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February 02, 2006

Is a deep pocket the only way?

The Inside Dope calls the Mike Jacobs-Paul Rumler state senate primary "Dave vs. Goliath."

Same could be said of any the Q-C election year match-ups, primary or general, in which there's an incumbent -- and it's always the incumbent in the Goliath role.

The Jacobs-Rumler contest is particularly one-sided. Sen. Jacobs entered 2006 with $179,187.99 on hand. Rumler had $1,960, approximately a 90-1 advantage. Throw in the Jacobs name, and what's a new guy to do?

The answer, in Rumler's case so far, is to run a very low-profile campaign -- very, very low profile. He's called one press conference, on Nov. 7 to announce his candidacy. He's issued one statement, on Dec. 15 to call for the East Moline city council to consider the regional impact of a proposed pork processing plant.

He's had one fund-raiser -- a $5 per person pancake thing.

He does have a list of "proposals for progress" on his website, but they're pretty generic. Everybody in town, including Sen. Jacobs I'm sure, is in favor of all those things.

If you had to deduce a Rumler strategy from all this, it would to be that his plan is: "Let Jacobs do the Talking." Not a terrible plan, either, given the controversies the senator his stirred up since he was appointed last year to fill out his father's unexpired term in the Senate.

There is a built-in anti-Mike Jacobs vote, of indeterminate size, created by the way the Senate job was treated as a Jacobs family hand-me-down, and the fact that Sen. Jacobs Senior passed along $100,000 in campaign money to Sen. Jacobs Junior, along with the job.

The new Sen. Jacobs, too, has lots of people wincing about his approach, even when they argree with his goals. He's called his fellow legislators a "bunch of sheep," invoked the name of civil rights icon Rosa Parks on behalf of the state's gambling industry, threated to stick "his size-12" up the rear of someone in Springfield if the new Thomson prison doesn't get opened, and declared there's money in the budget, that no one else can find, to advance high-speed rail service in the state by opening a line from the Q-C to Geneseo.

Still, with the primary election just six weeks away, it's be nice if voters had some greater knowledge of the plans and ideas of both guys. If paid media is the only way for each to spread those plans and ideas, then Goliath wins hands down.
An alternative way to spread the word, of course, would be debates between the two. But why would Goliath agree?

In the other legislative primary -- that for the Republican nomination to Congress in the 17th District -- the money is a lot smaller and a lot more even. The contest is in effect an audition for the David role against incumbent Lane Evans's Goliath in the general election. Wonder if there'll be debates in that race, once the GOP chooses?

Or will it, too, be only about deep pockets?

Posted by jcb at February 2, 2006 04:36 PM


Since we are referencing the "Dope", he refered to Rumler as being a baby cub seal. I don't think that this is accurate. However, you and Doper pushing this kid into a debate is an unfair thing to do. Don't you think that if he wanted to debate he might have asked for one by now? Are you looking for work as his campaign manager or are you his campaign manager? I feel like you are pushing Rumler under the club. Let him get through this thing with a little dignity, doing it his way.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 2, 2006 05:24 PM

Do you remember Ross Perot and Steve Forbs. I think pockets don't get much deeper that that. How did that turn out for them. Not the best. Don't count the young vote and the internet crowd out just yet.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 2, 2006 05:27 PM

Have things changed in recent years as far as the Democratic machine politics in Rock Island County?

I assumed (unless Mike J. really screwed up since taking over for his father) that he WAS the chosen one. Is there really any doubt about the primary? Who votes other than the party faithful, and aren't those all lined up to punch the same Jacobs name?

Somehow I don't think "the young vote and the internet crowd" are anything the party machine has to worry about in this race. Am I missing something? A blog avalanche? Rumler ringtones telling mobile voters where to find the ballot box?

Posted by: Greg at February 2, 2006 06:35 PM

I agree (with anon 5:27). While Rumler's money may be small, his name recognition is large.

It is also important to remember that the posted $'s are only through December. Rumler's breakfast was in January, and I heard he made a nice pull. The next report will be key, there are rumors that Rumler is going to get some endorsements.

Posted by: Ananamoose at February 2, 2006 08:00 PM

If I were Rumler, my secret fantasy would be to have a debate. All you'd have to do is act somewhat normal and you'd win (the debate, at least), given Junior's proclivity for equating himself with Rosa Parks, making wild claims about secret high-speed train plans and raving about the governor needing to play ball with him, Junior, if Blago wants his (Junior's) vote on the spending bill.

