Friday, July 31, 2009

Michael Bond Gives Up on IL-10, But Returns to 31st Senate Race to Face Suzi Schmidt (UPDATED)

Capitol Fax Blog is reporting that State Senator Michael Bond will give up on the 10th District Congressional race and run for re-election in the 31st Senate District. We always suspected that Bond was hedging his bets a bit. Wonder if Laura Tomsky will drop out.

Since Bond ran away from the prospect of facing Suzi Schmidt in the first place, I think his days in office may well be numbered.

UPDATED: Schmidt Responds to Bond's Decision:


Contact: Suzi Schmidt
Phone: (847) 356-3173 (H) or (847) 309-7747 (C)
Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt responds to Senator Michael Bond’s decision to seek re-election

LAKE VILLA (July 31, 2009) – The following statement was released today by Suzi Schmidt, the Lake County Board Chairman and Republican candidate for State Senate in the 31st District, regarding State Senator Michael Bond’s decision to bow out of 10th District Congressional race and seek re-election to the State Senate.

“I welcome Senator Bond back to the 31st Senate District and look forward to a vigorous debate with him on the direction of Illinois and the best way to improve the quality of life in our communities.”

About Suzi Schmidt

Suzi Schmidt, 58, is the Chairman of the Lake County Board. Her local government experience includes serving as a Lake Villa Trustee (1985-1988), Lake County Board Member (1988-Present), Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner (1988-Present), and as Chairman of the Lake County Board since 2000. Active in the community, Schmidt is President of Metro Counties, serves on the Board of Governors of the Lake County University Center, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Lake County Municipal League. A 30-year resident of Lake Villa, Schmidt is a member of the Lindenhurst/Lake Villa Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Lake Villa Library, and Lake Villa Historical Society. Schmidt received her Bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 29 years.


Senate Candidate Mark Kirk Begins Statewide Tour

I was wondering when Congressman Mark Kirk was going to head south of I-80 with his campaign for U.S. Senate, and it looks like I didn't have to wait too long. Kirk announced a statewide tour to begin this Saturday, but I don't have any more details as of yet.

As you might expect, Kirk is getting a lot of scrutiny in the media, and he's certainly gotten his share over the years, but this is definitely the big time, now. Kirk is still getting questions on his Cap and Trade vote, but it appears he may be winning back conservatives to some degree as he has indicated he 'got the message' about disappointment from the right wing of the party on his vote. The lefties have noticed that as well.

Also, yesterday's story was that Kirk had two "tweets" sent out while he was on active duty in the naval reserves (if you don't know what a "tweet" is, you probably are still in the majority, but better figure it out fast). Rich Miller at Cap Fax Blog put up a post on this, which has been picked up by others, and many are asking questions this morning about whether this violated military regulations for a number of different reasons. However, there doesn't seem to be a clear answer, at least not yet, in large part due to the fact that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other new social media tools are so new, it sometimes is a challenge to apply the 'old rules' to these new media. While this seems to be a hot story right this minute, I think the Dems' ability to potentially capitalize on this (if, in fact, there's anything here) is severely limited, considering the very story clearly highlight's Kirk's military service, which none of his expected top opponents can tout.

Getting back to the Kirk statewide strategy, here's a good article by Greg Blankenship of the Springfield State Journal-Register that lays out the landscape Kirk faces nicely. That saves me a lot of time teeing up today's issue, which is what advice you would give Team Kirk to help transplant their successful 10th District operation to a statewide basis?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

10th District Race May Get More Crowded With Attorney Jim Koch

Illinois Review tipped me off to yet another potential GOP candidate for the 10th District, Wilmette attorney and New Trier High School District 203 Board President Jim Koch. Read the Pioneer Press article here.

Koch is not from my neck of the 10th District, so I don't have anything further on him right now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Julie "Tax Me, Please" Hamos Jumps in IL-10; Video Archives Reveal Much More Than Her Announcement Video Does (UPDATED)

This video of State Rep. Julie Hamos announcing her bid for Congressman Mark Kirk's Senate Seat has been making the rounds of the blogs over the last 24 hours. But it's so frickin'-awful boring that I'm not sure anyone has made it all the way through. Hamos ought to have at least borrowed Alexi's teleprompter so she wouldn't have to keep referring to her notes (just speaking from the heart apparently wasn't her first choice).

Here's Hamos's announcement, in case you have trouble sleeping tonight and want to look.

A more interesting, and more revealing video of Hamos that I dug up on YouTube is Hamos being interviewed on the local North Town News Magazine only a few weeks ago. Hamos is a lot more animated in this video interview. Why? Because she's speaking from the heart about her desperate attempts to raise the Illinois income tax to save her beloved social programs. Yes, Representative Hamos, Illinois does have a low income tax rate, but I think we more than make up for it given the sales taxes, property taxes, drivers license fees, and every other nickel-and-dime way to squeeze income out of the taxpayers that this state has implemented. Low income tax is about the ONLY advantage left to starting or moving a business to Illinois.

Hamos is now swiftly moderating, talking (or no doubt will be talking) about reform, cutting government waste and spending, and ethics. Where was all that during your long tenure as a machine state representative?

Meanwhile, I've heard there was some inter-family Democratic angst yesterday about Hamos snubbing some of our local Democratic 'heroes', namely Lauren Beth Gash, at the Hamos announcement. Anyone have the scoop on that? I'm dying to see if LBG still backs the Pup. This could get real messy real fast.

UPDATED: Here's a shot in the arm for Republicans in general in looking forward to 2010, courtesy of Politico:

Bolstered by historical trends that work in the GOP’s favor — midterm elections are typically hostile to the party in power — and the prospect of the first election in a decade without former President George W. Bush either on the ballot or in office, Republicans find themselves on the offensive for the first time since 2004.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is the Lovefest for Dan Seals Over?

Today Eric Zorn of the Tribune officially ends his love affair (journalistically speaking, of course) with two-time losing 10th District candidate Dan Seals (to see what I mean about the Zorn/Seals lovefest, revisit this Zorn column where he suggests Seals might have been a good appointment for U.S. Senate when that was in question before Burris was put in by Blago).

While Zorn claims not to be endorsing State Rep. Julie Hamos, who announces for IL-10 today, Zorn's timing with his soul-searching revelation implies a little more to me. After all, he could have come to the same conclusion immediately after Seals announced his candidacy, given that a viable (if not overly exciting) alternative candidate, State Senator Michael Bond, was already in the race.

"Seals has had his chance and should step aside," says Zorn.


Our friend Ellen of the Tenth was also noted as backing away from Seals in a comment on one of her DailyKos posts. It will be interesting to see what side Lauren Beth Gash and her 10th Dems take.

Dan, Dan, we barely knew ya before you left us.

GOP Businessman Dick Green Close to Announcing Bid for IL-10

The next (potential) candidate we take a look at today in our continuing series on how the race to succeed Congressman Mark Kirk is shaping up, is Winnetka businessman Dick Green. Green has been out working the 10th District since even before Mark Kirk officially announced his intention to seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Blagojevich-appointee Roland Burris, but I managed to catch up with Green at last night's meeting of the Libertyville Township Republicans (a very important township for anyone competing in the 10th District).

Green has a strong entrepreneurial background, having moved from Evanston, where he was born, out to California after graduating from Harvard. He immediately joined a very small bond market consulting firm and was named President of the firm only three years later. Green grew his business rapidly, and it was named an Inc 500 company (top growth rates for small business) three years in a row. The company was sold to S&P/McGraw-Hill in 1989 and he remained as President through mid-1992. Green then started his own business,, in 1993 and moved the business to Illinois in 2000. In 2005, Smart Money Magazine named Dick Green a top market mover on its annual Power 30 list. He has grown his business to 60 employees, and is headquartered in downtown Chicago.

Green's political experience is mostly limited to his stint in California, but he notes that as a local party chairman, he's "written many checks, dialed for dollars, and stuffed many envelopes." He's been married 18 years, has one 15-year old son, and three grown step-children.

Green says his primary focus is jobs, jobs, jobs. He wants to "take business sense to Washington and be a passionate advocate for private enterprise, particularly small business." He wants to halt the excessive government spending, reduce the debt and end corruption.

Green says he will be a "partial self-funder," which sounds a little vague, but is understandable considering that even a successful businessman like Green should be leery of personally committing the millions of dollars up front that this campaign will likely cost. Besides, we on the North Shore have not traditionally reacted too well to self-funders (even if they try to bribe us with ice cream).

Green expects to make a formal announcement "soon," likely after the fanfare over the Hamos announcement today dies down a little. So far, he's probably been mentioned the most in news articles leading up to this point, including Politico, Talking Points Memo (TPM), Roll Call (subscription required), as well as some local coverage.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Julie Hamos to Announce for IL-10; Bad Day for Michael Bond and Dan Seals

Julie Hamos is set to announce her bid for the 10th Congressional District Democratic nomination tomorrow in Highland Park (h/t Capitol Fax Blog). Hamos appears to have a nice contingent of big Dem names already lined up, including, as expected, State Senator Susan Garrett.

A bad day for Michael Bond, as Hamos sucks the wind out of his campaign, which may have already been stolen by two-time loser and perennial candidate Dan Seals. For now, Bond can't even claim support from his mentor Terry Link, since Link for some insane reason decided to float his name out there as well. Come to think of it, I'm not sure Bond has announced any 'names' behind him at all.

A bad day for Bond, but probably a worse day for Dan Seals, as the eastern/southern edge of the North Shore is where he drummed up most of his support and local money last time. Not sure if Garrett's support of Hamos means Lauren Beth Gash's 10th Dems organization follows, but Gash is important because she has a good organization and nothing better to do than chase the ghost of Mark Kirk.

On the GOP side, former
Porter staffer Bill Cadigan stacks up nicely against Hamos, who will be unable to carry the 'reform' banner with a straight face. Dick Green has been floating his name longer than Cadigan but still hasn't announced, so the Dem field is shaping up more quickly, which is to be expected since most were waiting for Kirk to make up his mind. And we, of course, need to wait and see if Beth Coulson is serious about making a run.

Let's see if Bond and Seals stick it out. Seals has nothing better to do, of course, but Bond could conceivably run back to the 31st District to face Lake County Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt, or run for something else (his website, after all, is "Bond2010", not anything more specific). But he'll have to commit soon.

More later.

Former Porter Staffer Bill Cadigan Looks at IL-10 Race

How much weight does the John Porter brand (IL-10's Congressman who immediately preceded Mark Kirk) still carry in the 10th Congressional District? We may have a chance to find out if health care attorney and former Porter staffer Bill Cadigan decides to enter the ring for the sure-to-be-bloody 10th District bout.

Cadigan, 45, is a native of Arlington Heights who now lives in Winnetka with his wife Beth and their 13 month old son. He is an attorney in private practice with offices in Chicago and Winnetka. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Juris Doctorate from the John Marshall Law School.

Before entering law school, Cadigan worked on Capitol Hill as an aide for Porter, handling appropriations, health care, education and other domestic policy issues. Interestingly, he worked for Porter at the same time as current Congressman Mark Kirk. Cadigan looked at the race in 2000, when Kirk did decide to run, but Porter decided the time was not yet ripe for him.

Is it right now? Cadigan sent Team America this statement:

I'm interested in running for Congress for two reasons. First, our country is in a grave economic situation. I am frustrated that the people in control of Congress and the executive branch can’t get beyond partisan bickering and posturing to enact common sense measures to promote job growth on Main Street and restore confidence in Wall Street.

