Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, July 12

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

The Mechanics

Election 2016 Wed Nov 18 2015

Republicans in Disarray, but Democrats in Despair

GOP dissarayNate Silver is one of America's sharpest political analysts, so when he writes a piece like "Maybe Republicans Really Are In Disarray", it should raise some eyebrows. Silver doesn't come to a definite conclusion, but he does lay out a logical explanation of why "disarray" might be the right term to describe the current standing of the Republicans nationally. I would add that it could easily be extended to the situation in Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner seems to be alienating his own party, and where at a glance it would seem increasingly likely that Senator Mark Kirk will lose next November.

Silver, though, also argues against the disarray argument, by making a fairly simple point: excluding the presidency, Republicans are winning a lot more than they're losing. Even here in Illinois, with Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly, the reality is that the Republicans hold the governorship, one U.S. Senate seat, and eight of 18 U.S. House seats. The voting profile of the state would suggest that the Republicans should be doing far worse here.

So are the Republicans in disarray? I think the answer has to be yes. But does it matter very much? Maybe not. As bad as things may seem for the Republicans, they're nevertheless the majority party in the country, based on control of both houses of Congress, a large majority of governorships, and most state legislatures.

The party with the worst problems right now is the Democratic Party, and we can even see this playing out in Illinois.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry

Election 2014 Mon Oct 27 2014

Bruce Rauner and the Illusion of Reform

Bruce Rauner has been running on a promise of shaking up Springfield, which is not shocking from any political candidate. Candidates often run on the promise of making progress or taking back the seat they are running for.

Rauner seems to be using particularly strong rhetoric about how he will change Illinois. His slogan is "Shake up Springfield. Bring back Illinois." He once put together a campaign ad where he picks up a sledgehammer after picking up a tiny hammer, which feels more like performance art than a serious campaign ad from someone who wants to be the next Governor of Illinois.

Continue reading this entry »

Monica Reida

Elections Tue Feb 04 2014

The Elephants for a Day Are Coming. Are You One of Them?

An Ethernet cable. Carrie Underwood's career. What Derrick Rose does to people at the top of the key. That Nissan with the really stupid commercials. They're all crossovers. And the next big crossover is coming our way.

They'll go by a lot of different names. You can call them Grand Old Party Crashers, or One Trick Pachyderms, or maybe just Those Meddling, Conniving Democrats.

They're the Elephants for a Day. And they're diabolically plotting to pull Republican primary ballots this March even though they're not really Republicans.

And maybe you're one of them.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (2)

Elections Fri Jan 17 2014

Bruce Rauner's Bad Week

During the past week Bruce Rauner has flip-flopped on minimum wage and it has been revealed he gave money to a foundation for Walter Payton College Prep, a high school he used his clout to get his daughter into.

With the attention and criticism directed at him, Rauner even went as far as to say a forum among the Republican candidates was amounting to them beating up "Brucey all morning."

Although Rauner claims the abuse he received from other candidates was the result of him leading the polls, he really should look back at the news he's generated to understand why people are beating up "Brucey."

Continue reading this entry »

Monica Reida

IL-GOV Wed Jan 08 2014

Will the Term Limits Amendment Get Bruce Rauner Elected Governor?

illinois state capitol - photo by Matt TurnerIt was Friday night, around 6, at the Washington Blue Line stop. A man -- let's call him Fred -- approached me with a clipboard and asked if I would like to sign a petition to place a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.

The people around us didn't seem too familiar when Fred launched into his spiel. They will be. Fred was their first contact with what may well become the hottest issue of the 2014 election. Not only might this question have huge effects on Illinois government over the long term, it could also lead to the election of a conservative multimillionare Republican as our next governor.

The entity behind the proposed amendment is The Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, and its chair is Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner. Rauner has already put up $250,000 of his own money to push the amendment, plus $749,000 of his own money to his campaign committee. Both the committee formed to support the amendment and Rauner's committee have also racked up numerous donations of $100,000 or more, including several from out of state donors.

Much has been said and written about Rauner trying to buy the gubernatorial election. Some people have also written about how the term limits push may greatly benefit Rauner's campaign. What's been harder to find is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed amendment itself, precisely how the amendment can help Rauner get elected, and how Rauner's opponents might effectively try to hold off his multifaceted strategy.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (4)

Feature Tue Oct 08 2013

Dan Linn: Illinois NORML, Yes We Cannabis!


Dan Linn speaking at Chicago-Kent College of Law (Photo/Illinois NORML)

Dan Linn hadn't always planned on becoming the leader of a statewide movement to legalize marijuana. But at 31, as the Executive Director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), that's exactly what he has been doing for the better part of the last decade.

In the Fox Lake area of Illinois where he grew up, "drinking was huge," Linn said in an interview. From a young age, he could see the effects alcohol had on people. Then he saw the effects marijuana had on people and "it was like a night and day difference," he said.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Brosious / Comments (3)

Good Government/Reform Fri Jul 26 2013

America's #1 Populist Tips His Hat to Illinois' Campaign Finance Reform Movement

If politics is a matter of who gets what, when, and how, then Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) would aptly be described as a monumental political game changer. In the few short years since the Supreme Court of the United States decided money and speech are one in the same and withdrew restrictions on independent political spending, Americans have watched the whos, whats, whens, and hows of politics bending in one distinct direction: towards the interests of the 1%.

Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, nationally syndicated columnist and radio commentator, New York Times bestselling author, and self described American populist Jim Hightower knows a thing or two about fighting corporate influence in government, and he is a leading voice in the movement to overturn Citizens United.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Brosious

Privatization Tue Jul 16 2013

Proposed Bill Paves Way for Water Privatization Boom in Illinois

Water resource management, with impacts sweeping across public health, food production, security, energy, industry, and environmental sustainability, is one of the most consequential economic and societal drivers today.

Legislation currently on Governor Quinn's desk could dramatically alter the way Illinois manages its own water resources. House Bill 1379 would allow Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois, two of the state's largest private water companies, to expedite acquisitions of municipal water systems and increase customer rates to fund their expansion.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Brosious

IL-GOV Wed Jul 03 2013

Quinn Demands Stricter Provisions to Concealed-Carry Bill

At a press conference Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn announced what he called "common sense changes" to the General Assembly's concealed-carry bill. The governor vetoed several specific measures in the proposed legislation, citing "serious safety problems" and too many provisions "inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good."

Quinn's revisions include a move to ban concealed weapons inside places that serve alcohol, and to limit permitted gun owners only one concealed weapon, holding a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition, to be carried at a time. The governor also nixed a provision to prevent home-rule towns from passing assault weapon bans, tightened a partial-conceal provision to complete-conceal, and moved to give employers more regulatory discretion over guns in their businesses.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Brosious

Elections Mon Nov 01 2010

Who Cares About a State Representative's Race?

As you may have heard, some people (but probably not very many) are going to be voting on some stuff tomorrow. It's been a wild campaign season locally and nationally, and both will probably see some shakeups. But unlike the fights for governor or senator, there's one tight race that isn't between a Republican and a Democrat and most Chicagoans (particularly those outside of the Northwest Side) know little about: the fight for state representative in the 39th district.

State rep races usually fly well below the media's radar, overshadowed by races for higher offices. This year has been no exception: much attention has been paid to Quinn vs. Brady and Kirk vs. Giannoulias. But the fight in the 39th district between eight-year incumbent Democrat Toni Berrios and insurgent Green Party candidate Jeremy Karpen should be worth watching tomorrow. While the winner will not be the most powerful politician in Illinois, an incumbent loss would result in the only Green Party politician in any state house in the country.

Continue reading this entry »

Micah Uetricht / Comments (7)

Elections Sun Oct 31 2010

Moving America Forward Rally with President Barack Obama Photo Essay

Democrats rallied on the Midway Plaisance in Hyde Park on Saturday evening for the "Moving America Forward Rally with President Barack Obama." The estimated 35,000 attendees heard performances by Chicago rockers Dot Dot Dot and hip-hop artist Common, as well as speeches by a variety of officials and citizens, including Mayor Richard M. Daley, Senator Richard Durbin, State Treasurer and US Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias, Governor Pat Quinn, Alderman and Cook County President Candidate Toni Preckwinkle and -- of course -- President Barack Obama.

A photo essay of the event by David Schalliol is below.

David Schalliol / Comments (2)

Elections Wed Oct 27 2010

Tennessee Tennessee, Ain't No Place I'd Rather NOT Be

Despite the title of this post, no offense is meant towards the lovely state of Tennessee. Its Smokies are indeed majestic, who could argue with a town like Memphis, Dollywood calls it home, and Nashville is home to the legendary Skull's Rainbow Room, first established by honky-tonk legend "Skull" Schulman. You won't find any qualms with the state here. But when GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady exclaimed the following at a debate last week, it's cause for consternation:

"If the viewers are happy with the way Illinois is going, elect Pat Quinn. But if you want an Illinois that looks more like an Indiana or a Tennessee --- a state that can turn the page -- we need new leadership in Springfield"

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn immediately picked up on the quote and did some quick head-to-head statistical comparisons that highlight Brady never would have made the allusions if he had done any amount of research at all. The sentiment behind Brady's statement though is something to keep heavily in mind when heading out to the polls next Tuesday. What Brady's comment conveys is a cultural argument meant to rile up Downstaters to challenge Chicago and urban hegemony against their interests. Politically, it makes a bit of a sense. Logically, it's an absurdity.

It is a further illustration of the tension between the political unit of measurement that is the State -- that is, Illinois -- and the economic force that enables its being -- Chicago. In a recent article by Bruce Katz, the Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, he notes that ""Greater Chicago contains 67 percent of the residents of Illinois and generates 78 percent of the state's economic output. But Illinois has pursued transportation and infrastructure policies that divert tax revenue from Chicago to subsidize inefficient investments in the rest of the state." Unless leadership can start being aboveboard about the realities of the economic structure of our co-dependence, Illinois will remain a mess, and Chicago will stagnate. All the while, Chicago will be forced to continue searching for private dollars for public works, as it becomes an ever-larger welfare donor to the rest of the atrophying state.

