Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias held a conference call [Friday] to take a couple shots at Mark Kirk for his vote on a small business loan bill. While the conference was happening, an AP reporter asked why Giannoulias was doing this on a conference call, not in person at a press conference. His answer? Bad hair day.
Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias wanted to rap his opponent over a vote in Congress, so he arranged a teleconference for reporters. Why not hold an actual news conference?
“I’m having a bad hair day,” Giannoulias joked before explaining that he thought the last-minute conference call was more convenient for everyone.
Republicans used the quip to link Giannoulias to a certain ex-governor known for obsessing over his hair.
“Alexi and Rod: More in common than we thought,” was the headline on a statement from the Illinois Republican Party.
* Meanwhile, the Daily Herald appears to be catching on to the game that Bob Dold’s been playing with them. The paper just called him out on a rating by a tea party group that appeared in a conservative magazine. Notes next to the rating claimed that Dold’s campaign indicated “that he wishes to be viewed as a moderate.”
We told them Bob is a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, and that he is pro-choice.
On Friday, Dold denied to the Daily Herald that his campaign asked to be ranked lower. But the paper was able to reach a member of the tea party group who was involved with its voter guide…
On Monday, Patriots member Joan Seifert, who spoke with Folino about the guide, confirmed Folino didn’t want Dold to be rated highly by the group.
“They wanted to be sure he wasn’t perceived as a conservative, and I was more than happy to oblige that,” said Seifert, of Grayslake. […]
The group’s director, Lake Villa resident Tony Raymond, admitted no one in the Dold campaign specifically said he wants to be “viewed as a moderate,” as stated parenthetically in the voter’s guide.
“That’s our interpretation of why he wished not to be ranked highly,” Raymond said.
So, he didn’t ask to be viewed as a moderate, but his campaign did ask that he not be ranked highly.
The paper now appears to be getting more aggressive with Dold. The original hed on its story posted this afternoon was: “Dold, Seals at odds over tea party guide.” It’s now: “Dold: Campaign worker asked for low rating from tea party.” ADDING: The hed now reads: “Tea party group: Dold campaign worker asked for low rating.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee has already run an ad in the district, hitting Seals for his support of the recently-enacted healthcare law. “Pelosi’s plan didn’t go far enough for Dan Seals,” the NRCC’s attack ad said. “Oh no. Dan Seals said he supports the even more expensive public option.”
Meanwhile, President Obama sent out an email appeal for Seals, who will also benefit from an upcoming Democratic fundraiser set to be hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Seals is part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program and the committee has reserved TV time in the district ahead of the fall. A Seals internal poll from earlier this month boasted a lead over Dold–49-36 percent.
The AFL-CIO also sent a mailer for Seals as part of a 2.5 million piece direct mail blitz for Democratic candidates across the country.
The NRCC is also spending a little bit on the seat vacated by Rep. Mark Kirk (R), who is running for the Senate. The NRCC is spending $56K on an ad targeting Democratic nominee Dan Seals (D). But that’s hardly a drop in the bucket, given that broadcast TV in the Chicago media market costs millions.
* Wave Of Third-Party Ads Adding to Dems’ Woes: In Illinois, Treas. Alexi Giannoulias (D) has been attacked on TV with more than $1M worth of ads from the Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads and the Committee for Truth in Politics. In addition, his opponent Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) had more than $2.8M more in the bank at the end of the 2nd quarter, and the NRSC has not yet begun to spend the $3.4M they pledged to the Kirk campaign.
Gov. Pat Quinn seems like an unwanted man when it comes to campaigning on behalf of some Democrats involved in tight legislative races.
The governor, who is locked in his own tough battle against Republican Bill Brady, is viewed by some Democratic candidates as more of a liability than an asset on the stump because of his low poll numbers and his support for an income tax hike.
Take state Rep. Bob Flider, a Mount Zion Democrat, for example.
Flider, who is being challenged by Republican Adam Brown of Decatur, has repeatedly said he’s against Quinn’s plan to raise income taxes to help pull the state out of its financial mess.
There’s no way Flider wants to stand on a stage with the governor, waiting for some Brown operative to snap a picture that, of course, later appears in a nasty campaign mailer.