Second, I believe the time for anger over corruption in Illinois is over. It is time for action. As a Republican activist, I have worked to promote GOP candidates and causes that will bring good government and reform to Illinois. As this campaign gets underway, I pledge to continue the work of reform and uphold the independent, fiscally conservative, and socially moderate tradition that has served the 10th District so well for the last 30 years.

Cadigan tells me that he's competed in and finished 8 marathons, and in his spare time is an avid bicyclist. He's going to need that energy to successfully compete in IL-10, where State Rep. Julie Hamos is expected to announce her candidacy tomorrow, and State Senator Michael Bond and perennial IL-10 candidate Dan Seals are also in the race. On the GOP side, only failed mayoral candidate Patricia Bird has formally announced, but businessman Dick Green is expected to also run (we'll have more on Dick Green this week), and State Rep. Beth Coulson is also taking a serious look.

Cadigan's experience with Porter probably gives him the most instant credibility with the electorate out of any GOP potential candidates that I've heard mentioned so far. Cadigan knows he can't simply ride Porter's coattails; after all, Porter has been out of office nine years, so he's going to have to stand on his own. He says he's up to the challenge, though, so we may expect an announcement soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Welcome to the Machine - Little Alexi Thinks He's All Grown Up and Ready for the Big Time

Ah, to be 33 again, and think I knew everything. Of course, I thought that at 17. But I digress. Today, it wasn't about me, it was all about Alexi Giannoulias, and the unbridled ego and hutzpah that makes him think he's the perfect next U.S. Senator from Illinois because... well... because he's Barack Obama's basketball buddy, and Alexi really, really likes him a lot.

I have a better mentor than Obama that I think he'll be tied to again and again in the next few months...

Yep, you guessed it... Alexi former best friend (before Obama), former Governor Rod Blagojevich. The same tired politics, the same machine, shoving the same self-centered and corrupt and/or incompetent politicians down our collective throats in Illinois.

Are the voters in Illinois ever going to learn? Have we already forgetten how the machine handed us the great Roland Burris to represent us?

Luckily, this time, there will be a clear alternative to the machine Dem candidate this time around, in the form of 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk.

For your delight and edification, we offer our Top Ten snarky observations from Alexi's coming-out party today:

1. There were way more people at Kirk's announcement, even though Alexi has the full weight of the machine behind him, and has really been running for months.

2. Kirk didn't have to use a teleprompter to figure out what he wanted to say (yes, that's right...our Alexi thinks is so much like Obama he used a flippin' teleprompter).

3. TA hears Alexi stuck his tongue out at some folks while he was just off stage... real mature.

4. His live video feed went down temporarily. D'oh!!!

5. OK, besides the greek immigrant parents, working for union folks at Hartmarx, and trying to move Obama's message forward in Senate, Alexi gave us absolutely no reason way he would be a good senator (maybe before he ties himself irrevocably to Obama, Alexi ought to look at some of the polling data showing how people are worried about some of Obama's agenda items like healthcare reform)

6. The biggest name dem he could get to back him was Bill Foster...Who's that??? Exactly....they guy who beat Obie for the Hastert seat.... (in comparison, who did Kirk have announce him at his event but former guv Jim Edgar. who is widely regarded as one of the best politicians Illiniois has seen in recent years)

7. Why did Alexi need two distracting videos to run during the announcement... you really need a dog and pony show to help launch yourself?

8. He actually bragged about the Brightstart program... say what? Can you say, where's my $85 mil?

9. Alexi claims he isnt going to take any lobbyist or PAC money.....what about all the labor union PACs? I guess they don't count???

10. Did I mention he used a teleprompter.....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

State Rep. Beth Coulson Tests 10th District Waters

Got an e-mail yesterday from State Rep. Beth Coulson, who (after some conflicting reports here and there over the last few weeks) has publicly stated that she is considering jumping in to succeed Congressman Mark Kirk in IL-10:

Statement From State Representative Elizabeth Coulson
Regarding 10th Congressional District Race

As you know, Congressman Mark Kirk has announced that he will seek election to the United States Senate in 2010. Since his announcement, many people have urged me to run for the 10th Congressional District seat that he will be vacating.

I have been honored to serve as your State Representative of the 17th District for the past 12 years and I believe I have played an important role in effecting policy in critical areas such as health care, education, ethics reform and the environment. Nevertheless, I believe I have the duty to consider this unique opportunity to continue my work on these issues at the federal level.

Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the possibility of running for Congress with my family, my friends and my constituents. As you may guess, this is a big decision and I must give it ample consideration. As always, your input is crucial and I welcome and appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts and advice as to how I can best serve the people of this area. You can visit my website at: and click on the “Join the Team” tab to leave your thoughts in the comments section or email me directly at:

In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing support. I will be making a decision shortly.

I think that's a pretty interesting development. Coulson has a record that would fit well in the 10th, is an established elected official (State Rep. since 1996) and fundraiser, an experienced campaigner, and has good name recognition is parts of the 10th, which overlaps some of her district (the 17th). (I have to confirm this, but I think she may even be Dan Seals' state rep!) More background on her here. I think if she threw in, she'd probably become the instant front-runner on the GOP side.

Other candidates are definitely also pursuing the seat, though, both officially and unofficially (for now)--in fact, I'm having lunch with a fellow Friday who is considering running who comes from the John Porter 'family' who would also make an interesting candidate. But for now, the field is wide open, especially as Congressman Kirk is not going to get involved anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the Kirk for Senate campaign is getting underway. Check out the new site here. More details to come.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Can We Miss Dan Seals If He Won't Go Away?

Dan Seals. 2006. 2008. 2010. What's changed?

Not much, at least about Seals. As far we can tell, Seals has spent his time since the last election just hanging around.

He hasn't moved into the 10th District. He hasn't done any significant community work. He has no real accomplishments. Once again, he's running for Congress on the strength of the fact he ran for Congress. Twice before. And lost.

He likes to say he got 47% of the vote last go-round with Congressman Mark Kirk (who, as we all know, announced with fanfare that he will run for the U.S. Senate this cycle). Not really too impressive when you consider Barack Obama took the 10th District with 61%.

At least he's not claiming to be a Northwestern University Professor anymore (now, he's just a 'lecturer').
How about this for a slogan: "Dan Seals. Just Give Me A Shot - I Can't Keep Running Forever."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dan Seals Hopes Third Time's the Charm in IL-10

I just got an e-mail from Dan Seals stating he's in for IL-10. Most of his old campaign team has left for other posts, so who he gets on board (and how he pays them) will be interesting. Somebody better tell him that his strategy from the last two cycles of Kirk=Bush doesn't work if he's not running against Kirk.

Does Seals now become the presumed front-runner over Michael Bond?

State Rep. Julie Hamos may be in the race as well, and may get support from Susan Garrett. (h/t Capitol Fax Blog).

More on these IL-10 developments later.

Mark Kirk Senate Announcement Wrap-Up; Meanwhile, Back in IL-10 Garrett is Out, Link Posturing

Congressman Mark Kirk's announcement yesterday that he would run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris got major media attention, and as expected, vaulted him into the front-runner position for the Republican nomination for what will be a hotly-contested race, probably with a impressive dose of White House involvement. Here is the coverage from the Daily Herald (big headline above the fold in the print edition), Chicago Tribune, Pioneer Press and the News-Sun. Illinois Review has a strong statement of support from the IL GOP. The Dems are freaking out, although this move by Kirk was long-expected. Via HuffPo. Even Rich Miller at Capitol Fax Blog was impressed by Kirk's roll out.

As we reported yesterday, one of the top Dem contenders, Alexi Giannoulias, sent out a press release that tried to tie Kirk back to former President George Bush. We're not the only ones to think that this strategy is doomed to failure- an alert reader pointed out this very interesting article in Real Clear Politics about this very issue. It's definitely worth a read.

Meanwhile, back in the 10th District, State Senator Susan Garrett has decided not to run for Kirk's seat, citing her challenges at the state legislative level. I had my doubts about Garrett actually pulling the trigger, as it seemed like a lot of work for her and would take time away from attending parties in Lake Forest and Highland Park. Of course, the notion of work to be done in Springfield never stopped fellow State Senator Michael Bond from seeking the seat, even months before Kirk announced for Senate. But now, the interesting twist is that State Senator Terry Link also has stated he's considering running.

I think the real chances of Link actually making a bid for Congress are about 0%. This is really about any one or more of the following:

1) Getting some media attention.
2) Trying to re-establish his relevancy after a series of recent political defeats.
3) Sending a message to his protege Michael Bond that the young whippersnapper perhaps hasn't been kissing up enough to Dad, and needs to be reminded who brought him.

Many people have remarked that Link is not getting any younger and doesn't always look in the pink of health when he's out in public. I doubt he'd really be ready for the vigors of a real Congressional campaign. So, I doubt this will all cause a big stir with most folks who know anything, as they will most likely brush it off as posturing, as we have done here.

Behind the scenes, on the GOP side, more people are coming out with interest in running for Kirk's seat and quietly are lining up support and testing fundraising waters. As you might expect, TA is stating to get calls from prospective candidates, but I (along with Mark Kirk) don't have any clear favorite yet, and I expect will withhold any endorsements until the field shapes up and we have a chance to do an endorsement session, maybe. Thoughts on that?

Finally, we're still mulling a new name for the blog to reflect our intent to cover the Kirk for Senate race, but it may be something as simple as "Team America's 10th District and Senate Blog." Not brilliant, but to the point. Other ideas?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mark Kirk Comes Out Charging Hard for U.S. Senate

Ending literally months of speculation, 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk this morning announced that he will run for the U.S. Senate for the seat currently held by Blagojevich-appointee Roland Burris. The announcement was made at Kirk's childhood home in Kenilworth, on the same porch where he announced his first run for Congress almost ten years ago. Kirk spoke forcefully about his quest to return ethics and integrity to Illinois politics, which message was reinforced by the man who introduced Kirk, none other than former Illinois governor Jim Edgar, who is still seen as one of the most ethical political leaders the state has known in recent times.

Many other GOP party leaders were present as well, including State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna (which should put to rest any questions of McKenna's support for Kirk), Congresswoman
Judy Biggert, State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, State House Minority Leader Tom Cross, State Representatives Ed Sullivan and Sandy Cole, and many more. With this much party support and about $1 million in the bank to start things off, Kirk is clearly the presumed front-runner, not to mention the only GOP candiate that has already gained national attention as the only Republican candidate that has a very good chance of winning back the seat.

It was really a great event. The yard and neighborhood were packed with Kirk supporters. You can see TA was proudly bearing his sign, as promised.

I was standing right in front of the news cameras, so look to see if we got any free media attention on tonight's news. The place was a press mob scene. (Kirk die-hards should be able to easily identify the blonde-haired woman directing media traffic!)

There were a few protestors from both the looney left and the nutty right, which, as far as I am concerned, means that Mark Kirk is exactly the kind of leader that is going to appeal to the voters of Illinois. If the extremes of both political parties are against you, that's just what a lot of voters seem to be looking for, nowadays.

Meanwhile, on the Dem side, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias wasted no time in sending out a press release, which he also posted on DailyKos. Maybe he hired some old Dan Seals team members, as the message is the same old tired mantra of Bush is bad, bad, bad, that not only didn't work for Seals, it's now grossly out of date. Even the Dem commentors on that post seem concerned that Alexi's message already falls flat, and he's going to have to do a lot better than that against Kirk, if Alexi turns out to be the Dem nominee. And even funnier, our old Friend Ellen of the Tenth has now largely abandoned her blog, it seems, and has taken to trying to rip Kirk on DailyKos to get someone to read her manifestos.

Based on the energy and enthusiasm I saw today, Kirk is going to make this race one for the record books, and I have little doubt we saw the very beginning of the era of Senator Mark Kirk this morning.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Day on the Lake, and Getting Ready for the Big Mark Kirk Announcement (UPDATED: Dems to Help Establish Kirk Conservative Creds)

I usually don't post a lot of personal stuff on this blog, but since I've discovered Facebook, I'm starting to lighten up about that. So, I wanted to share a pic of my day on the lake, racing the boat (we took third out of seven, so not all that great, but it beats being in the office).

I'm really looking forward to the big Mark Kirk announcement tomorrow. I can't speak for the campaign, but let's just say no one I know is taking any sucker bets that it will be anything but a U.S. Senate announcement. Unless something for a client blows up on me, I plan to be there to get pix and full coverage for the Blog.

I'm considering making a "Team America's Blog for Kirk" sign, but my wife will probably talk me out of it.

This is really going to be exciting!

UPDATED 8:45 p.m.: Well, we anticpated that the location of Kirk's Monday announcement was going to get out, and sure enough, the New Trier Dems intend to march and protest Kirk at his presser. Classy, classy. And, get this: they are trying to convey the message that Kirk is not a moderate! No, remember Kirk=Bush!!! That really worked great for Seals.

All you right-wingers that think Kirk isn't good enough for you, please take notice.

UPDATED 10:25 p.m.: I just finished pasting
up the sign I will bring along to the Kirk press conference tomorrow. Maybe the TA fans will all stand together or something (and as I predicted, Mrs. TA thinks I'm being a bit goofy, but hey, this is grass roots politics at its finest).

And, in other news- over at the Bizzaro world's answer to Team America, "Blue Lake Special," they are trying to help us with our blog renaming dilemma. Well, a few of their "Top Ten Rejected Names" for the blog are kinda sorta amusing, but Letterman they are not. Ah, flattery, flattery.

Well, it was getting boring with Ellen of the Tenth having crawled into a hole of self-pity and denial after Seals lost. These folks seem to show a little more spirit. And Ellen certainly never could take a joke.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

IL-10 Congressional Race Is Wide Open As Mark Kirk Announces "Statewide" Bid; Says He Won't Endorse Successor

In a conference call with key supporters yesterday, Congressman Mark Kirk talked about his planned announcement for a "statewide" bid and stated he will not endorse a successor for his Congressional seat, at least not at this point.

Kirk still has not officially announced he will run for Senate (technically, he could announce he's running for Comptroller, after all, that's a "statewide" office, too), but I think we all see the writing on the wall. While we will neither confirm nor deny that suspicion, which many media outlets have presupposed, since Kirk has not made it official, we can say that Kirk did discuss the future of IL-10 on the call.

Kirk's view is that "the best candidates are the hungriest, and hardest working," and that's what he'll be looking for as the GOP field takes shape. Names of a few potential IL-10 candidates were mentioned specifically (and more or less offhandedly), but it was clear that no one currently enjoys even a tacit endorsement from Kirk at this point. No one close to the campaign or Kirk's staff has announced any intention to run, but even if they did, Kirk would likely follow the model of his mentor and former boss John Porter, and make him or her earn that endorsement, as Kirk had to, despite having had a close relationship with Porter.

As we who were around in 2000 all remember, Kirk emerged from a very crowded primary field to then beat the Democratic nominee, Lauren Beth Gash, who thought she was going to win right up until the day before the election. She still hasn't gotten over it.

For now, this is still Team America's "10th District Blog," so we will be taking a closer look at candidates on both the GOP and Dem side in the coming days and weeks, since it's at least clear Mark Kirk will not run for a sixth term in Congress.

But I'm looking for suggestions for a name that reflects a potential broader focus for this space. Any ideas, campers?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mark Kirk Inches Closer to Senate Announcement

Several media sources (Crain's, CBS-2, others), are quoting a Kirk campaign media advisory that states that Kirk will announce his plans for "statewide office" on Monday, July 20th, at 10:30 a.m. Some outlets are making the obvious leap that Kirk will announce for U.S. Senate, but there has been no official announcement yet.

As I mentioned over at Capitol Fax Blog, for anyone who doesn’t think Team Kirk knows what there are doing with respect to media savvy, consider how many times they have gotten press out of an announcement that there will be an announcement to announce something, soon. Maybe. Considering the media frenzy every time an “announcement” goes out, it seems Kirk will have little trouble moving his name recognition beyond the 10th District and reaching the rest of the state. Some may sneer, but Kirk seems to have everyone on the edge waiting for him to speak. Not a bad kickoff to a statewide campaign.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

McKenna Clears Way For Kirk Senate Run

After a few days of odd back-and-forth over who's running for U.S. Senate and who's not, the two top Republican maybe-candidates, 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk and IL GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, have sorted things out amongst each other. Kirk won, and McKenna will step aside.

I haven't seen a lot of praise for McKenna for making the right decision, but we will laud him here, at least for that, although I know it may drive frequent commentor "FOKLAES" a little nuts. Hey, at least you don't have to deal with McKenna as your Senate candidate.

Anyway, the path is clear for Kirk to declare his Senate run, after much in the way of mixed signals coming from his camp. Let's hope his Senate run is a tightly-focused machine that comes out of the box with a clear plan to take on the state. It's a daunting task, given the blue nature of Illinois and the ever-present shadow of the Obama White House looming in the background, which one may assume will take a keen interest in not loosing this seat. But, the popular wisdom appears to be that if anyone can do it, Kirk can. From the Washington Times:

Until now, no one thought the Republicans had any chance to win the Senate seat in heavily Democratic Illinois, especially in the present climate, when the Republican brand has been badly damaged. However, Mr. Kirk may be the one candidate who can pull it off in a state where widespread corruption has badly damaged the Democrats' brand even more.

The youthful five-term congressman represents the Democratic-leaning 10th Congressional District, which Mr. Obama carried last year by 61 percent, but Mr. Kirk's cross-party appeal has kept it in the Republican column against all comers.

He is a prodigious fundraiser, too, having raised more than $580,000 in the second quarter, amassing a total of $1.1 million in cash on hand.

"Kirk is a very strong statewide candidate for Republicans. This is an easier race for them now that Madigan is not running," said Jennifer Duffy, senior elections analyst at the Cook Political Report.

Of course, there's nothing in this particular article that we in the 10th District didn't already know. But it's nice to see that the rest of the political universe is quickly catching on.

No official word on when the 'official' announcement will be, but I would bet it will be less than a week. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, let's start talking about Kirk's successor. I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that Kirk's legacy in IL-10 doesn't turn out to be "Congressman Michael Bond."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Was Mark Kirk Out of the Senate Race Before He Was In?

Wow, Team Kirk keeps their cards close to their chest. NOW major news outlets are reporting that Kirk will NOT run for Senate.

I wanted to believe that Mark would not have decided on Senate without clearing it with me, so I was reluctant at first to believe the news that he had cast his lot for Senate ;-) . Now it appears that the rumors that he had made up his mind as of Lisa Madigan's announcement not to run for Senate were overblown.

We'll have to watch this for continuing developments. But maybe I won't have to rename the blog after all.

UPDATE: Now I read that Kirk is waiting for GOP Chairman Andy McKenna to commit NOT to run for Senate in order for Kirk to run. My head is spinning a bit. Roll Call seems to have the best handle on this developing situation.

The Dominoes Continue to Fall as Burris Opts Out of 2010 Senate Contest; No Word Yet From Mark Kirk; Andy McKenna for IL-10?

The metaphor is already cliched, but more dominoes in the Illinois political scene fell yesterday as Sneed reported that Senator Roland Burris had decided not to run in 2010 for the seat he currently holds through his appointment by former governor Rod Blagojevich. No money, says Burris, and no hope of winning, as we all knew.

But darn, I was really hoping that other Dem contenders would have to really do an impressive tap-dance around Burris, who currently is the nation's only African-American senator, and has not been afraid to scream 'racism' at the merest hint of criticism (after all, how else you you think he was able to shame the Senate into admitting him?). That includes Obama, who would, for now, be a lot freer to declare his support for State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis. There was always the outside hope that Burris might actually survive by carrying the black vote in a heavily contested and nasty primary among the likes of Giannoulis, Chris Kennedy, Cheryle Jackson, and probably others. But that dream is gone, and it looks like if Congressman Mark Kirk runs for that seat, the Dem field may be a little clearer, and the ultimate Dem nominee won't be Burris in any event.

That's too bad for Kirk. I think it's no secret that Mark's biggest challenge (aside from the blue-leaning voters in this state) is the Obama White House coming down like a ton of bricks on Mark. The Dems wasted no time by putting up a video on YouTube compiled by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

However, the Republican senate shop (NRSC) quickly responded with an e-mail noting that Kirk already had the Dems running scared.

Hey, all you right-wingers, you paying attention to how conservative the Dems think Mark is? Put that in your cap n' trade pipe and smoke it.

I have to say, though, that if the Kirk=Bush thing didn't work for Dan Seals in the liberal 10th District in the middle of the unpopular Iraq war, the DSCC is going to have to do a lot better than that.

Anyway, Mark still hasn't officially announced even IF he's going to run for Senate, and I would not expect an announcement on a Friday, so I'll see what I can find out over the weekend.

As to who is setting their sights on the 10th District Congressional seat currently held by Kirk (assuming he leaves to run for Senate), lots of names are being kicked around here and elsewhere, but I think it will take quite some time for a clear front-runner to emerge. Illinois Review posted yesterday that IL GOP Chairman Andy McKenna was potentially part of a deal to clear the Senate nomination for Kirk and have McKenna run in IL-10. (h/t commentor FOKLAES) The Daily Herald has a story on possible contenders and states that only one GOP candidate has announced her intention to run, Patricia Bird. Patricia who? Wonder if she has the first clue about the 10th District (not to mention Team America).

Well, goofier things have happened.

And, I saw a comment on Capitol Fax Blog yesterday that indicated that State Rep. Beth Coulson said she was going to run again for her state house seat. Sorry, Phil Collins.

Wow, this is going to be a busy, busy 18 months on this blog. Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, you're in for a ride.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

With Mark Kirk in the U.S. Senate Race, What's the Future of IL-10? (UPDATED)

I still haven't gotten the official report from Congressman Kirk (surely I have to be on the must-call list somewhere...), but assuming for the moment that Kirk will run for Senate, where does that leave us in IL-10?

Talking Points Memo already is looking at that picture and offers some thoughts.

On the Dem side, it's good news for everyone, considering the bluish nature of the district. Bond has got to believe he's the luckiest man alive, considering his prospects of winning against Kirk if he stayed home were bleaker than bleak, and it was beginning to look like he'd made a bad move, even though his chances against keeping his seat against County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt weren't much better. That's, of course, even assuming he survived a primary against fellow State Senator Susan Garrett. And then there may still be also-ran Dan Seals, who apparently has been sitting at home watching the kids, just waiting for such a development.

