Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Special Election for Obama Seat to Get New Life?

Crain's is reporting that a special election bill has been set for a committee hearing next week, in the event the General Assembly convenes.

Crain's stated:

A bill to hold a special election to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat may be getting another life in Springfield.

The measure, which had been shelved by House Speaker Michael Madigan, on Wednesday was quietly posted for a committee hearing next Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 7.


So, does this mean Madigan and the Illinois Democrats have basically been shamed into turning back to the special election as the only way to rehabilitate their party in the eyes of the public, after Blago has made them (and, sadly, the state) the political laughingstock of the nation?

Does this mean that Mark Kirk, Peter Roskam and any other GOP contenders might be back in business?

What we've been reminded in the last few days is that in Illinois politics, ANYTHING can happen. So, keep those seat belts fastened, kids, this ride is a long way from being over.

Hey You, Illinois Citizen! Are You Angry Enough Yet?

Hey You! Yes, YOU!

Mr./Mrs./Ms. Illinois Citizen:

Has the complete and utter ridiculousness caused by the arrest of Governor Rod Blagojevich, the ill-advised lawsuit by Lisa Madigan, the half-hearted and ill-planned (and unfair to GOP members of the General Assembly) impeachment proceedings run by the House Democrats, the antics of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn as he jockeys for power, the lack of political will of the Democrats in the GA to take away Blago's power of appointment, the flip-flops of powerful Democrats like Dick Durbin on support for a special election, the internal investigation conducted by Barack Obama's lawyer, and the capper of it all, Blago's appointment of yet another machine Democrat to step into Obama's Senate seat (not to mention the sad and inexcusable injection of racism into the whole equation by Congressman Bobby Rush), got you angry enough yet?

No? How about the fact that in this time of national crisis, when we need good, solid, if not inspirational and awe-inspiring leadership (wasn't that what we were promised), the nation is now getting a lesson in real Chicago Machine politics, and it appears to have rendered the President-elect virtually politically impotent in the face of a crazy governor from his own state that he can't control (or even influence)? Maybe that gets your goat?

Still not mad enough?

Good.

Because when this all gets finished, one way or another, you will be. And, maybe then, it will be time for a change in government in this state.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Roland Burris to Be Named to Senate Seat: Will He Be Confirmed? What Does This Mean for GOP in 2010?

It is being reported that embattled Governor Blagojevich will name Roland Burris to the vacated Obama Senate seat. Read more here.

We'll have lots more on this later, I'm sure, but this takes the topsy-turvey world of Illinois politics into another twist. Will Burris be approved by the U.S. Senate? Should we even assume Burris will accept the appointment? (although I can't believe Blago would have done this if he wasn't already sure...) Clearly, it appears that unless he is not seated, the chance for the GOP to 'steal' the senate seat in a special election has been ended.

BUT - given the Illinois General Assembly (controlled by the Dems) had the chance to try to strip Blago of the appointment power, and failed to act, will the Dem-controlled GA take the blame, and a heavy hit at election time?

If seated, will Burris run again in 2010? What's the effect of the Blago appointment "taint"? Will Burris face heavy Dem opposition in a primary? How would the GOP race against Burris measure up?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Impeachment Update: U.S. Attorney to Ask to Release Some Audio of Blago Wiretaps (UPDATED x3)

I snuck away from work for a few minutes to listen to the impeachment proceedings occurring now before the House committee. You can watch the video or listen to the audio here. (h/t Capitol Fax Blog).

Just a few tidbits- first, as I understood a comment from Chairman Currie just a few minutes ago, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will be going to court on Jan. 5th to ask to provide the audio of some of the conversations that were recorded from the tap on Governor Blagojevich's phone lines. No information as to which or how many such conversations will be made available. I'm assuming that if they are provided to the committee, that means the public will get them as well, since these proceedings are being broadcast, but perhaps I should not simply make that assumption.

Fitzgerald had previously left open the door on this request by the committee, after refusing several others. For more background, see the Sun-Times story here.

Also, Representative Jim Durkin had an interesting line of comments on the Obama report of contacts from attorney Greg Craig. Among other comments, Durkin pointed out that there was little or no indication in the report as to what direct discussions, if any, Craig had with any of the Obama staffers, and thus, Durkin did not seem inclined to give the report a lot of weight. Blago's attorney, Ed Genson, had submitted the report as evidence that Blago did nothing wrong, but it looks like the committee's impeachment work could shed some more light on that document, which we and many other spaces have already criticized.

I'm sure there will be a lot more in the news today and tomorrow as this process continues.

UPDATED: Capitol Fax Blog reports that four conversations (in 'redacted' form, so maybe that means it'll just be a transcript and not the audio recording) are the subject of the U.S. Attorney's request, which conversations deal with "Fundraiser A" and steering casino revenue to horseracing. So, it may not be as interesting as I thought, but we'll see.

UPDATED x2: Here's a Crain's story.

UPDATED x3 12.30.08: Here's full coverage of yesterday's impeachment hearings from the Tribune and the Daily Herald.

Quinn On Board With Special Election; Obama Updates; Lake County Young Republicans Are Back

Well, I missed it yesterday, but Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn told CBS' "Face the Nation" that he thought Governor Rod Blagojevich would be ousted by February, and Quinn, once installed as Guv, would call for a special election to fill Barack Obama's vacant senate seat. Read the AP report here. Note that Quinn may be trying to have it both ways, as he also told CBS he would do an interim appointment... so unless he appoints someone who vows not to run in a special, Quinn would be giving whomever he appointed a serious leg up in the special election.

I can't keep track of how many times Quinn has gone back and forth on this, and nothing's sure until this all goes down, but at least for now it looks like the GOP may be back in the running to take that seat, with 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk still
leading the pack of most likely GOP contenders, with 6th District Congressman Peter Roskam also getting more than a few mentions.

On Obama watch, lots to think about as his presidency starts to kick into gear in advance of his inauguration on Jan. 20th. Obama (through David Axelrod) is back to his
pledge of middle class tax cuts, despite the worsening economy, and ending tax cuts for the so-called rich, that is, families earning more than $250,000 per year. Well, as we predicted during the campaign, there are going to be a lot of dual-income families on the North Shore who are going to be crying in their Lattes at Starbucks once the effect of those increased taxes hit.

Also, as we noted last week, Obama's very first internal investigation (mind you, this is before he has even been sworn in) has cleared him, because
his own lawyer says he's cleared. Well, Obama may have overreached yet again, and perhaps he will get called on it this time, as there is a factor that no one can predict or control in this mix, even Obama, and that's Governor Blagojevich.

As syndicated columnist Rick Horowitz (published locally in the Tribune) notes, incoming White House counsel Greg Craig said of Obama's staff, "No one was approached with any kind of deal." However, that's not what Blago seemed to suggest as revealed by Patrick Fitzgerald, which was that Obama's staff refused to offer anything for the senate seat except "appreciation."

As Horowitz points out, at first blush, this clears Obama's staff, but if you really think about it, why was Blago so sure that Obama's people weren't going to make a 'deal' if a 'deal' wasn't offered? And that's what Craig said: "No one was approached," not that no one took the deal, which seems to be what Blago's taped comments implied.

Horowitz seems to dismiss the obvious conclusion, which is either that some of Obama's staffers, or Craig himself, are shading the truth. But he does note that if such is the case, Mr. Fitzgerald has not been known to take kindly to liars. Perhaps the truth will come out if the Blago tapes are made public, at some point.

