Two Illinois sheriffs said Tuesday that some violent felons who had faced deportation are instead being released into local communities after their prison terms end as a result of a policy change by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration.
Sheriffs Mike Downey of Kankakee County and Tony Childress of Livingston County told reporters at the state Capitol that they were not given a reason for the policy switch, which they called reckless.
They said Corrections officials announced they were canceling a process under which criminals living in the country illegally were transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center. That’s where Kankakee County sheriff’s deputies picked them up and detained them under contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The sheriffs said they don’t have a number of how many inmates who would have faced deportation were released. Of 223 immigrants transferred from Pontiac to ICE detention in 2019, Downey said 11 were convicted of murder or attempted murder, 37 of predatory criminal sexual assault or abuse, including crimes involving children, and 33 were convicted of a crime involving a weapon.
So, they’re being released like everyone else, except they’re now avoiding deportation.
* As you might expect, the reaction has been thunderous…
State Representative Allen Skillicorn (R-Crystal Lake) says Illinois communities are unnecessarily at risk thanks to radical policies at the Illinois Department of Corrections that allows convicted felons to be released.
In 2019, there were 223 immigrants who were transferred to the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee. These individuals had all served time at an IDOC facility and all were felons. They were transferred to the Jerome Combs Detention Center at the request of ICE. Then, beginning in 2020, the notifications for these transfers stopped.
“What is essentially happening here is the Illinois Department of Corrections is releasing people directly into the community and ignoring ICE transfer requests,” Skillicorn said. “These are all felons and many of them are very dangerous people. Our communities are at risk because our own state government refuses to follow federal law. People’s lives are at stake so that Governor JB Pritzker can smile at the TV cameras and talk about how ‘compassionate’ he is. Gov. Pritzker is putting Illinois families at risk and it is wrong.”
Skillicorn said there is no warning about when the prison releases are taking place.
“There is no warning or a heads up to local enforcement about these releases; they are simply just released into the communities where they have been serving time,” Skillicorn said. “People in Illinois communities are at risk and they do not even know it.”
The Kankakee County Sheriff Office reviewed the transfers completed in 2019 and found that the individuals requested by ICE and transferred to the Kankakee correctional facility had been convicted of committing the following crimes in Illinois:
· 36 individuals were found guilty of sexual offenses against minors, including crimes against individuals as young as 5 years old;
· 11 individuals were found guilty of murder, attempted murder or intent to kill or injure;
· 19 individuals were found guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault;
· 33 individuals were found guilty of a criminal offense involving a weapon;
· 50 individuals were found guilty of drug offenses involving a substance other than cannabis;
· 55 individuals were found guilty of felony-level traffic offenses including aggravated DUI, having a fourth DUI or a DUI resulting in death.
“I am calling on the Governor and the Illinois Department of Corrections to end this dangerous policy and to work with local enforcement officials,” Skillicorn said. “Dangerous criminals whether they are citizens or illegal immigrants need to be behind bars – not roaming the streets. It is time to put the safety of our citizens and our communities first.”
State Representative Lindsay Parkhurst (R – Kankakee) issued the following statement in response to a change in Illinois Department of Corrections policy regarding undocumented convicted felons.
“Overnight – and without fanfare – there was a radical policy shift allowing undocumented convicted felons with active detainer warrants to be released from prison directly into the community without notification. Sheriff Mike Downey brought this to my attention and I am appalled there are no answers why. I want to be clear; this is not a policy for simple status offenses. This is not a policy for those deserving amnesty. These are serious dangerous criminal offenders – rapists, murderers, child molesters, and sexual predators. Last year, 223 undocumented convicted felons with active detainer warrants were safely transferred upon release from Illinois prisons. Under this radical new policy, these convicted felons with active detainer warrants are now simply released onto the streets and into our neighborhoods without notice.
I urge a statewide review of this policy and ask the governor to reverse this policy. The policy is dangerous to our children, our elderly, and all residents of Illinois.”
*** UPDATE *** Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office…
“As Donald Trump continues to advance policies that tear apart families and terrorize children, the Pritzker administration is committed to using every tool at our disposal to protect immigrant families in Illinois. The governor’s office is working closely with the Department of Corrections to review current policies, build on the progress made under the bipartisan Illinois Trust Act that was signed into law in 2017, and ensure the protection of immigrant families and all Illinois communities. As this work moves forward, the Department of Corrections will pause the majority of its interactions with ICE. The governor has made it abundantly clear that Illinois will be a firewall against the president’s attacks on immigrant communities.”
