Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Will GOP's Beefed-Up Voter Outreach Work in Illinois?

The Republican party is pouring more money into local candidates this election season

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's a seemingly impossible mission, but the GOP is deploying more money and staffers in an attempt to break the Democratic stronghold in blue-state Illinois.

    Greg HInz over at Crain's Chicago Business reports that the Republican National Committee has hired nearly 200 field employees to set up shop here for midterm election season.

    The operation, part of a large-scale effort dubbed Victory 365, aims to enlist "committed conservatives like you" (or your neighbor who's too afraid to go into the city) in "engaging more voters" (translation: non-Republicans, non-whites, non-males) in order to "grow our party and win elections" (translation: regain relevance and "rebrand," or face eight years of Hillary).

    Taking cues from the Democrats, and the cutting-edge technology used by Campaign Obama to galvanize voter support, the GOP -- whose ground game pales in comparison to its rival party -- has opted to step up outreach and take the show on the road. Strategies include infusing data and tech into campaigns, opening local offices and starting programs to build relationships with black, Latino and Asian American residents.

    How will "Victory 365" roll out in Illinois? According to Hinz, it's too far away from November to say exactly where and to whom Republican resources will flow, but he expects extra support for Bruce Rauner's battle against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn as well as the congressional campaigns of 13th District Rep. Rodney Davis, 11th District challenger Darlene Senger and blast-from-the-past Bob Dold, who's warring to reclaim his 10th District seat from Brad Schneider. (A GOP operative has already been assigned to assist Davis.)

    Out of the aforementioned Illinois candidates, only Dold's name was mentioned in a new list of "Young Guns" singled out for extra help by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The other Illinoisian named was state representative Mike Bost.

    "Candidates that reach 'Young Gun' status have met a series of rigorous goals that will put them in a position to win on Election Day," said Greg Walden, the committee's chairman, said in a statement. "Our job as a committee is to help elect Republicans to office that will serve as a check and balance on the Obama Administration."

    ("Young" is a telling descriptor for a party desperate to appear youthful and maverick-y. As for a "Gun," we all know the GOP loves one.)

    Democrats have "taken the people of our state for granted for far too long," declared Illinois Republican Chairman Jack Dorgan in a statement.

    In the long term: Installing a streamlined grassroots op to spread the Republican message throughout the Land of Lincoln could prove successful on Nov. 4 and beyond, especially given voters' growing disillusionment with government and the long-standing Democratic machine -- not to mention Illinois' gloom-and-doom economic forecast. Meanwhile, Quinn's corruption-related PR debacle keeps peeling away like layers of an onion, a fresh scandal stinking up the Statehouse on a daily basis and giving Rauner more ammo for his increasingly negative attacks.

    In the short term: Would someone please give Karl Rove a time out?