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*** UPDATED x1 - Davis responds *** DCCC uses George Ryan, government jobs to whack Rodney Davis

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* The DCCC has begun a $230,000 television buy in the Champaign market. The ad blasts Republican Rodney Davis for working for George Ryan and being on the disgraced former governor’s “clout list of political favors.” According to the ad, Davis is a “career insider” who has “taken nearly one million dollars in taxpayer-funded salaries.”

* From Roll Call

Illinois remains a target-rich environment for Democrats, who tried to put more House seats in play in their redraw of the Congressional map last year. The DCCC has reserved millions in TV ad time in markets across the state.

That’s why it’s notable Democrats started their Illinois ad campaign in the 13th district. The party’s preferred candidate lost the primary to emergency room doctor David Gill, who just joined the ranks of the DCCC’s Red to Blue program earlier this month.

As I told you earlier today, Davis is running a positive intro spot at the moment.

* Rate the DCCC’s ad

*** UPDATE *** The Davis campaign responds…

Today, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched a false, negative, misleading attack ad on Rodney Davis. Here are some of the misleading claims:

Misleading Claim #1: “Rodney Davis, he was right in the middle of it (George Ryan’s corruption.)”

Fact: Rodney Davis began working for the Secretary of State’s office as a fellow right out of college. He was a low-level employee who was only there for a short time and never had a connection to any wrongdoing.

Unlike David Gill, who appeared with Governor Rod Blagojevich in a thinly-disguised campaign rally, paid for by Illinois taxpayers, as a candidate for Congress in 2004. (Kurt Erickson, “Governor stumps for drug plan,Pantagraph, 10/26/04)

Misleading Claim #2: “named on the infamous George Ryan Clout List of political favors.”

Fact: Rodney Davis was added to Scott Fawell’s “master list” without his approval, consent, or knowledge. He never asked for a favor, job, or political help. The list included numerous people, both Republicans and Democrats, who had nothing to do with corruption.

Governor Rod Blagojevich also kept a clout list that included President Obama and Gill supporter Senator Dick Durbin, neither of whom have been accused of any wrongdoing.

Misleading Claim #3: “given a job in Governor George Ryan’s office.”

Fact: Rodney Davis never worked for Governor George Ryan. He was an employee in the Secretary of State’s office until 1997, two full years before Ryan became Governor.

Misleading Claim #4: “taken nearly $1 million in taxpayer funded salaries.”

Fact: Rodney Davis has been serving his community and has a strong understanding of the issues facing our communities. He lives here and works here and understands the challenges residents of the district face.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* Eric Zorn is unimpressed with the IL GOP’s “Fire Madigan” slogan

So, more realistically, the slogan should be “Demote Michael Madigan” — an exhortation to voters throughout Illinois to elect six more Republican representatives than they did in 2010, thus shifting the balance of power to the GOP and handing the speaker’s gavel to House Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

But even that slogan carries more than a whiff of futility. Since the election of 2010, Democrats redrew the Illinois legislative map to all but guarantee that Madigan, 70, will be speaker as long he likes.

So how about, “Save Illinois: Impose Term Limits on Legislative Leadership Positions and Thereby Deny Michael Madigan a Lifetime Job as Unelected, Defacto Leader of Illinois“?

It wouldn’t fit well on a dog T-shirt, I realize. But it’s an idea I’m guessing the public would like.

Um, OK. Obviously, Eric didn’t go to advertising school.

* The Question: What should be the Illinois Republican Party’s official slogan?

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 - Scott Walker piles on *** S&P lowers Illinois rating a notch - Quinn wants leaders meeting in early September

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* This wasn’t the much-feared double-downgrade. S&P’s action still leaves the state in investment grade territory, but just barely

Continuing pension problems have earned Illinois another reduction in its credit rating.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services announced Wednesday that it is lowering Illinois’ rating a notch. The decision is based on weak funding for government pensions and a “lack of action on reform measures.”

* The official statement also warned about the expiration of the income tax hike

-Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its rating on Illinois’ general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘A’ from ‘A+’. At the same time, Standard & Poor’s assigned its ‘A’ rating to the state’s $50 million GO bonds of September 2012. The outlook is negative.

“The downgrade reflects the state’s weak pension funding levels and lack of action on reform measures intended to improve funding levels and diminish cost pressures associated with annual contributions,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Robin Prunty. “The downgrade also reflects continued financial weakness despite significant measures in the past two years to improve structural budget performance,” added Ms. Prunty.

The negative outlook reflects the potential for further erosion of the state’s pension funds during the two-year outlook horizon and the uncertainty and risk to future budget performance due to the expiration of personal and corporate income tax rate increases on Jan. 1, 2015, which we believe could weaken financial operating results.

* Gov. Pat Quinn tries to get ahead of the blame curve with an early statement…

“Today’s action is no surprise.