“(State Sen. Dale Risinger, R-Peoria) would be a great choice whether it’s a Republican or Democratic governor. He’s well-thought of on both sides of the political aisle. People rely on him a great deal when it comes to transportation issues important to the state of Illinois,” said Brad McMillan, executive director of Bradley’s Institute for Principled Leadership.
* And legislative Democrats are being forced to resort to some extremely hard-hitting ads to hold on to power. The Democrats’ job is made easier because the Republicans are backing some pretty strange candidates this year…
The more biting ad [by Democratic state Sen. Deanna Demuzio] shows veterans attacking [Republican opponent Sam McCann] as a “fraud” who “lies about his military career.”
McCann has claimed in literature that he was a member of the Marines and got an “honorable discharge.” He explained later that he signed up and took the oath, but was injured in an accident before going to boot camp. McCann previously promised to try to get a copy of his exact discharge papers, but said this week he has not received them.
He’s clearly touchy about the subject.
“Why is it that the president doesn’t have to display his birth certificate?” McCann said when asked about his discharge papers.
* Like just about every other political story these days, the retention race by Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Kilbride is receiving scant media attention. Quinn’s Downstate troubles certainly aren’t helping Kilbride.
In Illinois, business interests are campaigning against the chief justice after a case that removed a cap on malpractice liability, prompting him to run a television ad that opens with the declaration, “I am not a politician.”
At issue is a $250 contribution Brown’s campaign accepted in June from Dunn Co., a local construction contractor. Before being named to run for Flider’s seat, Brown voted on a couple of street reconstruction contracts that were awarded to Dunn Co. Another vote in favor of another Dunn Co. contact came a week after his campaign contribution.
All projects were bid out by city staff, and many of the votes appeared on the council’s “consent agenda,” which means they are considered a routine item. None of the votes by Brown swayed the decision in Dunn Co.’s favor.
Flider said that Brown is “misleading voters. The fact is, Adam Brown claims to be a fresh face, but he is just more of the same. Adam Brown’s actions stink of pay-to-play politics, and that’s something we need to leave behind in Illinois.”
Brown’s record as a city council member is fair game as he tries to move to the state legislature. But it’s a stretch to call this anything like “pay to play” politics.
I agreed with this editorial in my subscriber-only publication last week. A $250 contribution is hardly serious graft. More importantly, though, this was a routine, perfunctory roll call. Brown played no role in who got what.
With all the real corruption this state has faced, it’s probably expected that everybody will try to paint their opponent as being on the take this year. But this sort of false claim needlessly poisons an already toxic atmosphere and will only make things worse.
But he also asked a question. What really is pay to play?
* The Tribune ran a pretty convoluted piece about Speaker Madigan involving himself in the choice of a village attorney for a town in his district and about Madigan representing and investing in a company that wants to develop some land near a planned tollway exit. Madigan’s spokesman responded to my subscriber-only story with this e-mail today…
— Madigan’s law firm does not represent developers at the stage that precedes development (in this case one firm has option on some land while another has asked the village about property, etc)
— and in more case does not represent a property until the real estate phase of the process, which of course has nothing to do with the host community.
— and Madigan’s firm is not the exclusive property tax firm for either company
— and current practice has property tax law firms BIDDING for the work.
* The Question: What’s your definition of “pay to play”?
* Thirty-six days before the election and Mike Riopell was just laid off by Lee Enterprises.
Lee owns the Post-Dispatch, Bloomington Pantagraph, Decatur Herald & Review, Quad City Times, the Southern Illinoisan, the Mattoon Journal-Gazette and the Charleston Times-Courier. Mike was a hard-working Statehouse reporter who really knew his stuff. His ejection will create yet another gaping hole in the press room.
Many people running newspapers say they still want to cover state government. But as the news industry contracts, they say they feel forced to abdicate that role due to economic pressures.
“It’s definitely a loss,” says John Beck, executive editor of Illinois’ Champaign News-Gazette, which eliminated its sole statehouse reporter position in January 2008. “It was not an easy decision to make, but we had to make it for economic reasons.”