Under the bipartisan Trust Act, the Illinois Department of Corrections is prohibited from detaining an individual solely on the basis of an immigration detainer or non-judicial immigration warrant.
The Trust Act does not impact the length of an individual’s lawful sentence. Those who are incarcerated serve their sentence and then are released.
* From an editorial entitled “Governor holds education funds hostage” about the governor’s budget proposal to only spend $200 million of the $350 million increase in education funding unless his graduated income tax proposal is approved by voters in November…
The need-based funding formula was a big accomplishment for the state in 2017 — a true bipartisan piece of legislation signed by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. It sought to fix decades of spotty fund distribution.
Pritzker’s curve ball means school districts will have to craft budget plans before a September deadline without fully understanding how much money will be coming after the November vote. Schools typically have few options in those situations, including cutting staff, eliminating programs or hiking property taxes.
Pritzker has repeatedly said he wants to address skyrocketing property taxes, one driver in the state losing population as people flee. This approach does the precise opposite.
Where you fall on the progressive tax question doesn’t matter. What does matter is that our education leaders are facing yet another budgetary hoop introduced by the state.
There has to be a better way.
* The Question: Do you agree or disagree with Gov. Pritzker’s budget decision? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…
In a 90-minute hearing, attorneys for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission took a three-member panel that will decide the status of Blagojevich’s license through his worst hits as governor, including his convictions for attempting to sell a U.S. Senate seat, shaking down the CEO of a children’s hospital for campaign cash and lying to the FBI.
“As governor, (Blagojevich) had the responsibility to do what was right for the people of Illinois,” ARDC attorney Christopher Heredia said. “Instead, he only did what was right by himself. […]
Blagojevich’s longtime attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, said the ex-governor was in a “damned if he did, damned if he didn’t” situation in defending his law license, knowing that if he showed up to defend himself he would have been accused of lying all over again.
Sorosky also trotted out familiar lines in his argument, blaming the media for overemphasizing the FBI recordings that captured Blagojevich’s schemes, and saying the governor’s campaign fundraising and political horsetrading were well within legal bounds.
He would have accurately been accused of lying all over again. Fixed it for you, Sheldon. And a federal jury, a federal appellate court and the US Supreme Court all believed his actions were well outside legal bounds.
Pet owners in Illinois that live in public housing often have to choose between keeping their pet and staying in a place they can afford. A proposed Illinois measure aims to prevent that situation from ever happening.
State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is sponsoring a bill requiring landlords in charge of affordable housing units to allow pets. At an event in Springfield announcing the measure, she explained everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of having a pet in their home.
“They influence social, emotional, and cognitive development in children and they promote an active lifestyle,” Holmes said. “They provide emotional support, improved moods, and contribute to overall morale of their owners, including the elderly and disabled.”
Landlords and property owners who receive tax subsidies for low-income housing would be required to allow tenants to keep common pets, which include domesticated cats and dogs, regardless of size, weight, or breed.
Cook County property owners would get an extra four months to pay delinquent taxes before their land is put up for sale under a state bill championed by county Treasurer Maria Pappas.
The bill (SB3356), sponsored by State Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Laura Murphy(D-Des Plaines), would delay the county’s annual tax sale until September, 13 months after second-installment property taxes are due. The existing law requires the county to auction off delinquent properties by May, giving taxpayers a nine-month window to make late payments. […]
Pappas expects to put up approximately 57,000 delinquent properties at this year’s tax sale scheduled for May 8, which owe approximately $188 million in unpaid taxes — a more than 50 percent increase as compared with last year, Pappas said.
“This is about the most vulnerable people in Cook County, and the numbers are getting worse,” Pappas said. “Something is seriously wrong. People need an extra four months to pay.” […]
The proposed bill gives the treasurer’s office a full year after the second installment due date to ask a judge for permission to sell delinquent tax certificates, after which Pappas has 35 days to hold the sale.
A proposal before the Illinois General Assembly would overturn half a century of resistance to granny flats, coach houses and other “accessory dwelling units,” paving the way for these lower-cost housing types to flourish in towns all over Illinois.
