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Debate notes

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

The tone of tonight’s debate seemed higher than before, perhaps because it was Phil Ponce and Public Television, or maybe it was the less formalized setting.

Still, Alan Keyes gave us more of the same tonight - the rightist populist, too confident by half that he will ascend into heaven, debating not his opponent, but a heavily stylized caricature.

Obama built on his criticisms of Keyes from the last debate, continuing his argument that one of Keyes’ justifications for opposing gay marriage (that children who don’t know their parents would “inevitably” have sex with a sibling) undercut the foundation of adoption. Using Jefferson and the 14th Amendment to deflate Keyes’ contention that no separation of church and state existed was good - it’s just too bad he didn’t have enough time to elaborate.

The best part was that Obama finally stopped saying “uh” so much.

I wrote more, but I’m saving it for tomorrow’s Capitol Fax.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

Much better than tonight’s Senate debate

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

Howard Stern and FCC Chairman Michael Powell debated during a radio call-in show today. Stern called in to a show that had Powell on as a guest. I’m listening to it now. Very intense.

Stern more than just suggests right off the bat that Powell’s dad got him the job.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Leader poll freeped

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

It appears the Bean people are successfully freeping the Leader’s latest reader poll.

8th Congressional District Race. In what is likely to be the most competitive Congressional race in IL this year, who do you think will win?

Phil Crane

Melissa Bean

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

A side order of dirt

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

Do you think the Democrats might be attempting to gently nudge the topic of Congressman Phil Crane’s struggle with alcoholism a little?

I had to kill off two posts from a persistent commenter last week who wanted to focus on the subject. The poster was anonymous, but I had a hunch who it was, found out I was right, and, yes, he does have a connection to Democratic challenger Melissa Bean’s campaign, as well as, apparently, WAY too much time on his hands (although, I gotta admit, the posts were pretty funny and he should not take this as discouragement - keep it up, dude).

I didn’t think anything more about it until this morning, when I saw that the Sun-Times managed to work an alcoholism reference into its Crane story:

Some suburban Republican leaders said they think Crane has spent less time and effort in the district in the last several years, particularly since he spent 30 days in rehab for alcoholism in 2000.

So, I did a quick Google check, and found this recent story on national pundit Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” website:

According to national Democrats targeting the race, the attention that has been drawn to Crane’s lack of legislative activity coupled with the state GOP’s current disarray have conspired to make the 35-year House veteran vulnerable. They also say Crane’s stay at an alcohol rehabilitation center several years ago doesn’t help matters either, though the GOP says it’s an old issue.

Even with the booze issue, when all is said and done Sabato thinks Crane survives the rematch.

Bean’s enhanced name recognition and the race’s presence on the national radar screen will probably make the outcome a lot closer this time around, but Crane, who replaced Donald Rumsfeld in this seat years ago, is a Chicago institution and remains the favorite to win a 19th term.

“Chicago institution”? Not. More like “Washington, DC institution.” Almost nobody knows who Phil Crane is. He faded away long ago.

And while I certainly don’t condone this sort of behavior, I think that if the Democrats are willing to stoop to using these naughty little tactics then maybe Bean does have a shot at winning. It ain’t easy to unseat an incumbent in an overwhelmingly GOP district. A little dirt is probably necessary.

The Beanos will need all the help they can get. The Republicans brought in a negativity specialist this week, so hold onto your hats. I know the guy. He’s always fun to watch. I have no idea what will happen next, but I’m positive that Bean won’t like it much.

By the way, if the Republicans hadn’t panicked and eliminated straight-ticket voting after the 1996 election, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now. The straight R’s would have overwhelmed Bean.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

As I was web-surfing while waiting on return phonecalls, I found a new column by right-wing activist Paul Weyrich, who appears to have succinctly summed up the excuses and insults that those who cannot yet admit the obvious will surely be using next week.

Keyes has made a valiant attempt but Illinois is increasingly Democratic.  Keyes got a late start, has been a resident of Maryland and had very little money with which to run a statewide race.  Obama, who is a hard-core leftist in a moderate package, has been touted for years as an up and coming star who will be the first male Black Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate. 

