You can blame mostaccioli for the emergence of at least some of the negative themes in the state Senate race between Springfield Park Board member GRAY NOLL and state Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Carlinville.

You can blame mostaccioli for the emergence of at least some of the negative themes in the state Senate race between Springfield Park Board member GRAY NOLL and state Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Carlinville.

Noll himself said it was out of character for him to go on the attack at a Citizens Club of Springfield debate with McCann Friday. But Noll said he decided it was time to raise issues such as the tax lien against McCann’s construction company because of a side McCann showed while talking to Noll at the Sacred Heart-Griffin High School  mostaccioli dinner held last Sunday.

That school fundraiser is a major annual Springfield event. Both candidates in the new 50th Senate District were there to meet voters.

However, Noll says, McCann talked to him at the dinner about some anti-McCann telephone polling being done in the district.

“I said, ‘Just so you know, it didn’t come from my camp. I didn’t know anything about it.’ He’s like, ‘Well, I don’t really buy that excrement,’” Noll said — though he said McCann used a stronger word, one that starts with “s.”

Noll responded that he was telling the truth, no matter what McCann believed.

McCann then said, according to Noll, “Well, I should have known from the beginning when I met you at that committee call that you were a piece of. …’”

 Noll didn’t repeat it to me at that point, but you get the message.

Up till then, Noll, said he had been struggling with how to handle information that could be used against McCann, such as the tax problem.

“But once he said that to me — he touts himself as a big Christian guy, and from the stories that I hear out on the campaign trail, he strikes me as a phony guy, and that was confirmed for me at the dinner. So that’s why I went ahead and started bringing this up.”

“I don’t recall saying the ‘s’ word,” McCann said later. “The tenor of the conversation was, ‘Why don’t we run on our own merits and let the constituency decide?’”

  “He’s a complete liar,” Noll said when told that McCann denied using the profanity.
McCann did say that his campaign checked on firms involved in the polling and learned that Noll’s campaign indeed was involved.

As it turns out, McCann had a point. MICHAEL EVANS, McCann’s campaign manager, told me the names of firms that the McCann campaign contacted, one of which was Victory Enterprises.

Noll has a campaign consultant, STEVE SCHOEFFEL, who works with that company.

“I hired Victory Enterprises to produce a message for me — television commercial, mailers, etcetera,” Noll said after talking to Schoeffel later Friday. “How they come about developing the message, I don’t have any idea. … According to Steve, they did do some issue research, which could have included this poll.

“I did tell (Schoeffel) to make sure nothing like this happens again without telling me first,” Noll said.

Besides such drama, Friday’s debate brought out personal statements of a kind not often shared by candidates.

When asked about the tax problem, McCann discussed not only his view that mudslinging is “killing us” as a society, but he also revealed some of his own background.

“I started my (construction) company at the age of 23 with no capital,” McCann said. “My folks both left when I was 3 years old. Woke up that morning, asked my father where my mother was, and he said — I won’t repeat what he said. I remember the expletive he used.

“He took me to his parents. … He said, ‘We all know I’m not fit to raise this boy alone. Will you take him?’ And they said ‘No.’ He then took me to her parents, and they said, ‘If nobody else wants him, we’ll take him.’

“So I was raised by multiple folks up and down the eastern seaboard of this country. … I wasn’t fortunate enough to be born in a wonderful household, wonderful folks, and live a storybook life. I wish I could have, and I wish every child in this nation could as well. What I did was work for everything I had.”  

McCann expounded more on the values of families when the candidates were asked their positions on same-sex marriage. Noll’s response was that he is not in favor of legalizing the practice. McCann said he is “absolutely” opposed to both same-sex marriage and also to civil unions, which are now legal in Illinois.

“I believe that the only way that we are going to restore this country, this state (to) what it once was, that bright light shining on the hill,” he said, is to not shy away from social issues, as some politicians, liberal and conservative, want to do.

“In fact, it’s the social issues that are causing the fiscal pressures,” he said, pointing to the Medicaid program, which helps those in poverty.

“The one thing that we need to do to fix this state and this nation that would start the ball rolling in the right direction … would be to restore … the American family,” McCann said.
He also talked about the influence on his life of RONALD REAGAN.

“I didn’t have much of a father figure,” McCann said, mentioning that his father died when McCann was 7, only four years after his parents broke up.

“Over the next eight years, those formative years in a young man’s life, I got my daily dose of a father figure on the nightly news — when I was fortunate to be living in a household that had electricity, or the ability to get television reception. And something happened listening to President Reagan talking about these conservative principles and values that the nation was founded upon, that made it the greatest superpower the Earth had ever seen, and the things that would return us to that strength.

“It was the,” he said, pausing as if getting emotional, “best thing that ever happened. I don’t know that I could ever ask to have a better upbringing than that which President Reagan gave me over those eight years.”

You never know what you’re going to get in a debate.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bschoenburg.