14th Congressional District Candidates Forum
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22
6:45PM – 9:00PM
McHenry County College (MCC)
Wedneday’s debate among the Republican candidates is the kickoff to the sprint between now and the March 17 Republican primary.
The primary debate on Wednesday will be the first, and longest, debate to see if Jerry Evans, Ted Gradel, Catalina Lauf, James Marter, Jim Oberweis, Sue Rezin or Anthony Catella can meet the challenge and emerge from the rest of the pack to challenge Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s reelection in November.
Currently, including Wednesday night, there are four candidates’ forums currently scheduled for the 14th district:
- January 22nd, MCC at 6:45PM hosted by the McHenry County Republican Party
- January 30th, Batavia City Hall, 7PM hosted by the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Central Kane County, co-sponsored by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, LWV Aurora Area and LWV Naperville and includes state legislative candidates
- February 6th, MCC at 7:00PM hosted by the League of Women Voters of McHenry County and includes 6th congressional district candidates
- February 10th, Bolingbrook, hosted by three township organizations of the Will County Republican Party and includes 11th congressional district candidates
Given Wednesday’s debate is the only one where the entire evening will have the 14th district Republican candidates on the stage the entire two hours, it is shaping up to be the best of the four.
At this point, it is unknown if any of the local TV stations will host a televised debate between the Republican candidates for the 14th, and if so, if all 7 will be invited, or only the top candidates according to independent polling.
In an article published Friday, McHenry County Blog stated in the article title that Jim Oberweis is on his way to the nomination and Wednesday’s debate was the time to see if any of the other six candidates could change that.
At this stage of the race, it is Oberweis’ to lose. Any polling done will show Oberweis as the leader, so the real question in January is who will be 2nd and seen as the one alternative to Oberweis’ nomination.
Wednesday’s debate will be the time for one of the other candidates to “break-out” and emerge to challenge Oberweis for the nomination.
And it needs to be on substance through facts, not on style, the number of social media followers or audience volunteers a candidate encourages to attend.
Maybe releasing a detailed policy/position statement/paper or two on a major issue may show that a candidate is a candidate of substance.
Between now and Wednesday night and given Oberweis has released his 4th quarter filing to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), if someone has better numbers than Oberweis, they would be wise to release it prior to Wednesday’s debate.
While no one else will have put in $600,000, they don’t have to. Oberweis raised only $126,000 from donors in the 4th quarter. Any candidate significantly topping that donor receipts number would be wise to release their 4th quarter FEC report before the debate and the January 31 FEC deadline.
Around this time in an election cycle, the Chicago Tribune will be taking its initial poll of the 14th district Republican primary, and other high profile contested primaries.
Oberweis with at least a 20 point lead would not be a surprise. If one recalls from September and the questionable polling results Oberweis released through McHenry County Blog, he had a 50-point lead in the summer.
The candidates are doing their own polling, too, and Oberweis’ 4th quarter FEC filing listed polling being paid for in November.
Almost a certainty the other campaigns are doing, or have done, polling, but we have no proof like we do with Oberweis’ FEC filing from last week.
As commented on Saturday, I think Oberweis’ $600K loan to himself at the end of December is his attempt to put the primary away in time for early voting to begin on February 6, and proof is he did a TV ad buy with his “Overturn” commercial.
Gradel, Rezin, or Lauf and the other candidates have no commercials, yet, or have they been seen on TV.
I’m sure at least Gradel, Rezin and Lauf will have TV advertising in the primary campaign, but in this race, if you’re not on TV, you’re not going to win.
And there is something else that could happen after Wednesday’s debate at MCC which all candidates but Oberweis need to heed — Oberweis’ frontrunner status could/will lead to Oberweis to begin skipping joint appearances with his opponents.
That’s a common frontrunner tactic that works just like negative advertising.
If Oberweis’ internal polling and independent polling confirms a big name ID lead for Oberweis in the 20+ percentage points range, don’t count on Oberweis appearing at local candidates’ forums unless it is televised.
The other six candidates, in particular, Gradel, Rezin and Lauf, need to approach this debate as the last time they may face Oberweis on a public debate stage.
Meaning, the gloves must be off on Wednesday, because they may never have another shot on the same stage. If Gradel, Rezin, Lauf, Marter or Evans want to stop Oberweis’ momentum, they can not play it safe and only talk about Lauren Underwood, the Squad, “AOC” and socialism, they must take aim at Oberweis, by name.
Joe Biden, in the Democratic presidential campaign, has been very effective selecting his audiences, staying away from large “cattle call” appearances at state meetings/conventions throughout 2019.
At the time, he could afford to get away from missing such appearances, and his competitors could not.
He didn’t miss a televised debate, but he definitely missed large appearances back when there were nearly 2 dozen candidates running.
In a much smaller way, Oberweis is in the Biden position, and as said earlier, unless it’s a televised debate, Oberweis may not be on stage with his primary opponents again after Wednesday.
Put another way, this may be Gradel/Rezin/Lauf/Marter/Evans best/only shot at Oberweis on the same stage.
Now, the newspaper editorial board interviews, which are usually recorded on video now, could prove very revealing, and will be watching for those video releases from the newspapers.
But the final sprint to the March 17 finish line is on, and catching up to and passing Oberweis by March 17 is the key to crossing the finish line first.