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Things aren’t always what they seem to be - except when they are

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010

* We’ve heard endless talk from Republican gubernatorial candidates and GOP legislative leaders about their firm opposition to tax hikes, but Fox Chicago’s Dane Placko claims (rightly) that the behind the scenes talk is far more realistic. Watch the video


“I was just down in Springfield last week for the State of the State and everybody you talk to — Republican, Democrat, behind the scenes — they all say there’s no way you dig yourselves out of this hole without some sort of enhanced revenues. Is it disingenuous of the Republicans — at least five of them — to say we will sign this no tax pledge?”

* Remember when a Sara Feigenholtz yard sign appeared in Rahm Emanuel’s front yard before last year’s special congressional primary? Turns out, it was Emanuel’s wife who placed the sign. This time, things are closer to what they appear to be

llinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has tipped her hand in the race on Chicago’s north side to succeed John Fritchey in Illinois’ 11th House district.

Madigan’s preferred candidate in the Democratic primary–which includes attorneys Dan Farley and Ed Mullen–is Ann Williams.

How do we know?

A drive by the Attorney General’s house reveals a “Ann Williams for State Representative” sign firmly planted in Madigan’s postage stamp-sized front yard and another in the front window.

I called Madigan’s campaign office and was told the AG and her husband would both be voting for Ms. Williams. Asked whether this was an endorsement, I was told that the AG and her husband would both be voting for Ms. Williams. Ah, the Madigan’s. Gotta love ‘em for their complete, forthright answers.

* Speaking of endorsements, the Chicago Tribune editorial board has long lavished praise upon state Rep. Beth Coulson. So everybody figured she had a lock on the Trib’s nod this year in the 10th Congressional primary. Nope. The Trib endorsed Bob Dold instead. Wow.

* Campaign contributions are not always evil things, and they’re often overused to make a point that most likely doesn’t exist. For instance, Crain’s has a story about an unusual proposal to bail out ShoreBank with state funds

The state of Illinois is considering an unprecedented bailout of ShoreBank, the struggling South Side bank acclaimed for its commitment to lending in low-income neighborhoods.

Prodded by the likes of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Finance Authority officials met earlier this month with ShoreBank executives to discuss raising tens of millions for the bank through an IFA bond offering. […]

ShoreBank’s political supporters don’t want it to suffer the same fate as Park National Bank, a lender active in West Side neighborhoods. Despite eleventh-hour intervention by members of Congress, federal bank regulators seized Chicago-based Park National and handed it over to Minnesota-based U.S. Bancorp. in October after it was unable to raise capital to offset loan losses.

But a “Big Government” blogger sees a nefarious motive behind the move

The answer may lie in the history of campaign contributions by ShoreBank executives and employees.

Federal Election Commission records reveal that ShoreBank executives and employees gave thousands of dollars to Rep. Schakowsky and Sen. Durbin.

Actually, bank employees have contributed less than $3.000 to Schakowsky’s campaign committee since 1997, with the most recent contri in March of 2007. Durbin got $6650 since 1997 - hardly a king’s ransom.

The ideology angle is far more believable here.

* Sometimes, though, campaign contributions are probably just as they seem. Mark Brown’s column on a suspect contribution is one of those

As a Cook County government contractor, supplying mail-order prescription drugs to patients in the county’s heath-care system, Nebraska-based SAV-Rx Inc. is limited by law to donating no more than $1,500 this election year to its favorite local politician, Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno.

But at a fund-raiser held in Moreno’s honor earlier this month, SAV-Rx left the county’s contribution limits in the dust by writing out a check for $25,000.

The catch is that the check was made out to the Mexican American Political Action Committee, a group that hosted the fund-raiser using Moreno’s donor list to target its solicitations.

Significantly, there are no legal limits on what SAV-Rx can contribute to MAPAC, just as there no limits on what MAPAC can donate to Moreno, one of the candidates it plans to support in the Feb. 2 primary election.

Some might look at that set of facts, as does Moreno’s opponent, former alderman and state senator Jesus Garcia, and suspect an intentional effort to circumvent the county’s contribution limits.

* Keep in mind that even with the dropoff, at least four of the top ten early voting wards are African-American so far

Compared with the first week in November 2008, when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama pulled in lots of folks who often don’t vote, relative turnout is way down on the lakefront and in many predominantly African-American wards. And it’s way, way up in organization bastions on the Southwest and Northwest sides.

