* With relatively light fundraising by even the frontrunners, outside groups were bound to descend on the 2nd CD special primary. It has begun. New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is jumping into the race via his SuperPAC.
From a press release…
INDEPENDENCE USA PAC RELEASES NEW TV AD HIGHLIGHTING FORMER REP. DEBBIE HALVORSON’S ANTI-GUN SAFETY POSITIONS
Ads to focus on Halvorson’s Congressional and Illinois Statehouse record of voting to allow criminals to carry loaded, hidden guns; permitting guns in national parks; and opposing bans on large-capacity magazines
(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE): As the race for Chicago’s 2nd Congressional District enters it final month, Michael R. Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC today announced a significant TV ad campaign around educating Chicago voters about former Rep. Debbie Halvorson’s abysmal gun safety record.
Armed with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association – a grade that is unlikely to continue now that she’s come against President Obama’s proposed Assault Weapons Ban — Halvorson went as far outside the mainstream in her congressional career as to vote for the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009, a bill that would allow criminals to carry loaded, hidden guns in Chicago.
“Throughout her years in Washington and Springfield, Debbie Halvorson’s record on gun safety has been entirely devoid of any semblance of the kind of common-sense reforms that will keep Americans safer from the scourge of gun violence,” said Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Independence USA PAC.
Many of the other candidates in the crowded field to take the seat held by Jesse Jackson, Jr. have come out on behalf of reasonable measures that would help keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and make Americans safer.
The ad is linked here or available on request. A script of the ad is below.
“In the race to replace Jessie Jackson, watch out for Debbie Halvorson. When she was in congress before, Halvorson got an A from the NRA.
The NRA: against comprehensive background checks, against banning deadly assault weapons, against banning high capacity ammunition clips.
Halvorson even co-sponsored a bill that would allow some criminals to carry loaded, hidden guns into Chicago.
Debbie Halvorson: when it comes to preventing gun violence, she gets an F.
Independence USA PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.”
SIX SENATORS ENDORSE HUTCHINSON’S CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS
Senators Koehler, Lightford, Muñoz, Noland, Sandoval, and Steans today announced their endorsement of Toi Hutchinson’s campaign for Congress in the second congressional district today.
“I am a strong supporter of Toi Hutchinson’s, and I have no doubt that she is the best choice to stand up for Illinois in Congress,” said Senator Antonio Muñoz. “Toi Hutchinson is working alongside me to ban assault weapons because she knows how critical gun safety reforms are. Just as she is fighting for these reforms in Springfield, I know she’ll take that fight with her to Washington as well.”
“Toi Hutchinson is exactly the kind of reformer we need to send to Washington,” said Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-04). “Toi has always worked hard to protect middle and working class families. Ever since I’ve met her, I’ve been deeply impressed by her passion and commitment—there are few public servants I know who work so tirelessly for the people they represent.”
None of those Senators actually lives in the 2nd District, but it does answer concerns I expressed earlier that Hutchinson wasn’t listing any of her Senate colleagues on her endorsement list.
*** UPDATE *** Halvorson responds to Preckwinkle via press release…
HALVORSON RESPONDS TO PRECKWINKLE BASELESS ALLEGATION OF VOTING AGAINST THE EXTENTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
AND VOTING TO SUPPORT THE RICH
HALVORSON RECEIVED THE AFTERNOON PHONE CALL FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA ASKING HER TO VOTE TO EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS
Crete, IL—Debbie Halvorson – Candidate for Illinois’ Second Congressional District- is disappointed in Cook County Board’s President Toni Preckwinkle’s false allegation that she voted against extending unemployment benefits during her two years in Congress. In fact, Halvorson has always voted to extend unemployment benefits.
“It’s unfortunate that the Cook County Board President would make such false claims against my record without checking the facts. I grew up poor and witnessed my father’s struggle to make ends meet. To overcome such odds and vote against extending unemployment benefits to people in need is not reflective of whom I am as a person. I have always voted to extend unemployment benefits. The County Board President is wrong and her allegations are baseless and without merit.” says Halvorson.
Among other false allegations is that Halvorson was somehow anti-Obama by voting in 2010 to extend the Bush tax cuts. But Halvorson was only responding to a phone call she received at her Crete home from President Barack Obama requesting her assistance in gathering her democratic colleagues in the spirit of compromise in voting to extend the Bush Tax cuts.
