campaign had no correlation to voters’ motivation level to get out and vote.  A 20 percent turnout in the 5th seems to defy conventional thought as why so much money is needed to win over so few voters.

As I’ve said previously, I understand what the Illinois Board of Elections spokesperson called “voter fatigue” and the diminished motivation due to Blago and Burris.  Still 20 percent seems awfully small for choosing your member of congress.

Inspired by Progress Illinois’ number crunching during the election, here’s the approximate cost per vote from the top three finishers:

Candidate Feigenholtz      Fritchey          Quigley

Amount Raised $801,244         $605,813       $402,380

Total Votes 8,730                 9,209                 11,41

Cost Per Vote $92                        $66                    $35

As you can see, those cost per vote numbers are pretty staggering.  It makes me think back my marketing courses where they taught the 80/20 rule and that the voice of a few advocates are louder than the many.  In other words, some people were politically-interested that live in the district and others still payed attention from outside the district.  Those people were highly organized and motivated to fundraise, volunteer, advocate and  in some cases vote.  These voices though greatly outweighed and skewed my perception on the actual level of interest in this race.

Now, the big issue I wanted to mention is not so much what happened in the primary but what needs to happen as this congressional race moves closer to the general election on April 7.  Yesterday’s comment from Evan sums up the post-primary situation perfectly:

What we need to do now is make sure that the Dems come out in the general election. I don’t know which of the opponents is scarier…Rosanna Pulido who runs on pro-gun and anti-immigration (even though she’s Hispanic) or Matthew Reichel who wants to “end the apartheid in Israel” and was living in Paris and not knowing if he’d ever return to the U.S. only 2 years ago. SCARY!!! We must all come out and vote for Quigley regardless of whom we supported in the primary.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Best of IL-5

It’s been a lot of fun blogging about the Democratic Primary for the 5th District Congressional seat.  We’ve seen a lot in the 10 weeks or so that the campaign has been in full swing.  I thought it would be nice to provide a rundown of the best and worst moments in the primary.

Image Credit: Progress Illinois

Image Credit: Progress Illinois

Best Coverage

This one is tough.  Capital Fax, Progress Illinois, David Ormsby and  Gapers Block have all provided insightful content into this race.  However, I think Progress Illinois did voters a tremendous service through publishing original and investigative content.  I for one am a more informed voter (though not a 5th District resident) because of the folks at Progress.

Too Many Skeletons in the Closet

By far, John Fritchey was put on the defensive more often than any other candidate.  This is a pol whose uncle-in-law and brother-in-law have been linked to some unsavory dealings, to say the least.  Furthermore, given his connections to the ward bosses and seeking their endorsement did  not do anything to alter the image that he’s the Machine candidate in this race…more so than even Patrick O’Connor.  Given the Blagojevich scandal and the Burris embarrassment, Fritchey seemed all too vulnerable in this race.  Rich Miller reports on just the last few days of Fritchey’s problems.

Where the Hell is this Guy?

Speaking of Patrick O’Connor, I’m confused as to why he even stayed in the race.  He didn’t show up to the first and probably best attended and covered candidates’ forum at DePaul University, citing that he had better voter reach going to various Super Bowl parties.  His website was not even up and running until about two-and-a-half weeks before the election and his biggest selling point is that he’s Richard Daley’s floor leader.  Not exactly a compelling argument to put him in Congress.

Most Impressive Campaign Operation

Sara Feigenholtz started campaigning in mid-December, before anyone else and never looked back.  She put together a top-notch group of staffers, whose outreach to the public was always respectful.  She was the first to open a second campaign office.  She received the biggest endorsement of the race – in terms of money and people to hit the streets – in the SEIU.  And, she demonstrated message consistency in a race with a lot of mudslinging that kept voters knowing she is about health care reform above all else.  Yes, that could mean she’s disciplined and a good campaigner.  But I also give a lot of credit to her staff for keeping the ship on course.

What the F*%k was He Thinking?

Victor Forys comparing Mike Quigley to the Nazi “Big Lie” theory:

The Minister of Propaganda for Germany in World War II, said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

“Commissioner Mike Quigley is telling a big lie, and he is repeating it over and over and over,” said Dr. Victor Forys, M.D. “That is what you can expect from a career, recycled, politician like Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley,” said Dr. Victor Forys.

Bad taste, and low, Victor.  By the way, do you remember the Polish Chicago man who desecrated the Jewish cemetery on the Northwest Side?  Hello?!

Best Ads Barely Anyone Saw

I was super-impressed with Charlie Wheelan’s three TV ads – Underwater, Upside Down and the Dark Knight.  Those ads showed a level of creativity and uniqueness that I have never seen in a political advertisement.

The ironic thing is that few people saw them.  The Wheelan campaign just didn’t have enough money to buy any kind of airtime to get traction and their online promotion fell somewhat flat.  I think if this race was longer and they had a chance to raise more money, the viewership would have been a different story.  Still, I think campaigns will be influenced in the future to create ads that don’t always follow a formulaic method.  That’s a good thing.

