Earlier today both Greg Hinz at Craine’s and Rich Miller at CapitolFax reported that Illinois Freedom PAC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Illinois public and private sector unions had withdrawn funding for TV ads for the Dillard campaign.
I interpreted this change in spending to a recognition on the part of the union leaders that Dillard was a lost cause.
I still do.
But there has been some dancing since the news broke.
Illinois Freedom PAC’s Michael Murray admitted the drop in ad buys, but said that now it was up to the Dillard campaign.
In a email to local AFSCME presidents this afternoon, AFSCME’s Henry Bayer agreed that Illinois Freedom PAC was no longer involved in the campaign, but that it didn’t mean the unions had dropped their support of Dillard.
TO: Local Union Presidents
FROM: Henry Bayer
RE: Republican Primary
DATE: March 11, 2014
Our union along with other public employee unions helped underwrite the Illinois Freedom Political Action Committee to expose the sorry record of Bruce Rauner, a billionaire businessman trying to buy the Republican nomination for Governor.
Today some media outlets are reporting that the unions have withdrawn from participation in the primary.
That’s not at all the case.
As you know, AFSCME endorsed Kirk Dillard just one week ago, following on the heels of endorsements from the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association.
All three unions have made substantial direct contributions to the Dillard campaign in recent days and are communicating with our members via direct mail and phone banks
We believe the best use of our time and resources in the closing week of the election is making clear that Kirk Dillard is the best and most responsible choice in the Republican primary
By channeling our dollars directly to the Dillard campaign, which can purchase crucial television time at roughly half the rate of the independent expenditure campaign, we can get that information out most effectively.
When we started the independent expenditure campaign, we had not yet endorsed a candidate. We did not know who was best positioned to defeat Rauner.
The campaign has entered a new phase.
The independent expenditure effort did a good job of slowing Bruce Rauner’s momentum.
While he is still the frontrunner, Rauner can be beaten.
That’s why it is so important that we redouble our efforts to recruit volunteers for AFSCME phone banks and encourage each of our members to cast their vote in the Republican primary for Kirk Dillard.
What Bayer is denying is not what Hinz and Miller claimed.
Hinz and Miller did not say that the unions were withdrawing their endorsement.
What they did say was the Illinois Freedom PAC, which was formed in February for the specific purpose of being an independent political action committee opposing Rauner – and which had funneled over $3 million into the Dillard campaign for TV ad buys – had stopped the ad buys one week before election day.
Bayer’s denial and parsing words seems like a dance.