Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tim Stratton Accuses Incumbent Karen May of Ducking Debates in 58th Dist. Race (PLUS Presidential and Local Update)

Tim Stratton, a Chicago attorney challenging incumbent state rep. Karen May in the 58th Dist., is accusing May of ducking a renewed challenge for a series of debates. May is a fairly well-entrenched incumbent from Highland Park, having been in the General Assembly since 2001.

For incumbents, it's not unusual to shirk debates with challengers, but on the North Shore, which has an abundance of intelligent, concerned voters, elected officials who blow off debate challenges do so at their peril. In the 2006 election cycle, challenger Dan Seals complained that Congressman Mark Kirk avoided debates, although Seals took heavy criticism for pulling out of a scheduled debate in Waukegan at the last minute. Dem primary challenger Jay Footlik then accused Dan Seals of the same tactics in avoiding scheduled debates until late in the primary election cycle.

Stratton's press release is here.

PRESIDENTIAL UPDATE: Looks like McCain is throwing some good punches at Obama and Obama's apparent lack of knowledge that we are fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq. Much like Seals, Obama's only clear statement on the war in Iraq is that it was a mistake in the first place. Okay, great, we get it. How does the man fill two-hour speeches when that's basically the only thing he has to say on the war? His underlying argument that anyone who supported the war must have fatally flawed judgment and is not fit to hold public office (Hillary) is too extreme to sell to Joe/Josephine Q. Public, IMHO. CNN reports that McCain stacks up well against either potential Dem candidate and appears to have better overall approval ratings that either Dem. This is going to be interesting...

LOCALLY: The Waukegan News-Sun printed a letter from Lake County Republican Chairman Dan Venturi blasting State Rep. Kathy Ryg for her vote to subsidize the Chicago mass transit system by sending our tax dollars to the City for the CTA bailout. So, Ms. Ryg, explain to me again why our sales tax in Lake County has now shot up, AND I have to pay a 10% fare hike to ride on Metra? You can bet this will be a hot issue this fall for the local state rep. and state senate races.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ethics Issues May Be Critical for Illinois Races

The big news this morning is, of course, that Governor Blagojevich is indeed "Public Official A" as named in the Tony Rezko indictments and other related allegations from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Blago has repeatedly denied being Public Official A, but in Blago's world, who knows if he was simply hoping against hope to put off judgment day (for as long as possible), or maybe he really believes he's innocent. For more on this, head over to Capitol Fax Blog, where I'm sure the discussion will be hot and heavy all day.

In any event, as the Rezko trial proceeds, there are all sorts of interesting repercussions for Illinois politicians. First off, it comes at a bad time for Barack Obama. (See Backyard Conservative for some more Obama-Rezko connections) But, Obama's problems stem not only from his association with Rezko, but also his position as junior senator from one of the most politically corrupt states (at lease by reputation) in the U.S. If Obama wins the Dem primary, you can be sure that McCain's credentials as a campaign reformer, war hero, and straight-shooter are going to be juxtaposed with Obama, who has done essentially nothing to investigate and reform Illinois politics. Heck, the man had to go to Kenya to talk about ethics reform.

On his Kenya trip, Obama urged people to reject “the insulting idea that corruption is somehow part of Kenyan culture” and “to stand up and speak out against injustices.” Substitute Illinois for Kenya, and you'd have a great speech to rail against the "business as usual" politics that Governor Bag-O-Chips promised to end, and instead only refined to a new level (or depth?).

Any ideas why Obama did not start on ethics reform in his own backyard? Well, I think you know the reasons as well as I do, and you can count on Team McCain to raise these questions.

I think Hillary really blew it by not asking this very question and making it a centerpiece of her campaign. Her ham-handed attempts to tie Obama to Rezko and raise questions about Obama's ethics (as opposed to simply his judgment) have gotten only minimal traction, because she missed the larger part of the story.

In any event, while I am personally critical of those GOPers who say a little prayer every night to Patrick Fitzgerald to indict Blago (we can't wait for Fitzgerald to be the deus ex machina for the Illinois GOP--didn't help Judy Baar Topinka, that's for sure), it'll be very interesting if Obama is a Dem presidential candidate from a state where the governor is under federal indictment. The question will be, if all that can happen under Obama's nose in Illinois, what possible good can he be at instituting "change" and watchdogging the Congress and other federal politicians?

I also think the fallout will be bad for local Illinois pols that can be easily tied to Blago, which includes folks like State Senator Terry Link and State Rep. Kathy Ryg. You can talk all you want about how the General Assembly is more or less at open war with Blago on many issues, but the man/woman in the street simply needs to hear about the mess the state is in, with the Dems in solid control of the General Assembly and all statewide offices. Add a governor under indictment, and you have a great atmosphere for a "throw the bums out" campaign message for local GOPers to campaign on all summer and into the fall election.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ralph Nader Enters the Presidential Race: Can This Get Any Weirder, and It's Not Even March? (UPDATED)

Just when I thought it was going to be kind of a slow news day politically, Ralph Nader has announced he will enter the presidential race as a third-party candidate. Whether it's Hillary or Barack on the Dem ticket, this means a few percentage points sucked away from the Democrats. In a close race (which this may well be), this could make the difference to the GOP candidate. Predictably, Barack and Hillary are pissed off.

Nader also ran for president in 2000 and 2004. Even with ground-breaking candidates like Obama (first African-American) and Hillary (first woman), it's nice to know that some things stay the same.

Wow, still not even March, and we've already had enough twists and turns in this race for any two or three elections.

SAVE US!: The "savior" mantle has now been officially laid on Barack Obama. But, it came from a rather unusual source: Louis Farrakhan. Now THERE's an endorsement Obama may want to send back along with Rezko's dirty money.