What’s with capitalizing the “b” in “black”?

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Whitman endorses Rep. Munson

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

Latest from the 43rd House District:

ELGIN — In a development that suggests the race in the 43rd Representative District could be drawing more interest from Republican Party leaders than had previously been thought, Christie Todd Whitman, the high-profile former governor of New Jersey, endorsed incumbent state Rep. Ruth Munson at a press conference Monday.

Whitman, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush until mid-2003, was in town for a fund-raiser for state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, the house minority leader, who also put in an appearance at Monday’s event. Speaking at the Hemmens Cultural Center, Whitman touted Munson’s environmental record.

Thanks to NZ for the reminder.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Notes from another planet

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

From Alan Keyes’ website, RenewAmerica.

GREAT NEWS — Alan EXCEEDED the already high expectations of viewers in the second candidate debate for U.S. Senate from Illinois!! Please help us build on the momentum his sterling performance is generating with moral conservatives all over Illinois, and across the country. We need to increase our budget for our ad blitz next week across the state, and we need your contribution NOW!

Of course, right after Alan did so well, the mainstream media is releasing a negative poll taken BEFORE this first televised debate, to try to suppress positive response and enthusiasm. But under incredibly hostile media pressure in this Democrat-machine run region, Alan continues to stand his ground, while our Chicago HQ is swamped with calls and supporters energized for the first time “in years” to really get out and WORK for a candidate. You can help us at this critical time by going to and donating by credit card for urgently needed ad budget. The ground war is in full swing, Keyes signs and precinct walkers are out all over Illinois, we are moving literally millions of pieces of campaign literature — but as we get our air war launched, WE MUST RAISE MORE FUNDS for media ad buys…….

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Kill the advance team

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

Kentucky US Senator Jim Bunning is currently facing down media reports that he is rapidly losing his mental faculties. So whoever set up this photo op ought to be shot.

Heck, even if Bunning was healthy there would be no excuse for staging a photo on a handicapped parking space.

AP photo via the daily kos.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Reform and renewal

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

I can’t help but wonder what percentage of these workers are Republicans.

Twenty-seven employees in the Springfield office of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation were notified Monday that their positions are being cut.

A spokeswoman for the department, Susan Hofer, declined to label the job eliminations as layoffs, saying the action is part of the “restructuring and streamlining” of the new superagency that was created by merging four departments in July.

And buried way down is the kicker:

Although the four agencies were merged into one department, their director’s positions were retained to oversee the divisions within the new agency, and a secretary was named to head the entire department.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

Breaking news release

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich this morning announced that his administration has located and placed an order to purchase an additional 200,000 doses of the Aventis flu vaccine from wholesalers in Europe; 80,000 doses have been guaranteed and 120,000 more is expected to be available.  On Monday, the Governor announced that Illinois had procured between 62,000 and 87,000 doses of the vaccine through a British wholesaler and had asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fast approval to ship and use the shots for the state’s most at-risk senior citizens and young children.  With today’s announcement, Illinois is poised to purchase nearly 300,000 doses of European-made flu vaccine to address this year’s severe shortage.

And, of course, he can’t resist a plug for his new program.

Gov. Blagojevich was able to quickly find the European vaccine using the state’s contacts with prescription drug suppliers in Europe who are providing medications for Illinois residents through the new I-SaveRx program.  Blagojevich and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle launched I-SaveRx to help the nearly 13 million residents of Illinois and more than 5 million residents of Wisconsin save 25 to 50 percent on the cost of their prescription drugs.  Illinois and Wisconsin residents can enroll in I-Save Rx by calling 1-866-ISAVE33 or visiting

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

I know that it’s been said many times before, but, man, the Illinois Democrats’ website is beyond weak.

Completely useless might be a better description. Go check it out just for laughs.

UPDATE: Someone over at the House Democrats (the people who run the state party) reminded me that when they were in the minority, they had lots of time to publish their own faxed newsletter. Yes, I remember that well. They’re a little busy these days. No time to invent computer games.

