Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NRCC Adds Bob Dold to "Young Guns" Program

As Politico reports today, IL-10 GOP candidate Bob Dold has been selected for the NRCC's "Young Guns" program:

The thickest concentration of new “Young Guns” is in Illinois, where candidates Bob Dold, in the 10th Congressional District; Adam Kinzinger, in the 11th; and Randy Hultgren, in the 14th, all made the cut.

We'll have more on this later. Busy day today.

Congressman Mark Kirk Goes on Offensive vs. Alexi Giannoulias With New TV Ads: "Risky" and "Stand"

In the wake of yesterday's mea culpa press conference by Congressman Mark Kirk over mistakes made in touting his military service record, Kirk is further seeking to change the focus of this race back to the foibles and vulnerabilities of his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. A set of new TV ads will begin airing on cable and broadcast TV, entitled "Risky" and "Stand."

The Kirk for Senate Campaign summarizes the ads as follows:

The first ad, “Risky,” details Giannoulias’ failed record as a banker and Treasurer, including his loans to organized crime figures, risky lending schemes that brought down Broadway Bank and losses in the Bright Start college savings fund. “Risky” also reminds voters about Giannoulias’ support for higher taxes and increased spending. The second ad, “Stand,” focuses on the candidates’ differences on BP and job-killing energy taxes.



You can see from these ads that Team Kirk means business. However, we can all recognize that, much as Alexi was essentially forced to go up on TV several weeks ago to rehabilitate his image in the wake of the damage done to him by the failed Broadway Bank, I think it's fair to say that Kirk wasn't planning to have to shoot bullets like these until the fall. It's going to be one hell of a roller coaster ride into November, that's for sure.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mark Kirk Addresses Tough Questions At Press Conference, Vows to Correct Mistakes and Move Forward

Congressman Mark Kirk faced down the Chicago news media today to answer what many of them felt were issues that Kirk had not yet adequately addressed concerning his military service and other accomplishments. After reading some fairly brief prepared remarks, Kirk took questions from the press for about 45 minutes.

"I’ve made mistakes when characterizing certain aspects of my accomplishments and experiences," he stated in his prepared remarks. "I apologize for my mistakes and I pledge to correct any errors. I am not perfect, and I was careless. I will do better and make sure this never happens again.

In probably his best line of the day, Kirk took a dig at his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, and stated that "Going forward, I will present my official record of service to compare to my opponents," which drew a big round of applause and laughs at Alexi's expense, given that Alexi never served a day in the armed forces.

Kirk summed up the difference between he and Alexi in that his platform is to "tax less, spend less, create jobs, protect the environment, and clean up corruption." On the other hand, Alexi wants to "raise taxes, spend more and maintain the status quo of leadership in Illinois."

Kirk answered questions from reporters on a wide range of topics, including health care, Iran sanctions, Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, DADT, and Afghanistan. Kirk also returned again to his statements on his military record and repeated that he was sorry for his mistakes and pledged to address any other errors, if any come up.

Kirk was asked about Q2 fundraising reports, since the second quarter closes tomorrow and reports are due days thereafter. Kirk declined to give any specific figures, noting that money is still flowing in, but that he expects the Q2 totals to be "robust."

I think Kirk has the right strategy on his military record. Stick to the facts, stick to the official record, and every time from now until November that it comes up, the comparison against Alexi's lack of credentials and accomplishment, especially in this area, will be all that we need.

Here are Kirk's prepared remarks, as released by his campaign:

Congressman Mark Kirk
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
June 29, 2010

Good morning – thank you all for coming today.

The problems our country and our state confront in the summer of 2010 are among the most difficult and urgent as any we faced in our lifetimes. This year’s election will determine whether or not we chart a new course toward restoring the confidence in the ability of our government to meet America’s challenges.

The United States is mired in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Economic growth is anemic.

Unemployment hovers around ten percent nationally and even higher in Illinois. The numbers increase when you include people who gave up hope of ever finding a job and withdrew from the workforce.

Consumer confidence remains low. Foreign competition to every sector of our economy grows stronger each day. While traditional sources of jobs and income are disappearing, we find tougher competition in new industries from countries that only a decade or two ago struggled to feed themselves.

Our government continues to overspend and pile up debt at a terrifying rate that could ultimately damage our economy with inflation, high interest rates and a weakened dollar. Generations of Americans will struggle to pay the costs of our extravagance.

Washington searches for new taxes to offset its reckless spending rather than curtail its waste. Many of the new tax increases fall disproportionately on small business employers, the primary job creators of our economy - depriving them of the means to grow and hire more people.

We need to change our ways:

The way we budget;

The way we spend;

How much and who we tax;

The way we structure and run our spending programs.

We need to change the way we regulate businesses to make sure that reckless and dishonest business practices do not destroy the savings of innocent Americans. Most importantly, we should not stick the American taxpayer with another bill for other people’s greed.

Congress needs to make it easier for well-run, honest employers to grow and competing in the global economy.

We need to plug the hole in the Gulf, clean up the mess and assess liability.

Moving forward, we should rebuild a bipartisan American energy independence policy based on domestic sources, nuclear power, and permanent incentives for wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy.

America is fighting wars in two countries. We made great progress in Iraq. But we still face challenges to ensure the Iraqi government is capable of defending its democracy as the United States withdraws.

In Afghanistan, I support President Obama’s new strategy to prevent the return of the Taliban and al Qaeda. But great challenges remain as we work with the Afghan government, our NATO allies and Pakistan to empower a new Afghan solution that results in a country that poses no future danger to the United Stares or her allies.

Terrorists around the world remain intent on killing Americans, disrupting our economy, and forcing us to live in fear. The Government of Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, is determined to develop nuclear weapons to threaten our interests, our allies and the stability of the Middle East.

Numerous other security and economic challenges, including the European debt crisis and North Korea, are growing in number and complexity in almost every corner of the world.