SAVE US- UPDATED: It appears that Obama renounced Farrakhan at a private meeting with Jewish leaders. However, Obama did not exactly say that he renounced Farrakhan's endorsement, and the real question is will Obama make a more specific statement in a public forum where the news media can dissect it. Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs.

ON THE LOCAL POLITICAL SCENE: The deadline for local Green Party, GOP and Dem candidates to be appointed to vacant nominee positions is Monday, April 7, 2008. The GOP Country Convention is Wednesday, March 5th at Midlane Country Club in Waukegan, and the Dems' event is at the Ramada Inn in Waukegan on the same night. No idea if the Green Party has a convention.

At least on the GOP side, we wait until after the convention to make the final decision about slating candidates to open spots (I figure on the Dem side, Terry Link just picks whomever he wants and the rest of the lemmings fall in line), but I am excited about the prospective names I've heard discussed. As you can expect, State Sentator Terry Link is at the very top of the target list and will definitely face a GOP opponent, and the rest of the appointments will follow from there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

DCCC Cagey In Its Commitment to Dan Seals

Yesterday, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen rolled into town for two appearances to support Democratic 10th District Candidate Dan Seals. One was a luncheon at Carnivale downtown, at which between 40-50 people showed, according to TA Cub Reporter Badge of Honor (see yesterday's comments below), and which the crowd showed little energy. While Rahm Emanuel was on the bill as a sponsor of the event, apparently he was a no-show. Another event was a sparsely attended rally in Linconshire at the UAW Hall that was centered on (what else?) Iraq.

Since the last election when Seals lost to Congressman Mark Kirk, he has been critical of the national Democratic party for not supporting him (this guy really knows how to win friends, doesn't he?). Van Hollen was quoted as saying that the National Dems will be "supporting him in every way" this time, but refused to commit to any specific support or fundraising efforts.

Sounds like a guy who is hedging his bets, if you ask me. Based on the lukewarm performance Seals turned in as to crowd support yesterday, Van Hollen may be reevaluating his level of commitment. Beating the pants off poor Jay Footlik is one thing, but Van Hollen and D-trip need to carefully weigh whether they want to burn $2 to $3 million right off the bat just to be competitive with top GOP fundraiser Mark Kirk, rather than perhaps go after some lower-hanging fruit.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hillary On Offense: Let's Get Real!

Hillary Clinton must be fit to be tied. Her dream campaign, no doubt planned for years and years, is now unraveling in front of her, thanks to a political upstart that she contends is nothing more than a nice smile, a good speech and an empty suit.

Hillary is now telling the Democrats that it's time to "get real" about this race, and it's time to choose "good works" over "good words" and "sound solutions" instead of "sound bites."

Sounds like someone over at Camp Hillary finally woke up. But will it be too late for her?

No matter who wins the Dem primary, we will have a favored son (or daughter) of Illinois on the top of the Dem ticket. So far, there has been a lot more enthusiasm on the Dem side of the aisle, and it will be very interesting to see if the GOP will rally unreservedly behind John McCain.

McCain was in town yesterday and raised $250,000 for milkman Jim Oberweis, so there is little doubt he will be coming to the 10th to stump for Mark Kirk. Kirk also has millions of his own. But will it be enough to fight off Dan Seals, the wanna-be Obama clone? We'll see how Seals does at his downtown fundraiser today, hosted by the DCCC.

ALSO- Dan Seals Can’t Seem to Find His Way to the 10th District

AND- SNL Looking for an Obama impersonator. Since Dan Seals is unemployed, maybe he ought to sign up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Michelle Obama's Indictment of America (UPDATED x2)

I try to keep things very local on this Blog, but the possibility of Barack Obama being the Democratic nominee for president obviously has a profound impact on our local issues, not only as he is a favored Illinois son, but because of Dan Seals' blatant attempts to ride Obama's coattails at every opportunity.

Today, Michelle Obama really showed her intellectual left-wing roots and her (and we assume her husband's) firm grounding in the "hate America" school of liberalism. Mrs. Obama stated:

“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change,” she said. “I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”

Can you believe it? Now that her husband is running for president, this is the first ray of light that this country has seen for her entire life???

One might put this down to hubris (of which we have seen some other examples along the way), but I think it is more a symptom of people of the Obamas' political persuasion, in that such folks truly believe that this country fundamentally is evil and twisted. It also feeds directly into the whole messianic flavor of Obama's campaign. But what really troubles me is that the entire 'hate America' zeitgeist that is at the core of the uber-liberals is something that our local pals EBG and Dan Seals appear to be big disciples of.

UPDATED x1: ARE WORDS REALLY IMPORTANT AFTER ALL???: Michelle Obama's gaff has really lit up the blogosphere. Do a Google search for Michelle Obama and "proud" and prepare to have your computer freeze up with the search result. Just for a sample, check out the over 800 comments on this topic at Little Green Footballs.

I think the interesting thing is that while this comment is something non-liberals can really seize on as a very clear, simple insight into the scary mindset of the Obamas (both of them), and can use it as a rallying tool, it won't help Hillary because while her base may not be fake intelligensia of the Democratic party, many of them might not see the real import of Mrs. Obama's comment.

Mrs. McCain came out pretty quickly and stated emphatically that she is proud of America. Since we seem to be taking a poll of the spouses, I wonder what Mrs. Seals thinks?