Even so, DPI’s website sucks. How long would a sprucing up take? A few hours of one person’s time?

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

US Senate roundup

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004

The Edwardsville Intelligencer decides not to go with either candidate in the US Senate race:

But, like Kerry, (Barack Obama) doesn’t lay out any plans that might shed some light on his intentions.

He is middle of the road because he needs to be. It’s no secret Obama is being groomed for an eventual run at the White House.

Here is what he had to say on a Chicago radio station about gay marriage:

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but I also detest the sort of bashing and vilifying of gays and lesbians.”

He addressed marriage and he addressed homosexuals, but he didn’t put the two together.

Not that it’s going to matter much.

Obama is going to win and win easily.

Keyes was rushed into the race and has been able to do little more than sling arrows at Obama. We know he stands for negative campaigning and he will be the first at the national level to try to tarnish Obama’s image.

But image and arrows aren’t enough and as a result, we cannot endorse either candidate in this race.

The paper also gave John Kerry one of the weakest endorsements I think I’ve ever seen in a presidential race.

Meanwhile, the Daily Vidette has a piece today on the other candidates running for Senate.

Although U.S. Senate candidates Barack Obama and Alan Keyes will face off tonight in the second debate of the race, there are two other candidates who will not be involved.

“They wouldn’t even let me in to watch [the first debate],” said Jerry Kohn, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, adding this shows “how unfair and unbalanced the system is in favor of the two major parties.”

The article is mostly a profile of Kohn, and the various write-in candidates are not mentioned. One of those write-ins, Mark Kuhnke, blasted out this e-mail yesterday:

I’m asking my supporters to dig deep into their email lists and address books. Do you have a friend in Flora, a gal in Galena, a cousin in Quincy? ( I could go on, but you get my drift.) Let anyone and everyone you can know about this campaign, and send them the website address,

We are making inroads, and a few polls have listed me as 1 - 3 %. One radio poll in southern Illinois had me at 9%, but it was not a significan number. Thank you for all your help to this point, and I thank you in advance for your support in the upcoming 10 days. Enjoy the game - Go Cards!….Mark Kuhnke MD

Has anyone seen these polls that Kuhnke is talking about? There’s nothing on his website and Google News produces only a single story for “Mark Kuhnke.”

Finally, here’s the Quincy Herald Whig report on its 47th Senate District poll on the presidential and US Senate races that I wrote about today.

Obama has a commanding 53 percent to 17 percent lead over Keyes among voters in The Herald-Whig/WGEM poll. Obama has gained six points since an Oct. 3 poll and has 84 percent of the Democratic vote and 37 percent of the Republican vote.

Bush has a 51.5 percent to 35.4 percent lead over Kerry in a race that is considered a statistical dead heat nationally. Both candidates receive strong support in Western Illinois from their own party — 87 percent of Republicans surveyed stand by Bush and 85 percent of Democrats support Kerry.

Here’s my favorite part:

“It (wasn’t) right to bring in Alan Keyes from out of state,” Lori said.

Terri, a Mason County Republican, summed up her vote: “I’m not real thrilled, but I’ll vote for Keyes,” she said.

Those who support Keyes often mention his stances against abortion, against gay marriage and in favor of gun rights. Others said his campaign has been over the top on moral issues and short on substance for most Illinois voters.

“Keyes is awful,” said Diana, an independent voter from Mason County.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Speaker Madigan again busts the caps on his personal campaign account
* Exelon chief lobbyist given "final warning" on conduct
* Ald. Ed Burke is no longer a partner at Klafter & Burke
* The trouble with Harry
* Today's quotable
* Question of the day
* Congressional roundup
* Caption contest!
* Cannabis roundup
* Another lousy audit report for DCFS
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* Rockford airport finally gets its state money
* *** UPDATED x2 - Trooper dies from wound *** Two state troopers shot in a week while serving warrants
* Fixes ain't free
* State Fair attendance said to be up 37 percent from last year
* *** UPDATED x2 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign updates
* Yesterday's stories

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