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National GOP not putting stock in Walsh campaign
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

Joe Walsh

 

Vincent Pierri | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/5/2010 12:00 AM

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National Republican Party fundraisers aren't putting much stock in Joe Walsh's campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean in the suburban 8th District, a spokesman said Thursday.

The races for the 10th District, 11th District and 14th District seats are the most competitive in the state, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tom Erickson said, and are getting the most attention from the party.

Democrat Debbie Halvorson of Crete represents the 11th District, while Democrat Bill Foster of Batavia represents the 14th District. Rep, Mark Kirk is leaving the 10th District seat open to run for Senate.

"We're really focused on the seats where we see the clearest paths to victory," Erickson said. "It's no secret these are the most competitive (races)."

The Walsh-vs.-Bean matchup doesn't make the cut. Walsh wasn't the GOP group's choice to face the three-term incumbent, Erickson said.

"In the primary, we had really liked Dirk Beveridge or Maria Rodriguez," Erickson said, referring to two of the five candidates Walsh defeated Feb. 2. "Those are the two candidates who we thought really had the potential to make this a very competitive race."

The Walsh camp isn't concerned about Erickson's ranking of the state's races, campaign spokeswoman Whitney Schlosser said.

"Joe Walsh is not part of the establishment and, unfortunately, some elements of the GOP establishment are still a bit tone deaf when it comes to independent, conservative reform candidates," Schlosser said in an e-mail. "It helps explain why they didn't see Walsh's primary victory coming."

Erickson's comments came as some local Republicans have questioned why Walsh, of Winnetka, didn't disclose during the primary campaign that he lost a condominium to foreclosure in 2009.

Walsh owned the Evanston condominium from 2004 to 2009. He had lived elsewhere in Evanston when he ran for the 9th District congressional seat in 1996 and for the state House in 1998.

The two-bedroom condo went into foreclosure in 2008, and the foreclosure was finalized Oct. 13, 2009, Cook County circuit court records indicate.

The condominium was not Walsh's primary residence at the time of the foreclosure. Walsh and his wife, Helene, and their family moved to a rented house in Winnetka in 2006 and to another rented house in Winnetka in 2009.

In a prepared statement sent Tuesday to the Daily Herald, Walsh said he intended to sell the condo or rent it but had no luck. The foreclosure followed.

Walsh has refused to answer specific questions from the Daily Herald about the foreclosure, such as why he didn't disclose it during the primary.

A lack of transparency can damage a political campaign, said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

"Even if it is an error of omission, the conventional wisdom is that you put any bad news about yourself out as early and completely as possible rather than assume what is or is not important," Redfield said in an e-mail.

The situation could hurt Walsh's chances for support from individual donors, not just the national party, Redfield said.

"The more you look like a loser, the harder it is to raise money from individuals or interest groups," he said.

Walsh's spokeswoman has faith in the voters.

"The 8th District is the GOP's best pickup chance in Illinois and has been rated to be just as competitive as the 11th and 14th (districts) by independent political handicappers," Schlosser said.

The 8th District includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer also is running for the seat.