UPDATED x2: OBAMA'S A GHOST PAYROLLER BUT MARK KIRK IS STILL AT WORK: While Barack Obama continues to collect a ghost paycheck for his position as an Illinois senator while he's been out on the campaign trail for the last eight months, Congressman Mark Kirk continues to work tirelessly to represent the Tenth District. Mark often cites the fact that there are 3,000 gang members in Lake County (if I recall that correctly). Today, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Kirk assisted in obtaining a federal grant of $846,000 for the City of Waukegan to fight gangs in the city and surrounding area. Nice work, Mr. Kirk!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Back From Vacation! (UPDATED x3)

Hello all: I'm back from a week with the family visting The Mouse, so that's why posts have not been as fresh as of late. We'll be getting back to a more regular schedule soon, but in the meantime, a few important things that are going on:

MARK KIRK and PETER ROSKAM on Social Security IDs: Our own Congressman Mark Kirk and neighboring congressman Peter Roskam (also a great guy, if you've never met him in person) are proposing an important upgrade to the security of Social Security cards. Yes, I believe that is Mark's Mom in the picture! The cards would be modeled on military IDs and according to the Chicago Tribune:

"The proposed cards would feature a photograph and fingerprint, as well as a computer chip, bar code and magnetic strip. The cards would be modeled after the Common Access Card issued by the Department of Defense, mostly to active military reserve members and their dependents, said U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a sponsor of the bill. Current Social Security cards have limited security features and have no photo or biometric data, he said."

Of course, the Lefties are already proclaiming that this is simply a scheme to further diminish the rights of illegal immigrants (say what???) or even to finally bring about the branding of folks with the Number of the Beast (yes, you heard that correctly, and we're not talking about an Iron Maiden album). EBG opines that the whole concept of a more secure social security card is silly because identify theft artists just use the number, not the card. That might actually be a fair point, as far as it goes, but one might argue that if a secure card was issued, more people applying for loans or credit might be required to show a card, instead of just write down a number on a form. Or, for example, one can imagine having to supply a encrypted number from the card in addition to the standard SSN that would have to match up to verify its legitimacy.

Whaddya guess Dan Seals will have to say about this?

MARK KIRK on McCain: The Tribune reports that the House GOP leadership is on board with McCain. The Tribune reports that "McCain won the endorsement of the entire House GOP leadership team -- and a standing ovation from the Republican rank and file." A nice quote from Kirk identifying him as a long-time McCain supporter was also included.

MARK KIRK on Iran: In a bi-partisan letter sent to sent Friday to Attorney General Michael Mukasey by Mark Kirk and Steven Rothman, a New Jersey Democrat, they question whether a proposed money transfer from the U.S. Treasury to the World Bank contradicts a 13-year-old Clinton administration executive order barring financial support of Iranian petroleum resource development.

I think a few people in comments on the last post tried to cast aspersions at Mark Kirk for trying to use a Clinton Executive Order for his own purposes. Such a question, I think, illustrates one of the differences between a leader like Mark Kirk and lesser wanna-bees (Dan Seals, anyone?). If there is a law or similar tool that can be used today to achieve a good, who cares whether it was a Democrat or a Republican that invented the tool? It's the people like EBG that are so convinced that someone on the other side could NEVER have done (or will do) anything of benefit, who think that you must always put political expediency above actually doing the work of good government. Sad, sad.

SAVE A SEAL PUP: A quick visit over to the Dan Seals campaign website shows that Rahm and DCCC (or, "D-trip" as we like to call it) are having a fundraiser for Seals this Thursday. Seals better hope it's the first of many. Any bets that it's in Chicago, rather than the 10th District?

Note to Dan- now that the primary is over, you might want to consider taking down the references to the newspaper endorsements, like the Tribune, on your website. The primary is over, and it's a pretty safe bet you won't be getting the real endorsements for the general. Of course, keeping up the endorsements and trying to mislead voters into thinking that they are general election endorsements would be perfectly in keeping with Seals' M.O. so far.

UPDATE #1: FROM THE END OF THE WORLD NEWSROOM: As I mentioned above, there are people out there that really think that Mark Kirk's social security smart card is another step towards the biblical end of the world. Turns out, some of these same people also believe in UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, and Atlantis. Check out one of these sites here.

UPDATE #2: MARK KIRK ON THE ENVIRONMENT: Mark Kirk continues his work as a protector of the Great Lakes by continuing to push for support of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Water Resources Compact (a bi-partisan effort also supported by Rahm Emanuel, I might add). Accordingly, Dan Seals will have to come out against protection of Lake Michigan, under the EBG theory of whatever Mark Kirk supports must be bad for the 10th District. Read more about this important effort here, here and here.

UPDATE #3: UNCLE TONY REZKO, NEW HOME CONSULTANT: We normally don't talk much about the brewing Obama and Rezko scandal here (leaving those discussions to the many other great blogs out there), but I had to post something on Obama's shocking revalation that Obama toured his million$+ home on the south side with Rezko before Obama bought it. Why has it taken so long for this little tidbit to be released by Obama's camp? Could it be that Obama was concerned that he better come clean before this came out in the upcoming Rezko trial? Let's see what Hillary makes out of this...

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Not "Opinion" If You Can't Be Reasoned With, It's a "Belief"

I used to do a fair amount of work with experts in various fields that we as lawyers would call upon to testify at trial on issues germane to the case. With my work, most of the experts I used were people like chemists, toxicologists, engineers, and simliar highly-educated professionals. I also had to prepare for the testimony of the experts on the other side (which experts usually testified exactly the opposite of my experts, but that's how the game is played), and my goal was to test their opinions in court through cross-examination. As you might be able to tell if you are a regular reader here, that kind of stuff is what I find to be a ton of fun.

In any event, a more senior lawyer once told me that the way to test an expert's opinion is to ask him or her what it is, find out what facts that opinion is based on, and then use a hypotetical to change some assumptions. You then ask the expert if he or she would change or modify the opinion based on the changed circumstances or facts.

If the expert refuses to change the opinion, even though in your hypotetical you have changed the facts, it's no longer an "opinion," it's a "belief." Beliefs are fine in church or the religious institution of your choice. But, they are no good in a court of law where you are trying to convince a judge or jury that your side is scientifically correct. "Beliefs" can't be scientifically tested, and you don't really have to waste much time attacking the belief itself, because the point is to simply show the judge or jury that it's no use arguing with a crazy person who will never change their mind. Such people are not persuasive, either in court or in real life.