At some point, there has got to be a critical mass when the untenability of the illusion of the versus culture that pits states like Tennessee against Illinois and towns like Bloomington against Chicago becomes politically apparent. All places are equally vital and important in their own regard, but the truth dictates that some carry larger weight than others. As the process of right-fixing spaces across the nation begins, realizing that the one-size-fits-all prescriptions of growth that had been counted on for so long have become unsustainable, hopefully an embracing of the actual place one occupies will accompany this development.

Any potential candidate for statewide office is foolish not to be actively selling further investment in Chicago. Whatever faults it may carry, the reality of it is that Chicago is a top-tier alpha city in a region devoid of any others. It is an exceptionally powerful place of prestige could be utilized as a tremendous asset. Aside from the states of California and New York, no other state has a city as influential as Illinois. Not only should Tennessee be so lucky to have such a problem, but Brady's thoughtless thought process indicates Chicago is somehow apart from the rest of the state. With 78% of the economic output coming from the city, a responsible candidate would encourage more growth in the city to solidify the strength and virtues of the small, rural hometown. Poison the source of the river and soon, the banks of all of its tributaries will be bare.

There are two solutions here: honesty in management, or go it alone and have Chicago take measures to decouple itself from the state. The latter isn't a political reality, so the former better become in vogue fairly soon. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be so happening this election season.

The Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed"

Ben Schulman

State Politics Sun Oct 24 2010

Rickey Hendon's Crazy Comments

I won't wade into the political operative-fabricated "who should apologize for what" media bullshit back-and-forth, nor will I link to it, but I do want to take a moment to address Rickey Hendon. Feel free to go make some soup.Unless you are State Senator Rickey Hendon. You stick around.

Rickey. Mr. Hendon, rather. Senator Hendon. State Senator Hendon. Whatever. I find you oft-hilarious. You're clearly a very clever man who can turn a phrase. However, don't say shit like this:

"Let me tell you a couple things. I've served with Bill Brady. I've never served with such an idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic person in my life," Hendon told the crowd. "If you think that the minimum wage needs to be $3 an hour, vote for Bill Brady. If you think that women have no rights whatsoever except to have his children, vote for Bill Brady. If you think gay and lesbian people need to be locked up and shot in the head, vote for Bill Brady."

I believe, like I think you do, that Senator Brady is opposed to the concept of a minimum wage. Certainly, Brady has shown little interest in actively addressing racial disparities in income or prison sentencing. I also believe, like you apparently do, that Brady's position on gay marriage amounts to homophobic policy even if he isn't personally homophobic. Brady's positions on reproductive rights are far from enlightened. However, I don't know if he wants the women of Illinois to bear his children. Nor do I think that even in his fevered fantasies, he thinks we should imprison gay people and execute them NKVD style. Nor do I think you actually believe those things.

Given these facts, do you think that maybe your point would have been better served sans the accusations of murderous impulses and harem-lust? Maybe taken more seriously?

I guess what I'm trying to say, Rickey--Senator Hendon--what I'm trying to say is, you know, take it easy.

Be Well,
Ramsin Canon

P.S. I believe the proper Chicago elocution is "couple of two, three things." Let's keep it professional.

Hey everybody, you can come back now. You're welcome for the soup.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (2)

Election 2011 Thu Oct 14 2010

Quinn Dogs Brady on Euthenasia Bill

Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign has released a commercial blasting Republican candidate Bill Brady for sponsoring a bill in the state senate authorizing the mass euthenization of dogs.

The ad says it was Brady's first act after winning the primary, but PolitiFact notes that he was confirmed the winner on March 5, a month after the bill was introduced. On a more significant point, Politifact also notes that Brady took his name off the bill in the weeks after, and was no longer a sponsor by the time he was certified as the Republican candidate.

Andrew Huff

IL-GOV Wed Oct 06 2010

March of the Morons: Brady on Evolution and Creation

Darwin_ape.pngI have one question that I believe should be used to disqualify people from running for executive office. It is, "Do you accept the theory of evolution?" Anybody who says no should be disqualified. No, it's not a religious test that would violate the Article VI prohibition. It's a moron test. We could also ask, "Are you a moron?" but then we'd be less likely to get an honest response. This way we could actually root out the morons.

This has nothing to do with conservative/liberal, Democrat/Republican. Evolution is a fact--in fact, it's more than a fact. It is a theory built upon literally millions of facts. Believe whatever other thing you want, but denying that evolution took place--maybe not exactly how science now conceives, but that it took place in some way--is absolutely no different than denying gravity. Newtonian physics got the mechanics of gravity wrong, but that didn't make gravity itself wrong. If you think "the jury is out" on evolution, you're not particularly bright, willfully ignorant, or poorly educated (which may not be your fault, but still--probably shouldn't be elected to executive office).

Bill Brady thinks it's okay to teach Creationism in schools. By doing so, he betrays his claim that he accepts "both" creationism and evolution. Accepting both as equivalent to be taught is like saying you accept "both" the theory of electromagnetism and fish are delicious. I don't care about any of the rest of his politics. How can you vote for a person like that? Creationism in schools? Really? We want the US to create well-educated kids prepared to tackle the most significant problems of the future--not to mention stay on the cutting edge of science--and we're going to allow school districts to teach Creationism? How stupid is this guy?

