You have to give Dan Rutherford this: He’s very good at pretending not to see the reality staring him in the face.
With every passing day, the Rutherford campaign's hopes to seize the nomination grow seemingly dimmer. Yet each passing day also brings fresh statements of resolve, grit and determination from a candidate who’s not only dogged by a federal lawsuit, but also questions over why he refuses to release a taxpayer-funded report he promised would get to the bottom of everything in the first place.
And that’s all before the fact that he was already playing second fiddle to front runner Bruce Rauner, the wealthy businessman candidate who’s burying all of the other candidates when it comes to campaign fundraising, TV ad time and press attention.
Watch Rutherford’s public statements in press conferences, campaign forums and on the campaign trail, and what you get is a man who is either putting on the bravest of brave faces or one who simply can't see the forest for the trees.
For example, what does Rutherford have to say about the blow a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment in the treasurer’s office is having on the campaign?
"I'm going to keep my head up high. I'm going to continue on. We have had a stronger response, in fact, candidly because of this," Rutherford said. "I'm carrying on with my campaign."
What about the results of an internal investigation the candidate initiated to get to the bottom of the charges?
"I have not seen the report," Rutherford said.
Asked if he plans to read the document, he said, "I don't know."
How about promises to release the publicly-funded report that he is now refusing to make public on the “advice of counsel”?
Rutherford said Tuesday he is "working on" making the report public and wants the information "out there."
Does it mean anything that the campaign has decided to pull his television ads statewide?
[Spokeswoman Judy] Pardonnet says the move canceling ad reservations "doesn't mean there won't be more ads running."
What about increasing calls across the state for Rutherford to drop out of the primary?
“I’ve not had anyone say, ‘Get out of this race,’” Rutherford said.
So, there you have it. Nothing to see here, really. Just your average, everyday candidate for governor of Illinois, ready to face any challenge.
Except the ones he’d really rather not talk about.