Friday, November 30, 2007

Terry Link's Knights of the Roundtable

Well, the Waukegan News-Sun has decreed that some of the Terry Link petition circulators engaged in the practice of "roundtabling," which apparently is a scheme where a group of people take old petitions or voter lists to come up with names and addresses, and then pass the petitions around the table among the 'roundtablers' to try to make the fake signatures not look too similar. Call TA sheltered, but I've never heard of this practice before the Link debacle. Maybe because I'm a Republican, and I'm not from Chicago. The News-Sun story is here, but the funny part is that the latest signature to be accused of being a forgery is a former News-Sun editor named Ed Nash, who appears on page 132 (line 15) of the petitions. Problem is, Nash passed away in May 2006.

For those who you who may be new to the story, Senator Link was accused by his primary election opponent, Jerry Johnson (formerly Mayor of North Chicago), of submitting fraudulent petitions to the Illinois State Board of Elections for the Democratic nomination for the 30th state senate district. See our some of our previous posts here and here and here. Among the signatures Johnson claimed were fraudulent on the Link's petitions were at least two other deceased individuals and Charles "Chuck" Fitzgerald, Link's former Republican opponent in the last two general elections.

Link's petitions were primarily circulated by two individuals, Jerry D. Knight and Kenneth Davidson. (Jerry Knight was the circulator for the page of the petition on which Nash's name appears). Johnson claims that the simple fact that around 119 pages of petitions (at 25 signatures per page) out of Link's total of 139 pages were circulated by only two people is highly suspicious in and of itself. See the News-Sun's previous story quoting Johnson here. The fact that forgeries of both the living and dead are turning up on these petitions gives Johnson ammunition to argue that there is a pattern of fraud such that all petitions circulated by the individuals that have the forgeries should be rejected. What the news media has failed to recognize thus far is that, if the 'pattern of fraud' case is made, Johnson does not need to individually knock another 500 or so signatures off Link's petitions (over 1500 have already been removed, out of around 3100) to have Link kicked off the primary ballot. Just having one of the two primary circulators, Knight or Davidson, will do it, due to the huge numbers of sigs collected by these two.

Needless to say the Johnson campaign is continuing to investigate and is working on getting affidavits from those (still living) people whose signatures are apparent forgeries to confirm that such folks did NOT actually sign the petitions. Confirming the dead folks is a little more complicated, but death certificates are public records, so that just takes a little more digging. The two prior confirmed dead folks plus Nash brings the total number of deceased on the Link petitions to three, but who knows how many more will be discovered.

The News-Sun article chides this action as 'fudging.' Link has called all of these allegations "nonsense." TA has a better term for it. Lying. Even better, how about lying under oath? Sadly, Senator Link has still not bothered to do any investigation of these accusations, as far as has been made public. All he has done is send his lawyer to defend the Johnson challenge before the State Board of Elections.

But that may be OK. TA hears that investigations are proceeding with or without Senator Link's acquiescence. And the end result of those investigations may be a lot more interesting than the simple issue of whether Link remains on the ballot for the Dem primary as a result of whatever decision the State Board makes. Then maybe the News-Sun will come out with a stronger condemnation of such actions of the part of an elected official, even a Democrat.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Put Jay Footlik's Mom Down as "Undecided" In New Cable TV Ad

Jay Footlik, contender for the Democratic nomination in the 10th District to take on incumbent Mark Kirk, has a new cable ad up. See it at Footlik's campaign site here, along with a Tribune story that gives some interesting background on the spot. Take a look and then come back and comment. Hat Tip: Capitol Fax Blog, which has some reader comments about the ad as well. Looks like Rich beat me to the scoop, but I was in court all morning.

The whole thing is a take-off on the Brady Bunch, and I will give it points for creativity/originality. One woman references Footlik's little-known role a child actor in the movie Teen Wolf, although some folks might think the woman is confusing Footlik with Michael J. Fox.

Almost the first words of the spot are about Dan Seals, and why the folks in the commercial have switched from supporting Seals to going to Footlik. I think it was wise for Footlik to start off dealing with Seals, although it may cut against conventional wisdom, as Footlik has, up until now, barely acknowledged that he first has to lick Seals before he earns a crack at Mark Kirk. But, while Footlik acknowledges Seals and offers a bunch of folks who have 'made the switch,' the viewer doesn't really don't know why they switched, so we don't know if we'd make the same choice. Big error and loss of opportunity to make your case of why Footlik instead of Seals.

Although I chuckled at the ad, I think that Footlik comes off like a 15 year old, and does not appear to be Congressional material, based on this spot.

Also, no word on whether Footlik is going to go to commercial TV with this. Cable ads I think are of somewhat limited value. On the other hand, maybe it's better for him if a lot of people don't see this.

After seeing Footlik's Mom give her enthusiastic endorsement, I guess he's sure to get at least one vote. Go Mom!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's Not Looking Good for Jerry Johnson, But, Hey, Let's Talk About the Second Amendment

Well, the update I got today from the Johnson v. Link front wasn't too good for Jerry Johnson. At the end of today's preliminary hearing of the challenge brought by State Senator Terry Link's minions, Johnson was left with only 860 "good" signatures. He needs 1000 to stay on the Democratic primary ballot. Of those that were knocked off, some can still be 'rehabilitated' if he gets the people who signed the petitions to attest that the signatures are actually theirs, but it may be difficult to make up a difference of over 100. The next hearing in front of the ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) is scheduled for December 6, so Johnson has that long to get his ducks in a row. While we're on the subject, TA hears that a broader investigation of the alleged malfeasance of Link's petition circulators may be brewing, but nothing I can talk about just yet. Let's just say that additional alleged forgeries have purportedly come to light, and other authorities beyond the State Board of Elections may be taking an interest... Who knows, perhaps they are heeding TA's call for a public investigation.

Not to change the subject, and I know I've said this is a 'local issues' blog, but I've been wanting to do a post on the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to finally take up a case dealing squarely with the Second Amendment, and one which at least has the potential to definitively address the question of whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides individual citizens a private right to bear arms, or whether the right is limited to bearing arms in the context of a citizen militia, e.g., the National Guard. (Come to think, doesn't Wilmette have a handgun ban that made news a while back? Wonder where Dan Seals comes out on this, as if I had to guess).

The case, Parker v. D.C., concerns the decision of the District of Columbia to deny the right of individuals to own firearms, and the first time in recent history a federal appeals court has struck down a gun control ordinance (i.e., a law banning the possession of firearms) based on the Second Amendment. For a good overview of the issue, see here. As you might expect, there are STRONG views on both sides. For postings on the issue, see here and here, just as examples.

The Circuit Court summed up the reasoning behind its decision succinctly:

"To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia."

The Supreme Court now takes up this ruling and decides whether it was right or wrong. The issue boils down to whether the Second Amendment protects the right of any individual to own a firearm, or whether the language of the Second Amendment is meant to apply only to the right of citizens to bear arms in the context of a citizen militia, such as was prevalent during the time of the Revolutionary War, when most colonists viewed themselves as a citizen of, i.e., the State of Virginia, rather than a citizen of the United States.

The language of the Second Amendment itself reads as follows: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The issue, of course, is whether the first clause of the amendment modifies and limits the second clause, such that gun ownership was only intended to be allowed within the context of citizen armies, such that able-bodied members of the militia could readily arm themselves and respond to a muster call.

While this may seem strange today, consider that in the time after the Revolution, the memory of standing against the tyranny of England was still fresh, and the struggle between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was in full swing to determine what the parameters of the new government would be. While many people advocated for a strong federal government, many others were suspicious (to say the least) of centralized power of any kind, and wanted to ensure that if government ever got too big for its britches, the ability of the citizenry to rise up and restore the natural balance (which of course would require guns!) would not be infringed.

So, where does that leave us, and how does it apply today? For cities or other governmental units, such as Chicago and D.C., that have outlawed handguns, I think there is a powerful argument that outlawing handguns only keeps such weapons out of the hands of law-abiding citizens and allows only criminals who flaunt the law to possess such weapons. For example, in D.C. itself, in 2006, over 2,600 illegal firearms were recovered in D.C. (which was a 13% increase over 2005, BTW).

