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More on the special election

Friday, Jul 23, 2010

* Jim Allen of the Chicago Board of Elections explains what’s going on behind the scenes in the case that’s attempting to force a special election for US Senate. As we’ve already discussed, the appellate bench has ruled that the trial judge can order a special election and that federal laws outweigh state concerns. From an Allen e-mail…

Technically, the new opinion is silent on the question of whether a special primary must be conducted, leaving the District Court to resolve the process of determining who the candidates would be for the Special Election for the last weeks of the current term. However, in District Court this week, the attorneys and Judge John Grady were contemplating an order that would have the parties select the nominees by Aug. 19. They also discussed how such an order might have any independent candidates who qualify for the general election ballot also appear on the special election contest just above it.

Under this scenario, the Nov. 2 ballot would have voters first make a selection for the unexpired portion of the current U.S. Senate term, and then, directly below that, make a selection for the full six-year term.

The trial judge has moved the next status hearing up to Monday.

* In other federal-level political news, our quote of the day goes to Republican congressional candidate Adam Kinzinger, whose claims about his military service record were recently slammed by his Democratic opponent’s campaign…

“You say you honor veterans — until a veteran gets in your way and threatens you politically,” Kinzinger says.

The background…

Kinzinger, 32, who jumped into politics at age 20 to win a McLean County board seat and is challenging Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.), answered the call of Sept. 11, 2001, and enlisted in the Air Force. When his campaign website went up last year, a staffer wrote that reserve officer Kinzinger “now serves as a pilot with the Air Force Special Operations Command.” Indeed, at the time Kinzinger was on Special Ops duty. It was a temporary assignment, but after he returned to civilian life, the wording was not changed. When a complaint surfaced that Kinzinger was trying to make Special Ops seem like a permanent posting, the wording on the website was changed to “has served” and added his work in other units.

Kinzinger says that produced online chatter and e-mails alleging he inflated his record. Kinzinger, with 140 combat missions over Afghanistan and Iraq and duty ferrying wounded warriors out of Afghanistan, understandably takes umbrage at attempts to disparage his service. This allegation is as flimsy a political charge as I’ve seen in five decades in journalism.

I’ve seen flimsier, but I get the point. Unlike the very serious and perplexing Kirk problem, this is a matter of semantics, and, unlike Kirk, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern of untruths here. Debbie Halvorson’s campaign deserves all the heat it gets for this one unless they can prove otherwise.

More from Kinzinger in a recent SouthtownStar editorial

“Going from an honorable military servant to a fraud … they’re trying to place that seed in people’s minds, and there’s no reason to do it. It’s absolutely wrong,” Kinzinger said.

We agree. Kinzinger’s military record is impressive, it’s solid, and it deserves respect, not denigration.

Halvorson should battle for the issues she believes in, not drag a worthy opponent through the muck and mire.

* Related…

* Republican Kirk says he would support Kagan: In his announcement in support of Kagan Friday morning, Kirk quoted Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist papers: “To what purpose then require the cooperation of the Senate? I answer that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though in general a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the president, would tend generally to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from family connection, from personal attachment, and from a view to popularity.”

* Kirk Joins Giannoulias in Support of Kagan: The nomination was too careful, though, for the Green Party’s U.S. Senate candidate, LeAlan Jones. In a statement, the Jones campaign criticized the administration for “playing it ’safe’” with the Kagan pick, and expressed concern the president has yet to nominate an African American to the Supreme Court.

* Dems hit GOP candidates for votes on unemployment extension

* Krugman Vs. Kirk On The Federal Debt

* How Controversy-Plagued Candidates Are Winning The Money Race

* ADDED: DCCC buys time in 40 districts : The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has invested approximately $28 million worth of television air time to defend vulnerable incumbents running for reelection this fall, a senior Democratic official confirmed to POLITICO… Illinois Reps. Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster [are two recipients of the funds].

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:23 am:

    I see this is another case of “whatever the republican candidate makes accusations about must be true.” These articles don’t really have any proof or facts or details, you know, journalism, to suggest the Halvorson campaign deserves heat. I’m not even sure what “this one” is referring to in your sentence: “Debbie Halvorson’s campaign deserves all the heat it gets for this one unless they can prove otherwise.”

