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The Mechanics

Justice Tue Jan 11 2011

State Senate Votes to Abolish the Death Penalty

The death penalty is almost history in Illinois. From Progress Illinois:

The State Senate followed the lead of the House and approved the bill (SB 3539) by a 32-25 margin this afternoon. The legislation, if signed, would end the practice and redirect money the state pays in death row prosecution and defense fees ($100 million in the past seven years alone) to support law enforcement training and programs for the families of murder victims. It now heads to Gov. Pat Quinn, where it faces an uncertain future.

Since 1977, 13 Illinois men since have been exonerated for murders they did no commit; several investigations found that dubious evidence, racial discrimination, and prosecutorial misconduct tainted many of those cases. The use of the death penalty is declining nationwide. Fifteen other states do not sentence criminals to death.

There has been a de facto ban on the death penalty for the past for a decade after it was found that a number of innocent prisoners had been executed. According to the Trib's Clout Street blog, "[s]ponsoring Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, urged his colleagues to 'join the civilized world' and end the death penalty in Illinois" during the debate.

Continue reading this entry »

Micah Uetricht

IL-SEN Sat Dec 04 2010

Durbin Votes With GOP On Extending Bush Cuts For Up To $1 million

Speaking of Illinois senators, today the Senate held two votes on the Bush tax cuts. The first was to retain the Bush-era tax cuts for incomes only up to $250,000. The second was to do the same for incomes up to $1 million. Both bills were defeated. A number of Democrats voted against each respective bill. According to Talking Points Memo, the Democrats who voted with the GOP on the second bill included Illinois's Sen. Dick Durbin:

The vote was 53-36. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA) Lieberman and Feingold voted with the GOP on the second. That vote was 53-37, and reflected progressives' unease with redefining the middle class at the $1,000,000 income threshold.

It's a little strange for the progressive Democrat and current Majority Whip to vote with the GOP against a measure to extend tax cuts to people making up to a $1 million considering he's one of 11 members of the fiscal commission that supported a $3.8 trillion plan to cut the deficit. The commission did not come to a consensus on the plan but, again, Durbin was in favor of the plan (with reservations) showing his interest in passing some kind of tax cut extension legislation for the middle class. Many progressives say ending the Bush tax cuts for Americans making $250,000 and above would not hurt the middle class and help reduce the deficit.

I was unable to reach a spokesman for Durbin today for comment.

Daniel Strauss / Comments (3)

Budget Sat Dec 04 2010

Kirk Votes Against Middle-Class Tax Relief

Staying true to his pre-election stance, Mark Kirk this morning, in practically his first official act as Illinois Senator, joined a solid bloc of Republicans and a handful of primarily blue-dog Democrats in voting against cloture of debate on a Senate bill to extend tax cuts to American families making less than $250,000 a year. Kirk then also voted against a softened version which would have extended cuts to those making $1 million or less a year. Both votes garnered 53-vote majorities, but under the "faux filibuster" rules of the Senate, a majority vote was insufficient to move the measures forward.

It's important, as Illinoisans and Americans look at these votes, to understand the background and context. Republicans are attempting to frame the Democratic move as a "tax increase" but that is -- how to say? -- well, I'll call it a lie. In order to understand that, let's review how we got here.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith / Comments (4)

IL-SEN Mon Nov 08 2010

Mark Kirk Becomes Senator Nov.23, A Week After Senate Reconvenes

One important thing to remember about Senator-elect Mark Kirk: he was actually elected twice on November 2nd. Once for the normal six year senate term starting in January, and once to finish the last few weeks Sen. Burris's term. Both The Wall Street Journal and Politico have good writeups of when Kirk will drop the "elect" in his title. Here's The Wall Street Journal's Danny Yadron:

State officials told Washington Wire that the five-term Republican, who defeated state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the contest for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat, can't fill his new post until Nov. 23, a week after the Senate convenes for the lame-duck session. The reason for the gap: Illinois election officials need time to certify the vote.

Mr. Kirk will miss a week's worth of cloture votes, a bummer for the congressman who campaigned that he would be the "42nd Republican senator, with the opportunity to put the brakes on any lame-duck overreach." He even created a separate website for the issue, Mr. Kirk's office had no immediate comment on the dates.

Daniel Strauss

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 Sun Oct 17 2010

Corporate Cash Flooding IL, National Federal Races

Holding signs with slogans such as "RepubliCorp: we buy democracy, one race at a time," members of MoveOn from Chicago and the northern suburbs held a press conference on Friday, Oct. 15 at the Northbrook office of Congressman Mark Kirk, who is also a candidate for U.S. Senate, to draw attention to a report entitled Buying Democracy: The impact of corporate and right-wing front groups on elections in llinois. The report's findings reinforce what many Americans have become aware of in recent weeks, namely, that an unprecedented flood of shadowy cash is making its way into the 2010 election. The northern Illinois group held their presentation in coordination with other MoveOn efforts taking place in all 50 states.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith / Comments (21)

IL-SEN Tue Oct 12 2010

Kirk Campaign Voter Integrity Drive Targets Key Black Districts

Prepare to see this story on more than a few national news oulets. Last week Republican senate nominee Mark Kirk was unknowingly taped saying that he had funded voter integrity monitors in certain precincts that were especially sensitive to voter fraud. Oh and those districts just happen to be predominately black. Here's the audio via Archpundit. A number of other outlets confirmed the recording's authenticity after the fact:

And here's the meat of what Kirk said:

"These are lawyers and other people that will be deployed in key, vulnerable precincts, for example, South and West sides of Chicago, Rockford, Metro East, where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat," Kirk says on the tape."

Here's the Kirk Campaign's response:

"Congressman Kirk supports statewide efforts to combat machine politics and voter fraud that is well-known in Illinois," read a statement Thursday issued by Kirk spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. "Just this week, two individuals pled guilty to vote fraud in Metro East. Voter fraud dilutes votes and disenfranchises citizens."

And here's the Giannoulias Campaign:

With Karl Rove bankrolling his campaign, it's no wonder Congressman Kirk has cooked up a Florida-style voter intimidation scheme to try to interfere with voting. The Congressman's dirty tricks are disturbing and offensive and he needs to explain himself.

UPDATE: I just talked with Cindi Canary, the Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. She said that actual voter fraud is quite rare.

