Here’s a fascinating reporter’s diary of the election 2004 cycle. My comments are in normal text. Excerpts from the diary are in italic text.
January 16, 2004. Early polls. First number WBBM, second Tribune
- 20% - 14% - Hynes
- 19% - 14% - Obama
- 19% - 10% - Hull
- 18% - 14% - Pappas
- 9% - 6% - Chico
- 4% - * - Washington
- 4% - * - Skinner
- 7% - 38% - Undecided
- 29% - 12% - Ryan
- 17% - 16% - Oberweis
- 14% - 5% - McKenna
- 10% - * - Borling
- 7% - 5% - Rauschenberger
- 3% - * - Kathuria
- 19% - 57% - Undecided
January 27. Obama drops slightly in the polls.
- 14% - Dan Hynes
- 12% - Gery Chico
- 12% - Maria Pappasoks
- 12% - Barack Obama
- 9% - Blair Hull
- 4% - Nancy Skinner
- 2% - Joyce Washington
- 35% - Undecided
February 12. Hull -- a trader who has pumped $24 million of his own money into his Democratic race -- leads with 27 percent, ahead of state Sen. Barack Obama and state Comptroller Dan Hynes, who each had 17 percent. … Obama said he wasn't too concerned about Hull's wealth. "I don't begrudge extraordinarily wealthy people spending their money. But what I do know is that although you can buy television time, you can't buy a track record and you can't buy the experience that's necessary to hit the ground running when you get to the United States Senate,'' Obama said.
Funny. I guess the “track record” and “experience” is only needed for the Senate but not the Office of the President.
February 14. Hull and Ryan establish themselves as the frontrunners.
- 29% - Hull
- 19% - Hynes
- 19% - Obama
- 14% - Pappas
- 35% - Ryan
- 21% - Oberweis
- 14% - McKenna
- 7% - Rauschenberger
February 19. The take-down of Hull begins. “Blair Hull held the frontrunner status for less than a week before the allegations started to fly.” Seems his marriage ended not so well. From an article cited in this entry, but the link is no longer valid: “As [Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull's] second marriage to [Brenda] Sexton collapsed in 1998, Sexton filed an order of protection against him, public records show. Hull won't talk about the divorce in detail, saying only that it was ‘contentious’ and that he and Sexton are friends.”
February 28. First, when asked what their impression (favorable/unfavorable/neutral) of Obama, 62% said they did not know, second only to Nancy Skinner. Yet the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune both endorse him.
I wonder how many of the 19% that polled for him are in the 62% that don’t even have an impression of him.
February 28 on Hull. Hull agrees to unseal his divorce records. Lord knows why. Here was some of what was in it:
Blair Hull in Brenda Sexton's words:
*Sept. 25, 1997: "Blair threw a remote control across the room and called me a 'f------ c---.' "
*Dec. 2, 1997: "Blair and I were calmly talking about trust issues, and I remarked everyone has a trust issue with him. Blair suddenly responded by saying, 'You evil bitch. You are a f------ c---,' repeatedly. He then hung on the canopy bar of my bed, leered at me and stated, 'Do you want to die? I am going to kill you, you f------ bitch.' "
*Jan. 12, 1998: "He went ballistic on me, started cursing, told me I was a 'f------ c---' and 'shark' and kept threatening that he would punch me in the face."
*Feb. 9, 1998: "He then held one of my legs and punched me extremely hard in the left shin. After that, he swung at my face with his fists a couple of times in a menacing manner just missing me."
March 6, 2004. No citing of dem poll numbers, but this: "With less than two weeks left in a primary campaign in which all candidates have had trouble captivating voters, Democrat Blair Hull and Republican Jack Ryan now find themselves concentrating on overcoming mounting questions about their behavior resulting from their divorces."
Then later: “Jack Ryan continues to solidify his front runner status. The latest poll released yesterday showed shows Ryan had 44 percent, followed by Oberweis at 18 percent, Andy McKenna at 10 percent, and Rauschenberger at 4. We suspect Rauschenberger's numbers to end up slightly higher since he is likely to get a higher turnout, but the field is so splintered that it would take a miracle or major scandal to rock this boat.
Barack Obama seems to be benefiting from three factors:
1. The endorsements of both the Tribune and the Sun-Times
2. The release of a major ad campaign.
3. The Hull divorce
However, one alert reader noted Barack's momentum may be because of his superb musical team. Readers may remember the hit classic, "Do the Rauschenburger." Obama has countered with the stunning, "Obama for Senate Theme" with stellar lyrics such as:
Barack Obama, oh yeah, say it againThat’s “stellar”? OMG. They’re cute, I’ll give you that. But when did children ever not be our future? That’s like one of those Disney lines or the purple dinosaur: I love you, you love me … Oh, just make me puke. Stellar?!?
He's solid as a rock, Barack Obama
If you believe like I believe that children are our future
You're ready to move forward
Instead of things being like they use to be . . .
March 10. United Power for Action and Justice issues a pamphlet giving information about each candidate. Here’s the full doc. Here’s Obama’s full entry: Although Mr. Obama was present in his campaign headquarters when we arrived, our meeting started a few minutes late. Since he worked as a community organizer for five years in Harlem and Chicago, he knew our “language” and was not afraid to insert agitation into the conversation. He is clearly intelligent, energetic, ambitious, and at ease with citizen groups. (“I’m always looking for effective partners.”)
