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Appointment angst

Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019

* Tina Sfondeles

Outgoing state Rep. Lou Lang on Monday said he was unaware of speculation that his daughter may become his replacement.

But he didn’t discourage her from applying.

Lang said he’s already seeking resumes from those in his district. And if his daughter is interested, “if she lives in the district, she should do so [apply].”

But Lang said he hasn’t had any conversations with her about it and vowed to be an “honest broker” about his replacement. […]

Becky Lang is an actress, a social media strategist with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and also volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. And yes, she currently lives in the district. She has been publicly supportive of her dad’s legislative efforts on social media, and stood up for him as he faced #MeToo allegations last year. On Monday as her father announced his resignation she wrote on Facebook: “I love you and I’m so proud to call you my Daddy.” […]

Reached by the Sun-Times, Becky Lang did not directly answer whether she’s seeking the position: “Today, I’m really just focusing on everything my dad has done for our state. I am so proud of him!”

* I reached out to Ms. Lang on Twitter yesterday and received this DM’d reply…

What I told Tina is truthfully where I’m at right now…. (T)oday, I really am just focused on my dad and his accomplishments, and I believe that this should be everyone else’s focus on this topic today, too.

Former Rep. Lang is also a township committeeman and appears to have the weighted vote to make the replacement, although he has pledged to work with the other committeemen.

Needless to say, a Statehouse lobbyist appointing his offspring to his former House seat would not be a good look, no matter how qualified.

* Meanwhile, some folks are upset with the way Sen. Raoul was replaced

As the Bears battled the Eagles late Sunday afternoon, a crowd of concerned citizens and jubilant supporters gathered at Toni Preckwinkle’s 4th Ward committee office as political neophyte Robert Peters was swiftly sworn in as the new 13th District State Senator, filling the seat left vacant by Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul. […]

Hours earlier, a small group of 13th District residents gathered outside of Preckwinkle’s ward office as committee members filed in to protest the “backroom deal” to fill the Raoul vacancy.

“We knew Raoul would be leaving the seat, and conversations started late last winter/spring about the replacement process,” said 13th District resident and 5th Ward aldermanic candidate Gabriel Piemonte. “The residents didn’t want a secret meeting. We didn’t want this to be an appointed process, and we’re concerned that Preckwinkle’s making a decision behind closed doors with other ward committee members in classic ward boss fashion. Why schedule something this important an hour before the Bears playoffs?”

Piemonte and other residents are calling for a special election instead.

1) Neophyte: “a person who is new to a subject, skill, or belief.” Peters has been involved in politics for years, including a stint as the political director for Daniel Biss’ gubernatorial campaign last year. He’s no neophyte.

2) “We didn’t want this to be an appointed process.” As noted later in the article, the Illinois Constitution is pretty clear on this topic

Within thirty days after a vacancy occurs, it shall be filled by appointment as provided by law… An appointee to fill a vacancy shall be a member of the same political party as the person he succeeds.

I wouldn’t object to changing this constitutional process, or even changing the statute that hands the process over to the local committeemen/party chairmen. But it is what it is until it’s changed.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - So_Ill - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    I love Rep. Lang, but it would be a terrible look to run for a term you had no intention of fulfilling, retiring before being sworn in, taking a lobbying job and then appointing your daughter.

    Honestly, it looks bad without even appointing his daughter.

  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:45 am:

    –Piemonte and other residents are calling for a special election instead.–

    How would that be possible, exactly, under the Constitution?

  3. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    I don’t want this to come off as denigrating or condescending, but state legislatures are exactly the kind of place where you don’t and shouldn’t need decades of political experience. They can be the exact kind of “citizen legislatures” that so many people romanticize.

    We gotta stop raising the barriers to entry on these things.

  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    The Wu Tang Lang Clan are being way too disingenuously cute in their responses.

    I read them as Lou is definitely trying to grease the appointment for his daughter. All he needs is O’Connor.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    First, this *is* ballgame….

    ===I wouldn’t object to changing this constitutional process, or even changing the statute that hands the process over to the local committeemen/party chairmen. But it is what it is until it’s changed.===

    Process “is what it is”.

    Second, I wouldn’t mind the change being a special election in a 90 day window, no primary, run em all. That would shake it up.

