Worl: Money, not polls, wins big elections

Halvorson camp unconcerned by early poll numbers, controversy over donations linked to Rangel

Travis Worl, campaign manager for Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, believes everyone should be worried about the Nov. 2 election, Democrats and Republicans alike.

“This is going to be a close election year,” he said in an interview with the Morris Daily Herald. “Everyone has said that from the beginning, so there’s no surprises in these polls.”

Which means it may not be surprising that last week’s poll of 400 likely voters by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., shows Republican Adam Kinzinger of Bloomington with an 11-point lead over the Crete Democrat.

Kinzinger leads Halvorson 51 to 40 percent, with seven percent undecided, the poll indicates.

The survey was taken on Wednesday, Aug. 4, and Thursday, Aug. 5, and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

A March poll by Public Opinion Strategies had Kinzinger leading Halvorson 44 percent to 38 percent.

Getting your message out to the people is how elections are won, Worl stresses. Which takes money, he adds.

“It comes down to having the money to get it out,” he said. “If you don’t have the money to get your message out there, it makes it really hard to win an election.”

Kinzinger had $480,000 in his campaign fund as of June 30, compared to Halvorson’s $1.4 million. Her fund tops Kinzinger’s fund by about $1 million.

Within that fund is just under $40,000 from the Congressman Charlie Rangel Victory Fund.  Worl says the money is not from the tainted congressman, but from others who attended Rangel’s 2008 fundraiser in New York City, and therefore, Halvorson is not returning the sum .

The Victory Fund is an event Rangel co-hosted for 10 election campaigns in various states. Donors could give up to $25,000 to the fund, with the first $1,000 to go to Rangel and the rest equally divided among the other candidates. Or, donors could name specific candidates.

Halvorson donated $16,000 in direct contributions from Rangel to various charitable organizations within the 11th District, including United Way and We Care of Grundy County, Worl said.

“The $16,000 that came from Rangel, $14,000 of it was from the previous election,” he noted. “The $2,000 was from this cycle. We returned it to charities within the district.”

He said the rest of the money came through the Rangel Victory Fund in the form of checks from individuals.

“They never were from Charlie Rangel,” Worl said. “They never were controlled by Charlie Rangel. It was never his money.”

Worl wasn’t at the Rangel event. However, Rangel himself was just one notable among those who did attend, Worl said.

“The people knew they were giving to the various candidates,” Worl said. “Charlie Rangel was just one headliner there. The people who donated definitely knew the money was going to different candidates, not Charlie Rangel.”

Worl said those who attended understood that was how the process works.

“It was never Rangel’s money,” Worl stressed.

Rangel stepped down earlier this summer as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee upon accusations of failing to reveal more than $500,000 in assets on financial disclosure forms, improperly obtaining four rent-controlled apartments in New York City, and utilizing unethical fundraising tactics for a center in his name at the City College of New York, among other things.

Published reports say Halvorson urged him to resign the chairmanship.

Both campaign managers agree that winning the election is all about the message political candidates are able to get out to voters.

“Her message is that she’s an independent fighter for working families,” Worl noted of Halvorson.
“She doesn’t come home from Washington to tell her constituents what’s happening out there. She goes to Washington to tell them what her district needs.”

Kinzinger’s message is the need to change the way Washington operates.

“No. 1 is the need to focus on job creation,” Hahn said. “Next is the need to stop the spending. Third is the need to provide accessible and accountable leadership for constituents in the district.”

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