"Congressman Kirk is correct that on occasion people are busted for voter fraud but it's an extraordinarily inefficient if not impossible way to mess with an election and it's certainly not the province of any political group or political machine or ethnic group," Canary said.

Canary also said that she wasn't surprised the targeted districts are made up of mostly African Americans.

"I think there may be something there and even more broadly it's the urban vote versus the suburban and exurban vote. It's kind of like saying voter fraud is a symptom of African American voters," Canary explained. "This is not necessarily the voter population that he's likely to win."

A few weeks ago Public Policy Polling (whose polls tend to favor the Democrat) released a poll which found Kirk only had 14 percent of support among African Americans. Democratic senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias had 68 percent. The poll is below the fold, scroll down to page 11:

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Strauss

IL-SEN Sun Oct 10 2010

Kirk And Giannoulias On Meet The Press

Meet the Press hosted a debate between the Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk today. You can watch it below:

Daniel Strauss

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-SEN Thu Sep 02 2010

Constitution Party And GOP Continue Fight Over Nov. 2 Ballot

Earlier today Politico's Shira Toeplitz reported that after being barred from the Nov.2 ballot senate Constitution Party candidate Randy Stufflebeam filed suit yesterday to appeal the ruling and get on the ballot.

I just got off the phone with Pat Brady, chair of the Illinois State GOP, who told me that their lawyers will help defend the original ruling keeping Stufflebeam off the ballot. (Right now the Democrat, Republican and Libertarian Party candidates are the only three parties that will appear on the ballot for Senate.) Illinois State GOP lawyers were involved in the original challenge to letting the Constitution Party and eight other candidates were excluded from appearing on the ballot.

Reached for comment Stufflebeam was unsurprised that the GOP would continue to try and keep him off the ballot.

"They feel that I am a real threat to Mark Kirk and they can't afford to have me on the ballot," Stufflebeam said. "They're going to do everything possible in their power to keep me off the ballot."

Brady has repeatedly defended the GOP's motives for pushing to keep Stufflebeam and other candidates off the ballot. He says that the Illinois Republican Party is just interested in upholding the integrity of the ballot. Last week the State Board of Elections ruled that Stufflebeam did not have the minimum number of signatures to get on the ballot. According to Brady 450 signatures that Stufflebeam's campaign submitted were forged.

The U.S. Senate race to replace Senator Roland Burris has been a close one with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk trending within a percentage point or two of each other.

Daniel Strauss / Comments (1)

IL-SEN Mon Aug 30 2010

Durbin: I Still Support Muslim Community Center

Senator Durbin reiterated his stance on the New York Muslim community center mosque today:

Sen. Dick Durbin, the man who could lead the U.S. Senate depending on how November's elections go, had a strong message for Illinois' 400,000 Muslims and other residents about the Ground Zero Mosque Monday.

"They are patriotic peace-loving Americans," Durbin said of Illinois' Muslims. "They are the doctors who administer your anesthesia; the nurses who care for you in the hospital; the engineers who build the buildings; the people who run the hotels and motels and businesses. If there was ever a time we needed to step up and embrace them and remind them that they are as much a part of America as anyone, it is now."


"There is only one thing left from my mother's, my grandmother's journey to this country that I still have that I know was in her baggage and it's a prayer book," Durbin said. "It's a Catholic prayer book. It was printed in 1860 in Lithuanian. My grandmother brought it to this country because when she left Lithuania in 1911 it was contraband. The Russian czar had taken control of Lithuania and had dictated that no prayer books could be written in any language other than Russian. She knew that when she came here, that her right to practice her religion as she saw it would always be protected by this constitution and this country."

Of course, for Durbin there's no political risk in coming out for the mosque. He's not up for reelection nor is he unpopular within the party. Giannoulias on the other hand has plenty to risk and yet he also supports construction of the community center. Governor Quinn is against it.

Notice that in Durbin's statement he's not arguing that it's a constitutional issue, he's supporting the center because Muslims are Americans too. Even some proponents of of the project are too scared to say that.

Daniel Strauss

IL-SEN Thu Aug 26 2010

Brown Visits Kirk

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown --the Republican who succeeded Ted Kennedy-- is in town fundraising for Mark Kirk today.

In conservative states a visit by Brown might come off as a risk but in Illinois a visit from one of the more moderate Republican senators can only help Kirk, even if he has kept a slight lead in the polls.

The visit will help Kirk's street cred among moderates and non-Tea Party conservatives in Illinois --a constituency that's much more important to a Kirk victory than hard right conservatives would be in, say, Kentucky.

On a related note, Sarah Palin recently said that Alaskans wouldn't stand for Brown's voting record --which she referred to as "antics"-- if he were a senator from her home state.

Daniel Strauss

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-SEN Fri Feb 12 2010

Durbin Takes On The Filibuster

Senator Durbin has jumped on the reform-the-filibuster bandwagon. According to Greg Sargent:

The Harkin proposal would officially amend the process by which a filibuster is broken, allowing a four-step process that could eventually allow it to be broken by a majority vote. The first vote would require 60 votes to break the filibuster, followed by motions requiring 57, 54, and finally, 51 votes.

The key is that Durbin is apparently playing an active role in backing the Harkin effort. A senior leadership aide tells me Durbin is "in talks with a number of other Democratic senators regarding possible changes to Senate rules."

Sargent notes out a few important points. One is that Durbin's support gives the Amendment a great deal more gravity. Another is that the Amendment will probably still fail since it requires 67 votes and no party has an easy time to getting 60 senators to vote on anything these days. What's important though (which Sargent also mentions) is that Harkin and Durbin are trying at all because it calls to attention how really horrible the filibuster is.

I'm all for compromise and agreement but the filibuster as it is now doesn't do that. Instead, it gives the minority a great deal of influence over a bill that the majority wants. If there are 58 senators voting for something and the other 42 are against it that bill will see significant revisions before it passes at all. That, of course, comes after the interparty compromises that take place so that all the liberals and conservatives of either party are on board. Clearly the filibuster needs to go.

Daniel Strauss / 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 Wed Feb 03 2010

Yes We Can?