For instance, in the first week in 2008, the number of those who cast early ballots in Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s 13th Ward ranked near the bottom, 42nd of the 50 wards. But this time, the 13th Ward has moved up a spiffy 24 slots, to No. 18.

Similarly on the Southwest Side, the 23rd Ward went from 26th to first place, and the 19th Ward from 15th to second.

And in good organization wards on the Northwest Side, the 36th Ward leapt from 33rd to 13th place; the 38th Ward from 38th to 23rd, and the 45th Ward from 32nd place to ninth.

In comparison, the lakefront 44th Ward slipped from sixth place to 24th, and the adjoining 32nd Ward from 19th to 33rd.

The 47th Ward, which is backing Dan Farley against Ann Williams in that above-mentioned House race, dropped 12 notches to 21st in the city. The 41st Ward, site of a very hot state Senate primary, jumped way up from 13th to 3rd. Todd Stroger’s 8th Ward dropped from 3rd to 15th. Read the entire document by clicking here.

* Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman is, as expected, making a clean sweep of newspaper endorsements, mainly because he was such a strong fighter against Mayor Daley. He’s reportedly going up on the air with a major TV buy soon, which will most likely feature those endorsements. More details when I get them. Hoffman is also doing personalized videos in e-mail blasts. Mary Schmich has more on that.

Anyway, back to Daley. Hoffman also said on “At Issue” this weekend that he will seek Mayor Daley’s endorsement if he wins the primary

Senate primary candidate David Hoffman, who made headlines investigating Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s administration, says he hopes to use the Democrat’s political muscle to win the general election.

“I would seek his endorsement,” Hoffman said during Thursday’s taping of WBBM’s At Issue program on 780AM.

Reasonable, but probably not great timing.

UPDATE: I was right about Hoffman’s new ad. Rate it

I’m hearing this is a very big buy. Meanwhile, Giannoulias also has a new ad, featuring his mom

[End of update]

* Sneed reports that Republican Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri is endorsing Democrat Terry O’Brien for Cook County Board president. That’s just what it looks like. The bipartisan “combine” is in full force there.

* Other campaign stuff…

* Press Release: The Senate Democratic caucus committees took in over $1,919,000 in the last six months. Over the last four election cycles for this time period the caucus committees average of just over $940,000 with the best period being just over $1,120,000 in 2005. The Senate Democrats financial prowess shows no signs of slowing as they have already filed over $130,000 in contributions since January 1st… Senate Democrats caucus committees ended the year with just over $2,800,000 cash on hand. That surpasses the previous cash on hand record set in 2005 by over $60,000, even though the Senate Democrats started this cycle with $500,000 less in the bank than the Democrats did back in 2005.

* LIVE COVERAGE: Illinois democratic candidates for governor debate

* Profile: Alexi Giannoulias runs for U.S. Senate with President Barack Obama as a mentor

* Republicans show differences in U.S. Senate race

* IL-SEN: White Endorses Giannoulias, IEA Backs Hoffman

* Illinois Senate candidates differ on health care

* Senate candidates Jacob Meister, Robert Marshall seek to make name for themselves in crowded Democratic field