“We want to create more options for people to create affordable housing in their communities,” said state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, who on Feb. 11 introduced HB 4869. The bill would prohibit any unit of local government from banning second living units on a residential property.
Advocates for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, which went out of favor in the years after World War II, say that bringing them back would put new, affordably priced housing stock where people want it—in established neighborhoods with good schools, transportation and shopping—rather than out at the fringes of the suburbs.
Gabel’s proposed legislation “is a huge step forward,” said Steve Vance, director of urban planning for MAP Strategies, a Chicago code and permit management firm. Vance, a longtime proponent of allowing ADUs, said that enabling them on a statewide level would show that “the need for lower-cost, smaller-size housing is everywhere.”
California, Nebraska and Illinois are the only U.S. states that can currently test for coronavirus, the Association of Public Health Laboratories told Reuters. The CDC last week said some of the testing kits sent to U.S. states and at least 30 countries produced “inconclusive” results due to a flawed component, and the CDC planned to send replacement materials to make the kits work. The CDC has increased testing capacity until new testing kits become available, said Scott Becker, the executive director of APHL, which represents public health laboratories in the United States.
Experts are increasingly concerned that the small number of U.S. cases thus far may be a reflection of limited testing, not of the virus’ spread. While South Korea has run more than 35,000 coronavirus tests, the U.S. has tested only 426 people for the virus, not including people who returned on evacuation flights.
“For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or deaths,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general. “Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has.”
Up to 95 percent of surgical masks are made outside the continental United States, in places like China and Mexico, according to a 2014 briefing released by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the outbreak has grown, Chinese authorities have increased manufacturing lines domestically, slashed their exports and put their own orders first. As China consumes more of the protective gear it is producing, the rest of the world is fighting over what is left.
U.S. health officials and industry executives are planning how to supply enough masks to critical personnel. That plan relies on a complicated supply chain already strained by U.S.-China trade tensions and in which even the most basic information is closely held. Proprietary information makes it difficult for the health-care industry — and the U.S. government — to know how much inventory manufacturers have at any given time.
The CDC outlined what schools and businesses will likely need to do if the COVID-19 virus becomes an epidemic outbreak in the U.S. Schools should consider dividing students into smaller groups or close and use “internet-based tele-schooling,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a conference call. “For adults, businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options,” Messonnier said. She said local communities and cities may need to “modify, postpone or cancel mass gatherings.” Hospitals may need to triage patients differently, add more tele-health services and delay elective surgery, she said. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad,” she said.
Needless to say, you can’t just snap your fingers and immediately set up “internet-based tele-schooling.”
The Trump administration is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding and wants to transfer $535 million more from an Ebola preparedness account that’s been a top priority of Democrats. It anticipates shifting money from other HHS accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan.
Democrats said Trump’s attempt to tap existing Ebola prevention funding was dead on arrival.
The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch is exacting in his diction, even for an epidemiologist. Twice in our conversation he started to say something, then paused and said, “Actually, let me start again.” So it’s striking when one of the points he wanted to get exactly right was this: “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.” […]
Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,” he said. As with influenza, which is often life-threatening to people with chronic health conditions and of older age, most cases pass without medical care. (Overall, around 14 percent of people with influenza have no symptoms.)
Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”
…Adding… Press release…
U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on the Trump Administration to do more to address the coronavirus epidemic following the President’s minimal and long overdue coronavirus funding request. In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin called out President Trump’s continued years-long efforts to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—two federal health agencies that our nation relies upon to respond and prepare for public health challenges. In his fiscal Year 2021 proposed budget, President Trump advocated for cutting the CDC’s budget by nine percent and the NIH’s budget by seven percent.
“When you look at the efforts that are being made here in the United States and around the world, we can and should do more. I support [Senator Schumer’s] request for a dramatic increase in funding for this purpose now before it spreads across the United States,” Durbin said.
If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base, it will be a fatal error.
We know that Bernie is less popular than Trump.
We know that a Bernie nomination puts the Dems control of the House at risk.
And we know that Bernie will sink Democrats in frontline districts like Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood right here in Illinois.
For the Democratic party to succeed and defeat Donald Trump it will take a candidate that can unite a broad and diverse coalition, and who can win crucial swing states that will ultimately decide the election in November with our House majority intact.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker indicated last week Illinois sportsbooks will be open for business by “March Madness,” the upcoming annual NCAA basketball tourney. The governor last year signed a massive gambling package, legalizing sports betting at retail locations and across digital platforms.