Halvorson adds, “Voting to extend the Bush Tax cuts was never an option for me. But when my President called me at my home and personally asked me for my support and to lobby my fellow democrats, I did so. It was the spirit of compromise in which President Obama was attempting to achieve. I supported him in that quest. To not honor the President’s request would have been anti-Obama. But again if Toni Preckwinkle wishes to rely upon Toi Hutchinson to provide her with my record, she will only spin herself out of control recanting her statements.
President Preckwinkle also accused Congresswoman Halvorson of not being in support of Wall Street reform. However Debbie voted for the Wall Street reform bill that was supported and signed by President Obama. Halvorson initially voted against the House version of the Wall Street reform bill that was written to penalize small community banks. Halvorson felt that the bill punished smaller banks for the actions of the bigger mainstream banks. But the version in which she voted for and was passed, had the full support of the Obama White House.
* From an Illinois Issues column on abolishing the lame duck session, which allows simple majority votes to pass a bill during a few days ever other January…
Granted, the pressure on the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. Congress to deal with major issues is immense. Political gridlock has made passage of controversial legislation nearly impossible without resorting to chicanery. And bond rating houses and influential interest groups such as the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and others are pushing loudly for solutions to the state’s fiscal mess or to controversial social issues.
But it’s a shame — better yet, a sham — that legislative leaders, the governor and the special interests believe that the only way to make those major changes is through votes by legislators who don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.
Yes, the 2011 lame duck session went further than ever before. But the recent 2013 lame duck session was a gigantic bust. They usually are. So, I’m not sure they need to change the rules because one out of many lame duck sessions went further than some think they should have.
* Also, we have primaries in March. Any legislator who loses a March primary is a lame duck and therefore “don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.” Any legislator who announced his or her retirement before the March primary was also a lame duck. And several legislators retired last year and were replaced by temporary seat-holders. But rarely does anyone talk about those folks.
In other words, eliminating lame ducks from the equation would be impossible.
* The Illinois State Board of Education has asked lawmakers to fully fund education this coming fiscal year. The $5 billion figure would be an increase of $800 million over the current year. Not gonna happen…
“The state board should get in on the reality of the world,” said state Rep John Bradley, D-Marion.
Bradley runs the powerful House Revenue Committee, and it is his job to set a spending cap for the new state budget.
Bradley said Illinois’ pension debt and other unpaid bills will make it impossible to spend more on schools.
“We have a pension payment that will go up $1 billion. We have $2.3 billion in employee health insurance claims. We have another $8 billion to $9 billion in unpaid bills,” Bradley said. “We are going to have to figure out how to cut a billion dollars from operations to make end meet.”
Bradley says things will not get better.
Bradley set the spending cap for the current budget at $33.2 billion. Illinois schools received $4.2 billion for education. Illinois’ pension payment was just over $6 billion.
“We are upside down, and things are getting worse,” said Bradley. […]
Bradley said the numbers are stacked against the $5-billion budget request from the State Board of Education.
“If we have to cut $1 billion from operations, and education is 40 percent of operations, that’s nearly $400 million,” Bradley added.
* Meanwhile, there’s something important missing from this otherwise very good piece on teacher evaluations…
Teachers and administrators must now all be rated according to four clear categories: excellent, proficient, needs improvement or unsatisfactory.
While student growth on standardized tests is not yet a factor in a majority of districts across the states, all teachers, beginning this fall, must be evaluated using these categories. […]
In Illinois, a separate, complimentary piece of legislation to PERA was pushed through both chambers of the state legislature in the spring of 2011, allowing teacher evaluations to be used in decisions about tenure and layoffs. That piece, Senate Bill 7, passed at the time because of “exquisite timing,” says Robin Steans, director of Advance Illinois, an organization that promotes education reforms. […]
Teachers with exceptional reviews could be placed on a fast track to earn tenure within three years instead of four. In turn, teachers with two unsatisfactory evaluations during a seven-year period could have their certificates revoked.
Many years ago, lots of special education students were “mainstreamed” into the classroom. Needless to say, those special needs students can bring down a lot of test scores. I’ve talked to teachers who are worried sick about losing tenure because they have large numbers of special needs students in their classrooms. This ought to be addressed.