I sat down this morning to write a piece about how disappointment over the Hoffman defeat last night--who, by the way, was supported by every individual in Chicago I spoke with about the subject, though he lost here 36-29-29 (thank you, @chitownpolitics)--should not end our commitment to the Senate fight. If our health care and foreign policy goals remain today what they were yesterday, it is exceedingly important that the seat is filled with not just a Democrat, but a Democrat as faithful an Obama supporter as Giannoulias.

At election's close, listening to Hoffman concede on WBEZ, I sent out some comments into the twitter-shpere and the vocalo live blog (which deserves its own post--seriously, that shit was crazy):

we tried. At an unusual moment, we've got an uphill battle ahead. But we can work together and do it.

Chicagoans are going to have to show mobilization of Obama proportions--large swaths of state will love Kirk's banker narrative of Giannoulias.

The disappoint stems from this:

Continue reading this entry »

Danny Fenster / Comments (7)

Elections Wed Feb 03 2010

What This Means

Just kidding.

The most immediately important race for Chicagoans is probably the Cook County Board President's race, with the addition of insurgent candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's win in the Southwest Side 7th District. John Fritchey, another reformer--based on his activities in Springfield--won election to replace Forrest Claypool, who retired this year.

If Cook County is truly cleaned up, a huge spigot of patronage dollars--of both the old-school and pinstripe kind--can suddenly go dry for significant portions of the Chicago machine. Contracts with the County and particularly it's hospital system are an important source of income and campaign donations for Regulars and their associates. Commissioner Moreno himself was embroiled in a scandal whereby he allegedly shook down a health care software company to hire a political ally in order to qualify as a minority-owned business.

Assuming the Board's reformers have the gumption to take that system head on, the machine system in Cook County, and particularly the city, could show the kinds of weaknesses that open up electoral fronts.

In other news, wow, Terry O'Brien. Dude spent a lot of money to do as poorly as he did. Also, Quinn versus Brady may poll close, but Quinn will have to do a lot wrong to lose the enormous Cook County advantage that Democrats enjoy. Bill Brady, among the most conservative of the GOP candidates, will have trouble bringing back those suburban Republicans-turned-Democrats. In the Senate races, lots of speculation that Hoffman is perfectly positioned to run against Mayor Daley in '11. That election happens in mid-winter 2011--a year from now. If Hoffman plans to run against the Mayor, he better start in the Spring. The Mayor raised more than $50 million dollars for the Olympic bid. What do you think he could squeeze out of people for a competitive race against a prosecutor? Hoffman of course lost to Alexi Giannoulias. Speculators as to Alexi's "baggage" forget exactly what Hoffman's three-week meteoric rise should have taught them: nine months is a long, long, long time in politics. Who knows what's going to happen by November? Nine months ago the only tea party we talked about here happened at the Drake Hotel, in white gloves.

Ramsin Canon

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-SEN Sun Jan 24 2010

Senate Primaries Not Close

A new Trib poll shows that the front runners for the Democratic and Republican nominations are holding onto their comfortable leads. Eric Zorn of the Tribune expresses surprise that runners-up David Hoffman and Patrick Hughes are not performing better. Hoffman is at sixteen percent to Giannoulias' thirty four, and Pat Hughes is under double digits against Mark Kirk. Hoffman is coming off a stupendous run of editorial endorsements, so either those endorsements don't result in much, or voters are still not paying any attention. A week out, that's hard to figure.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Tue Jan 19 2010

Hoffman Slam and New Ad in IL-SEN

On the same day that the Giannoulias campaign puts out an ad called "Heart" that features his sweet mama talking about her boy's big heart, the Hoffman campaign sends out a somewhat squirmy email to their supporters taking shots at an unnamed opponent, comparing his (or her) character to Blagojevich's:

In the wake of the Blagojevich scandal and upcoming trial, it's easy to look back and say, "If I knew... I woulda done this" or, "I coulda done that" or, "I shoulda done this." Let's not make the same mistake again, and put someone of questionable character up for President Obama's former Senate seat.

The campaign seems to be playing on the buyer's remorse most Illinoisans feel about electing (or at least re-electing) Blagojevich, and Hoffman's campaign has spent a lot of time raising questions about Giannoulias' character. Hoffman got strong endorsements from the state's two biggest papers; this kind of attack--which doesn't even have the conviction to name names--is unfortunate, even if considered necessary. Given what by any measure is Hoffman's own strong character and record as an outsider and antagonist of the system, voters may have been better served by getting a glimpse at Hoffman himself, and hearing what's to date been unspoken: the villain of Hoffman's narrative isn't Giannoulias or Blagojevich but Richard M. Daley. Funny, we haven't heard much of that. Given the Mayor's unpopularity, particularly in Cook County suburbs where he's basically considered an omnipotent boogeyman, Why isn't AKPD, Hoffman's campaign media advisors, working on that?

There are legitimate questions about Giannoulias' handling of Bright Start to be asked and answered. But I have trouble believing that Hoffman himself or his campaign leadership genuinely believes that Alexi Giannoulias has Rod Blagojevich tendencies.

Here's that Giannoulias ad:

and Hoffman's new ad, which fortunately does talk about Hoffman:

Ramsin Canon / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Sun Jan 17 2010

Giannoulias Releases Bright Start Documents

Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has agreed to release documents pertaining to the Bright Start program that lost enormous sums of money due to investments in risky funds. Narrative politics aside, this is good. Whether or not Giannoulias should have released the information earlier, the documents are now public and that's a good thing. Via Greg Hinz at Crain's.

In an abrupt change of position, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias says he will quickly make available documents about how he reached a deal with Oppenheimer Funds to partially recoup huge losses suffered by Illinois families in his Bright Start college savings program.

Citing the advise of his lawyers, Mr. Giannouilas had refused to release the documents now to one of his opponents in the Feb. 2 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, David Hoffman. Mr. Giannoulias had said he legally couldn't turn over the documents until the settlement deal with Oppenheimer closes in late March -- well after the primary election.

A lot has been made of Bright Start and its losses, so getting a clear answer on what took place serves all parties. Good for the Treasurer for releasing the information. Just goes to show that that whole thing about sunlight and disinfectant holds.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Tue Jan 05 2010

Giannoulias Campaign Ad--"Values"

This is a good ad for the Giannoulias campaign. This is the type of ad--reminiscent of the Obama '04 ads--that can put the momentum behind the Treasurer's already strong name recognition.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

IL-SEN Mon Dec 28 2009

An Attack From The Right That Won't Hurt Kirk

Senate hopeful Andy Martin is trying to spread a rumor that Mark Kirk is gay:

Frequent candidate Andy Martin (R) has launched a statewide radio ad in IL accusing GOP frontrunner/Rep. Mark Kirk (R) of being gay.