The Illinois Gaming Board issued the first three operating wire room permits earlier this month to the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which has a bid in for a Waukegan gaming venue, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and the Argosy Casino in the downstate Mississippi River town of Alton. Online sports betting license applicants need to wait 18 months after legal sports betting is underway to apply for the three gaming licenses, pegged at $20 million each, offered in Illinois.
Like the Super Bowl, the college basketball tournament draws heavy betting action from Illinoisans who think they can beat the oddsmakers. For you Illini fans, Illinois has a 77.8 percent chance of making the Big Dance, according to one sports ranking.
The Illinois Gaming Board moved the Land of Lincoln another step closer to entering the sports wagering market late Thursday afternoon when it released Phase 2 of its sports wagering rules. […]
The bill prohibits wagering on games involving in-state schools, which could be disappointing for some locals given that there are 13 Division I teams spread across eight conferences — and high-major programs Illinois and DePaul are vying for spots in the 68-team field.
The new provision allows for futures betting on events such as the NCAA tournament, covering “the final outcome of a series or combination of sports events such as a tournament or season outcome which includes both Illinois and non-Illinois collegiate teams or individuals” but also extending the prohibition on such wagers being placed on Illinois teams.
This rule is consistent with New Jersey’s prohibition on such wagers. Indiana and Iowa have no such provision regarding their college teams.
The futures of a planned casino in Terre Haute and one under construction in Gary remain up in the air as the Indiana Gaming Commission looks into allegations that a former Indianapolis gambling company and one of its officers were involved in a federal campaign finance scheme. […]
At issue is Spectacle Entertainment Group’s ownership in the gambling operations in Gary and its application for the planned Terre Haute casino. Spectacle is owned in part by former executives of Centaur Gaming, which in 2018 sold its racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to Caesars Entertainment.
A federal plea deal that became public Jan. 23 alleged that Centaur was involved in funneling thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to an Indiana congressional candidate in 2015.
Court documents didn’t name Centaur, but the Indiana Gaming Commission confirmed it’s the company involved. The plea deal also implicated the vice president and general counsel for the company, which was John Keeler.
Keeler and former Centaur Chairman and CEO Rod Ratcliff now operate Spectacle Entertainment, which is constructing the $300 million land-based casino in Gary and is the only applicant for the Terre Haute casino license.
But, you know, if Indiana would just get rid of Speaker Madigan and reform its redistricting process, this stuff wouldn’t ever happen.
Snark aside, Indiana’s troubles are good news for the Danville casino and the south suburban casino and the Chicago casino (if it ever gets off the ground).
Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) raked in $95,000 in campaign contributions from six major players in Illinois’ video gaming industry, including operators, a gaming parlor chain and the umbrella association that protects video gaming interests, according to reports filed this month with the Illinois State Board of Elections. […]
“One of the downsides of becoming senate president in the middle of a General Assembly and seven weeks before a primary election is I have to raise money to defend caucus members in tough primary fights,” Harmon said.
The gaming-related contributions reported by Harmon are:
$25,000 from Accel Entertainment Gaming LLC, the state’s largest video-gaming terminal operator, based in Burr Ridge. [by far the largest single donation to an Illinois politician the company has made]
$10,000 from Fair Share Gaming, LLC, a video-gaming terminal operator based in Tinley Park. [by far the largest contribution ever from the company]
$5,000 Illinois Gaming Systems, LLC, a Naperville-based video gaming terminal operator.
$25,000 from J&J Ventures, Inc., an Effingham-based firm that operates video gaming terminals along the Illinois-Missouri border. [That contribution was the largest in J&J’s history]
$5,000 from Lucy’s Place LLC, an Elmwood Park-based chain of video gaming cafés with 25 locations in Illinois.
$25,000 from the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association PAC, the political action committee representing video gaming interests in Illinois.
Harmon said the contributions went to his campaign committee because he is in the process of setting up a new campaign fund for Senate Democrats, called ISDF. The fund was created last week, according to campaign records, and Harmon said he expects the fund to officially replace the Illinois Democratic Victory PAC in the coming weeks. […]
The timing of the donations comes as the industry presses lawmakers to ban a major competitor to video gaming terminals: sweepstakes machines.