“Over and over again this summer, I made clear that if we do not act on pension reform, the state of Illinois would suffer the consequences. Now it has.

”Eliminating our $83 billion unfunded pension liability is vital to getting our financial house in order. Today’s action by Standard & Poor’s is more evidence that we must act.

“I cannot act alone. We must work together to make the tough decisions necessary to correct poor financial decisions made by previous governors and legislatures over decades that created this situation today.

“We cannot fix these challenges overnight but, as we have shown with the Fiscal Year 2013 budget by reducing our Medicaid liability by more than $2 billion, paying down $1.3 billion in bills, and taking discretionary spending to below 2008 levels, steady progress can lead Illinois to sound financial footing.

“The only thing standing between Illinois and comprehensive pension reform is politics.

“We must put politics aside. Pointing fingers will not resolve this problem. Inaction on pension reform is unacceptable and unfair to our children.

“We must address the unfunded pension liability and we can only do it together. I am inviting the four legislative leaders to a meeting in early September to work on pension reform. Illinois cannot move forward without it.”

The governor didn’t call a leaders’ meeting for most of the summer. Now, he appears to be hoping that the downgrade will move people off the mark. Don’t bet on it.

*** UPDATE 1 *** The two Republican legislative leaders have released a joint statement that attempts to avoid any blame…

“When the Democrats adjourned the special session on pensions two weeks ago, we stood together and said we should not leave Springfield until we pass comprehensive pension reform to address our crisis. We continue to be ready to address the problem, armed with ideas and solutions that could work. We cannot wait until after the election, or even after the Governor’s grassroots’ tour. The time for action is now. S & P’s downgrade today cited our ‘lack of action on reform measures’. This is a clear signal that we must work on a comprehensive bill that solves our pension problem—not a piecemeal approach. The blame game must end, let’s get to work.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Our neighbor to the north kicks us while we’re down

“There could not be a more stark contrast between Wisconsin and Illinois,” Walker said in a statement response to the rating. […]

“Political leaders in Illinois kicked the can down the road,” Walker said Wednesday, “raised taxes, and ignored fiscal realities. Now, they’re realizing the consequences of their actions: credit downgrades and negative outlooks.”

If taxes hadn’t been raised to Wisconsin-like levels, our fiscal problems would now be infinitely worse.

…Adding… The AP adds some context. Is Walker still upset over his recent thumping by Illinois?

Walker has tried to use Illinois’ economic problems to lure businesses to his state. Last week, though, Illinois landed an aerospace company that Walker was courting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      


Expand it or kill it?

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* Two opposing views on gaming expansion. First up, Chuck Sweeny of the Rockford Register-Star

Government doesn’t tell us what kind of movies we can see, where we can go out to eat, or what kind of band or orchestra music we can hear. It doesn’t say which communities can have bowling alleys and which can’t.

All these things are forms of entertainment, as is gambling. It should be the people’s choice. The current gambling laws are arbitrary. For instance, the state runs a lottery business that wastes Illinoisans’ time at gas station/convenience stores. Did you ever stand in line for 10 minutes to pay for gas, behind three people buying a combined total of 110 lottery tickets?

The state allows “charitable” bingo games and “charitable” casino nights. It allows 10 casinos to operate. It allows betting at horse racing tracks.

And now, the state is allowing bars, fraternal clubs and veterans’ groups to have legal gambling machines. (Many bars and clubs have gambling machines now, but any payoffs are made under the table.)

Why not just let the market decide how much and what kind of gambling Illinois should have? The market is efficient at sorting these things out. For instance, as Best Buy fumbles, but along comes h.h. gregg to take up the slack. K-mart slows, but Walmart grows. No politicians decided these things; shoppers did.

* Next, John Kass at the Tribune

“When government put casinos in to raise revenue, they’re betting on their people to lose. When a government bets on you to lose, what does that say about the government?”

Whom do you agree with and why?

* Meanwhile, subscribers already have my take on this

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a major gambling expansion Tuesday, setting up a post-election session in which new casinos could be tied to reforms of the state’s out-of-whack government worker retirement system.

Buried deep in his veto message to lawmakers, the Democratic governor said legislators should shift their focus from slot machines to what he called “the most pressing issue of our time” — pension reform.

“Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges,” Quinn wrote. “Even a casino on every street corner cannot repair the state’s $83 billion unfunded pension liability.”

For Quinn, a long-in-the-works gambling expansion provides potential leverage when the General Assembly returns to the Capitol at the end of November. If enough lawmakers want casinos and the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars to spend, Quinn could try to strike a deal in exchange for comprehensive cost-cutting to the state’s struggling pension systems.

* And this

At least some horse racing officials are optimistic. In the past, Quinn has opposed slot machines at racetracks and indicated he’s not willing to compromise on it. That didn’t come up in his veto message Tuesday, and Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Michael Campbell doesn’t think the machines are off the table.

“The horsemen are grateful to the governor that he did not mention slots at tracks as something he finds objectionable in the gaming bill and that he has signaled he is comfortable with additional gaming at the tracks to help our industry,” Campbell said in a statement. “Based on private conversations that we have had with him, we believe that is the case.”

* And this

And Mayor Emanuel, you need to do more than lead cheers for a losing team. You need a new path to a Chicago casino.

* Quote of the week goes to Lou

[Quinn] said that the newer bill did not have strong enough ethical standards. “The most glaring deficiency of Senate Bill 1849 is the absence of strict ethical standards and comprehensive regulatory oversight. Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters,” he wrote.

“We don’t have any corruption in Illinois gaming. Where is his evidence that there is any mafia in Illinois gaming today? There isn’t any,” Lang said.

Ummm. Okay.

* And this is just plain silly talk

After the veto was announced, Mayor Emanuel expressed frustration about Quinn’s decision and vowed to keep fighting for a Chicago casino. And Rahm’s not alone; other officials are upset with Quinn’s decision, citing the revenue the bill would have generated for the state.

Still, the main event here is the pair of Democratic leaders going head-to-head. It could set the stage for a gubernatorial run by Rahm in 2014, something that has in no way been hinted at yet, but isn’t out of the question.

Rahm ain’t running for governor.

* Related…

* Reaction to gambling veto: ‘The south suburbs get the shaft again’: Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, acknowledged: “Indiana certainly dodged a bullet on its western border.”

* Lawmakers react to Quinn’s casino veto: “A press release sent to them two minutes before you’re going to the media and that the media already had this. I think those are the kind of things that just infuriate the people that work in Springfield,” Link said.

* Gov. Quinn vetoes casino bill; opponents vow override

* Quinn vetoes gambling expansion bill

* Our view: Quinn’s veto right move

* Danville mayor: ‘Frustrated, disappointed, but not surprised’

* VIDEO: Lou Lang: Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Gaming Bill Veto is a “Big Disappointment”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Adventures in unsubtle Tweeting, and a caption contest

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* If you’re saying that you’re totally focused on the 2012 general election, then retweeting stuff like this probably isn’t advisable

* And speaking of Treasurer Rutherford, he and another likely Republican gubernatorial candidate had a friendly little chat yesterday. A good pal snapped a photo of Rutherford talking to Sen. Kirk Dillard and forwarded it to me…

Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


Davis goes up with new TV ad

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* Republican congressional candidate Rodney Davis has a new TV ad. From a press release…

The new ad, titled “For Them,” features Rodney Davis and players from a Junior Football League team in Taylorville that Davis coaches. In the ad, Davis emphasizes the importance of cutting wasteful Washington spending to reduce the $16 trillion national debt that is crushing the national economy. Davis emphasizes the need to get the debt crisis under control for the future generation that he coaches in football. The ad can be viewed here.

The ad begins Thursday.

Here is the full script of the ad:

    Davis: “I’ve been coaching these kids since they were five.
    At first, it was about spending more time with my twin boys.
    Now, it’s about helping all these boys become great men.
    I worry about the America we are going to leave them.
    Our sixteen trillion dollar debt leaves each of them on the hook for fifty grand.
    …and it’s killing our economy.
    I’m Rodney Davis and I approved this message because in Congress, I’ll fight the wasteful spending – for you, and for them.”

* Rate it

* By the way, I stumbled across the DCCC’s Rodney Davis video tracking site today. Have a look. At the beginning of this video, from the State Fair, Davis is seen ignoring a woman who has a question about Medicare. It’s not good TV for Davis, but later the woman begins haranguing the candidate, so she may have been a plant. Watch

Background on the DCCC’s Rodney Davis tracker is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Party chairman wants outside help to winnow field

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* This will be a very dangerous game

(T)he multitude of potential candidates remains a cause of concern for some Republican leaders. Two years ago, the field at one time was a seven-way primary for governor. The GOP ended up with a fractured field largely from the Chicago suburbs. That allowed Brady, the lone Downstate candidate, to win with less than 21 percent of the vote.

Pat Brady, the state Republican chairman, said he is encouraging a plan in which the Republican Governors Association and other groups with an interest in the Illinois governorship would play a role in winnowing a primary field. The RGA spent $9.5 million on Sen. Brady’s losing effort to Quinn, and the belief among some is that a moneyed interest could provide the clout that Republican leaders lack in trying to get people out of a primary race.

“I am going to try to get leadership that supports governor candidates, like the RGA and others, to come into Illinois and sit down and figure out how would we handle this better than we did last time,” Pat Brady said.

“But it’s a fine dance because we promote open primaries and the base of our party likes open primaries,” he added. “We need to get some structure on this and some reality checks on this so we don’t have happen what happened last time.”

