Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Truly Independent" Dan Sugrue Wins Tribune Endorsement in 59th District Race; Lauren Turelli a "Breath of Fresh Air" in 58th District; Other GOPers

North Shore Republicans with all or parts of their legislative districts in Lake County have pretty much run the table with the Chicago Tribune's House endorsements (my emphasis below):

51st District (north, northwest suburbs) — Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. of Mundelein understands that Illinois pensions and Medicaid must be fundamentally altered for the state to fix its financial crisis. A member of the Illinois Jobs Task Force, the Republican supports reform of worker's comp and unemployment insurance — two critical changes that would signal Illinois welcomes employers. Sullivan is endorsed over Democrat Steve Riess, a Hawthorn Woods trustee.

53rd District (northwest suburbs)Republican Rep. Sid Mathias of Buffalo Grove, an independent-thinking legislator, is endorsed over Linda Birnbaum of Wheeling, a former member of the Prospect Heights school board.

58th District (north suburbs) — Democratic Rep. Karen May of Highland Park has started to push on pension abuses. But come on, Rep. May, you couldn't back school choice for Chicago kids in bad schools? She has a terrific challenger: Lauren Turelli, who is on the Lake Forest parks and recreation board. Turelli has a finance background, taught high school in Grayslake and now works at a family-owned property management company. She believes in education choice. She supports more charter schools and wants to make it easier to reward the best teachers and remove the worst. She backs more pension reform, tougher anti-corruption measures and holding the line on taxes. Turelli would be a breath of fresh air in Springfield. She is enthusiastically endorsed.

59th District (north suburbs)You want a candidate who is truly independent? You'll find it in Dan Sugrue of Green Oaks. He won the Republican primary even though he wasn't the choice of party leaders. He's running against Democratic Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, who was appointed to the seat a year ago. Though Sente has had a good start, Sugrue seems more likely to shake the cobwebs out of the capital. He is endorsed.

61st District (north suburbs) — Republican Rep. JoAnn Osmond of Antioch is a steady, pro-jobs legislator. She's endorsed over Democrat Scott Pollak, an Antioch businessman.

62nd District (north suburbs) — As a Lake County Board member and now as a lawmaker, Republican Rep. Sandy Cole of Grayslake has voted her conscience. She's a well-informed advocate on environmental issues and understands why Illinois trails other states in job growth. She is endorsed over Democrat Rich Voltair of Round Lake Beach, an assistant professor at National-Louis University.

Alexi Giannoulias Further Clouds His Involvement With His Family's Failed Broadway Bank.... and Nets a $2.7 Million Tax Deduction (UPDATED x5)

Alexi Giannoulias's connections to his family's failed Broadway bank are back in the news this morning, in an above-the-fold story in the Chicago Tribune that focuses on Giannoulias' contradictory statements about when he left the bank to pursue his then-candidacy for Illinois State Treasurer. As you probably recall, when Alexi was running for State Treasurer against Republican Christine Radogno, his banking experience was the primary credential (heck, besides playing basketball in Greece for a year, his only credential) that he touted as to why we were supposed to trust him with the State's safe deposit box.

Fast forward to the collapse of Broadway Bank in 2010, though, and Alexi was singing a different tune, that he had left the bank in September 2005 (although he later explained that he was on "paid leave" into 2006) and therefore the bank's failings, not to mention questionable loans to even more questionable "characters" (including, shockingly, Tony Rezko) were not his fault.

But lo, back in March of 2006, as we first pointed out, Alexi was still acting and talking like he was an active participant in Broadway Bank affairs. He told the Windy City Times that:

My parents founded Broadway Bank; over the past four years, we've more than doubled in asset size. I'm senior loan officer and vice president, so I oversee a $600 million loan department. I'm also chief investment officer and invest about $150 million.

This was even picked up by Fox News a while back.

Today the Tribune uncovers that Alexi got a $2.7 million tax deduction by claiming that we worked at least 500 hours in 2006, when he was supposedly divorced from the bank and on paid leave, according to his many statements when Broadway Bank was in a death spiral earlier this year.

Saying he left in 2005 gives Giannoulias maximum distance from the bank's questionable lending practices, the April takeover by federal regulators and other controversies such as a loan by the bank to convicted influence peddler Antoin "Tony" Rezko in early 2006.