To address them effectively, we need to continue rethinking, restructuring and reforming how we organize and equip our military, how we collect and analyze intelligence, how we employ our diplomacy, and how to make the most effective use of our soft power.

Over the course of the summer, I will give a series of speeches discussing these challenges in greater detail, and the policies that would most effectively master them.

But to make progress on all these fronts, we need to elect to office Americans who put the country’s needs ahead of personal or partisan interests.

We need men and women who have the experience, maturity, judgment and determination to work creatively. For a country as innovative, resourceful and industrious as America, we should join together in good faith to implement solutions to our problems. We are tired of unproductive partisan bickering and time-wasting political gamesmanship.

We need public officeholders who don’t excuse, ignore or take personal advantage of corruption. The people of Illinois have seen more than their share of political corruption.

Elected officials from both parties went to jail for violating the public trust. Corruption has been, but doesn’t have to be, part of our culture. Change is nowhere more urgent than right here, in our state.

When you’ve spent most of your adult life, as I have, in the service of the American people, you can see the daunting challenges confronting us as an opportunity to make a real difference in the future of this blessed and wonderful country. You get excited about the opportunity to use your experience to give your best service in the cause of our country’s greatness.

I am excited about that opportunity, and very grateful for it.

Now, I’ve made mistakes when characterizing certain aspects of my accomplishments and experiences. I apologize for my mistakes and I pledge to correct any errors. I am not perfect, and I was careless. I will do better and make sure this never happens again.

My service to the American people means a great deal to me, particularly my service in the U.S. military. To all my fellow veterans here today, thank you for your friendship and your strong support.

I welcome an honest debate about my vision and service to Illinois and I’m happy to compare my record in the military and in the Congress.

Going forward, I will present my official record of service to compare to my opponent’s. I will be mindful of my imperfection, remain humble, and the kind of public servant you deserve.

I will give you my clear views on the issues and plans to solve our problems. You can then make the best decision about whom to support in this election.

I place my trust in your judgment and consider it a great privilege to stand subject to it.

This election will come down to a clear choice between two people and two very different directions of where to take our country and our state.

I think my views are more in line with the voters of Illinois. I think we should tax less, spend less, create jobs, protect our environment and clean up corruption.

My opponent wants to raise taxes, spend more and maintain the status quo of the current leadership in Illinois.

In short, I think we need to send a fiscal conservative, social moderate, independent-minded servant to the Senate – and I am that candidate.

Thank you for being here today and thank you for all that you do to make this country great.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Giannoulias Subpoenaed for Blago Trial: First Smoke, Then Smolder, Then...

As we mentioned last week when Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias' name was first mentioned at the ongoing trial of disgraced former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Well, it's now been a couple days, and there is no fire yet, but with the news that Alexi has now been subpoenaed by the defense in the Blago case, there is going to be a lot more scrutiny over exactly what was Alexi's involvement in Blago's scheme to sell or otherwise personally profit by Blago's ability to name a replacement to then-Senator Obama's seat, if and when Obama was elected president. It appears that Alexi was more involved in trying to get Obama friend Valerie Jarrett appointed to the spot than perhaps Alexi previously wanted to let on, including brokering and then attending a meeting between SEIU president Tom Balanoff and Jarrett.

I think we've definitely gone from a wisp of smoke to a healthy smolder. We'll see just exactly what happens next, but the Kirk for Senate campaign has a lot of questions it hopes reporters start asking about just how deep Alexi was in the middle of all of this.

By the way, Team Alexi and his supporters in the media are already trying to spin this as Alexi being a 'victim' of the crazy former guv, who is trying to ensnare everyone on the planet as a bit player in his trial. But it seems pretty clear from what we're learning now that Alexi is the one who reached out to Blago, so this line of how 'Alexi and Blago were never close' kind of misses the point as far as I can see. Blago had the power to make a hugely important U.S. Senate appointment, and Alexi chose to involve himself in Blago's decision -- whether on his own initiative or Obama's, it doesn't really matter. The current issue, is how deep Alexi's involvement went, and if Alexi has been entirely candid about the extent of his involvement in this mess up to now, all of which now remains to be seen.

IMHO, Alexi's playing a dangerous game by being coy with the media. They just spent the last month beating up on Congressman Kirk, and the fickle pendulum of the MSM would like nothing better than to swing back so that all the reporters can prove they are equal-opportunity-beater-uppers. Woe be to Alexi if the media decides that he's been less than forthcoming on any of the details of this intriguing development...

From the Kirk for Senate campaign:

Kirk Campaign Statement Regarding Giannoulias Subpoena in Blagojevich Corruption Trial

Statement by Kirk Spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski:

“Today's news developments further emphasize the troubling pattern that has emerged concerning Alexi Giannoulias. As state treasurer, Giannoulias lost more than $70 million in Bright Start college savings funds and his family's bank cost the FDIC nearly $400 million in losses. Now we've learned Giannoulias' name has come up on federal wire taps talking about the Illinois Senate seat and he has been subpoenaed in former and disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich's public corruption trial. This revelation raises additional questions about Alexi Giannoulias that he needs to answer.”

Key Questions for Alexi Giannoulias

-->1. When did Alexi Giannoulias receive his subpoena notice?

-->2. What did Alexi hear and say during the meeting he brokered between Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett?

-->3. Alexi Giannoulias claims Tom Balanoff “reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie; he did not know how to get ahold of her.” Why would Tom Balanoff need Alexi Giannoulias to reach Valerie Jarrett if Balanoff had a direct line to the President-elect?

-->4. What day did Tom Balanoff call Alexi Giannoulias?

-->5. What day did Alexi Giannoulias, Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett hold a meeting?

-->6. Does Tom Balanoff agree with Alexi Giannoulias’ version of events?

-->7. Why did Alexi Giannoulias previously claim that the Blagojevich staff reached out to him regarding his possible appointment to the U.S. Senate seat when in fact he had called John Harris and brokered a meeting between Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett?

-->8. Why did Alexi Giannoulias make no mention of his subpoena or his meeting with Balanoff when reporters first asked him about a wiretap conversation in which Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris tells Rod Blagojevich that Giannoulias had called?

A Timeline of Inconsistencies

November 7, 2008: A federal wiretap records the following conversation between Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris – this is never brought to public light until the Blagojevich trial last week:

Harris: “So, Alexi called me. Wants to meet with me a few minutes this afternoon. He says it's...I said what's it about? He says the seat but not for me, for someone else.” (Source: Session 374, 10:46 AM)

December 4, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias tells the Chicago Tribune that Rod Blagojevich’s staff “reached out” to him about the Senate seat.

Giannoulias also said that staff within Blagojevich's office have "reached out" to him as a possible candidate to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, though a Blagojevich spokesman said the governor has not contacted Giannoulias directly.” (Chicago Tribune, “Giannoulias mulls governor run, Senate seat,” 12/4/2008)

December 9, 2008: Blagojevich and Harris are arrested:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents for what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald called a "staggering" level of corruption involving pay-to-play politics in Illinois' top office. (Chicago Tribune, “Blagojevich arrested on federal charges,” 12/9/2008)

December 12, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias claims he hadn’t thought about the Senate seat until after Rod Blagojevich was arrested:

"I haven't really thought about it to be honest with you," he said during an appearance at Aurora University. "I've been focused on trying to do my job and trying to rebuild the public's trust in us as elected officials.“ (Daily Herald, “Giannoulias 'too busy' to think about vacant Senate seat,” 12/12/2008)

December 18, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias avoids CNBC question about being contacted by Blagojevich and says he was never in serious contention for the Senate seat:

Host: Is it true, there are reports out there that his office reached out to your office to see if you’d be interested in Obama’s Seante seat. They didn’t hit you up to see what you’d be willing to give for that?

Alexi: I don’t think I was ever seriously in contention for that seat.

(Source: CNBC Interview, 12/18/2008)

March 3, 2009: Alexi Giannoulias’ spokesman claims Giannoulias began looking at the Senate seat following Rod Blagojevich’s arrest:

Giannoulias’ spokesman Scott Burnham said Giannoulias was interested in the seat when it became vacant and began to look at it more closely following the arrest of Rod Blagojevich in December.” (Daily Herald, “Ill. treasurer exploring run for U.S. Senate,” 3/3/2009)

June 24, 2010: Giannoulias campaign spokesperson matter-of-factly admits for the first time that Giannoulias called John Harris to advocate for Valerie Jarrett:

"Alexi did not call Harris at the behest of President Obama," she said. "Alexi thinks very highly of Valerie Jarrett, and it was well known that he thought she would make a terrific senator. So naturally, he was an advocate for her appointment." (Washington Post, The Fix, 6/24/2010)

June 24, 2010: The Giannoulias campaign refuses to tell reporters whether Alexi Giannoulias made any other calls or contacts with the Blagojevich team regarding the U.S. Senate seat:

The campaign is bit hazy about whether other calls were made, saying only that, "It was no secret he thought highly of Valerie and talked to people about it." (Crain’s Chicago Business, 6/24/2010)

June 27, 2010: Alexi Giannoulias reveals for the first time that he brokered a meeting between SEIU Illinois President Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett to discuss the Senate seat:

"Tom Balanoff reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie because he didn't know how to get a hold of her, and I put the two of them together," Giannoulias said. He said he also attended an informal meeting between Jarrett and Balanoff sometime after Obama's election but "didn't really participate in it." (Associated Press, 6/27/2010)

After the election, Giannoulias told me he "reached out to Harris to give him my thoughts and at a certain point, Tom Balanoff reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie; he did not know how to get ahold of her. I put the two together in the meeting." (Chicago Sun-Times, 6/27/2010)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire: Giannoulias Called Blago Regarding Obama Senate Seat

We are learning this morning in the corruption trial of former IL Governor Rod Blagojevich that Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias called Blago to discuss the appointment of a replacement to the U.S. Senate seat that was held by Barack Obama.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post said this:

At the end of a Chicago Sun-Times blog post on the trial is a recorded exchange between former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris and the governor, in which Harris passes along a note from Giannoulias. The state treasurer, according to Harris, had called about the Senate seat President-elect Obama was set to vacate.

"So Alexi called me. He wanted to have a discussion about the Senate seat," Harris is heard telling Blagojevich. "I imagine he'll tell me ... Barack wants Valerie (Jarrett)."

Blagojevich responds, according to the Sun-Times: "Listen to me, don't see him today. Just ... let's run the clock now."

According to Alexi's camp, the call was not made at the behest of Obama.

But the call was made. So now we have Alexi meddling in the U.S. Senate appointment with a disgraced former governor who tried to sell the seat.

The seat Alexi is now running for. Rich at Capitol Fax Blog thinks this is no big deal.

I think as far as we're concerned here, we'll see how this develops before making that pronouncement.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More on the Giannoulias Campaign Event Gone Wrong

I'm pressed for time this morning, so as a quick follow-up to our previous story on this issue, I am going to put up a press release I just got from the Kirk Campaign and we'll discuss this more later:

Kirk Campaign Expresses Serious Concern over Report that Giannoulias Event Host Intimidated Young Woman after Fundraiser

Giannoulias should identify all those involved, terminate affiliation with the campaign and apologize to the people of Illinois

Northbrook, Ill. – The Kirk for Senate campaign today expressed serious concern regarding a report in Politico that a campaign fundraiser for Alexi Giannoulias' Senate campaign intimidated a young woman in Washington, D.C. following a campaign fundraiser last week.

The report follows a video that surfaced on the Web last week showing Giannoulias campaign affiliates manhandling a videographer at a Giannoulias DC fundraiser.

“The news that Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign event host intimidated a young woman at her home in Washington following the campaign’s DC fundraiser raises serious concerns with regard to the integrity of the Giannoulias campaign and its associates,” Kirk spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said. “We call on Alexi Giannoulias to immediately apologize for his campaign affiliates' intimidation tactics, publicly identify all those involved and terminate all association with them.”


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

VP Biden Drones On at Seals Fundraiser; Alexi Protested for Bright Start Failures

VP Joe "Say it ain't so" Biden was in town yesterday for a pair of Democratic fundraisers, first for 10th Congressional Congressman Dan Seals, and another for U.S. Senate candidate and current State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

According to the media reports, Biden droned on for 40 minutes at the Seals event. He sounded a little defensive... perhaps even desperate... that the Dems seem to have lost momentum and some faith going into the November midterm elections:

Speaking for nearly 40 minutes before about 200 supporters at the Seals event, Biden said he might have "gone on so long" because "I'm so frustrated that Democrats are getting a little down in the mouth, because there's no reason to."

Biden also acknowledged that now is the time in which Democrats are "most vulnerable," referring, I assume to the midterm elections, in which the president's party traditionally loses seats.

Biden kept it a little shorter for Alexi. He's a "stand-up candidate," according to Biden. Since Biden flew in and out, he probably missed the Alexi protesters outside the Metropolitan Planning Council's annual luncheon complaining about the millions of dollars in college savings that Treasurer Giannoulias lost on his watch:

At the same luncheon where Alexi appeared, Congressman Mark Kirk also spoke, and tacitly acknowledged his recent issues with his military record, but also took a poke at Alexi's banking problems with his family's failed (not sold) Broadway Bank:

But Kirk seemed to hint at the controversy during his address when he recited a list of facts about the tough economy and other challenges facing the nation.

"Some may wonder if I've exaggerated the last points," Kirk said.

He also was quick to take a jab at Giannoulias, who has proposed using money to come from the oil industry to modernize the nation's infrastructure, including roads and rail systems, by setting up a special fund or bank.

"At least the FDIC wouldn't close that bank," Kirk cracked to groans and some chuckles from the audience.

Unfortunately, the media seems to have focused more on Kirk's exit from the event, which many of the MSM deemed a bit hasty. Some pundits in Chicago indeed had more than a little fun with describing Kirk's departure. But, hey, Kirk's an easy target right now for those who make their living throwing jabs at politicians.

According to the AP, "Kirk spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in an e-mail that he was there for the event and had other items on his schedule."

My final thought on all of this is that Seals wasn't even important enough to have any protesters show up at his event. You first need to take a stand before anyone can criticize you for your position on the issues, and you need to take some actions before anyone can criticize them.

Of course, seeing Alexi's track record, maybe Seals is on to something.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How Not to Be A Fundraiser "Goon" - Remember to Rip Off Your Nametag Before You Get in the Camera Guy's Face

The latest YouTube video to go viral is a tape of an Alexi Giannoulias fundraiser in Washington, D.C., in which the cameraman was accosted by an aggressive event attendee while Alexi looks on in the background. The problem (for Team Alexi, anyway) - as with many political events, the attendees all wore nametags. So when this guy got in the cameraman's face, it wasn't too hard to figure out who this guy is.

Well, Marathon Pundit brings us a great video showing exactly how easy it is to track down such a toad when you embarrass yourself like this on video. And to think this behavior comes from a fellow lawyer... the shock, the horror...

So far, it appears that Team Alexi is ducking comment on this fiasco.

Alexi must be so proud.

h/t Backyard Conservative

GOP Strong In Libertyville Days Parade; Seals Busses 'Em In; Dold Fiesta A Big Success

I attended the Libertyville Days Parade yesterday and, as always, it was quite a show, as you can see below. It's known for having many awesome balloons and is always well-attended by the local politicians. The local GOP organizations and candidates made a strong display. The local Dems, not so much.

Among the many elected officials and candidates representing the Republicans were Sheriff Mark Curran, County Board member Carol Calabresa, 10th Congressional Candidate Robert Dold, Judge Wally Dunn, State Senator Dan Duffy, State Rep. Ed Sullivan, Jr., and State Rep. Candidate Dan Sugrue. Mark Kirk also had marchers, and while he usually shows up in person, this time he had to appear at downstate event as he continues his campaign for U.S. Senate.

10th District Democratic candidate Dan Seals was there with what looked like a strong contingent. At least that's what I thought, until someone told me that during parade line up, there was only a handful of Seals people there until two buses showed up to offload "supporters." Go figure. Anyway, here's my photo recap of the day:

Here's the beginning of the parade:

This the Naval Band:

Here's Uncle Sam:

Here is Judge Wally Dunn leading the GOP contingent:

This is GOP Committeeman John Nickels driving the GOP truck:

Here is Bob Dold's group; I shook Bob's hand as he walked the parade route but didn't get a picture.

59th State Rep. Candidate Dan Sugrue had a big group:

Sheriff Mark Curran:

And a proud supporter:

The Not-So-Fearsome Tiger:

Miniature horses - how cute is that?

This is Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler bringing up the rear behind the horses, on doo-doo duty:

Here's the bussed-in contingent for Team Seals:

Here's Dan Seals himself. I shook his hand and said, how about a pose for Team America? He gave me a hearty "Hello Team America!" and then continued down the parade route.

Da Plane, Da Plane

The "Eagle":

Here's a picture of a rather strange and disturbing chicken from Egg Harbor Cafe:

Finally, after the parade, I attended a fantastic family fundraiser for Bob Dold at the lovely home of Kelly and Jeff Brincat. There were pony rides, a bounce house, a mariachi band, and of course some great food and conversation. Over 250 people attended. I was having too much fun to snap too many pictures, but here's one of Bob talking to some of his many supporters at the event:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dan Sugrue's Campaign Office to Host Grand Opening This Saturday

Green Oaks attorney Dan Sugrue, who is making his second bid at the 59th legislative district seat (now held by the appointed Carol Sente in the wake of Kathy Ryg's resignation), will hold a grand opening event for his new campaign headquarters, this Saturday after the Libertyville Parade ends.