Our friend Ellen Beth Gill over at the 'other blog,' as some people have named it, is just getting warmed up for the general election to unload on Congressman Mark Kirk, now that she cut her teeth on poor Jay Footlik. I go over there every once in a while to see what lies and sedition are being spread, and one thing that caught my eye early this morning was a little rant she posted in comments, as follows:

"Kirk, like his fellow banana-republicans in Congress and in the Bush Administration, does nothing not part of his political agenda. There's no governing, no custodianship of our Constitution, no respect for the American people or everything that's made us Americans for all these years. Just whatever he can do to warmonger and fearmonger for dollars and political power. He's done nothing to make it clear he stands for our country, so he should be retired. Even worse is his friend McCain who has proven he'll do anything to become president including torture, even though his former stand against torture was supposed to be his big stand for morality. Isn't it about time someone governs for the people of the United States and not just baiting hate and fear for votes?"

Take a good read through the above excerpt, and you get the strong impression that her hatred of Mark Kirk is not opinion, it is "belief." EBG will never be convinced that Mark Kirk is anything but the devil incarnate, no matter what he does. She cannot admit to herself or anyone that Mark Kirk has done ANYTHING to benefit the Tenth District, when we all know so much better. Her "opinion" of Kirk cannot be changed no matter what the facts are, so in my book, that makes it "belief," not "opinion. If you cannot have a rational argument about an issue because no matter what you say, it must be wrong if you support Mark Kirk, there is no point in having the discussion. (for example, see an opposing view on the events that EBG is ranting about here).

Candidates like Dan Seals, however, are happy to have EBG & Friends as base supporters, because they are so low-maintenance. Seals is already a god to them, so he doesn't really need to do anything to engage his zealots for his cause, and he can do no wrong, so he has no fear of doing anything that would alienate his base.

Some more rational commentors over at Ellen's still try to engage her on the issues and have a meaningful conversation, but I think it's a waste of time. She and her flock simply want to hear their own beliefs repeated back to them, assumedly strengthened by lots of lemmings saying "me too!"

Come here if you want to have a fair, intelligent discussion about the issues without being insulted or deleted (which is what often happens if EBG senses she is losing the debate). Mark Kirk is not perfect, as none of us are, but we will not delete you for pointing out things he could do better.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lake County Races Will Be Worth Watching

The Daily Herald has a fairly interesting article on the likely effect that having Senator John McCain at the top of the GOP ticket will have on Illinois races. There has already been tons of talk (of questionable accuracy, in our opinion) about whether having Obama at the top of the Dem ticket would be devastating to the local GOP. Lots more talk (and, in my opinion, some real questionable assumptions) concerning a supposed trend of Lake County moving rapidly in the blue direction.

Regardless of what the top of the ticket looks like on either side, we have quite a few interesting races shaping up here in Lake County, besides Kirk v. Seals. We also expect things to get even more exciting once the established parties (which includes the Green Party) appoints candidates for seats that have no nominee as of yet.

For example, one thing we wil discuss more in the next few months is the expected re-emergence of Green Party candidate David Kalbfleisch into the IL-10 race, who will likely suck away more votes from Dan Seals than Mark Kirk in the general election. The Link/Couvall Dem machine knocked out Kalbfleisch in a petition challenge that puzzled most people, since everyone knew it was Dem party vice-chair Pete Couvall who filed the challenge, and since everyone also knew the Greens could renominate Kalbfleisch to the open seat after the primary. The move was made probably to send a message, and to humble Kalbfleisch a bit, but I have no reason to suspect he won't be back, and rather ticked off. So, we shall see if his candidacy ends up having any impact.

Aside from IL-10, Here's a just a couple of the ones we'll be watching intently over the months until November:

26th State Senate: Republican Dan Duffy v. Democrat Bill Gentes (Bill Peterson's open seat)

If you haven't yet met Dan Duffy, prepare to be impressed. A younger, self-made businessman who is exactly the kind of motivated, inspiring leader the Lake County GOP needs to make a comeback (and a great electable name to boot). He faces Bill Gentes, Mayor of Round Lake Beach, who has good name recognition and support.

30th State Senate: Democrat Terry Link v. Republican TBA v. Jerry Johnson, Independent (maybe)

This one could be VERY interesting, depending on: who the GOP gets to run (I am pretty darn optimistic about the names being tossed around that I have heard), if Link's petition scandal continues to make headlines (especially of interest will be the results of the Lake County State's Attorney's investigation), and whether local Dems (like Eddie Washington) finally turn against their leader and his right-hand man Pete Couvall. Adding former North Chicago Mayor Jerry Johnson as an independent to the mix would further complicate things, perhaps positively for the GOP, since Johnson would be more likely to suck off voters from Link that even a great GOP candidate might not be able to reach.

60th State Rep: Democrat Eddie Washington v. Republican TBA

This one will be interesting, assuming the GOPers get a decent candidate, as an indication about how far inter-party Dem warfare will really go. Would the Dem/Link machine continue to try to replace Washington, figuring any successful GOP candidate would be easier pickings next cycle?

58th State Rep: Democrat Karen May v. Republican Tim Stratton

Has anyone noticed that the Lake County GOP candidates are really pretty darn impressive as a group? Add attorney Tim Stratton to Dan Duffy and Steve Greenberg as some of the new group of younger candidates with great backgrounds and credentials, that Lake County citizens will have the privilege of supporting in this next election. Stratton faces an uphill battle against entrenched incumbent Karen May, but we hear he has a few tricks up his sleeve, so this one also makes our watch list.