But by reporting that he worked at least 500 hours at Broadway in 2006, Giannoulias was able to get a break that helped him avoid paying federal income tax for 2009.

Giannoulias said he has been clear that he left the "day-to-day" operations of the bank in September 2005 to prepare his first run for public office, but was on paid leave until May 2006 when he left completely to campaign full time for treasurer.

That 2006 work consisted of roughly 30 hours a week closing out his responsibilities before quitting as a bank officer, and didn't involve making new loans, Giannoulias explained in a recent interview. It was more than enough to qualify him for the tax break, he said.

IRS regulations allow taxpayers to deduct business losses from certain types of corporations if they've logged significant hours there for five of the last 10 years. Giannoulias started at the bank in 2002, so working at least 500 hours in 2006 qualifies Giannoulias for the tax break.

So, which Alexi are we supposed to believe, anyway? Or is it simply that Alexi will change his story to fit his priority at the time you ask him?

Even if it's the IRS asking....

UPDATE: NBC-5's "Ward Room" Blog weighs in on this and demands a tax break too, LOL.

UPDATED x2: The Tribune's John Chase is interviewed on WGN news regarding this fiasco.

UPDATED x3: Watch Alexi squirm on this interview video, in which he repeats "nothing has changed" so many times, he sounds like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz repeating "Take me home to Aunt Em!" as if that will create reality for him.

UPDATED x4 Sep. 30th 6:30 a.m.: I watched the local evening newscasts last night and it appears that most stations had a piece on Giannoulias' latest embarrassment. The Associated Press also posted this story yesterday, which I missed, but saw it this morning in the Daily Herald.

UPDATED x5: Watch the Fox News coverage here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicago Tribune Hits Dan Seals on Misrepresentations and His Social Security Reform Stance in IL-10

In what may be a bit of a harbinger of the Trib's leanings for its coming endorsement in Illinois's 10th Congressional District, the Tribune editorial board took a bit of a one-two whack at third-time candidate Democrat Dan Seals for misrepresenting his opponent, Republican Bob Dold's position on social security reform, and also dissed Seals' class-warfare approach to the issue.

First, the Trib called out Seals for using it as a source to claim that Dold wants to "privatize" social security, which is not accurate:

Seals is out with a new attack ad in their race for the 10th Congressional District. In the ad, the announcer gravely intones that Dold wants to "privatize Social Security."

Not so, says Dold campaign spokesman Kelly Klopp. "They're trying to make this into a really scary concept to claim that Bob wants to end Social Security as we know it," Klopp told us.

So where'd Seals get his information? The ad credits … the Tribune. [snip]

Dold answered [in his Tribune candidate questionnaire] that beneficiaries younger than 55 should have a different Social Security plan. As part of that plan, he wrote, "I would propose allowing a portion of Social Security payments (not more that 25 percent) to be put into Government authorized individual retirement accounts that would be able to be passed to heirs if not used."

No, Dold didn't use the word "privatization," as Seals' ad says. It's unfortunate that talk about letting people direct the investment of part of their Social Security contributions often gets tarred as "privatization." Unfortunate, but common.

As to the candidates' plans themselves, the Tribune said:

On the campaign trail and in a subsequent Tribune questionnaire, Dold has elaborated on his position. He said that he envisions such private accounts would be run by the government and invested in government securities, such as Treasury bonds.

That's not scary … or particularly new.

So what is Seals' solution? In his response to our questionnaire, Seals said he wants to reduce benefits for wealthier seniors in the future. "Wealthier individuals simply don't need the money as much as poorer individuals, and Social Security payments should reflect that." That's a fairly gutsy position for someone running in the North Shore congressional district. [snip]

Dold's proposal, though, sounds much safer and conservative in approach. He's not talking about dabbling in the stock market with your Social Security funds. [my emphasis, both times]

You will recall that the Trib endorsed Bob Dold but not Dan Seals in their respective primaries last February. The Trib had this to say about Seals at the time:

Wilmette business consultant Dan Seals is making his third run for the seat. We endorsed Seals in his two previous primary campaigns (but supported Kirk in the general elections). We like Seals, but we also hear 10th District residents asking why he hasn't been more involved in community efforts in the district. His primary focus seems to have been on asking for their votes. Our endorsement goes to state Rep. Julie Hamos of Wilmette. She has a fine record on ethics reform, domestic violence laws and early childhood education. She patiently and quite skillfully engineered new law that shored up the finances and instituted critical pension reforms for Chicago-area mass transit. [my emphasis]

So far this race, Seals hasn't come up with much more than traditional Democratic talking points and "soak the rich" schemes to commend him to voters; that is, when he's not busy emulating his opponent, Bob Dold, on issues such as extending the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone regardless of income level.

It's not hard to predict where the Tribune is headed on this race, and hopefully the voters of the 10th District will take notice, and send Seals packing to his home in Jan Schakowsky's 9th District for good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Illinois' Lame Duck Senate Race Getting National Attention

As we've previously noted, here and here, the daffy circumstances in Illinois, by which our disgraced former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich placed the ever-humble Roland Burris into the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama, allow us to legally vote twice for U.S. Senator this fall on November 2. Not only does that mean that the candidates, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, get to raise money essentially for two elections (thus greatly increasing the limits of money from specific donors that they can take in), the upcoming "lame-duck" session of Congress that looms after the November 2 election is taking on increased importance on a national level.

Today, the Wall Street Journal looks at the Illinois race (featuring an AP photo of Mark Kirk, no less), as well as similar races in West Virginia and Delaware, where the results could have a profound impact on the make-up of the lame-duck Congress, and a shift in the balance of power in the Senate, if a candidate such as Mark Kirk is seated immediately following a "Special Election" win:

Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican congressman running for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois, has created a separate website for the issue, He mentions it "pretty much everywhere he goes," his spokeswoman said.

Polls show him ahead of his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

"I would become the 42nd Republican senator, with the opportunity to put the breaks on any lame-duck overreach," Mr. Kirk said in a video on his website. Democrats are currently expected to lose about six to eight Senate seats.

ALSO - It seems that President Obama has a lot of free time to campaign, as he's coming back to Illinois to stump for Alexi Giannoulias. One wonders if we're going to get Obama overload here in Illinois, as no one else seems to want the President to do face time for them, and I think that Obama's presence here back home is not going to win over any voters for Alexi that weren't already committed. I could be wrong, however, as some polls suggest that Alexi is still having problems with his own base, so maybe this is a smart move on his part.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Highly Effective" Suzi Schmidt Endorsed By Chicago Tribune in 31st State Senate Race

I was thrilled to see tonight that my good friend Suzi Schmidt handily won endorsement from the Chicago Tribune over the hapless incumbent, Democrat Michael Bond, in the 31st District State Senate race:

Count us as a longtime fan of Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa, who first established herself as an open space advocate in Lake County and is now the highly effective chairman of the Lake County Board. She's a hands-on administrator who has held the line on taxes and cut county spending. Case in point: She reduced the number of workers with county cars from 100 to 3. Springfield needs her political skills and her common sense. She is endorsed over Democratic Sen. Michael Bond of Grayslake who narrowly won this seat four years ago.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lake County Republican Federation Fall Dinner Draws Huge Crowd with Governor Mitt Romney (UPDATED)

On Friday night, over 450 Lake County Republicans got to experience former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney expound on the state of the economy, the prospects for recovery, the failures of the Obama administration, and how best to get the country back on track. Interspersed with a lot of humor and some great stories, Romney talked about how the current administration started out with a desire to revive the economy but made some terrible policy decisions (perhaps in part because almost none of President Obama's Cabinet picks had any private sector experience) that had little if any salutary effect. Did the stimulus work, asked Romney? If you can say that someone spraying a house fire with a garden hose helped put out the fire while the fire department arrived with its big hoses, then yes, it helped. But it didn't work the way it was promised and instead of unemployment under 8%, now it's over 10%. Our debt has skyrocketed and we have little to show for it.

Economics was always Romney's strong suit, and one wonders maybe if the last election would have turned out a little differently if Romney had been the GOP nominee, since the primary issue in voters' minds was the economy, not national security (a strength of John McCain's.)