Locally, the official Lake County Young Republicans group is getting a boost as Collin Corbett, formerly campaign manager for congressional candidate Steve Greenberg's campaign, is taking the lead in rejuvenating the group. Official elections for officer positions will be held in April/May. Contact the Lake County YRs at
crc224@gmail.com for more info.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All! Plus, Holiday Update

A very Merry Christmas (and Chanukah, Festivus, Kwanzaa, what-have-you) to you and yours this holiday season!

Now that the presents have been opened, it's time for a little political catch-up.

The big news of the morning appears to be that Blago's lawyers are determined to exculpate him at risk of bringing down the Illinois Democratic Party, or even taint or at least seriously embarrass President-elect Barack Obama. Seems that Blago's lawyers want to subpoena Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, not to mention Jesse Jackson, Jr., to testify in the impeachment proceedings to help 'prove' that there was no illegal conduct on the part of the Guv to appoint someone to Obama's senate seat in return for financial or other remuneration.

Obama, of course, has already vindicated himself and his staff of any wrongdoing, because, well, because he says so.

This whole escapade has already made Illinois politics and the Guv the laughingstock of the nation, and earned the Guv the title of "naughtiest politician" of 2008. How's that for a Christmas present?

Local Dems are already trying to do damage control from the Blago fall-out, reminding everyone that one should not paint all members of a political party with the same brush... or so says State Senator Susan Garrett. Of course, guilt by association is the founding principle of Ellen's blog, and her war against the evil of Mark W. Bush, so I guess what goes around comes around, ladies. Maybe Senator Garrett should have added fellow scandal-plagued Senator Terry Link on her list of Democrats that should not be held up as the standard-bearers for her party.

Still no word on a special election, although Pat Quinn seems to have flipped positions on the issue once again.


Also, it seems interesting to me that in this post-election period, people seem to still be very interested in politics, and are perhaps starting to see things with a slightly clearer sight, now that Obama-mania is starting to wear off just a tad. After all, when's the last time an incoming president already had to start doing internal investigations? This'll be a fun four years, kids.

Even the people of New York are starting to wise up, as
a backlash is building against the latest Dem elite scheme to place Caroline Kennedy into Hillary's senate seat because, well, you know why. And weren't the same group of folks that are touting Kennedy's mighty slim resume the same ones claiming that Sarah Palin was so inexperienced that the very ideashe was fit for higher office was a travesty? Just askin'.

Meanwhile, locally, Terry Link appears to be bound
and determined to push through a Waukegan casino, even if he has to write a bill that specifically gives another casino license to Waukegan, according to the News-Sun. Hey, if you can't get what you want fairly under the current law, just change it to suit your needs. That's classic Terry Link.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From the "Doesn't Know When to Quit" File: Terry Link Wants to Expand Gambling in Wake of Waukegan Casino Shut-out

State Senator and Lake County Democratic Chairman Terry Link really doesn't know when to quit. Less than a day after the Illinois Gaming Board awarded the 10th (and last remaining) casino license to Des Plaines (over Waukegan and Rosemont), Terry Link is reportedly already talking about potentially expanding gambling in Illinois to provide for an 11th license.

Guess which city's name that license would have on it, if Link gets his way?

You really have to wonder about Terry Link. On one hand, you can admire his tenacity, perhaps. On the other hand, you can question why Link is so completely obsessed with bringing gambling to Waukegan. Is a gambling boat the only way Link can think of to increase economic development in downtrodden Waukegan? Without that magic bullet, Link is so out of ideas that he keeps coming back around to the same tired notion of a boat, regardless of the local opposition, the proven problems gambling would bring, and the entirely different problems that a gambling "expansion" would pose, especially to the latest casino that just got awarded?

It's hard to feel sorry for casino investors, maybe, but I wonder if they anticipated that Terry Link will apparently keep fighting for expansion of gambling time after time, until Waukegan hits paydirt. Casinos are like any other business - they suffer from an oversaturation of the market. By adding an 11th license, it automatically devalues the ones that have been issued, as well as the new one. But, macroeconomics don't matter much to Link, as long as he gets his casino.

The people of Waukegan and Lake County should really question why Link is so myopically focused on winning a casino for his district. The answer shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Casino for Waukegan; Has Terry Link Lost His Mojo? (UPDATED x2)

Crain's and other media outlets are reporting that the Illinois gaming board has awarded the 10th casino license to Des Plaines, leaving Waukegan empty-handed once again, despite State Senator Terry Link throwing everything he had behind the project.

Has Terry Link lost his mojo? Coupled with the recent defection of Sheriff Mark Curran from the Democratic Party, this is turning into the December from hell for Mr. Link.

I wonder what this might mean for Link's future plans. I always had the idea in the back of my mind that once the casino deal was over, one way or another, that would be the capper on Link's political career. If Waukegan got it, he'd stick around long enough to make sure it was set up so that his buddies, especially Pete Couvall, were in a position to benefit most. If he lost, there's not much more to do, except perhaps go for Mayor of Waukegan (some other day, since the current deadline has passed for this cycle), and the field right now seems pretty crowded. At some point, though, he's going to decide he's had enough and turn over the reigns to Kathy Ryg or Michael Bond.

While we're musing about Link, I heard that Mark Curran and Terry Link really went at it last week on Libby Collins' show on WKRS. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but when I do, I will set out a few of the more choice comments. It got very personal, from what I heard, and it's clear that this has really struck a nerve with Link. Part of his reaction might be to try to fend off a mass defection from his troops, with the thought that if he scares the bejeebers out of his subjects, no one will dare step out of line. I suppose if you ascribe to the "It's better to be feared than loved" philosophy of leadership that might be OK, but I'm glad I'm not in his party. Here's the link to the podcast from WKRS if you want to listen for yourself.

UPDATED: CBS2 has an article on its website with a few quotes from Link, who seems to think the Board stacked the deck against Waukegan. Typical. It's everyone's fault but his.

UPDATED x2: Terry Link tells Russell at the Daily Herald that it's a sad day for Waukegan. Link's been sad quite a bit this month.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Action on Special Election by General Assembly; Radogno: "Democracy Costs Money"

The Chicago Tribune this morning has a scathing editorial on the General Assembly's adjournment with lack of any action on the issue of filling Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate Seat. At this point, the issue of whether that leaves Governor Rod Blagojevich with the power to make an appointment is almost a side issue; right now, the Tribune's ire, at least, is directed to those Democrats who apparently jumped in to support the idea of a special election, but then pulled back, once they realized that they stood a very real chance of losing the election... perhaps to none other than our own Congressman Mark Kirk.

So far, the state senate is trying to hide behind the additional cost of a "special". The house is hiding behind the senate. And so, nothing is being done by our elected officials.

The issue of cost is simply an excuse. No one was worried about cost before the notion of the 'danger' of an open election was raised. And State Senator Christine Radogno, our new senate minority leader, said it best: "Democracy costs money."

Any appointment made by anyone, including Jesse White, is going to be tainted with the Blagojevich stink. The only way to remove that stink is to throw it open to the people.