I see this race as yet another referendum on the Illinois Q-C's IQ. There's a reason Scott County is growing and R.I. County is sucking wind. Junior in Springfield embarrassing the governor, a fellow Democrat; Lane in Washington, battling for vets (like who is against helping veterans?) -- what a way to win friends and influence people.

Now, it's back to "A Touch of Evil" on BBC.

Posted by: zorro at February 2, 2006 10:01 PM

Greg, you asked: "Have things changed in recent years as far as the Democratic machine politics in Rock Island County?"

No. No change in Democratic machine politics. The better question is, Has Rock Island County changed?

If "the young vote and the internet crowd" is busy out there, the geriatric crowd running the county wouldn't have a clue. Rumler is maybe plugged into the zeitgeist, and the old guys don't even know what the word means.

Posted by: Observer at February 2, 2006 10:51 PM

Touche Observer.

I also tend to agree with Greg that the "internets", as Bush famously referred to it, may not be much of a factor as far as the broader electorate goes this time around.
At least not enough to show up on the radar of the moribund leadership.
But at the same time, I think they shouldn't be discounted entirely in a primary, where the more active members tend to vote, many of whom are also clued into the blogosphere.
How big an influence? Anywhere from zero to actually being a small factor, in my estimation.

Posted by: TID at February 3, 2006 01:44 AM

The problem with devising some kind of youth strategy is that the median age in the IL QC grows everyday!

Rumler himself wouldn't be hanging around his old stomping grounds if Denny was still in the job.

Posted by: ILDC at February 3, 2006 09:21 AM

Yeah...Right....he made 170,000 dollars on a pancake breakfast......HM MMMMMMMMMM

Posted by: Anonymous at February 3, 2006 09:12 PM

"... the median age in the IL QC grows everyday!" Precisely, ILDC. That's the critical issue; and the young still among us may be getting impatient with the efforts to reverse that truth.

Posted by: observer at February 3, 2006 09:28 PM

Observer. . . I don't see much Internet savvy on Rumler's web site. Some downloadable forms. Whoa. Fill out and mail in (with money). Not exactly state-of-the-art for today's "internets" or "zeitgeist" either.

Does he even have a blog? Beydler can tell him how to set one of those up.

Posted by: greg at February 3, 2006 11:26 PM

I don't think quality of a website is the sole measure of "internet savvy" in the context of a campaign. A well organized friends emailing friends emailing friends thing would be internet savvy, too, and would fly under the radar.

I don't know that any such thing is taking place. But it could be, and could be effective given Rumler's ties to the community.

Posted by: observer at February 3, 2006 11:54 PM

Don't want to "give away" Rumler's "under the radar" strategy, but I don't think friends emailing friends is any match for the geriatric crowd that's been showing up at the polls for the past 50 years.

Unless, however, the geriatric crowd actually has grown tired of the Jacobs monarchy. Is there any evidence the rank-and-file, union card-carrying Democrats in Rock Island County aren't solidly behind Mr. Jacobs the III?

Posted by: greg at February 4, 2006 09:18 AM

Paul has been doing a great internet and young voter effort. He is going to show that these are the way to go in this new internet era.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 4, 2006 09:39 AM

John, Thanks for the editorial this morning. A few more like this would be great.
Thanks again!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 4, 2006 09:54 AM

Well, I'm not part of the "rank-and-file, union card-carrying Democrats in Rock Island County", but as an independent voter who swings both ways at primary time, I have had enough of the unchecked power of the Politburo.

The SNEM deal stinks to high heaven. And as for Lane Evans, it isn't about either his campaign war chest, or the fecklessness of the Republicans. It's about the deep bench of competent Democrats situated in the 17th Dist., who would easily be elected just because they're Democrats, but instead, Evans insists on running again (with the blessing of the Politburo, I'm sure) even though his health has deteriorated to the point that he cannot even communicate. Are we really supposed to believe he is doing the job we elected him to do? After 20+ years in Congress, Evans is entitled to the best pension and healthcare that (taxpayer) money can buy----he will not be destitute if he retires. Between Evans not being able to discharge his duties (left to unelected aides, I suppose), but still confident he will win re-election, and the stink of the SNEM deal, I think the Democrat Politburo has overreached.

And BTW, Mr. Paladin, who IS a card-carrying Democrat, agrees with me----and we ain't young either!

So yeah greg, at least two members of the "geriatric crowd" (Mr. Paladin and I have only been voting since the '70s, not the 40's ;-) "have grown tired of the Jacobs monarchy" and the Politburo, headed by Gianulis.

Posted by: paladin at February 4, 2006 01:56 PM

Pardon my ignorance, but how many primary votes from the "internets" and "geriatric" do you think Rumler needs to take Jacobs off the throne and the crown out of Mr. Gianulius' hands? Are we talking a thousand or 10,000 Rumlerites?

