CHRISTIAN COUNTY – Political consultants are fascinating behind-the-scenes tone-setters for political campaigns. And because they're behind the scenes, they're paid little attention while they can and do make all the difference.
For instance, there's a name that shows up in most press releases US Congressman Rodney Davis put out this campaign season in the volatile and nasty 15th CD runoff between two U.S. House Republican incumbents – Rodney Davis and Mary Miller.
That name is "Aaron DeGroot." DeGroot identifies as the Davis campaign spokesman.
He's also been married to State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) since 2018. You know, the same Avery Bourne that is running with Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin as Irvin's pick for lieutenant governor. In other words – the person next in line to be governor if something was to happen to the person elected as governor.
But back to the Davis/Miller battle. It's a tough race. It has become nasty and ugly – especially in the tone coming from the Davis campaign.
And with former President Donald Trump coming to Quincy to boost Miller's national image this coming Saturday, there's a good chance the Davis camp's voice will be even more intense and sour as June 28th primary election day nears.
Here are a few headlines from the Davis campaign over the past several weeks with Bourne's husband DeGroot listed as the campaign's contact person:
Here is the latest Davis press release:
Taylorville, IL — Conservative Outsider PAC, a DC-based dark money group funded exclusively by the anti-farmer, anti-Trump Club for Growth, is spending $200,000 to fly-in out-of-state, paid canvassers to go door-to-door in a last-minute attempt to prop up Mary Miller’s failing campaign.
“Mary Miller’s fledgling campaign is failing. When you have a candidate that quotes Hitler, votes with the Squad to defund the military, encourages illegal immigration, and has a convicted pedophile serving as her personal driver, it should be no surprise that potential volunteers don’t want to be associated with that. That’s why a DC-based dark money group is spending big bucks to fly in astroturf canvassers at the last-minute to prop up her campaign, and that’s why Republicans will reject Miller on June 28th.” – Aaron DeGroot, Davis campaign spokesperson
Mary Miller’s nonexistent campaign is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DC-based dark money group Club for Growth. To date, Club’s dark money organizations have spent approximately $4 million on TV and radio ads, along with over $300,000 on mail and digital ads. Now they’re spending an additional $200,000 on out-of-state canvassers as well.
That contrasts with Rodney Davis’ homegrown campaign, which has a local presence, countless endorsements from local Republican leaders, and many volunteers on pace to make over 100,000 door-to-door voter contacts by Election Day next week.
DeGroot's wife, Avery Bourne, and the Irvin for Governor campaign are heavily funded by billionaire Ken Griffin, who also nearly doubled the amount of dollars former Governor Bruce Rauner spent on his 2016 bid against Democrat Pat Quinn.
DeGroot was in the tight-knit campaign staff that elected Republican Bruce Rauner in 2016. Then he worked for the Rauner Administration.
He's also assumed to continue to be in touch with the staff that is running the Richard Irvin campaign – with the Republican Party-splitting mailers and ads that could eventually split the party permanently between the GOP political elite and the IL GOP conservative base the GOP elite so abhors.
DeGroot, the infamous "Mike Z" and other campaign consultants do make a difference in how candidates are perceived. They do make a difference in how a candidate fares. They do make a difference in a state's political climate and its future. And they normally get a substantial financial reward for winning – no matter how.
Maybe it's time to take a look behind those political campaign curtains?