by Jeff Fleischer(Medill News Service, October 3, 2002)
Trying to make up ground with a month to go before Election Day, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, Kristine O’Rourke Cohn, unveiled an unusual campaign tactic Thursday — an online “game show” with questions pertaining to her opponent’s track record.
“This is the first game show that’s ever been run and been all about the truth in campaigning,” Cohn said. “This is a creative — and for some people, it’s going to be a fun — way to be able to bring to the public’s attention the scandals that are occurring in Jesse White’s office.”
The online “Name that Scandal” game show (www.namethatscandal.com) will provide the winner, who must be a registered voter, with a $10,000 scholarship and, Cohn hopes, generate interest in her campaign against White, the incumbent who is leading in the polls.
Cohn took the podium to the theme from “The Dating Game” — an optional feature on the Web site — and showed off an oversized check representing the contest prize. Her staff then ran through the multiple-choice questions, with supporters yelling out the answers.
The questions on the Web site charge White’s office with hiring convicted felons, taking a year to revoke a drunk driver’s license and issuing the same license plate numbers to different cars.
Cohn campaign worker Bill Hogan said, “Jesse has been playing ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ for quite a while; I wish he were playing ‘To Tell the Truth.'”
David Druker, White’s press secretary, countered that, “There is nothing new there in what [Cohn] is saying. Everything there has been dealt with. This administration has made more reforms and improvements in this office than ever before, and we’re proud of our record.”
Cohn, of Rockford, who currently serves as Winnebago County Board chairman, said she built her campaign around “cleaning up the scandals in the secretary of state’s office” and improving customer service. Her campaign hands out bars of soap to symbolize her platform.
Charlie Stone, Cohn’s campaign manager, said the campaign doesn’t have much money, but that the Web contest would help get its message out. He said registered voters who log on and answer the 10 posted questions correctly will be entered into a random drawing. Cohn plans to select the winner Nov. 1, and the money will go directly to a school designated by the winner.
While Stone said Cohn’s internal polling shows her closing the gap, Druker said White has new polls demonstrating a sizable lead.
“My overriding view is that she’s trailing so far in the polls that she’s getting desperate,” Druker said. “[The game show] is a desperate attempt at publicity for a failing campaign.”