On the GOP side, although there have been a few names thrown around behinds the scenes, everyone has been waiting for Kirk to make his move. If it's now official, I think people will start lining up. Whether a clear favorite will emerge quickly remains to be seen.

And, importantly, will the national GOP abandon the 10th District, which consistently leans Democratic at the presidential level and is a horribly expensive market to campaign in? Or will Mark Kirk be able to command resources to help the GOP protect this seat?

Exciting times, folks. We may have to re-name the blog.

UPDATED 4:00 p.m.: I just spoke with someone from Kirk's team who said that there was no official announcement as of yet.

But I got the feeling it would be coming... stay tuned.

Washington Post Claims Lisa Madigan Will Run for Re-Election as AG; Where Does That Leave Mark Kirk? (UPDATED: KIRK IS IN FOR SENATE- ?)

An alert commentor pointed us to a new post up on the Washington Post website that cites highly-placed Democratic sources as saying that Lisa Madigan will announce today that she is running for re-election to Illinois Attorney General, which (if true) will end months of speculation (and disappoint a lot of Dem leaders, supposedly including President Barack Obama), and perhaps open the door for a U.S. Senate bid by Congressman Mark Kirk.

Crain's says there will be a Madigan press conference at 2:00 p.m. today.

Assuming this is true, I don't think we'll hear from Mark today, but I'll try to find out where things are headed...

On the other hand, the Washington Post is generally pretty reliable, but there has been so much speculation around Madigan's plans lately that everyone has an opinion, it seems, and you know what they say about opinions.

UPDATED 12:55 p.m.: Commentor FOKLAES tipped us off that Politico is announcing that Kirk is calling key supporters to tell them that he's running for Senate.

All modesty aside, TA hasn't gotten the call yet, so I am a tad reserved until I hear something more definitive.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Do Dead Men Have Tales to Tell? Lake County Coroner Richard Keller's Decision Not to Seek Re-election Should Raise Questions (UPDATED)

A very interesting development tonight with the announcement of Lake County Cororner Richard L. Keller, MD, a Democrat, that he will not run for relection in 2012, despite just having defeated GOP challenger Michael Oster, MD, in the November 2008 election.

Now, why would someone like Keller make a decision not to run and announce that now, three years before the next election?

Keller's explanation is that he underestimated how much politics and fundraising pervaded the job of coroner. "I feel that politics is getting in my way here," Keller said. "I just want to get out from under it and do the best job I can do the remaining three years I have here."


He JUST won re-election, and he's NOW worried about the time commitment of the political aspect of his job, specifically fundraising?

According to Keller's D-2 filings with the State Board of Elections, Keller raised $0 the first six months of 2009, so he hasn't been beating the bushes for money so far this year. And with his election not until 2012, he'd have plenty of time to build up a war chest slowly but surely. His fundraising history also casts doubt on his stated rationalization, as Keller has never been a big fundraiser or spender, rarely if ever breaking $10K in a reporting period, as far as I can tell. And many of his donors appear to be labor unions, which usually don't take a lot of time or effort to hit up for funds.

In fact, in most periods when an election is not right around the corner, he appears to raise nothing.

Based on Keller's D-2's he's hardly being squeezed for time playing politics and raising money.

Something here smells like a corpse the coroner forgot to put back into the freezer for a few days. TA suspects there is much more than just a re-evaluation of Keller's life priorities behind this decision.

UPDATE 07/07/09 7:00 a.m.: Here's a News-Sun article on Keller with a scant more detail than the link above. This article confirms that the justification Keller claims is to avoid fundraising. Given the election is three years out, the timing of his announcement is at least, odd, and given his fundraising habits and track record, as discussed at the main post, above, it seems like an awfully weak justification. The Daily Herald also has something short up.

To badly paraphrase Paul Harvey, I'm looking for the 'rest of the story.'

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Getting Back to Political Basics In Lake County (UPDATED- BOND SUCCESSOR INFO)

This past week has been quite a whirlwind around here and on other blogs, discussing the ramifications of Congressman Mark Kirk's vote on the Climate Change bill. Leaving the politics aside for a moment, it's clear that the Internet has become a driving force for political discourse that has long eclipsed the print media. I don't know about others, but being a news hound that still reads four dailies (Trib, Herald, News-Sun and WSJ), it's typical that I've already heard about 75% of the stories that appear in my morning paper since I've kept up on the previous day's news stories online all day long. The interactive nature of the Internet, and the ability to trade opinions with bloggers, commentors, politicians, and even the reporters who wrote the story that you read in the paper, gives the exchange of ideas and political discourse an entirely new dimension.

Of course, now that we can all talk to one-another, it's also easy for things to get out of hand when some seem to lack decorum and simple politeness. I'll admit I found myself being on the short end of my temper on a few occasions over the last few days in dealing with a few commentors who (I thought unfairly) either attacked Mark Kirk or were so stoneheaded in their views that we seemed to be getting nowhere. But, I have always wanted this blog to be a place where opinions were respected as long as they were presented intelligently and respectfully, and I'm pleased to say that out of the way over 150 comments on the various posts on the Kirk issue, I only had to delete one commentor for over-the-top nastiness and trying to out another commentor. Unlike the Other 10th District Blog, I have always prided myself on not deleting folks simply for disagreeing with me or others.

So with that, let's not let the rest of the goings-on in Lake County slip past us while were are still contemplating the lasting effects of Mark Kirk's vote. There's still a bunch of other interesting stuff bubbling to the surface that it's good to take a look at.

County Board Appointments: County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt has her hands full naming appointments to the three county board seats that were recently vacated, as they were held by Bob Sabonjian (who is now Mayor of Waukegan), Michael Talbett (who took a job as village administrator of Kildeer) and Pam Newton (who took a job as chief operating officer of Hawthorn Woods). Some background here.

Schmidt told the Daily Herald that appointments are imminent, although she still has a few people to talk to before making a final decision.

