Friday, March 31, 2006

Roeser Flirts Back

State Sen. James Meeks has been flirting with a Third Party bid for Governor, and he's been flirting with conservative groups that oppose a woman's right to choose and equal protections for gay Americans in the process.

Today, conservative heavyweight Tom Roeser flirts back:

The word is out that Topinka’s people are making overtures to social conservatives, asking separate groups what it would take to get them involved in the campaign....The phone conversation terminated quickly. The downstate people on the other line are saying it’s not impossible they could back Meeks. But what about Meeks’ tax hike? They say, listen-odds are that Blagojevich will raise taxes after election or that Topinka will, blaming it on the Democrats. We’re thinking about Meeks. With one vote we’d screw Blagojevich and Topinka both. Not bad for one day’s work. (Election Day)
Now, I've already said that I think this marriage is highly unlikely, but let's assume for a minute that a shotgun wedding starring Meeks as Governor and Oberweis as Lt. Governor is on the way. Who else would you put on the ticket, and what would you call it?


Sharon Stone bombs twice

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.

Basic Instinct 2, Sharon Stone's new film, is out today. The New York Times review comes this way from Ed Driscoll via Allahpundit/Michelle Malkin:

It should come as no surprise that "Basic Instinct 2," the long-gestating follow-up to Paul Verhoeven's 1992 blip on the zeitgeist screen, is a disaster of the highest or perhaps lowest order. It is also no surprise that this joyless calculation, which was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and possesses neither the first film's sleek wit nor its madness, is such a prime object lesson in the degradation that can face Hollywood actresses, especially those over 40. Acting always involves a degree of self-abasement, but just watching trash like this is degrading.

Sharon Stone is headed to Chicago next month for a fundraising Jan Schakowsky fundraising event. Jan is a far-left congresswoman from Evanston, I'm one of her unfortunate constituents.

From Lynn Sweet's Chicago Sun-Times blog:

Sharon Stone, the sexy star of the sizzler "Basic Instinct 2,'' which opens today, hits Chicago next month to headline a fund-raiser for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Stone will be featured at Schakowsky's "Ultimate Women's Power Lunch'' at the Chicago Hilton. Some 1,500 attended last year, when Jane Fonda was the marquee draw.

Stone and Schakowsky became friends during the 2004 presidential campaign, when they were part of a "Women on the Move'' drive for Sen. John Kerry that paired female pols and stars.


Well, maybe her co-worker Roger Ebert liked it. Let's find out.

"Basic Instinct 2" resembles its heroine: It gets off by living dangerously. Here is a movie so outrageous and preposterous it is either (a) suicidal or (b) throbbing with a horrible fascination. I lean toward (b). It's a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. I cannot recommend the movie, but ... why the hell can't I? Just because it's godawful? What kind of reason is that for staying away from a movie? Godawful and boring, that would be a reason.

Not a sizzler. Better than Jane Fonda's Monster In Law? It wouldn't take much to top that stink bomb.


Facing Facts in the 6th Congressional District

As promised, I have had a little more to say about the revelations from The Hill, courtesy of Capitol Fax, that Christine Cegelis is searching for excuses not to fully endorse Tammy Duckworth. My apologies if I repeat myself a little bit, but as this debate gets to core issues, I think it belongs on page 1, not page 19, and since others have asked me to move it there, here I go.

I'm reminded of that old Nike commercial, where Michael Jordan recounts how many times, with the game on the line, he took the final shot, missed, and his team lost. But champions learn from their mistakes, try harder, and move on.

They do not blame everybody else for their loss, and as Rich Miller put it so eloquently "take the ball and go home."

Here are some facts the Cegelis camp needs to own up to:

-- Team Cegelis put together a great field operation, but they were still soundly beaten, despite having a two-year head start. The main reason they lost is that Christine Cegelis could not make a compelling case that she was the better candidate to face Roskam, either to core Democratic groups, prospective donors or a plurality of voters. And, as I've pointed out many times, you won't even find the names of any other Cegelis family members or many of her most ardent bloggers on Cegelis's campaign finance reports.

-- Cegelis's 44% showing against Henry Hyde was no predictor of her performance in 2006. Peter Roskam would have slashed and burned her for her extremely liberal views, including but not limited to: banning not just assault weapons but all handguns, decriminalizing possession of narcotics, increasing welfare spending, raising taxes, and "developing a universal single health care system for this country similar to our Canadian neighbors." Even though I personally agree with many of her views, no one in their right political mind can possibly believe she was electable in DuPage County with those extreme views on record.

-- Whatever you think of Rahm Emanuel, Tammy Duckworth ran an honorable and positive campaign, never criticizing Cegelis or Scott, but instead focusing all of her criticisms on the Bush administration and Roskam.

-- The "old line democrats" aren't casting Christine and her supporters as "disloyal Democrats," as bored now claims. Team Cegelis did that yourselves, by constantly attacking the Democratic Party and it’s leaders over the last six months and laying out your "us versus them" attacks. In fact, by Christine Cegelis’s own admission, it took an invasion of another country under false pretenses to get her activated in the Illinois Democratic Party. She was what — 50? I’ve been walking precincts since I was 12, and have paid my dues doing grassroots campaign work for candidates in all but a handful of Illinois counties across three decades. Many of the people I know supporting Duckworth have given up that and much more, so forgive my umbrage when Cegelis appoints herself the arbiter of Democratic ideals and whether or not Duckworth is living up to them.

-- Besides that fact, the contention that Duckworth has somehow abandoned core principles on health care is nonsense, as Arch Pundit points out, and Duckworth's own words just a week ago reinforce:

“I’m running because I think Congress should put our interests – not the special interests – first. That begins, first and foremost, with the issue that has been the centerpiece of my campaign: bringing affordable, accessible healthcare to all Americans who need it.”
And while this may fall short of Cegelis's promise to vote for Single Payer or support a repeal of CAFTA, what person in their right mind believes Cegelis's rhetoric? The push for Single Payer in the U.S. (which I spent two years campaigning for) began before World War II, and CAFTA is now the law of the land. Would anyone in their right mind believe a freshman lawmaker from a Republican-leaning district who implies she is going to lead the way in revolutionizing health care or turning American trade policy 180 degrees? Take a lesson in hubris from Barack Obama--and Tammy Duckworth.

-- Cegelis's "Good luck" is not an endorsement. It is a polite way of saying "go screw yourself, you're on your own," while bored now is much less polite when he says "Sounds to me like y’all are trying to set up blaming christine for duckworth’s inevitable loss against roskam." If that's your idea of being a team player, you must play alot of Solitaire.

-- Speaking of bored now, who complains of "old line democrats" and the learning curve he and other core Cegelis team members are going through; we haven't forgotten he's a longtime Illinoisian and has lectured us time after time after time after time after time after time about how much he knows about politics, and how experienced he is. The Dumb Act about how to give an endorsement from a guy who claims to have predicted John Kerry's loss is, well, dumb.

-- By contrast -- and contrary to William Maggos's claims -- Tammy Duckworth has been extremely gracious in victory, complimenting both Cegelis and her supporters. Despite my well-deserved cynicism about Cegelis's ability to be part of the Democratic team (as in "There is no 'I' in team"), even I've recognized that Cegelis has many strengths, and I even pledged my support is she decides to run for the Statehouse as part of that Democratic Team.

Cegelis's camp is right about one thing: The Democratic Party of Illinois does need new blood. But Team Cegelis seems to think we need to spill all of the old blood out on the pavement first. Her supporters downplay the differences between Democrats and Republicans, even though in just the last three years, Illinois Democrats gave 450,000 minimum wage workers a raise, and the earned income tax credit was expanded and made permanent. 90,000 kids and 300,000 working parents got health care. Roughly 10,000 kids gained access to pre-school. Illinois became the seventh state to require homocide interrogations to be videotaped, we cracked down on racial profiling, and we put the brakes on a death penalty system that is deeply flawed. We banned discrimination against gays and lesbians, and we told insurance companies they couldn’t exclude birth control from their coverage. These are no small accomplishments, unthinkable when Republicans were in charge. Definitely something to build on, not tear down.

I've no doubt that, if they want to, Cegelis and her band of loyalists can scuttle Duckworth's efforts. As I keep saying, it only takes one arsonist with a match to destroy, but it takes real power to build. If Cegelis supporters really want to demonstrate that they are a force to be reckoned with, they should take responsibility for a few townships and deliver the votes on Election Day. Talk is cheap, but numbers don’t lie, and if you can actually back up all of that talk, you won’t have to kick the door down to the Democratic Party. They’ll come find you. If you don't believe me, ask Barack Obama, Jan Schakowsky and Pat Quinn -- they were all anti-establishment candidates once too.