In any case, I was very gratified to see how many enthusiastic Republicans attended the dinner, especially given that the Federation Fall Dinner is usually a much smaller event than our signature Spring Dinner. The Fall dinner is usually held in a venue like Midland or Glen Flora country clubs, but they just couldn't accommodate the numbers of folks who wanted to come see Romney and share in the GOP enthusiasm going into the November elections.

Suzi Schmidt, County Board Chairman and candidate for State Senate, 31st District, lead the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem was sung by Ms. Emily Bednar, and State Representative candidate Dan Sugrue gave a deeply moving and heartfelt prayer before dinner and introductory remarks from Federation President Alexander "Sandy" Stuart.

Among the many, many political office holders and candidates in attendance, we had: Congressman and U.S. Senate Candidate Mark Kirk, Lt. Governor Candidate Jason Plummer, 8th Congressional Candidate Joe Walsh, 10th Congressional Candidate Bob Dold, State Treasurer candidate State Senator Dan Rutherford, State Senator Dan Duffy, State Reps Ed Sullivan, Jr., Sandy Cole, and JoAnn Osmond, 58th District State Rep. Candidate Lauren Turelli, County Clerk Willard Helander, County Treasurer Bob Skidmore, Superintendent of Schools Roycealee Wood, Sheriff Mark Curran, many county board members and judges, and just too many more to name. We had many Team America fans in attendance as well, including "Beau & Baxter's Mom" and "King Louis."

Here's some of my pix from the evening:

Federation President Sandy Stuart gives his opening remarks and introduces Governor Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney

Our own 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for U.S. Senate.

The tallest Lt. Governor Candidate in the history of Illinois, Jason Plummer.

8th Congressional candidate Joe Walsh

10th Congressional Candidate Bob Dold

For those of you wondering what the "Dinner Chairman" really does, here's a picture of your own Team America helping to load in the lighting rig for the show.

My brother, Scott Falbe, owner of Intelligent Lighting Creations, Inc., which donated the lighting, focuses the spotlights on the stage. Thanks Scott!!!

And here's the finished product, just in time for the dinner.
UPDATED 9/27 6:30 a.m.: Here's a nice article from the Lake County News-Sun recapping the dinner.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Delay On Tax Cut Issue Increases Importance of Lame Duck Congress and Illinois' Mark Kirk / Alexi Giannoulias Special Senate Election

The Dems in Congress have been fretting mightily about whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, or only for the middle-class, as President Obama clearly favors. This issue has done a splendid job of dividing the Democratic caucus, with leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi unable to rein in vulnerable Dems like Melissa Bean who favor keeping the tax cuts in place for even higher-earning families (I reject the blanket characterization of every family who makes over $250,000 a year as "rich," but that appears to be an easy position to attack). Even our own perennial 10th District Democratic candidate Dan Seals has now come out in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, at least for the short term (GOP opponent Bob Dold has been consistent that he supports such an extension).

Now it appears clear that the Dems don't have the guts to bring this up for a vote. I have heard many arguments about how forcing a vote on this issue could cut both ways. For example, a pre-election vote to call the GOP bluff and force them to vote down extending tax cuts for everyone would increase the weight of the Dems' "party of NO" argument, but apparently they have decided that doing so would cause more harm than good. It's harder to make that argument stick, I guess, when many Dems like Bean and Seals don't seem to be willing to anger a portion of their target electorate by following the Dems' tried-and-true 'soak the rich' strategy.

So, it now seems that we're going to have a very important lame-duck session in November, which may help Mark Kirk make his case that, due to the daffy special election for the U.S. Senate that has been mandated, Kirk's victory would give the GOP a crucial extra vote in the Senate to shore up an expected filibuster of anything less than a full tax-cut extension. The potential importance of this particular lame-duck Congress has been discussed for months now, as there were other important lame-duck session issues brewing exclusive of the tax-cut issue, since if the Dems get plastered as expected in November, this will be their last, best chance to cram through legislation like the hated card-check bill and other travesties.