Interestingly, in yet another show of party independence and voting his own conscience, it turns out Congressman Mark Kirk is a strong advocate for certain forms of gun control, like closing gun show loopholes and restricting the availability of 'military-style' weapons. See a recent Daily Herald story here. I don't believe Kirk wants to take away my right to own a handgun in my house for self-defense, so as long as we're clear on that, he still gets my vote.

In any event, I don't want to talk too much about my own view, and that of "The Efficiency Expert" (my Beretta 92 semi-auto); I am more interested in what readers think, and then I will weigh in later. So, whaddya all think? Are laws outlawing the possession of guns (let's start with handguns and go from there) unconstitutional? Mind, we're not talking about waiting periods, background checks and other gun control laws; this discussion is about the ability of municipalities to completely ban gun possession. Also, will this be an issue in the 10th District race if the Supreme Court decision comes out this summer, as expected?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Senator Terry Link Unhappy He Has to Defend His Nomination Petitions

UPDATED 11/27/07 7:00 a.m.: I wasn't able to get anything better than third-hand information yesterday, so this is all subject to further clarification. As I understand it, the Johnson v. Link preliminary hearing was held yesterday down in Springfield. The impression I got was that Link's crew rolled over on the signatures that Johnson contested on very obvious grounds like not living in the district.

Note to Pete Couvall: Next time, before notarizing the petitions, you might at least look for people obviously out of the 30th District who live in places like FOX LAKE, ANTIOCH, INGLESIDE, GRAYSLAKE, ZION, etc., and strike them before your opponent does it for you and embarrasses your boss in the press.

It appears that Johnson was successful at eliminating over 1500 signatures off the bat, but at the end of the hearing, Link still had 1490 "good" signatures left. It is my understanding that Johnson now has a few days in order to pull together his affidavits and other evidence the remaining signatures are not those of the specific voters that appear on the petitions, but I am checking on that this morning. It will be an interesting challenge to see if Johnson can put on a case to strike almost 500 additional sigs to get Link kicked off the ballot.

Link's minions that are contesting Johnson's signatures on Link's behalf begin to put on their case at 1:30 today in Springfield. More later as it becomes available...


The story about allegations of nominating petition fraud against State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) refuses to die, despite the attempts of some to diminish its importance and validity.

This week's Pioneer Press picks up the Link story and comes up with some new quotes, some of which I found especially interesting. The Pioneer Press article quotes Link as saying that he hates to even have to respond to the allegations made by opponent Jerry Johnson concerning fraud on Link's nominating petitions, which are "nonsense in a lot of ways." Link also begs for sympathy, claiming that his opponents have always taken pot shots at him and his family. Perhaps Link is referring to the issue of his wife's position as an SBC lobbyist and Link's refusal to recuse himself from critical votes as to SBC issues. Chuck Fitzgerald sent out a well-researched mailer on this during the last senate race, but it appeared to not resonate with the electorate in the 30th District. But that's a story for another post.

But what Link still has not addressed is the allegations that the names of dead folks have appeared on his petitions, as well as other confirmed forgeries, such as former opponent Chuck Fitzgerald. Link wonders why he "continues to give validity to this whole thing" by even discussing it, but what he has not yet addressed is how the heck DEAD guys got on his petitions. Is this the "nonsense" he is referring to, or is it the part of Johnson's allegations that is NOT "nonsense in a lot of ways"???

Until Link explains, voters will have little sympathy for him and the political fire that has rained down upon him lately.

TA understands that the first hearing in Johnson v. Link is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today in Springfield, but this may be inaccurate. We'll try to have the scoop up here as soon as possible. We'll see if any more "nonsense" is revealed, and we'll see if we can expect Link to be on the ballot this coming February.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day Update: Dan Seals, Jay Footlik, and of course, Mark Kirk

A very happy Thanksgiving from Team America & Friends to you and yours!

I’m sure there will be many sappy ‘thankfulness’ tributes to read and watch today, so none of that here. Although TA is personally thankful for the Seals v. Footlik primary sideshow (which race itself is getting some high-profile attention nationally), today’s post is a gloves-off look at how things in the 10th District race are shaping up.

First, Dan Seals. The big news with Seals is that he FINALLY updated his website, which up until last Sunday, as far as I could tell, had not been touched since he made his announcement to run for a second time. Footlik's website was impressive from the get-go. Unincorporated Middle has a nice run-down on several aspects of the revamped site, but for me, the most interesting thing is that Seals still professes to be a “business consultant,” when in reality, he has become an Internet activist for The Point website. Seals’ website also touts his experience as a “Director” [of Marketing] for GE Finance, but Seals hasn’t been with GE for two years. But, it is strangely silent on his recent job at The Point.

TA wonders, isn’t this the equivalent of lying on your resume? Isn’t it just as bad to leave stuff off as to make it up? Frankly, I am baffled as to why Seals does not simply admit to having this job, especially since it’s just about impossible to deny it, considering the evidence is right over at The Point website. Ironically, when you do actually go over to The Point, it proudly touts Dan Seals as its Director of Business Development, but identifies him as a “former” candidate for Congress. Since TA first identified this issue some weeks ago, The Point website has been updated and revised, but Seals’ biographical info has remained the same. So, who is lying?—Seals on his website regarding his current job status, or The Point by disavowing Seals’ current political involvement to better mesh with its profile as a “non-partisan” change agent? And, TA is still trying to figure out how this website makes any money with which to pay Seals or any of its other employees.

The other nice thing is that with Seals’ new website, we can see where Seals is going out and about in the community, rather than relying on the 10th Dems website for clues to his political appearance schedule. So far, it seems a little light to me.

Here’s one other question raised by the Seals website. Exactly what has he accomplished over the last two years that would make anyone want to vote for him? He has made a lot of position-type statements on his website, but what has he actually DONE? We know what Kirk’s accomplishments have been. Why should anyone vote for Seals other than the fact he says he’d vote differently on Iraq than Mark Kirk? I may be wrong, but I don’t think that’s going to do it.

As far as I know, Seals has not yet hit the mailboxes with mailers, or the streets with volunteers and walk pieces. Jay Footlik, on the other hand, while admittedly needing to play catch-up on name recognition, has already distributed two mailers. The first one was posted here previously, and here are a few pages from the latest one: here (pg. 2), here (pg. 3), here (pg. 4), here (pg. 5), here (pg. 6), here (pg.7) and here (pg. 8). You can also see Footlik’s walk piece here (front) and here (back). You will notice that there is still no mention of Dan Seals on any of this stuff, and Footlik can’t seem to bring himself to explain to the voters why it should be him and not Seals that receives the Dem nomination. Seal’s proxies have long since taken the gloves off and are chewing Footlik up on the blogs. Why is Footlik being coy about it? Taking the so-called high road will mean nothing if Footlik gets crushed in the primary. Seals also appears to be scooping up a few township primary endorsements, which it seems that Footlik may have already given up on, as reported by Ellen of the 10th, and many Seals zealots accuse Footlik of simply wasting valuable resources that could be better used against Kirk. But, hey, they've been out to get Footlik for months. Keep at it, guys, I'm loving this.

There have also been a few bits of innuendo thrown around lately as to Footlik's ties with Monica Lewinsky, asserting that Footlik helped get Lewinsky her famed internship that led to the near-complete downfall of an American president. TA has found no evidence of that, but Footlik was interviewed by the Office of Independent Counsel during the Lewinsky affair, and it was noted that he facilitated a meeting with President Clinton and Lewinsky at least once. For my money, however, the more interesting detail to come out of Footlik's interview was insight into his position in the Clinton White House, which seems to have been as a fairly minor foreign policy functionary, who was loath to even enter the west wing of the White House and approach the president without a darn good excuse. Read the complete interview here. But, that didn't stop Footlik from using a picture of himself and Clinton on his walk piece and using this experience as a centerpoint of his campaign. Interestingly, Footlik's pieces tout his position in the Clinton White House but don't actually cite any specific accomplishments he achieved in his time there. Is that because he essentially did nothing except occupy an office and go to lunch with Lewinsky and other fellow beltway wannabees?