* Meister makes case for Senate

* SIUC students chosen as panelists for Senate debate

* Our choices for Congress

* Choices for Congress

* GOP candidate drops out of local congressional race

* 14th Dist. candidates disagree on job creation

* Hultgren, Hastert show similarities in debate

* 10th Congressional GOP candidates shun tax increases

* 9th Dist. GOP candidate appeals her dismissal from ballot

* Democrats have primary battle to take on Schock

* Fix Cook County now

* Cook County Board Candidates Fight for the Job

* Cook County Board candidates talk regrets

* Money flows in Cook County president race

* Cook Co. Board Prez: Preckwinkle’s Second Ad, Stroger To Hit Airwaves Soon

* Todd Stroger pledges to thank himself if re-elected

* Stroger Distances Himself from County Official

* District 4 GOP candidates question DuPage County Board budget

* District 3 county board GOP candidates outline issues

* Two newcomers seek Democratic support for DuPage forest board

* Elgin-area primary hopefuls have their say at local debates

* Lake Co. sheriff candidates outline their goals

* Kramer says Kane Co. jail, number of sworn officers must expand

* Dist. 7 hopeful shares ideas on issues facing Kane County Board

* McHenry County board hopefuls discuss budget, cuts, Valley Hi

* GOP hopefuls for Boone County judge cite experience

* For House Dist. 59, Democrat: Hartstein

* For House Dist. 59, Republican: Sugrue

* For House District 50, GOP: Hatcher

* For House Dist. 62, Republican: Cole

* Higgins deserves GOP nod in 56th District

* For 41st District, GOP: Sheahan

* For Senate Dist. 25, GOP: independent, consistent Lauzen

* For 54th District GOP: Bassi

* Local officials back Bassi for House

* 54th House GOP candidates talk budget fixes

* State high court in no rush, Rauschenberger stays on ballot

* House District 50 GOP hopefuls: Gambling no fix for budget

* House Dist. 59 candidates address public employee pensions

* Few politicians willing to take ownership of video gambling

* Candidate forums scheduled throughout the suburbs

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Scooby - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 1:59 pm:

    Any relation between the candidate Dold and the Trib’s Dold, or is Dold just the norht shore version of Smith or Jones?

  2. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:06 pm:

    Ann Williams twitter-spammed me. A better question for the Madigan Machine is whether any of the other candidates are “dummy candidates” whose only purpose is to attack Williams’ biggest threat — that’s what he/they are doing elsewhere. In any event, thanks Lisa, this makes up for handing the GOP a senate seat.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:10 pm:

    ===whether any of the other candidates are “dummy candidates”===

    Dumb question. The answer is no.

  4. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:11 pm:

    ===Any relation between the candidate Dold and the Trib’s Dold===

    Read the editorial. The answer is no.

  5. - Altgeld's Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:11 pm:

    whats a twitter spam?

  6. - corvax - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:24 pm:

    I see Hoffman’s more subtly pushing that “parent” image Meister hammered him for in an earlier debate.

  7. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:32 pm:

    Wait, Rich, are you saying that Adam Andrzejewski’s menu of budget cuts didn’t sway you into believing he could fix the problem without some form of tax increase? Shocking.

  8. - HoffmanHomeRun - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:48 pm:

    The Hoffman ad is the obvious next move– when every thinking publication in the state endorses your candidacy, it’s a good thing to let people know that. It will definitely allow them to get the most out of the ink.

    Rate: A+. Great production, great voiceover, excellent pullquotes. Bonus: unironic use of the word “taint”.

  9. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:52 pm:

    I read the ChiTrib editorial endorsement of Andy McKenna and if they promise that we can solve this problem with cuts only then I believe them.


    The problem here is not that new taxes are needed, the problem is that the state will not likely solve the structural problems with the new revenue, they will just go on another spending spree. I would reject any new taxes unless they are targeted and temporary. That may be beyond the capabilities of the august body of court jesters we refer to as the general assembly.

  10. - Scooby - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:55 pm:

    == Read the editorial. ==

    Dear sir, based on your previous advice I no longer read the Trib’s editorials. I am confused by this contradictory directive.

  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 2:55 pm:



  12. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:16 pm:

    Hoffman’s ad is great. A

    Alexi’s ad? Come on. When I run for office, I’ll include my mom, my dog, my kid and the annoying neighbors in my backyard. He went for and got the cheese factor with that ad. D+

  13. - shore - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:26 pm:

    If the economy was in good shape, I think the corruption message might matter. But these aren’t great times. It’s like bob dole in 1996 wanting to make the election about character when the economy was in great shape so people overlooked it. Corruption is a big problem and I havent seen internal polling on what the biggest issue for democrats is, but I think it would probably be the economy. tough call for hoffman because his strength doesnt seem to be peoples biggest concern. He also seems to have one of kirk’s issues which is too little experience campaigning and backslapping which is more of what this is about than how great a clerk you were for rehnquist.

  14. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:26 pm:

    for those of us unfamiliar with the effect of the “bi partisan combine,” anyone know what the endorsement from Silvestri will actually mean for O’Brien?

  15. - shore - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:29 pm:

    Also, not to be a jerk, because I really like andy shaw and charles thomas, but they have done a horrendous job with these abc debates. There’s been no follow up from the questioners to challenge the candidates, and no offense to the anchors that are standing awkwardly and look like they’d rather be 20,000 other places, but there’s no point to having them there. I get they want more chicagoans to see cheryl burton but that’s not the place for her and it wastes time.

