Earlier today, the Illinois Republican Party sent reporters an “ICYMI” email. That stands for “in case you missed it,” a standard heading on messages containing news articles that a campaign or group wants to draw the media’s attention to.
In this case, the message contained an article written recently by Bloomberg that highlighted Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s criticisms of the pension reform bill Governor Pat Quinn signed into law last week. The gist is this: the bill would require Chicago in a few years to pay more into pension funds, a mandate Daley says will necessitate a huge property tax hike.
The point of most ICYMI emails I receive is to either draw attention to something potentially embarrassing an opponent has done, or to draw attention to something fantastic the sending campaign believes it has done. Recent examples from the state GOP: “ICYMI: Senator Kirk Opposes Omnibus Spending Bill” and “ICYMI: Poll Shows Kirk, Brady Heading toward Victory.” I can guess the messages behind those: “Mark Kirk is a fiscal conservative,” and “We’re going to clean up on November 2.”
The target of the pension bill is a bit confusing, though. While Quinn did sign the bill into law, it passed with overwhelming support in the legislature. Not a single Republican voted against it in the state Senate (three Democrats did vote no), and only eight Republicans in the House opposed it (along with 10 Democrats).
But the GOP email clearly wanted to draw attention to Quinn’s support for the bill. In fact, the party changed the original Bloomberg headline, “Chicago’s Daley Says Pension-Overhaul Law Will Bring Record Tax Increase,” to “Daley Says Quinn’s Pension-Overhaul Will Bring Record Tax Hike.”
Maybe the Illinois GOP wanted to highlight Democratic infighting (perhaps not the juiciest of examples, but okay). Maybe the party didn’t have a lot of news articles to pick from over the holiday week. Or maybe the sender failed to notice that “Quinn’s Pension-Overhaul” was also supported by House GOP Leader Tom Cross, Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno and the party’s recent gubernatorial nominee, Sen. Bill Brady.
I emailed Curt Conrad, executive director of the state GOP, to see why the party chose to make sure reporters around the state saw this one particular article, to see what the strategy was. “This was an ‘In Case You Missed It’ and was not a release,” Conrad replied. “We send these out regularly just to keep everyone up to date.”
Fair enough. But in a state with so many daily newspapers, was this the most strategic article to highlight and send around?