I know that So-Called Austin Mayor, William Maggos, and bored now don't speak for everybody who supported Cegelis in the primary, and I’d just like to take a moment to say thank you to all of the Cegelis supporters who have pledged their support for Tammy Duckworth. Tammy’s remarks about your idealism and hard work are right on the mark, and the Democratic Party is lucky to have you in its ranks.

The Democratic Party is not a stone monolith, but a forged coalition. As Baird Staughan says, like the head of an axe, in every coalition there are groups that form the blade: small bands of radicals, uncompromising, rich in energy, and often on the fringe of public attention. And there are groups that give that blade its heft: large institutions, incrementalists, rich in resources, and they are always in the public spotlight.

You should be proud to be on the cutting edge, but not vainglorious; you can’t chop wood without them just as they can’t chop wood without you, and if you stay at it long enough, some day some snot-nosed Meathead will be calling you Archie Bunker. Like it or not, we are part of the same family, we live under the same roof, and we do need each other.

UPDATE: Since I won't be around to fullfill my duties as hall monitor, comments are now closed.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Meeks, Blagojevich, Topinka: an inverted spectrum on social and economic issues

(Cross-posted at

Random thoughts after a week back at the Capitol.

The House of Representatives is taking a more active role in shaping the state budget than, apparently, the legislature has done in the past. Usually the Administration submits a budget (they've got an Office of Management and Budget -- the General Assembly does not) and the legislature negotiates around those basic parameters. There are add-ons in the budget to satisfy the demands of legislators and there are agreements reached on what social service agencies will receive state funds devoted to human services. But the big picture stuff generally comes from the Governor's office.

This year that seems to be changing, and that's a very healthy institutional move. The legislature ought to have an equal say in shaping the budget. I've found an odd, persistent deference to the Executive branch on setting the budget in Springfield, and I'm glad to see that the legislature is asserting its role.

I also picked up this insight on Meeks, Blagojevich and Topinka.

On the main economic issue of the next four years: whether to raise the state's 3% flat rate income tax (the lowest of the 41 states with an income tax), Blagojevich is the most conservative with his no-new-tax pledge, Topinka is in the middle with her studied amiguity and Meeks is the most progressive with his promise to raise the state income tax to 5%.

On social issues (abortion rights, stem cell research and gay rights), Blagojevich is the most progressive with his best-in-the-nation record on the morning after pill, abortion rights and the like, Topinka's in the middle with her moderate branding and more conservative voting record and Meeks is on the far right with his evangelical position that essentially mirrors Oberweis'.

(Meeks reminds me that those Christians who take the teachings of Jesus seriously are economically liberal -- chasing the money-changers out of the Temple and all that).

Fun dynamics.


'Hizzoner' a Must See for Daley Lovers, Haters and Demystifiers Like Me

Go see this play.

Richard J. Daley: Most people either loved him or hated him, but very few people really knew him. Even if you already find yourself in one camp or the other, or if like me who weren't living in Chicago at the time of Daley the First and would like to understand the man behind the myth a little better, I recommend Neil Giuntoli's "Hizzoner."

The play walks us through Daley's life in city hall as he flashes back on the day of his death, seated in his doctor's waiting room. The performance explores Daley's love of his city, family, church and friends, and the conflicts that come with them.

Chicago Tribune art critic Chris Jones:

Giuntoli's performance as Daley truly is a sight to behold....he clearly understands that the key to Daley was not about power but insecurity, not about control but his terror at the lack of it, not about egocentrism but about a peculiarly selfless love of a city.
Chicago Magazine's Anne Spiselman:
"Daley was a neighborhood kind of guy," Giuntoli says. "He lived in the same bungalow his entire life and was baptized and eulogized in the same church. To him, Chicago was 'my city.'" Giuntoli concluded that Daley's insistence on treating the city as his personal fiefdom was the key to his success -- and failure. "Daley said you could have power or money but not both, and he picked power. But he faced two situations he could not control -- the race riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., followed by the anti-Vietnam war protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention."
Giuntoli's dead-on portrayal of Daley is mesmerizing, and is well supported by two other tragic characters: Whit Spurgeon as Chicago's #2, Alderman Tom Keane, and William Bullion as Daley aide and protege Matt Danaher.

The script has some weaker moments (Daley's interactions with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jane Byrne are of historical interest but distract from the plot), and Daley's machinations against Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. get short shrift, but these minor weaknesses are overcome by Giuntoli's incredible performance.

In the end, we are reminded that a man's greatest strength is often his greatest weakness, and even the greatest men are fraught with human frailty and mortal in the end.

At $25 a ticket (2 for 1 for union members on Thursdays), it's worth every penny. And, with alcohol served at the show and Chief O'Neill's Pub right across the street, it makes a great and nostalgic night out.


Fred Hampton and Darfur

I might feel different about a street sign for Hampton if his advocates also witnessed as strongly for what's going on in Darfur.

Here's Eric Reeve's lastest.

But given how little the world cares about the lives that have already been lost, and those that are now doomed to destruction, numbers would seem to matter little. The disgraceful reporting on mortality in Darfur, with supposedly distinguished news organizations citing “180,000 deaths”---a figure promulgated first by the UN a full year ago, and representing even then only deaths from disease and malnutrition over the preceding 18 months---is emblematic. Darfuri lives are not worth protecting or evidently even counting---no matter that they have been engulfed in a holocaust, and remain ongoing victims of the ultimate human crime.

The AU [African Union] decision in Addis Ababa marks no new abandonment, no new act of cowardice or shame; it merely serves to ratify all too fully the international acquiescence before genocide in Africa, “yet again.”
Yet Again may be a better sign to post.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Voters giving the finger

Bill Page writing in the Kane County Chronicle today.

I don't understand why people don't vote, and I never will. It is the one activity that defines us as a democracy, and the one denied so many other people in the world. When open elections were held in Afghanistan and Iraq, we were inundated with images of beaming citizens proudly holding up their dyed fingers as proof they had voted. In Kane County, we seem to be using a similar hand signal to show our disdain for the whole process.
I've been one of those who thought if someone's too lazy to vote then we're better off without them. But when I called it quits election night, you would have been hard pressed to find a precinct that had gone beyond a single digit turnout.

It's not healthy for our politics.


The Economist did a survey of Chicago last week. A good review but ultimately not optimistic one. Here are a few paragraphs from it,

RUNNING Chicago is no easy task. Even knowing who is responsible for what is difficult enough. The metropolitan area covers six or nine Illinois counties, depending on where you draw the lines, and more if you take in the sprawl in neighbouring Indiana and Wisconsin. The smallest of these areas, the six-county one, encompasses (at a recent count) some 113 townships, 272 municipalities, 303 school districts and 587 special-purpose governments, including individual authorities for such matters as cemeteries, street lighting and TB sanatoria—and, it is often pointed out, 13 mosquito-abatement districts.
A system involving nearly 1,300 units of government, serving some 8.5m people, is bound to be fragmented and inefficient. Worse, the dependence on the property tax encourages these mini-governments to compete with each other for expensive developments, which in turn reinforces white flight and suburban sprawl. The suburbs generally have little love for the city itself, often overlooking the benefits of their proximity to it while bemoaning the traffic, the pollution, the aircraft noise and above all any designs on their tax base.

Daley comes out pretty well and nice discussion on some econmoic turn arounds with trading, services, transportation, and the influx of hispanics and overall population growth as America's index of urban prosperity. But the author says we've hit the limit and ends with,
But Chicago, like almost all America's older cities, still faces the prospect of decline, or at best stasis, unless it can find the elixir of urban life—how to grow richer without growing bigger. Failing that, it must content itself with the knowledge that it has succeeded better in reversing decline than anyone else—and that its broad smile is even more attractive than its erstwhile broad shoulders.
Our non-voting voters are going to have to quite giving pols the fingers and accept some responsibility if we want to do more that reverse decline and grow the economy without growing bigger.


Cook Judicial Totals (est.)

From ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

Our phone rings and we answer it. A couple people have called to see if we know who won judicial races in the Cook County Circuit, and the Cook subs. What with the slow counting of ballots in Cook County and the City of Chicago, I haven’t seen much reporting on the final counts in lower court races. Neither jurisdiction will certify the results for a while, but both have posted unofficial counts on their websites. So I’ve taken the liberty of adding together the two unofficial counts on ICPR's blog for all who are interested. ICPR does not vouch for these results, due to the number of possible sources of error, but as a public service, we've tallies of vote totals as of Noon today (3/29/06). I put an asterix next to the apparent winners; two races, for the Dem nomination to the Hartman Appellate seat and the Republican nomination to the 13th Subcircuit seat (Bierman) look really, really close. Because the results are so long, I won't post them here, but they're on our blog; go there to see them.


Meeks in the mix

First, let's clear something up, from Cindy Richards in today's Sun-Times:

On the other side, we have Republican state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka. She's the social moderate and fiscal conservative....

Cindy, why do you shy from calling a spade a spade? Judy is pro-abortion and pro-gay, the two hallmarks of a social liberal.

Now, to the point, from McKinney, Spielman, and Swartz in in today's Sun-Times:

"I'd be glad to have a conversation with everybody who believes in the right to life and the sanctity of marriage," Meeks said.

Senator Meeks, call me.

Back to Miss Nomering Cindy:

[Meeks is] offering himself as the morally superior candidate. He's banking that his anti-abortion and anti-gay rights beliefs will connect with white conservative Christian voters who will be turned off by the more moderate views of both Topinka and Blagojevich.

"Come on with me, white churches ... Call me and tell me to run for governor," Meeks told his Salem Baptist Church congregation Sunday.....

Ok, Senator, I'll call you.

Closing with McKinney, Spielman, and Swartz:

Meeks hinted that his political courtship of conservative Republicans... could extend to the GOP primary's runner-up, Aurora dairy owner and investor Jim Oberweis.

Oh, this could be great.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Whole New Ballgame in 17th

Before I begin, a little disclosure. Most everyone knows I work operationally for David McSweeney in the 8th Congressional District. Most people also know that Appellate Judge Stephen McGlynn from the 5th Judicial District is one of my dearest friends - and that we speak regularly. While many are aware I ran Andrea Zinga's general election campaign last time, most are probably not aware I remain her general consultant.

I write sparingly of those races in which I am directly involved. That will continue to be the case, but it is not as sensitive an issue as before the primary. Everyone knows I am a partisan Republican. Nonetheless, anytime I speak of any of those races, I will give a specific disclosure. But this should serve as a general disclosure on the three races that are of primary importance to me.

With the decision of incumbent Democrat Lane Evans to withdraw as a candidate, the Zinga campaign spoke yesterday with representatives from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Washington will be significantly involved in this race.

Zinga caught a lot of heat last time for bringing up Evans' health problems in the campaign. Oddly enough, she only raised the issue once - in her announcement as a candidate in the 2004 Republican Primary. In the general election, we never brought it up. Nonetheless, the die was cast. We held near weekly press conferences, covering issues from the need for improvements to the locks and dams systems, judicial activism, infrastructure needs, plans for stopping the hemhorraging of jobs from the district, agricultural policy and on and on. No matter what we talked about, though, the refrain from Evans office was the same non-sequitur - "tell her to stop talking about my health." It was an astonishing education for me. I am accustomed to dealing with the media in Chicago, Springfield and St. Louis, which would never allow such a continuing string of non-sequiturs to go unchallenged.

While most of the press in the middle and southern portions of the district covered the issues we discussed, much of the Quad Cities media (the most populous portion of the district) acted as if health was the only thing she talked about when it was the one thing in the general election she never initiated. Bizarre.

The district had always been a puzzle to me. Every term that Evans served saw two or three major employers pack up and leave - and the collapse of civilian employment at the Rock Island Arsenal. Speaking with CEO's they would tell you if trouble arose, they could rarely get an audience with Evans, much less assistance. If a neighboring Congressman like Ray LaHood or Denny Hastert didn't intervene, when a company reported clouds of trouble on the horizon in the 17th, you could pretty well count on it being a goner. The district bleeds jobs like a hemophiliac.

Evans won handily again in 2004. But lost by many in the shuffle was that Zinga, running a shoestring campaign, produced more Republican votes than had ever been cast in either that or the old, much more Republican district.

While I expect a rash of media rehash of the old health issue, this time the Quad Cities media will be hard-pressed to follow the same old storyline. Meantime Zinga will have real resources. She will also begin with greater name recognition throughout the district than whoever her opponent happens to be.

One of her biggest advantages, though, may well be an unintended consequence of drawing the district to protect Evans six years ago. It is one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country. Most Congressional Districts have a single, dominant regional base. Not so with Illinois 17th. No matter who the Democrats select, there is going to be substantial grumbling. If, as expected, they tap someone from Rock Island County, it will confirm southern Democrats' fear they are just an afterthought. If, on the other hand, they select a southerner, it surely will infuriate Rock Islanders who regard it as "their" seat.

And there is the irony: Evans won the seat in an upset over a divided Republican Party. Zinga now has a legitimate shot at evening that score.


Good For Him

Hendon Apologizes.


The End of the (Political) World As We Know It?

The centrifugal force evident in the Illinois body politic today is stunning.

Liberals are leaving incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich because he won't raise taxes. Conservatives are leaving Republican Judy Topinka because she celebrates homosexuality. Where's a middle-of-the-roader to end up?

Is Chicken Little right? Is the sky falling?

First, while getting in the car during his re-announcement tour, Democratic Party Governor Rod Blagojevich said he would stick to his pledge not to raise income or sales taxes. Slip of the tongue then or deliberately left out of his announcement speech is irrelevant?

Republican Party candidate Judy Topinka won’t take the same pledge. Even fiscally conservative Republicans who think social issues are irrelevant have to be nervous about that omission. The older ones will remember that it was moderate Republican Governors Richard Ogilvie, Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar who imposed and raised the income tax.

Talk about confusing fiscal conservatives.

Neither power party candidates are on the right side of the issue of gay rights for social conservatives.

First comes Randall Stufflebeam of the newly emerging Constitution Party with a conservative social and tax message.

Now, the Rev. James Meeks of Chicago’s South Side threatens to run for Governor.

It could just be a prelude to bring a black mayor back to control in Chicago, but State Senator and, more importantly, mega-church Pastor James Meeks’ announcement that he will run for governor got me thinking.

My ramblings are too long for here, but you can find them at McHenry County Blog.


Who receives TIF money?

Should TIF money be given to another taxing body? A good question and one being asked in Collinsville.

For a bit more of Collinsville tune into the Travel Channel tonight at 7:30 and 10:30 to see some of the Catsup Bottle Summerfest celebrating condiments.


Monday, March 27, 2006

The Oddest Couple?

The hot rumor flying around Springfield and Chicago yesterday was that State Sen. James Meeks and Jim Oberweis were going to team up in a third-party run for governor and lite guv. Rumors were unclear as to who would play Batman and who, Robin. Heaven knows what sort of impact that would have on the race. Somehow it seems like it would be fitting for one of the weirdest political cycles at the statewide level in decades. (Awwwright...two years ago was pretty darn weird, too.)

Other rumors have Oberweis demanding support for state party chairman before giving his support to Judy Topinka.

More mundane, but solid, reports have Oberweis preparing a bid for Republican State Central Committeeman in the 14th Dist.

I don't know, I kind of like the Meeks-Oberweis rumor. Doubt it would go anywhere but sounds like Hollywood could make it into an intriguing "buddy" movie starring, say, Spike Lee and Billy Bob Thornton. Or perhaps you have a better casting idea...


Why I am not voting for Jim Oberweis as Kane County GOP Chair.

The daily Herald is reporting that it appears that Jim Oberwies is looking to run for Kane County GOP chairman and/or the 14th Congressional District position for State Central Committeeman. It also brings up Oberweis having an "ally" for chair and Jim running for Central Committeeman

As an elected Republican Committeeman in Kane County let me explain why I will not be voting for Jim Oberweis nor any "ally" for Chairman or Central Committeeman.

First and foremost: Violations of Ronald Regan's 11th commandment, if you want to do that as a candidate during a primary that is your choice. Don't expect me to consider that acceptable actions from someone who wants to be an elected leader of the party.

Party leaders at any level should not put 'conditions' on supporting a candidate that wins a Republican Primary unless they are really, really outside the mainstream or even the banks of the mainstream (see David Duke, Lyndon LaRouche). Sorry Jim, Judy does not even visit this neighborhood no less fall into it.

