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Late winter leads to early fall (campaign)

Published: Saturday, May 3, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 3, 2014 1:28 p.m. CDT

We are still 6 months from Election Day 2014.

We should be enjoying the tardy arrival of spring and eagerly anticipating a busy, productive summer before even thinking about jumping into political campaign season around Labor Day.

But that’s not going to happen.

After the primary election in March, neither major candidate in the governor’s race took his foot off the gas in the race toward Nov. 4.

And the campaign in the 17th Congressional District is the second round of the 2012 Bustos-Schilling matchup that promises to bring in lots of outside money and influence.

The war of words is well underway, and the dash with cash suggests no slowing down until the last vote is counted.

And, maybe, recounted.

THIS ELECTION OF 2014 won’t be fought only on the campaign trail.

Lawsuits filed in recent days promise a fight in a campaign trial or two.

One legal complaint alleges wrongful hiring practices in the state’s Department of Transportation under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

The other lawsuit challenges the validity of two mostly Republican ballot proposals – on term limits and nonpartisan redistricting – that would allow voters to amend the state’s constitution.

And don’t for a minute think this is the last of the legal shenanigans of this campaign.

In the coming weeks and months, you will be distracted by all manner of political tricks as the campaigns throw tons of mud on the wall just to see what sticks.

It’s going to get dirty.

Cover yourself.

WHAT SHOULD YOU believe when you hear campaign commercials?

Not much.

Pretty much everything you hear from a candidate, a campaign staff, or a political party will come out of a partisan filter full of disingenuous talking points.

You will get half-truths, which are actually full lies by omission.

Casting an intelligent vote in November is going to take some hard work.

Let’s hope we’re all up to it.

GUILT BY association is a popular campaign tactic.

Take this from the National Republican Congressional Committee this week:

Nancy Pelosi is using her Super PAC to help fund vulnerable Democrats, like Cheri Bustos, in targeted districts this election cycle. By accepting Pelosi’s money, Cheri Bustos will continue to fall in line with Democratic leadership and support ObamaCare even though it is hurting Illinois families.

And this from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

Former Congressman Bobby Schilling is sitting on $10,301 in campaign cash that he raised with Congressman Michael Grimm, who was arrested by the FBI earlier this week and indicted on 20 federal criminal charges. For Schilling to continue to stand by Michael Grimm while spending this scandal-tainted cash on his own re-election efforts is an endorsement of the most corrupt member of Congress in the country.

Then this on Friday from the NRCC:

Has anyone heard from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos on what she thinks of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s federal investigation over his alleged slush fund? With these headlines ... plaguing the Democrat governor, Bustos should let her constituents know where she stands on this issue.

Used to, the media didn’t hear the almost-daily attacks on political opponents until mid- to late September.

This will be a special year.

Already is.

KEY TO THE narrative of the Schilling campaign is that Bustos, who ousted him with 53 percent of the vote in 2012, is 1) out of touch with the district and 2) going to lose the election.

“Unfortunately for Cheri Bustos, Nancy Pelosi’s money will not be enough for her to win,” the NRCC said in its news release.

When Schilling recently challenged Bustos to 14 debates in the district’s 14 counties, his communications director, Jon Schweppe, noted that Bustos has had “zero town halls” during her first 16 months in office and “could use the face time with her constituents.”

Calls for debate generally don’t come from a front-runner; they come from the candidate who is desperate for the exposure to try to catch his opponent.

And if Bustos hasn’t made herself known throughout the district, why in the world would Schilling want to do that for her by scheduling her to appear in every county?

Both candidates have accepted an invitation to a media-sponsored debate in Rock Island County in October.

But don’t expect them to have 14 debates.

AND WHEN THEY DO get together, don’t expect a lovefest.

“There are plenty of towns where Bustos has never even stepped foot,” Schilling aide Schweppe said when the challenger proposed the debate series. “This will give Bustos the opportunity to have a substantive discussion about the issues. The voters are growing tired of her photo ops and 140 character Facebook posts – they want to hear where she stands and why she refuses to answer simple questions.”

That’s one side. Here is the other.

“Our campaign has worked extensively for weeks with local TV, newspaper and radio partners to afford voters in every corner of Illinois’ 17th Congressional District an opportunity to hear firsthand from both candidates,” said Jeremy Jansen, campaign manager for Bustos. “That is why we are pleased to accept this [debate] opportunity for all voters across our region of Illinois to learn about the stark contrast between Cheri’s record of championing jobs and working families and that of ex-Congressman Schilling, who turned his back on American workers and repeatedly voted to end the Medicare guarantee.”

Surrogates are fine, but we look forward to hearing from the candidates themselves.

We’ll invite them to come here.

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