We'll see if Kirk can make the case to Illinois voters, especially some conservatives who have been cool to Kirk, that his presence in the Senate at this crucial time should seal the deal for those who are looking to put a hard stop on the Dems' ambitious and harmful lame-duck agenda.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Alleged Blago Senate Conduit, Raghuveer Nayak, Also Major Backer of Alexi Giannoulias

If you follow the money around Illinois politics, you often start running into the same people over and over again as you look from campaign to campaign - especially on the Democratic side (everyone still remembers what a busy political influencer Tony Rezko was, right?)

So it's maybe no surprise that when the name of Indian-American businessman Raghuveer Nayak surfaced once again in relation to Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s latest scandals, we wondered who else Nayak might have been tied to besides Jackson. (In case the name doesn't ring a bell, Nayak is the Indian-American businessman who allegedly offered to raise millions of dollars for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for Blagojevich appointing Jesse Jackson Jr. to Illinois’ vacant Senate seat, and is now saying that Jackson told him to do so.)

So, unsurprisingly, a little research reveals that JJJ is not the only prominent Illinois politician with significant ties to Nayak.

From 2006 to 2008, Illinois Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias received $23,000 in political contributions from companies owned by Nayak:

Rogers Park One Day Surgi-Center, $5,000.00 on 4/10/2006

Lakeshore Surgery Center LLC, $5,000.00 on 8/5/2007

Rogers Park One Day Surgi-Center, $2,000.00 on 11/8/2007

Hind General Hospital LLC, $5,000.00 on 2/23/2008

Rogers Park One Day Surgi-Center, $5,000.00 on 2/23/2008

Lakeshore Surgery Center LLC, $1,000.00 on 6/5/2008

Total: $23,000.00

The fundraising help isn’t all. TA hears that Alexi Giannoulias attended a reception held by Raghuveer Nayak in May of 2008.

Giannoulias clearly knows that his Nayak connection is a problem. One of Nayak’s companies, Lakeshore Surgery Center LLC, contributed $5,000 to Giannoulias on November 18, 2008, less than a month before Blagojevich was arrested. But Giannoulias’ campaign returned the check.

The question is: will Alexi Giannoulias return the $23,000 he still has from Nayak?

Alexi, you will recall, was also involved in the Senate seat issue directly when he brokered a meeting between union boss Tom Balanoff and presidential friend and top advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Maybe the bigger question is, what other ties will we discover to Alexi and even more questionable activities in the next 40 days...

Bob Dold - Dan Seals Debate Wrap-up (UPDATED WITH SECOND DEBATE)

UPDATED: On Wednesday night, Bob Dold and Dan Seals again went at it on the debate stage, this time with a few more fireworks, it seems. Russell Lissau from the DH will fill us in, since I wasn't able to make it to the debate. Also, see Russell's article on the new attack ad from dan Seals here.

Original post below:

Yesterday, GOP congessional candidate Bob Dold and DEM nominee Dan Seals went head-to-head in a well-attended debate on 10th Congressional District issues sponsored by the AARP. I wasn't able to attend and I'm scrambling this morning (that darn day job, ya know), so I'm posting a few links to debate articles and coverage. Have at it in comments.

The only word I got from someone I trust who attended the debates that is that both Dold and Seals looked and sounded 'really good,' so it seems like the debate might have come off relatively evenly. One article also noted how much alike the candidates sounded substantively in many ways, so this'll be interesting. I want to know what the heck Dan Seals is talking about nowadays since the war in Iraq is over.

Here's the Daily Herald coverage. Here's ABC-7 with video highlights (I'm looking around for the whole thing, which I understand was taped (exclusively?) by the AARP. Here's some radio coverage. Let me know if anyone finds the complete video link anywhere.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Now Who's Meshugana? Dan Seals Blatantly Panders to the Jewish Vote in IL-10 (UPDATED x2)

Dan Seals, the third-time Democratic nominee for the 10th Congressional District in Illinois, has has pulled some real political boners in his time (recall Gas-Gate, Professor-Gate, and Van-Gate, among others.) But this latest one may take the cake, at least on the religious pandering scale. If we were rating this latest mess on the Scoville scale, we'd give it about a 15,000,000. But let's get to the story:

Dan Seals is criticizing his Republican opponent, Robert Dold, for attending a political event on Yom Kippur, which is the highest of the Jewish holidays. However, Seals is Episcopalian, and Dold is a non-denominational Christian. From Seals' campaign web page:

As families across Illinois’ Tenth District observed Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the Jewish year – Republican candidate Bob Dold joined radical front group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) at a rally in Northbrook on Friday night. [snip]

“Not only does his documented relationship with AFP show how out of touch Bob Dold is with 10th district voters, but to attend a hyper-partisan, fear-mongering rally on the most sacred day of the Jewish year is just plain disrespectful,” said Seals campaign Communications Director Aviva Gibbs.