If he were to become county party chair I don't see Jim's focus being on winning local elections (picking up county board seats or helping Bob Mitchell beat Linda Chapa-LaVia) and that is what I expect out of my county chair.

I don't see Jim as being really available to people like me within the Kane County Republican Party to return a call or answer a question. I know my current county chair will return a call and answer a question. I certainly don't see Jim sitting down with the township organization chairs once a month to deal with issues at the county level or go over arraignments for the golf outing and the fall round-up.

If Jim wants to run for either of these offices or both that is his right, just as it is my right as an elected committeeman to do the same.

If he wants to go after Bob Kjellander, that's his right as well. I understand that after coming in second in three state-wide primaries as well as the whole 'not being picked as Jack Ryan's replacement thing' he may have a legitimate beef with some people. It is however my right and responsibility as a committeeman in Kane County however to say no to him using our organization as cover to promote his own agenda. Which as far as I can see is the only reason he is running for county chair and/or central committeeman.

We have local elections to contest and win and party infighting about the 'vision' of the party and Bob Kjellander is not the way to get that done.


Yes it is a weighted vote and OneMan carries very little weight (in the vote, a lot in life).

Also I started thinking that an Oberweis chairmanship would just about kill any work we have done reaching out to the Hispanic community in the county.



And The Trent Lott Dubious Achievement Award Goes Too...

Assistant Democratic Leader Ricky Hendon, who in the words of AP Reporter John O'Connor:

"A veteran state senator made sexually suggestive comments to a freshman colleague Monday during the ritual "hazing" that occurs in debate over a rookie's first bill."

Fmr. State Sen. Mark Rhoads has some comments on my original post at Illinois Review.

The substance of his remarks was that this was stupid and childish. Moreover, this kind of behavior wasn't the tradition while he was in office. He suggests the leadership on both sides needs to step up and ensure this kind of thing never happens again.

Hasn't Illinois passed laws against hazing? ... Way to set the standard, Senator.


overtime (with a small o)

Not to be outdone by all of the great OT games in the NCAA Tournament this year, it looks like the General Assembly is going to miss it's previously scheduled April 7th adjournment date as well. While not technically an overtime session (yet), latest word is that session for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday is cancelled, with April 8-12 being added.

Why you ask? I'm not really sure and wouldn't read too much into it. And at this point, it's obviously nowhere near the magnitude of the photo on the left, but the picture was too good not to use :)

All session, the consensus has been that the budget was a fait accompli, essentially an afterthought in light of last year's pension restructuring. But there is word that the Latino Caucus is threatening to hold things up unless their demands are met, and the Black Caucus showed last year that it has become much more adept at flexing their muscle at crunch time, so things could get dicey in a hurry.

Whether or not this is just a version of The Price is Right or whether the leverage will be used for some significant restructuring of budget priorities remains to be seen. But if either of these groups digs in their heels and forces the Governor's hand, it could make for an interesting collision at a very inopportune time for the Executive Branch. And with the Meeks third party Gubernatorial candidacy hanging out there as well, the stage could be set for big problems with the Democratic ticket.

For now, I'm going with the belief that somebody, likely the Speaker, will figure out how to get this resolved relatively peacefully and wrap things up with minimal collateral damage. And while there could be some good theater ahead, I hope that it doesn't come at the expense of a sensible budget and is mindful of the big picture obligations owed to the public.

In any event, as tempted as I was to make plans to get out of town in mid-April, I sure am glad I thought better of it and decided to hold off any definitive plans.

To post, or read, comments, visit Dome-icile


Acton Gorton's Blog

The ex-editor of the Daily Illini started a blog, and Zorn talks to Illini Media about why they fired him.

All the comments support support Illini Media's decision and are critical of Zorn. So I guess the 60's are really long gone.

Update and unrelated to Gorton: Here's McHenry's Gay Games debate in reverse.


That's a Wrap, Folks

With the dust beginning to settle on the primaries, a few observations post-mortem...

Bill Brady: Going into the fall last year, no one had run a crisper campaign than Brady. He made more with less than any candidate in the race. Inexplicably, from Labor Day through the end of the year his campaign just stopped. It became utterly invisible. In mid-January, someone there figured out they had not won this thing after all and got their heads back in the game. But it was too little, too late. With no significant ground game outside central Illinois, a comeback was not in the cards. Some conspiracy theorists are suggesting Brady made a deal with Judy Baar Topinka to stop Jim Oberweis. Nonsense. Brady allowed his fast start to lull him into a false sense of security. Once he realized his mistake, he hoped his charisma would be sufficient to save the day. It was a poorly executed campaign, not a conspiracy. Having gone through it, I suspect he will be a much more formidable candidate the next time around - and if he has learned from it, I am convinced there will be a next time. Next time, I expect the middle of the campaign to be as clean and crisp as the beginning and end were this time.

Ron Gidwitz: Though he did not capture the public imagination, Gidwitz was probably the best-prepared to take on the state's financial woes and turn them around. Though usually an engaging man in person, Gidwitz always appeared awkward on television. His commercials were uniformly bland. No particular flaws, no hard edges, but nothing much to distinguish them from a furniture commercial, either. Still, Gidwitz' candidacy may have the most far-reaching effect on the Republican Party of anything this cycle. Previously a somewhat distracted power-broker for the establishment, Gidwitz shows signs of a conversion experience. I think he is an honest-to-goodness born-again reformer. He will remain one of the top power-brokers in the GOP, but his experience this race may, indeed, make him a foe of the old-line establishment. If so, they will tremble, because he will not stamp his feet and ineffectively wave a broad-axe while shouting insults. He will wield an epee with subtlety and aplomb. His enemies will be mortally wounded before they even know they have been struck.

Jim Oberweis: Okay, I made my worst prediction ever a few months back, projecting Oberweis to come from behind and win. I based this on the belief he had learned from his previous two races and would not start swinging wildly at the end of this one. I was wrong. I have developed a lot of affection for Oberweis. In person he is charming, funny and gentlemanly. I don't know; something weird happens to him in the heat of battle. His "Pay-to-Play Polka" ad was funny, memorable, and hard-hitting. If the entire last six weeks had been cut from the same cloth, he would be the nominee. But it wasn't. As fond as I am of him, and as admiring of his genuine talents, I have concluded that he has some temperamental flaw that precludes him from being effective at high-stakes politics.

Judy Topinka: She is the nominee and the question on everyone's mind is whether she can unite the party. She's made a good start, committing to sign bills banning partial-birth abortion and enacting parental notification laws. I suspect she still underestimates how important right-of-conscience exemptions for pharmacists are. But she is genuinely working at finding out what the deal-breakers for sympathetic conservatives are. If she gets those right, and banishes the words 'nutjobs, crazies, kooks and morons' from hers and her staff's public and private vocabularies, she'll do fine.

Rod Blagojevich: If utter shamelessness wins elections, the guy's a shoo-in. His marvelous commercials, after four years of pay-to-play nonsense that would make George Ryan blush, brought to mind Groucho Marx' old question: "Who are you going to believe; me or your own eyes?"

Ed Eisendrath: What exactly was that all about? After huffing and puffing and promising to blow the house down, he did not run a bad campaign. He ran no campaign. He did run some commercials at the end, demonstrating he had the reassuring sense not to juggle chain-saws. I was wondering if Blagojevich might call his bluff. Had the guv promised to juggle chain-saws, that might have been just the thing to bring disaffected downstate Democrats back into the fold. In the end, Eisendrath had all the elements of a mortgage-blowing binge except the party and the hangover.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Marin Misleading Women

Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin must feel sorry for Judy Baar Topinka, and I can't say I blame her. Penniless after a bruising primary which left her party divided, Topinka has been hit repeatedly by Blagojevich with a Velvet Hammer since Election Day, and she's been caught flat-footed each time. I guess Marin felt the need to come to the aid of a "sister," but this Sunday's column rewrites history to do it.

Marin's entire column is based on the false premise that Governor Blagojevich is a late and insincere convert to so-called "women's issues." There's a few problems with that theory. First, the issues Blagojevich is campaigning on -- education, health care, reproductive choice, gun control, and fair wages for a fair days work -- are issues Blagojevich has been talking about almost non-stop since his first race for Governor in 2002, and issues on which he has a track record of achievement.

Secondly, those same issues aren't merely "women's issues", they are core Democratic issues and core working class issues. Marin should know that Illinois is a blue state, and that in order to win, you have to win on all, or atleast some, Democratic issues.

