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Saturday, May 25

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The Mechanics

Special Election IL05 Wed Apr 08 2009

Quigley Wins And Emmanuel Curses

Two unsurprising and one surprising thing happened this evening: one was Mike Quigley won the Illinois 5th District race. Wahoo. The surprising thing was that Rahm Emmanuel didn't vote. You'd think he would have given all the votes his administration needs what with the Republican Party disagreeing with everything and agreeing with nothing. Oh well.

Oh and the unsurprising thing? Rahm reminded us that he's got quite the potty mouth. When asked if he voted tonight he responded "I f***ed up!"

Daniel Strauss / Comments (1)

Special Election IL05 Mon Mar 02 2009

IL-05 Race In 30 Seconds Or Less

Chicago Public Radio has kindly compiled 30-second platform descriptions by each of the 23 candidates in the special Illinois 05 race. Now, this could be harder than you might think. Do you advertise your resume? (some did), do you stress your core ideals? (some did too) or do you summarize your platform? (not enough did) The answers can be found here. A few things stuck out to me:

Democrat Cary Caparelli sounds like a traditional Republican:

Cary Capparelli believes in "less government fueled by lesser taxes."

Jan Donatelli sounds like she's writing a What I Did At Camp Essay:

"Jan Donatelli says she learned about service and duty as an officer and pilot in the Navy."

Probable frontrunner Sara Feigenholz sounds like she's trying to win a Trip To Washington contest:

"Sara Feigenholtz says she wants to go to Washington to work with President Obama for more Americans to have access to health care."

Green candidate Mark Fredickson has the most general platform of the bunch:

"Mark Fredrickson says the rash response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led us to a quagmire in Iraq, and we're facing a similar crisis with the new presidential administration."

John Fritchey sounds like a Power Ranger:

"John Fritchey says he's proud of his record of "fighting for families, fighting for working men and women, and fighting to clean up state government."

Tom Hansen obviously feels guilty that he's a Republican:

"Tom Hanson says he's fiscally responsible, but liberal on social issues."

Democrat Pat O'Connor still doesn't seem to be taking this race seriously but you probably don't have to when you're so chummy with Daley:

"Patrick O'Connor says he has a proven ability to successfully represent voters."

The rest are pretty dull. But Charlie Wheelan's and Tom Geoghegan's deserve special mention. Wheelan has the right idea by touting his economics cred but you'd think he'd actually stress his policies more. Instead we get this: "Charlie Wheelan says as an economic expert, he's the candidate best equipped to deal with the most important issue now facing our nation." Which just begs the question: OK, how?

Geoghegan on the other hand has the best 30-second platform, emphasizing not only the economy but healthcare and social security.

"Tom Geoghegan says he'll increase social security, promote single-payer national health care, and work to "stop throwing money to insolvent banks."

It sounds like Geoghegan wants to spend money in the right places and even has a few plans beyond the current crisis. Thinking ahead is good and it suggests that there'll be a U.S. around tomorrow to think about. It would be nice, though, if his economic stance had a bit more to do with what should be done and less to do with what shouldn't. Stay positive! Still, his was seriously the best of the bunch.

Daniel Strauss / Comments (5)

Special Election IL05 Sat Feb 28 2009

Nate Silver Gives Quigley 2-1, and Feigenholtz 5-2

Nate Silver throws some odds out on the IL-05 race:

If I had to lay odds on the race, however, they would probably look something as follows: Quigley 2-1 Feigenholtz 5-2 Fritchey 5-1 Wheelan 12-1 Goeghegan 20-1 O'Connor 25-1

Field 20-1

My opinion on this is that Nate Silver is usually right (He projected Obama would win fairly early on in the presidential race) which doesn't make me particularly happy about these odds. Consider this post to be a 'just saying' piece of writing. It's important to have as much information as possible out there.

Daniel Strauss

Special Election IL05 Sat Feb 28 2009

Special Election in IL-05 Defies Conventional Wisdom

Northwest Side attorney-pundit Russ Stewart's prognostications are not always right but he is right somewhat more often than wrong, and when his predictions defy conventional wisdom it's because of ground-game perspective and applying common sense to raw math. He has predicted a John Fritchey win in the special election to fill Rahm Emanuel's vacated seat in the 5th Congressional District. Stewart makes his call largely on assumed apathy, low turnout, and the resultant advantage to whoever has the most ward organization (or "machine") support: in this case, Fritchey, "who has the backing of "powerhouse" Democratic committeemen in the 33rd, 36th, 38th, 43rd, 45th and 47th wards" (plus the 32nd, where Fritchey is committeeman). In a 12-candidate Democratic race, Stewart sees 30% as a winning number. I'd say that's high; 22%-25% should win it.

