Dold Has GOP Momentum; Coulson, Green Still Hovering

Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:40pm

Even though several members of the Illinois GOP delegation are backing state Rep. Beth Coulson in the 10th district GOP primary, businessman and first-time candidate Bob Dold appears to have the momentum heading into Tuesday’s balloting.

“I think it’s between Bob Dold and Beth Coulson,— said one well-placed Republican in Washington.

Coulson was the early favorite of national Republicans, who viewed her moderate-to-liberal political profile in the state Legislature as in the mold of Rep. Mark Kirk. But poor fundraising has hampered expectations for Coulson, as she has been outraised and outshined by two businessmen in the race — Dold and Dick Green — who have amassed copious amounts of money.

Coulson had raised $460,000 through Jan. 13, according to her staff, an amount that includes a $90,000 loan from herself. And in a year when outsider candidates are likely to have more favorable profiles, Republicans point out that Coulson could be at a disadvantage in the general election because of her service in a legislature that has one of the worst reputations in the country.

National Republicans see the advantages in Green as their nominee, as well: The well-respected businessman has already put $456,000 of his own funds into the race and would likely be willing to contribute more. The ability to help fund a campaign is viewed as a big asset in the northeast Chicago 10th district, which is entirely in the Chicago media market, one of the most expensive in the country.

Dold, meanwhile, has raised $459,000, including a $10,000 loan from himself, according to his campaign manager. More importantly, several operatives in the district said he has run a strong campaign and done a good job of boosting his name identification as a first-time candidate.

House Republicans were unsure earlier this year whether they could hold on to this swing district seat without Kirk, who has proved to be an extraordinarily strong campaigner and fundraiser in the wealthy and educated North Shore district. But given that the national mood is favoring Republicans, a strong candidate has at least an even chance of holding on to a district that President Barack Obama carried with 61 percent in 2008.

“Mark Kirk is not only a talented candidate, but he is also an elected official who has paid very close attention to the needs and interests of his district,— said John McGovern, a seasoned Illinois political operative who managed Kirk’s first Congressional campaign in 2000. “Yet Republicans have a strong field of candidates to replace Kirk, and Democrats should be careful in presuming that this is their race to win. While it’s a very competitive district, voters in the 10th regularly support fiscally responsible candidates.—