Posted by: Greg at February 4, 2006 04:41 PM

Why do you people want to be so negative about the health of Lane Evans? It sickens me!! Lane has been solid for the Democrats and to bring up his health is a republican style attach that was started with Andrea Zinga. See the problem with this web site is anonimity. Here watch. I am a card-carrying Republican, however I will pull a democratic ballott for the first time to vote for Evans to show my support for disabled americans.

See how easy it is!!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 4, 2006 10:52 PM

*Mr.* Paladin ... boy did I ever have this one wrong.

Anon 10-52 -- I'd hate to see the campaign be only about the congressman's health issues. But voters who take that into consideration cannot be faulted.

Argus Managing editor Roger Ruthhart did this sympathetic but frank appraisal of Evans' health in 2004. Now it's 2006, and the congressman has lived two more years with a degenerative disease.

People who take that into consideration can't fairly be called negative, or even disrespectful of a courageous man.

Posted by: jcb at February 5, 2006 11:17 PM

John, I think everyone may be missing the point a little bit about this money. While Jacobs has a load more in the bank than Rumler, what does that really mean?

Look at the expenditures. He's only got a few lines for "printing", but a ton for "gifts", and "promotional items" and other handouts, then there's the "research" money to the Massage Therapist, the bizarre "Tootsie Roll" expense, and several lines for his "car" and "gas".

How much money has Jacobs spent on signs, and handouts? If you compared the money each of these candidates spent on things that are actually going to help them win, actual campaign expenses, I think it's a lot less of a David and Goliath matchup than it appears.

A huge lump of money in the bank doesn't mean that you are going to win the race.

Posted by: Dem at February 6, 2006 09:54 AM

I agree, Jacobs has given little money to running against Rumler. He is much more about increasing the common good of where he was born and raised. He has given donations to a number of good causes which are of concern to him because he is from here for here. If Rumler does well maybe he could get a job on the Jacobs campaign team. I hear that he would have gotten the Obama job if he hadn't been in the Senate race.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 6, 2006 09:25 PM

Still trying to talk Paul out of the race huh? Mike must really be scared.

Posted by: Still at February 6, 2006 10:18 PM

Dem, you're right. Amassing a big campaign fund is sometimes a different skill than using one effectively.

Anon 9:25 p.m. -- If you're talking about donations to good causes, made from the campaign fund, could you point to the specific ones you're talking about.

Posted by: jcb at February 6, 2006 11:23 PM

jonh bydler.

as rummlers campaign manager. you know exactly what jacobs has done to help his community.

dont act so stupid, it reflects poorly on your past life as a reporter.

when you are losing you start bruising.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 7, 2006 09:10 AM

Hey John, this may be old news by now, but I just got around to checking out Rumler's website, and I have to disagree with your assessment of his campaign.

After reading your article the other day, I had the impression that Rumler didn't have any prudent ideas. I thought his website was nice, but what really caught my eye was the statement about the Pork Plant.

Now, you stated above that his campaign was low-profile and generic, but his thoughts on the Pork Plant were right on. It was both a prudent statement, and against the grain for local political types. Everyone else was either running full-blast for moving forward with Pork Plant ASAP, or avoiding the issue altogether. Rumlerís thoughts on installing "safeguards" in the contract, and holding Triumph responsible were pretty refreshing considering the fact that the EM officials seemed to rush this to vote (before even visiting Triumph's other plant).

Was this really a case of a low-profile campaign, or did Rumler simply not benefit from the local free media? Was this released to the media? Or just posted on his website? If the Dispatch, or Times for that matter, received this statement and chose not to run it, then I think they missed an opportunity to give Rumler some press, while providing locals with a different point of view.

While Rumlerís presence in the metro area might seem low-profile, he seems to have some supporters in the outlying areas (as might be expected after Senator Jacobsí Pork Plant proposal in Barstow), as Iíve seen a lot of signs in yards. Has Rumler been out in the smaller communities going door-to-door, or are these people seeking signs from his campaign simply to show their displeasure with Jacobs?

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to voice that opinion. Frankly I think that officials should have heeded Mr. Rumlerís advice. Iím afraid that once the Plant is here, it may be too late to hold Triumph responsible for any negative effects on the QC.

I thought your article was a little hard on Rumler (Iím sure Jacobs will post another story with the Big Bad Wolf-whatever that was about). Itís difficult to challenge an incumbent, because itís so hard to get your name into the free press, while the incumbent can hold a press conference whenever they want to.