Stewart is correct on one critical point that many observers, maybe even some of the candidates, may be missing, namely, that the "casual" vote will be almost nonexistent in this race. In most contests, large numbers of voters enter the booth for some other race, such as President or committeemen, and then, in other races they know little about, pick an ethnic name or vote gender. Here that dynamic doesn't apply because there is nothing else on the ballot. I'd agree with Stewart that by and large, "only those voters committed to a candidate will make the effort to vote."

This has two huge significances.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith / Comments (3)

Special Election IL05 Thu Feb 26 2009

Geoghegan Files Suit for Special Senate Election

Today, IL-05 Congressional candidate Tom Geoghegan filed a lawsuit against Governor Pat Quinn, claiming Quinn has failed to uphold the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. I could parse the suit and bore you to tears, or you can check out the complaint yourself here (PDF).

It's an interesting strategy for Geoghegan to go after Quinn on reform. It's debatable whether Quinn should lose his street cred as a reformer just yet. The newly sworn in Quinn has only just started to make heads or tails of the mess left by everyone's favorite impeached, potty-mouthed Elvis fan. Should Quinn really be spending his time and political capital throwing out Burris and forcing a special election when the primary is just under fourteen months away? Should this be a top priority while our state is basically on the verge of shutting down?

Certainly, if Geoghegan is successful in forcing special elections for appointments permanently, the people of Illinois are better off. But I wonder if this leaves Geoghegan better off politically? Will voters in IL-05 see this as an attack on Quinn? Will the five billion other IL-05 candidates jump in on this issue and accuse Geoghegan of attacking Quinn?

And the biggest question of all: Do voters in IL-05 even care? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Charlotte Lynn / Comments (1)

Special Election IL05 Tue Feb 24 2009

Track The IL-5 Race With Twitter!

Gapers Block's fearless leader Andrew flags this new Illinois 5th District Candidate Twitter tracker created by Windy Citizen that allows you to track who is getting mentioned most on Twitter:

Picture 1.png

The results are pretty unsurprising; like with the rest of the race for the IL-5 seat, Quigley and Fiegenholz are pretty much above the rest of the clusterf*cK to Rahm Emanuel's vacant seat. Personally, I'm a little surprised though. If anybody asked me who would dominate all corners of the series of tubes I would say Tom Geoghegan who has a lot of backing from big name progressive journalists all over the country. But keep in mind that twitter chatter isn't necessarily good news. Twitterers are more likely to write about any of the candidates if something other than a perfect race is going on so just because Quigley is the most twittered about doesn't mean he's got the race locked up (because truthfully nobody does right now).

Daniel Strauss

Blagojevich Fri Feb 20 2009

Good To Know

Matt Cooper, editor-at-large of TPMDC:

By the way, if Obama's seat goes Republican it'll be the first time in the 20th century, as best I can tell, that a president will have seen his party lose his seat while he's in office. Harding's Republicans held his Senate seat when he was elected president in 1920. Jack Kennedy's Senate seat stayed in Democratic hands. Vice presidential seats have flipped. Gerald Ford's house seat went to a Democrat in a special election after he was confirmed as Nixon's second veep. It would be pretty embarassing for the Republicans to pick up Obama's senate seat but if in the unlikely event Burris manages to stay in until 2010, can anyone doubt that's likely? That would be one more legacy of this weird season.

Yes. Yes it would.

Daniel Strauss

Special Election IL05 Tue Feb 17 2009

Geoghegan Wins the "I Called It" Contest on Burris

From a campaign statement:

"In January, I wrote a piece published in the New York Times about the need to hold a special election to replace not just Barack Obama, but all Senate seats that are vacated. I didn't write this for political expediency, but to point out that this was a century-old constitutional reform made to take power away from large, monied special interests. We don't need a new amendment. We just need to follow the one that's there: the 17th Amendment.

"Once again we see our political system at the local, state and federal levels flooded by the influence of big money. Banks receive trillions in bailouts while working people lose their jobs, health care and homes. We are in desperate need of reform in this country; let's start by holding elections to fill vacant Senate seats."

Progress Illinois has been all over the Burris situation.

Ramsin Canon

Special Election IL05 Tue Feb 17 2009

Uh, That's a Dis. And Other IL05 Updates.

Damn. Rep. John Fritchey's new ad, "In These Trying Times," tries to pin fellow front runners County Commissioner Mike Quigley and State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz as typical politicians more concerned with "childish things" than issues. (Fritchey attributes the quote to President Obama, which is probably less creepy than attributing it to I Corinthians 11:13, which is where Obama copped it from.)