Big Ideas and Netroots Champion

This goes to, of course, Tom Geoghegan.  Disagree with him or not, I have never heard a better, clearer explanation of single payer health care before.  Tom brought huge amounts of energy to really enhance the substantive debate about issues in this campaign.  I don’t think he’ll win, but I would bet he’ll be the one person who gathers a nice following after the race that could put him in office one day.  Thank you, Tom Geoghegan for challenging traditional thinking and making political leadership about improving lives and the health of our country.

Worst Stunt

Several weeks ago Mike Quigley’s campaign launched moretransit.com.  I blogged about it, arguing that stunts can be good thing when they’re thought through.  But this one was not, especially given that a day or so after it was launched the Senate voted on the bailout making the site irrelevant.

Biggest Need for a Twitter Lesson

This one also goes to Mike Quigley’s campaign.  The campaign’s Twitter profile teetered the line between badgering and annoying, prompting many complaints.  I had a conversation with Quigley’s campaign manager about this issue.  In the end, there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to use Twitter.  At its best, Twitter is a conversational and community building tool that are a real asset to campaigns.  At worst, it’s a tool to stalk, offend and turn people away.

Social Media Champ

If Geoghegan won over bloggers, Feigenholtz was the most popular at engaging people on Facebook and Twitter.  She leads her opponents with the most supporters on Facebook, at nearly a thousand, and as the WindyCitizen’s Twitter Tracker shows, she also is the big leader in conversations about the IL-5 race.

Feel free to add to this list…and make sure to vote tomorrow!

IL-5 Race Goes National

The race for Rahm Emanuel’s open seat is starting to get national attention just five days before election day.

It’s taken a few days, but Charlie Wheelan’s Dark Knight political short is gaining headway with the creative professionals community and national marketing insider trade magazine, AdAgeTimeOut Chicago mentioned it.  But the video has been viewed just over 4,000 times on YouTube – hardly viral.  Can Wheelan do better?

Photo Credit: Liz Bernunzio

Photo Credit: Liz Bernunzio

Meanwhile, Tom Geoghegan continues to score big outside the district.  He received public support from Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, Slate’s Mickey Kraus and a blog post from U.S. News and World Report.  Had this race been run over a normal period, Geoghegan might have seen some of this national popularity manifest into greater contribution levels.  As it is, peering at his last few 48-hour file contributions, most of his contributors are out of state (ActBlue, where most Geoghegan supporters are giving, doesn’t report individuals.  Those records will be made public by the candidate at a later date).

And, Geoghegan wrote an article featured in the nation’s most-read political blog, the Huffington Post.

Glaringly absent from national media coverage was much of a focus on the actual favorites – Sara Feigenholtz, John Fritchey and Mike Quigley.  To me, that says a few things.  First, Wheelan and Geoghegan have done a lot to either take risks or be so different from the rest of the field, that they’re candidacy has become a story.  And second, the national media just doesn’t get Chicago politics, its personalities, supporters and political organizations that will help determine the winner.  I think the answer is a little of both.

Advertisements Reflect the Candidate

Two advertisements were recently released by IL-5 candidates in their bid to win the Democratic primary.  Interestingly, both candidates’ messages – overt and subliminal – say a lot about the candidates themselves.

First, let’s start with Charlie Wheelan.  His latest political ad uses animation in an effort to really grab peoples’ attentions.  That’s a good strategy because this elections’ ads thus far have been very typical of campaign ads.  However, Wheelan has shown a willingness to take risks in his ads by pushing creativity, trying to be interesting and even seeming a little strange – in order to grab voters’ attention and hopefully their support.  His first two ads, “Underwater” and “Upside Down” created some nice buzz in the local and national blogosphere.

Now, Wheelan’s campaign has taken political communications creativity a step further with a political animated short released yesterday via Facebook and Twitter and posted on the campaign website.  Right now the campaign is only showing the trailer, with the hope of creating enough interest to draw people to a campaign event where the entire three-minute video will be aired.

The ad was produced by Bill Hillman’s agency, North Woods, responsible for Wheelan’s first two TV ads.  The ad’s purpose though is definitely different than other political ads we’ve seen in this campaign.  It’s unclear at the moment if a 30-second spot will be edited for a TV ad buy, meant to convince undecided voters in favor of Mr. Wheelan.  Instead, the ad is hoped to be an online viral success, drawing people to Wheelan’s website who are already Wheelan supporters or semi-supporters.  The campaign staff noted in an email that Wheelan’s website is much deeper in policy positions than his competitors and are confident that people who spend time on the site are sold on Wheelan’s depth.

I give kudos to Wheelan’s campaign for trying something daring.  Video goes viral because the production is so creative, smart, funny or shocking.  For a political campaign ad, Wheelan’s Dark Knight is solid (though a somewhat inaccurate, when at the outset the animated Blagojevich says that the Senate seat and Emanuel’s seat were up for sale.  It was really only the Senate seat.  Not that I defend Blago or anything.  Just for being informationally accurate.)  Wheelan is really shooting for the best viral outcome too in public affairs – offline action.  I’ve said for a long time now that political social media and viral efforts are the most effective when offline actions follow.

