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The subtle messages that politicians send

I don't usually laugh when looking through my mail. On a recent day, I did. The cause: a campaign mailer.

The Illinois Democratic Party sent out a glossy piece attacking Republican Senate candidate Bill Albracht of Moline. He and state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, are vying to represent the 36th District, which includes most of Whiteside County.

Political consultants are careful about words and photos they use in campaign literature. One of the goals is to pick the least flattering photos of their opponents.

So far, I have received three anti-Albracht mailers from the Democrats.

In one case, the Illinois Democratic Party chose a picture of a grimacing Albracht wearing sunglasses. In another, Albracht is looking down. He is sitting alone among a group of empty folding chairs.

What got me to laugh was a photo of a smiling, tuxedo-clad guy with a cigar and what appeared to be a glass of brandy in hand. He is sitting on a leather sofa in a marble-walled room.

Three other cigars – probably Cubans – await their turn on an end table.

Next to this large photo is a small head-and-shoulders photo of Bill Albracht, with the words, "Republican Albracht wants to cut taxes for millionaires while making poor seniors pay more out of their own pockets for their health care."

Voters are supposed to connect Albracht with the rich guy. And we all know wealthy men hang around their houses wearing tuxedos.

I looked to see where the Democratic Party got the photo. In Google Images, I searched for "rich man tuxedo," and a number of photos turned up for this same dapper guy.

Another Democratic mailer included a photo of a long-faced elderly woman with a treasure trove of prescription drugs. The mailer says, "Albracht would force poor seniors (which is why they are on Medicaid) to somehow come up with money to make a co-pay for their medical bills." This may be why the woman is so glum – or so the campaign consultants would hope you believe.

If you get political mailers, look for the subtle messages that the politicians – both Democrats and Republicans – are trying to send you.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525

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