As a result of a previous post outlining just how 14th District Democratic Congressional nominee Dennis Anderson can beat incumbent Randy Hultgren, I ended up sitting down with Mr. Anderson and one of his staffers for about 45 minutes last week.
But despite coming into that conversation already convinced the candidate would stick to the common campaign scheme and wouldn’t even consider my alternative conclusions, I left our meeting feeling confident he had a real shot.
And trust me, that doesn’t happen very often. In fact, this might be the very first time it has.
The one thing Anderson had going from him before he walked through the door was a decent 2012 showing. Some folks say that was the result of running in a presidential cycle, but Barack Obama had no coattails that go around. The Democrats were avoiding him like Ukrainian airspace.
So a 41 percent tally his fist time out while spending only a hundred grand against a Republican incumbent is the kind of showing that bodes very well for the future. Add the fact the 14th is becoming more Democratic with every breath and you’ve got the basis for an upset.
After we shook hands, the first thing I noticed about Anderson is, unlike Bill Foster, he actually has a personality. And If Hultgren could only manage to pull 51 percent of the vote against a generally listless 2010 Foster, imagine what a personable guy can do if he applies those talents appropriately.
Of course, what generally keeps Foster in politics is the fact he can finance himself. So what remains to be seen is exactly what kind of fundraiser Anderson turns out to be. Sadly, the national Democrats incorrectly assume the 14th is a lost cause so they certainly won’t be pouring any kind of cash into the race.
But what really surprised me about Anderson is his capacity to sit silently for long stretches and then carefully consider what you had to say. And I say “surprised” not because of anything I’d previously heard about the candidate, but because most office-seekers make up their minds early and can’t wait to show you just how much they already know.
It is truly a rare phenomenon when a candidate not only seeks out advice, but actually considers it.
But the thing I liked most about Anderson might surprise you! His entire self-image and ego wasn’t completely tied up in winning a Congressional bid. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll be thrilled if he pulls it off, but he clearly understands that life goes on long after the election is a distant memory.
You all know I’ve been saying this for years. The people who so desperately desire to assume the mantels of power are the very last ones we should put there. The reason so many political campaigns get so dirty is neither contestant can bear the thought of coming in second.
Ah! But the capacity to stay unattached in the face of pressing possibilities is a powerful position which will allow Anderson to make those often necessary quick campaign adjustments and serve his constituents instead of his own self-interest.
Meanwhile, this is the best gig that Randy Hultgren has ever had and he’s so desperate to hang onto it that he’ll gladly throw his lot in with the obstructionists and accomplish absolutely nothing just to get that fat paycheck. Can anyone tell me anything Randy has done? Other than lobby pork for a local science facility that’s long past its prime, that is.
We’ll talk more about him later.
Please understand that I’m not ready to predict an Anderson victory quite yet, but I am encouraged. If Dennis continues to stay this calm and he follows the blueprint laid out at our meeting, we might all be surprised.
And don’t forget! Dennis Anderson will be on today’s (7/24) edition of Left, Right and You where we’ll talk about this topic and more!