But, to back up her false portrayal, Marin says that immediately after the primary election, Blagojevich started running ads featuring women talking about education and health care. Here are her exact words:

That's why his campaign immediately after the primary launched a TV ad starring nothing but women. Blago is the only guy in sight amid a chorus of female voices singing his praises on education.

In a second commercial, a woman opens and closes the ad devoted to health care for kids and seniors. Breast cancer gets prominent play.

Well, Marin clearly didn't do her homework, because as everybody with a t.v. and every Illinoize reader knows, these ads started running weeks before the Primary Election.

In another embarrassing misrepresentation, if you watch the health care ad, you'll see that breast cancer didn't get any more "prominent play" than prescription drugs for seniors or any other health care issue.

And yes, those ads do feature women (there are men, they just don't have speaking roles), and while I think I would have thrown a male parent or health care provider in there too, there are other reasons the ads tend to feature women more than men, not just because women are the target audience. Part of the reason is that the ads hope to appeal to the emotions of both men and women, and female voices tend to be better at it. Blagojevich wants voters to listen to their hearts because if they do, he wins.

Blagojevich's consultants also know that in the world of politics, women make a much more trustworthy surrogates.

Marin also either completely missed the boat or is covering for Topinka when she fails to note that all of these issues not only define what Blagojevich and the Democratic Party stand for, but they also define what Topinka and the Republicans are against. Marin can call Topinka "sister" all she wants, but the fact is that Topinka is on the wrong side of these issues up and down the line, as far as most "sisters" -- heck, most voters -- are concerned.

Marin says that "What she [Topinka] needs to do is get the 'vision thing.' And quick." But Topinka has a Vision. Topinka said she opposes the assault weapons ban. Topinka said she doesn't think we should have expanded health care and early childhood education for kids, or provided more K-12 funding for our schools. Topinka supports legislation that is vehemently opposed by the state's largest pro-choice groups, and Topinka opposed raising the minimum wage.

You see Ms. Marin, Topinka has a Vision, it's just not a Vision that's particularly appealing to most voters in general or women in particular. Maybe Marin thinks women should vote for Topinka just because she's a "sister", but I think voters should hope that elected leaders share more in common with them than just their gender, the color of their skin, or even just their party label.

Team Blagojevich is setting Topinka up early, defining the issues for the campaign. They'll poke her every know and then with some smaller issues, but at some point they will open the flood gates with ads that completely paint Topinka into the margins.

I'll have more specifically to say on Carol and Judy's budget priorities later this week. Suffice it to say, I think Marin's effort to equate providing quality heath care and education for children with one of her shopping sprees for more jewelry and shoes is obscene, and so would most parents who are struggling to provide these things for their kids. Besides, does anybody really believe Carol Marin has ever said 'No' to a shopping spree? Maybe she'll tell us how many pairs of shoes she owns next Sunday.


How things are going in Illinois

Some graphs from the Illinois Policy Survey for 2006 published by The Regional Development Institute at Northern Illinois University. They write,

After steady improvements in 2002, 2003, and 2004, this year’s survey results show a negative change in satisfaction with the way things are going in Illinois. About 32% of this year’s respondents reported being satisfied at some level with the way things are going, while 40% reported dissatisfaction at some level. Dissatisfaction among respondents is the highest in at least fifteen years, and satisfaction is at one of its lowest levels since the early 90’s.
So what caused the shift between 04 and 05?

Download and check Figure 11. Respondents not kind to a pharmacist's right to refuse.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Blogger relief act

Not with Federal or State funds, but DJW is suggesting Gidwitz and Eisendrath should use some of that wealth to start a think tank that focuses on state government.

Oberweis, Gidwitz and Eisendrath could have more impact this way then the ever could have as Governors.

I know there are some already and if commenters want to start list for us I'd appreciate it.

DJW is right though, we need more of them.

Now, you would think conservatives in Illinois would be at the forefront here. I talk with my Liberal and Progressive friends, and the first thing they mention are the well funded Conservative think-tanks that hire talented, thoughtful people. They all agree progressives can't seem to compete intellectually. (They say it, not me.)

So when Conservatives take those shots at JBT, they might ask what they're giving her to fight Blagojevich.

She can't win responding to everyone of Blagojevich's bribes to the electorate, with Illinois can't afford it (by the way, Quinn's Lap Top in every lap proposal was on CLTV last night).

She's going to need say No, the Democrats programs are wrong on principle, and to counter with principled solutions. Conservatives best equipped to craft those. So instead of debate about Brady + Oberweis would have meant victory, it's better to come up with some radically conservative solutions to school, pensions, health, and jobs.

Reminds me of the way progressive's discounted FDR as a rich guy and a intellectual light-weight, but when the country was crushed by depression; FDR had sense to turn to as many idea people as he could and took from them all.

Illinois headed for a few crisis and JBT + Birkett (I think they'll run as a pair like we've never seen before in Illinois) might be just as underestimated by we idea-hamsters as was FDR.

We need to climb into our wheels and spin more. They might ask us. Better yet, put the solutions out there in a way they can't avoid seeing.


Friday, March 24, 2006

State Sen. James Meeks Is NOT An Independent

Contrary to what the media says and the State of Illinois website, Sen. Meeks was elected in 2002 as an Honesty and Integrity Party candidate, NOT an independent. It is harder to get on the ballot as an independent for State Senator or Representative in Illinois than it is in any election jurisdiction IN THE WORLD. (*Citation Ballot Access News Editor Richard Winger)

Sen. Meeks filed to run as a Democrat in the upcoming general election for his State Senate District needing 1,000 valid signatures. To run as an independent for State Senate, he would have needed 5,600 valid signatures in 90 days. A "new" party candidate would need 2,800 valid signatures in the 15th District.

IF he runs for Governor, he will NOT be an independent candidate. It's too late to run as an independent because of the pro-incumbent, discriminatory rules the Rs and Ds wrote. Illinois has the earliest deadline for independent statewide candidates of any state in America.

The petitioning period for independents was September 20th until December 19th, 2005. For "new" party candidates the petitioning period is March 28th to June 26th, 2006.

Theoretically, Sen. Meeks could run for Governor as an independent if Speaker Madigan and the General Assembly passed a bill changing the deadline, much like they did for President Bush in 2004. I doubt that will happen. There is also a current court case tackling this anti-democratic law,
Lee v Illinois Board of Elections, but it will unlikely be decided in time for this election.

So what will Sen. Meeks have to do to run for Governor?

He will have to form a "new" political party in Illinois. 25,000 valid petition signatures will need to be gathered between March 28th and June 26th, 2006. This actually means collecting as close to 50,000 raw signatures as possible to withstand ballot access challenges such as Speaker Madigan's challenge of Ralph Nader in 2004 that removed Nader from the ballot. Also, George Ryan's campaign and dozens of Secretary of State employees removed the Libertarian slate from the ballot in 1998 despite more than 60,000 raw signatures. Jim Ryan's campaign, Judy Baar Topinka and her Treasurer employees also attempted to kick the Libertarian slate off the ballot in 2002 but failed.

A full slate of candidates will have to appear on the petition. Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Comproller. Sen. Meeks will have to recruit eligible candidates for these slots.

Sen. Meeks may be able to solicit more volunteer signatures than the average candidate, but typically a 25,000 signature petition drive costs at least $1.00-$1.50 per signature gathered on average. Running a petition drive of 25,000 valid signatures in 90 days pretty much requires someone full-time running the operation. After running the last successful statewide petition drive in Illinois of 25,000 signatures, I can assure you that it requires a lot more than 40 hours a week from the person running it. The Republican and Democrat candidates needed 5,000 valid signatures.

To put 50,000 raw signatures in perspective, consider this information. 10 signatures per hour going door to door is typical. 20-30 signatures per hour is typical when an experienced petitioner is working an area with lots of people such as a festival or college campus. So let's say a candidate can average 20 signatures per hour during their petition drive. With a 50,000 signature goal that means they need 2,500 hours of petitioning in 90 days, which is an average of about 28 hours per day petitioning.

Basically, they would need 4 full-time petitioners for 90 straight days with no days off, perfect weather, and really good places to petition available, and that is a very conservative estimate. Petitioning is extremely hard work day after day and expecting a full 8 hours from someone is crazy, believe me. Starting off with 10 full-time petitioners is advisable for any campaign wanting to meet this goal.

