Saturday, August 22, 2009

Much Intrigue Behind the Scenes in the 59th District: Will Mark Peterson, Lisa Stone, or Others Step Up?; Plus U.S. Senate Update (UPDATED)

In the wake of the recent announcement by popular State Representative Kathy Ryg that she would resign to take the job of President of Voices for Illinois Children, potential candidates on both sides of the aisle started making moves, some behind the scenes and some a bit more public.

The immediate issue, of course, is that the Lake County Democrats need to appoint a replacement to serve the unexpired portion of Ryg's two year term, which is up for election next November and for which petitions already are being circulated (why does it seem like it's always election season for something in Illinois?). Under the system used by the Dems, State Senator and Lake County Dem Chairman Terry Link can basically make a unilateral decision on a replacement. Link, of course, recently announced that he would be running for Lt. Governor in 2010 (his senate seat is not up for re-election until 2012). [See some State Fair video of Link here, courtesy of Capitol Fax. He didn't look too dynamic to me...]

The front-runner for the Ryg appointment may well be Buffalo Grove mayor Elliot Hartstein, who has already taken the bull by the horns and announced that he will run for Ryg's seat, and would very much like to be appointed by Link. TA doesn't know Hartstein well, but understands that he has a close relationship with Link. While I initially thought that Hartstein's very public and loudly announced move was meant to put Link in a bit of a political box, maybe this has all been worked out in advance. Given the criticism the Dems recently gave Lake County Board Chairwoman and State Senate candidate Suzi Schmidt for supposedly not being open about her recent appointment decisions of two replacement county board members, the Dems will take care to make it at least appear that the fix isn't already in, if they are smart.

While Hartstein is the only new candidate to officially surface, TA hears on the street that several others are seriously considering throwing in. On the Republican side, banker Mark Peterson is supposedly seriously considering a run. Peterson is the son of recently-retired and long time Senator Bill Peterson and has not previously run for office. He is the President of Business Development for Bridgeview Bank Group. Dad Bill Peterson is still Vernon Township Supervisor and the last TA heard, is still sitting on a lot of cash in his campaign account, so if Mark P. decides to enter the race, his father's political ties and money will make him a serious primary contender against current front runner and Green Oaks attorney Dan Sugrue. TA hears that Peterson's talk of running has already caused a few local politicos to hold off on offering endorsements and support to Sugrue, so this is a significant development.

Another name heard on the street is Buffalo Grove trustee Lisa Stone (what is it with Buffalo Grove?). Stone is known as a feisty activist, whom Hartstein has called a "smart, independent thinker," who is "tenacious" and "relentless." Look here for Stone's village trustee website, which is pretty darn impressive for a local candidate. State Rep. Sid Mathias and County Board Member David Stolman were Stone's honorary campaign chairmen and resoundingly endorsed her candidacy for trustee.

Interestingly, a few weeks back, TA seemed to be getting a lot of hits on the Blog by people searching for "Lisa Stone, Congress". A 10th Congressional District candidacy obviously did not evolve (at least not yet, there's still some time left...), but it seems like the 59th District events have opened up a new vista for Stone, perhaps.

The question, though, is whether Stone would run as a Republican or a Democrat. TA hears from a very reliable source that Stone is considering running under the GOP banner, although her voting record suggests a Dem voting history. Given the likelihood that Hartstein will get the nod from Terry Link, and has said he will run regardless, Stone would have a decent chance of having to battle her mayor in either the Dem primary or the general election, should she and Hartstein win the respective nominations of the two parties. On the other hand, maybe this would be an opening for Stone to take over as mayor of Buffalo Grove, but I don't have much of a handle on the local scene down there, so I don't really know if that's where this may be headed. (UPDATED 08/24/09 7:00 a.m.: there were a few political events over the weekend, notably the conservative Republican Assembly of Lake County picnic, but no sign of Mark Peterson making the rounds. That may not be a big shock, however, since #1) the folks at the RALC picnic are Dan Sugrue's bread and butter and about the last place M. Peterson would be expected to make his public debut, and #2), if M. Peterson does get in the race, the initial focus will be on a lot of back-channel maneuvering by dad Bill Peterson to line up support before Mark hits the street.)