Harmon has not yet said where he stands on banning those sweepstakes machines.
* Speaking of sweepstakes, we recently discussed a bipartisan fact-finding mission by Reps. Kelly Cassidy and Tim Butler that looked into those games. Bernie did a story about it…
Butler put $30 into the [sweepstakes] machine and took a loss, getting $16 from the bartender. Cassidy was a winner, getting $13 for her $10 investment.
Butler said he had been told by an industry representative that cash for sweepstakes winnings aren’t condoned, and there’s a way to go online to get merchandise. But the experience in the bar confirmed for Butler that there’s not that much difference between unregulated sweepstakes machines and video terminals that can only operate with state Gaming Board approval, and involving background checks and payment of taxes.
“If you want to participate in gaming like this, you need to go through the process that we’ve set up,” Butler said.
Depositions ordered in a discrimination case lodged against JB Pritzker’s 2018 campaign for governor will be limited per the request of Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, according to a four-page order filed last week in the case by a federal judge.
Pritzker will not have to sit for a deposition, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cummings ruled, agreeing with the governor’s argument that he as an individual had already been dismissed from the case, and that he did not have “unique personal knowledge” of the dispute in the lawsuit.
Stratton’s interview will be limited to three hours “and to questions only related to the defamation issue,” according to the order. Stratton was sued for defamation as part of the suit brought in the waning weeks of the 2018 campaign by Maxwell Little and nine other campaign workers who alleged racial discrimination in the campaign environment.
The factors that govern whether a high-level official should be deposed show that Governor Pritzker should not be required to sit for an oral deposition. The record strongly suggests that Pritzker – who is no longer a party to this case – does not have unique personal knowledge of the events that plaintiffs allege. The campaign employed approximately 200 individuals across 34 offices in Illinois. The campaign’s manager Quentin Fulks states in his declaration that an email address was created to which employees could send their employment- related concerns. The address forwarded these emails to “certain” campaign employees whom Fulks does not identify but not to Pritzker or Stratton. Pritzker and Stratton also lacked daily supervisory responsibilities; instead, five non-senior campaign employees supervised the campaign’s field organizers.
Plaintiffs have made no showing of why Pritzker should be deposed given these facts. Plaintiffs claim that plaintiff Eric Chaney “attempted” to talk to Pritzker about his employment complaints at an unidentified point in the campaign but Pritzker “immediately walked off.” Pritzker’s responsiveness, however, is not relevant to the apex analysis; rather, the issue is whether he had unique knowledge of the matter in question. Plaintiffs’ claim that Pritzker “walked off” instead of listening to Chaney’s complaint suggests that he does not.
Plaintiffs have also provided an unauthenticated news article reporting that unnamed campaign staff members voiced some discrimination complaints to Pritzker and Stratton when the candidates reached out at some point to African-American campaign workers. However, not only does this article fail to identify the persons involved, the content of their communication, or the length or conditions under which the communication took place, it actually undermines plaintiffs’ argument through its incorporation of denials by both Pritzker and Stratton that anyone ever voiced to them concerns regarding racism and harassment.
* Background is here if you need it. The House Qualifications Challenge Committee met today for the first time for about ten minutes. The committee was created after two members, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Rep. Anne Stava-Murray (D-Naperville) challenged the qualifications of Rep. Eva Dina Delgado (D-Chicago), who was appointed to fill former Rep. Luis Arroyo’s seat with proxy votes from Arroyo’s 36th Ward organization.
I’m gonna work hard to get elected, go to Washington, and have his back. I’m gonna help him pass a conservative agenda that’s good for all of America.
Here’s what we’re gonna do: We’re gonna protect the God-given rights to bear arms in the 2nd Amendment. We’re gonna protect the sanctity of life, and we’re gonna work to strengthen and secure the southern border.
I will never be for sale to the highest bidder. Never. You can’t buy me and you can’t buy my vote.
My name is Darren Duncan and you better believe I approve this message.
The “supervolunteer” turned spokesman is now on his eighth campaign, managing communications for Rep. Yoni Pizer, who is running for a permanent seat in the Illinois House in a race that has pitted some Illinois Democrats against each other. […]
“I don’t remember the last time I got home before 8 p.m. the past three years,” the 18-year-old says. This primary will be the first election he votes in, and could fall after an all-nighter. He sometimes works on campaign to-dos until midnight, and homework until 2 a.m. “I don’t know why I did this to myself. I can’t really stop it.”
