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01/25/2010

An Ad Too Far?

 Strategists for Dan Hynes might be asking themselves if the Harold Washington "speaks from the grave" commercial was really necessary.   If you believe the latest independent poll on the governor's race, the democratic primary challenger had some major momentum underway without it.

  The campaign's use of a 1987 video clip of the late Chicago mayor excoriating Pat Quinn for incompetence now threatens a racial divide that could be the determining factor in the February 2nd primary and/or the November general election. 

  The latest Chicago Tribune poll, taken before the Hynes brain trust dropped the controversial ad, indicated that among those surveyed, the Illinois comptroller (40%) had already moved into a dead heat with now Governor Pat Quinn (44%).  Further, the survey said that Hynes had been more than holding his own among African-American voters, trailing the incumbent by the same four-point margin that is within the poll's margin of error.

   Apparently, the Hynes campaign got major traction among black voters (whose neighborhoods are most affected by violent crime) with its series of ads blasting the budget-challenged Quinn administration's program to "early release" state prison inmates to save money.  The commercials were reminiscent of the late republican strategist Lee Atwater's 1988 "Willie Horton" ads that took down democratic presidential frontrunner Michael Dukakis. 

  I call Hynes' post-racial, politically correct series a "Half-Willie" because it used mostly white crooks in the scary commercials.  Thanks guys.

Did the Ad "Blackfire"?

  The city's three African-American Congressmen, who had already endorsed Governor Quinn, have expressed outrage that the iconic Washington's voice and image is being used in an ad supporting the son of Tom Hynes who a quarter century ago opposed Chicago's first black mayor at every turn.  The congressmen, with an assist from the Reverends Jesse Jackson and James Meeks are beating the drums to get out the pro-Quinn vote with a vengeance. 

  While racial politics has lurked in the shadows of this campaign for months, the Hynes ad gave Ouinn's supporters in the black community a reason to play the race card outright, for a "revival" of the 1980's spirit that is a tried and true method to motivate the city's humongous African-American vote.

  The question is, which voices will black voters heed?  Those of their most powerful elected officials?

  Or the one that speaks from the grave.

  

   

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