We previously reported on the “own” poll conducted by the Seals’ camp that showed an overwhelming advantage in name recognition enjoyed by Seals over his primary opponent. However, while it would seem that Seals may have sacrificed a short-term positive press pop for the probability that the next poll released (perhaps by Seals, but more likely by Footlik) will show an enormous gain in name recognition by Footlik, which will give Footlik a huge momentum boost. But, so far, we have heard nothing from Footlik, and if he doesn’t do something soon, the Seals strategy of cutting Footlik’s fundraising ability out from under him may work.

Mark Kirk has been extremely busy lately, and I’ve been negligent in covering all of the great stuff he is doing in Washington and out in the community. Kirk has been all over the news talking about O’Hare security and the recent discovery that security passes were freely available to illegal immigrants. See here and here and here, just as samples. Kirk also did a recent bi-partisan press conference with Melissa Bean of the 8th District, concerning security issues and his proposals to federalize airport security. TA hears that this absolutely drove Dan Seals’ team nuts, as he believes that Bean should be supporting him exclusively, and not working with the opposition (i.e., Kirk), regardless of the fact that both legislators are teaming up to actually accomplish things. So much for supporting good government. Look for more of this Kirk/Bean cooperation to come, as it seems to be working well. Kirk also was at the front of a recent bi-partisan letter signed by 188 members of Congress expressing concern over the planned sale of arms to Saudi Arabia to ensure that such arms did not fall into the hands of the enemies of Israel. Kirk also uncovered U.S. aid dollars being used to fund and train Iranian-backed terrorists as a result of an audit.

We also note that Bean has not endorsed Seals, as far as I can tell, although the Terry Link cabal came out almost immediately in favor of Seals, as well as Jan Schakowski (and her felonious husband Bob Creamer), whom by many accounts is the person who recruited Seals in the first place. Given Link's current troubles, as detailed here at Team America over the last week, this may be more of a negative as things continue to unfold on the Link debacle. [Interestingly, Eddie Washington is listed on the Seals endorsement list, but that came out before Washington got thrown off the Dem establishment bus by Link & Co. (read more here) and faces county board member Angelo Kyle in the primary. Wonder how Washington feels about Seals now? And, it's also fair to ask if Seals is endorsing Washington, or has abandoned him for Kyle because Terry Link told him to. How 'bout it, Dan?]

The other interesting tidbit from the afore-mentioned Seals poll was that Seals’ own polling data gave Kirk a 36% favorable rating (vs. 33% unfavorable) among likely Democratic primary voters. THAT is bad news for Seals, as Seals first and foremost needs to cover his own Democratic base, many of whom are ticket splitters and have traditionally voted Kirk’s way over the past six years.

There's more, but this is getting long, and it's time to start talking turkey (literally).

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jerry Johnson v. Terry Link Hearing Gets Underway But Few Fireworks

Well, there wasn't much in the way of fireworks at the James R. Thompson Center today as the hearings convened by the State Board of Elections for primary petition challenges got underway, so with a brief summary (dutifully provided by official TA correspondent Lou Atsaves), we will get back to our regularly scheduled coverage of the 10th District race tomorrow. Atsaves reports:

There were 28 pending cases on the call. The Johnson v. Link (07SOEBGP515) case was assigned to Hearing Examiner Barbara Goodman. She will also be hearing contests filed by Andy Martin (Anthony Martin-Trigonas before the name-change) against Norm Hill and Psak for US Senate/Republican. Representing Link will be Michael Dorfman (Sp?)/Chicago. Representing Johnson is Michael Lavelle/Chicago. Michael Lavelle is an extremely well known expert in election law.

The hearing officers then conducted brief case management hearings outside of the hearing rooms in the hallways(!) [no explanation as to why the many conference rooms in the building were not available.] With the Link matter, a legal argument broke out between the two attorneys and the hearing officer. The document examination phase of the hearing according to hearing officer Goodman is supposed to be held in Springfield. The lawyers argued that many of the documents (voter registration signatures, etc.) are in Lake County, and requested a Lake County or Chicago venue for that purpose. The original signatures and petitions are in Springfield. The Hearing Officer was going to go upstairs (14th Floor where the Board of Elections sits) and find out if this would be possible. According to the rules, the case management hearing is to consider the number of witnesses to be presented and any discovery to be performed and briefing schedules, which I did not hear being raised, but the document examination question seemed to occupy all of their (Hearing officer, two attorneys) time. A hearing/status date has been set for 11/28 at 4:00 p.m. at the State of Illinois Center. This may have already changed based on the document examination resolution of this matter. The issue of witness numbers, briefs, etc. may be raised then or may have already been decided on the 14th floor where everyone was headed, so my summary may be a little outdated as to these matters. The lawyers indicated no additional motions would be filed and a set date and time was necessary to bring in witnesses and evidence. It should be noted that most hearing officers were new to the process or were recent appointees and they admitted as much to the more experienced election attorneys. According to their rules, all objectors who have not previously verified their objections will be given the opportunity to do so. Johnson has already filed a verification which has been notarized with his signature. Hearings will have a court reporter present. The hearing officer is supposed to arrive at a recommendation and a proposed decision for the Illinois State Board of Elections to consider and rule on at their next meeting, which is December 6, 2007 at 10:30 a.m. The recommendation must be accompanied by a transcript of the hearing, an outline of the evidence, issues and arguments presented. The parties also receive copies prior to December 6, 2007 (but have to pay for the transcripts). The parties can file "exceptions" to the recommendations, which can be in writing or oral. The Board may grant the attorneys the right of oral argument on 12/6/07. (Within their discretion to do so). The Thanksgiving Holiday seemed to be causing a severe strain on everyone's schedules, which appeared to be a new thing, thanks to the early primary date this year.

Objections to individual signers are (1) signer's signature is not genuine, (usually compared to voter registration card), (2) signer not registered at address shown (unless signer can show he/she resided there during part of the time the petition was legally circulated), (3) signer resides out of state, (4) signer's address missing or incomplete (reasonable determination standard used), (5) signature not legible and cannot be compared with voter registration card signature, (6) signer signed petition more than once (first signature only is valid), (G) signature not identical to registration record (missing middle initial example - usually objection here is denied), (7) voter registration record of signer cannot be located (usually objection overruled if signer can be located and still on voter registration lists), voter no longer registered at address (but see #2 above).Objections to circulators include (1) circulator did not sign petition sheet, (2) circulator is ineligible to act as one (not 18 years of age, not a U.S. Citizen, not at address claimed), (3) circulator's signature is not genuine, (4) circulator's address incomplete (reasonable determination standard used), (5) circulator did not circulate sheet, (6) sheet not notarized, and (7) notary did not notarize the sheet in question.

An attorney friend of Atsaves who is an election law expert explained: "If the Board determines that a pattern of fraud exists based on an inordinate number of invalid petition signers and/or petition circulators, such that the integrity of the entire petition or the petition sheets of individual circulators is sufficiently compromised, the Board may strike the entire petition (or individual petition sheets) on this basis." When informed of the circumstances of the Johnson v. Link objection (i.e., approximately 2,800 of 3,200 signatures were being contested), this same attorney responded, "Whoa! Incumbents are supposed to know better!"

Yep, they are.

Back to Seals/Footlik/Kirk tomorrow with updates on Seals new website and Footlik's mailers and walk pieces.

UPDATED 11/20/07 9:45 a.m.: In his syndicated newspaper column for this week (discussing the impact of the blogosphere on politics), Rich Miller of Capitol Fax notes that the Link story was broken here at Team America, which was then picked right up by the local media.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Terry Link Laughs Off Serious Accusations of Petition Irregularities: Where's The Accountability?

The big news this week has been some very serious allegations of irregularities with State Senator Terry Link's candidate petitions for his re-election bid for the 30th Senate District. In fact, Link's opponent, former North Chicago Mayor Jerry Johnson, has gone so far as to deem the Link petitions "fraudulent." Among other issues (see Johnson's petition challenge), names of at least two dead people have been verified by the Johnson campaign. And, in the latest round of accusations, today's Waukegan News-Sun quotes Johnson as claiming that Link's minions used an illegal tactic called "roundtabling," in which a petition is passed around a table as each worker forges a different signature.

