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Weller district leaning Dem? And Pera gets important backing for primary bid

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

* Pundit and prognosticator Bob Novak classifies retiring Republican Congressman Jerry Weller’s seat as “Leaning Democratic Takeover” in a recent newsletter update…

Illinois-11: Rep. Jerry Weller (R), another Republican under a cloud of scandal and suspicion of corruption, will retire from Congress at the end of this term. Weller is married to a Guatemalan lawmaker and says the long-distance relationship was becoming a strain.

This district stretches West from Chicago’s South Side, including Joliet and Ottawa, and reaches South to Bloomington. It was a near tie in the 2000 elections, but Bush carried it by seven points in 2004. It is wedged between the districts of retiring Representatives Dennis Hastert (R) and Ray LaHood (R), and politically it lies between them — slightly more Democratic than Hastert’s 14th District and slightly more Republican than LaHood’s 18th.

While the district leans slightly Republican, the shadow of Weller’s corruption could give Democrats an edge. Early Democratic candidates include Kankakee Community College President Jerry Weber (D). The Republican field is still nascent. Depending on the nominees, this could go either way, but unless Weller’s shadow departs quickly, this one looks like the Democrats’ strongest chance in Illinois. Leaning Democratic Takeover.

* The Joliet Herald has more potential candidates in a story today…

Joliet Mayor Art Schultz is talking to his family about whether he should run for Congress.

State Sen. Debbie Halvorson plans to spend this weekend in Washington, D.C., as she explores whether to make a bid for the U.S. House. […]

State Sen. Christine Radogno, a Republican who made an unsuccessful bid for state treasurer last fall, is considering a bid. She lives in Lemont, just outside the 11th district, and her Senate district covers part of Will County.

Other Republicans mulling a bid are New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann and Chris McNeil of Frankfort, who made an unsuccessful run last year for the Legislature.

Democrats who might run include candidates who lost to Weller in past elections, John Pavich, a Beecher lawyer who ran a year ago, and Tari Renner, an Illinois Wesleyan University professor who ran in 2004. Jerry Weber, the president of Kankakee Community College, might also run.

Another potential candidate is former state Sen. Patrick Welch, a Democrat who was defeated in his 2004 re-election bid, said several Will County Democrats. Welch, of Peru, had served in the Senate leadership team during 22 years in the chamber.

Welch is one of the newest names on that list. Also, state Rep. Brady says he’s undecided on whether to run for Rep. Weller’s seat.

* Meanwhile, I kinda doubt that Mark Pera can defeat conservative Congressman Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, but his campaign is drawing national attention from some influential blogs and websites. Faithfully Liberal has an interview with Pera

This campaign is receiving more blogger support than any other primary campaign in the country as far as I can tell. As an example, on Sept. 23, Markos Moulitsas wrote a piece on DailyKos endorsing our campaign. Over the next 24 hours, we received more than $10,000 from more than 200 people. In early September, we had a similar experience. That kind of response tells us that our message is resonating and gives the campaign a big lift.

The blogs, sites like Act Blue, these are communication modes that were in their infancy in 2004, made a major impact in the mid-term elections in 2006 and are now an invaluable tool for campaigns. We’ve made a quality, up-to-date Web site and blogger communications a campaign priority. That sets us apart from other candidates.

A number of folks out there, such as the people at Prairie State Blue, Larry Handlin, Howie Klein, Eric Stoller, David Sirota and others, deserve credit for boosting this campaign’s profile. They’ve helped get our message out and clue people in on Congressman Lipinski’s background and voting record. Their hard work compliments the work we do everyday at our campaign office. We hope they keep it up in the months ahead.

* Exerpts from Kos’ endorsement

And today, the machine is spitting out primary challengers in the district to dilute the anti-Lipinski vote. One of the other primary challengers, Palos Hills mayor Gerald Bennett, has a history of lauding Lipinski, including in Lipinski’s press release announcing his reelection […]

Now, suddenly, when it looks like Lipinski could go down in a primary, this huge Lipinski ally somehow decides it’s time to get into the race? It couldn’t possibly be more transparent. Not that the Chicago machine ever played things deftly.

