Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Not Just Another Pretty Face



    Dawn Clark Netsch

    In her 1994 campaign for governor, the late Dawn Clark Netsch had one of the all-time great campaign slogans: “Not Just Another Pretty Face.”

    It wasn’t just a reference to the fact that she herself was not much more than plain. It was a dig at her opponent, Gov. Jim Edgar, for being kind of a vain guy.
    “What do looks have to do with anything?” an exasperated Edgar complained to a TV reporter during the campaign.
    Come on. I once saw Edgar get out a helicopter and meticulously smooth his full head of white hair. As if any helicopter backwash could ruffle that mane, which had been styled and sprayed to withstand a Category 4 hurricane. After his appendicitis surgery, he bragged to his staff that the doctors had trouble inserting a needle because his belly was so hard for working out. Even when he wore jeans at the State Fair, they were never rumpled or creased.
    Edgar and I are both passionate fans of horse racing, but I was still shocked to walk into the grandstand of Hawthorne Race Course -- which was then a miasma of cigarette smoke -- and see Edgar holding a racing program. Most horseplayers wear jeans. He was, of course, attired in a suit.
    Netsch lost that election, badly. It was a Republican year, and during the campaign, she proposed raising taxes. But just for a moment, she pricked the bubble of smugness that has surrounded Jim Edgar his entire life.