Monday, November 03, 2008

IL 14th: Dairy King’s Chance of Victory has Curtailed

Sugar Grove Republican and founder of the Oberweis Dairy company Jim Oberweis, candidate for Illinois 14th congressional district, has been openly optimistic about his chances of victory in a rematch of a February 5 special election held earlier this year to serve out the remainder of Former House Speaker and U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert’s (R) term.

Freshman Democratic incumbent Rep. Bill Foster won that election with 53 percent of the vote, in spite of the fact that he was out spent by Oberweis in a congressional district that has been has been a solidly Republican for the past 3 decades. Since the February election, Foster has reaped the advantages of his seven months of incumbency by building a voting record, talking to prospective voters on the taxpayer’s dime and expanding his pool of campaign contributors. Given such circumstance,
Oberweis optimism is seems a little naïve.

Oberweis, however, has pointed to two factors that he believes will reverse his fortune.

First, Oberweis, who has lost four high profile, attack-ad-driven races in the last six years, believes that the fall election will allow him to redefine himself to voters. Oberweis has abandoned his over-the-top attack tactics of previous campaigns and his campaign rhetoric has focused upon become an increasingly positive message of family values. Additionally, Oberweis has switched policy focus from hot button issues of previous elections, such as immigration, and is now focused solely upon the economy. The Oberweis campaign believes these strategic improvements will change his less than desirable public perception.

Second, Oberweis predicts that increased Republican turnout on Tuesday’s election will provide the votes necessary to catapult his campaign to victory. Specifically, he points to the fact that only 22 percent of registered Republicans voted in the February special election.

This optimism seems unfounded. The internals of the campaign
increasingly predict a Foster re-election.

It seems unlikely that voters will give Oberweis a second chance at a first impression. More importantly, the notion that increased Republican turnout will provide victory seems very unlikely as a wave of Obama enthusiasm is likely to dramatically increase democratic turnout statewide.

Oberweis has spent more than $5 million on his campaigns in the 14 district, of which 3.8 million was self-financed and much of the remaining balance was contributed by Oberweis’s employees and business associates. Foster has been outspent, but his $4.5 million has left him competitive. However, these numbers are deceiving as much of Oberweis’s spending advantage was amassed in the special election. It is Foster who has enjoyed a 2 to 1 spending advantage for the fall campaign, and he will maintain his financial advantage down the home stretch. As of October 15, Foster’s cash on hand was $275,100 compared to Oberweis’s $211,513.

Independent groups have seen the writing on the wall, as $4.7 million was spent on the competitive special election. However, nothing has been has been spent for the fall rematch, a clear indicator that Foster is the favorite.

Perhaps the best indicator of Foster’s victory comes from Oberweis own pocketbook. In spite of his rhetoric, Oberweis has only contributed $475,000 to his fall campaign compared to the $2 million he shelled out for the special election.

It is looking very likely that Foster will win the 14th district on Tuesday. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t bet on it and increasingly- neither would Oberweis.


DuPage Saint,  9:57 AM  

Nothing like running a 4 time looser and wonder if it will be 5 times. I guess the Republican Party could not find Lar "America First" Daley.

Anonymous,  11:50 PM  

Note to dupage saint... the candidate you talked about had the surname of Daly, not Daley.

Anonymous,  10:06 AM  

Obie didn't found the dairy. It was a family business that he inherited.

Jim did start the Oberweis Securities company.

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