So here’s our chance to fight back against an undermocratic machine, against an unDemocratic Democrat.

* ActBlue, a website devoted to raising funds for Democratic candidates, reports over $40,000 in contributions to Pera so far. That pales in comparison to the $136,000 raised on behalf of Dan Seals, one of two Democratic candidates who want to challenge Congressman Mark Kirk, but it ain’t bad.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - fedup dem - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 9:21 am:

    One would think that Bob Novak would be paying particular interest in the race to succeed Senor Weller in Congress, given the fact that Novak grew up in the district.

  2. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 9:33 am:

    Let’s see, I’m I Democrat, I live in the 11th, I guess I’ll run for Congress…

    Everyone else is, so it must not be too hard.

  3. - Aaron - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 9:57 am:

    Thanks for the link Rich. I too have my doubts about Pera being able to pull off the upset but it is one worth fighting. Lipinski has been one of the many Democrats that keep this war going.

  4. - Joliet Mike - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 10:04 am:

    If Weller were running for re-election, I would agree with Novak’s take. Since Weller is not, I don’t think it matters.

    This is still a pretty GOP district. It was drawn to protect Weller, pushing him out of the southern Cook suburbs. If a decent GOP candidate is fielded, I think the Republicans keep this seat.

    As for the potential candidates named, my thoughts:

    Radogno is well-known, but since she lives in Lemont, it’s a little bit too far outside of what is a pretty large district to begin with.

    I think Schultz has appeal, coming from the largest urban center in the district.

    Baldermann seems to have hitched his star to Weller, though I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Not sure if he’s started talking to the big wigs yet.

    Chris McNeil, from what I saw of him in 2006, seems to be a smart, hard working guy, even though he came up short against Kosel. The word in Frankfort is he’s in DC this week.

    On the Dem side, it seems as though a lot of the people, except for Halvorsen, are backing off. Halvorsen seems to be the strongest candidate and I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins the nomination.

  5. - Matt - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 10:09 am:

    Joliet Mike,
    Actually this is NOT a “pretty GOP district”. In 2000 the Gore and Nader totals actually OUTNUMBERED the Bush vote (Bush ended up with 50, Gore with 48 and Nader 2). This couldn’t be more rip for a Dem pickup.

  6. - Joliet Mike - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 10:14 am:


    Are we living in 2002?

    Try more recently, in 2004, when Bush won the district 53-46.

    Nice try though.

  7. - Matt - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 10:45 am:

    Um, Joliet Mike,

    2004 was an anomaly. Look at place that were Democratic strongholds in 1992,96 and 2000, like LaSalle County, where Clinton and Gore both won overwhelmingly. Kerry only got 47% in LaSalle. Kerry kept a lot of Dems at home.

    If you don’t see that the political climate today is different from what it was in 2004, I think you should spend some time looking at polls.

  8. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 10:52 am:

    If Pat Welch or Debbie Halvorson runs, the race would honestly be their’s to lose. I don’t think Radogno will run, and none of the other current GOP candidates will spark a lot of interest. Of course, $2 million could make anyone look interesting and electable…

    I’m sure Weller doesn’t care if the district stays Republican. He’s selfish enough that he would probably back someone that could either lose or win and he will more than likely sit back and watch the race from the sidelines.

    One name to watch for is Bill Brady. Sound crazy? This could be his chance to move up the political food chain while allowing Dan Brady to run for Senate. It’s a win-win situation. There’s no guarantee that he would even win the GOP nomination for governor in 2010. This might be his only guaranteed shot at winning something other than state senate.

  9. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:04 am:

    The 11th CD is NOT a Republican district. The reason it is considered Republican is because of Jerry Weller. Bush won a lot of counties in 2004 that are very Democratic; that has more to do with people’s dislike for Kerry than the county’s political leanings. My home county - which has NO Republican county officials - was carried by Bush with a 60-40 split. So does that mean my home county is now Republican? No. If anything it means that voters in many counties and state rep/senate districts don’t always vote the way they do for county- and state-level offices.

