Monday, July 12, 2004

Draft Ditka: Brilliant move by GOP operatives. And a ridiculously bad legislator.

My hat is off to the Illinois GOP media operatives who have launched the Draft Ditka campaign. My guess is it's out of 1871 Media, the smart guys running Illinois Leader and running Tom Cross' online media work.

It's a brilliant tactical move. Of course Mike Ditka would be the nation's absolute worst Senator. Could you imagine him throwing his gum at a Committee Chair if his bill didn't get out of committee? But that's all irrelevant. He's getting media play and everytime they say "Mike Ditka" and "Republican" that's a win for the Republican Party. The Republicans have to appeal to white ethnics / Reagan Democrats / middle-income, culturally conservative guys in some way that muddies their allegiance to the super-wealthy and Wall Street. Mike Ditka is a great way to do it.

And to get Mike Ditka in the converation about the Senate race? Brilliant! They've got *nothing* right now. They don't even have a candidate! And somehow just talking about Mike Ditka as a potential candidate gets more attention than Barack Obama. It's great, great media work by the GOP operatives. Notice the conversation isn't about the almost unprecedented train wreck where there isn't a candidate in mid-July and the potential replacements keep saying no (Rauschenburger pulled out a few days ago). Instead the converation about the IL GOP is about a fresh, fun story involving a Chicago icon. Just great work.

I think that the goal of these savvy GOP operatives is to get Ditka to take the chairmanship of the IL GOP Party after Judy Baar Topinka steps down. Because although Mike Ditka would make a truly awful U.S. Senator, he has the potential to be an amazingly good party chair. He'd raise money. He'd raise excitement. He'd raise spirits. And through the force of his celebrity, he'd soften the moderate/conservative split that haunts the state party. If these guys get Ditka to serve as party chair, then we progressives better start studying them --- and copying their every move.

Where's the Draft Chris Zorich for Party Chair movement? I guess I just started it. . . .

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