Of course if mostly part-time volunteers are used many more hours will be needed to complete the petition drive. And with more volunteers working that makes the job of managing the petition drive much more involved and time consuming. A campaign could easily expend 5,000 volunteer hours just getting on the ballot. Think about what else could be done for a campaign with 5,000 hours of work.

The process isn't over once the signatures are gathered either. Most likely someone that doesn't believe much in democracy or voter choice, such as Speaker Madigan or Governor Blagojevich, will try to kick these candidates off the ballot. Each signature will be checked one by one during a petition challenge. That process can take anywhere from 8 hours a day for two weeks to a month depending on how many government employees are available. Sen. Meeks and his slate can count on needing at least 8-15 people 8 hours a day for up a month to defend his signatures if he is challenged.

Even if the challenge isn't succesful at removing him from the ballot, it can and will create other problems for his campaign. Volunteers and workers on the campaign will be spending their time gathering and defending signatures instead of campaigning for their candidate. Money spent on the petition drive and challenge won't be used to spread the ideas of the campaign.

Donors will be more reluctant to give until they are sure the candidates will be on the ballot and that might not happen until the end of July at the earliest and as late as September or October if the petition challenge ends up in the courts. This will also hamper volunteer recruitment. Debate sponsors can and will exclude the candidates if they are not officially on the ballot yet, and polls taken can ignore the candidate. News media is notorious for ignoring "other" candidates that aren't on the ballot yet also. So even though opponents may know a challenge will not be successful, they will often do it anyway because it is an effective way to hamstring their opponent.

I say good luck to all the "new" party candidates that hope to run for statewide office, including the Green and Constitution candidates that have already announced but haven't gotten as much attention from media as Sen. Meeks already has. The cards are heavily stacked against them essentially giving the Republican and Democrats a monopoly on our elections and making Illinois one of the most anti-democratic democracies in the world.

Self-promotion of my own blog


People in Class Houses

A couple of days ago Yellow Dog Democrat published a post brazenly entitled: Cegelis Still Has Chance to Show Class.

Sage Observer, a self-described Duckworth supporter, has already addressed how YDD deliberately misused elipses to mischaracterize Christine's concession message. So all I'm going to do is demostrate the proper degree of respect that 6th District Democrats -- or anyone for that matter -- should grant YDD's pronouncements on the subject of "Showing Class." And to do so, I invite you to play this fun game:

See if you can pinpoint the exact moment in Yellow Dog Democrat's 5:15, February 28 posting when YDD rendered his opinion on all things 6th District and on "showing class" utterly valueless in the eyes of this particular Cegelis supporter.

Did you guess:

S-CAM, you've sunk from mere flakking for your candidate to bald-faced hypocrisy.
Nope. Y'all know it takes more than mere insults and name-calling to get under my skin.

Did you guess it was his bizarre accusation that Cegelis supporters are tools of the GOP:
And you know the Cegelis campaign is desperate when they are quoting the National Republican Committee. *** Republicans are scared of Duckworth, and they've got S-CAM and the whole Cegelis crew out there doing their dirty work for them.
Nah. The idea that the relative weaknesses of the Democratic candidates were not apparent to the Republican party -- and that Tammy Duckworth would suddenly become invincible if only Cegelis supporters would go away -- is just too absurd to get bent out of shape over.

So, did you guess that it was when he laid the ground work for his current blame-Cegelis theme with this line:
You know Cegelis can't win this March, but in order to make your point, you're doing everything you can to help Roskam in November, all in the hopes that on Election Day in November, you'll be able to say "I told you so."
Not there either. That sentence is based on waaaaaay too many false premises to be taken seriously by anyone with an interest in the fate of the 6th District.

Instead, I withheld judgement on YDD's "classiness" until the last paragraph of his post. It was only then that this 6th District Democrat lost all respect for YDD's opinions on "showing class":
The jokes on you though, S-CAM. If you think the DCCC is going to back Cegelis in 2008 if Roskam wins, you're crazier than Roskam. The DCCC just needs to pick up seats - they don't care if the seat is in Illinois or New Jersey or New Mexico. You'll be stuck with Roskam for a couple decades, and you'll deserve every minute of it.
So, friends and neighbors, I guess you'll have to pardon me if I don't think Yellow Dog Democrat is in any position to lecture Christine Cegelis on how to be "show class".



Spend $27 million in taxpayer dollars on a shooting facility and then ban the rifles used on it.

It took an entire Soviet bureaucracy to come up with centralized schemes that led to this kind of thing. In Illinois it only takes one politician... That's efficiency ... the Chicago way.


Victory over ideology? Or are there shared principles?

John Mecurio writing in National Journal about Illinois,

Putting a higher priority on victory than ideology, GOP primary voters chose Topinka, a polka-dancing, cigarette-smoking, foul-mouthed moderate with ties to disgraced former Gov. George Ryan (R), over two buttoned-down conservatives vying to challenge Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), in what has become perhaps the GOP's biggest pick-up opportunity this year. That fact alone is shocking. Remember, it's been just two years since the Alan Keyes fiasco.
Further down Mecurio goes into the strategy differences in suburban districts like the 6th and the 8th voiced by Sarah Chamberlain Resnick and Pat Toomey, quoting Resnick saying,
...the issue is not necessarily demographic shifts, but the GOP's shifting focus onto wedge issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rights, which alienate swing voters.
I've been going over this moderate vs conservative split in my head for days now. I don't know how real it is. Much of it doesn't make sense to me as an outsider.

I thought Brady bridged it. I heard him on WBBM radio with Craig Dellamore, and Brady handled the differences well. He was clear and principled on abortion and same-sex marriage yet realistic about what the GA would give him to work with as Governor.

So lacking time to write anything big, allow me to periodically toss some bullets on how some of these issues could be bridged. There are principles most conservatives, and I think most Illinois voters, share.

Let me start with this quote from Mark Rhoades over at Illinois Review,
To be conservative does not merely mean to check off boxes from a list of "conservative" positions dictated by the media or liberal political scientists and academics. It means first of all to passionately believe be in political and economic freedom for all, to respect the rule of law, promote prosperity through free markets, and place necessary limitations on government which is by definition a legal monopoly on the use of force and coercion.
Add this quote from Justice Scalia,
Scalia decried the practice by judges to dictatorially reinvent the constitution to suit their ideals. "You want the death penalty? Persuade your fellow citizens" to enact changes in the law, he said. "You don't want abortion? Persuade them the other way. ... Judges have no more capacity than the rest of us to determine what is moral."
Standing on these two good sets of conservative principles, my Radical Republican platfrom running for Governor or Congress would include:

---Make the Conservative case for same sex marriage

Forget the Democrats compromise for civil unions. Allow marriage. It's not an inalienable right. It's not something that should be constitutionalized one way or the other. Judges shouldn't decide it. But there is a conservative case to be made for it. Voters and legislatures should decide it. Our culture is moving to accept it. But in turn, advocates of gay marriage should recognize the problems facing families and our kids and the dangers of our hyper-sexualized media.

---Say Roe v Wade should be overturned
Tell voters it was a very bad decision. A horrible over reach by Judges and Justice Scalia exactly right when he said Judges no better able to judge morality of abortion then any other citizen. Illinois should prepare for it. The debate should start. I don't know where to draw lines. I'd agree on far more restrictions. I admire the pro-live advocates and distressed by the pro-choice people I read. But the common principle every conservative should advocate is Roe v Wade should be overturned.

And that's what I would suggest for Resnick's two wedge issues. I wouldn't use them as wedges. I'd make a principled stand because I think that's what voters want. (Check Authenicity Matters Most).

Let me add a third, which Brady mentioned on his WBBM interview: Intelligent Design. It's up to local school boards to decide what's science and what should be taught and how.

I'd add school prayer here too. I heard Pat Moynihan respond once he had never heard of a kid hurt by saying a prayer in school. Someone should be able to stand up in the cafeteria and say grace. Non believing kids can thank midwest farmers if they feel God is an issue. There is common ground here and Brady was right saying School Boards should make the call.

Sorry for rambling on here... it just seems there is much common ground here and its senseless to fight so bitterly about much of it.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ill. 6th District Dems: Don't Rahm candidates down our throats

Cross-posted on Marathon Pundit.

Previous Marathon Pundit posts on this subject:

Congressional race to watch this fall: Illinois' 6th District
Durbin on election night on Bush, Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth's candidacy

Chicago area residents tend to be clannish and suspicious of outsiders. And more so than other people, they don't like to be told what to do. Or how to vote.

Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran and double amputee barely won Tuesday's primary for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Peter Roskam in Illinois' 6th District.

Duckworth doesn't live in the district, and had a lot of outsiders, such as John Kerry, Hillary Clinton--as well as nationally known Illinoisans such as Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, and Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanuel promoting her candidacy.

Rahm Emanuel is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; in short he's in charge of getting more Democrats elected to Congress.

Duckworth received 44% of the vote, followed closely by Christine Cegelis, who came close to defeating longtime 6th District Congressman Henry Hyde in 2004.

Lindy Scott finished third on Tuesday.

Don't look for a Rahm Appreciation Day in Chicago's western suburbs any time soon.

From the Chicago Tribune (free registration may be required):

The close primary reflected Cegelis' many supporters who had stuck with her since her first race and bristled at Duckworth's late entry and massive push from leaders such as U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

York Township Democratic Party Chairman Doug Cole said the 40 or more precinct committeemen in his township who supported Cegelis or Scott may vote for Duckworth in the fall because "we can't stand Roskam," but they're unlikely to work for her campaign.

Duckworth lives in the neighboring 8th District, and her campaign was the product of "top-down politics as foisted upon us by Rahm Emanuel. Not only do they not need us, they don't want us, so we'll take the message," Cole said.

Scott wished Duckworth well Wednesday but said he was "disappointed by the uneven playing field" in terms of money and media attention that confronted him and Cegelis.


A Tough Day for the Trib and David Orr

Over at capitolfax, Rich is asking for winners and losers from Tuesday primary election. For my money, the contest for "Biggest Election Day Loser" is a toss-up between two candidates: the Chicago Tribune editorial board and David Orr.

There’s nothing unusual about a newspaper running a few hard-hitting editorials against a politician. But the Tribune editorial board has been on a virtual crusade against John Stroger for years, hitting him harder than any politician in recent memory. Last week, the Tribsters actually reduced themselves to literally begging their readers to defeat Stroger ("Please make time Tuesday to vote for Forrest Claypool.")

Well, the Tribune’s Cook County slate went down in flames Tuesday. Not only did Stroger win (and by the way, when the all votes are actually counted, his "tiny" margin of victory might reach a more comfortable 8 or 9 points,) but a group of Stroger’s board allies who were repeatedly targeted by the Trib -- Sims, Murphy and Moreno – all won by huge margins.

Claypool was right in his concession speech when he claimed he took on a lot of powerful forces, but Claypool had an extremely powerful ally of his own in the Tribune. Stroger beat them both.

Meanwhile, David Orr should be impeached for his performance on Election Day. That may sound extreme, but think about it for a minute, the guy has only one significant job to do – run an election every two years – and he screwed it up big time.

He dismissed critics by saying some people "acted like something was wrong if they didn’t get the results by the 10 o’clock news." What’s wrong with wanting results by 10 o’clock? Orr and his partners-in-failure at the Chicago Board of Elections repeatedly offered the alibi that Cook County was the only jurisdiction in the nation to employee a two-tier voting system of touch screen and optical scan balloting. That’s not an excuse. In fact, it’s an indictment. Maybe the reason no one else in the country is doing it is because it doesn’t work.

Furthermore, here we are almost 48 hours after the polls closed and a handful of lower ballot races for judge, water reclamation district, and county board are still undecided because anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the ballots haven’t been counted. Orr should be thanking his lucky stars that the Stroger-Claypool race and Republican gubernatorial contest weren’t closer.
If they were, there would be a lynch mob forming for him outside the County Building right now.
The poster-sized optical scan ballot will never work. It’s too large, too prone to ripping and folding, and too flimsy to feed through the scanner. Not to mention, it’s so big the entire polling place can see who you voted for. If you thought Tuesday was a disaster, just wait for November when there are nearly twice as many voters and judicial retention is on the ballot.

Again, running the election is Orr's only significant job. The Clerk’s office not being prepared for an election is the equivalent of FEMA not being ready for a hurricane.


Shuffle 'em Up

Obligatory Disclaimer - I wish nothing but a speedy and complete recovery for John Stroger. My interactions with him were limited to going to the same gym for a while, but he was never less than warm and jovial to me every time we saw each other. His son Todd was my seatmate for a while down here and I consider him a good friend. I spoke with Todd over the weekend to wish the family well and we talked about how recent events really serve to put in perspecitve those things that are truly important.

That having been said, completely ignoring the possibility that there might be a need for a replacement is turning a blind eye to the elephant in the corner of the room. There have been countless scenarios tossed about, some plausible, some just bizarre. But I want to throw two out there, solely for the purpose of giving people something to think about. Let me be clear that these theories are based upon nothing concrete, and are more a product of me having too much time on my hands as I drove downstate. And in the interest of avoiding diving into the middle of a potential firestorm, I will, for these purposes, accept the presumption that the replacement would need to be an African-American.

Theory one - The committeemen appoint Emil Jones as the Board President nominee. He is a known and trusted commodity by the powers that be, and has the experience needed to run what can be a contentious body. This would allow him to get away from the ongoing grief down here, let him be home with his new bride, and increase his salary and pension while he's at it. It also allows for the installation of a new Senate President, which creates some very interesting possibilities, and has little impact on any other ticket considerations. Personally, I think that this is one that's got to be considered.

Theory two - The already much talked about appointment of Jesse White to the position. Personally, I don't see why he would want to do it. He's universally loved right now and would have to take the reigns of a Board that's under intense scrutiny and pressure to fix itself. BUT, if it did happen, I would look for the State Central Committee to move Dan Hynes to the SoS slot, and fill the Comptroller position with the much-coveted downstater candidate. My pick for that would be Sen. James Clayborne, giving the party a downstater, a minority, and a qualified candidate all in one fell swoop. Both Hynes and Clayborne would fare very well in the General, making for a real strong ticket across the board. But again, I just don't know why Jesse would want to do it.

Anyway, I have to go off to committee. I may toss a couple more ideas up here later. But for now, you've got a couple things to think about and discuss.

To post, or read, comments, visit Dome-icile


Pro-Environment Rs & Ds Big Winners Tuesday

As the dust settles from Tuesday’s Illinois primary elections, it looks clear that voters in both Republican and Democratic primary races rewarded pro-environment candidates with their votes for state and local office.

Sierra Club worked hard to help its endorsed candidates in these races. Sierra Club volunteers staffed phonebanks, CTA and Metra stops, precinct walks, and mailing parties. We produced targeted mail pieces in many races to reach pro-environment voters and let them know about our endorsement. A few numbers from our primary campaign efforts:

*100 volunteers working on campaigns around the state
*35,000 mailings to targeted voters
*Over 5,000 personal phone calls to Sierra Club members
*35 Election Day volunteers in Cook County
*8 victories in 9 contested General Assembly races (5 Democrats, 3 Republicans)

Here is a roundup of the outcome in contested races where Sierra Club made endorsements:


Republican Primaries
Sierra Club targeted four suburban Republican primaries where there were clear differences between the candidates in hotly contested races. In Lake County’s 62nd District, Sandy Cole is a Lake County Board member who has been a strong voice for smart growth, water supply protection, and expanding Lake County’s forest preserves. She won with 59% of the vote against developer-backed candidate Barbara Oilschlager.
Incumbent Paul Froehlich, a solid supporter of measures to reduce mercury pollution, protect wetlands, and preserve open space funding won handily in the 56th District. In the 95th District, West Chicago Mayor Michael Fortner, who has been active in efforts to clean up local thorium contamination, and dedicating West Chicago Prairie as an Illinois Nature Preserve, beat a well-funded challenger. Palatine Mayor Rita Mullins lost her campaign for the Republican nomination in the s27th Senate District.

Democratic Primaries
In Democratic races, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn-Currie, who last year won the Illinois Environmental Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and for years has been a leader in passing legislation protecting people from harmful pollution, won handily in the face of her first significant primary challenge in years. State Senator Martin Sandoval, a member of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and strong supporter of measures to clean up air pollution, particularly from old coal-burning power plants, held off a well-funded challenger in the 12th Senate District.
State Senator Don Harmon, the lead Senate sponsor of legislation to spur renewable energy development and measures to clean up water pollution and protect open space, and State Representative David Miller, a solid supporter of clean air, wetlands protection, and open space legislation each won handily against primary opponents.