* Your kids could fail the Illinois state test, but they aren’t stupid
Snubbing a loyal one-time staffer, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Monday she’ll use her political muscle to push state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) to the front of a crowded pack of Democrats running for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old congressional seat.
At a Monday afternoon news conference in downtown Chicago, Preckwinkle stood next to Hutchinson and told reporters it wasn’t an easy decision, considering her former chief administrative officer, Robin Kelly, is also among the 17 Democrats in the race to win the South Side and south suburban 2nd Congressional District.
Oh, please. This has been a foregone conclusion for months. One big reason…
Preckwinkle said that she and Hutchinson share many commonalities — they’re both parents and former teachers. They also use the same powerhouse political consultant, Ken Snyder, who once worked for David Axelrod.
* Mark Brown, however, broke from the pack after Hutchinson’s performance yesterday…
Hutchinson of Olympia Fields continued Monday to sidestep questions about what she did to earn high marks from the National Rifle Association in prior elections as she tries to re-position herself from a gun rights to a gun safety candidate — or maybe to have it both ways.
The NRA’s endorsement served Hutchinson well in her election to the state Senate from a far south suburban district that includes parts of Will and Kankakee counties but now looms as a potential liability in the Democratic race for the seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. amid a national conversation about gun violence.
Instead of answering a reporter’s direct question about her high rating from the NRA (A- in 2010), Hutchinson retreated to her campaign talking points about how she is co-sponsoring state legislation introduced in the fall session that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the same position now embraced by President Barack Obama as part of his effort to combat gun violence. […]
In her 2010 campaign, Hutchinson made clear her support for gun rights.
“The 2nd Amendment gives an American the right to bear arms to protect themselves and their property. Law-abiding citizens don’t need any more infringements on their constitutional right to protect their families and their property,” she stated in a news release that included a quote from the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association praising her as the “type of advocate for 2nd Amendment rights that the 40th district needs.”
But now she only wants to talk about the assault weapons ban.
Even Preckwinkle was a little short on straight talk as she tried to square her own past “F” rating from the NRA with her endorsement of Hutchinson.
“I looked at where Toi is now” on gun issues, Preckwinkle told me in a phone interview, avoiding the issue of where Hutchinson had been previously.
Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman who’s banged the drum about stricter gun-control laws, said she’ll shield Hutchinson from criticism on gun control: “I will vocally defend her against attacks from opponents” on the issue.
* Meanwhile, Robin Kelly announced endorsements from three state Senators today. From a press release…
A group of three state Senators including Senator Donne Trotter, who was a candidate for the Second Congressional district, today endorsed Robin Kelly for Congress. In addition to Senator Trotter, Senator Kwame Raoul, and Majority Whip Mattie Hunter also endorsed the campaign today.
“Robin Kelly is my choice for Congress because she has a clear vision for our future,” Senator Donne Trotter said. “Robin has personally been through the economic struggles that too many are facing right now, and come out the other side. We can count on Robin Kelly to fight for us every single day because she knows firsthand what it is like, and that is why I am endorsing her.”
“Robin Kelly is the best choice for our next Congresswoman,” State Senator Kwame Raoul said. “She is the only candidate that has the track record, leadership skills and relationship with our President to begin making progress on day one. I look forward to working with her.”
“I’m supporting Robin because she’s the best candidate to help get guns off our streets. I’ve examined the NRA records of the other major candidates and I’m proud to be supporting Robin Kelly, a candidate who got an ‘F’ from the NRA and has put forward a sensible pledge to reduce gun violence,” Senator Hunter said.
Robin Kelly is the only candidate to have issued a five-point pledge to get assault weapons and high capacity magazines off the streets of Chicago and the Southland, as well as making sure that Illinois’ conceal and carry ban stays in effect. You can read her full pledge at RobinKellyPledge.com.
She previously announced the endorsements of Aldermen Will Burns (Ward 4), Leslie Hairston (Ward 5) and Deborah Graham’s (Ward 29), and Dr. Cheryl Whitaker who serves as her Campaign Chair.
Notice two things here: 1) Sen. Hutchinson still has no state Senators on her endorsement list; and 2) Ald. Burns and Sen. Raoul were both considered Preckwinkle allies until fairly recently.