    It’s almost as if they’d hired a vegan to cook steaks.

  16. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:29 pm:

    I don’t recommend young candidates showing their mommies or daddies on television. It makes the candidate look inmature. This goes double if the young candidate wouldn’t be a candidate without their mommy’s or daddy’s fiscal network and power brokers. It makes the candidate look out of touch with voters without politically powerful mommies or daddies - you know - everyone except the Madigans, Daleys, Stevensons, Hasterts, Lipinskis, Strogers, Mells and Jacksons.

    When candidates pull their families into their campaigns, they expose those family members to a world where they may become a campaign issue. If your family is already full of political insiders, it becomes a more legitimate campaign issue.

    Giannoulias’ ad just isn’t very smart, in my opinion. Cute, but slow - kinda like how I have come to see Alexi during this campaign.

    I’m voting Hoffman.

  17. - Brennan - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:34 pm:

    That “Big Government” blogger is a little more than that Rich. Joel Pollak is a GOP candidate in the IL9CD primary. If you’re reading Tribune endorsements for the Illinois Congressional Delegation you would also learn this.

    The State of Illinois should stay far far away from Shorebank. It should stay far away from any bank. The precedent it would establish would make the Banks family look like JP Morgan.

  18. Pingback IL GOP Legislators Who Privately Say We Need A Tax Hike Should Step Forward Or SHUT UP! | Illinois Alliance For Growth - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:43 pm:

    […] Republicans who privately say that we can’t solve the state’s budget problems without tax increases should be reported on.  And Republicans who feel that way should come forward. […]

  19. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 3:47 pm:

    Glad to know my neighbors, Pat and Lisa, are with Ann Williams. Her sign has been up in my postage stamp sized yard around the corner from their house for weeks now.

    The Farley signs are mostly on vacant lots and empty store fronts. And Williams is the only candidate who came to my door. Schulter’s guys haven’t knocked on doors in years, not since the Kelly race. Lazy is as lazy does. Go Ann!

  20. - Geneseo Gent - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:01 pm:

    A+ for Alexi’s ad! His Mother is proud of him and how many Illinois politicians can really say that? Can’t count those Moms whose husbands passed/trying to pass their job down to their son or arranged for another one. He will get my vote but I could work hard for Hoffman if he does win the primary.

  21. - budget boy - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:17 pm:

    If the dems are SO convinced that a tax increase is absolutely necessary — by all means, go right ahead, you have the votes you need. But don’t expect any support from the republicans. It’s been your show the last eight years. You failed to do anything to reform medicaid and reduce eligibility, install a two-tier pension, increase contributions from state employees, layoff employees, freeze hiring, freeze salaries. Inflation has been nearly flat over that time and yet expenditures have grown by nearly 40 percent. If you had made any of the cuts suggested by the republicans, the state would not be in such an awful situation.

    The Dems and the unions have had a great big party the last eight years. You ignored our recommendations on budget cuts for the last eight years… so pardon us republicans if we ignore your request to be with you when you finally have to go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money.

    The taxpayer pledge, at the very least, makes certain that the party responsible for the spending the last eight years is the party required to deliver the bill to the taxpayers.

    When Quinn finally delivers his budget address in March, Illinois’ credit rating will equal or dip below California. I look forward to November 2010 as it will be a referendum on the Illinois Democratic party and the job they have done managing the state over the last eight years.

  22. - Responsa - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:24 pm:

    Alexi’s decision making regarding his ads continues to puzzle. In past ads he brings up a big weakness, Bright Start, and now accentuates his youth by featuring his mommy in this ad. IMO it’ll seems odd to voters that he he couldn’t come up with anybody besides his mom to advocate for his candidacy.

    Maybe his internal polls are telling him this fluffy approach is resonating. But to my mind Alexi is completely misreading the times, the electorate, and the situation.

    C- grade on this “Heart” ad.

  23. - Sam E. - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:25 pm:

    I think Greg Hinz is placing too much stock in those early voting numbers. You really can’t compare this year’s numbers to the Obama-Hillary numbers of ‘08. That primary was off the charts interest wise.

    As far as the Senate ads are concerned, Hoffman’s commercial is a big improvement over the introductory piece he ran a few weeks ago. Then again, it’s hard to screw up an endorsement ad when every paper in the state is saying nice things about you.