That’s a decision shared by many of his counterparts across the country. More than 140 newspapers have cut back on their coverage since 2003, and more than 50 have stopped providing staff coverage of state government altogether.
Beck’s coverage area is dominated by the University of Illinois. If there’s a newspaper in Illinois which really ought to have a Statehouse reporter, it’s that one. But, no. Instead, they rewrite press releases and reprint AP stories.
*The Illinois Times ran an article on this topic last month…
Rich Miller – an [Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association] member, the author of a syndicated column that runs in Illinois Times, and owner of Capitol Fax, an insider’s newsletter and blog detailing Illinois politics – says his business has grown “exponentially” since he started it in the early 1990s but says Capitol Fax was never intended for a general audience but to supplement regular news coverage for the benefit of “political junkies.”
“For them [traditional news outlets] to be cutting coverage is not only shortsighted but greed-based and moronic,” Miller says, pointing to the state’s budget deficit, imprisoned Gov. George Ryan and impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “On a citizen level and a journalistic level, I’m just appalled by it.”
[ILCA president Ray Long, the Chicago Tribune’s Statehouse bureau chief] remains optimistic. “I think that we’re just probably hitting the nadir and are about to climb back up,” he says. “I believe that journalism is in the recovery mode and that will translate into more Statehouse reporters. … Every news organization understands that there has to be keen observance of a major legislative body like the Illinois General Assembly.”
[Charlie Wheeler, former Statehouse reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and now the director of a Statehouse reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield] says that, going forward, news organizations must recognize that covering Statehouse action is a duty. “I would hope that the people who are in charge of these media properties would think about …some of the responsibilities that come with the First Amendment, freedom of the press privilege and realize that there is a certain responsibility they have to serve as the eyes and ears of their readers … and keep track of what’s going on in state government. And you really can’t do it from a distance.”
Unfortunately, Ray and Charlie were wrong and I was right. I truly hate being right about stuff like this. But I long ago stopped underestimating the extreme stupidity and boundless greed of editors and newspaper owners in this state. They don’t care about state news, and we can plainly see the results.
Quinn’s political circle is small and lately, unstable. Quinn recently parted ways with his longtime political consulting firm, AKPD Message & Media. Last week, Quinn dropped pollster Anzalone Liszt Research Inc.
Actually, Quinn’s campaign didn’t say that it “dropped” the polling firm. It quit. Imagine having to start all over with a new pollster this close to an election. Unreal.
One-in-five Illinois voters (22%) consider themselves to be a part of the Tea Party movement. This is slightly lower than involvement nationally.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds that 63% do not associate themselves with the Tea Party, and 15% are not sure whether their views are in line with the movement.
Forty-five percent (45%) of voters in the state think the Tea Party is good for the country, which is right in line with national sentiments. Twenty-nine percent (29%) disagree and say it is bad for the country, while 14% feel it is neither good nor bad. Another 12% are not sure what kind of impact the Tea Party movement has on the country. […]
Forty-one percent (41%) of Republicans consider themselves Tea Party members, while 10% of Democrats and 21% of voters not affiliated with either major political party do the same.
Similarly, a solid majority of GOP voters and unaffiliateds feel the Tea Party movement is good for the country, while a plurality of Democrats disagree.
* Carol Marin is a friend and colleague, so I’m not trying to pick on her today, but I wanted to use something in her column to make a point.
Her Sunday column is about how Rahm Emanuel may have trouble with black voters in a mayoral bid and how multiple black and Latino candidates could divide the field. Then there’s this…
All of this could bode well on Feb. 22 for someone as strategic as Emanuel who, like Daley, is heavily favored by the business community and certain to be extremely well funded.
What it doesn’t bode well for is the election in November, which is practically on a respirator as the mayor’s race sucks away its oxygen.
It presents an enormous challenge for Democratic ward committeemen trying to focus voters on all the other races that matter: for governor, U.S. Senate and the wild-card battle for Cook County assessor.
“To be frank, I’m not sure that people are really engaged in this election period,” said 3rd Ward committeeman and Ald. Pat Dowell.