So, why exactly does Seals think that Dold, a non-Jew, is offending Jews by attending such a political rally on Yom Kippur, to the point where Seals specifically called Dold out on it in a press release?

Now, Team Seals doesn't actually come out and accuse Americans for Prosperity as being an anti-Semitic group, but it's not too hard to read that accusation between the lines of his press release. Otherwise, why would it be something that would offend Jews? AFP certainly has President Obama running scared, so perhaps it's only expected that all Democrats would seek to demonize this group. Seals' baseless attack on Dold, using the banner of a religion that Seals doesn't even belong to, goes beyond the pale, however.

Team Seals seems to go even farther in this story as covered by Russell Lissau over at the Daily Herald:

The Dold campaign was aware Friday marked the start of Yom Kippur, but because Dold is not Jewish he carried out his schedule, [Dold spokesman Kelly] Klopp said.

Dold also had breakfast in Palatine on Saturday and spoke with merchants in Arlington Heights and went to a Korean community event later in the day.

Gibbs insisted Seals did no politicking on Friday night or Saturday.

"He did not attend any meetings, nor did he make any fundraising calls out of respect," Gibbs said in an e-mail.

So, now I'm quite confused: does Dan Seals thinks that all non-Jews should observe the Jewish holidays, and especially not engage in any political activity on such days, because to do so would be 'disrespectful'? Or is it just that Dan Seals thinks AFP is offensive to Jews and Dold shouldn't have been at that particular rally at that particular time? I can't believe that's the case, since his campaign went out of its way to state the fact that Dan was home being 'respectful' and not engaging in any kind of political activity.

Most interestingly, all of a sudden, Dan Seals has discovered the importance of Yom Kippur. Let's think about that. Seals has been the Democratic nominee for this office for three cycles, now: let's see, since 2006. That's a Yom Kippur every year in each of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. So, of FIVE occurrences of Yom Kippur over that time period, NOW he decides that this is a campaign issue.

Did Seals also refrain from campaigning or any other political activity during those years on Yom Kippur? (of course, Seals has never been known for his work ethic, so it's not unlikely he was home anyway during those prior years, but I very much doubt it was out of respect for the Jewish holiday) I challenge anyone to even show me a prior statement from Seals in years past honoring Yom Kippur and its importance to Jews, as many non-Jewish politicians do.

According to the DH article, in any event, this is not an issue in the Jewish community:

Nothing in Jewish law or practice prohibits non-Jews from doing anything they would usually do on Yom Kippur or any other Jewish holiday, said Rabbi Michael Balinsky, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, a group representing more than 200 rabbis of all denominations.

However, I can see that if I was desperate to appeal to the Jewish vote in the 10th District, an important constituency, I might be desperate enough to make such a blatant pander to them. Well, then again, I would hope I'd never be THAT desperate.

I'd even suggest that Seals might be a bit meshugana.

Seals didn't refrain from campaigning during the entire month of Ramadan. Does that mean that Seals doesn't respect Muslims? It makes about as much sense as claiming that Dold doesn't respect Jews.

Do yourselves a favor, IL-10, and tell Dan Seals at the polls this November that three times is enough, and we're tired of your crap.

UPDATED: 9/21/10 7:00 a.m.: I don't usually point out comments elsewhere on other blogs and whatnot, but the comments to the Daily Herald article mentioned above are quite illuminating. Seems like Seals has really stepped in it, big time. Go read 'em.

UPDATED x2 1:50 p.m.: Wow, even the ultra-liberal DailyKos is ripping Seals a new one over this debacle. Says "Norm in Chicago":

I cannot believe that a Democrat’s campaign has actually said that a candidate for office must observe any religious holiday, especially one not of the candidate’s own religion. This is base political pandering and a clear violation of the separation of church and state. [snip]

It is not Dan Seals', nor any other person’s place to tell American citizens how or when to worship, nor to force another’s religion on them. On the contrary, what is highly disrespectful and insulting is the belief that pandering to a religion grants that religion respect. It does not.

The whole thing is worth reading. I bet Dan Seals' ears are still ringing (metaphorically speaking) after reading that chewing-out.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

NRCC Hits Dan Seals on Radical Healthcare Agenda

My Google-alerts were ringing 5-alarms tonight with a new ad from the NRCC against Dan Seals hitting him hard on his health care proclivities. Take a look:

Rich has more at Capitol Fax Blog.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dan Seals Muddles His Message on the Economy

Dan Seals must've yanked off some of his base supporters on his decision to support extending the Bush tax cuts for even the "wealthiest" Americans, because he now has this up on his home page. Whenever you have to post something to clearly explain your own policies to your own supporters, you know you've muddled your message.

Nice work, Dan, and hey, appreciate the support for keeping that tax cut.

But don't expect any love from Ellen of the Tenth. They are mighty ticked off at Blue Dog Democrat Melissa Bean for her support of extending the tax cuts. Ellen probably just hasn't yet noticed your journey to the dark side.

Food for thought: the Associated Press today looks at how much more you will pay in taxes under the Obama plan.

BTW, there's a set of Dold-Seals debates set for next Tuesday and next Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We "Dold" You So: Desperate Dan Seals Flips On Fiscal Policies in IL-10 Race (UPDATED x2: Ellen Calls Out Bean But Not Seals for Supporting Tax Cuts?)

UPDATE x2 9/17/10 9:00 a.m.: Why is Ellen of the Tenth, our old blogging arch-nemesis calling out Congresswoman Melissa Bean of the 8th Congressional District for her support of extending the Bush tax cuts to everyone, but has nothing to say about Dan Seals' support for the same thing? Ellen and her sidekick Carl Nyberg have been steadfast in their support for Seals over Dold in IL-10, but perhaps they just overlooked this minor issue.

Original post and updates below:

The Chicago Tribune takes an in-depth look at the two candidates vying to replace outgoing Congressman Mark Kirk in Illinois' 10th Congressional District, with some interesting results.

Most tellingly, Democratic candidate Dan Seals seems to be retreating from a number of positions on the issues that he held in the two prior elections cycles, 2006 and 2008, in which he faced moderate Republican Mark Kirk (and lost twice, we always like to point out).

First, the Tribune reports that Seals now is against increasing the amount of income that is subject to social security taxes, which is a change from his previous positions, says the Trib. Interestingly, his position now mirrors that of his Republican opponent, Bob Dold. What's the reason behind Seals' conversion? The Tribune doesn't explain.

Next, we learn from the Tribune piece that Dan Seals is now in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts to all Americans, regardless of how "wealthy" they are, a big change from his view in prior campaigns. That's right, Seals now favors the position held by his opponent, Bob Dold, and most Republicans, even though President Obama has been adamant about not extending those cuts for those individuals making more than $200,000 a year.

We were skeptical about Seals truly going on the record and taking this position, and I'm happy to see that he now supports letting those villainous ultra-rich folks keep more of their money (that's 'snark' for those of you who seem to have trouble recognizing it from time to time) and reversing course on President Obama's ultimate goal of radical wealth redistribution. (OMG, Bush did something Seals now supports? I can hear the screams from Ellen of the Tenth clear across Lake County!)

If you will recall, we recently suggested that the good people of Highland Park and similar affluent communities would look askance at any attempt by the likes of Dan Seals to raise their taxes; who knows, maybe someone sent Seals a Team America link. ;-)

Wow, what a difference a little time makes. I wonder how many more of Seals' campaign planks that he relied upon for years are going to change as he seeks to more closely mimic the positions of his opponent? Could it be that Seals is nervous about the national trend showing that Americans are fed up with Obama's policies (including his resistance to extending all of the Bush tax cuts) and are ready to jettison the Democrats this fall? It would fit nicely with what we seem to be seeing locally, where even Congresswoman Melissa Bean has gotten the tax cut memo (she now supports extending the tax cuts across the board), and the Springfield Democrats are running away even from each other in near panic.

