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10/27/2009

Candidate $ix

  At 9:30 this morning, 52 year old Andy McKenna became the sixth republican to formally announce his candidacy for the party's nomination for governor. 

  The Chicago attorney ran unsuccessfully in the primary for U.S. Senate in 2004 and was the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party until his abrupt resignation during last summer's State Fair.   He calls State Senator Matt Murphy, a contender in the lieutenant governor's race, his "running mate" even though Murphy must stand for election on his own merit in the LG's primary.

  Already, one thing separates McKenna from the five other Republican hopefuls:

Money.   Lots of it.

  McKenna's father is 79 year old megabusinessman Andrew J. McKenna, Sr., the owner of the Schwarz paper company, Chairman of the Board at Oakbrook-based McDonald's and a board member at the Chicago-based AON Insurance Company and The Chicago Bears Football Club, Inc.  One of the region's wealthiest businessmen,  McKenna, Sr. has been a major funder of too many political candidates to count here, both republican and democrat.

   At the announcement, the McKenna/Murphy campaign featured a slick video called "Hair Today,
Gone Tomorrow" (as in Blagojevich).  The film depicted McKenna as a self-made business success but everyone in the room realized Andy, Jr. grew up with money and privilege unimaginable for the vast majority of voters.

*(Look for excerpts from the video in McKenna campaign commercials to begin airing on broadcast TV this week.  That's HOW the money will separate this candidate from the rest of the field.)

  McKenna, who despite his resume is calling himself an "outsider", dismissed any concern about his wealth and associations with the power elite.  He called the questions just another example of his opponents' practicing "politics as usual".

  He similarly dismissed concerns by some of the other candidates that McKenna unethically used his position as party chairman last spring to get access to their campaign strategies.  McKenna, by the way, also has hired for his campaign several former staffers who worked for him at state party headquarters.  

  But McKenna knows from his 2004 US Senate primary experience that money does not guarantee success in a statewide election.  He reportedly spent well over $10 million that year before finishing far behind ill-fated winner Jack Ryan. 

  Apparently, he's convinced himself another statewide run is worth spending more dollars out of his and his family's fortune. 

  A not-so-difficult decision when you've "got it like that".  

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