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Today’s number: 15

Monday, Jun 15, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Gov. Bruce Rauner gave rip-roaring speeches in several Democratic legislative districts last week denouncing the state’s Democratic leadership. All of his visits were accompanied by Illinois Republican Party press releases bashing area Democratic legislators for being in the back pockets of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

Some are warning that this tour is only making it more difficult to cut a budget deal before the government shuts down. By belittling legislators in front of their constituents, those lawmakers are going to get their backs up and switch to a campaign war footing just like Rauner appears to be doing. When that happens, they won’t want to cooperate.

But if you look at the numbers, Rauner did quite well in all of those districts.

The governor won 15 of the current 39 Democratic Senate districts last year, some by quite a lot. Despite what you may read, many of the Democratic-drawn districts are not prohibitively partisan.

Add in all the Republican Senate districts he won, and Rauner took 35 Senate districts to then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s 23, and came very close to tying Quinn in one other (Sen. Linda Holmes). I used Scott Kennedy’s indispensable IllinoisElectionData.com website to compile these numbers.

The governor was in Democratic Sen. Gary Forby’s district last week. Rauner stomped Gov. Pat Quinn in Forby’s deep southern Illinois turf 62-31.

That same day, Gov. Rauner appeared in the Metro East, an area represented by Democratic Sens. Bill Haine and James Clayborne. Rauner won both of those districts as well, 56-38 and 48-47.5, respectively.

Rauner also stopped in Democratic Rep. Mike Smiddy’s Quad Cities area district, which he won last year 55-41.

The Rauner folks are most likely looking at these results and thinking that their guy can help take out some of those Democrats next year.

Yet, all of those Democrats have withstood Republican victories at the top of the ticket in past years. Sen. Forby, who was first elected to the House 14 years ago, is a prime example. The House and Senate Republicans have spent millions of dollars attempting to unseat him because they’ve long recognized that his district isn’t nearly as Democratic as his winning margins would suggest.

Partisanship is only one consideration when drawing district maps. Most are drawn because the incumbents or certain types of candidates can win them. Forby is a wildly pro-coal social conservative and NRA poster boy and, simply put, his people love him. There’s a good reason why Rauner used a recording of Forby (without Forby’s permission, of course) attacking Quinn in a campaign robocall.

Presidential years are also quite different than “off” years, when governors run. Next year will be tougher to defeat these legislators because Democrats tend to vote in much higher numbers during presidential elections.

Even so, the Democrats do know that next year will be unlike any other because Rauner’s pledge to spend $20 million during the campaign targeting 20 Democrats for defeat means they will not have a financial advantage for the first time in decades.

Rauner’s $20 million pledge was first reported by Champaign News-Gazette reporter Tom Kacich. A prospective Republican candidate told Kacich that Rauner let him in on the secret while asking him to run.

If the governor follows through, though, he might want to rethink using his recently created independent expenditure PAC “Turnaround Illinois.”

Why? Well, state law prohibits coordination between independent expenditure committees and candidates. Promising to spend a million bucks each on 20 people to lure candidates into the race may very well be deemed coordination.

There are ways around all of this, of course. Money always finds a way.

Candidates could bust the state’s contribution caps on their own by contributing at least $100,000 to their campaign funds (perhaps even by taking out loans from certain wealthy individuals), which would then allow Gov. Rauner and his pals to give as much money to the candidates as they desired. Gov. Rauner could also funnel money through the state party, which could then spend on behalf of the candidates. Or he could funnel his cash through a “dark money” committee.

Whatever the case, the House Democrats recently distributed a guide to some of their members about how to deal with Republican “trackers” – people who are paid to follow politicians around with video cameras and catch them in awkward positions.

Democrats are being advised to stick strictly to their “middle class” talking points and avoid any sort of conflict, among other things.

The Democrats say they feel fairly confident about their odds, but they’re obviously worried about what’s about to hit them.

       

24 Comments
  1. - Ryan - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:18 am:

    Aren’t they “rip-roarin” speeches?


  2. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:21 am:

    Comrades, this is your Governor. It is an honor to speak to you today, and I am honored to be sailing with you on the maiden voyage of our party’smost recent achievement. Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary — Mike Madigan and The Illinois Democratic party. For over forty years, your fathers before you and your older brothers played this game and played it well. But today the game is different. We have the financial advantage. It reminds me of the heady days of Jim Thompson when the state trembled at the sound of our governor. Well, they will tremble again — at the sound of our ads. The order is: engage the PAC.


