Charge and Counter Charge Already Heating up Hultgren vs. Walsh Primary Fight

-By Warner Todd Huston

Last week a poll was taken by Representative Randy Hultgren’s campaign that got Representative Joe Walsh’s dander up. The pair are gearing up for a primary fight over the newly redrawn 14th District that seems as if it is headed toward a big mud pit — both are Republicans.

The poll that got Walsh hot under the collar was taken by the Tarrance Group, a D.C.-based Republican polling firm, and featured questions about Walsh’s legal troubles over his finances and his child support payments. This, Walsh said, was a mudslinging push poll meant to get constituents of the 14th to focus on Walsh’s private troubles instead of the issues.

The exact wording of the questions was not released by Hultgren’s campaign.

The Hultgren camp counters that they only asked questions about Walsh based on items already widely reported by the media. “We didn’t break new ground,” Hultgren’s campaign spokesman, Andrew Flach, told the Daily Herald on Thursday.

Still, Walsh is incensed by the poll. “If he raises his voice and calls into question who I am as a father,” Walsh warned, “I’ll punch him in the face, figuratively speaking.”

Sadly the two men are facing each other in the new 14th District as Walsh felt the newly reconfigured 8th District (Walsh is the current 8th’s Congressman) was drawn to make it a Democrat District by the state’s Democrats. Certainly this fight make the left happy and unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much help for it since the state loses a congressman regardless.

Not long ago both men promised that this race was not going to go negative, but that doesn’t seem to have lasted very long. A Facebook page started by a Walsh supporter — and disavowed by the Walsh campaign — is hitting Hultgren heavily on the issues, calling into question, for instance, Hultgren’s bonafides as a pro-lifer.

Now we have what Walsh is calling a “push poll” to heat the the race. With this new bit of negativity, a Walsh supporter sent out a mass email that said this whole episode is exactly why, “Congress has a 17% approval rating and the best among us refuse to run for office.”

Hultgren’s campaign mouthpiece, Flach, was also in the news recently when he drew a sharp contrast between his man and Walsh in The New York Times.

“Using a leadership style that emulates Rod Blagojevich or Barack Obama, Joe likes to govern ineffectively though press releases, sound bites, political grandstanding, and name calling,” said his campaign spokesman, Andrew Flach. “He certainly does not lead by example.”

This is an interesting tact, I have to say, because it brings up a point that I myself have brought up to Hultgren supporters (and Walsh himself in a meeting we had two months ago).

So far while in Washington Congressman Hultgren has been quiet as a mouse as far as most people are concerned. He has shown a very low profile in comparison to the more active Walsh. Hultgren feels it makes more sense to build slowly, watch, listen and learn as a Congressman. On the other hand Rep. Walsh has become a mainstay of political cable shows, radio and print. He’s also brought quite a lot of attention to himself with his Youtube videos and other outlets not to mention his close association with the Tea Party groups in the area. Walsh has definitely not stayed quiet.

Because of these two very different political styles, I’ve been wondering how Hultgren brings attention to himself to counter the year that Walsh has spent being the darling of political talkers and TV shows? Some may say this negative campaigning will be that method… if you believe Hultgren has gone negative, of course.

There is also the money. What ever Walsh’s personal money troubles, his fundraising has exceeded Hultgren’s by several thousand dollars. According to the Herald:

As of Sept. 30, Hultgren had raised $644,887 and had $275,810 in cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. Walsh had raised $758,749 and had $466,058 in cash on hand.

Ultimately, it will be up to the constituents of the new 14th District to make their choice, but either way we lose one of our new Republican Congressmen.


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  • At least Walsh assured that the Democrats in the General Assembly got what they wanted when they made this map. I would think that the conservatives would blast him for being complicit in this (at least to the extent of being willing to knock out another Republican rather than run in the 8th).

    Of course I wonder what will happen if the scheduled three judge court throws out the map. I think it is unconstitutional, but I'm not going to jump the gun on predicting what the court will rule.

  • I have heard from a lot of Republicans upset that Walsh decided to run against Hultgren instead of Duckworth in the newly reconfigured 8th.

    But, to be sure, the Dems redistricted a lot of Walsh's strongest base of support to the 14th District just to try and force the two Republicans to go against each other. It worked, too.

    I have a feeling that Randy might pull this out, tho. I'd guess the media will make a special target of Walsh.

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