  10. - Rob_N - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    Team Sleep, $2mil from where for the 11th district GOP nominee? The NRCC has peanuts in the bank. NRCC will be more worried about playing defense and protecting incumbents like Mark Kirk rather than playing offense in open seats.

    For that matter, IRP is down on its luck and has to worry about not just Congressional districts, but State House and Senate districts. They’re so off their game they’re relying on Fox News to do their spinning for them (/shameless plug).

    Unless the GOP nominee can self-fund or has an existing Federal campaign fund filled to the brim … I don’t see where any money is coming from.

  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:10 am:

    The national GOP money situation is awful. From CQPolitics

    ===Using data for Aug. 31 in the election cycle’s off-year as a snapshot, the figures show that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) reported $20.5 million more in cash on hand than the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which reported only $1.59 million in the bank.===

    Not to mention the NRCC’s debt.

  12. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:51 am:

    Speaking of money, right now, it doesn’t look like the DCCC would put money behind anyone but Halvorson. If she doesn’t run, and no one with $$$ and a political background runs, how likely is it that the DCCC will come in anytime soon?

    If the parties both stay out initially, this could become a game of political chicken to see who steps in first. And it will be interesting watching the candidates court their parties.

  13. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 2:00 pm:

    Traditional sources of R money still have $$$$$ to spend. This cycle, they will no doubt be looking at business-friendly D’s in competitive primaries for open seats. I see a potential pickup of seats at the national level for D’s, but much less of a move on the ideology-o-meter when all the dust settles. By now, it is apparent that there won’t be either a Kos-style immediate withdrawal in Iraq, or a Cheney-style lingering occupation at high levels, in the next presidential years. The net effect is that both parties are in essence moving toward a slow withdrawal and reduced occupation stance. There is little unionized manufacturing left in the US at this point to protect with trade agreements. And the hardcore partisans of each side have worn thin with the American public, leaving a mushy middle that either party could claim, where the initial after the officeholder’s name doesn’t make a whole lot of difference except for power-tallying purposes.

  14. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 2:51 pm:


    The 6th CD was shaping up to be hot, but a lot of D.C. folks honestly thought it would never get up to the $5 million mark.

    My point is more of a hypothetical. What if Halvorson runs? The NRCC isn’t merely going to roll over, and if Jerry’s handpicked candidate wins the GOP primary you can bet that there will be some shakedowns in order to garner some serious campaign dollars. It would be embarrassing enough for the NRCC to lose out on the 11th and the 14th, so I would guess that they will be involved somehow.

    Don’t forget, too, that it’s possible for other Congressional campaigns to in-kind help as well as send in foot soldiers. That gets to be pricey as well.

  15. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 3:00 pm:

    Uh, Matt (Ryan). You need to get back to work.

  16. - FED UP - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 3:08 pm:

    debbie halvorsons support of E. Jones and blago will not win her many votes in this district. Its hard to move up when your a yes women for these two.

  17. - Joliet J - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 3:18 pm:

    Mayor Joe Cook is also looking at this race as a Republican.

  18. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 3:22 pm:

    Channahon Mayor Joe Cook announced an exploratory committee at a meeting of Republicans in Shorewood last night. He’ll siphon support from Baldermann among party regulars.

    There is no real A-list candidate running right now. The closest may be Schultz or Bill Holdridge, but neither are making any real moves.

    The big issue is petitions. Candidates have about a month to get on the ballot. Forget exploratory committees, print out the petition and start passing it around.

    This race is a wide open event on the GOP side. The Democrats don’t have a Plan B if Halvorson stays in the Senate.

  19. - Rob_N - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 3:25 pm:

    Point made, Team Sleep. I still don’t see that much money coming in from outside — it just doesn’t exist in a large enough quantity. (NRCC currently has a negative campaign balance — the GOP’s running their campaign orgs like they run the country.)