  3. - Wordslinger - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    The governor has an interesting perspective on the public’s degree of interest in June 2015 for legislative elections in November 2016, when presidential candidates will also be on the ballot.

    He certainly thinks it’s much higher than his own interest in getting around to his job.


  4. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    Democrats should stick to their middle class talking points. They did a great job in repelling right to work. Rauner went after the middle class hard by trying to get rid of unions. If he wasn’t beaten back, he’d have enacted any anti-union policy that would attempt to accomplish his goal of a union-free Illinois.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:37 am:

    Macro meme versus micro campaigning.

    We’ll see soon enough if this constant campaigning against people and premises will have an impact against the micro understanding of districts and nuances.

    I honestly believe, Rauner does have a 3 in 5 chance to succeed. The money is a ridiculous advantage.

    Those “others”, that include everyone NOT a Raunerite, are not prepared.

    The Unions will get steamrolled, like they did in the GOP Primary, and in the General. Stopping the ludicrous Rauner Resolutions, that’s pretty easy, but having Union members vote 40% for Rauner makes a strong case for Rauner being successful.

    If I were a “them”, the non-Raunerite leaning Democratic, is focus on such a local aspect of Rauner decisions, that might dull the hammering of the macro meme.

    Another example of something never faced, but that’s pretty lazy. Rauner has beaten, pummeled the idea that Union members and Indies. Been there, done that. Nothing so far would instill a fear in me if I was Rauner. Everything since has been self-inflicted.

    We let a stranger in our house, now he’s waking the neighbor, and just running roughshod throughout the neighborhood.

    Three in five might be too conservative…


  6. - Slippin' Jimmy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:40 am:

    Sen Forby is very pro-union and believes in negotiated, agreed upon contracts. I don’t see, at this point, a lot of negotiating from Gov Rauners team. I don’t think they can beat Forby in his district with their apparent strategy.


  7. - JS Mill - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:47 am:

    =Three in five might be too conservative…=

    I totally agree, I think many here are too dismissive of the power that this massive amount of money will wield.

    I think national statistics, and our most recent Illinois experience, would support the notion that more often than not the candidate with the most money, especially when it is overwhelming, has the best chance of victory.

    I think that says a lot about us, as a society, and it is not good.


  8. - Cassandra - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Yes, we’ll be hearing a lot about the plight of the middle class-and our plight is real-not only from local Democrats but (already) from Hillary, who has made this plight a centerpiece of her campaign.

    Yet both major parties in Illinois want the middle class to pay even more taxes,taxes they can ill afford to pay, given their shrinking financial status, while the rich pay proportionately less. We expect that of the Republicans, long seen, fairly or not, as the party of the rich. But the Democrats want to raise middle class taxes too. Their attempts at progressive taxation have been feeble, one might even say insincere–deceptive? Lots of rich folks “serving” in the General Assembly. Lots of rich Democratic contributors.


  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    In Grad School I had a professor who taught me the most valuable lesson I ever had when it comes to dealing with governments. His philosophy was “Original Conditions Matter”. What he meant by that was, where we are is a direct result of where we came from. Quinn could have won the race last year. It wasn’t the tax increase that killed him. It was the fact that he was so ineffectual. Illinois citizens (most specifically Chicago-ans) value results more than anything else. A certain level of corruption, ok, but pick up my garbage and plow my streets. It’s when the corruption gets in the way of my services, that’s when I get mad (see R. R. Blagojevich).

    Rauner needs results to survive next year and 2018. If he can’t come to the voters and say “I’ve done X, Y, and Z” then he is toast. Especially if a popular Dem runs against him. He almost lost to Pat Quinn for cry-eye.


  10. - Elmira Eddie - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:08 am:

    One factor in the lower margins of victory in the legislative districts in the Metro East area (besides the Bost win in the 12the c.d.) was the much lower African-American turnout, probably the results of Ferguson, MO, a few months before the election.


  11. - A guy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:13 am:

    Forby is very conservative. He’s a poster boy for the NRA. He’s well liked. It appears that in his district he has only one Achilles heel. That would be his relationship to the Leaders of his party and votes he cast at their behest.

    The challenge there is to recruit a Conservative, coal defending, NRA poster boy on the other side of the aisle with a strong resume. And fund him/her big.

    Beloved candidates have lost races when the electorate has been finicky.


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:14 am:

    ===was the much lower African-American turnout, probably the results of Ferguson, MO, a few months before the election===

    Actually, it was more likely increased white turnout, or increased white GOP votes - in the wake of Ferguson.


