Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Z returns
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
*** UPDATED x1 *** Z returns

Monday, Dec 11, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

If you were worried that House Republican Leader Jim Durkin wasn’t taking his primary race seriously enough, think again.

As you already may know, Leader Durkin is being challenged by Burr Ridge Mayor Mickey Straub, who has backing from conservative activist Dan Proft and Operating Engineers Union Local 150. It’s a bizarre duo teaming up in an unprecedented attempt to take out a Republican legislative leader. Durkin is the favorite, but one doesn’t want to take any chances in these trying times.

So, Durkin has brought in the highly capable Mike Zolnierowicz to handle things on his campaign. Mike Z, as he’s known in political circles, was Gov. Bruce Rauner’s deputy campaign manager, then his first chief of staff, then ran Rauner’s massive campaign apparatus until this past July. Zolnierowicz resigned during Rauner’s Great Summer Staff Purge (and eventual re-purge) of 2017 and joined Xpress Professional Services as its political director.

Z simply could not stay around after Rauner pushed out most of the people he had brought in (including his replacement as chief of staff, Richard Goldberg) and replaced them with what turned out to be incompetent ideologues.

After allowing Proft the field to himself for the past several weeks, Durkin’s campaign is now running two new cable TV ads. One is a positive spot that appears designed to address questions about his record raised by Proft’s group.

“Jim Durkin’s record?” the ad begins, “Durkin stood up to [House Speaker Michael Madigan’s] machine, his tax increase, his unbalanced budgets. Now Jim’s pushing property tax cuts. He knows we need relief. Jim Durkin, fighting for families against Madigan’s tax hikes.”

Z didn’t pioneer the use of anti-Madigan themes. That’s been around for decades. But he’s the one who made those attacks ubiquitous with Rauner’s money in the 2014 campaign and all the way through the 2016 election, when the Republicans impressively took away four seats from the House Democrats in a presidential cycle. And Z was planning to do it again until he decided to leave Team Rauner.

The second, negative TV spot against Straub also brings in Madigan, and uses Local 150’s support for Straub against the candidate.

“Ever met Mickey Straub? Don’t bother. You already know the man behind ‘Madigan Mickey,’” the narrator says as a black-and-white photo of Speaker Madigan is shown on screen.

“That’s why Madigan and his union allies are revving up the Chicago machine to grease the skids for Mickey Straub,” the narrator then says, as a reference to my syndicated column in the Sun-Times about Local 150’s support for Straub is displayed. “Say No to Madigan Mickey.”

There’s also a mailer designed to warn voters that a “Million dollar Madigan front group is backing Mickey Straub.” And the Durkin folks have started a new website, “Straub’s campaign is being supported by a Chicago special interest group that’s funneled more than $1 million to Mike Madigan and wants to raise your taxes even higher,” a message on the front page says.

“And it’s no surprise they want to hike Illinois’ Gas Tax by 15 cents per gallon. They even suggested that Illinois drivers should be taxed for every mile they drive…as much as $65 per month for the average family.”

I don’t know about the cost estimate, but the union has been advocating for just such a pay-by-the-mile plan during the last year or so. Ironically enough, Z worked with a coalition of road builders and Local 150 on a constitutional amendment question last year.

The website also previews some other likely attacks against Straub, including campaign fines that he allegedly didn’t pay until he decided to run for the House, and four unbalanced Burr Ridge budgets.

So, considering that Gov. Rauner funds most of Durkin’s political operation, does Z’s hiring signal that the GOP establishment in this state is finally starting to patch things up after that huge July crackup?

I wouldn’t go that far. But with Rauner’s Republican primary opponent Rep. Jeanne Ives already giving Rauner fits (just look at his bizarre “I am not in charge” press conference last week if you need proof) and Proft looking to pick off House Republican incumbents who voted for the tax hike as well as win some vacant seats, they gotta start somewhere, and Durkin’s race is a good place to do so.

But Proft isn’t backing off. His Liberty Principles PAC has been spending about $70,000 a week on cable TV ads. His latest spots feature former Chicago Bears football player Dan Hampton.

Z and Durkin’s top campaign guy Joe Woodward have had a pretty strong relationship over the years, so they ought to work together well in the coming months.

*** UPDATE *** The aforementioned TV ads…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - My New Handle - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:09 am:

    At some point, I think the obsession with Madigan would have a negative effect on a candidate’s campaign. It seems like a lot of powerless politicians asking their would-be voters to overlook that powerlessness. Especially when the voters don’t see Madigan’s name on their ballots.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:10 am:

    Great hire, should really strengthen Durkin’s hand against Proft, allows Durkin to worry less (if that’s possible) about himself and also focus where Proft thinks he can force fractures in the Caucus.

    I’d send cannoli over but I’m afraid it might be considered trolling so best of luck to Z and that Crew.

  3. - Determinated - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:21 am:

    I am not sure that I agree that Woodward and Z have a great relationship, but, Z working a State Rep primary for the leader points to how effective the Leader thinks his in house political operation is.

    The Gov lost many of the operatives that made last cycle click for the House Republicans (the money helped a ton too). I am curious how prepared they are for this cycle without the in house knowledge of running multiple races successfully.

    Remember the 2014 cycle where the HGOP really couldn’t pull off any upsets even with a GOP wave and Rauner running so strong. Time will tell.

  4. - Curl of the Burl - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:37 am:

    Joe is very good at what he does, and 2016 showed what happens when he had funds to play with in targeted races.