  2. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:25 am:

    The email looks like standard opposition research doesn’t it?

  3. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:28 am:

    “Dems hit GOP candidates for votes on unemployment extension.”

    All the GOP ever wanted was for the extension to be paid for from existing unspent $400B of stimulus funds. Thank God the Democrats would not compromise on this matter, it is much better to borrow this money from the Chinese so our kids can pay it back.

  4. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:29 am:

    Can the Democratic Party of Illinois nominate Michelle Obama for the special election?

    I hope so!

  5. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    In the Post-Vietnam political world, it has become acceptable to smear veterans if it means political victory to an opponent.

    In the Post-Vietnam political world, we have legions of non-military-experienced journalists who do not share the same values or life experiences as our veterans. Until their retirement, we had many war-experienced journalists. Since their retirement, veterans are not represented or reported on in news as earlier generations of veterans had been.

    This is also true of politicians. We have a long history of military leaders turning politicians. How these candidates are being reported on today is different from our past.

    I read unbelievable insults on John McCain’s war record in 2008. I have read unbelievable insults regarding other candidate-veterans. Kinzinger is right. Veterans are treated badly at a time when we need more men and women with this kind of real world experience in government.

    This has definately spilled into the Kirk campaign. This cynicism towards veterans and their accomplishments needs to be better handled than it has been.

    Politicians recognize that unlike other job experiences, voters admire veterans. So, unlike most candidates with job experiences, (Giannoulias is a definate exception), politicians are undermining that voter admiration and forcing voters to question veteran candidates.

    I’m pretty sick of it.

  6. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    If we’re going to tidy everything up with a ridiculous special election, can we get a recount on that Kennedy-Nixon race, too? How about Adlai and Big Jim (sorry, Seymour)?

    (Despite the legend, Kennedy would have won without Illinois.)

  7. - Irish - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:40 am:

    I have a question/comment. Do the developments of the special election and the Feds position that should have been the course from the beginning; now render all that transpired to fill the seat academic? Does this help Blago if he takes the position that according to the very people who are prosecuting him he couldn’t fill the seat anyway, so no harm no foul?

  8. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:56 am:

    Re: Kirk v. Krugman,

    I love how the GOP didn’t seem to notice the deficit until Obama was in office. Then, out of the clear blue sky, deficits are out of control and all spending must stop!

    What a bunch of hypocrites who put partisan politics above the nation’s interest. I’m sick of it. If Mark Kirk is so concerned about the deficit, he should apologize for the votes he cast that created the bulk of it.

  9. - Wumpus - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:58 am:

    so they failed to update the website, but it was true at the time. brilliant! possibly slimy, but th eopponents seem to be arguing trival things. This is the wrong battle to fight. It is not like the guy was the food server for the special forces for a week.

    Wumpus for Special Term Seneator!

  10. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    One point that I’m not sure has been made is how irresponsible it was for the Court of Appeals to sit on this case for nine months before issuing a decision. The case was argued September 17, 2009, and issued Juen 16, 2010. The decision gave voters the right to decide an interim senator with one hand, but took it away by the delay.

    It also was unfair to Illinois government officials (I know it’s hard to be unfair to Illinoig government officials) by not giving them time to react.

    Whatever one thinks of the merits of the decision, Judge Diane Wood, the author, and Judges Rovner and Tinder, who agreed to it, didn’t get the job done in a timely fashion.

  11. - Conservative Veteran - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    47th Ward, I complained about the federal deficit, on a few websites, when Bush was president. I said that Bush and many republican congressmen were too liberal, because they passed budgets that increased spending more than Clinton’s budgets. In the 2004 presidential election, I voted for Michael Peroutka, of the Constitution Party, because Bush was too liberal and because I knew that Bush couldn’t win Illinois.

  12. - cermak_rd - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:05 am:


    The problem is veterans in the past were given too much deference in politics. For example, U.S. Grant as president. Asking tough questions of them is fair, after all think of John Kerry, Max Cleland, John McCain, et al. On the other hand, think of Tammy Duckworth, I don’t remember anyone denigrating her war effort.

