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Dem Senate hopeful starts earliest Illinois TV blitz ever

June 24, 2003

BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter

Millionaire Senate candidate M. Blair Hull took to the airwaves Monday, running television and radio commercials introducing himself to voters--nearly nine months before the Democratic primary.

The initial round of 60-second biographical ads will only appear in Downstate areas, but Chicagoans shouldn't feel left out. This early media buy is only a small slice of the $40 million Hull has pledged to spend on the race. He will soon be as easy to find on the TV dial as Emeril Lagasse.

"You will hear from us consistently," said Mike Henry, Hull's campaign manager.

Hull, 60, is believed to be launching his TV commercials earlier than any other candidate in Illinois history.

The North Side investor will not be on the air nonstop through the March primary, Henry said, but conceded the $750,000 purchase of TV, radio and Internet banner ads is the beginning of a media blitz. Hull plans to kick off his campaign officially on Wednesday, the first day of a seven-day "announcement tour."

"This is just the start of a very aggressive campaign," said Mo Elleithee, Hull's communications director. "We're not conceding anything, and we're not neglecting any area of the state."

Hull is beating what is believed to be the old record for early campaign commercials, set by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican millionaire whom Hull is hoping to replace and who is not seeking re-election. In his challenge to Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Fitzgerald aired his first round of TV spots in September 1997--more than six months before the GOP primary.

"It is pretty remarkable," state Sen. Barack Obama said of Hull's early buy. "I think it is unique in the annals of Illinois history."

But Obama, one of Hull's primary rivals, said he does not think Hull's early TV debut will make much difference.

"My impression at this stage is that people are not paying close attention to a Senate race that is going to take place in March," Obama said.

Other announced or potential Democratic candidates include state Comptroller Dan Hynes, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, former Chicago School Board President Gery Chico, health care executive Joyce Washington and Downstate trial lawyer John Simmons.


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