Thursday, February 19, 2009

TV ads in 5th District so far are not as bad as one might think

Not throwing mud is so unusual in Illinois election camapigns. With or without Rod Blagojevich, Illinois is still wrapped in the "culture of corruption" which includes below-the-belt slams.

So it was refreshing and funny to see the light jabbing in the campaign commercial tonight from State Rep. John Fritchey, and the self-focused ad by rival Sara Feigenholtz. Fritchey and Feigenholtz are two of the 12 Democrats seeking to win the party nomination March 3 to fill the vacant 5th District Congressional formerly held by Rahm Emanuel, who is now Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and an elusive unanswered question int he Blagojevich pay-to-play scandal.

The Tribune's blog described Fritchey's ad, which portrays Feigenholtz and media favorite Mike Quigley as bickering children, calling it an "attack ad." But in Chicago politics, the ad is far from a bad hit. In fact, it made its point in a humorous way without being mean.

Feigenholtz focuses on her immigrant mother fromE astern Europe who put herself through school and her focus on healthcare and experience in the legislature. Nice. Clean. And a solid message. Both Fritchey and Feigenholtz are respected legislators. Quigley is a strong independent voice in the pathetic Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Not everyone has the $100,000 needed to air an effective array of campaign commercials. And despite some great candidates in the Republican field and the Independent filed (five members of the aggressive Green party), the money is on whomever wins the Democratic Party.

Now, there's still time to see some good old Chicago Machine mud come flying, and that would be tragic.

I've had the opportunity to interview several of the candidates on my morning radio show. Fritchey was very open. Feigenholtz seemed a bit reserved. i'm not sure why but maybe it was the cloud of the Arab Israeli conflict that separates our people 9,000 miles away in the Middle East. After all, Emanuel ran the 5th District like an Israeli voter precinct, an issue that has come up in some of the campaign debate banter.

Yet, too bad the Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East can't both set aside their violent ways and take a leaf from this election. Good issues. Good campaign ads. Not a lot of namecalling -- criticism is required to explain why you are better than someone else, but keeping that criticism above the belt is a sign of political maturity and responsibility.

I think Fritchey and Feigenholtz have both been responsible so far.

-- Ray Hanania

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