In the ad, two kids representing Mike Quigley (who does have boyish good looks) and Sara Feigenholtz argue about who did what to whom first.

A few thoughts: First, that's a dis. Second, the ad succeeds (at least in my opinion) in both taking the high ground while also delivering a pretty good body blow. Lastly, the girl who plays Sara Feigenholtz (Sara Fauxgenholtz?) is adorable.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (6)

Special Election IL05 Wed Feb 11 2009

IL05 Candidates on Mayor's Transparency

A few days ago I wrote a piece about the Mayor refusing to make public his "shovel-ready" projects that would be kick-started by the federal stimulus/recovery/whatever bill that is passing this week.

I sent emails to the leading candidates in the Fifth Congressional District race to get their take on the Mayor's lack of transparency. Here's what I got back.

Tom Geoghegan

Whether it's the bank bailout or the stimulus package, Chicagoans have a right to know where their tax dollars are being spent. The Mayor must release where the stimulus money is going, just as the Fed and Treasury must tell us where the bank bailout money has been going.

Charlie Wheelan

As for Mayor Daley, I don't blame him for not making the projects public BEFORE the money is allocated. It would set off a round of political battles that might ultimately be irrelevant. Obviously once the money is actually allocated by the federal government, the process for selecting projects should be transparent. Or, if projects have already been selected, those criteria should be made public. It's not a terrible thing if the city already has a list of projects. Many jurisdictions are being criticized for NOT having done such planning. Indeed, this is why there are so few "shovel ready" projects around the country.

(Wheelan also provided his take on the stimulus plan in general, which was interesting enough to merit its own post.)

Rep. John Fritchey

I received a message from Rep. Fritchey's campaign noting that transparency is one of Fritchey's most important issues, but I did not receive a statement from the candidate himself.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz

Rep. Feigenholtz did not respond at all, but she held a press conference today discussing this very matter -- prompted by my question, perhaps? (No.)

(via Progress Illinois, which you should be reading every day, right after you've read Mechanics)

Commissioner Mike Quigley

I did not receive a reply from Commissioner Quigley's campaign, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the email never reached them, so chalk that up to me.

Ramsin Canon

Special Election IL05 Tue Feb 10 2009

Talkin' Union

How have labor endorsements worked out in the Fifth Congressional District? Comme ca:

Rep. John Fritchey: AFSCME Council 31, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Operating Engineers 150, Teamsters Local 714 and Joint Council 25, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz: SEIU's Illinois State Council. I couldn't find any others, but that doesn't mean there aren't more. SEIU Illinois has enormous membership and claims about half the union members in the Fifth District.
UPDATE: UNITE-HERE's Joint Board endorsed Rep. Feigenholtz today.

Tom Geoghegan: The National Nurses Organizing Committee (you'll note on their website they are not particularly friendly with SEIU).
UPDATE: Geoghegan received the endorsement of Teamster Local 743 today, Wednesday.

Geoghegan has a long, storied history of working with nurses in organizing drives, something he wrote about brilliantly and compellingly in his book Which Side Are You On?

Union endorsements are very variable things. An endorsement by a big union could be wildly important or meaningless -- it really depends on just how hard local leadership feels they need to work in a particular race. The money is always nice, but if leadership can't mobilize its membership, the vaunted "boots on the ground" (die, cliche!) will never materialize.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

Special Election IL05 Mon Feb 09 2009

Tracking the IL-05 Candidates on Twitter


There are sorts of unconventional ways to examine the 5th District special election. Jesse Greenberg took a look at the leading candidates' utilization of Twitter. He finds that State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz is way ahead of the others, followed by Mike Quigley in a distant second.

Here's a list, in alphabetical order, of all the Twitter accounts for IL-05 candidates that we could find; if you're aware of others, let us know in the comments.

Greg Bedell
Paul Bryar
Sara Feigenholtz
John Fritchey
Tom Geoghegan
Mike Quigley
Charlie Wheelan

Seven out of 26 (give or take) candidates on Twitter -- and only two are outside the lead pack. That's really surprising, considering the social networking platform's prominence in the 2008 presidential election.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Special Election IL05 Tue Feb 03 2009

Google Adwords War in IL05

il05_adwords.pngI decided to run a little experiment.

As you may know, it is fairly inexpensive to buy search terms on Google so that you can try to direct searchers to your site. So, let's say you own a 24-hour diner in Chicago, and in order to draw traffic to your diner's website, you pay Google to run a short text ad whenever people search terms like "late night diner" and "Chicago" or "Chicago" and "munchies" or "I'm drunk what's still open so I can eat something before I vomit cognac all over my cat."