“What I see out there, we’ll have low voter turnout because issues are so complex . . . and nobody is talking about a real change,” lamented 2nd Ward committeeman and Ald. Bob Fioretti.
A good part of the reason that the February mayoral primary has sucked all the oxygen from the Chicago-area political scene is the Chicago media’s continued obsession with the topic. Yes, there’s no doubt this is an extraordinarily unique occurrence and a big election with huge consequences.
But the general election is just 36 days away. Every story, every column, every editorial about the micro-turns and twists of Rahm Emanuel, et al is space and time that cannot be used to inform voters of the very real and very critical choices they face on November 2nd.
Illinois is ensnared in one of the worst crises in its history. We have two major party gubernatorial candidates who differ starkly on how to approach our future. We also have a wealthy candidate with a violent and murky past. The nation is mired in its worst economic period since the Great Depression and we have two US Senate candidates and several congressional candidates who need to be more closely examined. The General Assembly is broken and there are several candidates who claim they know how to fix it.
* Illinois Issues reports that the state is facing a $250 million interest payment on loans to keep its unemployment insurance fund afloat. You won’t see much about that in Chicago, but there were at least ten different stories about Hoffman not running for mayor.
* When they do publish or broadcast stories about state issues, they’re too often fluff pieces. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s striking magazine cover commands precious ink. The fact that if Bill Brady is elected he will rescind the capital punishment moratorium is all but ignored.
* Yes, they’ll jump on juicy stories like the AFSCME negotiation allegations, but apart from that, we don’t see much else. In its place, we get endless thumb-sucking pieces about Rahmbo and Jesse and Meeks and what it all “means.” The Chicago News Cooperative believes there’s enough interest in those tiny twists and turns to start its own paid newsletter. I wish them nothing but success, but I hope they use some of that newfound cash to help fund some stories about stuff that’s actually important right now.
There is plenty of time to write about Rahm Emanuel’s every burp. But time is fast running out to write about the campaign in front of our very noses…
“Would you please stop focusing on the mayor’s race and focus on the Nov. 2 election,” former State Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch pleaded with reporters at a fund-raiser for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Monday.
They haven’t listened yet, and I doubt they ever will. But you can bet a hundred dollars that after this campaign is over they will publish stories and columns about how they regret not covering this race better. Wouldn’t it be preferable if they just started doing their jobs now instead of constantly playing with their shiny new toy?
If you talk to Democrats in the Illinois Legislature, they’ll tell you their latest round of polling is showing improvement in most of their races since the summer. The Republicans, however, believe they have history on their side.
The House Democrats say their candidates are sticking to a strict and intense precinct-walking program. That, plus the end of the Rod Blagojevich trial allowed them to stabilize their campaigns. They see polls showing their candidates doing better than they were and believe they’ve turned the corner.
The Democrats have a lot of things going for them that they didn’t have during the big 1994 national Republican landslide. They’re running in districts on a map that Democrats drew; there’s no more straight-party voting; they have a tried-and-true incumbent protection program; and their gubernatorial candidate isn’t doing as badly as their ‘94 candidate, Dawn Clark Netsch (although Gov. Pat Quinn is getting completely and totally blown out downstate). Democrats also have at least two statewide officials - Lisa Madigan and Jesse White - who will serve as “stoppers” for the party. And they have a president from this state who has managed to keep Illinois in his corner more than just about anywhere else.
But House Republicans point to recent history as a guide. About this point in the campaign two years ago, they thought they were doing OK against the Barack Obama Democratic tide. They believed their losses would be manageable. By mid-October, the Obama wave was in full force and there wasn’t anything Illinois Republicans could do about it.
Pretty much the same thing happened in 1994. September polling showed problems, but the Democrats thought it could be contained and they derided the House Republicans for jumping into several new races where nobody gave them a chance. By the middle of October, the bottom fell out. And it was even worse come Election Day when Democratic voters failed to show up. The Republicans won just about every one of those contested races.
It’s no coincidence that House Republicans say they’re planning a move into new races in the coming days. They’re following their own playbook.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats say they continually adjust and monitor their likely voter polling screens to make sure they’re not unduly surprised. And, so far, they like what they see. But one Democratic operative joked last week that his caucus rarely asks whether respondents approve of the General Assembly’s job performance. The results were just too depressing.