Even Link's former two-time opponent, Charles "Chuck" Fitzgerald, has stepped forward publicly to state that his name, which appears on a Link petition, is a forgery. In a letter to Link, Fitzgerald has demanded to Link that Fitzgerald's name be removed from Link's petitions.

Link's response? According to Daily Herald reporter Russ Lissau, Link laughed.

Do you get the idea that Link isn't really taking any of this very seriously?

Let's review the facts:

Link is the candidate. He is ultimately responsible for his petitions, which he filed with the State Board of Elections. As a candidate for public office and, moreover, a sitting state senator, Link clearly has an obligation to ensure that there are no irregularities with his petitions. Link has been presented with some pretty strong accusations that forgeries have occurred on his petitions. Yet, Link appears to think that if someone plays a "prank" by forging another person's name (either living or dead) on his petitions, that's OK, because he did not personally circulate any of the petitions with invalid signatures. Link apparently isn't even chagrined that he failed to notice that his former opponent's name was on his petitions.

Link has stated that criminal charges should be brought against anyone who committed fraud during the petition process. "I don't condone that type of business," he said to Lissau in an article published earlier this week. He also said that "I never told anybody to break the law." Swell. But, what if one or more of his petition circulators did commit voter fraud? Don't you think that would be something the good senator would be very interested in knowing? Especially since the suspect names appeared on petitions that were circulated by two men who, between the two of them, passed 116 of Link's 139 petition pages? His opponent Johnson alleges that simply the fact that so many petitions were circulated by only two people itself implies fraud. "Nobody does that," Johnson said. "It's too much work."

But, Link has not yet called for an investigation. As far as we know, he hasn't even asked his two primary circulators for an explanation of these signature 'anomalies.' Link apparently believes that 'pranks' or 'jokes' on his petitions do not rise to the level of malfeasance that he needs to investigate, and that he can simply turn a blind eye to these accusations. Link was also quoted in today's News-Sun as blaming unnamed "Republican operatives." What the basis for this statement is has not been explained. But it appears clear that Link is trying to deflect attention by playing the 'it's wasn't me, it was my political enemies' card.

Link needs to call for an immediate public investigation into this issue. His petition circulators should be questioned, and the explanation for why the names of dead people and other obvious forgeries must be determined. Link himself apparently believes that if fraud is proven, the violators should be prosecuted, even though, in this instance, one would think that this would have the effect of invalidating all of the petitions that were circulated by the offending individual(s).

And if Link doesn't call for the investigation, Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller or perhaps Attorney General Lisa Madigan should do so. The hard way.

The message needs to be sent that the people of Lake County will not tolerate Chicago-style politics, on behalf of any candidate. And if Link thinks that this whole thing can be simply laughed away, he has another think coming.

UPDATED 11/19/07: WKRS radio (AM 1220) personality Libby Collins has picked up this story and run with it. This morning she was discussing the Chuck Fitzgerald letter, among other aspects of the debacle. I didn't catch the whole broadcast, but apparently there are some people who think that many of the signatures bear striking similarities to each other (even though the signatures are obstensively of different individuals), and Collins has declared that she will foot the bill for bringing a handwriting analyst on the air to review the Link petitions if no one else will.


For those of you who are getting tired of the Link scandal, I apologize, but we need to see where this leads. In the meantime, take a look at this article that appeared in the News-Sun about Barack Obama missing important votes and otherwise being an absentee senator. We've said as much on this Blog, but this probably says it better.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Winning Elections in Lake County, or "How to Vote the Cemetery."

Yesterday this space reported that State Senator Terry Link, the Lake County Democratic Party Chairman, faced a serious challenge to his campaign petitions that was filed by Link’s primary opponent, former North Chicago mayor Jerry Johnson. Johnson’s campaign claimed that its review of Link’s signatures was running only at a 20% or so “good” signature rate, and with 3,125 signatures on Link’s petitions, that would leave Link easily a few hundred signatures short of the 1,000 valid signatures he needs to stay on the Democratic primary ballot.

Well, the Johnson campaign is now claiming that at least some of the signatures on Link’s petitions are bad not simply because the signatures are illegible, or because the individual doesn’t actually live in the 30th District, or because of one of many other fairly mundane problems that can and do arise in any campaign (after all, that’s why the rule of thumb is to collect at least twice as many signatures as you technically need, and more if possible, just in case of a challenge).

Johnson believes that some of Link's petition signers are deceased.

That’s right. Dead.

In fact, one apparent signer named Larry Jelinek, who passed away this last spring after a long and courageous battle with cancer, was a friend of mine. You can see his signature on the Link petition here. (sorry for the quality, it's a scan of a fax). Since petitions could be circulated no earlier than August 7 of this year, there is no way Larry was able to sign that petition himself. Before he passed, Larry lived at 2150 Kellogg in Waukegan, which is the address shown on the petition. This particular signature leapt to Jerry Johnson's attention because Jelinek was Johnson's former teacher, and Johnson knew Jelinek has passed away this year.

Another deceased individual that apparently nevertheless signed a Link petition was Edward Chrapkowski, who was the former police chief in North Chicago, who passed away a number of years ago. I never met Mr. Chrapkowski but this also caught Jerry Johnson's attention, who knew the former chief and was quite surprised to see that Mr. Chrapkowski was supporting Senator Link. See his supposed signature here.

Finally, it appears that aside from some apparently dead folks, Senator Link could not have reviewed his petitions very thoroughly, or one name in particular would have leapt out at him: Charles "Chuck" Fitzgerald, Link's two-time former opponent for the office of state senator. See Chuck's apparent signature here. I have blocked out the address so that Chuck's house is not too easily identifiable (although, of course, all of these petitions are public record), but I have confirmed that Fitzgerald did NOT sign Link's petition.

UPDATED 4:30 p.m. 11/15/07: The Daily Herald has a story up.

UPDATED 10:45 a.m. 11/16/07: Read Chuck Fitzgerald's Letter to Senator Link here. An anonymous poster put up a link yesterday in comments, but I have removed the link and substituted this file, which blocks out Chuck's home address and phone number, and signature (we're trying to not promote identify theft!).

Also, Capitol Fax has a story up on the Link debacle today. You can access the story at the Capitol Fax Blog, but you have to be a subscriber.

UPDATED 9:45 p.m. 11/16/07: Here's the objector's petition filed by Jerry Johnson against Senator Terry Link.

NOTE: To access the files, look at the lower left-hand corner of the bestsharing download screen and click the "Download File" link

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Write In Terry Link" May Be Lake County Dems' New Campaign Slogan

In what may prove to be a supreme political embarrassment, State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan), who also happens to be the Democratic Lake County Chairman, is facing a serious petition challenge from his primary opponent, former North Chicago Mayor Jerry Johnson.

Link needs 1,000 valid signatures from registered voters in his district (the 30th) which stretches from Waukegan in the north, down to Buffalo Grove in the south, and includes all or parts of North Chicago, Mettawa, Green Oaks, Riverwoods, Lincolnshire, and Vernon Hills. For the last two elections cycles, Link has had no primary challenger, and so Link is not used to having his petitions subject to any serious scrutiny. In 2006, Link blew away Republican opponent Shields Township Supervisor Chuck Fitzgerald in the general election.

Link filed for the November 2008 election with about 3,125 signatures, according to TA's sources. At 25 signatures per page, that's about 139 pages. The Johnson campaign has been reviewing the signatures and claims that only about 20% of the signatures were valid, in that the remaining signatures were out-of-district voters, individuals whose voting registration or addresses could not be verified, or had similar flaws. That means Link ended up with about only 600 good signatures, when he needs 1,000.

Interestingly, Link circulated NO PETITIONS himself. I guess he is too busy down in Springfield helping Emil Jones run the State Senate to mingle with the people. His wife, a well-known lobbyist, circulated one petition, but did not fill it up. The vast majority of the remaining petitions (about 119 sheets) were circulated by TWO specific individuals. This is where the majority of "bad" signatures occurred.

I will try to have a link up to the review petition that was filed by Johnson later today.