There is no restriction on the terms you can buy, so if you are Circuit City you can buy the terms "Best Buy" and "Chicago." Wait, that won't work -- Circuit City isn't a thing anymore. OK, if you're Tower Records, though, you could buy "Coconuts" and "Chicago." Better.

So I did a search for the candidates' names to suss out who had bought which terms. And winning the Google Adwords war is...Charlie Wheelan.

Wheelan's ad comes up when you search for Sara Feigenholtz, Mike Quigley, John Fritchey, Patrick O'Connor, Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Fifth District and "Frank Annunzio," but not, uh, Charlie Wheelan.

Sara Feigenholtz is right behind him, appearing on "Patrick O'Connor," "Tom Geoghegan," "Mike Quigley" and the only result for "Charlie Wheelan."

Mike Quigley, John Fritchey and Tom Geoghegan don't seem to have bought any Google Adwords yet.

UPDATE: Over on the Windy Citizen, editor Brad Flora has dug up the likely political operative behind the strategy.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (12)

Special Election IL05 Tue Feb 03 2009

Reflections on Sunday's 5th CD Forum

From a candidate's perspective, candidate forums and debates are a net negative -- and the more candidates on stage, the more negative there is. For voters in the audience forums are a mixed bag.

The scene outside the forum before the start.

Sunday's two-hour 5th CD Democratic candidates' forum, sponsored by North Side Democracy For America and DePaul Student Democrats and moderated by Lynn Sweet, was a mixed bag for the audience -- and except for a couple of the eleven candidates on stage, it was probably a net negative.

The problem for both candidates and voters is that forums with eleven candidates don't give the audience enough time to really size up the "real candidates" in a race (those with a chance of winning) and for candidates it affords them only enough speaking time per person to make an introduction and hopefully make a pithy comment or two attendees will remember, with the risk that something bad gets caught on camera.

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Fourcher / Comments (11)

Special Election IL05 Mon Feb 02 2009

CD5 Candidates Raising Hundreds of Thousands

It's amazing that even in these stiff economic times the amount of money candidates raise is nothing short of huge. According to Greg Hinz:

In the latest news among the Dems, County Commissioner Mike Quigley reported raising $250,000 so far and signed up mega-Clinton fundraiser Bill Brandt as his finance co-chair. Mr. Quigley also led narrowly over state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz in a new poll, but she reported having pulled in more money, about $325,000, though others say the real figure is $500,000.

Of course, Quigley and Fiegenholtz are the projected political heavyweights of this race, but still...

Daniel Strauss

Special Election IL05 Sat Jan 31 2009

Candidates Forum for 5th Congressional District - Sunday

The Race to Replace Rahm

Rahm Emanuel has resigned from Congress to become President Obama's Chief of Staff. Fourteen Democratic candidates are now vying to replace him in Congress in a special election primary on March 3. At this forum we will hear from these candidates on the many important issues facing our country.

The forum will be moderated by Lynn Sweet, D.C. bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. Questions for the candidates can be submitted at the forum or at Illinois Fifth. Lynn Sweet will choose some of these questions for the forum.

Please join us for this exciting event:

Sunday, February 1
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
DePaul Student Center
2250 North Sheffield, Chicago

Presented by IVI-IPO, Northside DFA and 43rd Ward Democrats. Sponsored by DL21C, Progress Illinois, PDA, the Greater Chicago Caucus and other generous sponsors including Praire State Blue, Illinois Media Progressive Network,and Chicago's Profressive Talk.

The forum will be broadcast live on Chicago's Progressive Talk radio network, which includes WCPT 820 AM, 92.5 FM, 92.7 FM and 99.9 FM, and there will be live stream video of the forum.

Ramsin Canon

Special Election IL05 Thu Jan 22 2009

Wheelan Using Anti-Blago Sentiment

Chicagoan and blogger extraordinaire Kathy G posted that 5th District congressional candidate Charlie Wheelan's people are passing out "homemade anti-Blagojevich signs" while collecting signatures. I think this is an incredibly shrewd move on Wheelan's part. One of the greatest strengths of Wheelan's competitor Sara Feigenholz is her background in political reform legislation, a.k.a. fighting corruption. It's appealing, thanks to Blago, and fills a big weakness for someone like Wheelan who doesn't have any tangible history in fighting corruption. Wheelan still doesn't, but the fact that he's bringing up such an issue will give him some much needed appeal.

Daniel Strauss

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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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