Now, he has purchased time on IL radio stations to take after his primary rival, sparking outrage among IL GOPers.

"Today, I am fighting for the facts about Mark Kirk. Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual. Roeser suggests that Kirk is a member of a Republican Party homosexual club," Martin says in the ad.

Kirk is serving on active duty in his role as a Naval Reseve intelligence officer, and so cannot comment on politics. But campaign manager Eric Elk issued a statement on behalf of the campaign.

"The ad is not true and is demeaning to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better."

The IL GOP quickly issued a statement slamming Martin and disavowing him as a candidate.

"The Illinois Republican Party disavows the statements made today by Mr. Andrew Martin in his statewide radio advertisements. His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party. Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican Candidate by the Illinois Republican Party," party chairman Pat Brady said in a statement.

I think it's a pretty safe bet that while Kirk is vulnerable to a more conservative challenger, an attack like this won't hurt him.


Daniel Strauss / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Mon Dec 14 2009

What Would You Ask the Senate Candidates?

Slats Lonigan of Chi-Town Politics wants to ask Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias about his Gitmo North comments; Cheryle Jackson about gay marriage, and David Hoffman about the Bush tax cuts. What would you ask the candidates at their upcoming debate?

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Tue Dec 08 2009

Giannoulias Endorsed by Teachers, Hoffman by New Trier Township

Alexi Giannoulias' list of organizational and elective supporters is pretty impressive and growing. Endorsements may not do much to sway an unaffiliated voter, but looking at the list of local executives, county organizations, and labor groups, that's a significant base of votes he can count on. In Illinois, support from a well-organized county organization is no small thing. He landed the IFT endorsement this week, as well. His opponent David Hoffman was endorsed by the New Trier Township Democrats.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Mon Dec 07 2009

IL-SEN: The Senate Candidates on Afghanistan: Right and Wrong

Afghanistan matters. In 1984, George Orwell memorably had an old proletarian character wave off a question about a specific war by saying, "It's all wars." The point beautifully made with that little throwaway line is that wars, ultimately, benefit very few while generating hardships for the many, and for those who bear the hardships, wars are hardly discernible from one another. War is the best way to create artificial scarcity. And the war in Afghanistan is a war that gets unmitigated support from so-called deficit hawks who mewl about the smallest bit of discretionary spending; it justifies a class of spending by making opposition to it synonymous with treason. And it displaces needed spending -- that might be why some are so gung ho about it.

Unless you consider the potential resources spent in Afghanistan as necessarily limitless, there is a wrong and right position on President Obama's announced intention to escalate the war: a withdrawal-focused policy is right, and escalation is wrong. If that sounds absolutist, it's because I'm basing it on the available evidence: Afghan human rights advocates say the American presence degrades human rights; we are alienating who should be our greatest ally in the region (India); there's evidence that American presence strengthens the Taliban, and little that the American presence weakens it; we are propping up a kleptocracy of the sort that "creates terrorists"; and the architects of the surge strategy in Iraq have said that a similar strategy won't necessarily work in Afghanistan.

That is a case that does not favor committing more troops and enormous sums of money to that fight -- if we first accept the premise that "victory" in Afghanistan does not warrant inexhaustible resources; that there is some reasonable cut off for costs. The surge in Iraq may have helped eventually facilitate the current drawing down that is occurring: but only after immense cost; and with a great likelihood that co-opting Sun'ni insurgents had more to do with the (relative) stabilization than the increase in manpower.

Of the four Democrats running for their party's nomination to run for the junior Senate seat, two have come down in favor Surge 2.0, and two against. There is no "good Democrat" position on this issue; what do Democrats stand for anyway? Evan Bayh is one of the more powerful men in the Senate, and he's among the league leaders in "deficit hawk" hypocrisy. Neither position is the "right" position as far as the primary goes. But I know that I will appreciate the independence of the skeptics from the Party leadership on this issue.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Thu Dec 03 2009

IL-SEN: TV Ads Dropping Like First Snow

I'm precious.

Anyway, two of the candidates competing for the Democratic nomination to replace Roland Burris in the U.S. Senate, David Hoffman and Alexi Giannoulias, have released their first TV ads of the season.

Shorter David Hoffman ad: I'm not a politician, I'm a corruption fighter. Also, you know who sucks? Bankers. You know whose not a banker? Me.

Shorter Alexi Giannoulias ad: You know who sucks? Bankers. You know whose awesome? Workers. Also, Alexi Giannoulias.

Shorter Mario Mario ad: You know who sucks? Koopa Troopas; also Goombahs. You know who is awesome? Princess Peach & Yoshis. Also, me. Luigi is okay.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

IL-SEN Tue Dec 01 2009


I tend to focus on the differences between the Democrats. I probably don't want Mark Kirk to become the next Senator from the state of Illinois. I say "probably" because I need to make sure it'll make a difference who represents us in the U.S. Senate.

The way I'll make sure it'll make a difference is by ignoring everything but the explicit commitments candidates makes to issues that matter.

The issues that will matter in the 2011 Congress are Afghanistan, and reform of the financial system. Especially that latter one.

Now, there will be lots of issues the Senate will deal with, and it's important that none of our candidates are morons or crooks. I don't think any of the major candidates are moron crooks. Glad we dealt with that.

But we need to look at the major issues that politicians habitually give up on once they are in power and under the influence of party leaders and powerful corporate and policy institutions. Perhaps if you're a reactionary you think EFCA will destroy America; fine. That's your thing. But you're picking an issue to vote or die on. The way the financial system works affects every other thing. And our commitment to a monstrously deadly, dangerous, and expensive war in Afghanistan not only costs American lives and saps our diplomatic strength in dealing with problems like, say, the trafficking of millions of women every year, it also helps drive up the enormous deficits that make it easy for phony "deficit hawks" like Evan Bayh and other conservative Democrats to characterize discretionary spending as reckless. Also, call me a hippie, but I don't want the country to be at war. I'm not being asked to sacrifice much for it, but being a nation at peace and being a nation at war is a choice, and I want us to choose to be a nation at peace. Also, please don't call me a hippie.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

IL-SEN Mon Nov 16 2009

Mark Kirk Wants to Know if Prisoners Can Attack Willis Tower...While in Prison

I've been posting on Merge all morning about the possibility of moving Guantánamo Bay terror detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois, but this next bit deserves an entire blogpost all its own:

Illinois GOP lawmakers will try to force Congress to vote on a provision requiring the White House to study the potential impact that transferring alleged terror detainees to a prison in their state would have on Chicago's O'Hare airport and the Willis (Sears) Tower before such a transfer would happen.