Apparently immensely.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (25)

Elections Mon Oct 04 2010

All Bets are Off for 2010 Elections in Illinois

We interrupt this 24-hour Rahm Emanuel coverage to give you something only related to Rahm Emanuel. Don't worry dear readers, you'll be able to read about exactly where Rahm stood and what shirt he was wearing on day 1 of his listening tour soon enough. In the meantime I wanted to call attention to this PPP poll released Friday of last week. There's been a good amount of commentary about some of the poll's results but the truth is that the findings are really so subtle you have to read it for yourself:

PPP Release IL 101

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Strauss

IL-GOV Wed Sep 29 2010

Quinn v. Brady debate in Chicago

Union League Club Debate: Quinn vs Brady from Alan Cottrell on Vimeo.

Hat-tip to Capitol Fax. This debate took place at the Union League Club of Chicago today.

Just to remind you that in about a month we have an immediate election before we even consider the mayoral contest in February. We have seen that there has been a lot of focus on who's going to replace Daley or whether or not the Presidential Chief of Staff will run for Mayor of Chicago and leave the Obama administration.

Next month we will elect a Governor and a US Senator.

I hope we will see more debates preferably on TV.


IL-GOV Mon Jun 28 2010

Brady and Quinn Fail to Impress as Campaign Heats Up

It's looking to be an election of the lesser of two evils for the Illinois gubernatorial election coming up this fall.

This Thursday, Illinois minimum wage will increase to $8.25 an hour, a quarter more than before and a full dollar more than the federal minimum wage. But despite the aid this increase will offer suffering families in Bloomington, Brady's hometown, where the living wage amounts to a minimum of $8.08 an hour for an adult without a child, he considers the raise evidence of the state "micromanaging" the private sector, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"When you try to over-manage the private sector, the private sector has choices, and they move, which is why the state of Illinois, under Blagojevich and Quinn, has lost nearly as many jobs as the state of Texas has gained," Brady said at a VFW conference Friday.

He also stated his support for returning Illinois' minimum wage to federal levels, in a move that's likely to alienate undecided voters at a key point in his campaign--recent polls show he's lost nine percent of his support overall and 10 percent of his support among Republicans. Where in April Brady was polling 43 percent to Quinn's 33 percent, he's now got 34 percent support to Quinn's 30 percent. Is this evidence of voter backlash towards what have been characterized as Brady's ultraconservative policies, or is Quinn just beginning to campaign harder as the race heats up?

Perhaps Brady's polling losses can be explained by a shift in the gay vote--a demographic that he's obviously not courting, as he skipped this weekend's Pride Parade in favor of the Swedish Days Parade in Geneva. He wouldn't say if he would be willing to march in the Pride Parade, but my bet's on no, considering he claimed he didn't even know it was happening yesterday.

And although Quinn did make an appearance at the Pride Parade, he's not likely to win much support this week as he's forced to sift through the state's budget and make cuts as early as Wednesday of this week. Quinn was unable to pass gain enough support for a budget based on borrowing to pay for the state's pension program through the Illinois Senate before its recess, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, is refusing to call the Senate back to consider the plan again without some Republican support. This being unlikely, the governor will have to make some tough--and unpopular--choices on what to cut to balance the budget he's been given.

Alex Jaffe / Comments (3)

IL-GOV Tue May 25 2010

Quinn Inaction on McCormick Place Legislation Scaring Exhibitors Away

Although action was expected Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn has not yet put pen to paper on the McCormick Place overhaul legislation recently approved by the general assembly, and his hesitation has begun to make exhibitors skittish. Both the National Restaurant Association and the International Home and Housewares Show have threatened to withdraw their business from the convention center if the legislation is not signed soon.

Exhibitors have frequently complained about how costly and complicated it can be to hold conferences at the McCormick center, and the overhaul legislation aims to correct some of these issues. It cuts profits made by McPier, the agency that runs McCormick Place, from foodservice, reworks the laws governing floor workers to make conventions run more efficiently and at lower cost, and eliminates McPier's chief executive position in favor of a more autonomous trustee position.

Continue reading this entry »

Alex Jaffe

Republicans Thu Mar 11 2010

IL GOP Attempting to Form Patronage Army?

I stumbled across this website, a few days ago, and was pretty stunned.

Republicans often criticize Illinois Democrats for running a patronage army of loyal state employees. However this website is encouraging loyal republicans to be given state jobs as well.

Of course new administrations are able to appoint people to implement their vision for the state, to implement the policies that they campaigned on and were elected to enact. What is odd about this website is its tone, a confidence that the GOP will win Springfield back, and a gleeful lust for 6 figure jobs. In particular the site exhibits a tendency towards the corrupt and a disdain for "the awshucks-we're-sorry-for-having-principles-types."

When you click on the Jobs List, it lists different state departments that the Governor is able to appoint heads of. What is disturbing is the partisan descriptions for the jobs. Is the head of the Historic Preservation Society a partisan position?

The site implies that Republicans would only be interested in jobs enforcing Human Rights because, "Check out the pay scale here!"

It describes Homeland Security as "the new patronage place to be." A scary thought that our security and safety be entrusted to partisan hacks instead of trained and specialized experts.

It describes positions on the Illinois Gaming Board as though it were a casino, "Great spot to meet people and make money, come to work every once and a while, too!"

