Campaign Lesson #6 – Messaging is paramount!

Campaign Lesson #6 – Messaging is paramount!

Though this one technically falls under The First Ward’s “political lesson” category, we’re gonna kill two birds with one larger stone here, and we’ll accomplish that feat with the traditional Quick Hits approach.

But before we proceed, let’s try to keep three things in mind, two of which are quotes from my soon-to-be bestselling book, “So You Want to Win a Local Election?”

1. “The average American voter has the attention span of an off-meds ADHD sixth grader coming off a three-day sugar and video gaming binge.”

2. “There’s only one way to win an election and a thousand ways to lose it!” Unless your opponent is worse than you are, bad messaging will kill a campaign every time!

3. The lovely and retired Illinois 50th District State Rep Kay Hatcher recently reminded me that it’s “illegal” for PACs and candidates to “coordinate” campaign efforts, and PACS are behind the mailings in question. But we also agreed that the law works just about as well an “open discussion” format at a Presidential debate. Furthermore, even if candidates took that statute seriously, there are so many loopholes that Swiss cheese gets jealous.

With those stipulations in hand, let’s get to some truly terrible examples of political messaging!


The Aurora City Council votes on their own raises!

Not even Donald Trump could spin this one into something other than the malodorous messaging turd it truly is!

The fact there’s a semi-logical explanation notwithstanding, the Aurora City Council shoulda made it abundantly clear that, for the foreseeable future, they wouldn’t consider this possibility if Jesus Christ Himself came down to propose it.

Put more simply, this is another perfect example of how politically tone-deaf Mayor Richard Irvin really is.

The Aurora businesses that managed to hang on are still suffering from the one-two coronavirus and riot punches, the average Auroran ain’t doing much better, and until I broke the story, Irvin was more than happy to let the Hesed House homeless twist in that inevitable northeast winter wind.

By law, these raises can’t take effect until after the 2021 and 2023 elections, but that’s a small solace to the downtown restaurants and bars facing a very bleak winter. I can’t wait to hear how Irvin, who makes $158,369 a year, explains exactly why he needs a 15 percent raise over the next five years.

This is the third inexplicable major messaging opportunity Irvin has handed to challenger Judd Lofchie and there’s no way the Mayor survives strike three. Do I really have to say, “Don’t vote yourselves raises in the middle of a massive economic downturn?” Apparently, I do!


But Karina Villa wants to lose even more!

My wife just received her fourth pro-Villa Planned Parenthood mailer, and not only has that fencepost-over-the-head prospect completely soured me on that organization, but I’m actually considering voting for her hyper-conservative opponent, Jeanette Ward (no relation).

That’s certainly not the way mailer messaging is supposed to work!

Again, a Planned Parenthood endorsement in the demonstrably Republican Illinois 25th State Senate District is a lot like Joe Biden hawking a memory improvement self-help course. And that blatant error was compounded by an absurd “Villa will be our voice in Springfield” mailer message.

Don’t we already have 2,398 Democratic “voices” in Springfield? And considering our State’s dire fiscal state, doesn’t Planned Parenthood even begin to get that we really don’t need another one? With friends and falling flat messages like that, who needs enemies?

Particularly when you consider her modest IQ, Villa is one of the luckiest politicians on the planet. She blundered her way into a state rep victory thanks to an opponent who’s messaging was worse, and now she’s been the first viable Democratic candidate in the 25th’s long and storied history.

But if this social liberal is considering voting for Ms. Ward, then I her luck is running out. It never ceases to amaze me how these horrific messaging wounds are entirely self-inflicted!

This has to be the most incompetent Illinoi General Assembly campaign I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen more than my share of bad campaigns.


Lauren Underwood ain’t much better!

Her categorically poor messaging is particularly distressing considering the Underwood ground game is one of the very best! Sadly, she’s bound and determined to prove that “there’s just one way to win an election, and a thousand ways to lose it.” It’s kinda like being the fastest sprinter on the planet who never made it to the Olympics because they harbored a strange propensity to run into the nearest wall.

And I had high re-electoral hopes for her, too! Her initial TV commercial clearly indicated her team finally understood they had to appeal to receptive female Republican Illinois 14th Congressional District voters to win. How difficult could it be to out-message a badly damaged and perennially poor candidate like Jim Oberweis – especially when it comes to women!

But because they lack that keen perception of the obvious, her campaign consented to a series of pro teacher union mailers that will most certainly cost her votes in that Republican district. To make matters worse, those mailers only went to teachers! Anyone with half a brain knows that no self-respecting (mostly female) educator would be caught dead voting for the likes of my good friend Jim!

So, now the opposition can attack her for being bought and sold by the unions at time when Illinois’ deepening fiscal abyss is primarily the result of union pensions.

Jim Oberweis

Then, the only thing worse than embracing a bad message is creating the kind of messaging vacuum that allows your opponent to define you! And that came if the form of Underwood’s refusal to condemn looting and rioting in her Sun-Times endorsement interview.

That misstep opened the door to an incredibly effective Oberweis TV ad that’s gonna be quite difficult to come back from. Really? Refusing to condemn rioting and looting is just like saying some white supremacists “are very fine people.” I had no idea there was such a large rioting and looting constituency!

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m thinking Oberweis will finally go to Congress (and God help us all if he does)!

But I’ve run out of time! We’ll continue this column tomorrow or Thursday! Same Bat time, same Bat channel!


If you’re considering running for office, the professionals at Forward Communication guarantee that we’ll never tell you what you want to hear, we’ll tell you what you need to hear. That’s how you win an election! Please Contact Us for a free consultation.


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