A handful of the state's congressional delegation took to the mics on Monday morning in Chicago, where Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced his intention to amend the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill.

Here, I'll make Kirk's life easier and predict the result of the study right now: The. Prisoners. Who. Will. Be. Locked. In. A. Maximum. Security. Prison. Will. Not. Endanger. Any. Tall. Buildings. Or. Airports. Anywhere.

To reiterate the points I made earlier: Nobody has escaped from a maximum security prison. Ever. These detainees won't be any different. And because they'll be locked up in a maximum security jail they won't have anything to damage a major building or airport with.

But you know what? Kirk probably knows that, too. What he's betting is that the rest of us don't know that and are so gullible that we wouldn't make the connection between prison and imprisonment.


Daniel Strauss / Comments (8)

Health Care Sat Nov 14 2009

Kirk Still Your Average Conservative at Heart

Mark Kirk is trying to walk a thin line here. He doesn't want to be Scozzafavaed, but he doesn't want to come off as too conservative either. Take this excellent piece by Mike O'Brien (a former classmate of mine) in The Hill. O'Brien reports that Kirk is criticizing the "Pelosi healthcare bill" on its policy, not its ideology. That's enough to make a moderate Democrat in Illinois pause. A Republican who's actually criticizing the bill because of what it does and not because of who proposed it? Well, maybe I'll take a listen. Kirk also keeps his conservative cred by criticizing the bill at all. Problem is, Kirk's criticism is so ridiculous, what he's really doing is just pandering to the base:

Kirk outlined core elements of Republicans' health reform proposals in the address, arguing that the healthcare bill passed a week ago by the House would do little to reform the system, and result in higher taxes.

What about reducing prices? What about insuring millions of Americans? What about stopping insurers from rejecting consumers based on preconditions? That's all nothing?


Daniel Strauss / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Thu Nov 12 2009

Sen. Burris Celebrates 40 Years of Public Service


Well, while I'm sure many may admire his stance in favor of the public option for health care reform, what hurts this celebration is that he took a U.S. Senate appointment from Rod Blagojevich.


IL-SEN Tue Nov 10 2009

Schakowsky Could Be Bluffing

Call me a cynic, but I don't think there'll be much of a consequence if staunch liberals oppose a healthcare reform bill with the Stupak Amendment. That's what Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is doing and also what my new congressman Mike Quigley is doing. It's a noble effort, but really, the liberals in the House and the Senate are the ones who are in the worst position for attention getting. Are they really going to oppose a very progressive healthcare reform bill because it doesn't allow for abortion funding? Is it that much of a surprise that such a compromise exists?

I mean, yes, it'd be really nice if the final bill didn't limit abortion funding, but who's going to bend over backwards to accommodate Schakowsky? When push comes to shove, is she really going to vote against a bill like this with its many other liberal attributes? I doubt it.

It's progressives' big chance to make a difference (although not as big of one as they and I would like). Withholding their vote on a very--although not completely--progressive bill would also likely endanger them with their liberal constituents.

And I suspect they know this as well. They just need to make a bit of a show so that their liberal voters know they aren't totally okay with the bill as it is.


Daniel Strauss / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Tue Nov 10 2009

Doubtful Illinois Will Go Red In 2010

Politico lists Illinois as one of a ten states that could lose a Senate seat to the opposition party in 2010:

While Democrats failed in their efforts to woo state Attorney General Lisa Madigan into the race, Republicans scored a major recruiting coup when they signed up Rep. Mark Kirk, a mammoth fundraiser known for his success in holding a tough suburban Chicago House seat. Both sides agree that Kirk will make the race for a Democratic seat competitive. Democrats, meanwhile, have struggled to find a candidate they are comfortable with -- state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has emerged as the front-runner in the Democratic primary field, though his background in banking may provide fodder for opponents.

I have to say that sounds...plainly...false to me. There are some states where President Obama's coattails aren't long enough to cover the Democrats in the Senate and the House, and even though Illinois politics is famous for corruption (often among Democrats) there's no way Mark Kirk who --is a moderate candidate only because every once in a while he'll say something on, say diplomacy, or Sarah Palin, that doesn't quite match up with the party line or the Democrats-- will gather enough support to take Burris's Senate seat.

It's true that Alexi Giannoulias does have some questionable business ties, but they're hardly enough to take him down IF he gets the nomination--and I'm not convinced he will. It's still early and there's no reason to say Hoffman is out just yet.


Daniel Strauss

IL-SEN Fri Nov 06 2009

Giannoulias Campaign's Not Gonna Let This Go

Nor should they. I'm not convinced Mark Kirk's letter to the Palin people constituted a request for an endorsement, but his campaign certainly made a pitch to Palin about his suitability. And for what? A "Palin bump" over his barely-existent primary challenges? Stupid move.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Thu Oct 29 2009

David Hoffman on the Series of Tubes

The Illinois techie-political blogosphere is abuzz about former Chicago Inspector General and current US Senate candidate David Hoffman's new website redesign, which includes the ability for users to post directly to the candidate's website through Twitter hash tags -- it also looks pretty damn good. Head over and check it out.


That sort of interactivity, which the Obama campaign allowed with its user pages ("") is going to be both a major innovation and a major challenge for campaigns from here on out. How do you allow for the public to interact and take some ownership of the site without risking losing control, getting off message, or getting hijacked? Looks like the Hoffman campaign is interested in testing those waters. Good for them.

Ramsin Canon

National Politics Wed Oct 28 2009

Burris Doesn't Like The Opt-Out

This isn't anything to get overly excited about but it appears that Illinois Senator Roland Burris isn't totally on board with the opt-out provision. He's been saying for a little while now that he wouldn't settle for anything less than a serious public option sans concessions and I guess he's...still serious about it. I'm still skeptical of how far he's going to go and Lynn Sweet reports that the White House is dispatching its health czar to talk with Burris which, I bet, will cool him down.