The interesting thing is what may happen if Johnson's challenge is upheld, and Terry Link gets kicked off the Dem primary ballot. While normally Johnson would then be the only remaining Dem candidate and would be the nominee in the primary election, Johnson himself faces a challenge to his own petitions. TA's sources indicate that the challenge to Johnson may very well be successful. That means the Dems have NO candidate, and must do one of two things: run a write-in candidate, or wait and appoint a candidate to fill the open slot after the primary election. If both Johnson and Link survive the respective challenges, the campaign goes on with Senator Link having the heavy advantage of money and resources.

If both Link and Johnson kick each other off the ballot, it will set up a write-in war between Link and Johnson, or perhaps another candidate. It is my understanding that a write-in candidate would need as many write-in votes as you would need to have a valid petition filing, so 1,000 write-ins are needed. What does this mean? This means that you can expect to have Emil Jones parachute in with a Dem goon squad, and we will no doubt have 2 or 3 Dem workers from Chicago at EVERY precinct, handing out "Write-in Terry Link!" fliers, along with a massive mail campaign. I doubt Link will take the blame for the bad petitions, but I am sure that Jones and Link will spend whatever they need to in order to assure Link's position as the Dem nominee in November 2008. Link can't afford to sit back and nominate himself as the candidate after the primary (basically his choice since he conveniently is Dem party chairman) because if a successful candidate writes-in (such as Johnson), there is no open spot to fill with an appointment.

Stay tuned for further developments...

UPDATED: TA has also learned that Lake County Democratic vice-chairman Pete Couvall has filed a challenge against Green Party candidate David J. Kalbfleisch in the 10th Congressional District race. Any guesses as to why the Dems want to knock the Greens off the ballot wherever possible?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Footlik Responds to Seals Poll: You May Know Dan, But He Couldn't Get It Done Last Time

Well, the 10th District Dem primary battle turned up another notch on Monday, as the Dan Seals campaign team released the results (but not the crosstabs or other details) of a poll conducted by the campaign of 404 likely primary voters. The poll results showed that 58 percent of likely primary voters would vote for Dan Seals, while only 6 percent would vote for Jay Footlik. The poll also shows Seals leads in name recognition over Footlik, with a 69-24 advantage.

The response by the Footlik campaign was somewhat predictable, in that Footlik's campaign manager cited the advantage in name recognition enjoyed by Seals as a carry-over from the 2006 campaign. “Dan Seals spent $2 million last year introducing himself to voters, so his current lead is not surprising at all,” said Footlik campaign manager Simon Behrmann.

The more interesting quote from Behrmann, however, was that he stated, “What is surprising is how Dan Seals lost in the best Democratic year by over six points.”

Ow. Footlik's strategy is revealed, and the gloves are officially off. If Dan Seals could not do the job against Mark Kirk in the Democratic landslide of 2006, how is he going to do it this time???

It's certainly a fair question, and one I would be asking likely voters if I were Footlik. And none too soon, either, as Footlik should have come out swinging against Seals much earlier. Now Footlik's got some serious ground to make up.

Well, you can bet the Seals folks will be crowing about these results for everything they are worth. However, the lack of the complete polling data with crosstabs raises several questions, besides the obvious one of 'what are they hiding?' For example, I would like to know where the sample came from. Leaving aside the fact that 400 voters is not a huge sample, the big questions is, was it a truly random sample of the 10th District or were some geographical areas (say, WILMETTE?) perhaps overrepresented? Were other areas where Footlik is likely to be stronger (Highland Park, Buffalo Grove) represented equally? And, as one commentor here already queried, was a head-to-head question between Seals and Kirk asked, and if so, with what results? I can't believe they would go to the expense of conducting a poll without asking that question, and clearly since they did not release those results, the answer probably wasn't too good. Also, did the poll test negatives against Seals?

Footlik's camp seems confident that they will narrow the name recognition gap once Footlik starts spending his money in earnest, which has already begun with cable spots last week. A major weekend Footlik fundraiser headlined by a former ambassador was apparently a big success, while Seals spent his Sunday afternoon with Dick Durbin and Melissa Bean in the 8th District.

I just know that I hope both Seals and Footlik spend every last dime they have slugging it out before February 5 and then basically have to start over against Congressman Mark Kirk. May the best donkey win!

UPDATED: Well, I guess poor TA simply assumed that the Seals poll was a fair one, and that the sample strategy was the questionable issue. Silly, naive me. Based on the comments coming in, it appears that the Seals campaign poll was a classic negative "push" poll, which may well explain the 52 point swing...

UPDATED x2 11/13/07: Well, it seems that only Team America readers are asking the tough questions about the legitimacy of the Seals poll (see comments). Here a blurb from this morning's Waukegan News-Scum that is absolutely FAWNING over Seals and the lopsided poll results. Will Footlik challenge Seals to release the complete results of the poll, including the questions? He better, or the take-what-you-feed-us nature of the media is going to conclude that Seals has already won, without any serious questioning on the legitimacy of the poll.

UPDATED x3: I've been corrected by some readers and Rich Miller over at Capitol Fax Blog that the Seals poll wasn't really a "push" poll in the sense that classic "push polling" is characterized by a mass calling with a series of very short negative questions, designed simply to inflame negative opinion, without really looking to analyze the data. So, clearly no one is going to label a sample of 404 respondents a "push" poll on that basis. Our question remains, however, whether the results of the poll were skewed by the nature of the questions and the way (and order) they were presented, and whether this amounts to more negative campaigning than legitimate scientific polling. Until the questions are released, we need to rely on those who were polled to share with us their thoughts and recollection of the questions.

Veterans Day 2007

Team America and friends salute the men and women of our armed forces, especially those on active duty overseas, and those that have given their lives to protect our freedom.

"We must remember that many who served in our military never lived to be called veterans. We must remember many had their lives changed forever by experiences or the injuries of combat. All veterans are examples of service and citizenship for every American to remember and to follow." — President George W. Bush, Oct. 30, 2001

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Must Dems Keep the War on the Front Page to Win in November?

What would happen in November 2008 if the war in Iraq were resolved today and our troops came home?

It's certainly a nice to sit back for a second and think about how great it would be if the war COULD be resolved in such a way that the troops could come back right away and not leave a destabilized country ripe for exploitation by Iran. We're not going to pull out in that fashion, because it's not in the U.S.'s, or Iraq's, or the region's, or the world's best interests to let that happen. Even the more pragmatic Democrats on the national front seem to recognize that on the first day of their first term (if elected), the election rhetoric will have long since been over, many grand plans and speeches will have been given, but little will have changed and will not change that quickly, simply due to the practical necessities. Read more about this issue here and here. Only the Dem Congress continues to put up pointless resolutions, bills and amendments calling for complete withdrawl, when they know that such a measure is only a political stunt to try to salve their leftist base and MoveOn, who somehow seem baffled that their heroes they have sent to Congress in a new majority haven't already ended the war.

The end of the war in such a complete fashion is quite unlikely by November 2008, but there seem to be many signs that strategy in Iraq appears to be showing results, and things are getting better, perhaps even much better.

That's a problem for the Dems. Polls show that among Dem voters, the war is of primary concern, followed by health care, social security and other issues. For Republicans, it's illegal immigration, the economy and such.

But if the war improves significantly, the anti-war issue, which unquestionably drove the last election, may well be a nullity for the Dems. Many Dem candidates and strategists seem to largely misunderstand that George W. Bush will not be on the November 2008 ticket. Yes, they want to kow tow to the Dem base and beat each other up over who can best villify the decision to go to war and the mistakes made thereafter. But, pretty much all that can be said on that score has been said already. The Dems will continue to get more desperate to look for differentiation on that score--witness Joe Biden's recent statement now second-guessing GWB's reaction to 9/11, where Biden says he would have convened an international meeting in Switzerland days after 9/11 to figure out how to deal with the problem (and people ask why everyone thinks Dems are soft on terrorism). Is this John Kerry on redux? Did we need to ask France for permission on how to respond when 3,000 people are killed on our own soil in an unprovoked attack? But, as usual, I digress.

