Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bird Overdone in IL-10 and Other Thanksgiving Stories

I hope everyone had a truly wonderful Thanksgiving holiday - TA took some time off from politics, but is better for it and is ready to dive in for a rockin' and rollin' primary race, and then on to the general.

There's been some interesting developments here and there over the last couple days, so let's spend some time playing catch-up, and then we'll start hitting hard later this week.

First off, the Daily Herald is reporting that the on-again, off-again campaign of 10th District GOP contender Patricia Bird is finally over - not that it ever really got too far off the ground. As we suggested a while ago, her attitude seemed much more attuned to running for school board, not Congress, and after TA watched her performance at the RJC GOP debate, Bird earned the very first official "Not Recommended" designation from Team America. This doesn't do too much to winnow the GOP field down, since we still have six candidates - but it leaves State Representative Beth Coulson as the only female contender, which should be an advantage for her.

We also saw a major endorsement for U.S Senate for Congressman Mark Kirk coming from fellow Congressman Aaron Schock of the Peoria area. As Rick Pearson at the Chicago Tribune's Clout Street blog opined,

Schock’s endorsement could help Kirk as the socially moderate Chicago-area congressman tries to establish conservative bona fides to win the GOP primary in a crowded field. Kirk’s opponents have questioned his conservative credentials.

Schock, who represents a traditionally conservative central Illinois district, lauded Kirk’s opposition to the federal stimulus program, the Democratic-led House health care reform proposal, and labor-backed “card check” legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize.

Schock joins Congressmen Judy Biggert, John Shimkus and Peter Roskam in endorsing Kirk - each of whom, with the possible exception of Biggert, are all seen as more conservative than Kirk.

It's becoming more and more apparent that the Dems are really concerned about keeping the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Roland Burris in Dem hands - especially if Mark Kirk gets the GOP nomination and IL State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias gets the Dem nod. Some of the best info about Giannoulias is being set forth by his own inter-party competition, as shown an interview of Dem contender (and former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chicago Inspector General) David Hoffman by Public Affairs host Jeff Berkowitz. (h/t Illinois Review).

Of course, the best result for the GOP is for the Dems to effectively beat up and bloody Alexi in the primary, but that he hangs on to be the Dem nominee for the general.

On the GOP side, Mark Kirk still appears to be the strong front-runner, despite effort from my law school chum Pat Hughes to gain traction. Lately, Hughes has been working hard to win the endorsement of conservative senator Jim DeMint, who heads the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF). Hughes promoted the fact he went to D.C. last week to beg for the SCF's support, but we've heard nary a word as to whether any such endorsement will issue. Hughes doesn't need an endorsement from a South Carolina senator nearly as much as he needs big money to gain some much-needed name recognition among primary voters. So, even if an endorsement by DeMint/SCF comes eventually, unless there is a gigantic check attached to it, it's not going to get Pat where he needs to be.

If the SCF endorsement was obtained by Hughes already, I would not have announced it over Thanksgiving weekend either, so maybe his trip wasn't for nothing. We'll see. However, according to the SCF website, "SCF only endorses the most rock-solid conservative Senate candidates nationwide. These candidates must also have the potential to win." It's the second sentence that ought to be troubling to the SCF, in terms of whether Hughes is a good investment. So far, no reputable polling shows Hughes anywhere near to striking distance with Kirk - and with millions in campaign funds to Hughes' pittance, Kirk will obviously spend whatever it takes to emerge victorious in February.

I've been thinking about Pat's message lately, and I have a few questions I'm saving for him when he comes to the Libertyville Township endorsement session in a few weeks. But here's one freebie: If Hughes' shtick is that he's an unwavering platform conservative who can be counted never to sway from rock-solid conservative ideals, with no compromise (just check out his talking points set forth at the SCF website), how the heck is Pat going to attract moderate Republicans and independents to enable a win in the general?

In a recent discussion with Pat, it became clear to me that Pat thinks that Illinois is a lot more conservative than anyone else seems to believe. Well, tell that to Alan Keyes (who received only 27% of the vote in his 2004 senate battle against Barack Obama - and, of course, Obama went on to win Illinois in the 2008 presidential election with 61.9% of the vote). Regardless, no Republican can win in Illinois unless a large majority of self-identifying Republicans (both moderate and conservatives) as well as a hefty portion of independents vote for the GOP nominee. Otherwise, the Chicago machine is simply going to roll right over us, as usual. I simply don't think that any candidate besides Mark Kirk has the experience and organization to stand a chance.

We have about two months and some change before the February primary. With Christmas/Hanukkah mixed in, that's not much time for the primary candidates to make their moves. I think the U.S. Senate race on the GOP side is pretty much over with Kirk the inevitable winner, but IL-10, and of course, the governor's race, is still pretty much open, though I predict a front-runner will emerge in both by the first week or two in January. Stay tuned to Team America as we move forward...

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Clear Front-Runner for GOP Nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor

We haven't talked a lot here about the GOP primary for governor and Lt. governor, mostly because we tend to focus on local Lake County or 10th District issues, or races with a local connection, like the U.S. Senate race, where 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk is considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination.

That is not to say that the offices of Guv and Guv Lite are not important; to the contrary, despite the fact that in many ways, House Speaker Michael Madigan is the real power in this state, if the GOP could win back the governor's mansion, we'd at least have a fighting chance to address the many challenges facing this state, and also have a hand in the upcoming redistricting process.

So with that, I'd like to turn it over the readers this morning to weigh in on your objective analysis of where the governor and lt. governor races are headed, especially considering that right now, it still seems to be anybody's race. Let's try to stay away from rote cheerleading for your respective candidates (we'll be able to tell) and try to list objective strengths, weaknesses, etc., especially as to their chance to win the general election.

For a refresher, the candidates are:

For Governor:

Kirk W. Dillard
Bill Brady
Robert J. "Bob" Schillerstrom
Adam Andrzejewski
Dan Proft
Jim Ryan
Andy McKenna

For Lieutenant Governor:

Don Tracy
Jason Plummer
Randy A. White, Sr.
Brad Cole
Matt Murphy
Dennis W. Cook

Also, remember that while people sometimes 'buddy up' to run as a mini-slate (i.e., Andy McKenna and Matt Murphy), they do not officially run together or appear together on the ballot, so it's completely possible that one of two people running on any such 'buddy' ticket might get elected and the other not.

Have at it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Memo to Patricia Bird: IL-10 Race Not a School Board Election

Russell Lissau of the Daily Herald had a pretty in-depth article on GOP hopeful Patricia Bird, who is running for the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for U.S. Senate. Bird seems to be a bit of an odd duck (ha ha) based on the interview, and it seems that her campaign style might be a little more suited to running for School Board President or something:

Bird insisted anyone has a right to run for public office. She has not hired a campaign manager or staff and said she doesn't need to do any fundraising to win the election - even though past 10th District races have cost candidates millions of dollars.

"I am a firm believer that fundraising does absolutely nothing to improve or market campaigns the way they should be marketed," she said.

She has also annoyed GOP leaders in both Cook and Lake Counties, according to the article.

I attended and live-blogged the RJC debate this past Sunday at which all seven GOP contenders were present, and I would score Bird's performance at about a C-, given that she read her closing statement, and offered little to differentiate herself from the pack, except that she has banking experience.

I have not decided completely if we're doing endorsements for IL-10 on this blog, given that there are several excellent contenders, but I think we can safely give Ms. Bird the official Team America "Not Recommended" stamp right now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dems' Idea of an Economic Boost: Fill the Prisons with Terrorists? (UPDATED x3)

As you have probably heard by now, the big job creation idea of the week that has is being pushed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is to ship around 100 terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay prison to downstate Illinois.

Senate candidate Mark Kirk is strongly opposed to the idea, and has started an online petition that you can sign. The Dems, of course, are shouting "fear monger!" and tell us we have nothing to worry about. Well, read about what's happening in Britain with this same kind of set up.

Durbin is trying to ram this idea through by citing the desperation of people for jobs. Great. Durbin has been the #2 guy in the U.S. Senate for how long now? Obama's economic turnaround plan is basically a failure that has saddled us and our kids/grandkids/greatgrandkids with astronomical debt. The Dems control almost every aspect of state government here in Illinois.

And the best they can do to promote jobs is bring the worst of the worst here to Illinois.

Forget about the political issues. Simply from an economic job creation issue, this fiasco highlights the complete ineffectiveness of Democrats to boost our economy in a way that is sustainable and creates private sector jobs, rather than relying on the federal government to save the day.

The MSM had darn well better get Giannoulias, Hoffman and Jackson on the record as to whether they support this. There's a reason why Durbin, who's not up for election this cycle, is leading the charge on this. Don't let the Dem candidates off the hook.

Mark Kirk has staked out his position, kids. What's yours?

UPDATED 11:40 a.m.: Here's a press release from the ILGOP that answers my questions. Unsurprisingly, the Dems that are brave enough to take a stand on the issue are in lockstep with Durbin. But Alexi doesn't want to take a stand:

Why is Alexi Giannoulias Dodging the Thomson Issue?

Democrat Senate candidate “declines to take a position on the issue” on Saturday, “skips the debate” on Sunday;

IL GOP Chair: “Alexi’s silence is deafening.”

CHICAGO – Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady today called on Democrat Alexi Giannoulias to end his silence on the biggest homeland security question to face the State of Illinois since September 11th.

While Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin and every other Democrat running for U.S. Senate says they support a plan to bring roughly 200 terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to Thomson, Illinois, Giannoulias refuses to take a position.

On Sunday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that while Democrats Cheryle Jackson, Jacob Meister and David Hoffman all supported the plan, “other prominent Democrats, including Alexi Giannoulias, who is running for Senate…declined to take a stance on the issue.”

Last night, the Associated Press reported that the three Senate candidates reiterated their support at a candidate forum in Rockford, but “Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer, skipped the debate.”

“If Alexi Giannoulias cannot take a stand on a critical homeland security issue, he is not ready to be a U.S. Senator,” Chairman Brady said. “While Congressman Kirk leads the effort to defend the security of Illinois families and all other Democrats in the race state their position, Alexi Giannoulias declined to take a stance. Alexi’s silence is deafening.”

# # #

UPDATED x2 2:20 p.m.: From The Hill:

A handful of the state's congressional delegation took to the mics on Monday morning in Chicago, where Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced his intention to amend the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill.

"I will offer the Kirk Amendment to the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill requiring a ‘Homeland Insecurity Impact Statement’ on the potential impact on O’Hare and the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago before federal funds can be used to bring al Qaeda terrorists to Illinois. If we are serious about creating jobs in Illinois, we should rein in spending and reduce regulation, and not bring terrorists to our state," the Illinois Senate candidate said.

UPDATED x3 4:00 p.m.: Here's some coverage of this afternoon's press conference by Kirk, Biggert, Roskam and others.

Also, the ILGOP continues to pound away at Alexi Giannoulias for not having the guts to take a position on the Thomson prison issue with another press release:

Alexi, Just Take a Position on Thomson Already!

Senate candidate still refuses to tell the voters where he stands

CHICAGO – Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady repeated his call for Democrat Alexi Giannoulias to take a position on the biggest homeland security question to face the State of Illinois since September 11th.

Responding to the Party’s release earlier today, Giannoulias released a statement this afternoon that once again refused to tell the voters whether he supported or opposed bringing GITMO detainees to U.S. soil. “I pledge to work with all the parties involved to find a resolution that protects our national security and maximizes job creation,” Giannoulias said in a prepared statement.

“Alexi Giannoulias’ double speak sounds like the worst kind of politician,” Chairman Brady said. “While Congressman Mark Kirk leads the effort to defend the security of Illinois families, Alexi Giannoulias refuses to even take a position. Is he afraid the voters won’t like his opinion? Is that he doesn’t know enough about homeland security to be a U.S. Senator? Alexi, just take a position on Thomson already!”

While Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin and every other Democrat running for U.S. Senate says they support a plan to bring toughly 200 terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to Thomson, Illinois, Giannoulias refuses to take a position.

On Sunday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that while Democrats Cheryle Jackson, Jacob Meister and David Hoffman all supported the plan, “other prominent Democrats, including Alexi Giannoulias, who is running for Senate…declined to take a stance on the issue.”

Last night, the Associated Press reported that the three Senate candidates reiterated their support at a candidate forum in Rockford, but “Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer, skipped the debate.”


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live Blogging NOW at the 10th District Forum

Okay folks, here we go... starting in a few minutes.

6:30: Intro by Dr. Michael Menis. Welcome to new members and guests, and all 7 candidates.

Bob Dold
Beth Coulson
Bill Cadigan
Dick Green
Arie Friedman
Paul Hamann
Patrica Bird

6:40: Introducing candidates present- Mark Kirk, Dan Sugrue, lots of precinct committeemen.

6:42: Mark Kirk has been asked to speak. Mark is talking about the notion of moving terrorists from Gitmo to a prison here in Illinois. (we'll have more on this another day) Kirk says that the terrorists that may be moved here are some of the most dangerous of all. In a federal facility in the U.S., these individuals will have a right to vistors- that means that 1000 Al Queda followers and family members could be coming in Illinois to visit with and interact with these prisions, not to mention moving through O' Hare airport. look at

6:45: Kirk says that due to a change in the law to strip the governor of his power to lease state-owned land, this may need a vote of the General Assembly. (imagine that).

6:47: Kirk touches on his work for the Jewish community.

Opening Statements:

Bob Dold: Strength of US lies with businessmen and women and not the federal government. He’s a small biz owner; he knows what you need to do to meet a payroll.

Beth Coulson: Experience over last 25 years- gov’t spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. Washington seeks to exercise too much control over us. Businesses are pusnished. Policy choices- reduce property taxes, reduce state spending. It all begins with reforming our tax and spending policies. Would extend income tax credits, oppose bailouts. Has a legislative record to back up her comments and has health care credentials and experience.

Bill Cadigan: Worst economic downturn in 80 years; Israel faces gravest threat in its history. Invokes the name of Mark Kirk and mentions like Kirk, he worked for John Porter. We all remember Porter’s passion and commitment to Israel. Republicans are now the party of reform; people like Steve Raschuenbeger and Patrick Collins are supporting his campaign.

Dick Green: President of his bond firm in California at age 24 and grew rapidly; 1993 started his own business and funded it. Has been quoted in publications including the WSJ.. Has been a committeeman in CA and done the door knocking and envelope stuffing.

Dr. Ari Friedman: The goal of what we’re doing here is to pick someone who not only can win, but will make the best representative. Background as a naval officer and currently a pediatrican. Built a business from scratch in a difficult economic environment. Was a naval aviator. Important to him as a naval officer that the military be used properly. Looks forward to being one of the few physicians on Capitol Hill.

Paul Hamann: Licensed electrical engineer. Would be second licensed engineer in Congress. Registered energy professional; lifetime resident of Lake Forest. Problem solver; fiscal conservative. I’m a thoughtful leader and consensus builder.

Patricia Bird: Resident of Mount Prospect. Currently owns her own company. Raised Episcopalian; currently Catholic like her husband. There’s a lack of accountability; need an increased Republican voice; need to get them in and back to communicating with the public.

Question #1: How to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb?

Dold: Need tougher sanctions, do what is necessary. Iran’s prez has to be stopped. If Israel stikes, we’ll be with them shoulder to shoulder.

Coulson: Do whatever it takes; maybe add resources to certain federal agencies; cut off funding from U.S. that ends up in hands of terrorists. Israel is the only democracy in the ME; we must not appease terrorism.

Question #2: What should be the U.S. Policy on the Palestinian issue and peace process?

Cadigan: Administration needs to insist that negotiations are fair and even between both sides. Should go back to not imposing conditions on Israel before they undertake the next round of the peace process.

Green: US should have an Unbalanced approach; need to stand by Israel; they are our allies; that’s the best way to achieve peace. We need to stand by Israel or it will energize their opponents.

Questions #3: Do you believe there is a possibility for a two-state solution?

Friedman: Two-state solution won’t work; puts a enemy in heart of Israel. Prime reason for Israel is survival of the Jewish people; the mindset of the Palestinian people must change for there to be a peace.

Hamann: Wants to work with Isralies: Palestinians use terror against Israel as a fundraising effort; part of peace is predicated on making it a win-win situations for each side to

Question #4: If you could design a health care reform bill, what would it contain?

Bird: We should have been addressing this a long time ago; we need to fix the existing issue. Can’t do public option because the economy is in the dumper. Remove fraud from agencies like medicare; working on insurance for victims of the economy.

Dold: No question that the health care system is broken; so what do we do about it? Can’t scrap the current system; should be able to purchase plans across state lines and plans should be portable. Tax breaks to go out and purchase your own plan; have government stay out of the way between you and your doctor.

Question #5: Does congress must address the issue of pre-existing conditions?

Coulson: Yes; need to do that and more. Need to have access to quality health care but you must do it incrementally. We passed a young adult heath care bill; need to do things like that.

Cadigan: Dems got it wrong by denying choice and denying competition in marketplace; new bill would hurt health care providers especially those that provide services to medicare patients.

Question #6: What’s the best way to bring down the cost of health care administration?

Green: Lot of the increase in health care spending reflects the choice of a healthy nation. Two choices; either government mandates it, or you let the consumer choose. Green goes with the second. It’s not a national crisis as the administration would like you to believe.

Friedman: Only two ways you can change how you reduce costs; relationship with your physician should be sacrosanct and not in the role of a “gatekeeper” – otherwise you can never trust that they are making a decision based on your needs, not some other incentive.

Question #7: What are the best approaches to addressing nation’s future energy needs?

Hamann: Nuclear. Would have voted against cap and trade. Solar is a no; costs are too prohibitive compared to cost recoupment.

Bird: Nuclear is an excellent option. Grew up downstate in Peoria and Rockford, we had a nuclear plant. Hybrid cars; hard time to buy them due to the economy but we need to concentrate on transportation costs; big booster of public transportation.

Question #8: Are we experiencing man-made global warming; if so, how do we reduce it?

Dold: Lots of studies out there on both sides, so he can’t answer that question. Warming is occurring, but the amount due to humans is very small. We do need to be talking about conservation and energy reduction. Would have voted against cap and trade. Everything needs to be on the table, especially nuclear. We need to act quickly on nuclear.

Cardigan: Irresponsible for congress to consider something like cap and trade when the science isn’t proven yet. Agrees nuclear is the way to go.

Question #9: How can US best reduce its independence on oil?

Coulson: Must have a holistic energy policy that looks at everything, nuclear, solar, etc. Also have to be conservationists. We get a fair amount of our power from nuclear already; we need to find a way to dispose of the waste.

Friedman: Energy is freedom. That’s why we are the most prosperous people on the earth. Decreasing our dependence on foreign oil is important.

Question #10: What steps would you do to increase long-term growth?

Green: Need to put free market principles to work; if you empower entrepreneurs, you will increases growth. Stimulus bill did nothing but created government spending; need to empower people to create jobs and growth.

Hamann: Infrastructure spending is needed to put people to work. Also the National Science Foundation would help long-term growth. Would like to move funding “upstream”

Question #11: With deficit out of control, what steps do you take to avoid being at the mercy of foreign investors?

Cadigan: Must have balanced budgets and need to start now. Can’t rely on tax increases. First response of people like Cook County Democrats is how do we tax people.

Bird: Need to get job market going and stop deficit dpending.

Question #12: Is the US overextended aboad?

Friedman: Close, but not yet. Iraq is starting to wind down, but we’ve planned for a long time to fight two wars at the same time anyway. When he was on active duty, we had a great military but it’s even better now. But we need to have a clear mission and that’s to fight the enemy where we find them.

Dold: We’re not overextended in Afghanistan but close; having people do several tours of duty is a problem. It’s been over two months since there was a request for more troops, why haven’t we acted? We need to give men and women in harm’s way everything they need to do the job.

Question #13: Do you support immigration reform?

Hamann: Immigration is touchy with engineers because of H1-B. He’s content with current programs that we have. 12 million illegal aliens now; can’t do anything radical. Small steps to allow them to follow the normal law.

Coulson: A proponent of protecting the boarders; it’s an economic issue as well as security issue. Federal government should strandline process to become legal citizens. Following the rules take time and we need to continue to allow them to come, but the rules must be followede:

Question #14: What role should Congress play to improve education?

Bird: Need more incentives for higher education. Lots of potential out there.

Green: Strong supporter of school choice; we spend as much on Children in Chicago as Naperville, but they don’t get the same education. Need more charter schools. The Obama admin has shown some courage in supporting charter schools but need more.

Audience Questions:

Constitutional term limits for members of Congress?

Dold: Would look at legislation to limit terms; 8 to 10 years ought to be enough.

Green: Support term limits; 8 for congressman, 12 for senator. Problem is federal government has so much control over so much money, it’s a big problem.

If health care reform passes before you get to congress, how do you reverse it?

Green: Not just health care; need to put back in Bush tax cuts if they expire. Need to get people to stand up and say, enough government.

Coulson: Depends on what’s in health care, eventually. The house bill was huge, was passed just to have something. What comes out of the senate is much more important. If this bill goes on the backs of seniors, we’ll do what we did in the 1980s, and that was to get rid of it because it was done on the backs of seniors. How we pay for all of this is kety; we need small incremental changes, not government takeover.

GOP’s greatest strength and weakness in upcoming elections?

Hamann: Obama’s weakness is Iraq and Afghanistan. He would pull out of both. He doesn’t want to spend another trillion dollars over the next eight years. Obama will increase strength in Afghanistan which is the wrong move.

Dold: America has taken a look at Obama and decided that this is not the hope and change people wanted. Obama believe that government has the answer to all of our problems. We can pick up seats because we believe that we don’t need large and overreaching government.

Does it make a difference as to who the Dem nominee is?

Bird: Everyone has a right to run. Don’t know much about either candidate. Impartiant as to either one.

Friedman: Both are dangerous. A speech from Julie Hamos a few months ago was part of the reason I entered this race. Predicts that Hamos will win and will be extremely well funded and organized. Need someone who will interest voters in the district.

Closing Statements:

Bird: She’s reading. There is lax leadership in Congress. Best candidate because she’s the only person with banking experience.

Hamann: He got in because of energy issues. Loves the National Science Foundation. Would pull out of wars; not defending much. Considers himself the anti-war candidate.

Friedman: Not the candidate to end war. Agrees with a lot of the statements of the other candidates. Believes he has moral authority on war issues and health care. He’s not a politician. This is key district. Need someone who has commitment. Believes what they are saying, and has moral authority.

Green: Budget deficit- one month was 176 billion. Larger than the entire annual deficit before. It’s going to go on and on unless we stop it. Stop stimulus and TARP spending. Dems want to increase discretionary spending 12%. Need to change culture in Washington. Can’t tax and spend our way to prosperity. Change the culture and change the policies and that’s what he wants to go to Washington to do.

Cadigan: Agrees that Hamos will be the nominee. So, who presents the greatest contrast to Julie Hamos. She’s a product of the Chicago machine. We don’t like Chicago-style politics. People like Patrick Collins will stand with him to present the contrast to Julie Hamos. Need to hold her accountable for everything that democrats have done in Springfield.

Coulson: Has been a legislator for many years; always listens and gathers the evidence. I don’t represent special interests, I represent you, I work seven days a week as a legislator; I will work seven days as your congresswoman. You may not agree with everything in my record, but I will always come back and listen to you. I would never have voted for cap and trade.

Dold: I believe that our best days are yet to come. 3.4 million dollars a minute in deficit spending, forgone investment is a security problem. If you’d told me what was happening in this country a year a go, he would have said it was a different country you were talking about. Need a small business owner to go to Washington. Scoutmaster who knows that integrity is the key attribute. Need your help and support.

Live Blogging at Tonight's RJC 10th District Forum

Technology permitting, we'll be live blogging the 10th District forum that begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight (check in begins at 6:00 p.m.) at the Renaissance North Short Hotel (933 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook) which is being sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Non-RJC members must join the RJC or sign up for its "E-team" ($20).

We'll begin blogging shortly after 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Congressman Mark Kirk Delivers Weekly Republican Address

Mark Kirk landed some good exposure for his U.S. Senate bid by being chosen to give the Republican response to the President's weekly radio address: “In sum, the bill opens a new trillion-dollar entitlement just as our national debt tops $12 trillion. Ignoring the future needs of Social Security and Medicare, the bill creates a new massive spending program, supported by heavy taxes and cuts to senior health care.”

From the House Republican leader's website:

Washington, Nov 14 - In the weekly Republican address, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) outlines how Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) 2,000-page government takeover of health care raises taxes, cuts seniors’ Medicare benefits, and explodes the debt on our kids and grandkids. The lawmaker also highlighted Republicans’ better solutions to make health care more affordable and accessible at a price our nation can afford. Rep. Kirk is in his fifth term in the House of Representatives. Audio of the address is available here.

Good morning, this is Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois.

When I returned home from active duty in Afghanistan, I dedicated my congressional service to helping families with health care. We can lower health care costs and provide coverage for Americans who lack insurance by enacting key reforms that already help thousands of families in many states.

First, we could start lowering costs by reining in lawsuits in America. We are the most litigious country on earth. Lawsuit reforms can save billions in health care costs alone. In New Jersey, without lawsuit reform, it costs over $5,500 per patient to provide insurance. In California, with some of the strongest lawsuit reforms, insurance costs half as much as it does in New Jersey. Congress should enhance the effective reforms of many states by enacting lawsuit reforms for our entire country.

Second, Congress should grant the right to each American to buy coverage from any state in the union – especially if you find a plan that has a lower cost or is more flexible for your family or your small business.

Third, we should give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs.“I also offered an amendment – the Medical Rights Act – standing for the principle that Congress shall make no law interfering with the decisions you make with your doctor.

Unfortunately, all of these common sense Republican reforms were rejected by Speaker Pelosi. The Pelosi health care bill has no significant lawsuit reforms and does not guarantee your medical rights from government waiting lines or restrictions.

In the teeth of the Great Recession, the Pelosi bill would impose ten new taxes on the American economy. The top combined tax rate for my state of Illinois would be four percentage points higher than France. The Democrat bill levies new taxes on health insurance, income and even pace makers. The bill also cuts health care for seniors – my parents and many of yours – with $500 billion in cuts for Medicare doctors, hospitals and advantage patients. The bill even cuts Medicare for skilled nursing, wheelchairs and hospices.

In sum, the bill opens a new trillion-dollar entitlement just as our national debt tops $12 trillion. Ignoring the future needs of Social Security and Medicare, the bill creates a new massive spending program, supported by heavy taxes and cuts to senior health care.

We need to back the common sense health care reforms I outlined and reject a government takeover of our family health care.

This is Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois. Thank you for listening. God Bless You and God Bless America.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poll Shows Kirk Still Leading Giannoulias 44-38 in General Election Matchup

Got this yesterday from the Kirk for Senate campaign. Download the poll toplines here.

- Five-term GOP Congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk released a new poll today that shows him maintaining a six-point lead over likely general election opponent Alexi Giannoulias.

- In a survey of 772 likely Illinois voters, Kirk leads Giannoulias 44-38 with 18 percent undecided. The poll, conducted by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies on November 3, 2009 with a 3.5 percent margin of error, follows an October 8, 2009 survey that showed Kirk leading 42-35 with 23 percent undecided.

- In the same survey Kirk leads other potential Democrat opponents by larger margins: David Hoffman 43-32; Cheryle Jackson 45-33; and Jacob Meister 45-28.

- Kirk for Senate reported raising nearly $3 million for the election cycle and more than $1.6 million during the third quarter – $500,000 more than Giannoulias. The Kirk campaign now counts 15,000 volunteers around Illinois who offered to circulate petitions, display yard signs, walk in parades and help spread enthusiasm for Kirk’s candidacy.

- Congressman Kirk’s list of key Republican endorsements continues to grow, including Gov. Jim Edgar, House Leader Tom Cross, Senate Leader Christine Radogno, U.S. Reps. Biggert, Shimkus & Roskam, Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, GOP County Chairmen’s Association President Randy Pollard, and a growing number of county, township and local activists. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Campaign Chair, John Cornyn (R-TX), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) joined a large list of U.S. Senators that endorsed and contributed to Congressman Kirk’s campaign.

Quote Attributed to Kirk Spokesman Eric Elk:

“With a Democrat governor facing criminal trial, unemployment over 10 percent and spending out of control, Illinois families need a reform-minded fiscal conservative like Congressman Mark Kirk who will fight to keep taxes low, rein in spending and create good, high-paying jobs."


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Double Your Fun with Two 10th District Debates This Coming Week

In addition to the IL-10 GOP forum sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) at 6:00 p.m. this coming Sunday, Nov. 15th, which we told you about here, the Moraine Township Republicans are hosting a 10th District debate a week from today, Thursday, November 19 from 7:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m., at the Highwood Rec Center, 432 Green Bay Road in Highwood, IL.

I'm not sure who is confirmed to be in attendance, but I expect there will be a good showing, and I spoke with Bill Cadigan yesterday, who mentioned that he will definitely be there. They have invited all GOP candidates, which are (in case you've lost track):

Patricia K. Bird
William J. Cadigan
Elizabeth Coulson
Robert Dold
Arie Friedman
Dick Green
Paul Hamann

Louis G. Atsaves, the Moraine Township GOP Chairman, told me that the debate will be conducted in a similar fashion to that of the League of Women Voters with a five minute opening statement and three minute closing statement with questions from the audience written in advance through post cards. No admission will be charged and the event is open to everyone.

If you need more info or have questions, you can reach the Moraine Township Republicans at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day - No Demand for Acclamation for Our Vets, But No Need to Apologize, Either

Let's take some time today, whether you're at work or have the day off, to honor America's Veterans, past, present and future. If you don't know the history of Veterans Day, click here for some background.

Just yesterday, I received an e-mail passed along by a friend that objected to the 'apology tour' of a certain American president that is unprecedented in our history. The e-mail offered as food for thought a number of pictures of American cemeteries overseas that are testaments to the valor of our brave soldiers who died defending the United States, our allies and indeed the world from the threat of totalitarianism, which was that days' terrorism. Not a lot of European men and women buried on U.S. soil defending freedom, folks. As the e-mail stated, we don't ask for acclamation, but we don't need to apologize.

Here's just a few of those photos, many of which are beautiful, but sobering, and definitely some food for thought as you go about your day. You can see these pictures, and many more, at the American Battle Monuments Commission website: "The ABMC commemorative mission is reflected in 24 overseas military cemeteries that serve as resting places for almost 125,000 American war dead; on Tablets of the Missing that memorialize more than 94,000 U.S. servicemen and women; and through 25 memorials, monuments and markers."

Wonder if President Obama's ever heard of this?

The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium. A total of 5329 of our dead, many of whom died in the 1944 Ardennes winter offensive (Battle of the Bulge).

Cambridge American Cemetary, England. A total of 3812 of our military dead.

Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. A total of 7992 of our military dead.

There are many more, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Needs an Election When You Can Knock 'Em Off the Ballot?

Now that the dust has settled from the deadline to file nominating petitions for elected office here in Illinois, another deadline just passed yesterday - the deadline to file objections to those petitions. Everyone (Dems, Republicans and others) plays the objection game, and there's nothing wrong with calling an opponent on the correctness (and sometime genuineness) of the signatures and administrative portions of the election paperwork, which can be somewhat complex and arcane. However, you ought to have some kind of good-faith basis to challenge someone's filing, more so than just "prove to me these are correct."

Readers may recall that in the last election cycle, the Lake County Democrats filed challenges to the nomination of Keith Gray for State Senate (to run against Terry Link) and Dan Sugrue (who wanted to run against former State Rep. Kathy Ryg). Both of these nominations were by appointment, not by petition, but the point is that the main reason given for challenging both of these nominations by the Dems is that the meetings of the Republican nominating committees for each respective candidate both occurred on the same day (see more under the definition of "fishing expedition"). Yes, that's right, the Dems apparently couldn't conceive of a meeting occurring in Waukegan (in the 30th Senate District) to nominate Keith Gray, and then another meeting involving some of the same people occurring in Green Oaks to nominate Dan Sugrue. Well, I was at both meetings, and got to give testimony that, yes, I went to Waukegan for a meeting, then drove my car down the road to Green Oaks, and we did another meeting. What a farce and a waste of time.

So, in any case, I hope that those folks who have filed objections to nomination petitions this cycle, whatever team they are on, have some legitimate reasons for doing so.

A few challenges are of note: in the 59th Legislative District (which comprises all or parts of Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills, Riverwoods, Mettawa, Lincolnshire, and Green Oaks, and tiny bits of Waukegan, Lake Forest and Wheeling), GOP candidate and Vernon Hills trustee Cindy Hebda was challenged by Steven Rosenzweig, who is chairman of the Vernon Township Democrats. Fellow GOP contenders Dan Sugrue and Mohan Manian were not challenged, and neither were there any inter-party challenges.

Not so in the U.S. Senate race, and two challenges have a Lake County connection. My law school chum Pat Hughes, who is a conservative running for U.S. Senate against Congressman Mark Kirk, filed two challenges through Raymond True, who is the chairman of the Republican Assembly of Lake County (RALC), against two other Republican contenders, Bob Zadek of Rockford, and Tom Kuna, of Jerseyville. The crimes of Zadek and Kuna, as to why Hughes singled them out among the many GOP filers? Zadek and Kuna are both lower on the ballot than Hughes, who had coveted the "last" spot on the primary ballot, but flubbed his petition filing. So, what to do? Knock em off, of course.

Ray True and I have known each other a long time, so next time I see him, I will ask why he's trying to knock two "good Republicans," as he might put it, off the ballot to deny them a fair shot at the election. It's the kind of thing he'd probably complain about if it was done to one of "his" candidates. Oh, the Lake County connection is that True and Charlie Johnston, one of Hughes' primary campaign operatives and an RALC member, also go way back. Can't wait to see what the actual basis for the objections is.

Finally, it appears that State Senator Terry Link's nominating petitions for his run for Lt. Governor will be challenged by a fellow Lt. Guv candidate. h/t Capitol Fax Blog. I assume that whoever filed the objections will be checking the signatures against the death registry, and the phonebook. Link also made the news yesterday for going back on a campaign promise to deliver a half-million dollars in grant money to build a new library in Vernon Hills in the Cook Memorial Library District. So far, no dough, reports the Daily Herald.

Monday, November 9, 2009

IL-10 Race Beginning to Pick Up Steam

Over the weekend, several campaign events for the race to succeed Congressman Mark Kirk showed that the truncated primary season is putting the pressure on candidates to get out there and get their message heard.

I'm sure there was a lot I did not hear about, but I was informed of at least one meet and greet for businessman Bob Dold yesterday, as well as a fundraiser at the home of former IL Lt. Governor Corinne Wood in honor of State Representative Beth Coulson.

Winnetka attorney Bill Cadigan was also busy touting yet another local endorsement, this one from former Navy Seal Mark Robbins. Robbins was gravely wounded in a fierce firefight with Iraqi insurgents but recovered, and now serves as a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy. On Saturday, Cadigan hosted a 'salute to veterans' to honor veterans from all wars and conflicts from World War II to the present. Robbins spoke about the experience transitioning back to civilian life and how the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration and other federal agencies can improve the process.

You can view some video below:

Meanwhile, we told you a few days ago about the RJC 10th District Candidate forum that will be held next Sunday, Nov. 15th. I am working on potentially doing a live blog of the forum. Yesterday at the Coulson event, I also heard that there will be another candidate forum sponsored by the Moraine Township Republicans and perhaps others, but I need to track down the details on that.

You'll notice I didn't do anything on the big healthcare vote over the weekend, which was for several reasons. Primarily, it just left a bad taste in my mouth, and fact is, you can get your fill on that issue just about anywhere. But the real truth is that I think dissecting this bill and the current state of affairs is practically meaningless, as even Senator Dick Durbin doesn't think the bill will pass the Senate. As we were discussing last night, I think in large part, Nancy Pelosi's goal was to pass something, anything, just to get a bill moving and keep the march towards universal government-run healthcare alive. What eventually ends up in it will be anybody's guess.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Senate Democrats Promote Conservative Patrick Hughes As They Seek to Drive Wedge Between Republicans

MSNBC got hold of a memo they claim came from the DSCC that was sent to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, in a clear attempt to capitalize on the request for support from Palin that was made by Mark Kirk's campaign. Full story here.

The text of the memo, as posted at the MSNBC site is as follows:

To: Governor Sarah Palin
Cc: Congressman Mark Kirk
Cc: Fred Malek
From: Kathleen Strand, Senior Advisor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Dear Governor Palin,

Yesterday, following the purge of a moderate Republican in upstate New York and the devastating special election in NY-23, it was revealed that Congressman Mark Kirk is actively seeking your endorsement of his candidacy in the U.S. Senate race in Illinois. However, Mark Kirk has not had kind words to say about you in the past. Faced with a difficult re-election race in 2008, Kirk told reporters he “would have picked someone else” for Vice-President and that frankly he “didn’t know whether you are qualified to be President.” Now that Kirk is facing a tough primary challenge from the anti-Washington, anti-establishment candidate Patrick Hughes, he is suddenly racing to embrace you. I’m not sure how familiar you are with Mark Kirk but he is a politician who has a history of putting politics above principals [SIC], something you surely look down upon. Whether the issue is cap and trade, extending unemployment benefits, or health care reform, Kirk has either flip-flopped, been AWOL, or motivated purely by politics. On the other hand, Patrick Hughes is comfortable in his own skin as an extreme right-winger. Unlike the pro-abortion Kirk, Hughes is firmly pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and pro-gun…sounds like your type of Republican. I know you are in Milwaukee tomorrow and will be in our great state of Illinois later this month, both would be a perfect setting to give your blessing to one of these two candidates. With so much at stake in the next election, everyone wants to know -- who will you endorse in our Senate race?

Hmm... let's see. The DSCC wants to drive a wedge between Mark Kirk and any support he might be able to get from conservative Republicans thinks that Patrick Hughes could use some exposure to help them meet this goal.

Might we ask why?

The simple answer being, of course, is that the Dems are so petrified of Kirk that they will do anything, including get in the middle of a GOP primary, to try to derail him.

I wonder if Pat intends to issue a press release thanking the DSCC for its support?

Let's consider which candidate Republican primary voters should choose in February - the one who has the Dems in full panic mode, or the one that the DSCC wants to win? Your choice, folks.

NOTE to the DSCC: It's "principle" not "principal". Better hire an English major to check your correspondence.

Dems In a Panic at Thought of Senator Mark Kirk (UPDATED)

Yesterday, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza caused a bit of a stir when he published excerpts from a memo that Mark Kirk's senate campaign had sent to Republican leader Fred Malek, asking him to assist with putting the Illinois Senate race on the radar of former Vice-Presidential candidate and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. Cillizza characterized the memo as seeking Palin's "endorsement," however, Kirk's team responded that the memo was part of a packet given to Palin seeking positive comments in anticipation of Palin's upcoming appearance on Oprah. I've not been able to find a copy of the actual memo itself anywhere, but here's what the Tribune reported:

"The Chicago media will focus on one key issue: Does Gov. Palin oppose Congressman Mark Kirk's bid to take the Obama Senate seat for the Republicans," states the memo to GOP power broker Fred Malek.

"Voters in Illinois have a key opportunity to take Barack Obama's senate seat. Congressman Kirk is the lead candidate to do that," the memo continues, pointing out the five-term North Shore congressman's various votes and issue positions.

Kirk campaign spokesman Eric Elk said the memo was part of a briefing given to Palin's team.

"The memo was like many others regularly prepared for high-profile visitors, pundits and media," Elk said in a statement. "The briefing provided details on the race and only requested supportive comments."

Not having seen the memo, I can't say with 100% certainty that the word "endorsement" was never used, but I've not seen anything that indicates it was, and it appears that this story grew out of the characterization made by Cillizza.

The Dems, and certain of the news media, pounced on Cillizza's post like a cat on a mouse, seeking to capitalize on what they characterized as a glaring disparity between Kirk's moderate persona and his 'pandering' (yes, they used that word) to the conservative Palin, and tried to tie it in to the recent NY-23 race and conservative activism across the country. Critics also pointed to Kirk's lukewarm (at best) comments on Palin when she was chosen by John McCain as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. Huffpo, Talking Points Memo, Progress Illinois and other reliable Dem-boosters all had highly critical posts up within hours, and the major Dem candidates all sent out statements. Even the usually more objective Capital Fox Blog carried no less than seven updates on the story and you would have thought the sky was falling.

This all goes to show that Kirk and his team are under a microscope, with hordes of Dem operatives and sympathizers ready to rain down upon the congressman at the slightest sign of any chink in Kirk's armor. The Dems are scared, and with good reason. Current polls show Kirk essentially tied with the Dem front runner, Alexi Giannoulias, and this is a blue state, and the race is for Barack Obama's old senate seat. The fact that Kirk remains well within striking distance has got the Dems pulling out everything they have to derail the Kirk train before it picks up enough speed to run right over little Alexi.

Well, for the people who are paying attention now (and that universe may not be much, yet), I'd advise you to take everything you hear in the media with some skepticism, before making your own judgments. To me, the "Palin" story seems blown way out of proportion, so we'll see what develops on this we the campaign goes forward. But if the best glove Alexi can lay on Kirk is that he wanted Sarah Palin to throw some love his way, that isn't going to make Alexi the next U.S. Senator from Illinois.

UPDATED 11:30 a.m. Please Move Along, There's No Story Here, Apparently: Well, well, looky here. Turns out, now that Rich Miller at Capitol Fax Blog got a hold of the entire 'Palin' memo, it appears that my surmise above (that the word endorsement was not referenced anywhere in the 'Palin' memo) was correct. Miller characterizes Cillizza as "bumbling" this one and walks back Miller's wholehearted glomming on to the misleading story posted by Cillizza before checking it out. Well, in this day of pressure to be #1 with the next story, that happens to all of us. Needless to say, Cillizza is now on Miller's s*it list (probably not to mention Eric Elk's!). Miller still thinks Kirk was needlessly pandering to Palin and questions whether Kirk has an identity crisis of sorts, but whatever.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Local Lessons to Learn from Virginia, New Jersey and NY-23 (UPDATED)

Well, it seems like the death of the GOP, as predicted by Obama supporters and Dem operatives, may be a bit premature. In a clear repudiation of the politics of bigger government, massive spending, and the Obama Cult of Personality, voters in Virginia and New Jersey voted to try their luck with the GOP and elected two Republican governors, despite heavy campaigning and a huge investment of personal political capital by The One.

In a nice touch, supporters of Republican Chris Christie, who won in NJ, reportedly chanted "Yes We Can" as he took the stage in his victory speech.

Fox News said:

Republican Party leaders were quick to claim the victories as a sign that Americans are rebelling against Democratic policies in Washington. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said the victories marked a "clear rejection" of "tax and spend policies" in Washington.

And it's not just Fox. From Politico:

The off-year elections were, in two big races, an unmistakable rebuke of Democrats, reshuffling Obama’s political circumstances in ways likely to have severe near-term consequences for his policy agenda and larger governing strategy.

On the other hand, the Democrats won in the often-strange race for New York's 23rd Congressional District, in which Conservative challenger Doug Hoffman and GOP-candidate Dede Scozzafava split the vote and allowed Democrat Bill Owens to sneak into office in a largely right-leaning district, after many big-name Republicans repudiated the chosen GOP candidate and backed Hoffman. Scozzafava's decision to drop out of the race and endorse Hoffman only added to the spectacle.

While it's probably true that the NJ and Virgina races turned mostly on local issues, that's a bright spot for us here locally, as we anticipate that in the U.S. Senate race (and perhaps some other down-ballot races), the White House and Obama are expected to strenuously defend Obama's old Senate seat from presumed GOP nominee Mark Kirk. Obama's inability to transform his star power to local Dem candidates bodes well for negating the boost that Obama's personal stamp might bring to the Dem Senate nominee, which we current presume will be the lackluster and ehtics-challenged Alexi Giannoulias.

Fox once again has it right:

So the setbacks demonstrate the difficulty of presidential leadership following a campaign built on promises of unity followed by divisive policies and a relentless campaign approach toward big legislative issues like the stimulus and health care bills.

"What this is tonight, this victory here tonight, is a warning shot, and it says to the moderate Democrats in the House that they ought to think twice about continuing to pursue the policies of this White House and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi," said Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor.

Dems, of course, would like to believe that NY-23 was the only race that was a referendum on the Obama agenda, but it seems to me that the opposite is true. NY-23 was a lot more about GOP self-destruction than the triumph of Obamapolitiks.

In fact, NY-23, is a prime example of what happens when the GOP turns to fratricide and cannot settle on a consensus candidate to do battle with the Dems.

It's a lesson to be learned here in Illinois where some conservatives continue to insist that the only way to victory is to throw all non-believers off the reservation and abandon support of Congressman Mark Kirk, who is the only GOP contender that has any hope to take on the Dem war machine and win the U.S. Senate seat in November 2010.

UPDATED 12:30 p.m.: Here's a Daily Herald article that gives the perspective of new IL GOP leader Pat Brady on the local implications of the result of NY-23 here for Mark Kirk's senate bid. Brady appears to dismiss the chances of conservative candidates such as Pat Hughes to mount any kind of serious threat to Kirk. I agree, of course, but I found it telling that the head of the state party agrees too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kirk and Roskam: Federal Government Must Set a Timetable for Withdrawal from Private Business

From Congressmen Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam:

Federal Government Must Set a Timetable for Withdrawal from Private Business

Treasury provided $217 billion for ownership and loans to 8 major corporations;

GM, AIG and Citigroup alone cost taxpayers more than $70 billion in common stock losses;

CIT Group bankrupt on Sunday: Taxpayers lost $2.3 billion

Kirk and Roskam: “The Federal government should not be in the business of running private companies.”

CHICAGO – Citing massive financial losses at companies bailed out by the Treasury, U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam today unveiled legislation establishing a timeline for the U.S. Government to withdraw from its ownership of several private companies. The Taxpayer Investment Protection Act requires the federal government to divest its common and preferred stock interests of private companies purchased under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343) by Dec. 31, 2010.

“Last year, the Congress followed the recommendation of the Fed and Treasury to avert a financial crisis with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act,” said Congressman Kirk, a member of the House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee. “Once approved, Treasury officials expanded funding beyond anything Congress intended, taking control of companies whose losses accelerated under government management. Last night, CIT Group went bankrupt after its taxpayer bailout, costing $2.3 billion. These government investments lost taxpayers more than $70 billion. Congress should set a timetable for a withdrawal from private company ownership before even more money is lost. The government is a very poor manager of private companies.”

"My constituents have had enough of the government spending billions of taxpayer dollars to control more private business, which only hurts our ability to create jobs and continues to plunge America even further into debt,” Congressman Roskam said. “Under TARP, the federal government effectively became CEO of a range of major private U.S. employers. With unemployment nearly 10% nationally after being promised no higher than 8%, we can see just how inefficient the government is at fostering real job growth.”

Congress authorized the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to purchase "troubled assets," focused on buying mortgage-backed securities. After enactment, Treasury officials then dramatically expanded bailout funds to go beyond loan purchases, actually buying stock in big failing businesses, including automakers who were asked to become “banks” to be eligible.

The U.S. Treasury committed taxpayer funding for the following companies:

· Bank of America: $35 billion in preferred stock
· Chrysler: $12.5 billion in common stock and notes
· General Motors: $49.5 billion in common stock, warrants and notes
· Citigroup: $45 billion in common stock
· AIG: $40 billion in common stock, plus amounts outstanding on a $30 billion U.S. Treasury line of credit
· Hartford Financial Services: $3.4 billion in preferred stock
· Lincoln National Corporation: $950 million in preferred stock
· GMAC: $884 million in common stock

In many situations, the taxpayer is a majority or part owner of a company that continues to lose money.

· In the case of General Motors, President Obama's former "Car Czar" estimated that the taxpayers’ $49.5 billion interest in GM is now worth only $25 billion. While sales for private-owned Ford Motors fell only 6 percent in September, government-owned GM saw a 45 percent decline.
· AIG has lost even more taxpayer money. With a market value of only $3.5 billion, taxpayers lost $36.5 billion of their original $40 billion common stock investment.
· With a market value of $33 billion, Citigroup lost $12 billion of taxpayers’ original investment of $45 billion.

A copy of the Taxpayer Investment Protection Act is below, and a graphic depicting U.S. Treasury investment in private companies is attached.


1st Session

To prohibit the Federal Government from holding security interests, and for other purposes.


Mr. Kirk of Illinois introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services


To prohibit the Federal Government from holding security interests, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `Taxpayer Investment Protection Act of 2009'.
In this Act--
(1) the term `ownership interest' means an interest in a troubled asset described in section 3(9)(B) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5202(a)(1)), as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act, that was purchased by the Secretary under section 101(a)(1) of such Act (12 U.S.C. 5211(a)(1)); and
(2) the term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Treasury.
(a) DIVESTITURE- Except as provided in subsection (b), the Secretary shall divest the Federal Government of any ownership interest not later than December 31, 2010.
(b) Conforming Amendment- Section 3(9) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5202(9)) is amended--
(1) in subparagraph (A), by striking `; and' at the end and inserting a period;
(2) by striking `means--' and all that follows through `residential' in subparagraph (A) and inserting `means residential'; and
(3) by striking subparagraph (B).
(c) Deposit of Funds-
(1) IN GENERAL- Section 115(a)(3) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5225(a)(3)) is amended by striking `outstanding at any one time'.
(A) IN GENERAL- On and after the date of enactment of this Act, all repayments of obligations arising under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5201 et seq.), and all proceeds from the sale of assets acquired by the Federal Government under that Act, shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt, in accordance with section 106(d) of that Act (12 U.S.C. 5216(d)), as amended by this subsection.
(B) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 106(d) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5216(d)) is amended by inserting `, and repayments of obligations arising under this Act,' after `section 113'.
(d) Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation- Nothing in this Act may be construed to impede the ability of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to maintain the stability of the banking system.
Section 104(a) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5214(a)) is amended--
(1) in paragraph (2), by striking `and' at the end;
(2) in paragraph (3), by striking the semicolon at the end and inserting `; and'; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
`(4) reviewing the implementation of section 3 of the Taxpayer Investment Protection Act of 2009.'.
(a) Reports on Winding Down or Divestment-
(1) REPORTS REQUIRED- The Secretary shall submit to Congress periodic reports on the plans of the Secretary for compliance with this Act, providing detail on equity divestiture plans and return of capital for the following corporate investments:
Bank of America: $35 billion in notes and preferred stock
Chrysler: $12.5 billion in common equity and notes
General Motors: $49.5 billion in common and preferred equity, notes
Citigroup: $45 billion in common stock and notes
AIG: $40 billion, applied to acquire 79.9% of equity, plus amounts outstanding on a $30 billion line of credit
Hartford Financial Services: $3.4 billion in preferred stock
Lincoln National Corporation: $950 million in preferred stock
GMAC: $884 million in common equity
(2) TIMING OF REPORTS- The Secretary shall submit the reports under paragraph (1)--
(A) not later than Jan. 1, 2010; and
(B) each month thereafter until all ownership interests are divested under section 3(a).

The Smoke Clears In Wake of Petition Filings... Now Off to the Primaries (UPDATED)

Well, now that the excitement of the filing deadline for nomination petitions is in the rear view mirrors, let's look at the couple of races we've been covering to see exactly what happened.

In the U.S. Senate race, we had a bit of a surprise with conservative candidate Pat Hughes apparently filing early yesterday (despite his claim that he purposely was holding back so he could appear last on the ballot), and then withdrew his filing and refiled later in the day. While one might assume this was all according to plan, the word TA hears is that some Hughes supporter mistakenly sent in a page which was filed, and then Hughes had to withdraw that and file his complete set of petitions. If correct, it doesn't speak well of Hughes' organization, once again. But interestingly, even though another conservative contender, Eric Wallace, decided not to file after all, two other candidates, Bob Zadek of Rockford and Tom Kuna of Jerseyville, filed AFTER Hughes, so unless both of these men get knocked off the ballot in a challenge, Pat still isn't going to be last.

As we've said before, we don't think the ballot position is particularly important in a top-tier kind of race like U.S. Senate, so this is mostly a lot of posturing for nothing. Maybe more interesting is whether Wallace's withdrawal will portend a conservative rally around Hughes, but the fact that Wallace did not endorse Hughes immediately either means that Wallace is still smarting from the previous suggestion from one of Hughes' operatives that Wallace should get out of the race, or that Wallace is going to hold out until Hughes does some serious tush-kissing of Wallace (which Pat, being a proud guy, is going to loathe). Whether any of this could put any other candidate in spitting distance of Congressman Mark Kirk, is questionable, even under the best of circumstances for them.

On the Dem side, several new candidates also filed, joining the pack of Giannoulias, Hoffman, Jackson and Meister- we now have Robert Marshall of Burr Ridge, Corey Dabney of Aurora, and Willie Boyd, Jr. of Greenville. Green candidate LeAlan Jones of Chicago also filed.

Things are also interesting in the 10th District, where two other Democratic contenders join Dan Seals and State Rep. Julie Hamos. Highland Park attorney Elliot Richardson, who was actually the first Democrat to officially announce for the position, if I recall, finally got his petitions turned in the other day, and a Milton Sumption of Lake Bluff also filed.

On the GOP side in IL-10, in addition to Bill Cadigan, Beth Coulson, Dick Green, Bob Dold, and Paul Hamann, Patricia Bird of Mount Prospect surprisingly filed after all, and an Arie Friedman of Highland Park also filed. Richard Mayers of Chicago, a Green Party candidate, also filed.

That all I have time for this morning, but we'll be looking at downballot races as the days go by, including the 59th Legislative District as that primary battle heats up, and may even look at the Guv race, although lots of other blog dissect that better than we can.

UPDATED 10:00 a.m.: Over at Illinois Review, camp Hughes (via Charlie Johnston) explains what happened with the Hughes filing yesterday, which confirms our understanding as we reported it, but you can read it from the horse's mouth at IR if anyone is that interested.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Latest U.S. Senate Race Filings in Illinois (UPDATED x2)

There are some recent candidate filings in the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois to report. Pat Hughes, a conservative candidate for the GOP nomination, filed this morning, although he had stated that he was planning to wait until the last minute to file to try to get the last space on the ballot. Whether this is imporant or not, he filed at 10:52 this morning, according to the State Board of Elections website, so I don't know if he gave up on that or what. Another conservative candidate, Eric Wallace, is also expected to file today but hadn't, yet, so I'm not sure what's going on with the Hughes strategy. If it means anything, TA hears that Hughes supporters were still circulating petitions at the Bears game yesterday, so it will be interesting to see how many total sigs he files with.

Ed Varga, an engineer who announced that he was running for the GOP nod, decided against the race and will not run, according to the Northwest Herald, but hinted that he might run in the general as an indepdendent.

Interestingly a candidate for the Green party, LeAlan M. Jones, of Chicago, filed last Friday. You can expect the Dems to challenge the petitions of the Green candidate, as they often do, as the Green party candidate usually takes more voters away from the Dems than the GOP.

Since today is the last day to file, we'll have more info later on the U.S. Senate Race and other races.

UPDATED 3:40 p.m.: Pat Hughes just filed ANOTHER 'something' with the SBE time stamped at 3:05 p.m. Um, usually you can't file petitions in a piecemeal fashion, so I have no idea what's going up. What I do know, though is that Bob Zadek filed at 3:14 p.m., so it would seem that assuming Zadek's petitions are deemed valid if challenged, he's currently the 'last' place ballot guy, unless Eric Wallace swoops in later today (as we expect).

What's Hughes thinking?

UPDATED x2 3:55 p.m.: In the U.S. Senate race, GOP candidate Tom Kuna filed at 3:24. Also of more local interest, in the 59th District, Vernon Hills Trustee Cynthia Hebda filed later this afternoon and will face off against Dan Sugrue and Mohan Manian in the primary to replace former State Rep. Kathy Ryg's seat (Dem contenders are incumbent appointee Carol Sente and also Buffalo Grove Mayor Elliot Hartstein).

TA hears that Hebda was convinced very late in the filing period to make a run and had to scramble to get petitions signed and filed. She is expected to have a lot of support centered in the Vernon Hills area, including help from current Mayor Roger Byrne, whom Hebda had previously challenged for the Mayor's office.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Republican Jewish Coalition Hosts 10th District Campaign Forum on November 15th

(TA Note- We've bumped this post back up to continue our discussion on IL-10 since Halloween is now over. Hope you didn't eat too much candy!)

Early in the campaign season, my friend Dr. Michael Menis, who heads the Chicago chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition, called to tell me that the RJC planned to sponsor a GOP 10th District candidates forum after petitions were filed. That was a welcome relief, as the RJC always does a great job with events, and that left TA off the hook for trying to organize something to showcase our candidates.

Well, it's now about time to publicize that event, which will be held on Sunday November 15th, beginning at 6:00 p.m., Renaissance North Shore Hotel, 933 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062. There is a charge if you are not an RJC member, and RSVPs are required, so check the link for all of the details.

We've been talking quite a bit about the race for U.S. Senate here in Illinois, so let's use this as an excuse to get back to the 10th District and ask everyone to chime in on who you are supporting for the GOP nomination to succeed Mark Kirk in IL-10. You will notice the new "endorsement" bar on the right side of the page, and you may also notice that there is no endorsement (yet) for IL-10. So, let's hear your best arguments for each candidate and help us sort this out.

As usual, let's try to remain as positive as possible (understanding that part of primary races is to compare and contrast), but at the least, let's be respectful and polite. Thanks.