In a move that remains relatively uncommon in state House races, especially during primary season, state Rep. Kent Gaffney and challenger David McSweeney have taken to the TV airwaves to gain favor among Republican voters in the 52nd House District.
Meanwhile, Tea Party candidate Danielle Rowe is utilizing social media and other targeted approaches to make the most of her more limited resources.
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McSweeney's TV ad began airing Feb. 13 on a variety of cable networks, including Fox News. The Barrington Hills financial consultant has sent out more than a dozen mailers, as well, and considers both mediums to be important campaign tools.
"There's only one ... only one proven conservative running for state representative," a voice in his TV ad says. "David McSweeney will stand up for us, repeal the 67 percent tax increase, freeze property taxes to help families and eliminate legislative pensions for politicians."
Gaffney, of Lake Barrington, started airing his own TV ad last week on several of the same cable networks. Like McSweeney, his commercial is running mainly in the Barrington, McHenry and Crystal Lake areas.
His more playful 30-second spot paints the former House Republicans budget director as a "numbers guy" who last year became a legislator because things in Springfield weren't adding up.
Gaffney said it's been frustrating to watch McSweeney's ad since it touts measures he's already supported in the legislature. He also noted that he didn't take a legislative pension when he was appointed last year to succeed the late Mark Beaubien.
Both candidates said they wanted to keep their messages focused on what they bring to the table as fiscal conservatives, and that the ads have been well-received.
Candidates buying TV time in a state House primary is usually limited to only the most hotly contested races, said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield. One notable example is in the 23rd Senate District, where Sen. Carole Pankau and state Rep. Randy Ramey have been airing ads.
"It's becoming more frequent but generally there aren't that many in a primary, especially in suburban Chicago where it's a much more expensive market," Redfield said.
Rowe, who according to the most recent campaign finance filings is working with far less money than McSweeney and Gaffney, has videos of her own. But she's utilizing tools including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, her website and tele-town halls to distribute them.
"We're using today's media for today's times," Rowe said. "I believe I'm an amazing connector, and voters are able to get real-time responses from me."
Rowe said the strategy has been so effective that her campaign decided to scrap more costly mailers in favor of more "Rowe Revolution" videos and tele-town halls, the last of which had 1,300 participants.