  13. - Gooner - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:15 am:

    Rauner thinks the votes for him in those districts are because people like him?

    That’s one sign he’s surrounded himself for too long with people saying “Nice work, boss!”

    People in those districts voted Rauner because he was “Person not named Quinn.”

    The things is, people got tired of Quinn in part because he was viewed as overtly political and not very effective. Giving partisan speeches while no budget is passed simply turns Rauner into, at best, Quinn II.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    ===The challenge there is to recruit a Conservative, coal defending, NRA poster boy on the other side of the aisle with a strong resume. And fund him/her big.===

    Not even close.

    “The challenge there is to recruit a Conservative, coal defending, NRA poster boy on the other side of the aisle with a strong resume. And fund him/her big.

    Then just vote as Rauner demands, or face a $&@#% problem”

    Now, that’s truthful.

    Raunerites want a Raunerite caucus, not a Republican Caucus. The goal is to literally fool voters, until these Raunerite members vote Rauner, and not their districts.

    “Example?”

    Rauner owns the GOP GA Caucuses now. Lots of “yellow” button-pushing, because Rauner says so.

    Nope - A Guy -, no diverse GOP Caucus members being recruited. Rauner wants his Raunerite Caucus, with the base if 60 and 30 is the bought and paid for GOP GA.

    That’s real. That’s honest.


  15. - Hyman Roth - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:45 am:

    OneMan…beautiful! New meaning for “Hunt for Red November”….just hope Jack Ryan stays home.


  16. - Concerned - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:45 am:

    “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

    FDR


  17. - A guy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    Willy, aside from being a Democrat, can you please highlight what else Sen. Forby has in common with his Chamber President or the Party Leader serving as Speaker. If it’s just vote totals that matter, is he a Madiganite or a Cullertonite?

    Or does your game only go one way?


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    ===Willy, aside from being a Democrat, can you please highlight what else Sen. Forby has in common with his Chamber President or the Party Leader serving as Speaker. If it’s just vote totals that matter, is he a Madiganite or a Cullertonite?===

    Oh, - A Guy -, you’d have to ask Forby what makes him a Democrat, but let’s remember one thing;

    John Cullerton didn’t demand, under the absolute threat… threat… of $20 million dollars, that Forby votes as Cullerton demands… that’s demands, - A Guy -… or face a $&@#% problem.

    Only Raunerite Caucuses do that.


  19. - RNUG - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:52 am:

    == The Unions will get steamrolled, like they did in the GOP Primary, and in the General. ==

    The unions were asleep at the switch until the last minute (relatively speaking) in the primary; after that, they never have a chance in the general. They’ve finally woken up, maybe not to the extent I think they should have, but they are awake and paying attention. 2016 will be a whole different ball game on both sides.


  20. - downstate commissioner - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:53 am:

    Anonymous @10:04: Agree completely, unless certain other factors are brought in.
    Find a (younger)woman (maybe different race?) who meets the stated qualifications and Forby might be looking for a job.


  21. - RNUG - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 10:54 am:

    == Illinois citizens (most specifically Chicago-ans) value results more than anything else. A certain level of corruption, ok, but pick up my garbage and plow my streets. It’s when the corruption gets in the way of my services, that’s when I get mad ==

    Spot on!


  22. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 12:48 pm:

    ===The unions were asleep at the switch until the last minute (relatively speaking) in the primary; after that, they never have a chance in the general. They’ve finally woken up, maybe not to the extent I think they should have, but they are awake and paying attention. 2016 will be a whole different ball game on both sides.===

    I completely agree. Absolutely.

    The Unions will still get steamrolled, like before, because, well, they refuse to;

    Organize their thoughts and purposes to frame the anti-Rauner rhetoric into an easy identifiable message that will be carried in the precincts and mobilize a rate higher than 60% against Rauner.

    Today, I don’t see them achieving cohesiveness in action and thought and execution…today.


  23. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 1:01 pm:

    “Today, I don’t see them achieving cohesiveness in action and thought and execution…today.”

    The AFSCME rallies last were quite successful, as was union members’ participation at local governments during “turnaround agenda” hearings. Democrats stood strong against right to work. The key is to weave these strands of success into a cohesive message.


  24. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 15, 15 @ 1:09 pm:

    ===The key is to weave these strands of success into a cohesive message.===

    Yes, exactly.

    But, as Rauner becomes more polarizing, the only real measure will be how it translate in the precincts, and how it moves the governing in the short-term.

    The Unions, while trying real hard, are failing. Today.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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