A solid Democratic source who has seen two complete House Democratic polls of collar county districts says one showed a 14 percent legislative approval rating, the other came up as 12.
“The scary part,” the Democratic source said, “is if (party leaders) blame all these losses on this wave, that means they think they haven’t done anything wrong to cause this.” Instead, the source argued, his party needs to come to terms with the fact that they’re exacerbating the national party problem with their own mismanagement. “Illinois has created its own wave,” he insisted.
A top state Republican who monitors just about every GOP poll taken in this state privately predicted last week that the wave could very well be bigger than 1994’s. He has a point.
The populist anger seems more vicious and is far more organized via the tea partiers and the Internet. The 24/7 news media is more uniformly outraged and is aiming its anger right at Democratic leaders. Reform groups of all shapes, sizes and causes are far more bitter because of their legislative losses.
Downstate independents have completely abandoned Quinn. The usually pro-Democratic network of human service groups and their supporters are despondent over budget cuts and late state payments. And the state’s economic problems under total Democratic control are infinitely more severe than they were 16 years ago, when the Republicans held the governor’s mansion and all but one statewide office. The state’s current unemployment rate is almost double what it was in 1994, and vast swaths of the Democratic base are the hardest hit. And then, of course, there’s that monstrous state deficit, the mismanagement and the whole Blagojevich disaster.
Any Democrat who isn’t ahead by double digits right now had better work like their very lives depended on it. And all Republicans who are losing by anywhere near that margin should do the same.
This has been the most fascinating state campaign season I’ve ever seen. And it’s only going to get better.
September 24, 2010. Illinois Republicans are crowing that an electoral “wave” is going to sweep State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Owego) into the Speaker’s chair in the Illinois House of Representatives–and it will be crow which the GOP will be eating on November 3, 2010.
Both national and local trends will keep House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) in his post when the legislature reconvenes in January, 2011.
The negative national political headwinds have been blowing across the prairie state for months as the national economy continues to sputter and as the extremist Illinois Tea Party and national tea party movements have engaged in racially-tinged fear-mongering, outright distortions of facts, and character assassination of Democratic officials, scaring democratic and independent voters alike in the U.S. and in Illinois.
But the winds are shifting. […]
A stalling GOP momentum and hard-working Democratic legislative candidates reaching out to voters door-to-door will help Speaker Madigan (D-Chicago) hold on to majority in the Illinois legislature.
In January, we will have full plate of hot, steaming crow on which the Republicans can munch.
Using bureau figures for personal income for all 50 states through the second quarter of 2010, USA Today calculated which states have done best and worst during the 12 months after the recession ended.
Illinois ranked 43rd, with a 0.4 percent decline in personal income since the recession ended.
During the recession — defined as beginning in December 2007 — personal income in Illinois dropped 2.6 percent.
The recession has left consumers in its wake. In the metro Chicago area, 48,510 individuals filed for bankruptcy protection last year — 39 percent more than filed in 2008, which saw a 46 percent increase from 2007. The increases were even sharper than the rise in bankruptcies nationwide (which jumped 31 percent in 2008 and 32 percent last year.)
Beside being on the RTA board, the Rev. Tyrone Crider also publishes the Christian-oriented newspaper the Gospel Tribune, which is distributed to black churches in the Chicago area and claims a readership of 50,000 people.
Most of the money that the transit agencies under the RTA’s purview have paid to the Gospel Tribune has been for advertising. Metra also has paid the Gospel Tribune to hold conferences to help minority contractors learn “how to do business with Metra.”
Crider acknowledges that he’s making money off the agencies he helps regulate.
He says he sees nothing wrong with that. And he says he asked a now-former attorney for the RTA about the arrangement and was told it posed no problem.
“You have to look at the world. They’ve never been in India, they’ve never been in Africa and they haven’t been in the Middle East,” Daley said while speaking at the annual Chicago Gourmet food event in Millennium Park. “So those three parts of the world will come first, before any bid.”