1994 Campaign Ads
Don Sipple of Strategic Communications, a messaging and advertising firm, was the creative force behind both of Jim Edgar’s gubernatorial campaigns - 1990 and 1994.
The 1994 campaign featured Governor Edgar, buoyed by an improving economy and an aggressive response to the Great Flood of 1993, against the state’s Comptroller, Dawn Clark Netsch, the surprising winner of a tough Democratic primary. The campaign’s pollster, Fred Steeper, in late spring advocated a summer offensive against Netsch in order “to put this one away early.” Sipple produced several ads, and Steeper tested them in focus groups. The most devastating and decisive was “Abolish,” a simple comparison between Edgar and Netsch on the Death Penalty.
The campaign and its advertising painted Netsch as out-of-step with Illinoisans on crime, taxes, and spending. Netsch proposed to raise the state’s personal income tax rate from 3% to 4.25%, while calling for a lowering of property taxes. Edgar’s ad campaign hammered home the message that Netsch sought a 42% increase in income taxes, a number that resonated with the public.
For two politicians with solid reputations for integrity, the campaign got tough. Netsch was especially critical of the Edgar campaign’s insinuations about her husband’s property tax problems in the ‘Eight Ball’ ad.