Saturday, June 19th 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
following the Libertyville Days Parade


141 W. Townline Road (corner of Rte. 60 & Aspen)
Vernon Hills

Media Attention Forces Dan Seals to Remove Misleading Endorsement from His Campaign Website

While the blogosphere can be a powerful medium for effecting change and revealing issues that the main stream media won't or can't (due to lack of resources) focus on, sometimes the only thing that will give a candidate a kick in the pants is call from a good old-fashioned print reporter.

As we discussed a few days ago, the Democratic nominee for the 10th Congressional District, Dan Seals, was busted once again for using an old, misleading endorsement on his website, which applied to a prior election, and a different opponent (Democrat Julie Hamos), than Bob Dold, the current GOP nominee who Seals must face in the general election. I say again, because the same thing happened when Seals was running against Hamos, and used stale endorsements on his website. Seals did nothing to change his website when we called him on it back during the primary, and he did nothing to change it this time, either, until the Daily Herald called him about it yesterday.

Of course, when the DH called, the Seals campaign immediately labeled it an "oversight," and took down the endorsement.

I love the double standard applied by the Dems. Anything their guys do is a "mistake" or oversight. No harm done, nothing to see here, please move on. But when our guys make mistakes... well, you've heard of Armageddon, right?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 2 of the Bob Dold "Get to Work" Bus Tour: Bob Lets Them Eat Cake In Highland Park

Today marks the second day of GOP congressional candidate Bob Dold's whirlwind bus tour of the 10th Congressional District. I wasn't able to catch up with the Dold Bus until this evening, when the bus stopped in downtown Highland Park at a music festival.

In fact, I wasn't even planning on meeting the bus tonight, since I had to be downtown all day (yes, TA does have a real job), but I saw the bus go by while getting gas on Dundee Rd., and followed it to the next stop in Highland Park. What I saw while following the bus was interesting - pretty much everyone I saw on the side of the road as it drove up Green Bay Road past Ravinia into Highland Park was pointing and waving. When the bus got to HP, Bob got a very warm reception from the crowd gathered for the music festival... although I understand that none other than our good friend Ellen Beth Gill was there as well. I didn't run into her myself, but I suspect it's safe to say she didn't leave with a "Dold" sticker.

In any case, among the other fun things
going on, a Dold cake was unveiled and shared amongst the crowd. Bob has a full day planned again tomorrow, I understand, and the tour will continue into Saturday as well. Based on the positive reaction I saw tonight, I think Bob is on to something....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dan Seals Misleads Voters By Claiming Endorsements From Prior Elections on His Website

Dan Seals, perennial Democratic candidate for Mark Kirk's old Congressional seat in the 10th District, has been campaigning for this job for a long time. Years, in fact. As regular TA readers know well, he's now in his third campaign, having lost twice.

Besides being a full-time campaigner, he doesn't have much to show as to his community involvement, he doesn't live in the District, and he has a wonderful background of resume puffing and campaign gaffs. But what he does have is a few newspaper endorsements. That is, endorsements from prior campaigns, specifically primaries.

Dan isn't running against any of the people for which he received newspaper endorsements in past elections, like Julie Hamos or Jay Footlik, anymore. But you wouldn't know it from his website.

Dan's current opponent is Republican business owner Bob Dold. No endorsements have obviously been made in the head-to-head race between Dold and Seals. Those usually don't come until much closer to the election, after the big issues have been solidified, the debates have occured, most of the campaign speeches and appearances have been made, and most importantly, newspaper editors sit down with candidates and grill them on the issues. Then they make an endorsement, and it's always big news.

Like I said, Dan got some endorsements from some major papers like the Daily Herald, but never against his GOP opponent, which has always been Mark Kirk, until this cycle. He's certainly never gotten one over Bob Dold, because the time is not yet ripe.

But you would not know that from Seals' website. I just caught a screen shot of his scrolling pictures on his site not more than 20 minutes ago. And what do we see?

As in the picture above, an endorsement from the Daily Herald, touted as if it's current. No date given. But if one takes the time to backtrack this endorsement, it's easy to find out that it's from over six months ago, January 6, 2010. Not only that, as we noted at the time, it was in fact a pretty tepid endorsement, the full quote of which was

Hamos led the recent effort to bail out mass transit, in part by securing a sales tax increase. Seals seems more worried about federal spending and spiraling debt. In a very close call, we give the edge to Seals for his concern for cutting spending and our belief that he may be more independent and, therefore, a better fit for the 10th District.

Does anyone now care what the Daily Herald thought about the Hamos-Seals primary matchup six months ago?

The critical point is, though, that one would think by simply looking at Seals' website, that the quote given is current, or at least, against Seals' current opponent, Bob Dold. That's obviously not true, but Seals is clearly counting on the notion that most casual visitors to his website aren't going to dig any deeper.

So, what is this? Lying? Embellishment? Whatever it is, it's not the whole truth. And it's something we've criticized Seals for before.

When will the lies and misrepresentations with this guy end? Oh, yeah. November.

But don't rule out a fourth bite at the 10th District apple for Seals, even after he loses this round to Dold. It appears he simply has nothing better to do.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bob Dold Plans Family Fiesta, Plus Dold Gets Back on the Bus (UPDATED WITH BUS SCHEDULE)

While perennial candidate Dan Seals holds the same old stuffy political fundraisers with the likes of VP Joe Biden, 10th Congressional District GOP nominee Bob Dold will have a "Family Fiesta" this Saturday, June 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Lake Forest home of Kelly and Jeff Brincat. Kids of all ages are encouraged to attend (with their parents, obviously). Donations of $250 per family, or $1000 for "Fiesta Friends" are requested.

Call Sharon Parker at 312-755-3519 for more information or to RSVP.

Also, TA hears that Bob Dold is planning to bring back his campaign tour bus this week, and will be making stops throughout the 10th Congressional District, starting in Arlington Heights on Wednesday. We'll have more details and photos as the bus moves out on the road.

The Dold bus seemed to be quite a success for Bob during the primary, as it propelled him to a win over the better-known Beth Coulson. Given that Dold is battling Seals, who has greater name recognition, the bus may just be the thing Dold needs to start creating some buzz and exposure.

Obviously a lot more fun than hanging around Joe Biden, in any event!

UPDATED: Here, via the Dold website, is the Dold "Let's Get to Work" bus schedule.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dan Seals: When You Have Nothing to Say, Create a Straw Man to Knock Down on BP Oil Spill

Poor Dan Seals. He's now in about his fifth consecutive year of campaigning for Mark Kirk's congressional seat. You would think that now that Kirk is running for the U.S. Senate, and Seals has a new opponent, GOP nominee Bob Dold, Seals would have spruced up his game, after having learned many lessons about campaigning over the years.

Apparently, not so.

One fairly amateurish strategy that some politicos use is that when you don't have much to say, you 'create an issue' by taking liberties with what your opponent or (in this particular case) their party says, and then attack them on it. This can be effective if the issue you create is not something that can be proven to be a fabrication of the candidate himself.

Recently, Dan Seals called out GOP house minority leader John Boehner for supposedly calling for taxpayers to pay for the BP oil spill cleanup.

House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner called today for the use of taxpayer funds to foot the bill for the clean-up. “I think the people responsible in the oil spill–BP and the federal government–should take full responsibility for what’s happening there,” said Boehner at his weekly press conference Thursday morning. Seals has consistently opposed the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for clean-up of the spill. [snip]

“Republican Bob Dold needs to reject the statements by Republican Leadership and take the same pledge that Dan Seals has taken: no taxpayer dollars for the BP cleanup,” said Seals Campaign Manager David Mason. “Dold owes Illinois taxpayers an explanation for his party’s plans to subsidize BP’s negligence.”

You can read Seals' statement on his website here.

Let's stop right there. Doesn't seem a bit incongruent for the leader of the House Republicans to call for an increase on the taxpayers' burdens? Um, yes, exactly.

So, let's dig into exactly what Boehner said. As David Weigel at the Washington Post explains:

Minority leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is calling a foul on reporters circulating what he told TPMDC's Brian Beutler this morning -- that "BP and the federal government should take full responsibility for what's happening" in the wake of the oil company's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, the GOP leader stood by what he's said since May 3 -- "Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up [BP's] mess."

"He's said for a month now that BP will bear the full burden of this disaster," said Steel.

The "responsibility" Boehner was talking about was not taxpayer money cleaning up the spill. It was whatever reform and restructuring comes after the leak is stopped. As Boehner put it this morning, his preferred plan of action is "figure out what the hell went wrong, and then have the hearing and get the damn law fixed!"

Um, okay now. So, Seals is railing over an issue that he basically made up.

If you are Bob Dold, how do you respond to something like this? It's easy to agree that taxpayer dollars should not be used for the BP oil cleanup. But, it's not very polite for a candidate to say to another candidate, you're a lying sack of sh*t.

So, we will. Dan, you're a liar. And you've been lying since before you were telling the people of the 10th District that you were a professor at NU months before you ever stepped in front of your first night school class as a lecturer. At least you had the decency to finally stop telling that lie.

I would have thought Seals would have learned a few lessons over the past three campaign cycles, but I guess that was too much to hope for.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rasmussen: Kirk Still Leads Over Giannoulias, 42% to 39%

Despite the media pounce on Mark Kirk's mistakes over the stating of his military record (and subsequent apology for same), it seems that it has given rival Alexi Giannoulias little new traction as of yet. The latest poll from Rasmussen shows Kirk down a few points from their last poll (at 46%) in April, but Alexi is essentially unchanged (from 38% last time).

Based on the polling history, one could argue that the numbers seem to swing little whether we're talking about Kirk's problems or Alexi's. Does that mean that it's just too early for voters to be paying much attention (at least to this race), especially as the Blago trial is sucking most of the political wind out of everything, and many folks care 1000x's more about the Blackhawks and summer vacation than the back-and-forth by the candidates? You decide.

TA admits that he's not looking forward to this fall. Both senate candidates will spend millions on ads, and whether the candidates themselves or their surrogates (i.e., DSCC, NRSC) do it, the airwaves will be carpetbombed by negative campaign ads. Sigh.

Meanwhile, it also looks like Alexi's already sparse resume just got even shorter, as his campaign had to retract and correct a claim that he served on the Board of Directors of the Community Bankers Association of Illinois, when he only served on its committee on Legislation and Regulation.

According to Bob Wingert, president of the association, even his service on the committee during the 2005-2006 fiscal year was not too impressive.

“Alexi was not that intimately involved to be candid,” Wingert said.

Do tell.

Nicely Done

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

State Senator Terry Link Turns To Convicted Felon to Help Fill Eddie Washington Vacancy

State Senator Terry Link hasn't had a lot of success politically branching out from Lake County, as he lost recent bids for president of the State Senate and also got crushed in his bid for Illinois Lieutenant Governor.

But in Lake County, he rules with an iron hand.

He's been Chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party for over 15 years now. After all, he built it into what it is today, going back to when Lake County was a solid red.

His vast network of cronies and political supporters (captained by our friend "Sneaky" Pete Couvall) knows no equal.

And now, he's in charge of naming a replacement to fill the vacancy in the 60th State Legislative District caused by the untimely death of Eddie Washington. Who has he turned to to help choose a successor? None other than a convicted felon, Cynthia Alexander.

Alexander is a frequent go-to person for Link, and has worked on his campaigns for pay, not to mention helped out for other political tasks, such as objecting to Republican nominating petitions.

According to the Daily Herald archives,

Alexander was a Long Grove criminal defense lawyer, and considered as judge material in some circles, when she was indicted in September 1990. Federal prosecutors said she helped a man who had a $6,000-a-day cocaine business in Waukegan and North Chicago, where Alexander now lives.