    No one deserves a seat in the government just because they served in the military.

  13. - No Peotone Airport - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:18 am:

    With all due respect to veterans, based on the links posted here, this story appears to have originated with the Kinzinger campaign and politicizes his military service by defending it against imaginary charges.

    I’m open to being persuaded otherwise, but would need to see posted an example of Kinzinger’s military service record actually being “slammed by his Democratic opponent’s campaign.” The email exchange we read here doesn’t qualify. Would anyone suggest candidates should not have staff working to verify the claims of their opponents?

    Please show us where Halvorson (or someone with her campaign) said publicly, “Kinzinger inflated his military record.”

  14. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:20 am:

    What happens to Illinois if we refuse to have two elections on one day? Do they take away a couple of electoral votes? Refuse to seat our candidate for Miss America?

    This is about the stupidest decision that highly-educated people have ever produced. Elect one person to serve two months and another person to serve six years, on the same day? Really? Really?

  15. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:22 am:


    Many of us called for Bush to veto several of the Republican congressional budgets submitted prior to Democratic control of congress in 2006, and definitely thereafter.

    Bush ran about $400B in deficits in last year. Obama has tripled that amount and then some in his first year.

  16. - just sayin' - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:25 am:

    The Kinzinger thing is not only a different degree from Mark Kirk, it’s not even in the same category.

    The Kinzinger embellishment or whatever you want to call it is nothing. Sloppy description, at worst.

    Kirk on the other hand has a problem that rises to pathological.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:27 am:

    Cincinnatus- Is spending actually up under Obama, or is it just that income is way down because of the economic collapse?

  18. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    Nice try, Cinci. Bush’s tax cuts and two off-the-books wars account for the overwhelming majority of the deficit. Obama’s enormous deficit spending was needed to stave off financial disaster.

    You claim you objected to Bush spending $400B? What was the deficit when Bush took over? Don’t take my word for it, look at the charts in the story.

  19. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    OK, let’s move along.

  20. - Pat Robertson - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    ==can we get a recount on that Kennedy-Nixon race, too? ==

    Great idea, Wordslinger. This is fun! If Nixon won, wouldn’t that make him ineligible to have run for re-election in 72, which means George McGovern was elected by default, which means . . .

  21. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 11:48 am:

    There is a long history in the US of “waving the bloody shirt” to fend off political criticisms. In some cases, this has meant recruiting veterans as candidates, not because their resumes recommend them as political leaders, but because their service inoculates them against political attack. This practice has been pursued by both Republicans and Democrats.

    Criticisms of a candidate’s proclaimed service record are always fair, but should be closely examined. This time around, Mark Kirk’s embellishments are certainly disturbing. With respect to Kinzinger, the the criticisms appear accurate, but so what, they are so minor as to appear petty.

    A better approach for the Halvorson campaign would be to ask if Kinzinger’s resume is strong enough to justify putting him in Congress. It would be a better argument to say that his service in the military is not enough, by itself, to qualify him for Congress, but that would highlight his service (which the DH people would not want to do) and probably bring on more criticism of the Halvorson campaign for impugning his service (which it would not be, but would be portrayed as).

  22. - Sue - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 12:09 pm:

    Is there an argument which can be made that to the extent Senator(chuckle)Burris was not properly appointed that his senate membership can be invalidated- Burris has been the 6oth vote for much of the Obama agenda

  23. - Secret Square - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 12:35 pm:

    “Is there an argument which can be made that (Burris’) Senate membership can be invalidated”

    I only wish there were an argument which could be made to invalidate both of Blago’s terms of office… perhaps on grounds of fraud?

  24. - Montecore - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 12:52 pm:

    I read on a blog that Halvorson’s campaign manager wrote the Pentagon using his real name but saying he was “an independent researcher” looking into Kinzinger’s background.