IN OTHER NEWS: In the wake of Sheriff Mark Curran's switch to the Republican party, The Lake County Dems take another hit with the defection of County Board Member Bob Sabonjian. While Sabonjian swipes at what he calls the increase in partisanship on the County Board as one reason for his defection (but why would that be a reason to leave your party???), he also points to Democratic infighting, especially between Terry Link and Pat Jones. That appears to TA to be the more likely reason.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran's Switch to GOP a "Matter of Conscience"; 'No Hope in the Democratic Party' (UPDATED x6)

While down in Springfield today, the fallout from Rod Blagojevich's arrest and the possible courses the General Assembly may take in dealing with it, were just beginning to develop, some fallout of a related sort was taking place up here in Lake County.

This morning, Sheriff Mark Curran held a press conference in a packed room at Lake County Republican Headquarters to announce his switch from the Democrats to the Republicans.

Curran stated emphatically several times that his switch was a "matter of conscience" and he said "My conscience will not allow me to stand by and be a member of the Democratic Party any longer."

The presser was attended by many past and present politicians, including former gubernatorial candidate and AG Jim Ryan, Congressman Peter Roskam, State's Attorney Michael Waller, State Rep. Eddie Sullivan, Jr., State Senator-elect Dan Duffy, former Lake County Board Chairman Bob Depke, County Clerk Willard Helander, County Treasurer Bob Skidmore, Congressman Mark Kirk's Chief of Staff Eric Elk, and Lake County Republican Chairman Daniel Venturi.

Curran spoke for about 10 minutes and said, "I'd hoped to fight for change within the Democratic party, I'd hoped to bring the Democratic party back to the ideals it once stood for. But as I stand here today, I do not believe that it is a possibility. I certainly do not believe that it is a possibility in the State of Illinois, and I certainly do not believe that there is any hope in the Democratic Party in this state or in [Lake] County."

Curran also took a swing at beleaguered Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Democratic party for supporting him, saying "When Rod Blagojevich ran against this man [Jim Ryan], once again, you didn't hear anybody stand up five years ago and say, 'you know what, Rod Blagojevich is nothing other than a hack Chicago politician, and he's not good for the state.' No, they all stood behind him as though he was reformer. It's a boldface lie to think that somebody who comes out of that ward boss system is going to be a reformer. It's a boldface lie, and we should quit telling those lies."

Here's Curran on "Conscience":



Here's Curran talking about no hope in the Democratic party.



Some nice comments from Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller:



Here are comments from former AG and gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan:



Here's Congressman Peter Roskam (6th Congressional Dist.) on behalf of himself and Congressman Mark Kirk (10th Dist.):



A few comments from State Rep. Eddie Sullivan, Jr., who was on his way down to Springfield immediately afterwards to (hopefully) work towards the impeachment of the guv:



And finally, our newest State Senator-elect, Dan Duffy:



UPDATED: Pioneer Press has an article with the Dem reaction, via "sneaky" Pete Couvall and Terry Link. It can be boiled down to: 1) if you don't like Blago, just remember Ryan was in jail first, and 2) can we have our Curran campaign contributions back?

Wow, pretty effective comeback, boys. Sorry, this day (week, month, year?) belongs to the GOP. You'd be better off not saying anything at all.

UPDATED x2: Here's the News-Sun article. Boy, Terry Link is pissed. “[Curran] didn’t make it on his own,” Link said. “I wear a wristband that says loyalty on it. He should get out a dictionary and look up what loyalty means. This guy has no loyalty to anyone other than Mark Curran.”

UPDATED x3: Here's the Daily Herald article.

UPDATED x4: Fox News Chicago appears to have two different video edits from this morning's press conference, where they reported live. Check them out here and here.

UPDATED x5: 12.16.08: Here's a recent article from the Tribune. Pete Couvall calls Mark Curran a publicity hound. Is that the best you can do, Pete?

And, here's a story and audio report from WBBM Newsradio.

UPDATED x6: WHAT'S BEHIND TERRY LINK'S HISSY FIT? As you know, if you followed some of the above news links, State Senator and Democratic County Chairman Terry Link was practically besides himself yesterday, railing against Sheriff Mark Curran for his 'disloyalty' and vowing to run a Dem opponent against Curran this next election cycle.

Why so red-faced, Senator Link? Is it perhaps because you expected to have political control over the Sheriff's office if a new casino goes in Waukegan? Why would you want that, and why is it so important, TA wonders?

Just sayin'.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran to Switch From Democrat to Republican (UPDATED x3)

The Illinois Dem woes apparently aren't limited to the governor and his associates, and some of the smarter ones may already be making moves to flee a sinking ship.

TA hears that Democratic Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County is bailing on the Dems and will announce he is switching parties to become a Republican. A press conference is scheduled for 9:30 on Monday morning at Lake County Republican Headquarters in Libertyville.

We expect a press release from the Lake County GOP shortly.

Until Sheriff Curran speaks, we don't know exactly the reason for the switch, or the timing, but it would not be too much of a guess that it has to do with the ethics issues of local and state Democrats, not only the governor and his issues, but perhaps Terry Link and his crew. As TA readers know, Sheriff Curran has shown signs of dissatisfaction with the Lake County Dems before, notably his endorsement of Republican State's Attorney Michael Waller this past election. The negative reaction of the Lake County Dems to that move by Curran probably didn't help his opinion of that bunch.

Much more on this soon.

UPDATED: The Daily Herald has a very short story up (TA's Note- this article has now been expanded).

UPDATED x2: And so does the News-Sun.

UPDATED x3 12.13.08: CURRAN EDITORIALS, ARTICLES AND CHAT: The News-Sun this morning has an editorial on the Curran jump to the GOP. They also throw their support to a special election for the Obama senate seat, rather than letter Quinn or anyone else make a single-handed appointment decision, regardless of the cost for such an election.

Also, here's Sun-Times and Tribune coverage of the Curran story.

By the way, TA had a great chat with Sheriff Curran last night at a holiday event and I could not be more pleased with his decision. Several of the comments he made about the infighting and lack of ethics evident in the Lake County Democratic party I found quite insightful and illuminating. Given Curran's refreshing candor about State's Attorney Michael Waller's opponent when Curran endorsed Waller, I look forward to Curran's comments at the presser on Monday when he explains his move. Welcome, Mark!

Also, for anyone keeping track, that means that all four county-wide offices up for election in 2010 (Sheriff, County Clerk, Superintendent of Schools, and County Treasurer) will be held by GOP incumbents.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dems See Mark Kirk as Serious Threat to Obama Senate Seat (UPDATED)

What some people might have initially dismissed as an idle fantasy has now become enough of a threat that some Dems are now seriously concerned about Congressman Mark Kirk's chances to win a special election for Barack Obama's vacated senate seat, if a special election is held in the next few months.

Over on DailyKos, one blogger raises the alarm with a story centered on this speculative headline: "Mark Kirk's Election to Senate Seat Blow to Obama Presidency" And, as you might expect, the chance that Kirk could follow Obama as Illinois' junior senator is driving Ellen of the Tenth absolutely up the wall.

Another interesting development is that some Dems are now concerned that the call for a special election might have been a bit premature now that they realize someone like Mark Kirk would be a serious threat, and much more consideration appears to be being given to having Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn make the appointment (assuming that Blago resigns or gets booted somehow). Mark Kirk, as you might expect, objects to that idea:

“At this point, everyone is tainted. In order to restore the trust of the people of Illinois in their representatives, this decision should not be made by people connected to a corrupt government,” said Kirk.

“We should return this seat to the people who own it — not the corrupt government. In this state, trust has been broken between the state of Illinois and its people.”

Kirk has not been shy about his aspirations. Watch some video here.

The buzz about Kirk's potential candidacy has gone mini-viral, to the extent where it's gotten tough to provide links to all the various news sources. I think from now on, we're just going to provide links and updates to news articles and sources that have something to add to this discourse, and not just "hey, didja know Kirk's a potential candidate, and golly, he'd be a good one" kind of article.

But as always, please chime in with your own thoughts...

THEORY: This is a good one I heard today- what do you think?

Step 1: Blago resigns/is impeached/whatever, Quinn becomes Gov.
Step 2: Quinn appoints himself senator.
Step 3: Jesse White says, I'm too old, no thanks
Step 4: Lisa Madigan becomes gov.

Bada bing, bada boom, Dems' problems are solved.

UPDATED 12.12.08: [TA's note: Rich Miller of Capitol Fax objected to our citing a factoid that appeared in Capitol Fax regarding Blago's potential strategy to deal with Pat Quinn's desire to appoint the next senator. TA did not realize that Rich considered the factoid itself proprietary information, as opposed to quoting from Cap Fax directly, so at Miller's request, we remove that information with apologies.]

Quinn lately has changed his tune and stated emphatically that he would appoint a replacement if he becomes governor, rather than putting the state through the turmoil and expense of a special election. While some Dems might still think having Quinn make the appointment is better than risking a special election, some sources suggest that Quinn might consider appointing a Republican. Well, who better than Mark Kirk?

IL-10 Update: Kirk, Footlik, Link

I know we're all distracted right now by the prospect of Senator Mark Kirk in 2009. But, until a decision about a possible special election is made, Mark still has a congressional battle to fight, and life otherwise goes on in the 10th District.

Footlik Follies: The last congressional election just got finished and Mark Kirk has not even been re-sworn in for his 5th term, but since congressmen have to run every two years, there's never much down time between elections, even under normal circumstances. So, right on cue, guess whose name has started cropping up in the news, lately? That's right, former candidate Jay Footlik, who got smeared by Dan Seals in the February 2007 Dem primary battle.

Footlik showed up on my Google Alerts just this morning for a talk he will give at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield this Sunday, entitled "The 2008 Elections: Were They Good for the Jews?" After Footlik got clobbered by Seals, I lost track of him, so I'm not sure if he ever moved into the 10th District for good. Last I think I heard, he had rented a house in Arlington Heights or something, so I'm not sure if he ever actually purchased anything.

Will Footlik run again? Who knows, but if he does, his recent job history as a foreign lobbyist is going to be a problem for him, as commenters have pointed out here before. Just the other day, I saw a blog post critical of Footlik for lobbying for the government of Turkey, to the tune of $25,000 per month, in part to oppose the adoption of Armenian genocide legislation. I don't want to get in the middle of that issue here, but you can bet that whatever Footlik seems to have been up to for the past year, folks here in the 10th District may not like it.

Terry Link Petition Scandal Update: I was a bit surprised to see that one of the two men accused of perjury and forgery for submitting alleged fraudulent nomination petitions for State Senator Terry Link has been found unfit for trial. Jerry Knight, who has been known to call in to WKRS and speak with host Libby Collins about his involvement with Link, was found to need treatment before he could stand trial, which treatment he is currently receiving in Minnesota. It appears that the case against the other defendant, Kenneth Davison, will proceed.

Speaking of Link, can you believe Link's milquetoast response to the utter outrageousness of the Blagojevich arrest? He's "disappointed" because, darn it, it's a "shame." Well, well. Hope the voters of the 30th Senate District find themselves 'disappointed' enough with Link next time around to boot him (if he's still on the scene). Meanwhile, Link continues to push his pet project for a Waukegan casino for all he's worth. Besides Link and the mayor of Waukegan, does anyone else really want this project?

OTHER STUFF: I'm sure the Blago scandal will continue to unfold, and have a toxic effect on many democrats statewide, especially if "Senate Candidate #5" is the subject of a serious bribery investigation. We all thought Blago would go down eventually, but the sheer craziness of the senate seat scandal, coupled with the national profile of the issue due to the fact it was Obama's seat, gives this story a much greater importance than it otherwise could have had. It made the front page of the Wall Street Journal, for cat's sake, plus enjoying wall-to-wall coverage on many manjor news outlets.

Look for 2010 to be a much better year for the Illinois GOP than we otherwise might have thought, if only they can stop stabbing each other in the back long enough to take advantage of this moment in history.

I promised myself I'd let the Kirk senate thing go for now, but what if he did win a special election? Would the GOP have any hope of holding on to the 10th District? If it does get redistricted out in 2012, would it would be worth gearing up for a huge fight? Who could carry the banner for the GOP? I'm already starting to hear some names being floated. How about Keith Gray, who ran against Terry Link?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Could Mark Kirk (IL-10) Snatch Obama's Senate Seat in a Special Election? (UPDATED x4 With Kirk's Statement of Interest)

In the wake of yesterday's bombshell arrest of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, folks on some of the Obama blogs and others are buzzing about whether a special election to fill the seat, which is being pushed by Senator Dick Durbin and others, might give moderate 10th District Congressman Republican Mark Kirk a window to successfully run against a crowded Dem field. Kirk would have to move quickly and hit the ground running, but no doubt would be supported by the national GOP who would see this as a hugely important psychological victory and momentum builder going into the 2010 mid-term elections.

Politico had this to say:

A well-connected GOP operative with ties to Illinois said Republican Rep. Mark Kirk is likely to consider running. Operatives from both parties agree Kirk would be a strong candidate.

Running from a North Shore House seat, Kirk would have political strength in the Chicago suburbs, said the operative. And having been challenged in consecutive cycles, he’s a formidable fundraiser, raising over $5 million for his House seat this cycle.

A naval officer, Kirk has a clean image with no ties to Springfield or the Chicago political machine.


Of course, the icing on the cake of all of this is that Kirk would not have to give up his congressional seat to run, which is not the case if he ran for senate or governor in 2010. Kirk, of course, has been mentioned as a possible 2010 senate contender, here and elsewhere.

But, what are the chances the stars will line up on this? As we speculated yesterday, will the special election (if that even happens) be 'open' or Dem-only? I confess to have no idea how that would work--but I'm not sure anyone else knows more at this point, either. While normally, I believe a special election is the same as a general, just held at a special time (see here), I would not put it past the IL General Assembly (under solid Dem control) to try to craft the legislation such that it protects the seat for Dem candidates only, if that's possible.

If it's a open election, would there be a primary among the Dems with Kirk the presumptive GOP nominee? Or would it be open to anyone who could meet the requirements to run, which might mean that Kirk stands alone with a crowded Dem field... paving the way to a real chance for a win? Or are we getting WAY too far ahead of ourselves? The other GOP candidates with an eye on state-wide office might just decide that they ought to be sitting in DC rather than battle Lisa Madigan for governor in 2010.

It's fun to speculate, as we have done before here, but Blago's arrest (coupled with the controversy over filling Obama's senate seat) opens up whole new vistas on the Illinois political landscape.

UPDATED x1: The Washington Post looks at the political fall-out and the senate issue, and states that:

Kirk, who has held the North Shore 10th district since 2000, is, without question, Republicans' strongest potential candidate. Kirk has proven his vote-getting ability in a swing district over the past few cycles, has a decidedly moderate voting record, and is among the strongest fundraisers among House GOPers. (Kirk raised $5.5 million for his 2008 race.) Kirk's problem would be the Republican primary as his record on social issues is anathema to the party's base. But, will conservatives forgo a chance to reclaim the seat by working to oust Kirk in a primary? Time will tell.

UPDATED x2: Roll Call is reporting that Congressman Mark Kirk indicated that he would be interested in running if there is a special election.

UPDATED x3: CQPolitics has a Fox News interview transcript with Mark Kirk in which Kirk says that he expects that "Senate Candidate #5" will also be indicted because the allegations show an "attempted bribery." ABC News is reporting that "Senate Candidate #5" is Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

UPDATED x4: Evening news wrap-up re Mark Kirk's possible run for Senate: Daily Herald, News-Sun and The Hotline. The liberals are truly scared that Kirk could cost them this (formerly) guaranteed Dem senate seat.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lake County Dems Finally Throw Blagojevich Under the Bus (UPDATED x6)

Well, by now you've heard that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald filed criminal charges against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on a number of allegations, not the least of which is to literally sell for campaign contributions (or otherwise trade for personal or political gain) the appointment to Barack Obama's vacated senate seat. They're slicing and dicing this incredible story over at Capitol Fax Blog, so I would encourage you to go over there for the in-depth look and lots of scoops on what this all means. Here's a link to the complaint. It's a must-read.

On the micro-level here in Lake County, we'd like to note that local Dems wasted no time in throwing Blago under the bus. More here. But, not so fast. Where was Terry Link, Susan Garrett and Michael Bond when they were debating amendment of the state constitution to allow for a recall provision? Oh, yeah, I believe they were against that. Where was Kathy Ryg or Karen May when the state house was talking about potential impeachment proceedings? Oh yeah, they didn't speak out and, lo, nothing happened. Of course, when Blago was handing out state grants, where were our guys? Oh, yeah, they had their hands out. When Blago ran for re-election, who did they support?

Where was ANYBODY on the Democratic side of the aisle when the stories of the federal subpoenas and probes into Blago's alleged pay-to-play activities were hitting the papers? Any public statements? Any displays of outrage? Nothing, Nada, ZIPPO.

It's a very sad day for Illinois politics, but I have to say that if Lake County voters let our local Democratic office holders off the hook for never lifting a finger or raising a voice in opposition to this madman, but NOW are calling for his resignation, impeachment or other action, let's remember whose party this governor belongs to, and who has supported him for the last six years.

Elephants never forget.

UPDATE: Well, if there was any doubt that Illinois was not THE most corrupt state in the nation, we are now the laughingstock, that's for sure. Check out the story on the eBay and other online gags that are cropping up, including sale of Obama's senate seat and a 'wish list' (including the movie "Prison Break" ) for Blago. When I checked, the actual posts on eBay and Amazon had already been taken down, but the news article is good for a chuckle.

I'm sure Barack Obama must be very proud of the state he cleaned up before he left for D.C. Maybe that trip to Kenya to speak on corruption in government could have been obviated by looking a little closer to home...

UPDATE x2: JUST FOR FUN: Watch them sweat over at progressillinois.com, which is sponsored by SEIU, and which union was referenced in the Blago complaint. Fun, fun, fun.

UPDATE x3: Anne has some good stuff going on at BackyardConservative. Check it out.

UPDATE x4: WOULD MARK KIRK RUN IN A SPECIAL ELECTION?: Crain's mentions Mark Kirk as a possible candidate for the GOP in a special election, if one is called for filling the Obama seat. But, would the special election be open? Or Dems only? Would Kirk run as a Dem if that's what it takes? Could he? Would he? With a mouse? In a house? In a box? With a fox?

Sorry, it's been that kind of a day.... Get ready for any and all wacky theories and issues coming out from lots and lots of people who really don't know jack...

UPDATE x5: MORE NATIONAL LAUGHS AT ILLINOIS' EXPENSE: Well, both Letterman and Leno mentioned Blago's arrest in their monologues tonight, although the jokes were short and fairly unfunny, and it was clear that neither comedian really knew what to do with this, since Chicago is just so... not New York or LA. Better get used to understanding the quirky Midwest, though, if you want to survive at least 4 years of Obama and have some material for your show, gents...

UPDATE #6: LET'S COMPARE APPLES TO APPLES: Ellen of the Tenth actually did acknowledge the Blago scandal tonight, but she advises Dems not to feel too bad about 'one bad apple' (it would just be so... unfair... to paint other Dems with Blago's actions, don't ya know?), and quickly reminds her readers that everything including the war, the economy, death and taxes is all the Republicans' fault. You could let her know how you feel about this, but she doesn't accept comments on her blog anymore. Gee, I wonder why...?

Monday, December 8, 2008

IL-10: A Look Back at Some Kirk-Seals Statistics, With a Look Ahead to 2010

It was a bit of a slow week in local politics this past week, although it seems like the Lake County Dems (with State Senator Michael Bond seemingly moving chess pieces from the shadowy background) are focusing on local township and municipal races for the Spring 2009 elections. I'm working on something on that.

But in the meantime, I'd thought I'd run past you a few election statistics from the Kirk-Seals race. Dan Seals himself has been pretty silent lately, as a far as I can tell. If he is trying to work the behind-the-scenes with the governor to get appointed to Barack Obama's vacated senate seat, he's doing a very stealthy job, and he seems to have fallen off even the dark-horse list in most MSM news accounts. And senior senator Dick Durbin seems focused on pushing Tammy Duckworth, and Seals' mentor, Congresswoman Jan Schakowski is pushing herself. But in case Seals is thinking of sticking around to make yet another run for the 10th District (most likely in hopes that Mark Kirk decides to run for a different officer), Seals ought to look at the numbers.

First, in a massively "Obama" year, Mark Kirk increased his win over Seals from 2006 by vote totals. There were a lot more voters this time, given the presidential race, with 200,981 votes cast in 2006, compared with 287,834 in 2008. Seals got 93,680 in 2006, and 136,551 in 2008. Conversely, Kirk got 107,301 in 2006, and 151,283 in 2008. Thus, the win differential was 13,621 in 2006, compared to 14, 732 in 2008.

Kirk did lose a slight amount of ground percentage-wise, but given the fact that a number of moderate Republicans lost their seats even though less people in their districts voted for Obama than in the 10th District, means that Kirk's targeted message to ticket-splitters made all of the difference. Once again, brains beat out Seals' out-of-district money and campaign army imported from places as far away as Australia.

Kirk got clobbered in the places you would expect, like Waukegan, where TA hears that the Lake County Dems were telling people on the street that if they did not cast a straight "D" ballot, their vote for Obama would not count. Typical Terry Link-style politics, I'm afraid. Kirk made some surprising gains in some townships though, such as Moraine (+ 6.08%), West Deerfield (+ 5.06%), Northfield (+ 1.65%), and New Trier (+ 8.11%).

And, in a testament to Kirk's incredible popularity, he outperformed Obama in some townships, even though Obama beat McCain. In Libertyville township, for example, Obama got 10,823 votes, while McCain got 9,863. Kirk, though, got a whopping 12,794, beating Obama himself by almost 2,000 votes (and McCain by almost 3,000), even though Obama beat McCain by 960 votes (Seals, by comparison to Kirk got 7,732 votes to Kirk's 12,794 in Libertyville Township).

All in all, Kirk lost ground to Seals on a percentage basis by - 1.45% in Lake County and - 0.22% in Cook County, for a total of - 0.83% District-wide. Given the fact that the Seals camp spent about $6 million (counting outside groups) against Kirk, and bussed in the precinct workers like last time, Team Kirk did themselves proud. A lot of credit goes to the Kirk fundraising team, who set records in almost every quarter, and allowed Kirk to compete against a onslaught of outside Dem money. Sorry, DCCC, better luck next time in some other district.

It'll be interesting to see what Lauren Beth Gash does now. Considering that Dan Seals can't even get mentioned on Ellen Beth Gill's blog, I wonder if he would even have any support among the Dems if he were to run again. And, I haven't heard much out of Jay Footlik, but it's a just a tad early yet. We won't have much longer to wait, though. After the senate seat mess gets resolved, and we get past the holidays, look for Dem hopefuls to start floating trial balloons among Dem donors and party officials to see if they might have a chance to corner the market on the Dem support.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mark Kirk to President Bush: No Pardon for George Ryan (UPDATED)

I was trying to avoid getting dragged into the whole issue of Dick Durbin's bizzarro move to appeal to President Bush for commutation of convicted former Governor George Ryan's prison sentence for corruption, but it appears we now have a 10th District connection. The Pioneer Press reports this afternoon that Congressman Mark Kirk sent a letter to President Bush opposing any pardon or reduction in Ryan's sentence.

"George Ryan betrayed the public trust, was convicted beyond the shadow of a doubt by a jury of his peers and lost all of his appeals," Kirk wrote. "His crimes struck at the fabric of our democracy and invited a new wave of public corruption in Illinois." "Today, as U.S. Attorney (Pat) Fitzgerald investigates and prosecutes further allegations of public corruption in Springfield, I urge you not to embolden the corrupt and criminal by pardoning or commuting George Ryan's sentence."

If you want more coverage of this wacky move by Durbin, head over to Capitol Fax Blog, where they've been discussing it with an enthusiasm that I just cannot seem to muster. He's gone, he should stay there, he deserves no special treatment. End of story.

I can't help but wonder why, if Durbin felt so strongly about this, didn't he raise it as an issue during his recent election campaign? Given his huge win, I don't know that the end result might have been any different, but it would have made for a delightful issue, don't ya think?

UPDATED: Here's an article from the Chicago Tribune.

Lake County Board Wakes Up to New Partisan Reality

After years of many Lake County Board members playing go-along-to-get-along with their fellow Democratic Board members, it appears that as a result of the tactics used by the Lake County Dems in the recent election, the GOP members of the Board appear to have finally realized that they are in the cross-hairs.

Not all GOP Board members have had a history of playing footsie with the Dems. And I don't mean to suggest that the good of the county has to play second fiddle to partisan politics--far from it, in fact. The Lake County Board has historically been fairly free of partisan bickering, but that's largely because the Dems were pretty much powerless, being a small minority. Now, thanks to pulling within a few votes of gaining the majority, the Dems find themselves on the losing end of a partisan war, with Board member Angelo Kyle losing his vice-president's seat on the Forest Preserve Board (by law, the members of the Lake County Board and the Forest Board are the same, they just juggle the officer positions around). State Rep. Eddie Washington is probably laughing somewhere at Kyle's misfortune.

Suzi Schmidt was re-elected unanimously as County Chairman (no opponent), and my buddy David Stolman was elected vice-chairman. Interestingly, Stolman was one of the few county board incumbents who took the Dem challengers to task for misleading campaign literature that made unsubstantiated claims of 'sweeheart deals' and corruption in the county, and misstated the county board's role and involvement in setting property tax levels. Stolman, who pushed back, won his election by a comfortable margin, but other some other long-time GOP board members who did not take a strong stand against the Dem tactics did not return. We should note that the County Board carnage might have been even worse had Dan Venturi and the Lake County GOP not managed to knock a few would-be Dem opponents off the ballot through nomination challenges.

The writing now appears to be on the wall for the GOP members of the County Board. Terry Link and Michael Bond came for you last election, and there are now four less of you. They are coming again, especially Bond, who is up for re-election and seems to have taken the role of candidate recruiting director for the Lake County Dems. Even Suzi Schmidt, who is friends with Terry Link's wife, seems to have figured out that she is not immune from the Dem onslaught, and spent a lot of time this last election campaigning for Linda Pedersen of Antioch (who won the seat vacated by Judy Martini). Schmidt will have to do even more this next election to preserve her majority and her chairmanship, but I think she and the rest of the GOP are up to the task, now that reality has set in.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Daily Kos Declares "Kirk or Bust" For IL GOP in 2010 Governor's Race

"Brownsox" (hey, it's better than "brown stain" or something like that, I guess) over at Daily Kos declares that as far as the IL GOP bench for winning the governor's mansion, it "sure looks like Kirk or bust." It's a bit of a back-handed compliment, considering that blog's view of the IL GOP, but they are probably correct that Kirk seems to be one of the few Illinois GOP politicians that has figured out how to field a winning team, and then some, considering Kirk fought off a six million dollar national onslaught by a candidate back for a second try, and still wiped the floor with his opponent in a district that voted for both Kerry and Obama. Could Kirk win state-wide against the likes of Lisa Madigan or Dan Hynes (or even, I suppose, Blago, if the fates somehow smile on him)? Dunno, to tell the truth.

So, I don't know how much to read into this, considering the source, and considering that I know that Kirk has not made any irrevocable decisions (yet). But while I'd be happy to support Mark in whatever he does, I fear for what that would mean for the 10th District. Heck, that would be reason enough for even Dan Seals to stick around and declare yet a third try, in the desperate hope he'd be running against an essentially empty seat in a Dem district, considering I have no idea who the GOP could field that would have a chance of stepping into Mark's shoes.

TA's not available, so we'll have to look elsewhere if need be.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Congressional and Lake County Election Prognostications to Aid (or Ruin) Turkey Digestion

Continuing our Thanksgiving weekend tradition, now that we've had a chance to recover somewhat from the recent election, and also since we have digested yesterday's scrumptious turkey & fixin's, we offer a few thoughts on the next election cycle for further digestion and comment. And, as many people are aware, the specter of the next redistricting looms over everything... and while it won't really affect the 2010 cycle, the 2012 political landscape may be unrecognizable in some areas compared to today...

10th District: We've already covered this in some detail, but suffice it to say that the Democrats threw everything they had at five-term incumbent Congressman Mark Kirk, and his two-time loser challenger, Dan Seals, did not even do as well as he did against Kirk in 2006, despite Obama-mania. That means that Seals is quite unlikely to try to make a third appearance; if he does, he will be the subject of abject scorn and will likely face a primary challenger. Is Jay Footlik still interested in the 10th, by chance? Some commentors have suggested that given his work as a foreign lobbyist, that's pretty much the kiss of death, but I'm not so sure. I imagine, though, that the 0-for-5, bitter, scorned and generally pissed-off former candidate Lauren Beth Gash, is already looking elsewhere for someone, anyone, who she can promote to finally beat Mark. All of this is assuming, of course, that Kirk does not answer the siren's call of running for either Senate (against the eventual appointee to Barack Obama's vacated seat) or for governor.

Redistricting Effect?-> Will the 10th cease to exist in 2012? We expect to lose one Congressional seat in Illinois due to the anticipated results of the 2010 census. It may be that the 10th District continues, but additional democratic voters are added from adjoining districts to try to further enable the dems to finally pick off this Dem-leaning district.

8th District: TA hears that Steve Greenberg is not running again, but one never knows. Melissa Bean has moderated to fit her district, which in turn has moderated towards the center (from a once solid-GOP district when Phil Crane held the seat). The GOP needs to find a candidate now, preferably a woman, and needs to stop considering only self-funders, who (based on candidates like Ozinga and Oberweis) often seem to prove that deep pockets do not an electable candidate make.

6th District: Peter Roskam seems now well-entrenched in Henry Hyde's former district, but TA hears the Dem plan may be to combine Roskam's and Judy Biggert's district, and eliminate one GOP congressional seat that way.

Lake County Board: State Senator and evil Dem chessmaster Terry Link did a good job in orchestrating a changeover in four county board seats, which leaves the GOP with a bare majority on the county board. It's a shame they used lies and dirty politics to do it, but that's the Link machine for you. Look for the Dems, led by senator Michael Bond, to come loaded for bear to try pick up at least two more seats to give them a majority on the county board.

State Senate Races: Michael Bond has a gigantic target on his back, but is well-funded and should have lots of resources to fend off the inevitable assault. Who will the GOP candidate be? Look for interest from former Lake County Board member Randy Whitmore, Lake Villa Township supervisor (and GOP county chairman) Daniel Venturi, and maybe even County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt, to consider a run. Senator Terry Link is not up this cycle, but look for hard-working GOP candidate Keith Gray to lay the groundwork for another run. There is always the possibility that Link might retire (perhaps take a job or post offered by Obama?) and appoint someone like State Rep. Kathy Ryg, to the post, which (I believe) would trigger an early election for the seat in 2010, but that's not likely until Link achieves his longtime goal of placing that casino in Waukegan. Recent victor Dan Duffy has no race this cycle, of course, but look for Dan to take a party leadership role both in Springfield and back home in Lake County.

State Representatives: Look for most GOP incumbents to do fine, but not without a lot of hard work and attention to their campaigns. Sid Mathias, Mark Beaubien, Ed Sullivan, and Jo Ann Osmond should all do fine, although some had closer races than others. My friend Sandy Cole will be targeted once again by her former would-be opponent Terry Hall, who was bounced from the ballot last time around due to deficient nomination papers, so that will be a race to watch. Watch for rookie Dan Sugrue to make another run against Dem Kathy Ryg. Sugrue will be better funded, have more name recognition, and lots more support from the Lake County GOP, which was spread rather thin in their battle against the Obama onslaught last cycle (but still largely successful), but will pay a lot more attention to this race this time around. Kathy, you've been warned.

County Offices: The incomparable County Clerk Willard Helander will have a giant target on her back, despite her universal accolades for the excellent job she does in running her office. The GOP will not let her be beaten. County Treasurer Bob Skidmore is also up for election, but should be fine. The interesting race to watch will be the sheriff, with Dem incumbent Mark Curran having massively annoyed the Dem machine by endorsing Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller (who won a close election). Will Curran face a primary opponent? Terry Link isn't afraid of promoting primary battles amongst Dems, as evidenced by the Eddie Washington/Angelo Kyle primary last time around.

GOP Party Leadership: I don't think there will be much changeover in local leadership, so look (and hope for) for continued and improved cooperation among the various Lake County GOP groups, including the Lake County Republican Central Committee, the Lake County Republican Federation, and the Republican Assembly of Lake County, and the various candidates and office-holders, as well as better coordination with the State Party, as many of the boots-on-the-ground party members seem to have finally figured out we must all hang together, or the Obama democrats will hang us all separately.


So, there's a couple thoughts to think about over your yummy turkey leftovers. Please add your own thoughts and comments, and let's look forward to some real fun in the coming months.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Credited by the Tribune for Mark Kirk's Idea to Starve Iran of Gasoline


I hope this isn't part of a larger disturbing trend of my former favorite newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, to recast every good idea that Barack Obama appropriates as his own, but in today's editorial, the Tribune appears to credit the President-elect (you know, they guy with the snappy podium signs to remind of us of who he is?) with the idea to apply pressure to Iran to give up the quest for nukes by cutting off its gasoline imports.

Ignored by the Tribune is that this idea has been around for quite a while, at least since June 2007, when our own 10th District Congressman supported the notion in a bi-partisan bill aimed at coming up with a real, practical solution to carry the no-nukes message to Iran in a way they would understand. The House "Iran Working Group" (which Kirk helped organize) has been mulling this idea for some time now, it seems. Despite being an oil-rich nation, Iran imports nearly half the gasoline it uses, and this is a targeted approaching to hitting them where it hurts, in the gas tank. We know how that feels.

I'm not 100% sure if Mark Kirk was the very first person to come up with the idea, but it seems to me he was promoting this months before Barack Obama ever adopted it. I do hope that the Tribune's staff cuts and new look are not also a harbinger of poor fact-checking and an editorial bias toward giving Obama credit for everything that comes along, whether deserved or not. The Main Stream Media already has enough problems without adopting a "dear leader" mentality where we have to give thanks to our new president when the sun comes up in the morning and sets at night.

Settle in folks, this could be a long couple of years.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mark Kirk, Peter Roskam Address the Economy (UPDATED); Blago and Durbin Chat But No Senate Pick Yet

Yesterday, Congressmen Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam held a meeting downtown at the Dirksen federal building to discuss 'out-of-the-box' ideas for stabilizing and stimulating the economy, with an emphasis on private enterprise, new energy initiatives and lower taxes. Economic experts and leaders like Doug Whitley of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce also attended.

President-elect Obama's emerging economic plan seems to be centered on an FDR-style make-work program, and while the nation could certainly use a lot of attention on its crumbling infrastructure, I've always been of the opinion that its the private sector, not the government, that creates sustainable jobs and really grows the economy. Thoughts?

UPDATED: Fox News has some Mark Kirk video on his economic ideas. Check it out.

Also, Dick Durbin finally got an audience to discuss Obama's U.S. Senate replacement with Governor Blagojevich, but it wasn't exactly the sit-down summit I would have imagined Durbin would have liked. Rather, the AP is reporting that Durbin got 15 minutes on the phone with Blago. Reportedly, Durbin went through a long list of names with the guv, but no leaks as to which names were on and off. It's probably a safe bet that Tammy Duckworth's name was on that list, but no word as to whether Dan Seals was discussed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Terry Link Gets Called By Barack, But Will He Get the Call? (UPDATED)

State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) showed up every once in a while in the news during the past election, as reporters desperate for anything to report on Barack Obama's past (which was mysteriously shrouded during the campaign) dredged up many Illinois legislators in hope of getting some insight into what an Obama presidency might be like. One of those people who made the news every so often with a folksy quote about Obama's poker-playing or golfing ability was Link. Link was quoted in the Washington Post about getting a recent call from Obama on Link's cell phone, but I've always wondered if Link's relationship with Obama was really that tight, and perhaps if so, maybe a Washington job could be in the works.