Federal Bureau of Prisons records show Alexander, now 47, was convicted of aiding and abetting a conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. She began serving a seven-year penitentiary term July 8, 1992.

Alexander was released from a federal prison in downstate Pekin on Nov. 26, 1997. She was placed on five years probation after the release, according to the prisons bureau.

(Daily Herald, February 16, 2006, "Democratic Party leader hired ex-con - Whether that's a bad thing is up for debate among watchdogs and experts," by Bob Susnjara)

The Waukegan News-Sun reported today that Link had appointed Alexander to serve on the nominating committee to replace Washington, for which the power struggle to succeed poor Eddie started among the cutthroat Dems even before the body was cold.

The News-Sun forgot to mention the little bitty detail about Alexander having served time and being a felon, but hey, it's just Lake County politics, after all. Alexander has also worked for other Lake County political figures such as perennial 10th Congressional candidate Dan Seals.

Link has been unapologetic about tapping Alexander in the past and paying her for political work, contending that she deserves a second chance.

But does appointing a felon to help fill a vacancy to the Illinois General Assembly go a bit far?

Why they are even going through the motions, I don't know, since County Board member Angelo Kyle is going to get it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ward Room Blog Covers Team America vs. Ellen of the Tenth on Kirk Kerfuffle

Thanks to a huge shout-out from NBC's Ward Room blog, chronicling the recent battle for the hearts and minds of Internet readers everywhere on the Kirk military award confusion (is he a military hero or is it all mere puffery?) that has been going on the last few weeks between Team America and our arch-nemesis, Ellen of the Tenth:

Mark Kirk, Midwestern moderate, is a more polarizing figure than we imagined.

So polarizing, in fact, his every move is followed by two diametrically opposed bloggers: a hatist, dedicated to portraying him as a dishonest hypocrite, and a #1 fan, dedicated to convincing readers that no matter what happens, Kirk isn't as bad as Alexi Giannoulias.

They certainly pegged Ellen as a "hatist" alright. And #1 fan does describe me pretty well, although commentors FOKLAEAPS and "Beau and Baxter's Mom" are always in the running as well.

But, little does the Ward Room know that the latest flap regarding Kirk is just Round #237 in the three-year long battle for truth, justice and the American Way that we have been having with our friend Ellen, and her new sidekick Carl Nyberg, although they do acknowledge that Ellen has been trashing Kirk since 2005.

Whatever you may think off all of this, it proves what we've known here for a long time: Mark Kirk is a man well worth following.

You Are Responsible For Spills

A friend of a friend had this photo pasted on his facebook page and it's too priceless not to share. Oh, the irony!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kirk Apologizes; Trib Lets Baseball off the Hook; Obama and the Chicago Way

Well, Congressman Mark Kirk faced the editorial boards of the major papers yesterday and apologized for making mistakes with his military record. See the Tribune and Sun-Times stories. Kass weighs in as well. Politico coverage here.

My personal opinion is that a lot of the MSM pile-on as to the Kirk flap was to show that after spilling barrels of ink lambasting Alexi Giannoulias for his failed family bank and running from his touted banking credentials, the MSM can beat on Kirk too, when they need to. Now that they have convinced themselves of their objectivity, I suspect we'll be treated to a few more months of the media trashing Giannoulias, whose transgressions completely trump any minor shortcomings of Congressman Kirk in the grand scheme of things.

Interestingly, on the theme of 'honest mistakes,' in comparison to Kirk, the Tribune was a lot easier on the ref who blew the call for the otherwise perfect game pitched by Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers. Nobody's perfect, says the Trib. Ahem.

Meanwhile, the brouhaha over the Obama's administration's liberal use of Chicago-style backroom politics is not going away, as evidenced by this column by Kimberly Strassel in today's WSJ:

No phrase is more feared in Washington than "quid pro quo," and Beltway politicians carefully avoid any hint of it. There are winks and nods, yes. But you'd have to be crazy to put something in an email. Crazy, or from Chicago, where it is simply understood that the political machine decides elections and hands out consolation prizes accordingly.

The White House's other mistake was thinking Washington pols would follow Chicago rules. It is one thing to make deals with the local ward boss, who knows his livelihood depends on keeping his mouth shut. It is another to make offers to a Pennsylvania congressman who is angry that you are fighting him in the primary, and who views the U.S. Senate as way cooler than an advisory board. Mr. Sestak viewed it in his interest to blab, and he did. And he won.

The White House's initial refusal to talk only fed the story. And Mr. Bauer's too-late, too-clever Sestak memo has created new problems. According to this counsel, the Sestak talk was aboveboard because it wasn't the White House, but Bill Clinton, doing it. Moreover, Mr. Sestak had simply been offered an "uncompensated" board position that was "additional service" to his current House job. By this reasoning, it is presumably not aboveboard when it was Mr. Messina talking to Mr. Romanoff, offering him a compensated, full-time job.

Yup. The fallout over this isn't going to fade away as the November elections near. Also keep in mind that the Messina referenced in the story is the same Messina who is coming to shill for Alexi Giannoulias in a couple weeks. Great company these guys keep.

Finally, good luck to Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County on his annual golf outing today. Hopefully the rain will stay far, far away!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Illinois GOP: With Blago on trial, will Giannoulias cancel his planned Messina fundraiser? (UPDATED x2)

From the Illinois Republican Party:

Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias recently announced that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina would be coming to Illinois on June 19 to help him raise money for his Senate bid.

Last night, Politico reported that Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff publicly confirmed long-standing reports (and provided emails as proof) that Messina attempted to dissuade him from challenging incumbent Senator Michael Bennett in the Colorado Democratic Senate Primary by offering him a paid government position.

Romanoff stated:

Mr. Messina informed me that the White House would support Sen. Bennet. I informed Mr. Messina that I had made my decision to run…Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race.