    Did not like Alexi’s ad. I agree with the earlier post that it made him seem like a kid. But what do I know? There are probably thousands of 60-ish moms who loved it and will vote for him now.

  24. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:29 pm:

    ===You really can’t compare this year’s numbers to the Obama-Hillary numbers of ‘08. That primary was off the charts interest wise.===

    You have a good point, but it was the elections board that released the numbers. So, they made the original comparison.

  25. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:43 pm:


    Don’t blame Andy. It’s the format that completely sucked and Andy didn’t have any say about that. All of the questioners have been told they aren’t allowed to ask follow-ups. But I agree, it’s like having a racehorse pull a carriage on Michigan Avenue. Total waste of talent.

  26. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 4:46 pm:

    OH MY GOD, that Alexi ad is just ridiculous. What, you couldn’t get a single paper in the state to endorse you so you got your mother instead? Give me a break! And they’re deceptive as well since they don’t chiron her as his mother and expect you to think she’s just a 60something voter unless you listen to the whole thing.

  27. - JonShibleyFan - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 5:32 pm:


    How many random 60 y/o voters would pose that a candidate “was born with a big heart.”

    Not hard to connect the dots.

  28. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 7:03 pm:

    CC. You’re way off base. It’s obvious from the get-go that she’s he’s mother, and the ad WILL appeal, especially to ethnic groups.

  29. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 7:10 pm:

    Responsa, it’s obvious that he’s going for a total “feel-good” campaign, appealing to the passion of Voters. His Bright Start ad was an obvious attempt to put it behind him during the Primary. Considering Alexi’s “charm” and appeal, he might be able to pull it off. After all, on what did he run the first itme?

    Just sayin.

  30. - the Other Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 7:34 pm:

    Rich, could you check on the link to the Board of Elections document on early voting? It keeps bringing me to this blog’s home page — a lovely thing, but not what I expected :)

  31. - georger - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 8:21 pm:

    Alexi Giannoulias’ ad did not resonate with me. David Hoffman’s did. So I decided to read what the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald had to say about him in their endorsements. They were very positive about Hoffman, and I agreed with what they said. The Trib called him “independent and incorruptible”; the Sun-Times said he had “a fierce commitment to fairness and justice”; the Daily Herald said “his chief attribute in his background is rooting out corruption and promoting ethics”. Finally, we have a candidate worthy of filling that senate seat vacated by Obama. . That’s why I’m voting for Hoffman. Here are links to those endorsements, so you can decide foe yourself:

    Chicago Tribune:,0,7565772.story

    Chicago Sun-Times:,CST-EDT-edit12.article

    Daily Herald:

  32. - Big West - Tuesday, Jan 19, 10 @ 10:35 pm:

    The ISBE web site is still crashing. This is nuts. I pity anyone trying to file.

  33. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 20, 10 @ 8:19 am:

    It only took until Jan. 19 for Hoffman to put out a professionally produced ad. I suspect come February, he’s going to be kicking himself for a missed opportunity. It was there for the taking.

    Alexi’s ad is schmaltzy, but very good. His momma loves him — how can you not? He’s lighter than air, but his people have put out good stuff in what has been a very disappointing race.

  34. - Chicago Truth - Wednesday, Jan 20, 10 @ 10:17 am:

    I don’t like Hoffmans’ ad. He keeps talking about himself all the time and doesn’t say a word about problems that people of Illinois say. “I” am this “I” am that…. and do you think newspapers endorsements are good for him? They are the most corrupted…
    I think Alexi ad was cute and it does, like the previous ads of him, address the problems we face here in Illinois.

  35. - georger - Wednesday, Jan 20, 10 @ 10:34 am:

    Chicago Truth, It’s all a matter of trust. I don’t trust Alexi because he used poor judgement in the Bright Start college savings program. Students lost 51 percent of their savings because he failed to provide proper oversight, and most important, he did not recall all funds from Oppenheimer immediately as soon as he knew about their risky investments. It doesn’t make any difference if his ad was cute or not.

  36. - Chicago Truth - Wednesday, Jan 20, 10 @ 2:15 pm:

    Come on with that! What are you? A volunteer for Hoffman campaign? This was an investment program! Investments have risks. I guess the ones who had invested in this bond actually gained more interest, which means that they were exposed to more risk. What do you expect it would happen when the worst crisis struck??? They should thank Alexi for reaching this settlement and got their money back!

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