In what should be a scary comment to organized labor, the site claims that the GOP will, "rebuild [the Department of Labor] and remake it so that it is more efficient. Get on board and help."

The site is run by a woman named Jenifer Sims. It is unclear if she has any connections to the Brady campaign, the state GOP, or if she is just a crank writer. Attempts to gain quotes from the Brady for Governor campaign and the Tea Party Patriots were made. Neither gave any quotes.

Matt Muchowski

State Budget Wed Mar 10 2010

More Debt? Expect to Spend More to Pay It Off

When you borrow money it is reasonable that the folks who loaned you the money expect to be paid back, with interest. That is another issue that is now facing the state budget and it's another issue that did not appear overnight. The Civic Federation on Chicago has
a report (PDF) that covers some of this in depth.

But like I pointed out in my last post about the budget, none of this is really a surprise.

Long Term Debt

In FY 2001 the state was spending about a billion dollars a year on long term debt service; in FY 2008 it had doubled to $2 billion; in FY 2011 it is projected to be $2.7 billion. So in the past seven years it has just about doubled.

In terms of the debt, in FY 2001 the state had about $8.4 billion in debt; FY 2008 it had $21.1 billion in debt and in FY 2011 it is estimated at $25.4 billion. These are state bonds that need to be paid, not the general underfunding of the state pension system.

Short Term Debt

Short-term debt is state debt that has to be paid back in a year. In FY 2007 it was $900 million, FY 2008 it was $2.4 billion, in FY 2009 $1.4 billion.

Continue reading this entry »

OneMan / Comments (1)

Illinois Tue Mar 09 2010

Why You Shouldn't Be Surprised the State is in This Budget Mess

The really short answer is because Dan Hynes warned us this was going to happen back in 2006.

Paying increased costs for employee pensions, health care for the poor and debt service will eat up virtually all new money the state can expect to bring in over the next three years, Comptroller Dan Hynes said Monday.

The state faces "a serious crisis" by 2010 unless lawmakers take a long-term view of state finances, Hynes told a business group in Chicago.

But this is a problem that has been brewing for years and years. The current economic situation may have hastened it, but this day has been coming for a long time and a large number of different issues have contributed to it.

Continue reading this entry »

OneMan / Comments (9)

Democrats Wed Mar 03 2010

The Problem with Democratic Lt. Governor Applicants

In case you haven't noticed yet, you can now submit your resume to be considered by the Illinois State Democratic Central Committee to be slated and become the nominee for Lt. Governor. You can find detailed instructions at

Perhaps more entertaining than applying yourself, is sorting through the resumes and applications of those who think that they can achieve what Scott Lee Cohen could not. Over 40 applications have been submitted so far and are posted on the Illinois state Democrats website. What seems to jump out to me is that many of these candidates, with little experience with elected office, seem to think they can play in the big leagues without going to training camp.

Continue reading this entry »

Matt Muchowski

IL-GOV Thu Feb 25 2010

Illinois Is Not Massachusetts

Two recent polls found that the Democratic nominees in the Illinois senate and gubernatorial races are ahead. These were its findings:

IL Treas. Alexi Giannoulias (D) leads Rep. Mark Kirk (R) by seven points in the race to capture Pres. Obama's former SEN seat, according to a new poll conducted for the liberal blog Daily Kos.

The poll was conducted Feb. 22-24 by Research 2000. R2K surveyed 600 likely voters, for a margin of error of +/- 4.0%.

General Election Matchup

Giannoulias 43%
Kirk 36

After a tougher primary race and whispers of a scandal surrounding a bank associated with Giannoulias' family, Giannoulias is actually more popular than Kirk, according to the poll. Giannoulias is viewed favorably by 49% of respondents, while 34% view him unfavorably. Kirk's fav/unfav rating stands at 42%/35%.

As for Governor Quinn, Research 2000 found promising numbers against either Dillard or Brady:

IL Gov. Pat Quinn (D) holds double-digit leads against both GOPers locked in a recount battle for their party's nod, according to a new poll conducted for the liberal blog Daily Kos. The poll, conducted Feb. 22-24 by Research 2000, surveyed 600 likely voters, for a margin of error of +/- 4.0%. Quinn was tested against state Sens. Bill Brady (R) and Kirk Dillard (R). General Election Matchups Quinn 47% Quinn 46% Brady 32 Dillard 35

Granted these numbers are still early. The general elections have barely begun. Still, it's not the start the Tea Partiers nor the GOP in general was looking for.

Daniel Strauss / Comments (1)

IL-GOV Tue Feb 09 2010

Raja For Lt. Gov.?

Unsuccessful democratic comptroller candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi is interested in the lt. governor spot:

Former Peorian and comptroller candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi wants to be considered for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and says he can bring the votes to help clinch victory.

Krishnamoorthi said the pairing with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Pat Quinn would make sense because he could help Quinn grab more votes, a key concern for Democrats who don't want to lose the state's top elected post to a Republican in November.


He lost by 8,328 votes, not including absentee and provisional ballots yet counted, to David Miller, a state representative from Lynwood. But he noted success in areas key in general election battlegrounds: downstate and the suburbs. The Hoffman Estates resident also boasts a considerable volunteer base in Peoria County, where he grew up.