Daniel Strauss

IL-SEN Tue Oct 20 2009

Giannoulias Hits the Right Note

Maybe a primary challenger (well, technically he has one) would do Mark Kirk well. Kirk's virtually unimpeded path to the Republican nomination for the Senate election next November seems to have allowed his campaign to slouch, and focus on political considerations over policy ramifications. There was his bizarre admission that he voted for the Cap'n Trade bill because it was politically popular for his constituency at the time (ie, the residents of the north suburban 10th Congressional District), but that he wouldn't vote for it if he represented Illinois generally; and then there were his inappropriately-timed Tweets.

Now, Kirk has come out against health care reform--not a particular bill, but "health care reform"--seemingly because it will mean unpopularity at the polls: "Several dozen House Democrats risk losing their jobs if they vote for reform."

So? Isn't the point that we need health care reform? Isn't that a reason to laud these Democrats--that they'd risk their jobs doing something they believed in, even if its wrong? Perhaps its "minority syndrome"--knowing that your actions are essentially ineffectual makes you lose sight of the real-world ramifications of your actions, putting everything into a political advantage context.

The Giannoulias campaign hit back immediately, Giannoulias releasing this statement:

It's sad that Congressman Kirk would rather win an election than lower the cost of health care for Illinois families, but with these words and ten years of voting with big drug and insurance companies to block reform, Congressman Kirk has made it clear he puts politics ahead of our families.

Duh. By changing only a couple words--"reform" to "that bill"--Kirk could have saved himself from this obvious hit. Instead, he casts himself as just another Republican obstructionist--and whatever his advisors or the NRSC or Charlie Cook is telling him, Illinois is still a Democratic state in the sense that there is little visceral grassroots allegiance to the worn Republican talking points of free markets. Illinoisans like most Americans support health care reform, and being against it solely (or apparently) because it's unpopular just feeds the image of Kirk as an opportunist that the Democrats have been sketching for the last few months.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Wed Oct 14 2009

UPDATED: Dem Primary is Wide Open--That's a Good Thing for Democrats

UPDATE: From the Giannoulias campaign:

We have different numbers. It's arguable about who is ahead and by how much because people's methods are different and there are different screens.

But that profile is VERY unbalanced. It is longer than Alexi's, it uses way more descriptive and terms about Hoffman and puts him in a much better light than the plain vanilla description they give Alexi.

This race is not wide open. That analysis doesn't point out how much it a significant buy is in IL (about a million a week to completely saturate). It neglects labor's influence, the elected officials who have organizations and the screaming fact that anyone who puts out a poll showing they have 7% of the vote with 3 months to go in the coldest time of the year in IL has to find a way to get 25-30% more of the vote while being outspent 4-1.

This is an uphill battle at best.

This polling memo, via the Huffington Post, indicates that while Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has a lead on his primary opponents, once voters are engaged on the issues, the campaign is wide open--and, apparently, former Chicago Inspector General opens up a not insignificant lead. This would indicate (if politics was science) that if Hoffman has enough money to make his case to the Democrats of Illinois, he could very well win this thing despite Giannoulias's considerably advantages of cash and name recognition. Elections of course are about votes, and Giannoulias has the backing of most of the state's county-level party organization. These organizations vary in significance, but in the well-organized Democratic areas, these county parties can deliver votes in good numbers. Poll was commissioned by the Hoffman campaign, so after ingesting a bit of salt, check out the poll:

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Tue Sep 29 2009

Hoffman Gets Mikva Endorsement

Abner Mikva's name is a sort of vestment that means "ethical" and "good government". So given former City of Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman's campaign themes in the US Senate Primary--cleaning up Illinois--this endorsement from Judge Mikva lends credibility to that theme and, ironically, probably sets the stage for vicious back and forth between Hoffman, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and former Blagojevich aide and Urban League leader Cheryle Jackson (who has quietly been rounding up national support, apparently quite effectively). With "cleaning up Illinois" as a campaign theme, as primary day draws near the Hoffman campaign will try to heighten the contrast between his "outsider" status and the past connections of Giannoulias and Jackson to Illinois pols and organizations.

UPDATE: Hoffman also announced his transparency initiative if he were to become Senator. I've bolded two items:

  • Posting all daily Senate schedules online, including identifying every person and group he meets with
  • Posting the official Senate office budget online, including salaries of all employees and office expenditures
  • Posting all Senate appropriation earmarks online sought by the office, including a full explanation and cost of each project
  • Posting all foreign travel online, including the purpose of the trip, meetings that took place and who was in them and the total cost of the travel
  • Posting all campaign donors who bundle contributions and the amounts they raised online

These are two things the President failed to deliver on, from his own promises of transparency.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Thu Sep 24 2009

SEIU Endorses Giannoulias; Hoffman Campaign Responds. Subsequently, Giannoulias Campaign Responds (To Initial Response). Hoffman Campaign Highlights Differences of Association (in subsequent response).

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) IL State Council, which represents hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees in Illinois, gave their endorsement in the Senate primary to state Treasurer and current front runner Alexi Giannoulias, over competitors Cheryle Jackson of the Urban League and former City Inspector General David Hoffman.

Hoffman's campaign characterized the endorsement thus:

The National GOP is champing at the bit to make the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Illinois all about former Governor Rod Blagojevich. This morning, the Alexi Giannoulias campaign is serving them up a free punch, trotting out an endorsement from the union leadership that was Blago's biggest supporter and whose president was completely enmeshed in the controversy over Rod's attempt to sell this Senate seat. (He even appears on the infamous Blagojevich wiretap!)

and, to give fair context,

You can bet Giannoulias will sit silently on the dais and smile broadly as he receives the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leadership, just as he did when the Blagojevich controversy first surfaced. He doesn't rock the boat, and he's no doubt excited about stepping up to the same trough that netted Blagojevich more than a million dollars in campaign cash...It's not the janitors, health care workers, security personnel and other hard-working SEIU members who are the problem. It's not even the idea that the SEIU endorses candidates and puts its political power to use. We support the rank-and-file and their agenda for social justice. We take issue with the SEIU leadership-- the same leadership who once stood next to and endorsed Blagojevich as his strongest champions...

