Hartman, pollster downplay role in 13th outcome
Neither John Hartman nor a Springfield-based pollster believe that Hartman, the independent candidate in the 13th Congressional District race, is the reason that Republican Rodney Davis won the three-way contest.
Hartman unofficially got 21,241 votes in the congressional district — more than enough to make up for Gill's current 1,287-vote deficit. But both Hartman and Gregg Durham of We Ask America polling believe that Davis would have been a bigger winner if Hartman hadn't been in the race.
Durham said his last poll of the 13th District race, taken Sunday, found that Hartman was getting 3 percent of self-identified Republicans, 3 percent of self-identified Democrats and 6 percent of those who said they were independents.
He said that Davis won the race because of his support from among those independents, who made up about 30 percent of the voters in the 13th District. Thirty-six percent said they were Democrats and 34 percent claimed to be Republicans.
"And if Hartman had gotten a bigger share of those independents, we'd probably be looking at a Congressman Gill," said Durham, the chief operating officer of We Ask America. "He made it closer."
"I really think that had I not been in the election, the difference between Gill and Davis would have been larger and Davis would have won by more," said Hartman. "It wouldn't have been as close."
Unofficially, with hundreds of absentee and provisional ballots left to be counted by the 14 county clerks in the district, Davis has 136,596 votes to 135,309 for Gill. The Democrat conceded late Friday afternoon.
Hartman said he got one angry e-mail from a Gill supporter who blamed him for Gill's loss and suggested that he had taken money from Karl Rove's super PAC to split the Democratic vote.
"But it makes me think that a lot of people who were supporting David might be suspicious," said Hartman, who has insisted that he has been an independent for more than 30 years.
Hartman, an Edwardsville businessman, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the race.
"I really thought I'd do better than 7 percent," he said. "I know that people were telling me that the surveys did not have me above 10 percent, but I didn't think the surveys were capturing what I had heard so much and what I still heard right up to Election Day. People said they wanted an independent and that they were tired of what they were getting from the parties.
"Just knocking on doors the day before the election, people were saying. 'We need more independents.' There was just so much encouragement. I thought it would be so much better than 7 (percent)."
In Champaign County, Hartman drew just 6.74 percent of the vote.
"That's Gill central," he joked, referring to the 57 percent of the vote Gill got here. "My dad's view is that the petition drive and the objection to it by the Republicans (which delayed his official entry into the race until July), his view is that those guys had already won over a lot of people by the time I finally got into it. I think that was the case in Champaign County with David."
Hartman believes that many voters backed Mitt Romney for president and him for Congress.
"In Macoupin County, for example, it was 55 percent Romney and 45 percent for Obama, or something like that, and Gill got 45 percent and Davis got 47 and I got 8," he said. "That tells me that almost everybody in Macoupin County who voted for me was a person who voted for Romney."
Anecdotally, he said he felt that "people who were pretty obviously Republican or conservative would show support for me when I met them on the street. It seemed like a new face, a fresh approach spoke more to people who are Republican."
Hartman's political views aren't easily pigeonholed, though. He favored aggressively reducing the budget deficit and acting on climate change.
"After our debate in Springfield, a friend of mine was in the parking garage with a Hartman for Congress button on. Three women walked up to him and said, 'I agree with everything that guy said, but I don't want David Gill in Congress. We've got to vote for Davis,'" Hartman related. "And my friend just said to them, 'Well, you've got to start somewhere.'"
His strongest area was Greene County, where he got 10 percent, and where both Romney and Davis were winners. There, Obama got 36 percent and Gill had 33.5 percent. His poorest showing was in McLean County, an area that gave Gill 56 percent and Hartman 5 percent.
Hartman said he's not sure he'll run again. It would require him and supporters to collect even more than 5,000 petition signatures he got this year.
"I just don't know what we need to do. The people aren't happy with the way we're doing politics," he said. "Maybe there's just no way for a guy like me to win right now in this country. I got whupped. Forty-six (percent) to 7 is a pretty lopsided football score."