In addition, Sierra Club supported Dave Koehler in the Democratic Primary for Senator from the 46th District in the Peoria area. Koehler is seeking to replace retiring Senator George Shadid. He will bring support for action by the state to clean up pollution in the Illinois River, acquire more land for outdoor recreation, and promote clean, renewable energy sources to the Illinois Senate.

Forrest Claypool’s reform campaign for Cook County Board President fell just short of victory in the face of a strong showing by machine politicians and a late wave of support for incumbent John Stroger after he suffered a stroke in the campaign’s final days. However, our unprecedented effort to mobilize pro-environment voters across the County clearly demonstrated the public’s interest in taking better care of our magnificent forest preserves will sets the state for better protection of Cook County’s open spaces in the future.

The victory for Debra Shore’s outsider campaign for MWRD is a testament to the outstanding campaign run by Debra, a longtime conservationist but rookie candidate, the public’s demand for clean water, and the power of a Sierra Club endorsement. Debra was the only candidate not slated by the Democratic Party to win a seat on the board.

Sierra Club's campaign efforts in DeKalb County were focused on supporting a land acquisition referendum for the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District. If you haven't been there lately, the county is undergoing rapid sprawl and until now had no funding available to try to save wetlands, prairies, and forests from development. Tuesday's victory provides $5 million over the next decade.


Caption Time

This photo should generate some fun captions...have at it!


The morning after pill

The Shadow attended all of the GOP GOV parties. Here is my report and hope for the future:

Oberweis: Good food. But I understand why Jack Roeser is a little (whistle here). Have you seen his sweater wear in person? It is far worse than anything here. Oh dear, similar to mercury poisoning, this material leeks into one's skin, travels to one's brain, and causes a profound hatred for Gays and logic.

Topinka: Smart. Cash bar. Save money, you will need it. Mark Kirk is as exciting as the clean, white Navy uniform I always imagine him wearing. I don’t know why, but I think he really gets into the Y-M-C-A dance at sporting events. Maybe he earned some ribbons for Macarena contests in the 90s? For some reason, the crowd looked similar to George Ryan's '98 victory party.

Gidwitz: Packed with Rauschenberger supporters, open bar but only carrots to eat. Gidwitz's charming wife should have been the candidate. Did not see it, but a press friend told me there was a fight and someone was ejected. For the 10% who voted for Ron, can't we all get along?

Brady: This guy may be a play'yaaa. Expect a big hug from Topinka. She appreciates gentleman Bill. Brady/Durkin '10? Needs to drop the loafer wear sans socks, but the future is bright for William. My hope: get your beautiful family into the commercials.

Martin: Who the heck are the 5902 citizens that voted for "My Favorite Martin"? No victory party, but I imagine it would be a crazy affair that even Jack Ryan would attend. We wish him the best, as we don't like lawsuits. Martin in 08! Martin in 10! Martin in 12!...Martin in 58!

Oh yeah, our last wish: Oberweis, please, please run Alaska.


Liberal extinction, by the numbers

New America Foundation fellow Phillip Longman in USA Today on March 13 (synopsized from a longer piece in the March/April issue of Foreign Policy magazine) says basically this: Population equals power; therefore, conservatives/traditionalists have historically and will soon again inherit the earth. Writes Longman:

Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families....

This dynamic helps explain the gradual drift of American culture toward religious fundamentalism and social conservatism.

Do you distrust the army and other institutions? Do you find soft drugs, abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia acceptable? Do you seldom, if ever, attend church? Are you an environmentalist*? These are progressive views, and you are thus part of a literal dying breed.

Juxtapose that to this massive Zogby poll (30,117 respondents in 48 contiguous states with margin error of +/- 0.6%) conducted March 10-14, and you'll see why the pro-abortion position is a growing loser for Democrats.

[*The logo, right, is from the environmentalist website Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Its motto, "May we live long and die out," could not more aptly demonstrate why liberalism is a dying concept.]


Brady used his chance to show class

Some quotes from his thank you letter.

My campaign ran a race that gained us widespread respect because we stayed positive, talking about the issues that affect Illinoisans today rather than attacking other candidates. We offered plans for tax relief, for bringing jobs back to Illinois, for battling the culture of corruption in government and for protecting mainstream conservative values that make Illinois strong.
I attended the Illinois Republican Party’s Unity Breakfast Wednesday morning and pledged to support our party’s standard bearers – Judy Baar Topinka and Joe Birkett – and the entire GOP ticket. I hope you will join me in those efforts. We must unite as a party, we must come together as Republicans to defeat Rod Blagojevich in November. Illinois cannot afford another four years of Rod Blagojevich.

Again, my humblest thanks to all of you who supported me financially, who volunteered to make phone calls and put up yard signs, who offered a word of encouragement, who e-mailed friends and to all who voted for me and a better Illinois where we can ensure prosperity for our citizens, their children and their grandchildren.
I hope he runs for the US Senate.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cegelis Still Has Chance to Show Class

I read Christine Cegelis's concession webposting with great sadness. Sad because it read as an all-to-familiar effort by a second place candidate to take as many parting shots as possible. It is understandable for a candidate to be emotionally raw after such a bruising primary -- her campaign manager is at fault for not protecting her from her own keyboard. Candidates are remembered as much for how they cope with adversity and defeat as how they carry victory, and they should choose their final words with care. Unless she wants to be remembered for her bitterness, Cegelis should rethink these words:

I spoke with Tammy this morning and wished her luck. She’s going to need it.

All of you...proved that you are a political force to be reckoned with, and anybody who ignores that fact does so at their own peril. You sent a loud and clear message to...the Democratic Party.

the Democrat leadership had better recognize right now that the real future of this Party isn’t going to be determined in Chicago or in Springfield or in Washington.

You and everyone else who’s been part of this campaign and who voted for me – YOU are the future of the Democratic Party, and you are the best hope that this nation has to reverse all of the wrong directions that we’ve been going in.

it was real people, average Americans, men and women young and old, with the unmitigated audacity to believe that this was their Congressional District and their country. Imagine that: people trying to take control of their government.

It’s still our District, and it’s still our country, and, at least on paper, the government still belongs to us. We have to take it back. If not this time, next time. If not then, then the time after. Until then, whenever it is, we just have to keep working at it because if we don’t take control, someone else will.
I hope that Christine Cegelis will rethink the divisiveness of her remarks, and recant them soon. For one thing, as a candidate she spent plenty of time raising money in Chicago and seeking support in Washington, so her comments are disengenious at best. But more importantly, even though she may resent the DCCC for not endorsing her and may not like the fact that Tammy Duckworth got into this race, Duckworth ran a classy, issue-based campaign that never had a negative word or even made a negative inference about Cegelis or Lindy Scott.

I know Cegelis and some of her supporters may be tempted to help fullfill their own prophesy: that there will be some sort of liberal backlash against Duckworth that will end in Roskam's election. Well, the primary is over, and if Cegelis and her supporters really meant what they said about protecting a woman's right to choose and standing up for working families, Cegelis should clearly endorse Duckworth and urge her followers to join her in helping to defeat Peter Roskam. I don't have a doubt that if Cegelis had won the Primary, Duckworth would have done the same.

As for Cegelis, I still think she has a future as a Democratic elected official, if that's what she really wants. As far as I know, Democrats are still looking for a candidate to take on State Rep. Carolyn Krause in the 66th Representative District, and as I've said before, Cegelis should be slated as that candidate. Cegelis has built the name recognition and volunteer base to give Krause a run for her money. She should think of all the good she could do in Springfield on the issues she cares about, and make peace with Duckworth and the past.


Oberweis, exit stage left

Today, at the W Hotel in Chicago, Illinois Republicans gathered in what was billed as the post-election "unity breakfast." All four gubernatorial candidates were on hand, yet one candidate refused to "unite" with last nights winner choosing instead to put his own interests first.

Greg Hinz has the inside scoop:

The theme of the day was unity, but top Illinois Republicans fell somewhat short of that standard Wednesday as they gathered for a “unity breakfast” to celebrate voters’ decision to make state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka the party’s nominee for governor against Democrat Rod Blagojevich.

“No one runs alone. The word team does not include the letter ‘I’”, Ms. Topinka told GOP leaders. The primary may have been “a little bruising,” she continued, but, “We have to pull together as a team.”

But just before she spoke, conservative dairy owner Jim Oberweis, who got 32% of the vote to Ms. Topinka’s 38%, told reporters that, while he will back her, she’s going to have to do some things “to get my enthusiastic support.”

What do you think it'll take get Oberweis' full support? Will he ever go away?


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