When asked for a comment about this reaction to their endorsement, a Giannoulias campaign spokesmen said in a statement,

"The working men and women of SEIU have fought for progressive policies, independent leaders and middle class families and Alexi Giannoulias is proud to stand with them and their fight to change Washington. It is not lost on us or progressives to see Hoffman, a guy who worked for ultra conservative judges Rehnquist and Jacobs, echo a Republican smear campaign against working families."

Hoffman's campaign's statement is unfair on one point at least--to say that Local 1 and State Council President Tom Balanoff was "enmeshed" in the Senate-seat-for-sale scandal isn't accurate as a matter of opinion or fact. Balanoff took a call from the governor--being on the wiretaps is not evidence of anything other than a union leader taking a call from the governor of his state.

SEIU Illinois did give Blagojevich enormous sums of money and volunteers in both of his gubernatorial bids, and were an integral part of his overall governing coalition in Springfield. The Blagojevich poison has infected both good progressives and hacks; the progressive groups and individuals who had turned on Blagojevich before his 2006 reelection are fairly few and far between. I don't doubt that SEIU's leaders want to put the Blagojevich era behind them, despite the benefits they gained under his governorship.

There's nothing in Hoffman's campaign's post that "smears" SEIU's rank-and-file, or the causes for which they fight; the unfocused criticism is of the union's leadership as state insiders (which, of course, they are). The campaign's apparent disdain for union leadership as opposed to rank and file is not something alien to progressives or the labor movement--but in a political fight at this level, jabbing at the leadership with this type of characterization just opens Hoffman up to accusations of alienation from progressive institutions. SEIU is an enormous engine for progressive causes in Illinois--not least of which as underwriters of Progress Illinois.

When asked if they had a clarification, a Hoffman campaign spokesman provided the following statement,

Nobody's attacking the hard workers and the many good works of the SEIU. We are simply raising the question of how Alexi Giannoulias can claim he stands for change while standing with the same insiders who brought us Rod Blagojevich -- and were even caught on Rod's wiretaps about selling this very Senate seat.

It's odd that the Giannoulias campaign would highlight Hoffman's long resume, where he has worked in the highest levels of all three branches of national government. We welcome a comparison of achievements and experience levels between these two candidates.

We also welcome a closer comparison of business associates between the two. That's comparing the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court with some of the shady characters who have received loans from the Broadway Bank.

This is all the Giannoulias campaign has to offer against David's candidacy. It's not much. We look forward to February 2.

There you go.

The State Council's Executive Board (listed here) votes on endorsements. The executive board members are in turn appointed by the boards of their respective locals. The Giannoulias campaign's reference to Rehnquist and Jacobs can be clarified by this post.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Thu Sep 24 2009

RNC Neutrality in Senate Race

Tom Roeser reports (h/t Capitol Fax):

Steele Withdraws Sole Support for Kirk.

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has withdrawn his sole endorsement for Mark Kirk for the U. S. Senate, recognizing that the candidacy of Patrick Hughes has drawn major support from Illinois Republicans: thus Steele's RNC is neutral...a distinct victory for Hughes.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Thu Sep 10 2009

Former IG David Hoffman Launches His Senate Bid

Progress Illinois provides the video. Thanks, PI.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Tue Sep 08 2009

Hoffman's Clerkships

Former City of Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman is running for the US Senate as a Democrat; it should then come as no surprise then that on his campaign website's bio page, his campaign left out some details from his resume that were present on his IG office bio: his clerkship for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a conservative icon, and the lesser-known conservative 2nd Federal District Judge Dennis Jacobs.

This appears on his campaign bio page:

Earlier in his career, Hoffman served as a law clerk for the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and for a United States Court of Appeals Judge. He also served as Press Secretary and legislative assistant for foreign policy to U.S. Senator David Boren (D-OK), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

His IG bio page, removed since his resignation (scroll to bottom for a screen grab), read as follows:

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's office, Hoffman served as a law clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the United States Supreme Court during October Term 1997. The prior year he served as a law clerk for Judge Dennis G. Jacobs, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York City.

If you're wondering what opinions were handed down in the October Term 1997, the most well-known cases were probably Vacco v. Quill, a right-to-die case, and Printz v. United States, a case that weakened the enforcement of the Brady Bill. Another case, Bragdon v. Abbott, found that sufferers of asymptomatic HIV qualified under Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA); Rehnquist dissented in this latter.

When I asked Hoffman about the extent of his involvement in these cases--particularly Printz, he was confused for a moment. "I wasn't involved with that case...I actually clerked in 96-97." The error was in his original IG Bio. The October Term 1996 had fewer controversial cases; the most noted for the lay public is probably United States v. Virginia, which struck down VMI's males-only admission policy. Rehnquist concurred with the majority. Indeed, Hoffman did clerk in the 96 term; the experience led him to describe Rehnquist as "the smartest guy I know."

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (8)

IL-SEN Mon Sep 07 2009

Building the Perfect Candidate

If you could take a bit from each candidate I think you could build the perfect candidate, so let's try.

First Adam Andzejewski.
Well I have to admit, he is the candidate I have seen the most of on the stump so far so that will influence my opinion of him vs. the others.

From Adam I would take his ability to manage a Q & A and his ability to work someone one on one; I don't know if you can teach that, but for a guy who has never run for office he is very good at it. Also his outsider status -- people are sick of Illinois government. Finally, I like his idea for putting huge amounts of government spending and other data on-line in real time.

Bill Brady
His business background, the fact he is from central Illinois are big pluses. Also he is acceptable to the strong conservative wing of the party.

Dan Proft
His tag line: Illinois Isn't Broken, It's fixed. That summarizes the issue we are trying to deal with in a nutshell. He can be a bit in your face sometimes, we need that this time. Also to some extent he is an outsider, something to be said for that as well.

After going five pages deep in a google search on Republican Candidate for Governor Illinois, those were all of the home pages I could find. Changing the search to Republican Candidate for Governor Illinois 2010, I found one more in hit in the first five pages for a guy who isn't running anymore. At this point I have given up using google searches and went to a wiki to find the rest.

Kirk Dillard
His ability to raise money, and I think Obama kind of owes him one.

Matt Murphy
I think he has a line about how he hasn't even met George Ryan. That sort of insider yet outsider thing he has. Also he is well liked by the conservative wing of the party and isn't afraid to push some things.