8th Congressional District: Democrat Melissa Bean v. Republican Steve Greenberg

Dem Melissa Bean seems to have been just barely holding on every year since her win over Phil Crane in what used to be a decidely Republican district. But, Bean knows her district and works it (often teaming up with moderate Republican Mark Kirk on various initiatives, to the utter annoyance of Dan Seals) , and is well-funded. Greenberg has proven to be able to raise funds, and is another young businessman that the Republicans would do well to support, but will Greenberg be able to do it this year, or steal a page from Bean's playbook and get resigned to a two-cycle race?

Battle of the Docs for Lake County Coroner: Democrat Richard Keller, M.D., v. Mike Oster, M.D.:

Dr. Richard Keller, who seems to be a bit of a goofball to me, based on his appearance, won this seat after long-time (and much loved and respected) incumbent Barbara Richardson retired, on a bit of a fluke, and the fact he was a medical doctor, which many people will tell you is not a requirement for the position of coroner, but nevertheless is a credential that seems to reasonate with the public. To fight fire with fire, the GOP recruited an emergency room doctor, Mike Oster, to run against Keller. Given Keller's slim win, and Oster's better credentials, the GOP has targeted this office as the first step in its take-back-the-county-wides program.

Judicial Subcircuits: You may have forgotten (but we haven't) that our fearless Senator Link resisted adding any new judgeships to Lake County until he could be sure that these judgeships would be elected by subcircuits, which were designed to break the virtual lock the GOP had on the Lake County judiciary. Republican judges Val Ceckowski and George Bridges take on Democratic attorneys Jay Ukena and David Weinstein. Both GOP judges are extremely well-respected, so I wonder if Link's plan has any chance of working, at least this time around.

So, readers, what other locals races will be hot? Which seats are most likely to switch? Consider this a local election open thread.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Has DCCC Taught Dan Seals Anything Since 2006? Hmmm... Maybe They Better Put Him On the Emergency Plan...

Dan Seals got some good name exposure over the weekend with an Associated Press article that purported to examine lessons learned by candidates who are trying for the second (or third, or fourth, in the case of Jim Oberweis) time to achieve elected office.

I am rather amazed at how shallow some news articles are (even the AP), in that if you read this article, you come away with absolutely no information about Dan Seals, where he stands on the issues, how he claims to be better than Mark Kirk, and exactly what lessons he learned since 2006. Maybe it's just me, but aside from 'start earlier' in the campaign cycle, I'm not sure the article revealed anything Seals learned. Regular readers here know that the AP could have really penned a hard-hitting article on the Seals campaign if they wanted to, and had done their homework (heck, we've pretty much laid it all out right here at Team America).

In any event, my point is that clearly, Seals hasn't learned truthfulness, and in fact, seems to be compounding his falsehoods by puffing his resume with 'professor-gate', 'intern-gate' and 'director-gate.'

Do you think Seals has learned any REAL lessons from last campaign? I bet right now, Seals is feeling his oats from his recent trouncing of Jay Footlik, but now it's a whole new ballgame.

Also, those who kept up with comments over the weekend are aware that self-proclaimed DCCC employee and blog commentor "Flounder" (as we have nicknamed him) appears to have admitted that DCCC was secretly supporting Seals during the primary by supplying campaign workers and who knows what else. (Maybe someone can try to track down some matching documentation showing exactly what support DCCC was giving, now that the cat's out of the bag.)

I wonder, though, at whether the DCCC minions were successful at giving Seals any pointers, and whether DCCC is at all concerned that Seals numerous foibles are now coming out into the open.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Prepare for The Mac Attack - What Does This Mean for IL-10?

Mitt Romney just announced he's dropping out of the race. We have tried to stay away from saying a lot on the presidential race in this space, but we commend Governor Romney for his hard-fought campaigning and the courage of his convictions.

Now, on with the show- It's MAC! We all know Congressman Mark Kirk came out in support of Mac long ago. How will Mac's position as the de facto GOP nominee effect the GOP race, the Dem presidential contenders, and life here in the 10th District?


CLARIFICATION- I understand from the AP that Romney is reportedly "suspending" his campaign (is this different from 'dropping out'?). But no one comes back from the dead. Here's the quote from the AP report: "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

Mitt's done. On with the Mac Attack!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dan Seals Whallops Jay Footlik, But Must Contend With Character Issues in November Against Mark Kirk

Now that the festivities of last night are over, we can take a step back and ask if what happened in the 10th District means a lot for this coming November, or whether events outside the District will in some ways have more of an impact.

First, in case you have been too busy shoveling snow to hear, Dan Seals crushed Jay Footlik, about 80% to 20%. The best and most up-to-date vote totals I can find are as follows:

Cook County: 315 of 331 precincts reporting

Dan Seals: 39,306 votes 83.20%
Jay Footlik: 7,935 votes 16.80%

Lake County: (all precincts reported, but late absentee ballots and provisional ballots not included)

Dan Seals: 33,549 votes 79.20%
Jay Footlik: 8,650 votes 20.50%

Incumbent Congressman Mark Kirk got 25,366 votes in Cook County and 17,980 votes in Lake County.

So, what does this mean?

First, it's clear that Footlik turned out to be no real threat to Seals, and probably helped Seals in the sense that it made Seals gear up his organization early, raise money, and spend money on name recognition, which will no doubt pay dividends for the general election. However, Seals' success is also probably due in large part that Footlik turned out to be a much weaker candidate than expected. He did better in Lake County than Cook County, as we predicted, and I do not know how he did among Jewish voters, who he considered his key demographic, but it's clear that he made many missteps along the campaign trail. Aside from the "meshugana" mailing, which was widely panned and made more than a few Jewish voters who thought Footlik was pandering to their ethnicity very angry, he trailed off in fundraising as his early national money peetered out as the campaign went on. He also confronted a very angry and motivated base of Seals supporters who were very vocal on the campaign trail and the blogosphere that they considered it a grave affront that an upstart like Footlik would DARE challenge their anointed candidate.

On the other hand, Footlik did Mark Kirk a favor in that he forced Seals to make a bunch of appearances in public debates, spend money that will have to be replenished, and send out a bunch of mailers and take positions that may well come back to haunt him. The kiss of death for a candidate is always an attack on their credibility, especially a candidate like Seals who has no actual legislative accomplishments and must run on a platform of 'you can trust me to do better for you in Washington.' I don't care what your positions on this issues are, however, if I don't find you trustworthy, I'm not going to send you to Washington to represent me on those issues.

That's where Seals finds himself now- he is the Dem nominee, and he has a nice target painted on his back. All of the subtle credibility issues that have been brewing just under the surface as to Seals are now going to be brought to the forefront, as Seals begins to match up directly against Kirk. Among the several issues that have been raised about Seals and his lack of veracity are:

--> Claiming to be a "current" Northwestern Professor since last October, when the single night class he is scheduled to teach doesn't being until April 2008

--> His claim to be a "Presidential Management Fellow" when that program did not actually exist until President Bush initiated it (Seals was an "Intern" under a similar, but not the same, federal program)

--> Seals often claims to be a "Director" of GE Capital, rather than his real title of "Director of Marketing", which falsely leads one to believe that Seals was on the Board of Directors

Although we have been quite willing to point out these issues, the mainstream media and other sources are now getting into the act, as we have been reporting for some time now. And, if you didn't catch it from yesterday's post, check out this Northwestern student blog which uses some very colorful language to describe Dan Seals (no, I didn't pay them to put this post up).

So, not to belabor this, but Seals is going to have to defend himself vigorously against the allegations of lack of truthfulness that will be lobbed from now until November.

The vote totals themselves as to the Dems vs. the Republicans are rather startling, which can be summed up in one word: Obama. It's clear in Illinois that Barack Obama was very, very successful at motivating the Dems to come to the polls, and obviously enticed many Independents and probably a few Republicans to pull a Dem ballot to vote for Obama. It's also quite possible a lot of that overall vote total was women voting for Hillary Clinton, who is sometimes overlooked as also being a native of Chicago (Park Ridge), and probably garnered many voters who wanted to vote for a woman. There is little argument that the Dem side of the presidential race was just more exciting on many levels than the GOP.

But, will that translate into all of these folks sticking with Seals for the fall? Doubt it. As we have often noted here, voters in the 10th are notorious ticket splitters. A whole lot of folks who wanted to vote for Obama or Clinton had no choice but to vote for a Dem since they had to select a Dem primary ballot. But, these voters will all have a chance to vote for Kirk in the 10th, regardless of which Dem candidate is at the top of the ticket in November.

AS TO OTHER RESULTS: The key race I was watching was the Eddie Washington v. challenger Angelo Kyle for 60th Dist. State Representative. As most know, Washington fell out of favor with Lake County Dem Czar Terry Link, who is facing lots of his own integrity problems. Link picked Kyle to step in for Washington, and supported Kyle to the hilt, even bringing in people like 59th Dist. Representative Kathy Ryg to stump for Kyle in North Chicago (what was she thinking?). Well, Washington squeaked by, with most of the vote counted, Washington beat Kyle, 42.53% (3,911 votes) for Washington to 41.21% (3,790) votes for Kyle. The third challenger, Tony Elam, got a respectable 16.26% (1,495 votes).

Link is no doubt smarting from this defeat. And Washington is not going to forgive easily, not against Link, and not against Kathy Ryg, or anyone else who tried to screw him. As Washington told the News-Sun, people don't want Terry Link to the "the king of kings."

An interesting vote factoid: In last night's primary, Terry Link got 17,730 votes. In the Nov. 2006 general election, where he ran against Sheilds Township Supervisor Chuck Fitzgerald, Link got 23,506 votes (these are Lake County totals only). So, in an Obama wave, why did Link get almost 6,000 LESS votes than in his last contested election? Could it be that Petition-Gate is having an appreciable toll on his popularity? Perhaps even more telling is that compared to the votes garnered by Kathy Ryg (State Rep in 59)(10,593 votes) and Eddie Washington and his competitors (State Rep in 60)(9,196 votes total among Washington, Kyle and Elam), Link pulled about 2,000 less votes ("undervotes") than the two state representative districts put together (which together make up the 30th District).

It'll be an interesting fall election up in Waukegan and North Chicago.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Election Night Blogging

10th District Totals:

9:00 p.m.- WGN reports Seals 82%, Footlik 18%. Not sure what percentage reported yet.

The word from Willard's office is that they are having to drive the results physically from the precincts. That means that the Seals-Footlik results are all from Cook County.

10:00 p.m.- looks to me like most of Cook County is in, 51% or so of the total 10th District reporting. Seals 83%, Footlik 17%. We will not have results from Lake County for a bit longer yet. Even if Lake County breaks more for Footlik, which I predict it will, it's clear that Seals as a more established candidate, plus Footlik's missteps, gave us the overall result we are seeing. The interesting question that will develop over the next few weeks is if any more attention is paid to the various warts that Seals is starting to develop as a candidate. Here's an NBC-5 link for current results.

10:30 p.m. - looks like Lake County is now reporting, but only for absentee and early votes. But, it's clear Seals is the winner in the 10th. They looked awfully happy at Camp Seals on the TV, and they should enjoy themselves tonight. Because it may well be, all the Dems did is nominate a highly flawed candidate that Kirk is going to spend the next 6 months beating like the seal pup he is.

A few other tidbits- Dr. Steve Sauerberg wins handily for U.S. Senate (to contest Dick Durbin) and Steve Greenberg wins in the 8th Congreessional District over Kirk Morris and Ken Arnold. Milkman Jim Oberweis finally wins one and is the winner of the special election to replace former Speaker Dennis Hastert for the remaining 10 months of Hastert's term.

In the 60th State Legislative District (Waukegan, North Chicago), it looks like incumbent and former Terry Link guy Eddie Washinton squeaked by challenger, county board member and current Terry Link guy Angelo Kyle. This might be viewed as a bit of an upset as Kyle was looking pretty much like a winner up until today.

ORIGINAL POST: I was contemplating doing some live-blogging tonight from Kirk campaign headquarters, but between getting the kids down late (bath nite) and the weather, I'll have to make do from the kitchen table.

First, to follow the Lake County election results, check out County Clerk Extraordinaire Willard Helander's website with election results here.

While you are waiting for the results to come in, enjoy this student blog, Wildcat Watch (with a healthy dose of attitude) from Northwestern University that has picked up the professor-gate issue. ("Illinois Politician Pads Resume With Northwestern Related Lies") Apparently the students at NU understand pretty quickly what Dan Seals fans are still in denial about: he lied about his teaching position.

A few reports from the field indicate that Dan Seals was asked to leave several polling places for electioneering at the doorway. A call to Willard's office this afternoon confirmed that they received several complaints, but apparently there were also some complaints about Footlik. So where are the cell phone pictures/videos, guys???

Stay tuned for more...

Monday, February 4, 2008

IL-10th Congressional District Primary Prognostications (UPDATED x2)

What's your guess as to the results in the 10th District primary between Dan Seals and Jay Footlik?

As a bonus question, predict the spread between Barack Obama over Hillary, and McCain over Romney, in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reported polling that the frontrunner in each party (Obama and McCain, respectively), has about a 2-1 lead over their nearest competitor.

LAUGH OF THE DAY: As everyone knows, I go over to Ellen of the Tenth on a fairly regular basis (although I don't bother to comment anymore since she would quickly remove whatever I would post) to see what venom and sedition she is spreading about Republicans in general and Congressman Mark Kirk in particular. One anonymous commentor today stated said that Dan Seals has about as much foreign policy experience as any ten year old that just came back from Christmas vacation at Epcot. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Good one, whoever you were.

UPDATE #2: FINAL SEALS MAILER FROM THIS WEEKEND: Sorry it took a while, but here is what I assume is the last Seals mailer that went out over this weekend. Look at the second page and tell me if you think Seals is defraying mailing costs by promoting Panera Bread. Then read page three and see if you noticed what I noticed: Seals is back to calling himself a "Director" (capital "D") of GE Capital (say, is that the same company as "GE Commercial Finance", which is what he said before?).

Seals pulled this stunt some months ago, and we called him on it. In the intervening time, he's usually qualified that by stating that he was "Director of Marketing" which is an entirely different connotation than calling one's self a "Director," which, to everyone I've asked, would typically mean a member of the Board of Directors of a company, which for GE Capital, would indeed be impressive. So, it appears that, having dropped the "adjunct professor" claim, Seals was pretty desperate to fill in the resume gap and resorted to his previous misrepresentation. Will this guy ever learn???

UPDATE #1: IL GOP PROFESSOR-GATE PRESS RELEASE: The state Republicans are getting into the act on calling out Dan Seals for his campaign lies. On a very busy day, they still found time to send out the following press release:

For Immediate Release - Feb. 4, 2008
Contact: Lance Trover

Questions of Resume Padding, Residency Take Center Stage in Closing Week of Democratic Primary - Illinois GOP Joins Democrat Jay Footlik in Calling on Dan Seals to 'Get His Facts Straight'

CHICAGO – Dan Seals, bidding for a rematch with U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park), still does not live in the district he seeks to represent, cannot vote for himself in his primary race against Jay Footlik and now faces serious integrity questions -- just one day before Democratic primary voters cast their ballots in Illinois' Tenth Congressional District. When asked by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board why he failed to move into the district after losing to Kirk in 2006, Seals responded, "I'm not a millionaire." (Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2007)

Last week, the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Pioneer Press reported that Seals padded his resume in his official campaign biography. While his Web site describes Seals as a current "Adjunct Professor" at Northwestern University, Seals has yet to teach a class. He is scheduled to be an instructor for only 10 class sessions at the Northwestern Night School of Continuing Studies for Adult Education starting in April.

"We join with Jay Footlik in calling on Dan Seals to stop misleading voters," said ILGOP Spokesperson Lance Trover. "

Seals misled primary voters by falsely identifying himself as a "Northwestern Professor." Seals is unwilling to disclose his mystery list of clients and may not actually be a business consultant. The fellowship he supposedly held did not exist until 2003. And to top it all off, Seals cannot even vote for himself tomorrow because he still does not live in the district."

During his editorial board meeting with the Chicago Tribune, Seals was asked about his claim of being a "business consultant" and could not produce a list of clients. Additionally, Seals' Web site includes a long-time claim of being a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) that is also misleading. The PMF program was founded in 2003 under an Executive Order issued by President Bush. Seals may have served as a Presidential Management Intern, a now defunct program, but could never have served as a PMF.

"Dan Seals likes to talk a lot about change -- he sure knows how to change his resume but he can't seem to figure out how to change his address," Trover said. "Residents of the Tenth Congressional District deserve straight answers to easy questions about a candidate's resume, residency and professional achievements."

Read it for yourself here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

News-Sun: Dan Seals "Had His Chance"--Now It's Jay Footlik's Turn (PLUS PROFESSOR-GATE UPDATE)

While it may be a case of 'too little, too late' for Jay Footlik, the Waukegan News-Sun today endorsed Jay Footlik as the preferred candidate for the 10th District Democratic primary. What the paper had to say about Seals, however, was more telling than the reasons it gave for endorsing Footlik, about whom the News-Sun stated "brings a new perspective to the district and would make a formidable opponent."

On the other hand, in the News-Sun's opinion, the Seal Pup had his chance, and should get out of the way to give Footlik a chance to take out incumbent Republican Congressman Mark Kirk. The News-Sun stated, "we believe Seals had his chance in what turned out to be a Democratic year in a swing district." Translation: Seals couldn't get the job done in what was largely a 'perfect storm' year for Dems across the nation. If he couldn't do it two years ago, what makes anyone think he can do it now? This viewpoint is nothing new, however, and is pretty much what the Footlik campaign has been saying for months.

Of course, Seals has a different opinion. However, his most often-cited credential for running for Congress is that he has previously run for Congress. In his appearances, somewhere within the first 20 seconds of his stump speech, usually is a reminder that last time around he took 47% of the vote. Seals belives that this anomaly is the primary reason people should vote for him, in that he has the best chance to take out Mark Kirk. He also believes that he is 'starting' with 47% of the vote and can only go up.

I think we here at Team America have a different view. Our conjecture is that Seals, if he is the Dem candidate, will actually pull less votes than he did last time around. Seals probably hasn't looked up from his resume-padding activities to notice that Mark Kirk has been EVERYWHERE lately, getting plenty of 'earned media' (and rightly so) for his efforts on combating Lake Michigan pollution, obtaining $100 million in funding for the new Navy VA hospital, sounding the alarm to the State of Illinois to provide matches to keep federal transit funds, and many other activities to benefit the 10th District.

Meanwhile, what has Dan Seals done, besides campaign? His political resume doesn't even match up well against most folks who run for state representative, much less the United States Congress. Has he had experience as an elected official on any level (even Dog Catcher?) Where has his community involvement been over the last two years? What has he done to benefit the 10th District? The answer to all of the above: Zippo.

As we have tried to make clear above: Running for Congress is Not a Credential For Running For Congress.

The people of the 10th District deserve better than Dan Seals, and while Jay Footlik has more going for him than Dan, it's our opinion that we can do no better than Mark Kirk.

ANOTHER FOOTLIK ENDORSEMENT: Another paper, Jewish Chicago, endorsed Jay Footlik, although it had an even stronger endorsement for Mark Kirk. Jewish Chicago doesn't think much of Dan Seals ("a very liberal Democrat"), and stated that Footlik is "highly preferable to Seals who is not our friend."

02.03.08 PROFESSOR-GATE UPDATE: I just came across this blog link this morning, but it's a post from the Pioneer Press blog called "Lake Affect" that is the most critical statement coming from a major media source that I've seen yet.

My question is, why didn't all these newspapers that made endorsements of Dan Seals figure out the Professor-Gate angle BEFORE they made their endorsements??? Even if the information hadn't easily been made available here at Team America, even some MINIMAL fact checking on Seals' credentials would have revealed this issue.

I think the MSM needs to acknowledge some blame for handing out endorsements when they haven't done their homework. If you have the ink, and the established credibility of a major newspaper, you owe it to the readers to do your homework before you make a recommendation that carries weight with its readers and the public.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Dan "The One Issue Man" Seals Drops His Professorship Claim From His Campaign Literature

The heat continues to build on Democratic 10th District congressional candidate Dan Seals for his grossly overstated claim (dare we say "lie"), made since last October, that he is a "current" adjunct professor at Northwestern University. Seals has used this claimed credential as a centerpiece of his thin resume for many months, even though his single night class at NU's school of continuing studies isn't scheduled to begin until April 2008 (obviously well after the primary), and he's never taught there otherwise.

As Team America has reported, the mainstream media has taken notice. This Wednesday, the Daily Herald broke the story in the MSM, and Thursday the Pioneer Press offered its own take on the scandal.

Just yesterday evening, the Chicago Tribune "clout street" blog ran an item on professor-gate, and bloggers from Wilmette to as far away as Kentucky and New York are also taking notice. And, here at Team America, yesterday's post on the issue smashed our previous record for daily "hits" on the blog, clocking in at over 350, which is about twice the normal daily total (kudos to Capitol Fax Blog for the link yesterday!). Clearly, the voters are interested and paying attention.

For some weeks, we have been seeing in news reports on the Seals candidacy that he has softened his claim from "adjunct professor" to "lecturer", and now some new stories are even referring to him as a simple "instructor." At any rate, Northwestern University public relations representatives confirm that for someone teaching a night course, the proper title is "lecturer", not "adjunct professor."

The pressure appears to have compelled Seals to drop this claimed credential from his campaign literature (as well he should). Yesterday, many of us in the 10th District received yet another apparently District-wide mail drop, which piece centered on the Iraq war. As we've noted before, The Seal Pup can't seem to wean himself away from the war as a campaign issue, and while the war is obviously still an important concern (just ask our troops who are risking their lives overseas), as a campaign issue, the better the war appears to be going (and even the most jaded of Dems seem to acknowledge the amazing progress that has been made in the past several months), it continues to lose its punch as a rallying issue for Dem campaigns.

However, nowhere in the four pages of Seals propaganda does it mention Northwestern, or his claim to "currently" be a professor. While it's still (for some insane reason) on his website, it could be his webmaster is on vacation, or is not talking to the flaks who are doing the literature drops.

So, Seals may be growing some horse sense and trying to diminish the controversy by removing his claim in his current literature. But, simply dropping a claim without explanation does not remove the issue of his veracity and credibility.

We've all seen how trying to skirt an issue that might have been easily addessed early in an election cycle can harm even the most polished and impressive of candidates, such as Barack Obama, with regard to his ham-handed handling of the "Uncle" Tony Rezko scandal. Some pundits have blamed Obama's current perception problems with Rezko simply on not being forthcoming enough, when it mattered. Hillary has pounced on the issue, and for anyone not living under a rock, we all see how it has affected Obama's otherwise star-struck campaign.

Jay Footlik is no Hillary Clinton (even though he worked for Billary), and Dan Seals is no Barack Obama. But you can bet that Team Mark Kirk is not going to let Seals' claims fade into the sunset as the general election approaches, assuming that Seals can weather the professor-gate scandal in the primary, which remains to be seen.