U.S. SENATE UPDATE: This week, a poll released by Rasmussen had Mark Kirk leading the front-running Dem contender, Alexi Giannoulias. This apparently spooked the Dems so much that they started casting around for a better candidate (TA hears that this has been going on for some time, actually) and may have identified Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart as a possibility. Just this morning, however, Michael Sneed at the Sun-Times claims that a new Dem poll shows Giannoulias leading Kirk with a bigger lead than what the other poll supposedly showed Kirk having over Alexi. Upshot, there's still a lot of time for polling and forming voter opinions, so don't get too wrapped up in all this too much, too soon, is TA's advice.

Meanwhile, in addition to declared candidates downstate Judge Donald Lowery, minister Eric Wallace, Internet pundit and serial litigator Andy Martin, newcomer and attorney/developer Patrick Hughes threw in for the Senate race.

Hughes' entry could be interesting. I have some inside knowledge of Pat, who was a law school classmate of mine at DePaul Law School in the early 90's. Pat is a smart, articulate guy, and may become the darling of the right-to-life, conservative wing of the party. But with numerous candidates now vying for what faction of anti-Kirk vote exists in the party, whether any of these folks pose a serious threat is questionable.

Pat has no political experience and will be learning as he goes. I already noticed that some of his campaign literature seemed to be lacking the proper funding disclosures, although his website appears to get it right. Pat also apparently failed to kiss the ring of conservative blog Illinois Review before announcing, which they didn't appreciate. So, it seems clear that rookie mistakes will be made along the way.

Neither of us were known as the hardest workers back in law school, so given that Pat isn't in for a cakewalk to first capture the lion's share of the conservative vote (I doubt either Wallace or Martin are going down without a fight), and THEN he must confront Kirk's mainstream popularity (and I expect Kirk will have enough money to be on TV statewide for the Feb. primary), we'll see how long Pat keeps interested in this little flight of fancy.

UPDATED 08/24/09 7:00 a.m.: Here's a note from Dennis Byrne talking about Mark Kirk's planned townhall on healthcare, where he expects the Obama health care program supporters to be bussed in from all over. The secret is, though, that Kirk has faced this kind of artificial campaigning before and should take it in stride.


Anonymous said...

The last time the moderates had a serious candidate for senate-didrickson in 1998 she faltered because Peter Fitzgerald was a force who had run and won tough fights, and was clearly a champ in the making. Hughes doesn't have his money or experience. Mark has nothing to worry about, the conservative attacks strengthen him with moderates. Good situation.

Coulson has a much better chance of not making it to a general.

On wttw last night they said valerie jarrett is being urged to come home, partially because mark is off to a great start and alexi is a twerp. Knowing d.c., the burnout factor is pretty high there, and I'm sure the administrations failure of health care is going to cost some scalps. I could see her coming back using the seat as an excuse.


Anonymous said...

As mayor of the district’s largest municipality, Hartstein is a good choice. He may be a Democrat, but has good relationships with Sid Mathias and David Stollman. If he can be independent of Mike Madigan, he will be a good representative.

Anonymous said...

I live in Buffalo Grove and am a staunch Republican.

I really have no idea why so many influential people from both parties endorsed Lisa Stone for Trustee (which probably caused me to cast a vote for her), but they, especially Hartstein may really be regretting it now.

Based on some local news articles and watching bits of the board meetings on Public Access, she has been acting pretty crazy now that she is in office.

Particularly, she has been opposed to an Off Track Betting license being granted to a BG establishment and proceeded to lobby against it through very untraditional methods.

She has been calling all sorts of village employees at their home after hours, which caused them to change the regulations for that.

The Board Meetings with her are about as tense as can be, as she is reluctant to ever stop speaking and there have been some serious fireworks, with Elliot Hartstein frequently having to basically tell her to shut up and stop talking.

I do not claim to know too much about the internal politics of the Board, but her behavior has seemed really embarassing.

While I do not live in the 59th District, if she runs for anything, I sort of hope it is not as a Republican.

Anonymous said...