  5. - JS Mill - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:37 am:

    I had to laugh after reading the text of Durkin’s adds. Western Springs is horribly oppressed./s

    Durkin represents an area that was barely impacted by the 2008-2009 housing bubble and has not only rebounded but has experienced significant growth in property values.

    They also have some of the countries best schools. So spare me the sob stories.

  6. - Chris P. Bacon - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    No hope for GOP if they can’t oust the frauds. Like Rauner, Durkin wanted income tax increase to pass and neither was serious about stopping it.

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    Is Z a consultant or the campaign manager? I would assume consultant.

  8. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:02 am:

    COTB - I think the hgop/Rauner spend a ton in 14 on House races. Just pointing that out.

  9. - Ooops - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:09 am:

    With Kayleen focused on the Gov’s race this cycle and Z on the outside; The real question is can Joe Woodward beat Dan Proft?

  10. - Rusty Jones - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:13 am:

    HRO spent the most in their history (up until that point) in 2014, but spread themselves too thin. They jumped in and out of races, that if they had stayed in the entire time, could have won. Instead, they had a weak cycle mainly playing defense.

    In the 2018 primary, HRO appears to be primarily focused on saving the Leader. Interesting twist, considering how many legislative primaries there are this cycle.

  11. - @misterjayem - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:13 am:

    I wonder what a fella gets paid to come up with fresh ideas like “Let’s tie him to Mike Madigan!”

    – MrJM

  12. - G'Kar - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    This is a little off topic, but reading this article gave me a new idea for a slogan: “IPI: Your source for incompetent ideologues since 2002.”

  13. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:21 am:

    Durkin. Another tax and spend self proclaimed fiscal conservative.

  14. - VanillaMan - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    The damage Rauner has inflicted upon ILGOP is real. He has tainted the image of Republicans regarding leadership and policies. The minority party sold itself to an incompetent saviour.

    God help them, they look really bad.

  15. - A guy - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    ==I am not sure that I agree that Woodward and Z have a great relationship, but, Z working a State Rep primary for the leader points to how effective the Leader thinks his in house political operation is.===

    They do have a strong relationship and this is a very good move.

    This lets Woodward do what he does everywhere else, while Z handles the affront to the leader. This whole charade was meant to distract. With Z handling Durkin, it frees up the rest of the crew to stay on schedule. Good move all the way around.

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    –No hope for GOP if they can’t oust the frauds. Like Rauner, Durkin wanted income tax increase to pass and neither was serious about stopping it. –

    What happens if the auto-da-fe is successful? Is there any realistic path to a governing majority headed by the inquisitors? Remember, when given a choice, GOP primary voters statewide showered Proft with 7% of the vote.

    In other words, what’s the real point of the exercise, from the Uihlein-money perspective? Just prankster hijinks with grandpa’s old Schiltz money? I don’t see the grown-up objective in a representative democracy.

  17. - Soothsayer - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    Durkin’s days are numbered. He may win in 2018 but not in 2020. His district has already turned a reddish purple and will only grow bluer by the day.

  18. - A guy - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    Sooth, there’s nothing purple about that district, especially in the local races. It’s red.

  19. - Soothsayer - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    A guy, without a doubt, incumbents did not fare well during the last local consolidated election. It does not bode particularly well for Durkin. Plus, the area is getting younger and while there was previously a great deal of voter apathy by that demographic, they tended to turn out in races across Virginia. One would be wise to presume that phenomenon might occur in Illinois.

  20. - Spliff - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    those are two low budget badly done commercials.

  21. - A guy - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    To the update videos….

    Let me make sure I’ve got this right;
    Dan Hampton, long retired Chicago Bear…will only play for new coach…Mickey Straub??

    Oddly the production values are decent here. But the entire concept is entirely idiotic. It’s a SMH from the start. The voice with the NFL films pedigree, heightens the nuttiness of this ad. It’s so goofy it’s not even funny. Hampton must be out of his tree to get involved in this. Really nuts. It’s a fail.

  22. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Geez, I hate to see Hampton associate his HOF career with such bush-league production.

    He was the goods; this fakakta spot is unworthy of the reflected glory.

  23. - walker - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    What Wordslinger said.

    What exactly would defeating Durkin do for Proft et al?

    Is this only establishing a useful threat?

  24. - ughhh - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    –In 1985 New Leadership turned around the chicago bears–

    What the H E double hockey sticks are they talking about?

    The Halas/McCaskey family still owned the team, Ditka had been coach since 82′, Buddy Ryan was DC since way before then. And basically the only major addition was their new refrigerator….

  25. - Shytown - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 4:53 pm:

    Smart move

  26. - Roman - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 8:50 pm:

    The Hampton ads might be really effective…in the 1988 primary.

  27. - Canon - Monday, Dec 11, 17 @ 10:05 pm:

    Roy Moore might win tomorrow. So i think critiques of ad quality to judge effectiveness are a bit off the mark.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* State Journal-Register endorses Rauner "with reservations"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker campaign lawyer hints at defamation suit, claims campaign was never served
* Rauner says he's "trying to eradicate" the Madigan machine "cancer," but the "treatments are tough"
* Question of the day
* *** UPDATED x1 - Speaker Ryan to campaign for Davis *** Trump likely coming to Illinois to boost Bost
* Musical Interlude: Try (just a little bit harder)
* Tell me another fairytale, Grandpa
* Rauner again denies any delays at Quincy veterans' home
* "Speed dating" candidates
* Lawyer won't answer simple questions as some anonymous former Pritzker staffers speak out
* AFL-CIO launches "massive" digital ad buy
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...







Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller