Welch campaign invoking Obama name
Obama-Welch signs are popping up in the west suburbs, but they did not receive approval from the Proviso Township Democratic Party.
Updated: March 29, 2012 4:15PM
A U.S. president usually doesn’t endorse a state rep candidate in a primary election. But that doesn’t prevent some candidates from trying to ride on the president’s coattails.
Obama-Welch campaign signs are promoting Barack Obama running for president and Emanuel “Chris” Welch running for state representative in the 7th District. They are popping up throughout Forest Park, Hillside, Broadview and Bellwood.
A spokesman for the Obama campaign said they were not aware of the yard signs, and the campaign wasn’t inclined to get involved in state house primary politics.
Proviso Township Committeeman Karen Yarbrough also did not endorse the signs.
Locally, politicos were quick to react.
“Welch can’t run on his own name, not with all his baggage and negativity,” said Larry Shapiro, the campaign manager for Rory Hoskins, Welch’s opponent.
“They’re not only using Obama’s name, they’re using his brand. They’re looking for some way to improve their credibility. Their message is not working,” said Shapiro, who also has worked for Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7th), who supports Rory Hoskins.
A Welch campaign spokesman said they were simply showing support for the president.
“The yard signs are not intended to be an endorsement from the Obama campaign,” Welch’s campaign chairman, Linda Tyson, said in an e-mail Tuesday. “Instead, it is an attempt to inform voters that the President needs their vote this month and that our candidate supports the president and his plans to help move our country forward.”
“Many voters,” Tyson added, “do not even realize that the President needs their vote on the 20th.”
Shapiro argued that point.
“President Obama is running unopposed,” Shapiro said. “He needs help as much as Karen Yarbrough does, who’s also running unopposed (for Cook County recorder of deeds).”
Tyson said she saw little difference between door hangers and the considerably larger yard signs.
“Candidate Welch supports the president just as other Democratic candidates like (State Sen.) Don Harmon and (State Rep.) Camille Lilly,” Tyson said. “Have you seen the Obama/Harmon/Lilly door hangers? Have you already asked them the same questions and do you have the same concerns for them as you do for Chris Welch?”
Harmon, who is the Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore and Oak Park Democratic committeeman, said the presence of Obama’s name on his campaign’s door hangers was the result of a formal endorsement process.
“There’s an important distinction. The Democratic Party of Oak Park is a party that endorses,” Harmon said. “It’s hard to communicate that endorsement to voters without using the president’s name.”
Harmon agreed that unchallenged candidates in the primary still need voters’ support.
“Even candidates running unopposed want to show strength,” said Harmon, who has no competition in the March 20 election.
Yarbrough said Wednesday she had not sought or received authorization to use the Obama logo, despite her campaign endorsing the president Wednesday in a glossy campaign mailer.
“We have not authorized anyone using Obama’s name or (logo) in Proviso Township,” Yarbrough said.
Asked if she would ever create signs without permission, Yarbrough replied, “Oh no, absolutely not.”
“Before I’d take the liberty of doing something like that, before I’d involve those images, I’d clear it with the (candidate’s) campaign,” she said. “As township committeeman, I’d have checked with the Obama campaign.”