A few points on today's post.
1. You left off a few names of candidates for US Senate. you need to include former Harvey Village board member John Arrington, Tom Kuna and Kathy Thomas who are also in the race.
2. I hope that you and your law school pal Pat Hughes had a class that taught you about appearances. Appearances, like how does it appear to voters and conservatives that the only conservative ties Pat Hughes has is paying off Paul Caprio from Family PAC and lobbyist Bob Van Denbosch. Hughes isnt a conservative he is trying to buy his way into the conservative movement. Hughes has a huge ego and is so fake, but you probably already know that being school pals.

Anonymous said...

There are actually nine candidates in race for US senate that were all at the Illinois State Fair:
Mark Kirk
John Arrington
Tom Kuna
Kathy Thomas
Judge Donald Lowery,
minister Eric Wallace,
Andy Martin,
Patrick Hughes
Robert Zadek

Team America said...

Anon 11:41- yes, you're right I left off Arrington by oversight; I seem to recall hearing his name before. The other two I hadn't heard of as floating candidacies- is that the Kathy Thomas I know that does municipal bond work?

Pat has a big ego and is fake? Well, let's just say that Pat is very comfortable with himself.

Team America said...

I'll add Zadek to the next update as well.

It will be interesting to see how many of these folks can actually get at least 5K in signatures to get on the ballot.

Anonymous said...

Kathy Thomas for US Senate is a project of John Parrot from central Illinois. Parrot held a forum looking for a conservative candidate and heard from Cisco Cotto, Don Lowery, Eric Wallace, John arrington, Pat Hughes and Robert Zadek.

None of the above candidates got folks excited so they got their own candidate to run and its Kathy Thomas.

Crazy4glf said...

I am pleasantly surprised at the amount of objective information provided by this post and by the lack of partisan slams, name-calling, and insults. It is about time.
One can only hope that this is a precedent-setting post from TA and those who reply.
One can only hope.

P.S. I've been called worse than less being than dynamic and still believe that I can be effective on behalf of the community. (I'm not Terry Link, so let's put any rumors to rest before they start. I am just referring to -myself- in the first person as someone involved in the life of my community.)

Crazy4glf said...

Er being less than dynamic.

Anonymous said...

Andy Martin is not a conservative, he’s pro-abortion and pro-gay “domestic partnerships” (not to mention he’s been outspoken against the Iraq War and the death penalty), so social conservatives have as much problem with Andy Martin as we do with Mark Kirk. Why the RINO wing of the party keeps claiming Martin is a “favorite of the wingnuts” I’ll never know. I guess they have no clue about his positions. Martin ran to the left of Topinka in 2006. Conservatives supported Bill Brady & Jim Oberweis in ’06, and Mike Psak in ’08. Most conservatives see Martin as an lawsuit crazy conspiracy theorist. Martin’s voter base is LaRouche types, not conservatives.

Cisco Cotto’s out of the race, so that leaves Don Lowery, Eric Wallace, John Arrington, Pat Hughes and Robert Zadek vying for the conservative vote. Wallace seems to be the best of these. I’m not sold on Pat Hughes. Supposedly he has a ton of money to compete but he’s an 11th hour entry into the Senate race, no past political experience, and very basic conservative platform. Eric Wallace is far more seasoned and articulate about Republican values, and he would drive the Dem nuts since the race-baiting wing of the Dem party declared that Senate seat is a “black seat” and Wallace is black (plus the odds on favorite is the Dem nominee with be Alexi and not Cheryl)

Of course the ideal scenario would be to have a “Conservative primary” to determine the best of the five conservatives to take on Kirk for the GOP nomination, but sadly this is unlikely to happen. More likely is the conservatives splitting the anti-Kirk vote five ways in Feb., and Kirk winning over divided conservative opposition ala fellow RINO Topinka did in 2006.

Kirk would have trouble in a one-on-one primary with a conservative , just like his clone Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. The majority of people who vote in GOP primaries are movement conservatives and the RINOs know this.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for a label for Andy Martin I think you'd best call him Insane. He's also a rabid anti-Semite, hates Israel, is a certifiable lunatic. If you saw and/or heard any of the candidates who appeared in Springfield this past week you'd have to agree that Mark Kirk stands head and shoulders above the others. He has an organization, he is credible, he knows how to raise the kind of campaign money required to get up, stay up on all media outlets. It's painful watching Andy Martin continue to rant and rave, but it's also refreshing that the MSM simply ignores this bloat.