    Bottom line here is Halvorson voted for the stimulus spending, Cap and Trade, and the healthcare bill. Those flagship votes are unpopular with a majority of voters in the 11th. That’s why she is not ignoring her opponent as virtually all incumbents of both parties have done in Illinois in the last ten years. Instead it is immersion in scorched earth tactics. She certainly is not going to spend the campaign bragging about her voting record or accomplishments. Kinzinger has her on the ropes.

  25. - boom hand - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 1:03 pm:

    I was told of the Kinzinger “issue” by Halvorson staffers months ago. they were shopping it around and only seems to have gotten any traction, becuase of the Kirk issue.

    If the differance is attached to vs tasked to vs working with in support of, it’s not a big deal to most. and like the Cedra incident could come back to backfire on Halvorson.

    why they would even go there is baffling. Halvorson’s step son is a Wounded Officer in the Special Forces I believe. no reason to try and tear down a guy who isn’t John Kerry esc when she has her on family credentials to play on.

    It may not have been said in public, but it can be tied back to her campaign.

  26. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 1:37 pm:

    Halvorson is a good lady. This misstep occurred because of her hired guns. She respects a military record enough to respect her opponent for his service. The fault here lies with those without scruples willing to attack politically at all costs without considering any consequences of their actions.

    Halvorson’s re-election is going to be tough. Her hired guns are afraid. They created this story in an attempt to lump Kinzinger with Kirk. They shopped this stinky kerfuffle to partisan hack sources and it ended up in print. It is hard for a Congressperson to control each one of their satanic flying monkeys who have no interest in them, except as resume fodder, and has no interest in the Congressional District other than to make a notch in their holster. These partisan boobs probably don’t even know who Kinzinger is, who Halvorson is, or who the voters are.

    We cannot allow these amoral delinquents to hijack our campaigns. Halvorson should clear the air, and fire someone to demonstrate her sincerity. She has a boatload of consultants to choose from. Pick a nut, and unload them!

  27. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 1:40 pm:

    Is anyone talking about simply seating the winner of the November US Senate race so that we don’t have to have two elections and pay for two elections?

    It would give the winner more seniority within the Class of 2010 as well as save perhaps millions of our dollars.

    Just wondering - as Rich is famous for writing.

  28. - No Peotone Airport - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 2:57 pm:

    Still waiting for someone to document the campaign appearance, advertising piece, press conference or press release where the Halvorson campaign attacked Adam Kinzinger for inflating his military service record.

    Lacking any evidence to the contrary, it would appear the Halvorson campaign considered the strategic value of a Kirk-scale embellishment, looked into it, saw it wasn’t there, and walked away. Whereupon the Kinzinger campaign took a private inquiry, framed it as a public smear, and got two newspapers to editorialize over the crime of an attack that never took place.

  29. - ugo - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 3:02 pm:

    Halvorson was sloppy on this military record issue. She’s been in politics for a long time and she knows better than to recklessly imply improprieties with a clean military record. She saw an opportunity with the Kirk stuff and overreached. Now, she is paying a PR price for it. It doesn’t matter if it was her or her operatives. Even if she thinks there was something there, she has now lost the issue for later in the election when there would be less time to respond.

    As a whole, I think she is the most likely Dem of the targeted races to lose in Nov.

  30. - A veteran in the 15th - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 3:19 pm:

    The attack on Kinzinger is shameless. I know that Kinzinger “took it” for a long time, patiently explaining his record. But at some point, you have to respond, and that’s what he is doing. Does Halvorson have the right to look into his record? Sure, but the record was found clean and the rumors and innuendos continued…

    This is very similar to the Washington Post article claiming that Democrats were going to try to discredit their opponents this year to avoid the issues. I do believe someone needs held accountable. Probably Travis Worl, her campaign manager and the guy who lied about his role to the US Air Force, and sent the email. He is also the one who pedaled the story behind the scenes.

  31. - G. Willickers - Friday, Jul 23, 10 @ 10:25 pm:

    “You say you honor veterans — until a veteran gets in your way and threatens you politically,” Kinzinger says.

    I wonder if Kinzinger feels the same way about what his bud Petey “Ambulance Chaser” Roskam did to Iraq War Amputee Tammy Duckworth.

    What hogwash.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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