Less sophisticated Dems, such as the Lake County lot, think they can still hide the truth from the voters by downplaying or ignoring the postive news about the war. The local Dems must have had a fit when the News-Sun recently had a huge headline "Bean sees less violence in Iraq," with a fairly balanced story about 8th District Congresswoman Melissa Bean's recent experience in Iraq (the Dems have always had mixed feeling about Bean anyway). Interestingly, the online version (link above, but also here) has a different headline, but I saved the print version from last Friday. The local Dem party website, which has a pretty decent news recap page, ignored this article in the News-Sun in favor of a much smaller Daily Herald article the same day that was buried on page 21, but which focused on Bean's position that she was not ready to embrace the stay-the-course policy quite yet. Interestingly, they did provide a link to another News-Sun article that covered yet another war protest in Waukegan last week, that this time drew only 10 protesters, an ever-dwindling number, it seems, and always the same core group of faces. Is the anti-war crowd running out of steam, perhaps?

In any event, even if the locals think that the good news in Iraq can be hidden from the electorate, it seems that the national Dems have already figured out that the war is not likely to be the Number One issue for November 2008, once we really get close to the election. As noted in a recent article I found, Dem strategists are saying “They’ve run millions of dollars of ads and had untold rallies and protests, but they’re actually losing approval” on the war, said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “How’s it going to look when troops start coming home next year and, while most people are holding a ‘Welcome Home’ sign, they’re left holding a ad or Code Pink banner?”

So, if the war essentially becomes a non-issue, or at least a greatly reduced one, where does that leave the battleground at the national and local levels? Are all of those Democrats that rode the wave of national dissatisfaction and anti-war movement going to be in trouble when their districts swing back to their traditional Republican bent? Or has the Republican party suffered too much damage to be completely healed in the short term?

Most interestingly from our local perspective, where does this leave heavy anti-war leftists like Dan Seals and Jay Footlik stacking up against domestic champion Mark Kirk?

UPDATED: Here's a new AP story about sectarian violence in Baghdad being "closed." It's optimistic, but I have reservations about any pronouncement that says any violence is over, ever since the left skewered Bush with the 'mission accomplished' end to "major combat operations" statement.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mark Kirk Continues to Vote His Conscience and for His Constituents... Not for Political Expediency

Why do I support Congressman Mark Kirk? Many reasons, in fact, but one of the most important is that I truly believe he is a man of high principles, and one who casts his votes in Congress guided by those principles, and those of his constituents. It is true that you cannot please everyone, but Congressman Kirk is willing to take a tough vote that may rile some (or even many, on occasion) in the Republican party, as long as he truly believes that a bill is the right thing to do, and reflects the will of the people in this District that sent him to Congress seven years ago (and keep sending him back every two years).

I expect Kirk is going to get a fair amount of flack from a number of Republicans, especially those who are, shall we say, a little to the right of Attila the Hun, for voting in favor of HB 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or "ENDA." Kirk, along with fellow Republican Judy Biggert, voted in favor of the bill, which is intended to prohibit discrimination of employees on the basis of sexual orientation. The rest of the Illinois Republican Delegation voted against the bill, with Dan Lipinski as the only Democrat siding with the majority of Republicans.

ENDA is one of those extremely controversial bills that has been floated in various forms at various times, finally being massaged into a version that had a chance of passing the House. The final vote was 235 to 184, and the bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. We can count on Dick Durbin to vote for the senate version, but I wonder if Barack Obama will bother to show up? (he's missed 80% of senate votes since September, but we're still paying him...) But, I digress.

For a good pretty non-biased overview of ENDA, see here. The basic idea is that gays, lesbians and bisexuals should not be discriminated against in the workplace, making such discrimination a crime on the same order as race or religious discrimination. Businesses with less than 15 employees or "religious organizations" as defined in the bill are exempt, as is the military.

The conservative Christians are all over this bill, taking the position that "ENDA will enshrine homosexuality in federal law, providing activist judges with the legal ammunition to move toward the legalization of gay marriage," and that while "ENDA is billed as an expansion of equality, but it is really a 'gay' power grab that would severely curb constitutionally guaranteed 'unalienable' rights that Americans hold dear, including the freedoms of speech, religion and association."

Well, even though Mark is in for some hot water with some conservative voters, I am sure, one thing I do know is that the voters of the 10th District are too smart to be swayed by alarmist and homophobic rhetoric like the examples above. By and large, the people in the 10th make up their own minds, which is why Kirk's philosophy of "thoughtful, independent leadership" has played so well to his constituency. I encourage you to actually read the bill and make up your own mind, rather than let a special interest group dictate to you what to think.

Whether you are in favor of ENDA or against it, I hope the voters in the 10th will appreciate that Mark Kirk votes the way his conscience tells him and his constituents want him to, which is the idea behind our representative form of government. When he stops doing that, if ever, the voters in this District will let him know in no uncertain terms.

On a final note, not only did TA scoop his nemesis Ellen Beth Gill on this story, I have absolutely no doubt that she will fail to give Kirk any credit at all for casting a vote for a bill I am sure she personally supports. According to Ellen, Kirk takes the hard votes only for two reasons: one, when he is sure the vote won't matter because the bill won't pass the other chamber, or the President will veto, or some similar issue, OR two, Kirk must just be doing it for political cover. I think it's a sign of Ellen's and many other people's blind adherence to their own myopic view of the world that they simply cannot bear to acknowledge that Kirk, and even Bush, are not the cause of every problem in the world today, and even occasionally can do something they support. I won't be holding my breath for some Kirk kudos coming from Ellen, that's for sure. But, that's OK, because Mark didn't take that vote to gain points with Ellen, as much as she might like to think so.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lake County Dems: A Group On the Rise or Already Disintegrating?

Now that the filing deadline for filing for the February 5 primary (the earliest in Illinois history) has just passed, I have seen a number of articles lately that imply that Democrats are poised to take over Lake County, long a bastion of Republican strength, in the same manner that they have overrun the state government. For example, today the Chicago Tribune ran a story highlighting the inroads Dems have made here in Lake County over the past 10 years, and noted that many of the Dems themselves have contested primaries for many races, which up until recently has been rather unusual. See the story here. One Dem official theorized that this is due to the fact that many people are no longer "afraid to declare themselves Democrats and run."

I have a different theory. I wonder if the Dems have already reached their collective peak and are starting to self-implode, much the same way the state and, to some degree, the Lake County Republicans, did to themselves only a few short years ago.

Is TA hopelessly trying to spread his partisan doctrine in the face of another prospective drubbing at the polls, or has he lost all sense of reality? Neither, I think, but you decide. Here's my evidence:

All politics is cyclical. In many respects, in fact, Illinois is a counter-cyclical state (i.e., when the country goes Republican, Illinois tends to go Democratic, and vice-versa). But, more importantly for my point, political parties tend to rise in fall in waves and in a predictable, self-contained and perpetuating cycle.

Stage 1: The party out of power acquires new energy and leadership, supported by those looking for a change from the current establishment. Sometimes this rebirth is closely related to the prior incarnation of the party, but sometimes the new group is related almost in name only.

Stage 2: Through hard work and strategy (and some luck), the minority party begins to make inroads, slowly at first, but gathers momentum. Soon, the playing field is level, and then (sometimes apparently abruptly, but usually not if you look at the actual way events unfold) the minority party is now the majority party.

Stage 3: The new majority undertakes to accomplish its lofty goals, now that it has risen to power, which, of course, was on the promise that such goals would be fulfilled. But, human beings being who and what we are, the new majority (which heretofore has been united in its goal to unseat the former majority party) now falls to squabbling among themselves to divvy up the political spoils.

Stage 4: The state of the majority party disintegrates due to internal power struggles, allowing the other party to rise again.

Repeat every 5 to 20 years, depending.

The cycle is inevitable, as it relies on human nature as its core driver--which nature isn't really subject to change, and obviously affects ALL political parties, as they are all made of human beings. While I wasn't a polly-psi major, and I'm sure I'm not the first person to make this observation in any event, I HAVE read 1984 about a gazillion times, and the analysis of class struggles given in Goldstein's Book in that story does, I admit, have echoes of the above analysis.

Anyway, the point is that rather than still being on the way up, the Lake County Dems may have already come full circle (with their victories in gaining state legislative and some county board seats, among others) and are approaching Stage 4 much sooner than anyone might have guessed, and long before their counterparts at the state level took to reach the verge of implosion. My guess is that the large number of Dem primary challenges may be evidence of the splintering of solidarity among the Dems (who in Lake County have always been rather an independent lot) that is now coming to a head, and all manner of likely candidates are now coming out of the woodwork, smelling a chance for an easy victory over their Republican opponents in November 2008, if only they can get past the Dem primary. But, the Dems may be in for a bit of a surprise.

While some may argue that a primary race actually strengthens the party and the eventual winner (and Lake County Dem Chairman Terry Link is accused by some of favoring, if not promoting, inter-party primaries for this reason), I think it more often does more harm than good. For example, in the case of an incumbent facing a primary challenge (e.g., Melissa Bean of the 8th District, who pulled two challengers) it highlights the weakness of the incumbent candidate. (Ironically, even the iron master of the Lake County Dems, Terry Link, has drawn a primary challenge.) For a non-incumbent party primary, such as Jay Footlik v. Dan Seals, it will use up money and resources that could be better spent directly against 10th District incumbent Mark Kirk. Add to that the inter-party damage that is done not only to the character and credentials of the primary opponents to each other, but the residual bad feelings that may erode support within the party from the more zealous advocates of the loser (Footlik fans and Seals fans may never see eye to eye again, from what I've seen over at Ellen's Blog).

So, is the fact that there are so many Dem challenges out there evidence that the Dems are already fighting over the soup pot to be in charge of the ladle? And if so, will there be as much soup to savor if the Republicans sneak back in the kitchen earlier than expected?

For those of you who say that the Republicans are toast, and the Dems are not done with their climb to the top, again remember that it's all cyclical, and what goes up must come down eventually.

In my research tonight, I also found a nice article that stated "In a reversal of what has happened in the past, more potential Democratic candidates than prospective Republican candidates announced for office. This is not to say the county's Republicans are giving up. They are not." The title of the article? "Lake County: Once a GOP bastion, but not any more." Sound like the articles we've been reading this week? Well, it's not. It's from 1976.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How to Tick Off a Green: Suggest It's a Wasted Vote

If there is one way to tick off a "Green" Party supporter (or candidate), suggest that a vote for them is a "wasted" vote. Now that David Kalbfleisch, the Green Party candidate for the 10th District has finally officially filed, it will be a three-way race between Republican incumbent Mark Kirk, Kalbfleisch and the winner of the Democratic primary, which is between Jay Footlik or Dan Seals. The Chicago Sun-Times seems to be paying attention to the role of the Green candidates as possible spoilers for Dems, since the Green message (generally anti-war, pro environment) tends to pull from the voter profile of Dems more so than Republicans. Not many other media sources seem to be interested in talking about the Green effect, however.

As noted in the Sun-Times article, "If that [Green party candidates siphoning off Democratic votes] does happen, in most cases I'm not going to lose any sleep over it because most of the Democrats we're dealing with here are . . . hard to distinguish from Republicans," said Rich Whitney, whose 10 percent showing as a Green candidate for governor last year won the party its current ballot status as an established party. "We're not in races to spoil. We're in them to win. I think some of these races are going to be winnable."

It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the Green Party will have in the 10th District. My prediction is that it will hurt the Dems, as some dissatisfied Dems will go Green, and many Dems will further annoy and upset Green voters by suggesting that such votes will be a "waste" in the face of their obsession to finally knock Mark Kirk out of office. Between the Jay and Dan supporters trying to cut each others' throats, and the Greens out to prove themselves, it seems like the anti-Kirk vote out there is going to be seriously split, which enhances the odds that Kirk will in fact have an easier election this time around.

No one I know gives the Green party a serious chance, although people like Whitney obviously want people to take them seriously, and vigorously dispute that notion. Who has more to worry about from the Greens? Think there will be a three-way general election debate at some point? Other thoughts?

UPDATED: I just sauntered over to Dan Seal's official campaign website, wondering if and when he was ever going to: #1) update the site; #2) actually put in something of substance; #3) provide a link to his new job at The Point website to help with his day job. Okay, so I was just kidding about point 3. But, Footlik has a large amount of content on his site, and even the Green Guy has more on his site than does Seals, who is supposedly the seasoned candidate among the also-rans. Does anyone else out there get the impression that Seals is not taking this seriously?

UPDATED x2: I also just visited The Point website to see if anyone had gotten around to telling them that Dan Seals had officially filed in the Tenth District (never mind that he officially declared his candidacy months before The Point website even went up), and they might want to think about: #1) updating their website to reflect the fact he is not merely a "former" candidate for congress; and #2) whether this is reflective of The Point's stated position as a non-partisan organization. The website actually does have a new look on the main page, which is an improvement, but the "about us" page that sets forth Seals' credentials remains unchanged... Somebody from the Seals camp may want to give those guys at The Point a call just in case anybody ever notices... like, say, in time to make it a campaign issue...?

Musharraf Must Have Read His Shakespeare--Lawyers Being Hunted Down in Pakistan

One of the most famous Shakespeare quotes is from Henry IV Part 2, where it was said, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". - (Act IV, Scene II).

This quote is widely misinterpreted as being an "anti-lawyer" motto, and many journalists and other folks like to begin a story with this pithy saying from The Bard. The thing is, though, that in context, if anyone nowadays bothered to actually read the work that they were quoting from, they would understand that, in fact, lawyers in Shakespeare's time were well-respected and considered the guardians of the law and protectors of the public. In this country, that viewpoint is not widely held anymore, probably due to the effect of greedy plaintiff lawyers on late-night TV and other less lofty aspects of the profession. But, in any event, the point is that the characters who were planning a coup knew that one of the things they would have to do in order to be successful was to eliminate or render impotent the guardians of the law that could be counted on to stand in the way of their plans.

Looks like our general in Pakistan has boned up on his Shakespeare, as Musharraf has ordered the tracking down and imprisoning of about a quarter of the country's lawyers, even as the deposed former Chief Justice has called for the lawyers to stand against the army. See the CCN story here.

We all knew this was very serious, but when they start taking lawyers out in the street and beating them, the meltdown of a society can't be very far behind.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Jay Footlik Strikes First on Cable... but Forgets to Explain 'Why Him?' and Not Dan Seals

Feeling little under the weather today, but working on a more detailed post regarding the news that Mark Kirk's practical plan to deal with Iran (i.e., impose real economic sanctions like cutting off refined gasoline, stop loans and investments) is getting some real national attention; however, sadly, it appears that the World Bank doesn't want to go along and intends to make about $900 million in new loans to Iran. See some stories about it here and here.

In the meantime, enjoy the latest from Jay Footlik--he's up on cable TV here on the North Shore. Don't know how extensive the media buy is, or if this ad will go beyond airing on cable. Recall that Seals spent a huge amount of money getting on local network TV in the last campaign, and while I personally scoffed at that strategy at the time, it did force Kirk to empty his coffers in buying time in response. The problem with Chicago network TV is, though, that it's very difficult to target your audience (you end up hitting most of the metro area, not just the 10th District) and it's very expensive, so it doesn't necessarily return a lot of votes for the buck.

So, what do y'all think about the Footlik ad? It begins with more on Jay's disadvantaged youth (echoing his mailer), and then finishes with a platform of three things he will do that he claims Mark Kirk has failed to do: provide affordable health care; reduce foreign independence on oil; and bring the troops home. Interestingly, what Jay doesn't mention is that these are not Mark Kirk's failings; in reality, these are the same goals that the large majority of Democrats probably thought that they were sending the last bunch of folks to Congress in the tsunami election of 2006. Don't you think the Footlik argument ought to be a little more focused on issues that people will not question why they weren't fixed the last time around by the Dem-controlled Congress? Has the outrage against Bush peaked, considering he will not be on the ticket in 2008? Is this a losing or winning strategy?

Footlik also doesn't mention Dan Seals in the ad, although he references Kirk. It's always questionable about whether you mention an opponent at all in these types of ads, but eventually Footlik is going to have to provide Dem primary voters with a reason to vote for him instead of Dan, and it better be something else besides just 'I'm Jewish.' So far, the only other thing he's touted is his Washington insider experience, and I wonder with the all-time low approval of Congress, if this doesn't actually work against him.

