Favorite sons call in big guns in high-priced race for Senate

August 20, 2003

BY STEVE NEAL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST


 

They are fortunate sons. In the 2004 race for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Dan Hynes and Republican Andrew McKenna Jr. are the establishment's candidates.

Hynes is the two-term state comptroller. McKenna is president of the Schwarz Paper Co., which is based in Morton Grove, and chairman of the Illinois Business Education Coalition.

Both are sponsored by influential fathers. Former Cook County Assessor Thomas C. Hynes, who provided tax breaks to the rich and powerful, is counting on these friends to give generously to his political heir.

North Shore businessman Andrew McKenna Sr., who has served as chairman of the board for the Cubs, White Sox, and the University of Notre Dame, also chaired Chicago Metropolis 2020 for the Commercial Club. Just as the elder Hynes is pulling strings on his son's behalf, the elder McKenna is lining up the power elite for his namesake.

So it's not surprising that the finance committees of the Hynes and McKenna campaigns have more than a few big hitters.

Among those shaking the money tree for Hynes are developers Elzie Higginbottom, Thomas B. Rosenberg, Richard Stein and John W. Higgins; trial lawyers Joseph A. Power, Robert A. Clifford and Eugene Pavalon; industrialist Sidney L. Port; financial analyst Mellody Hobson; former Cook County Assessor Thomas M. Tully; former presidential aide Kevin O'Keefe; former circuit judge and mayoral chief of staff Roger Kiley and former corporation counsel William Quinlan.

The McKenna financial backers are also formidable. His co-chairmen are Gregory W. Baise, president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, businessman J. Christopher Reyes, and Patrick G. Ryan, chairman of the Aon Corp., a longtime family friend.

Others on the McKenna committee include David C. Blowers, president and chief executive officer/Northern Region of Northern Trust Co.; Christopher Burke, managing partner of Matrix Capital Advisers; Frank W. Considine, retired chairman of American National Can Corp.; Ned Jannotta, chairman of William Blair & Co.; Richard Melman, chairman and chief executive officer of Lettuce Entertain You; Jack Sandner, former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange; Gordon Segal, chief executive officer of Crate and Barrel, and Samuel K. Skinner, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Freightways Corp. and former U.S. Transportation secretary and White House chief of staff.

Under normal circumstances, this high-powered support would discourage competition. But among the reasons that Hynes and McKenna are dropping these names is that both expect to be outspent.

Commodities millionaire Blair Hull is vowing to spend $20 million in the Democratic primary. Hull's strategists are doubtful that Hynes can raise half of that amount under the new federal campaign finance law that allows candidates to accept contributions of up to $12,000 when they are competing with a big spender like Hull.

Former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico, another Hynes rival, is hoping to raise $8 million and is off to a fast start. His committee includes Norman Bobins, chairman and chief executive officer of La Salle Bank; lawyer and former Chicago Bar Association president Philip Corboy; developer Neil Bluhm; and former Ald. William Singer (43rd).

Investment banker Jack Ryan, who is among McKenna's rivals, is likely to outspend McKenna. Ryan's finance committee includes Hank Paulson, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs; Dick Schulze, chairman of Best Buy; Jack Greenberg, former chief executive officer of McDonald's; Dennis Healy, chairman of Turtle Wax; Michael Birck, chief executive of Tellabs, and former Education Secretary William Bennett.

State Sen. Barack Obama, who is regarded by the Hynes camp as a threat, is consolidating his base in the African-American community and among lakefront and suburban independents. His finance committee includes real estate developers Penny Pritzker and Tony Rezko; philanthropist Irving B. Harris; former FCC Commissioner Newton Minow; John Rogers, chairman and chief executive officer of Ariel Capital Management; former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Abner Mikva; former Democratic National Committeewomen Joanne Alter and Marjorie Benton; Bettylu Saltzman, former Chicago chief of staff to Sen. Paul Simon, and former Sara Lee chief executive officer John Bryan.

Although Hynes and McKenna are the establishment's men, their insurgent rivals shouldn't be underestimated.

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