    Part of any good defense is a strong offense, and with the money the DCCC has in the bank plus EMILY’s List courting Halvorson, that’s already a darn strong offense if she does get in.

    The NRCC may very well simply let the 11th go in order to defend vulnerable incumbents and retain hard-R open seats elsewhere (the fact they had to spend so much to keep the 6th red in 2006 is part of the reason they’re in debt now).

  20. - R.A. - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 4:11 pm:

    Lipinski can be beat. But one of the big ward organizations in the 3rd CD — 11, 13, or 19 — will have to turn against him for that to happen.

  21. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 5:24 pm:

    ====Speaking of money, right now, it doesn’t look like the DCCC would put money behind anyone but Halvorson. If she doesn’t run, and no one with $$$ and a political background runs, how likely is it that the DCCC will come in anytime soon?

    Wrong. DCCC doesn’t go in early very often anyway. They don’t put money in a race until after the primary in an open race–even if they do suggest who they want to win. If DCCC sees a race they can win, they’ll go in. They were ready to last cycle and Pavich’s fundraising was so bad and there were so many targets they went elsewhere.

  22. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 5:27 pm:

    There are 9 open Republican seats from retirements and more likely on the way. The RNCC would have it’s hands full in a good year.

    On top of this Boehner is fighting with Cole over the Committee and it is having a horrible recruiting year in terms of candidates.

  23. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 10:34 pm:

    Arch–One might argue that Pavich’s fundraising fizzled after a promising start because the DCCC stayed out.

  24. - Rob_N - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:28 pm:


    One might argue that dozens of candidates suffered the same fate on both sides of the aisle.

    One learns to deal with it and move on. ;)

    Pavich was a good candidate on paper, but perhaps not able to run an effective campaign in such a varied district (lots of very different communities, demographics, media outlets, etc). If he runs again I hope he does well — he’d bring good perspective to the Hill.

  25. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:51 pm:

    ===Arch–One might argue that Pavich’s fundraising fizzled after a promising start because the DCCC stayed out.

    That is incorrect again. Pavich was on an early list of Races to Watch. DCCC sends that out to national donors and then it is up to the candidates to demonstrate a level of viability early on. John blew that after one good quarter.

    I liked John and held out hope there’d be a surprise. That said, it is not the DCCC’s job to raise every dollar for a candidate. It is the DCCC’s job to recruit good candidates and then help them when they put themselves in a position to win.

    DCCC isn’t perfect, but they gave Pavich the thumbs up early on and he couldn’t convert that help into a strong fundraising effort.

  26. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Sep 27, 07 @ 11:53 pm:

    ===One might argue that dozens of candidates suffered the same fate on both sides of the aisle.

    Rob, that’s not the job of the Party Committees–a candidate has to be able to raise enough on their own because the Party Committee’s cannot give the candidates money other than a $5000 donation in each cycle and seldom do they give in the primaries.

    Everyone seems to think the Campaign Committees have some sort of magic that turns the spigot on. That isn’t the case. They can signal someone is a decent candidate as they did for Pavich, but the candidates have to raise their own money. DCCC can come in then and use their own spending to put the campaign over the top.

  27. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Sep 28, 07 @ 8:54 am:

    Arch & Rob - You may not come back and read this, but in case you do…I understand the limitations, but I have noticed that each cycle, the CC’s pick a couple of candidates that do meet appear to meet their normal “criteria” (small party base in dist., no experience, no $$)and push lots of donors in their direction only to lose (surprise, surprise). I would just like to see what would happen if they spread around the love a bit more.

    I’ll look for a thread in the next few weeks to expand on this, but I would like to see them use a few dollars to present basic training to prospects, follow that up with some minor support, and see who flies. This could work esp. well with the state parties, but has potential at the national level as well.

  28. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 28, 07 @ 8:58 am:

    ===I’ll look for a thread in the next few weeks to expand on this===

    There’s one posted for Friday.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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