I think you could do worse than Krishnamoorthi. His economic plans have some really good proposals (like open markets for procurement) and his association with Obama won't hurt the ticket among embittered Chicago Democratic voters (like myself) who are simply too tired of electing embarrassing Democrats. Hopefully with a proper vetting, Raja could really help Quinn.

Daniel Strauss

IL-GOV Sun Feb 07 2010

So Now Who Gets To Be Lt. Governor?

Now that Scott Lee Cohen is officially out, there's an immediate opening for the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. Rich Miller explains what happens now:

The state Democratic Party will make the appointment to fill the Scott Lee Cohen lt. governor vacancy. So, I asked Steve Brown, Speaker/Chairman Michael Madigan's spokesman, about what was next.

Brown said that Madigan intends to work with the state central committee, Gov. Quinn, Senate President Cullerton and others to find a replacement for Cohen on the ticket. Brown claimed that Madigan would not act "heavy-handed," as the media has constantly portrayed him.

Stay tuned.

Daniel Strauss / Comments (12)

IL-GOV Thu Feb 04 2010

Scott Lee Cohen and Reality

As most folks are likely now aware there are a host of allegations surounding the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor...

Just a bit from the Trib

Cohen did not deny choking his wife, as she alleged in the divorce, but said he had no recollection of it, and it actually took place before they were married.

His ex-wife, Debra York-Cohen, was with him today and said she stood by the allegations in the divorce but said his philandering and volatile behavior took place during a brief period time when he was using steroids. The allegations included him frightening their four children and threatening her verbally and physically.

His response to all of this and the calls to step down also from the Trib...

"I'm going to respond that my honesty and integrity in putting it out there is the best thing that could happen to the party,"

Yeah, the best thing that could happen for the Republican party. For the Democratic party the best thing that could happen is that you quickly go away.

I am a Republican but still, this is beyond messed up. This isn't embarrassing, it's sad. Perhaps this is a lesson on not having the primary so early or even having a Lt. Governor's office. But this is bad for everyone. Instead of people focusing on the state's budget issues (or even the closeness of the GOP Governor's race) folks are going to focus on the Lt. Governor candidate who seems to have come from a Springer episode.

I don't know what is worse (besides the things he allegedly did) , the idea that he thought this wouldn't be a big political s--- storm? That you may have been told by folks around you that this wasn't going to be a big deal and agreed with them? That you spent that kind of money to get the Lt. Governor nomination? You think this is somehow a positive for the Democratic ticket and the Democratic party?

Each of those in my mind show someone who isn't in touch with reality.

The `roid stuff, yeah that could have been a teary moment on the local news programs and you could have recovered from it.

But everything else? As Mike Flannery put it on the news on CBS 2 today..


OneMan / Comments (2)

IL-GOV Wed Feb 03 2010

In Case Of A Close Election

Eric Kleefeld explains here that doing a recount is particularly tricky in Illinois. It's an important fact to consider since a number of Tuesday's primaries were rather close.
In terms of Hynes versus Quinn, or Miller versus Krishnamoorthi, or Plummer versus Murphy, the leads were small but also consistent. I doubt that if any of the underdogs went through the whole recount process they'd actually muster more than maybe three thousand votes at best and that's still not enough to close the gap.

Daniel Strauss

Elections Sat Jan 30 2010

Open Election Thread: Who Are You Voting For?

Feel free to chip in on local races, too. On election night, join me and other local political types over at WBEZ where we'll be liveblogging the results.

U.S. Senate Races

Alexi Giannoulias
David Hoffman
Cheryle Jackson
Jacob Meister

Mark Kirk
Pat Hughes

Illinois Governor

Pat Quinn
Dan Hynes

Kirk Dillard
Bill Brady
Andy McKenna
Jim Ryan
Dan Proft
Adam Andrzejewski

Cook County Board President

Todd Stroger
Dorothy Brown
Toni Preckwinkle
Terry O'Brien

John Garrido
Roger Keats

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (7)

IL-GOV Wed Jan 27 2010

How Much Of Dan Hynes' Surge Has To Do With The Washington Ad?

In reading about the recent gubernatorial poll numbers that are fairly ominous for Governor Quinn I started wondering how much of the shift toward Dan Hynes had to do with his Harold Washington attack ad. Well Politico asked a Hynes pollster who said the following:

Hynes pollster Jef Pollock said there was no way to measure whether the Washington spot had moved the numbers in their favor, but said that "everything's a contributing factor."

I think it's a good bet that the ad had something to do with the shift. Of course it wasn't the only thing. In harsh economic times incumbent governors often face tough reelections. Still, the ad was very bad for Quinn.

Daniel Strauss

Democrats Thu Jan 21 2010

So you are Pat Quinn, what do you do now?

First thing accept the fact that the gloves are totally and completely off now and you can't put them back on. It has gone in the words of CBS 2, nuclear.

The Washington ad is huge for Hynes, he has gotten free media off of the ad. Any rational ad that gets free media play is something you have to reply to and address.