Anonymous said...

Having 15 "conservatives" run against Mark is perfect for him the way having 12 millionaires run against him in 2000 was good for him as it allows him to have stories run like the one last week by ABC where he's getting hit by the right wing.

That sends the message to chicago area voters that are more moderate that he's an independent. And he doesn't have to worry about any of these guys actually beating him. Aaron Lawlor can start drafting the thank you notes.


Anonymous said...

ANON 6:09 Take your pick buddy. It's either conservative vs moderates OR Wingnuts vs RINOs.

You spew nasty - accept it back at you.

Anonymous said...

"Kirk would have trouble in a one-on-one primary with a conservative, just like his clone Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. The majority of people who vote in GOP primaries are movement conservatives and the RINOs know this."

A conservative with name recognition and a record perhaps. But a conservative who campaigns on an "I'm not Mark Kirk" and "I'm a true conservative and he isn't" is just jumping into a bottomless abyss. I see no conservative with any name recognition in the U.S. Senate GOP primary. Right now the only "anti-Kirk" candidate in the race with any name recognition is Andy Martin.

This leaves "movement Republicans" with a choice. Get on the Kirk train before it leaves the station, or get left behind and grouse about it.

Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

Some questions for Mark Peterson and other Republicans who are just now thinking about running for the 59th Illinois House now that Kathy Ryg has retired:

Where were you when Kathy Ryg ran unopposed in 2006? Where were you when nobody ran in the Republican primary in 2008? Did you agree with Kathy Ryg then? Or were you just afraid to run against her?

Team America said...

Fair questions, Anon 8:58.

Anonymous said...

You are so right, TA. Just last month when Mr. Kirk announced for the Senate he had bussed in hecklers and it was actually fun. Why? It just energized the Kirk supporters to applaud and show even more support for our candidate. Mark Kirk is a seasoned and very polished guy. The "abamanation" crew can shout and yell all they want. Mr. Kirk will present the Medical Rights Act, talk about healthcare reform that also includes medical liability reform. Let them come, TA, Mark Kirk has faced much worse, believe me.

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong conservative Republican, I will never "get behind" Mark Kirk for Senate. Every vote that "moderates" supposedly win from an independent or centrist Democrat who normally doesn't vote Republican, is canceled out by "moderates" losing votes from conservatives who normally vote Republican in all the other races but refuse to support a candidate who sides with liberals the majority of the time. The myth of the "electable moderate" was proven false many times in Illinois, most recently when Topinka (an a-list candidate hoding statewide office) only got 37% against one of the least popular governors in the nation. Lack of support for Blago did not equal support for her. Obviously the powers that be learned nothing from "electable" Topinka, otherwise they wouldn't be pushing for Kirk when they know how much the GOP base loathes him.

Kirk is the exact opposite of a "social moderate" who "compromises" with others to pursue a "middle of the road" alternate. Kirk blindly supporters whatever NARAL and Planned Parenthood tell him to, getting a 100% rating and endorsement from them, then gloats about it. If Kirk was a "social moderate" he'd be scoring 50% from those organizations. Kirk holds extreme left-wing views on social issues, far outside the "mainstream" view of the "average" voter. Unless he's willing to actually "moderate" his views, he won't get my vote.

The last thing we need is another Jim Jeffords, Linc Chafee, and Arlen Specter type in the Republican caucus.

Anonymous said...

You can call Mr. Kirk many things, but the last thing you should try to label him with would be LEFT LEANING. YOU are totally wrong. You are also wrong when you say that he's marching in lock step with whatever Planned Parenthood or NARAL forces him to do. Kirk has been pro-choice since he first ran for office. He believes that it's a woman's right to choose, does NOT support government paid abortions. He holds the same position as his predecessor, John Porter. Mr. Kirk is a centrist, a moderate, and you are not. That's fine. But he has represented this district with views that mirror this district. If you are more satisfied voting for ANY Democrat over Mark Kirk there is nothing anyone can say to you. Just know that your views are not in the majority. Get a grip. Mark Kirk can and will win in 2010.