Now that former appointee Keith Turner is off the table for the Dem appointment to fill Sabonjian's spot, I'm not sure who will be the next Dem appointee, but I can bet it won't be anyone Dem. Chairman Terry Link approves of. I've heard a few names bandied about for the two Republican spots, but I am hopeful that Suzi is keeping in mind that these folks will be up for election in 2010, and it's important to pick people who have some chance of retaining the seat. Terry Link has made no bones about his desire to wrest control of the board from the GOP, so this decision will have some major ramifications.

"I think there's a very good possibility (of gaining the majority)," said state Sen. Terry Link, chairman of the county's Democratic Party. "We're looking at every race, and we're trying to put the best possible candidate we can in every one of those races."

And, of course, the fact that Schmidt is running for the 31st district senate seat being abandoned by Senator Michael Bond adds another dimension to this very interesting situation. You can bet that Schmidt's decision will be a campaign issue for her senate race.

Michael Bond Trying to Shake the Money Trees for Congressional Bid: TA hears that State Senator Michael Bond is being extremely aggressive in soliciting funds for his Congressional campaign to unseat 5-term Congressman Mark Kirk, or whomever the GOP opponent will be if Kirk decides to run for U.S. Senate (no update available on that either, and people seem equally divided as to whether the Climate Change vote might increase or decrease the chances of a senate bid for Kirk, although Lisa Madigan's decision on her run is also an issue). How aggressive is too aggressive? Well, let's just say that this issue will likely be the subject of some future posts.

Still No Dem Opponent for Suzi Schmidt in Sen. 31? Nominating petitions are due to be begin being circulated on Tuesday, August 4th, and are due no later than Monday, November 2nd (the first day you can file is Monday, October 26th. Thanks to Phil Collins for correcting a previous error). So far, TA has heard little about recruitment for a candidate to fill Michael Bond's shoes on the Dem side and run against Suzi Schmidt. No chance the Dems will let this go without a fight, but with Bond concentrating on his Congressional race, and possibly keeping the door open to stay home or pick an entirely different office, it has stymied the recruitment efforts of the Dems to find a top-flight candidate for this seat.

UPDATED 7/6/09 7:15 a.m.: An alert commentor clued us in to this amatuerish webpage announcing the candidacy of Laura C. Tomsky of Greyslake to run for Senator Michael Bond's current senate seat in the 31st District. A July 15 fundraiser in Mundelein is planned.

Ms. Tomsky states: "We continue to work hard, cut expenses and ask our families to do without, while lawmakers in Springfield make poorly considered decisions, participate in irresponsible spending and do little to fight rampant corruption."

Well, I guess that just abouts sums up my opinion of current Senator Bond (and Senator Terry Link as well). Wonder if she'll have party backing?

Update ends.

So, what else is going on locally? Let us know what you hear on the street.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mark Kirk Looking Past Climate Change Bill to Battling ObamaCare

As Team America readers know, this past week has been marked with a lot of debate on Congressman Mark Kirk's vote in favor of the Obama Climate Change bill, which infuriated many of the hard core anti-tax crowd in the Republican establishment, and took many Republicans, even those who have been strong supporters of Kirk for years (like TA), by surprise.

Today, the Daily Herald took a good look at the controversy and surprise caused by Kirk's vote, and noted the importance of on-line discussions, including those here on Team America's 10th District Blog, in disseminating information and providing a forum for debate:

The vote also surprised Mettawa Trustee Larry Falbe, who writes about Lake County political happenings at his Team America's 10th District blog. A longtime and outspoken Kirk supporter, Falbe has spent several days writing about the vote, and his entries have prompted dozens of posts from angry readers who, like Thorner, feel double-crossed.

"As much as I respect and admire Mark, he did not telegraph very well which way he was going to go on this," Falbe said. "There wasn't a lot of buildup to let his constituents know where he stood on this."

Falbe acknowledged Kirk has bucked the GOP in the past. That's a political necessity: A hardline Republican couldn't win in the largely independent-thinking 10th District, which covers parts of Lake and Cook counties, Falbe said.

"He's the most conservative person we're going to get elected in the 10th District," Falbe said.

Since the vote, Kirk has been hosting conference calls, exchanging e-mails, making radio appearances (notably on the conversative Don Wade and Roma show on WLS-AM), and has updated his website, all in an attempt to explain his vote and help his constituents understand his decision.

While some are still very upset, it seems to me that a good portion of Kirk's base of support is still intact, now that the shock has started to wear off. Of course, there are some Republicans that never thought much of Kirk in the first place, and now see this as their chance to get broader support to throw Kirk off the reservation. Whether this movement gets any traction past the immediate aftermath of the climate vote remains to be seen. And, frankly, lots of us political junkies completely lose sight of the fact that much of the electorate just isn't paying attention to any of this stuff. There's a long time until the election comes around.

Meanwhile, in addition to defending his vote on the climate change bill, Kirk is also talking up the next big challenge, which is defeating the Obama health care bill. As we noted here previously, the health care battle is going to make the climate change bill seem like just a warm up, and even the arch-conservatives are going to have to support Kirk's efforts in this regard. Kirk relates that GOP House Leader John Boehner's team has adopted a huge chunk (75% or so) of what Kirk's legislative team put together as the basis for the GOP counter to ObamaCare, which places Kirk squarely in the position of a leader on this issue. Once the more onerous planks of ObamaCare start to be widely publicized, like FINING people for not acquiring health insurance, I think the masses will quickly forget where Mark was on climate as he gets out in front on the heath care battle.

Would Kirk vote the same way on climate change again if he knew what a firestorm it would cause? I'm not sure. But, he did state one thing:

"I'm out of the weather predicting business."

LOL, Mark, and keep fighting for us in the 10th District.