Remember one of the lessons from the Kerry campaign, you can't let this stuff go. You have to hit back and hit back hard. Yes, it's the primary and you are all supposed to be loving Democrats and negative campaigning is bad, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Remember, you have to win the primary to make it to the general and at this point your only focus needs to be on winning the primary, it's a long time between Feb and November, wounds will heal, losing the primary lasts forever.

So time to start making some TV ads.

Continue reading this entry »


IL-GOV Wed Jan 20 2010

The Interesting Math Related To The GOP Primary for Governor.

Normally in a primary within the GOP we will have one 'mainstream' candidate and one or more conservative candidates often more than one that split the conservative vote. Normally this leads to the mainstream candidate winning the primary.

There have been exceptions to this rule Al Salvi and Pete Fitzgerald come to mind.

However this time it's a bit different. We have several candidates I would consider for the most part 'establishment', no matter how hard they may try to demonstrate otherwise. McKenna, Ryan, Dillard, Shillerstrom and to some extent Brady would all fall under the establishment banner.

Only Proft and Andrzejewski can really be seen as the 'outsider' conservative candidates.

Continue reading this entry »


IL-GOV Tue Jan 19 2010

Why Chicagoans (And Everyone Else) Should Love Dan Proft

An exclusive interview with a reform Republican candidate for governor

I heard an all too familiar sound Monday morning as I rode the bus to Dan Proft's downtown office. On February 7th, the robotic PA announced, the CTA will begin service cuts to cope with a $100 million budget shortfall.

"Here we are again," I thought.

An hour later, Proft and I watched as a group of protestors carrying a banner reading "No cuts! No layoffs!" marched past his office as we discussed his plan to reform Illinois's public school system.

"There you go," he said. "Teachers' unions."

In reality, teachers' unions were marching with other government employee groups to protest a wide range of policies, including CTA service cuts, health care, and education. They want to increase government spending and prevent government employee downsizing during a recession and an ever-deepening hole in the state's budget.

Dan Proft is not amused.

Continue reading this entry »

Richard Lorenc / Comments (6)

IL-GOV Thu Jan 14 2010

The Always Entertaining Dan Proft

As I've said before, I like Dan Proft. He's entertaining and sincere, even if he is essentially a bundle of right-wing talking points and crackpot ideology. When he quoted Steve Martin's line from The Jerk: "I, too, was born a poor, black child", it was to mock his opponents for phony, exaggerated "I know poor people too" tales. The thing about Steve Martin's line was that in that movie he was born to hardship in a black family. He wasn't being insincere to score points. Proft just made the typical lazy connection between being black and living a hard scrabble life: (go to exactly 4'20". Dude.)

But Proft scores points with me for sending this out in an email to his email list:

As you may have figured out, I was in fact not born a poor, black child. The point of my comment was to highlight the inanity of these faux Horatio Alger stories my opponents tell of how they grew up as penniless street urchins in one-horse towns and beat the odds to become somebody. It is patronizing pabulum.

Every single one of us, me included, has lived a charmed life.

Even more to the point, the future of our party and our state will turn on the policy choices we make not the socioeconomic backgrounds of the policy-makers.

Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter had very similar socioeconomic backgrounds and much different policy ideas; the same is true of Jay Rockefeller and Steve Forbes on the other end of the spectrum.

Proft is absolutely right. Friedrich Engels was a rich kid. Mussolini was working class. Ideas and plans are what matter. Identity and narrative politics have infested our civic discourse to the point that people often vote with or against somebody even if they agree with them on practically all policy matters just because of how they make them "feel". You can say it's just human nature, but it is intensified by how the media covers politics.

What Proft wouldn't be ready to concede of course is that this has benefited conservatives more than the Left since the era of Nixon. The white working class and the black and Latino working class have shared interests that have been set against each other by generations of conservative demagogues--the kind of political language that associates poverty with being "a minority", when the typical poor person in America is a white woman. And of course, no single person has benefited more greatly from identity politics than poor crucified Sarah Palin.

Proft's refusal to join the play-pretend game is really refreshing. Too bad it's in service of a play-pretend ideology that is as thoroughly discredited as any comprehensive utopian jibberish. Ironically, it is Dan' belief in the magical, mystical power of the Free Market Unicorn that grounds his political rhetoric so firmly in reality.

(And, by the way, Dan still has not answered my question.)

Ramsin Canon

Education Tue Dec 08 2009

Dan Hynes Believes in Teachers

Take the above with a grain of salt--it's from Hynes' campaign, so who knows what the rest of Quinn's statement was. But Hynes should be given credit for giving this answer before a hostile crowd (the Union League Club), and his answer is absolutely right: teachers unions built the American education system, and professionalized teaching. It was teachers unions that took the schools out of the hands of patronage machines and forced accreditation and intensive education to be part of teaching. The teachers unions democratized education--the privatization movement wants to make it pay-to-play again.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

IL-GOV Wed Oct 07 2009

Dan Proft Won't Answer My Question

Having deputized myself as an official enforcer of the now oft-cited "Civic Fed Rule" coined by our friends at Progress Illinois, I responded to a campaign email from right-wing Republican candidate for governor Dan Proft offering to answer our questions about his policies with question about the state budget.

Here was the email:


You Have Questions? Send Them To Dan!