Meanwhile, John Fritchey’s latest direct mail advertisement hearkens back to his campaign messages as a reformer who has a history of leading  sensible legislation.

However, I can’t get over the irony inherent in the ad.  Fritchey uses the subject of honesty – admitting he puts ketchup on hot dogs – and that sort of straight talk is what is needed in Congress.  Using hot dogs, the ultimate sausage product, is ironic (and may piss off vegetarians) because Fritchey has been continuously tied to the “sausage-making” in Chicago’s legacy of corrupt political culture.  After all, Fritchey has been put on the hot seat for his role as a zoning lobbyist for clients looking to get clearance to develop in Chicago.  He’s also sought the support of the Northwest side Chicago Machine back in January.  And, as Progress Illinois has covered in depth, Fritchey has no inclination of distancing himself to family members who exercise the type of insider clout that onlookers have continuously criticized as shady.

Maybe using a sausage wasn’t such a good idea after all.  It represents Fritchey’s candidacy perfectly though.  Nobody likes seeing sausage being made, but the end result is a pretty tasty product.  Though with the Blagojevich and Burris scandals looming, maybe voters will actually care about Illinois sausage-making.

Looking at Fritchey’s Pre-Primary Filing

Today marks the deadline for IL-5 candidates to file pre-primary financials with the Federal Election Commission.  Early reports indicate that John Fritchey’s campaign had over $397,000 cash on hand, which at this stage would put him in a great position to spend heading into the final two weeks before primary voting.

But, Fritchey’s actual FEC filing indicates a different story.  A closer look at the numbers leaves onlookers to question if Fritchey’s cash on hand is as high as it is reported.  The campaign’s debts/obligations plus operating expenditures comes in at just under $75,000.  However, I encourage readers to check out the detailed list of expenditures.  Some of the largest expenses do not appear to be listed.

For example, while polling, research, signage, website and salaries are accounted for, there is a glaring absence of some of the biggest expenditures.  Anyone living in the 5th District knows the amount of direct mail they received.  It’s also no secret that a direct mail campaign is not cheap, easily running tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps as much as $50,000 or more in this campaign.

Plus, John Fritchey’s recent TV advertising is noticeably absent from the FEC report.  The ad buy expenditure is about $175,000 and the cost to produce the ad must also be an estimated $15,000 to $30,000.   Those are huge expenditures that would make State Rep. Fritchey’s cash on hand number actually significantly lower than reported.  I would estimate Mr. Fritchey’s cash on hand figure to be between roughly $80,000 to $100,000.

As Progress Illinois reported today, John Fritchey is battling the perception that he is benefiting from the “questionable political culture” of the Northside Democratic Machine.  Between attending a fundraiser last night thrown by his brother-in-law James Banks (whose father is Alderman William Banks) and Fritchey’s role as a zoning lobbyist working in the City of Chicago, it appears Fritchey’s under-reporting was maybe an attempt to steer the story surrounding his campaign in a different direction through the high fundraising level reported.

I would argue this is the wrong direction to take.  Real transparency comes through actions and as Fritchey said at the Access Living forum this week, “I’m running basically on what I’ve done.”

Actions speak louder than words.

Fritchey Down, But Don’t Count Him Out

State Rep. and IL-5 Candidate John Fritchey is taking a beating in the blogosphere and now traditional media regarding, what the Tribune called, Fritchey’s deflection of questions directed at Roland Burris during Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment hearings.

Burris is just the latest shady political story coming to light – and on the heels of Rod Blagojevich’s nationwide circus – in Illinois politics.  Fritchey is tied or is related to what is becoming popularly regarded as the endemic quality in local politics.

But, if there’s any candidate in this race who will fight to the bitter end, it is John Fritchey.  He’s not the type to admit to any wrongdoing and has proven able to defend himself in questionable ethical situations, such as the zoning lobby lawyer job he works part time when not legislating.

Fritchey’s most recent ad is very reminiscent of his communications style that continually positions him to deflect serious accusations against him, and turn it around against his opponents.  In this TV ad, you can see Fritchey as the “reformer” who places himself above the bickering and mudslinging between Sara Feigenholtz and Mike Quigley.  Again, the irony here in the video is that Fritchey conducted his own “push poll,” which I’m sure was message testing, that he accused Sara Feigenholtz of conducting.  Fritchey also pushed the story about Feigenholtz’s name appearing on clout lists.

It is precisely this kind of teflon that Fritchey walks around with that makes his candidacy so viable.  You cannot deny his confidence, smooth style and ability to fall on the right side of most legislation does not make a good case.

Fritchey’s communications secret is based upon several components.  First, vigorously defend against accusations.  Second, take those accusations and turn them on your opponents.  Third, don’t stray far from the three or so major points that you base the campaign on.

It’s this sort of consistency and formulaic approach to messaging that will allow Fritchey to fight on.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Rep.  Susan Mendoza go after Burris, you must watch it.