His first campaign was helping Mark Tendam in his losing 2017 bid for Evanston mayor, followed by Ald. Ameya Pawar’s gubernatorial run, then Daniel Biss. He interned in state Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s legislative office, then on state Rep. Bob Morgan’s campaign, for 46th Ward aldermanic candidate Marianne LaLonde, “then I got roped into this long-shot candidate named Lori Lightfoot’s race,” where he helped manage peer-to-peer texting. He also worked on Paras Parekh’s Lake County board race.
Stone works around his school’s block schedule—ten minutes here, an hour there during lunch and prep—and can often be spotted between classes catching up on news, Beacon’s Dean of Students Siobhan Allen says.
I’ve been working with Stone via email and I had no idea he was 18. He’s good at what he does.
The Illinois Credit Union League is the primary trade association for Illinois credit unions. Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives that focus on their members and the communities they serve. Credit unions function like other financial institutions in many ways: they offer checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards, as well as personal, home, and auto loans, free ATMs, and more. However, credit unions exist as member-owned cooperative institutions. This means that when you join a credit union, you are more than just a member - you’re an owner, and your voice matters. Interested in finding the credit union that’s right for you? Visit ASmarterChoice.org to discover all the advantages that membership holds.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood said Monday that she thinks the influence of the party’s presidential contenders on her chances for reelection in the traditionally Republican 14th Congressional District would be “neutral at best or really difficult at worst.”
Appearing before about 150 people at the City Club of Chicago, Underwood was asked if she shared concerns among some Democratic moderates that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders could hurt down-ballot Democrats who won in 2018 or are in swing districts, should he win the nomination.
“Some people are neutral and some people are not and no one in my opinion that’s running on the Democratic ticket is helpful to me in my race,” Underwood replied, drawing murmurs from the crowd.
Underwood defeated three-term GOP Rep. Randy Hultgren in 2018 in an exurban district that has long backed conservative Republicans. She noted that she defeated Hultgren by 5 percentage points while J.B. Pritzker lost to Bruce Rauner in the district by 8 percentage points — though Pritzker defeated Rauner statewide by 16 percentage points.
Political consultant Jim Terman, who posed the question, told Playbook that Underwood’s answer “caught folks by surprise…but when you think about it, it made sense.” […]
Underwood’s response explains the reality of being a Democrat in a swing district, says senior adviser Ronnie Cho. “Her re-election has more to do with her than anybody else. She knows her re-election is contingent on her campaign, policies and record,” Cho told Playbook.
And if there’s any question about Underwood’s dedication to Democratic infrastructure, Cho points to the political action committee Underwood just started to help down-ballot candidates. Farm Team PAC is focused on electing Democratic candidates within IL-14.
Only two statewide Democratic candidates won Underwood’s district in 2018: Secretary of State Jesse White (who won 14 of 16 districts) and Comptroller Susana Mendoza (who won all but four districts). No statewide Dems won the district in the 2016 and 2012 presidential cycles, and only White won it in 2014.
By the way, as I told subscribers yesterday, Underwood’s Farm Team PAC had just $992.69 in the bank at the end of 2019 and hasn’t reported any contributions since then. It was created about 13 months ago.
…Adding… With thanks to a commenter, here’s a story about an Indivisible Evanston gathering for Underwood last week...
Underwood also emphasized her role as a bipartisan congresswoman who can appeal to a variety of voters. She said many Trump supporters voted for her in 2018, and hopes to continue that trend. […]
Underwood stressed to Evanston residents that they might have to speak cautiously when helping her campaign in the district. She said they should speak on shared values as opposed to a “lack of empathy for our neighbors.”
Additionally, Underwood instructed those helping the campaign to maintain “awareness and discipline” when knocking on the doors of District 14 voters, who are generally not as liberal as many Evanston residents.
“Speaker Pelosi has a lot of sayings, but one of the things that she always tells us is that the things you can say in San Francisco you can’t say Michigan, but what you can say in Michigan, you can say San Francisco; you’re San Francisco, I’m Michigan,” Underwood said.
She also said potential GOP opponent Jim Oberweis has “very well-established bigoted and racist views.”