Dear Conservatives, Republicans, and Independents Looking For Reform,

I have tried to run a campaign that tells the truth about the nature and size of our problems and offers sober, realistic system-change policies and credible pathways to advance these policies by clearly defining our constituency and endeavoring to build non-traditional coalitions around issues of common interest.

My favorite part of this campaign has been engaging in Q&A with people on the campaign trail. I've learned a lot from these exchanges, and shared some of my experience with others. But not everybody has the time or opportunity to attend a campaign event.


I want to involve as many people as possible in the discussion over how to un-fix Illinois. Toward that end, we have created a new email address at the campaign:


Here was my question for Dan:

What twenty programs would you absolutely eliminate from state your first budget?



After getting no response for three weeks, I asked again:

from Ramsin


date Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 12:07 PM

I'm wondering if Dan still plans on answering my question?

I'll restate it:

What twenty programs would you absolutely eliminate from state operations in your first budget?



Ironically, not 30 minutes later, I got this email:

from Proft for Governor


date Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 12:17 PM

subject Why a Scalpel Doesn't Work


Why a Scalpel Doesn't Work

Dear Conservatives, Republicans, Independents Looking for Reform, and Libertarians Looking for Smaller Government,

Anyone who tells you we can solve our state's many problems simply by going line-by-line through the budget, posting everything online, or taking a scalpel to minor government programs is not only mistaken, he is misleading you. I have committed this campaign to telling you the truth about the desperate condition of our state and what we can and must do to find our way back to prosperity.

And the truth is this: the balance between the citizen and his government is dangerously distorted in favor of government employee unions. Government no longer exists to serve you, the citizen. Rather, you exist to perpetuate government and its ever-expanding unions.

What do you guys think? Does that qualify as his response? Or is it still nonsensical to say you're going to eliminate enormous amounts of spending without pointing out what programs you'd eliminate? Or is his plan to to just slash every state employees wages by so much that it'd cover the deficit? Because I thought we established there's no cutting your way out of the deficit?

Proft's piece on his site (and kudos to him for actually having some kind of theoretical framework to back up a fundraising request) says that the pension liability (which is not the same as the current deficits) needs to be addressed (presumably by just telling those pensioners that their 30+ years of service doesn't get them squat, even though the state doesn't pay into social security for them), and points out that,

• The average state and local government employee earns 29% more than the average private sector employee, according to The Tax Foundation's analysis of 2007 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

• Since the recession began in December 2007, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that private sector employment has declined 5.74 percent, while government payroll has grown 0.83 percent.

What Proft is saying without saying here, of course, is that the state should decertify all the public sector unions (take away their collective bargaining rights) and slash their wages by 1/3rd, and, also, fire a whole bunch of them. If he thinks that is the solution, he should say it. He should also say which workers would get the paycuts, and which he would lay off.

Given what we learned about how even not paying contractors who provide services deeply impacts Illinois families (again, thanks to Progress Illinois), I don't think that message would go over well with anybody who isn't a suburban homeowner in the upper 1/3rd of wage earners. By cutting state workers wages by 30%, you'd be taking tens of thousands of Illinoisans and cutting their wages by tens of thousands of dollars (or firing them). Would such a drastic reduction in the state's workforce and the wages earned by state employees be good for the average, $35k a year Illinoisan?

I should add, that I like Dan Proft. I think Proft actually believes all the things he says. Not a sense I get from many politicians, who believe what they say insofar as it helps get them where they wanna go.

It's just that the things he says are typically way, way wrong. Things must be scary right now for guys like Dan Proft. The utopian philosophy that said that "unfettered" "free markets" and unicorns could serve the common good and solve all of society's ills has died a death, right alongside the utopian philosophies of Marx and Lenin.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

State Politics Thu Sep 17 2009

Thanks but No Thanks Andy...

So Andy McKenna is going to run for governor as a Republican.

Well if you want my post-mortem on his senate run back in 2004 you can go here. Suffice to say I wasn't real impressed with Andy's senate run back in 2004.

I guess I don't understand why he wants to run. Did he look at the field and see some sort of chance to win against guys with bigger organizations? Does he see a chance of winning against guys who in some cases have been running for months? If he does he is seeing something I must be missing (big time).

To win in this primary and to win in the general a successful candidate is going to have to be aggressive. In the primary you are going to running against candidates who have built up statewide followings, who have spoken at Republican events at all ends of the state. When they and finished speaking at these events they have had people think 'hey I wish that guy would run for governor'. I have heard Andy speak at more than one Republican event over the years, nice guy, but he wouldn't stand out at a convention of stereotypical accountants. I doubt anyone has heard Andy speak at a Republican event and thought "I wish this guy would run for governor."

Continue reading this entry »


IL-GOV Sat Sep 05 2009

The Worn-Out "Flip-Flop" Charge

In the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, the Committee to Re-Elect the President - or "CREEP" as some of us fondly remember it - ran an extremely effective attack ad against McGovern. The ad, internally titled "McGovern Turnaround," paraphrased McGovern's, stands on issues with his face facing one way, then would flip the visual around to show him facing the other way, while accusing him of taking a position more recently that seemingly stated the opposite. This was repeated for a number of issues.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith / Comments (1)

GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project
GB store

About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing,
Mechanics staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15