Just my two cents John. Keep up the good work with the site, one of the best around.

Posted by: Alby at February 7, 2006 11:11 AM

Alby, I linked to Rumler pork plant statement shortly after it went up on his site. See Pig plant things: Rumler 34, Jacobs 1; a bogus $2.7 mil.

I don't recall whether print/TV used it or not, and don't know whether he sent them news releases.

My impression is that he's not spending much time worrying about free press, and that may not be a bad thing by any means.

A new campaign dynamic is needed if our politics are ever to emerge from their current state. The contortions politicians go through to attract a TV news camera or get a few inches of type aren't as evil as the distortions in paid media, but neither is healthy.

-- Anon 9:10 -- skip the name-calling and point out which Jacobs campaign fund donations went to worthy causes.

Posted by: jcb at February 7, 2006 02:20 PM

Start with the $4,700 Sen. Jacobs DONATED to fix the playground at EUGENE FIELDS grade school. That seems like a worthy cause to me. Don't you think jbc?

By the way jbc, when was the last time you gave something to make your community a better place?

Just asking?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 7, 2006 06:38 PM

The campaign fund, which is what this string is about, has nothing about Eugene Field school in it.

If the senator has otherwise provided money to improve the playground, that's certainly to his credit.

Posted by: jcb at February 7, 2006 07:54 PM

If I (in a delusional state) donated $100, or $1,000 to a politician, I would expect he or she would use the funds for campaign expenses. You know, signs, mailers, television commmercials. If they took that money and donated it to a non-profit group, no matter how deserving, I would stop contributing. Legal it may be, but is it ethical? If you aren't going to use the money for the stated purpose (campaign support) for which it was solicited, shouldn't you send it back to the contributor(s)?

Posted by: greg at February 7, 2006 09:27 PM

Enough of the name calling and mudslinging! I'm getting sick over here.

Can someone tell these bloggers to start talking about jobs, education, health care, pensions, the environment and the deficit -- and how these candidates for state rep and state senate around here are going to help us a little bit in these areas?

There are bigger issues, folks, than campaign finance reports and name calling. Come on.

Posted by: anonymous at February 7, 2006 11:50 PM

Perfectly right, Anon. 11:50.

Do want to point out that, other than me saying President Bush is an idiot and that the rev. Phelps is a closet homo, name calling here has been done by commenters, not the blogger.

Sen. Jacobs, I believe, has it in his power to elevate the discussion. First, he can post by name, and discuss whatever he wants, including perhaps the issues you list. Second, well, if he did the first there would be no second.

Posted by: jcb at February 8, 2006 12:10 AM

Anon 11:50,

It's not right to state that discussion should be about issues and then fail to list campaign financing and ethics as issues. They are issues at the national level, and should be at the state level. The campaign finance reform movement has been in the news a whole lot lately, and with the recent Enron-type news, ethics has certainly taken center stage.

So to brush past these issues as trivial and mudslinging is a disservice. They are absolutely issues for discussion.

If Mike took money from contributors and used it to attempt to buy votes from an organization, then it's an issue. If Mike keeps refusing to illustrate how the $2000.00 given to the Massage Therapist was campaign related, then it's an issue.

People were raising questions about Rumler's receipt from AmeriPAC, and he explained that it was from the Whip's office, put the issue to bed.

The fact that Jacobs hasn't cleared the air on this money makes it look like he has something to hide. Is it possible that he won't release a statement about the expenditure because someone already has information to the contrary, has spoken with the Massage Therapist or otherwise? I don't know, but The Inside Dope was hinting around this issue and has never come out with a full thread. Does the dope have inside information? I don't know. But if somebody does have information, and it comes out, it will certainly be an issue. Even if Jacobs clears the air on this particular expense, campaign money will continue to be an issue. The bottom line is that citizens are donating this money to support a cause, if this money is used for other expenses the citizens have a right to ask for answers. All of this money flow becomes public knowledge. The public has the right to question where the money is coming from, and where the money is going.

Posted by: Wait a second at February 8, 2006 07:24 AM

Something to hide? Are you kidding me!!! It wouldn't be on the report if it wern't an actual expense. Reading is a skill and the report says research and not masssage. I applaud Sen Jacobs for not responding to anon blog sites.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 8, 2006 12:14 PM

Yeah, it would really be a stretch to think that Mike Jacobs might actually post on a blog (I hope you're sensing my sarcasm, because I'm laying it on pretty thick).

But Anon, you are correct, reading is a skill, as is spelling, and I'm not sure what kind of massages Mike is getting, maybe it's the extra "s" that costs $2000.00.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 8, 2006 11:54 PM