    But a primary would be the compromise, if it goes to the voters.

    I have no beef with appointments, I have no beef with whomever gets appointed, due in large part voters will always get their say, and then let’s see if they keep the seat.

  6. - Unionman - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    Lang appoints Silverstein to close the loop. Silverstein originally ran against Lang in his first run at office. Silverstein and Lang control over 70% of the weighted vote for the seat.

    We do need to change how appointments are done. It is kind of redicouloys that he was just reelected and is not taking the seat and now someone will fill out a full term in office never having been elected by the voters. And we will get another 5-10 members of the legislature getting jobs in the administration in the next two months who had the same thing happen.
    There needs to be a special election.

  7. - Moby - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:02 pm:

    == Lang said he’s already seeking resumes from those in his district. And if his daughter is interested, “if she lives in the district, she should do so [apply].” ==

    Does he not know where his daughter lives, or is this just worded weirdly?

  8. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:03 pm:

    This is an age old practice. It rankles me and I would urge against it, but it is what it is. I’ve seen some offspring winners and some real losers.

    I would like to see the law changed to prohibit nepotism. However, I won’t hold my breath.

  9. - Generic Drone - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    Why is it that everyone that works for the state are required to be ethical except our elected officials?

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:08 pm:

    === There needs to be a special election. ===

    How did you vote on the constitutional convention question in 2008? I voted “Yes.” But I was in the extreme minority at the time.

  11. - Todd Rockettes - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    If Lang appoints his daughter, it would create similar questions about patronage practices among legislators, especially given that she already has a state job. Agree with Rich that it would be a terrible look for anyone, especially a newly minted lobbyist.

  12. - Anon5876 - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:17 pm:


    It’s the latter— the Sun-Times either got the quote wrong, or he worded it strangely.

  13. - Grand Avenue - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    He does not have the weighted vote by himself - he has about 49.8%, so he needs either Pat O’Connor with 2.7% or Ira Silverstein with 47.5%.

    Ira would love nothing more than to tell Lou to go shove it if he wants to appoint his daughter, and Pat O’Connor is in the middle of a very tough re-election race so I don’t see him approving this nepotism either.

    It looks to me like the votes aren’t there for this to happen.

  14. - SweetLou86 - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    Glad to know I wasn’t the only person who googled the definition of “neophyte” when I saw it applied to Robert Peters by the author of that article, cause I was really confused to see it applied to someone with almost a decades worth of experience in the political sphere.

  15. - BigLou - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    So Lang got his daughter a job at SOS. Why is that not surprising. The guy that says we need change in Springfield has no problem with the way things are done.

  16. - The Bashful Raconteur - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:51 pm:

    If Jones, Turner and Phelps did it, why would Lang get singled out for criticism?

  17. - low level - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    Becky Lang is not only well qualified, she is an outstanding person. Forget how it looks.

  18. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 1:07 pm:

    Low turnout special elections are a waste of time of time and money.

  19. - He - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    He doesn’t believe the actor child of the departing rep is the best selection.

  20. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    Reminds me a lot of Danny Jacobs retiring to lobby for ComEd and then appointing his son Mike. It’s a practice that definitely shouldn’t be allowed, but unfortunately I think Illinois voters are numb to these practices.

  21. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 1:28 pm:

    She is a social media strategist for the Secretary of State? Gee I wonder how she got that job

  22. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    A social media strategist for the SOS and then moved into his state rep seat.

    Bold leadership and real change.

  23. - titan - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 3:23 pm:

    === There needs to be a special election. ===

    Special elections are expensive, and take a lot of time (candidate petition circulation time, objection process time, ballot preparation time, early voting and vote by mail period, processing time for late arriving VBM and provisional ballots). Having a primary first adds a lot of additional time and expense.

    By the time you’ve gone through all that, you’ve cut a lot of time out of a two year term.

  24. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    I love Lou, I really do. But appointing his daughter following his resignation immediately before inauguration to become a lobbyist would be Peak Lou Lang.

  25. - SaulGoodman - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 7:00 pm:

    **He does not have the weighted vote by himself - he has about 49.8%, so he needs either Pat O’Connor with 2.7% or Ira Silverstein with 47.5%.**

    I am pretty sure this isn’t correct, and that Lou has around 54% of the weighted vote.

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