Given Link's recent embarrassing defeat for state senate president (he got only two other votes besides his own, before the final vote was made unanimously for Cullerton), he might not have much influence in the new senate (UPDATED: Capitol Fax reports this morning that Link "likely" will keep his senate leadership spot but doesn't provide any details). But, he probably will not rest until Waukegan gets a riverboat casino. Link won re-election handily over GOP newcomer Keith Gray, who ran a hard-fought campaign. (I have to say that Link does so well in his district, he couldn't do any better than if he programmed the damn voting machines himself).

Of course, we still have the matter of a few indicted campaign workers to deal with, as well as some allegations of campaign finance improprieties. But, it may be that the best hope for the Lake County GOP is to get Link sent off to Washington. Maybe Barack will do us a favor and take Link to D.C. so he can do for the nation what he's done for Lake County....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Durbin Snubbed by Blagojevich in Senate Appointment Process; Dan Seals Drops Out of Sight? (UPDATED)

The Daily Herald reports today that Governor Blagojevich began holding interviews with possible candidates to be appointed by him to fill the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by Barack Obama. According to the Herald, 9th District Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky snagged an interview this week (as did Congressmen Danny Davis and Luis Gutierrez), but Senator Dick Durbin, who has been repeatedly trying to get an audience with Blago to talk about possible replacements, continues to be ignored by the Guv.

As we've been discussing here recently, some have raised two-time 10th District congressional wanna-be Dan Seals as an outside-chance replacement for the Obama seat.

Although Seals was mentioned on a few lists early on, we have not seen his name raised as a serious candidate recently, and if Durbin (who might be expected to support Seals, as Durbin did extensively in the 10th District race against Mark Kirk) can't even get in to see Blago, it seems like Seals would have few cheerleaders in his corner that could influence Blago. Certainly Schakowsky, who recruited Seals in the first place, is not going to promote Seals over herself. Although if Jan was appointed by Blago, that would clear the way for a special election in the 9th District, where Seals actually lives (not that it matters to him), so maybe Dan could spend another few months covering up being unemployed by saying that he's running for Congress once again.

Wonder if Seals' supporters are ever going to wise up?

BTW, 10th Dems, who's the next victim you're going to send up against Mark Kirk?

UPDATED: A group of African-American ministers is trying to get Blago's attention for the idea that Obama's Senate replacement ought to be an African-American. JJJ and Danny Davis seem to be favored by the group, perhaps, although they are reluctant to name names, and Emil Jones is disfavored. CBS-2's Derrick Blakely reports that Durbin is gunning to push Tammy Duckworth, if he can get an audience with Blago. Seals' name is nowhere to be seen.

Interestingly, the CBS-2 piece suggests that the successor chosen by Blago would have a huge leg up in the next election, while many of the folks over at Capitol Fax Blog seem to think that whoever is picked will actually be tainted by the 'Blago curse' and actually will be at a disadvantage.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chris Radogno In For State Senate Minority Leader; Cullerton for Dems, Link a Loser (!)


This may be the first sign of a sea change for the Illinois Republicans as Senator Christine Radogno of Lemont was selected last night as the Senate Republicans new minority leader (and the first woman to hold the post), replacing my friend Frank Watson of Greenville, who left the post after a recent minor stroke. I've met Radogno on many occasions (often during her run for State Treasurer a few years back), as she is a frequent visitor to Lake County and has spoken at a number of GOP events. She is a smart, balanced senator with an acumen for budget issues, and is a social moderate, which should help bridge some gaps in the IL GOP, if the ultra-right wingers will give her a chance.

Meanwhile, the Dems elected Senator John Cullerton as their majority leader, with our 30th District State Senator Terry Link getting only 3 votes for himself. I believe it was Link voting for himself, his senate henchman Michael Bond, and one other senator that I'm pretty sure was NOT Susan Garrett, who reportedly can't stand Link. I'll check on that later this morning.

Radogno's pick gives me some optimism this morning that the IL GOP may be taking itself in a new direction, which almost everyone agrees in necessary. Whether they will agree that this is the right direction may portend the future for our party. Based on some of the comments over at conservative blog Illinois Review, it looks like not everyone agrees, but I can tell you that if this party doesn't start coming together, we're cooked.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The First Time I've Felt Sorry for Obama

When you run for President, you (and more than ever, your family) make a huge sacrifice in your time, health, privacy, sanity (perhaps) and other personal things. In fact, most of your personal life goes right out the window. No one makes anyone run for President, however, so up till now my sympathy for President-elect Obama has been limited. But, now, I can feel his pain.

He may have to give up the "crackberry".

The reason for this, of course, is that such records could be subject to subpoena in litigation, which essentially ends any expectation of privacy for such communications.

We all have different work habits, but much of my work consists of e-mailing to clients with status updates, otherwise moving the ball forward on a case, or generating and then PDF-ing a document, and I probably do about half of it on my Blackberry while I'm traveling, on the train, or (shame) in the car. In fact, only yesterday, the trackball on my BB broke, and you can't scroll "up" anymore. It threw me off the entire day. Since I worked from home yesterday, I have already alerted the IT team at the office that they need to be ready with a new unit for me when I walk in, stat.

There may be some other occasions in the next four years where I may have something in common with the new President, but for now, since guns and religion are clearly not on his list, if I ever meet Obama in person in a receiving line somewhere, I'll plan to chat about gadgets, since it's unlikely we'll agree on anything else.

Monday, November 17, 2008

If You Like Low Gas Prices, Thank Congressman Mark Kirk


Yes, that's right, today's low gas prices are due solely to the efforts of our great Congressman Mark Kirk... at least, they are if you follow the logic of his former two-time opponent and 9th District resident, Dan Seals.

You see, back in May, as you may recall, Dan Seals pulled an ill-advised and frankly stupid publicity stunt in Lincolnshire up here in Lake County, where he advertised that he would hand out free gas, in the sense that he would make up the difference between the high gas prices at that time (although they would get still higher as the year progressed) and the price when Congressman Mark Kirk took office back in 2001. That price was $1.85. As TA readers know, the stunt caused a massive traffic jam at lunchtime, only 50 people got discounted gas, Dan Seals got a $2,000 bill from the Lincolnshire police, and the Mayor of Lincolnshire endorsed Mark Kirk shortly thereafter.

Anyway, my point is that now that gas prices have fallen off a cliff, if you bought into Dan Seals' theory last May that it was all Mark Kirk's fault that gas prices had skyrocketed (instead of attributing the rise in prices to things like... global expansion... market forces... speculation in the oil markets... you know, actual common-sense reasons), now you can thank Mark Kirk for lowering them.

Dan, if you're reading, this is one reason why you lost. People in the 10th District were too smart to buy into your populist crap that everything was Mark Kirk's fault and if we ran him out of office and installed you instead, everything would go back to the salad days. Well, it wasn't Kirk's "fault" back then, any more than gas lower prices are his "fault" now.

Dan, you were, and are, an empty suit, buddy. Keep dreaming about gainful employment in the Senate, because the dream will be alive only for a few more weeks, and then it's back to the want-ads.

Friday, November 14, 2008

50,000 Hits and Rolling

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"50,000"
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Just wanted to let everyone know that we passed the 50,000 hit mark early this morning. As we've said before, for some blogs, 50K is nothing, but considering our fairly narrow focus, to get to that level in slightly over one year is something I'm proud of. So, thanks for reading, and hats off to you, the readers -- you guys make this the best political blog on the North Shore.