Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rutherford’s Attention to Detail Takes a Hit. Or Three.

Republican candidate for governor has to redo his nominating petitions

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Rutherford’s Attention to Detail Takes a Hit. Or Three.

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Clearly, Dan Rutherford is an accomplished guy.

As his official biography says, he joined a small group of adventurers before his 30th birthday on a trip across Africa in a truck. Before his 40th birthday, he traveled to Antarctica. He’s a skydiver, scuba diver, and, not least, a popular Republican who is currently serving as Illinois State Treasurer.

So why can’t he get some of the little things right?

Rutherford, who’s currently seeking the Republican nod for Illinois Governor in the 2014 primary, made news Monday when it was revealed he had to throw away his nominating petitions after his campaign found a fatal wording error in them.

While his campaign is expected to recover in time to make the ballot, it’s something of an embarrassment for someone who’s running for the highest office in the state.

But, then again, things like this can happen in a campaign.

The only problem is, this isn’t the first time it’s happened. In 2012, Rutherford handled the Illinois chapter of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Then, too, there were problems with nominating petitions that almost got Romney thrown off the ballot until a deal was struck to save him.

One Romney source described Rutherford’s leadership as “a complete disaster” and said Romney’s campaign headquarters had to fly paid staffers to Illinois to collect signatures at Chicago-area train stations and walk precincts because the treasurer’s organization had failed to collect enough signatures.

The Romney high command, the source said, “was flabbergasted that an Illinois statewide official had no organization.”

So far, Rutherford has struggled a bit to break out of the pack of Republicans vying for Illinois governor, and more bad news about organizational incompetence doesn't help. Particularly since he has boasted in recent weeks of having a “lean, mean” campaign operation that doesn't need to spend money to get votes.

There have been a few other dings in the good ship Rutherford of late, as well. In August, questions were raised over whether Rutherford was turning hard to the right in backing Tea Party ideas for education reform.

As well, some Republicans are starting to fear Rutherford doesn't have the stomach for the rough-and-tumble nature of an Illinois gubernatorial race.

While still others worry that Rutherford’s famously banal Twitter feed show a man and a candidate who needs to do a better job of getting his message out in a social media dominated age.

No matter how you slice it, there seem to be two parts to Dan Rutherford. The challenge for his campaign may be making sure voters see the side that knows how to get things done right.

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