Illinois governor launches statewide image charge

CHICAGO: Illinois governor George Ryan has launched a PR offensive to counter negative publicity resulting from an ongoing investigation of the secretary of state’s office.

CHICAGO: Illinois governor George Ryan has launched a PR offensive to counter negative publicity resulting from an ongoing investigation of the secretary of state’s office.

CHICAGO: Illinois governor George Ryan has launched a PR offensive

to counter negative publicity resulting from an ongoing investigation of

the secretary of state’s office.



But while Ryan is planning town-hall-like meetings in at least five

Illinois cities, long-time political foe Pat Quinn has started his own

PR campaign, using the Internet to show the depth of voter

dissatisfaction with the governor.



Ryan had been Illinois secretary of state before becoming governor two

years ago, and a federal investigation is investigating the alleged sale

of drivers’ licenses in return for contributions to Ryan’s campaign.

Thirty-one people have been indicted in the probe, including a former

top aide to the governor.



The investigation has led to a voter-approval rating for Ryan of only

27%, according to a recent Chicago Tribune poll. Republicans are said to

be growing concerned that Ryan’s troubles could hurt their party’s

chances in state senate and house races this November.



An aide said the governor’s multi-city tour will emphasize Ryan’s

accomplishments and attempt to gather voter feedback. ’The message is

that the governor is here to listen to you,’ said assistant press

secretary Jackie Price.



Regarding the license scandal, Price said the tour is ’a chance to

present a position directly to the people. He’s there to answer their

questions.’



Area PR pros gave Ryan high marks for taking his message directly to

voters. ’The fact that the governor is able to get out of Chicago and

the capital works to his advantage,’ said Gene Reineke, GM of Hill &

Knowlton’s Chicago office and a former chief of staff for Ryan’s

gubernatorial predecessor.



Reineke added that media around the state haven’t been covering the

license scandal as extensively as outlets in Chicago and Springfield,

IL, and that visiting other cities allows the governor to make his case

in front of voters who may not have formed an opinion on his alleged

conduct.



While the governor visits voters, Quinn has started a Web site,

RecallRyan.com, that asks voters to sign recall petitions. Ryan aides

have called Quinn’s site nothing more than a publicity stunt, as

Illinois has no provision for recalling a governor.



’I think Pat Quinn has a desire to remain in the public spotlight,’ said

Reineke, noting that Quinn announced his site on a Sunday to get maximum

media exposure on what is usually a slow news day.



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