His background is unique with regard to global ties. He was born in Hawaii, of a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas. His mother later married an Indonesian, and Mr. Obama lived some of his early years in Indonesia. He maintains close contact with relatives in Africa, Asia and Canada. Because of his racially mixed background, Mr. Obama thinks he would have a higher profile asthe junior U.S. Senator from Illinois and be able to frame the national debate more than other junior senators. Although not a politician from the start, it came as a natural extension to his community organizing and civil rights work. He left organizing in 1988 to go to Harvard Law School, where he graduated with many honors. He pointed out that he directed the largest voter registration drive in Illinois history, adding 100,000 new voters in 1992.
He maintains a private law practice (taking only the occasional civil rights case) and teaches constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School. He is currently in his third term as an Illinois State Senator. It also seemed important to him for us to know that he has the most campaign donors, including the most small donors. To illustrate his independence and willingness to vote his conscience, he pointed out that he was one of only a few to vote against the recent SBC deal, even though they were one of his bigger donors. When asked who his mentors were, he immediately named the late Senator Paul Simon “a happy warrior who was willing to take a hard stand” based on his values. Mr. Obama and Mr. Simon collaborated on a campaign finance reform law and other measures. He also named civil rights workers like Ella Baker and Bob Moses, who “put their values on the line.”
Mr. Obama agreed to meet with us both after the primary and within 90 days of taking office. He went a step further, saying he would attend our major events as a US Senator when his schedule allowed. Further, he urged us as individuals to work for a candidate (not necessarily him!) as a way of learning the process and building ties for the future.
Note that Harlem comes back up again. The voter drive is mentioned but PROJECT VOTE! is not. The line about staying close with his relatives in Africa, Asia, and Canada is interesting – does that include his brother that lived in a hut on US$2 a month? No Annenberg or Woods.
I don’t know the “language,” so I am curious what is fully meant by this: Since he worked as a community organizer for five years in Harlem and Chicago, he knew our “language” and was not afraid to insert agitation into the conversation. It doesn’t sound good, whatever the hell it is.
March 15. Barack Obama has continued to cement his lead. In the latest poll Obama holds an incredible 30 point lead over his second place rival, Dan Hynes. The Survey USA poll while not always the most accurate poll shows Obama's numbers close to doubling since he received the endorsement of both the Trib and Sun-Times (among many others). Hynes numbers have held completely steady. A Copley Poll released over the weekend shows Obama with double the votes as Hynes, with Obama at 37 and Hynes at 18.
Hull seems out of the picture, and his voters just flipped to Obama. Hynes is a few years younger, white guy, state Comptroller. Probably doesn’t have a song.
March 16, 2004 Primary day.
U.S. Senate (Dem) - 11504 of 11745 Precincts (98%)
- 53% Barack Obama (640,707 votes)
- 24% Dan Hynes (288,176 votes)
- 11% Blair Hull (130,944 votes)
- 6% Maria Pappas (73,485 votes)
- 4% Gery Chico (52,105 votes)
- 1% Nancy Skinner (15,651 votes)
- 1% Joyce Washington (12,973 votes)
U.S. Senate (Rep) - 11504 of 11745 Precincts (98%)
- 36% Jack Ryan (226,679 votes)
- 24% Jim Oberweis (149,198 votes)
- 20% S. Rauschenberger (124,433 votes)
- 15% Andy McKenna (93,790 votes)
- 3% Jonathan Wright (16,697 votes)
- 2% John Borling (12,889 votes)
- 1% Norm Hill (5,489 votes)
- 1% Chirinjeev Kathuria (4,920 votes)
The comment is made in the entry that dem ballots outnumber rep ballots 2:1.
All’s quiet until June 4, 2004. Time to take down Ryan. Can’t leave anything to chance. Opening Hull’s divorce record worked – let’s try that with Ryan.
A California court referee Thursday recommended keeping sealed documents in U.S. Senate candidate Jack Ryan's divorce file, saying the interests of Ryan's son trump constitutional rights and the right to public access to court records.
The report by Isabel R. Cohen, a retired family law judge, also sided with a judge's earlier proposal to unseal a number of documents in Ryan's 1999 divorce from actress Jeri Ryan but recommended fully unsealing only 10 of at least 43 documents sealed in the file.
A mixed bag. But it’s a crack in a wall. Maybe his ex-wife will cough – think?
The NYT joins the Obama discussion. NY Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert gave Obama a nice write-up in todays paper: He's got a million-dollar smile and he's charismatic. At the moment he has a substantial lead in the polls. If that lead holds and he wins in November, he'll be only the third African-American to take a seat in the Senate since Reconstruction. The rest of the article is in the diary.
June 7. President Reagan dies. While Obama issues his statement, he can’t help but cater to his base: While I disagreed with many of his policies, …
June 24. Ryan made be declared clinically dead. Polls have shown Ryan running behind Obama somewhere in the range of 11-22 points. A difficult obstacle to overcome for any candidate.
Then the bombshell hit, but it was not really unexpected. On March 11th, a campaign staffer for candidate John Borling, released on his own, a statement that made three allegations, the third allegation in the list was: He (Jack Ryan) took her (Jeri Lynn) to various clubs, specifically in New York, New Orleans, and Paris and coerced her to have sex in front of other people.
The back and forth between Ryan and his wife is nothing less than two completely different stories. She says he forced sex. He says the clubs were not what he thought and left. No sex.
But being in a mud fight gets you dirty, and …
June 25 Ryan drops out of race.
So, just like the state Senate race, Obama has clear sailing with no one running against him. What are the odds? I mean really – WHAT. ARE. THE. ODDS?
Silence until, August 8, 2004. Alan Keyes joins the race to face Obama. Yeah, OK. Next.