In fact, of the platform issues raised in the ad, one would think that Seals' position would be indistinguishable, at least on the broader topics. So, when is Jay going to explain why it should be him and not Seals? I suppose he's got to introduce himself to the voters first, but time's-a-wastin'...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Jay "First Strike" Footlik Beats Dan Seals to the 10th District Mailboxes, Picks Up Good Press and an Early Endorsement

Well, campers, it looks like Jay Footlik, the fresh Dem challenger to established candidate (and previous 2006 election loser) Dan Seals, has beaten his opponent to the 10th District mailboxes. The bell has rung, and the boxers have come out swinging!

View Jay Footlik's first direct mail piece here (may take a minute or two for the download).

A few observations about Jay's first effort are in order.

  • Jay hits hard on the underdog role: his father abandoned the family, but strong family ties on his mother's side, who raised him;

  • Jewish ties and credentials are emphasized;

  • worked for former Congressman Abner Mikva (more on this below);

  • experience in Bill Clinton's administration where he got his foreign policy exposure;

  • tries to invoke military ties through a grandfather who was a veteran (a bit of a stretch);

  • believes in the Golden Rule (more on this below too); and

  • overall, it's a positive "get to know me" piece, which is appropriate, since few in the 10th District know who he is as of now, and clearly, you don't want to start smearing your opponent right out of the box.

Not bad for the first piece of the season. But, I hope he has enough money to do many more, because he is starting off as the unknown newbie against the much more established Dan Seals.

Now, does it really matter that Footlik has sent out the first mailer of the primary? Yes and no.

Yes, in that Jay has come out swinging, and will get to the voters first, while the campaign season has barely kicked off. He's showing Seals, at least, that he's serious, he has the energy, and he's come to win.

Yes, in that he is targeting his primary audience: Jewish voters, and he needs to get to them before Seals comes out and reminds the north shore Jewish community that he's running again (of course, Jay needs to capture these votes--of which many probably voted for Seals last time around--and then move beyond this natural constituency quickly if he is to win).

Yes, in that he needs to introduce himself to voters before they get used to seeing Seals' name on a couple hundred lawn signs and bumper stickers and will not bother to consider an alternative.

Yes, in that no matter what Seals does or says in the next few weeks, Seals will now be seen as playing a defensive game by responding to Footlik's first sally. And the longer Seals takes to respond, the worse he'll look (wonder if Seals has his act together enough to respond quickly, or has this early shot across his bow taken Seals by surprise?)

No, in that we are just getting started, and the voters are going to get pretty numb before this is all over. Plenty of time for more pieces from both candidates. Look to see them get more refined and targeted, but also probably more vicious as one or both men get desperate.

No, in that Footlik is playing catch-up in name recognition (hence the first piece is an introduction to Jay, which step Seals can largely afford to skip).

No, in that nowhere in the piece does Footlik give voters a reason to vote for him over Seals, or even Mark Kirk, for that matter. This will no doubt come later, and there is probably no way Footlik could have accomplished all of that in his first mailing, but the point is that Footlik needs to win TWO races--first against Seals, and then against Kirk, and he'll have to show voters why they should believe in him. So far, he's shown potential, but nothing else.

Jay also had two other positive press items this week. First, the Pioneer Press picked up the Footlik press release that attacked Seals for not engaging in debates. See the article here. Interestingly, Seals is quoted as refuting Footlik's claim that he is ducking debates. "I think for someone who says he lives by the Golden Rule, he's [Footlik] got a lot to learn about playing fair," Seals said. I guess either Seals got an advance copy of the Footlik piece, or Footlik has been using that catch phrase on the stump.

Second, Footlik got the endorsement from the Democratic Advancement Political Action Committee (DAPAC), as seen here. I don't know much about DAPAC, or whether its endorsement means anything much. But, I found it interesting that the site for DAPAC trumpets that former congressman Abner Mikva supports DAPAC (although I was pretty sure that Mikva had come out in support of Seals, not Footlik. Wonder how Mikva likes Footlik trading on his name and fame...?) Also, the endorsement notice asserts that "Jay has pledged to vote progressively when elected to Congress on issues including choice, same-sex marriage, the environment, healthcare, and more. Footlik will be facing competition in the Democratic primary from a more conservative opponent." (emphasis mine).

So, it seems like the battle lines are already being drawn and the chess pieces are moving on the board. As predicted here some time ago, the two candidates are already trying to out-left each other in shameless appeals to the leftist base of the party, even as they must realize that they will have to pull back to the center for the primary to appeal to the notoriously independent-minded voters in the 10th District. Footlik wants to position himself as the more progressive candidate to Seals' more "conservative" character. But, as noted here some time ago, this will be a constant back-and-forth struggle, as evidenced by the two candidates on various positions (compare Footlik's hawkish views on enemies of Israel with Seals' more pacifistic views).

So, it appears that Footlik has fired a few good shots against Seals in this first official week of the primary campaign. And where is Dan Seals? Apparently, he is concentrating on outreach to voters in the 8th District, not the 10th!

Good luck, Dan. You're going to need it.

UPDATED 11/03/07: Looks like the Tenth Dems are trying to be a little less biased towards Seals and against Footlik, at least on their face, as their website is now listing a few Footlik events. However, maybe Footlik better pay more attention to some of the details. The Tenth Dems site notes that money for a November 11th fundraiser in Winnetka can be sent to the following address: Footlik for Congress, 1248 West Altgeld, Chicago, IL 60614.

A gold star and a double portion of chocolate cake to the first person who can identify what is wrong with THAT fundraising address???

UPDATED x2: "I am Sparticus" has solved the mystery--see comments.

UPDATED x3 11/04/07: "Publia" dives even deeper and uncovers a Footlik hired gun--see comments.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Real Ideas on Iran from a Real Leader: Mark Kirk

It was pretty refreshing to read that someone in Washington is pushing some real ideas on how to deal with Iran--and these ideas don't involve bombing Iran back to the stone age nor capitulating to the looney-tunes hostage taker and would-be Israel destroyer, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That leader is none other than our own Mark Kirk of the 10th District.

As reported in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, among Kirk's good ideas are:

  • Cutting off Iran’s gasoline supplies to supplement other economic sanctions and weaken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hold on power.
  • Persuading the Bush administration to block $870 million in World Bank loans to Iran, including one for a water-treatment facility near the Islamic republic’s nuclear facility at Natanz.
  • Creation of a multi-national fund to develop alternative sources of energy for China in order to weaken Chinese diplomatic support for Iran.
  • Advocating inclusion of Israel and Bahrain in the U.S. national anti-missile defense system against Iran.

Read the entire story here. It's worth it. Especially to see what the Washington crowd is thinking and writing about our own congressman. As noted in the article,

A leader of the moderate Republican Tuesday Group, Kirk has a reputation for developing creative “third way” ideas, including the GOP “suburban agenda” designed to appeal to Democratic-leaning districts like his own, located north of Chicago. He formed the Iran Working Group with Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) and the China Working Group with Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) to give Congressional backbenchers a role in developing policy. The two panels now have 35 and 75 members, respectively. Kirk has a formal foreign policy swatch as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. *** For several months, Kirk has been urging Bush to adopt the kind of stiff sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that the administration announced last week — a move denounced by Clinton’s Democratic rivals as a step toward war.

For even longer, Kirk has been advocating a “quarantine” to cut off Iran’s gasoline supplies. Even though Iran is a major oil producer, it imports 40 percent of its gasoline, and this summer Ahmadinejad imposed gasoline rationing, causing riots in Tehran. If sanctions were imposed on Iran’s gasoline suppliers — the Dutch energy broker Vitol, ship insurer Lloyds of London and refineries in India and the United Arab Emirates — shipments likely would stop without naval action, he said, though it would be a backup. “Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program is very popular,” Kirk said, “but his domestic program is not. The moment the average guy starts to have problems running his business or getting to work, Ahmadinejad is going to have real political problems.”

Hmm.... doesn't sound like a lot of bravado or pointless saber-rattling here. No, what Kirk shows is actual leadership, unlike so many of the current crowd in Washington, and also unlike those that would seek to take his place from here in the 10th.

I remember what one of Mark Kirk's fellow congressmen once said about Kirk as he introduced Kirk before a speech in the 10th District some years ago: "You sent us one of your best."

Yes, we certainly did. Keep it up Mark!!!