Labor unions often help winnow the Democratic gubernatorial field. An early endorsement by the Illinois AFL-CIO gave Rod Blagojevich’s chances a huge boost in 2001, for example.

But those are state and local organizations. Bringing in a national organization like the RGA would open the state party up to all sorts of criticism.

And, frankly, fighting the last war is never very effective. And not heeding the lessons of the last war isn’t all that effective either. The truth is, it’s highly doubtful that many of those candidates would’ve dropped out of the 2010 GOP primary if the big boys had mostly united behind one candidate. The egos were just too big and the prize too within reach to convince them to get out. The “establishment” was mostly (not completely, but mostly) behind Sen. Kirk Dillard. But that sure didn’t stop Bill Brady, who was trailing in the polls almost the whole way. And it didn’t prevent other DuPage County Republicans from running, either.

And does anybody think that a “consensus” candidate will stop people like Dan Proft from running again? Nope. He’ll do what he wants and he’s still sitting on a half million dollars.

Also, money does not guarantee success. If it did, a whole lot of big money Republicans would’ve won their gubernatorial primaries in the past decade.

So, while this looks good on paper, it may not work out so well for the GOP. But, I guess, they gotta try something different.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Schock pounds Quinn, fellow Republicans, Madigan

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* If you read today’s Sun-Times, you saw that Congressman Aaron Schock went off on Gov. Pat Quinn yesterday

The Peoria Republican stopped short of saying he intends to run, insisting that decision won’t come until after the November elections. But, significantly, Schock also did not rule out the possibility of running for the state’s top political job. […]

And in going after Quinn, Schock certainly was sounding like a candidate.

“He’s been in state government for 30 years. He’s been at the helm of the state for what will be six-plus years. He’s proven incapable of turning the ship around,” Schock said of Quinn.

Schock described Quinn as lacking focus.

“I think part of it is I don’t think he has the personality that’s engaging, that instills confidence,” from his party, Schock said. “I think he doesn’t have the capacity perhaps to put it all together.”

* But some of what he said didn’t make the cut in the dead tree edition. It was included in the paper’s political blog, which is all over the Republican National Convention

Schock said he has been approached by business leaders to consider running for governor in 2014, but he said he’s delivered a sharp message to them about not spreading fundraising dollars around multiple GOP candidates who will make for a bloody primary battle.

“If you want a strong candidate and you want party unity and you want people to whittle down the candidates before the primary, then you as a businessman must stand up and say you know what, this is insanity, this is who we collectively believe is the strongest candidate, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and fund them,” he said.

Schock also delivered a subtle jab at some of those who have tested the waters for a 2014 gubernatorial run, saying those with election losses in their background demonstrate “weakness” that can be exploited in a general election.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) lost by 193 votes to state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) in the 2010 GOP primary. Brady went on to lose to Quinn in the fall elections. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, before winning his current office in 2010, lost a bid to unseat Secretary of State Jesse White.

“If you are a candidate who’s lost, the natural question is what’s different, what’s going to change? Clearly, there’s a sense of weakness there,” Schock said, insisting he isn’t meaning to single out any particular candidate with the criticism.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t win, but I do think it makes your argument in the primary that you’re the strongest candidate in the general election a little bit tougher,” Schock said.

* And he also took an obligatory shot at the Republican Party’s chief demon

Schock also didn’t mince words for Madigan (D-Chicago) and said he isn’t intimidated by the House speaker, who has been the GOP’s favorite pin cushion leading up to the fall elections with “Fire Madigan” messaging that is getting slapped on coffee mugs, golf polos and dog t-shirts.

“I maybe don’t buy into the reality of Mike Madigan,” Schock said.

“For anyone to suggest that well, gee, we should play nice, or you shouldn’t take him on, or you shouldn’t try to beat him because you might have to work with him, that’s politics,” he said. “To me, if you’re serious about changing the direction of the state, if you’re serious about wanting to be governor or whatever it is people want to be, if they don’t want to take him on, then they’re not going to be serious players once they’re elected.

“You can’t fix the state if you don’t deal with pensions, and clearly, Madigan, who’s been there for 30 years, has shown no willingness to do that,” said Schock, who served two terms in the Illinois House under Madigan’s rule.

He’s looking more like a candidate every day. But I’m told he probably won’t run if kabillionaire Bruce Rauner jumps in. Rauner is expected to attend the convention this week.

* Related…

* Republican 2014 governor hopefuls jockey in Tampa: “They’re the unannounced announced, if you will,” said Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, an unsuccessful Republican governor nominee in 2006 but not a future contender for the job. “They’re trying to take the pulse on what everybody is saying and trying to get support and to lock in donors. You have the beginnings of a full-fledged gubernatorial campaign going on two years ahead of time.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Republican National Convention coverage

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* BlackBerry users click here, everyone else can just sit back and watch…

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


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