Bob Schillerstrom
Experience running a government that basically works (DuPage county). Also I suspect he will be able to raise some decent coin.

So what does the perfect candidate come down to? An outsider who can communicate that can raise money and is also enough of an insider to understand the process and work it.

If you find that single candidate let me know, meanwhile like a lot of other Illinois Republicans I will keep looking to see which one meshes with my definition of perfect the best.

OneMan / Comments (3)

IL-SEN Sat Sep 05 2009

Dart's Probably Out But There's Still Alexi...

Mick Dumke reported that Sheriff Tom Dart, the sheriff who made national headlines by refusing to evict people from their houses during the beginning of the financial crisis, won't run for senate. I had been hoping Dart would run and from Dumke's post it sounds like Dart was seriously considering. Hell, he even still may be, he hasn't officially bowed out yet, this all comes from an anonymous source of Dumke's.

Still, Dumke is probably reporting the truth and it's too bad, Dart is a far better candidate than Giannoulias. That's not to say that Alexi is a bad candidate because he's not, but as Dumke notes, Giannoulias has some negative baggage:

Giannoulias, currently the state treasurer, is telegenic, progressive, and organized in addition to having plenty of money. So the question is whether his known soft spots--such as the loans made to organized crime figures by the bank his family owns--are what's wigging them out, or whether there's another big problem out there that they fear Republican Mark Kirk is waiting to exploit.

I won't be surprised if there's a bigger scandal waiting to be uncovered and loans connected to organized crime is no small black mark, especially if you're the State Treasurer. It doesn't look good. Meanwhile Dumke highlights Dart's appeal:

Dart is clearly viewed as a rising star. He's made reforms that appeal to progressives but has strong ties to old-school Chicago political organizations as well as downstate legislators. And he's savvy about choosing hot-button issues to take a stand on before the TV cameras.

Even Dart's biggest legally questionable moment (not evicting people from their houses) has its noble appeal. Dart has that thing that Giannoulias doesn't really. Giannoulias is coming out as the de facto candidate, Dart not as much.


Daniel Strauss / Comments (2)

IL-SEN Wed Aug 26 2009

IG Hoffman to Run for Senate

City Inspector-General David Hoffman, hired away from the US Attorney's office in the wake of the Hired Truck scandal, has tendered his resignation and will be entering the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate race.

During the Homero Tristan affair, IG Hoffman earned the scorn of Juan Rangel, CEO of a public education privatizing outfit called UNO, and Mayor Daley for being a political aspirant more concerned with making headlines to advance his career than being a fair dealer. Now the Mayor is saying he's not not sad (ie, glad) to see Hoffman go:

"No, I'm not," Daley said. "You want a headline that 'Daley's happy, smiling,' and all that. The sanctity of taxpayers' money -- people work hard, they want their money protected."

Hoffman's June report on the handling of the parking meter fiasco and his recommendations for how such asset sales/leases should be handled in the future helped keep the issue alive in the press and in voters mind and kept Mayor Daley on the ropes, just as the "transition" was beginning to infuriate residents. Hoffman's decision may come from the fact that with his current record of fighting the Mayor, and with the issues that are currently on the table, he'll never have a better chance. I have to wonder who was whispering in his ear, as well, goading him to get into a primary where he stands a considerably less than good chance of winning. He's going to have to raise a lot of money from lawyers, because the party apparatus, I imagine, will put the word out on him.

We could have used him at the city; hopefully his replacement is as independent and committed as he is (though hopefully a bit less ambitious).

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Tue Aug 18 2009

Polls on the Senate race: People Believe Things

Rasmussen has awoken us this morning with a load of steaming polls. You know what this means--well, not much, really.

First, Senate:

3* In thinking about the 2010 Election for the United States Senate, suppose you had a choice between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. If the election were held today would you vote for Republican Mark Kirk or Democrat Alexi Giannoulias?

41% Kirk

38% Giannoulias

4% Some other candidate

17% Not sure

So Kirk and Giannoulias are tied. Cheryle Jackson, by the way, does only 8% worse against Kirk than Ginnoulias. Given the lack of name recognition, that might mean there is a 30% natural anti-GOP vote. Without seeing the crosstabs, there's not much we can infer from this at all, particularly a year away from the election. So the news here is that 14 months away from the election, the two leading candidates are even. In other words, the news is...nothing.

Here was a shocker, to me:

15* When it comes to voting in the 2010 Elections has the state budget crisis and the Blagojevich scandal made you more likely to vote for a Democrat, less likely to vote for a Democrat or will it have no impact on your vote?

7% More likely

29% Less likely

60% No impact

3% Not sure

While 29% say they are now less likely to vote for a Democrat because of Blagojevich, 60% don't really care. Thank you, scandal fatigue. I guess this means the Democrats aren't going to be forced to own Blagojevich--or that the GOP is going to have to work extra hard to hang Blago around their neck. Given that at least 30% of the electorate probably wasn't going to vote for a Democrat anyway, these numbers should be heartening to statewide Democrats--but again, without crosstabs, there's nothing too interesting here. The interesting information would be whether the Democratic Party lost support among Democrats (and suburbanites) because of the Blago scandals and budget crisis.

Ramsin Canon

IL-SEN Mon Aug 10 2009

Cheryle Jackson Will Enter Senate Race: Hinz

Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that Urban League president Cheryle Jackson will declare her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President Obama's old US Senate seat.

The surprising part of the announcement is that she's recruited to highly-placed (and highly priced) Democratic consultants to her campaign: David Wilhelm, he made his name in the Clinton campaigns, and Belinda Lake, from the preeminent Democratic polling firm Lake Snell Perry.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (6)

IL-SEN Thu Aug 06 2009

How Can a Stillborn Campaign Pay a Fatal Toll?

Isn't it already dead?

Andy Martin's bruising attacks have taken a fatal toll on Mark Kirk's stillborn campaign for the U. S. Senate. Wednesday Martin was in exquisite campaign mode, marching the entire length of the Lake Forest Day Parade with a 3 year-old boy on his shoulders. Republican big shots and bloviating liberal cable TV bobbleheads face a massive challenge: with Kirk effectively out of the race, who is going to want to face Andy Martin in the primary campaign ring?

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

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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...

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