US Senate Race for Illinois - 2004

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Republican Candidates
Alan Keyes
Jack Ryan
John Borling
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria
Andy McKenna
Jim Oberweis
Steven Rauschenberger
Jonathan Wright
Antonio Davis-Fairman
John Cox
Patrick O'Malley
Jim Durkin

Democratic Candidates
Barack Obama
Gery Chico
Blair Hull
Estella Johnson-Hunt
Dan Hynes
Maria Pappas
Nancy Skinner
Joyce Washington
Frank Avila
Matt O'Shea
John Simmons

Color Codes:
Black - Potential Candidate
Green - Active Candidate
Red - Lost
Orange - Candidate has dropped out or is not running


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by Marc Zumhagen

Chicago -- It’s a brisk day in the city. A hint of chill is in the air as I walk between the skyscrapers which tower above downtown Chicago. The business that brings me here is, of course, the Senate race.

We’ve all heard Jack Ryan’s story – how after going to Harvard Law and Business schools and working for Goldman Sachs, he left corporate America to teach. He took a job at Hales Franciscan, an all African-American Catholic high school on Chicago’s south side.

ILS recently had the opportunity to talk to Jack and find out why. We also had a chance to see how he interacts with other people.

The non traditional campaign

The day started with a press conference. Jack was releasing his latest poll numbers and had every reason to be happy. The poll he commissioned showed he had a 24 point lead. He took several questions and answered them with the ease of a seasoned pro.

When asked, “Who were the contenders and who were the pretenders?” Jack responded saying “We are taking all the candidates seriously.”

This has been the tone of the entire Ryan campaign up to this point. They unleashed a massive ad campaign during the national league championship series as well as selected mailings throughout the state.

A few polls conducted for Jack, and others by outside sources, show that his strategies have been working so far. Even so, some political analysts find the barrage of Jack’s a bit odd this early in the race.

When ILS asked Jack for the reason behind such a strong start, both Jack and his press secretary laughed, and said “Winning in November!” Later his press secretary went on to say, “We’re not following the traditional pattern.”

The maverick style of the campaign is clearly seen in their signs, which are black, white, and yellow, and stand out from the red, white, and blue of the other 16 declared candidates.

It’s all in the family

So far Hales Franciscan, the school where Ryan was a teacher, has met with success sending the vast majority of its students to college. Why did Ryan leave a successful carrier in the business world to teach?

According to Jack it all came down to Family Ethic. The idea of taking initiative, making changes and sacrifices to help the community is one Jack learned at home.

While he was growing up, his mother saved an all girls Catholic school on Chicago’s northwest side. Josephina High School was all set to close its doors when Mrs. Ryan stepped in and became chairman of the board. She raised funds through friends and family. She enlisted volunteers and begged family and friends to help with the work. In the end, the school was saved and is still open today, with much the same results as Hales Franciscan.

Jack’s uncle also participates in the family public service tradition. He started Cristo Rey High School in Chicago’s Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood. The school, which is about seven years old, is as nontraditional as Jack’s campaign. To pay the tuition, students work one day a week - going to school the remaining four. Typically, five students will share one job, with a different student coming in each day of the week.

Jack’s sister is also involved in public service, she started a clinic for Latino indigents. The clinic provides Latinos with medical care and English classes.

“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh maybe I should leave Goldman Sachs and teach on the south side,’ came to me one day out of the blue. It is just part of what we do in my family. It was the way we were raised,” Jack said in a matter-of-fact way.

The most impact

When asked, “Who has had the most influence on your life?” Jack thought for a moment before answering, “My folks and my siblings, whom I am extraordinarily close to.”

Jack’s family is also highly involved in his campaign, with his brothers and sisters hosting fund raisers, and participating in any way they can.

He is also very close to his son. Something which is not noticed by most is that Jack will quietly disappear for a while around 8pm. He even left a party in honor of his birthday before the cake was cut. Why? He calls his son every evening and catches up on what Alex did that day.

Pushing forward

Jack’s campaign is still rolling along. His ads are off the air for the time being as the campaign “husbands” its resources. They plan to hold on to the lead that they have cultivated through next November. Only time will tell if that is possible.

When we asked, “Do you think you can beat the Democratic candidate in the general?” Jack responded energetically. “I look forward to the challenge. And I don’t say that with bravado, I say it with sincerity.”

Jack is hoping that his campaign emphasis of sincerity will resonate with voters. “I hope that they buy into our message and me as the messenger.” Jack Ryan ended, “If you aren’t sincere in who you are, people will see through that in a second. If you try to be something you are not, on TV or in a speech or in person, people will see that…We have to be sincere in everything we do.”
 

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