Messina’s actions appear, on their face, to be a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 600

Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

UPDATED: Politico has a detailed article on the Messina issue worth reading.

UPDATED x2: Also see Fox News, with a hysterical picture caption: 'Is this what the White House calls a jobs program?'

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kirk Releases Statement From His Commanding Officer Regarding Award Flap; Let's See the Left Try to Discredit This, Now

Congressman Mark Kirk released this statement from his former commanding officer yesterday:

Statement by Captain Clay Fearnow, United States Navy (Retired), Former Commanding Officer, VAQ-209

June 1st, 2010

As a retired Navy Captain and Mark Kirk’s commanding officer during Operation Allied Force, there are two things that have deeply troubled me since I read the Washington Post’s story about Mark’s intelligence officer award.

First, the complete lack of a benefit of the doubt – the idea that someone could make an honest mistake has become so foreign that the immediate assumption has become – you misrepresented or worse you lied. In Mark’s case neither is factual.

And second, that an honest mistake related to the identification of a military award is the same as pretending to be in Vietnam when you were not. This also doesn’t apply to Mark Kirk

Mark Kirk served under my command in Aviano, Italy, during Operation Allied Force – the Kosovo campaign. For his exceptional service as the lead intelligence officer of a combat intelligence action team – the largest EA-6B intelligence shop in the history of naval aviation which he assembled – I nominated then Lieutenant Commander Kirk for a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award. He received both.

When I nominated Mark for the Rufus Taylor award I thought it was more specific to Mark and not his team. But the reality is, there would have been no team without Mark Kirk’s leadership and there certainly would have been no award. I can certainly understand why he would have referred to this award over the years as intelligence officer of the year – it’s how I viewed the award. And in actuality, the two awards in question are of equal stature and significance.

Mark Kirk is the finest intelligence officer I have ever served with – hands down. His wealth of knowledge during this conflict put him in a position to take charge of intelligence members from the four deployed squadrons and meld them into a combat intelligence action team.

Any suggestion that Mark Kirk did not earn or receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award is incorrect. I would further add, assertions I’ve seen that Mark Kirk embellished or exaggerated his record are ridiculous – he is one of the finest Naval Officers I have had the honor to work with. His intelligence, leadership skills, and keen understanding of global affairs are an asset that the Navy and, today, the Congress are fortunate to enjoy.


You would think that would be enough to satisfy anyone about this issue. But I doubt we've heard the last of this from the Giannoulias camp, who likely feels like a drowning man thrown a thin lifeline.

My prediction: the left will now shift its attack to anyone who backs Kirk, no matter what their record, no matter if they are a veteran, no matter what they say.

Our friend Ellen of the Tenth, who (along with her sidekick Carl Nyberg) has been working 24/7 to perpetuate this issue, already took a poke a few days ago at Captain Fearnow, suggesting that, of course, he has every reason to lie for Kirk as "Fearnow is now in a position to want to keep a Congressman running for Senate happy as the Senior Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics."

Yes, of course, Ellen/Carl: everyone's a liar except your guy. Please keep calling the integrity of vets such as Captain Fearnow into question as they all line up behind Mark Kirk, and perhaps that will show the electorate your true colors.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Congressional Candidate Bob Dold Supports Israel’s Right to Defend Itself

The Dold campaign responded to our shout-out earlier today asking what his position is on the Gaza incident. From the Dold for Congress campaign, his response:

Dold Supports Israel’s Right to Defend Itself

Winnetka, IL – Illinois 10th Congressional District candidate Robert Dold traveled to Israel last week where he met with several Israeli security officials and received briefings on the security challenges within Jerusalem, at the Syrian and Lebanese borders and at Sderot, across the border from the Gaza Strip.

“Just two days ago I stood in Sderot, the Israeli city just outside the Gaza Strip, and witnessed first-hand the many fortified shelters and other tragic measures the Israelis must undertake to protect themselves from Hamas. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, it has used Gaza as a base from which to launch thousands of rocket attacks at Israel's population. Israel’s security fears for its citizens are legitimate and very real.”

“Israel must have the right to defend itself from Hamas, and such self defense should include questioning those who seek to bring weapons for terror into Gaza using humanitarian aid as a shield.”

“While the video available clearly shows Israeli soldiers placed in a position forcing them to respond in self-defense, I am nonetheless deeply saddened by the violence and the loss of life that occurred. The world must recognize that Israel wishes to live in peace, but cannot afford to ignore provocations in the face of threats from hostile neighbors. America must have the courage to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and not allow the international community to use this tragic incident to further isolate and de-legitimize Israel.”

Countdown to Blago Begins; Plus, Where Do the Candidates Stand on Israel? (UPDATED)

It's Tuesday (not Monday, as I have to keep reminding myself), so that means that the giant Blago whirlpool is about ready to start sucking all of the air out of Illinois news for the next week, until it boils down to a steady simmer of insider corruption on the nightly news, with the media proudly headlining each important name as they are mentioned, or even testify. We're talking about names like Rezko, Axelrod, Emmanuel... even Obama.

Illinois, as corrupt as our political system historically has been, has never seen anything like this, so fasten your seatbelts, kids.

When eyes are not on Blago, the latest international skirmish that has some local ramifications is the enforcement of the Gaza blockade by Israel. The pro-Palestinian activists who tried to get ships through the blockade are not giving up, despite the loss of nine lives. Israel maintains that the blockade is needed to pressure Hamas, while many nations like China (who was remarkably quiet about North Korea's recent alleged actions which caused the loss of many more lives) condemned Israel's actions.

Obama doesn't seem to know what to do, since the U.S. officially supports the Israeli blockade, so he settled for expressing regret at the loss of life, while critics contend he isn't being tough enough on Israel.

Let's see where U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk, and Congressional Candidate Bob Dold, come out on this. I can already guess what Alexi Giannoulias and Dan Seals will have to say.

UPDATED: I knew David Frum would have something insightful to say about this issue. Check out his article from the CNN website.