Joel Pollak, the Prototypical "Where'd He Come From?" Candidate of 2010

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 3 2010 2:49 PM

Joel Pollak, the Prototypical "Where'd He Come From?" Candidate of 2010

Michael Warren shines the spotlight on Joel Pollak, one of the surprising attention-getters of the 2010 campaign -- a 33-year-old journalist, just out of grad school, who has turned a longshot campaign against Rep. Jan Shakowsky (D-Ill.) into something worth watching.

Who is Joel Pollak? You probably saw him on TV in 2009 when he appeared at a Barney Frank speech and demanded that Frank explain his own role in the financial collapse. From there he launched a congressional bid in his home district -- which I lived in 2000-2004 as a college student -- even though it's one of the safest Democratic areas in the country. His strategy: Hammer Schakowsky on Israel and corruption, and force her to defend Barack Obama's record while telling Jewish voters in these Chicago suburbs that she's not to be trusted. And it's working, to an extent, because Pollak lined up good endorsements (Alan Dershowitz, Paul Ryan) and aggressively sought media attention. He's raised $221,000. No previous candidate against Schakowsky raised more than $20,000 (although two were self-funders). And so, because of the power of Internet hype, and the ability for anyone, anywhere, to find out about a candidate scoring some good hits on liberals, a safe seat Democrat has to spend money to defend against this guy:


David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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