While we can't help but smile at Dan Seals' sudden conversion to the GOP-way of thinking, I suspect that some of our more liberal friends will be gnashing their teeth a bit at this 'betrayal.' Seals still offers up plenty of liberal red meat on social issues, but we'll have to see what some of our die-hard leftist commentors think about Seals' sudden tack to the right on fiscal policy. Have at it, everyone.

UPDATED: It didn't take the Dold campaign long to dig up some Seals quotes from his past campaigns to show just how far Seals has swung on these issues:

Dan Seals Is Changing in Each Run for Congress
Dold Campaign: Seals Will Say Anything to Get Elected

Winnetka, IL – Today, Tenth District Congressional candidate Robert Dold questioned his opponent Dan Seals’s real position on issues after his most recent flip on extending tax cuts for all Americans and raising the cap on Social Security taxes.

“In his three runs for Congress, Dan Seals has morphed into the candidate he thinks voters would like him to be in his perennial attempt to create one job – one for himself,” said Dold for Congress spokesperson Kelly Klopp. “He has run in the past as a tax and spend liberal and now we are to believe that, despite being in lockstep with the leadership in Congress, that he is a champion of small businesses and lower taxes?”

In yesterday’s endorsement session at the Chicago Tribune, Seals said he favors extending the tax cuts for one year, despite positions to the contrary in his two previous campaigns:

• A Seals for Congress press release (12/09): “Seals has continuously opposed the Bush tax cuts. He believes they are unfair and should be corrected.”

• A Chicago Tribune article (10/08): “Seals said he would restore the old rates" on top earners.

• A Daily Herald article (2006 campaign) “[Seals’s] other top goals are reducing the federal deficit, in part, by rolling back tax cuts.”

In yesterday’s Tribune session Seals also said he opposed raising the cap on taxes for Social Security, in direct contrast to his answer to the Tribune questionnaire in the 2010 primary when he said, “I would like to raise the cap on taxes for Social Security.”

“Robert Dold opposes tax increases on Americans and businesses and believes that the better way forward to is to grow our economy and increase private-sector jobs,” said Klopp. “The 10th District voters are right to question how Dan Seals would vote if elected since he can’t keep his story straight during his three campaigns for the seat.”


Monday, September 13, 2010

Democrat Carol Sente (59th Dist.) Ducks Her Party Affiliation on the Campaign Trail (UPDATED: TURELLI vs. MAY)

In what may be a common theme this election cycle, State Representative Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) is running away from her party (the Democrats) at the speed of light. Not only has she apparently been telling people in the community that she is an "independent," her campaign literature indicates nowhere her party affiliation, except for the tiny disclaimer (which, of course, is required by law) that it was paid for by the Democratic party. I have not yet seen any campaign signs go up in the community, but I will be very interested to see if her yard signs identify her a Dem or not.

Here's a sample of one of her recent mailers:

Note the theme: I'm one of you, I'm not one of those louts in Springfield that have run this state into the ground. In fact, the "anti old-boy" network meme even has a hint of gender warfare mixed in to boot that is no doubt designed to appeal to a certain sector of the electorate.

But the really funny part of the mailer is the text that implies that Sente, who was APPOINTED by State Senator Terry Link, and doubtless vetted and blessed by House leader Michael Madigan, went down to Springfield to fight leadership. Not very grateful considering they are the ones that brought you to the party, Carol, ha-ha. But understandable given that being a Dem this cycle appears to be pure poison.

It's also virtually impossible to find a reference to her party affiliation on her campaign website. Contrast it with her Republican opponent, Dan Sugrue.

All this, of course, is very funny for anyone who understands how Sente got to the General Assembly in the first place. It's also quite laughable for someone like Sente to claim independence from the Democratic power structure when your campaign headquarters is in the local U.A.W. building.

It'd be nice if some intrepid reporter would get Sente on the record as stating that she vows to vote against the incumbent Democratic leadership (Madigan) , if she should be elected. That might be a start to actually show some independent chops. But I won't hold my breath.

UPDATED: TURELLI vs. MAY IN THE 58th DISTRICT: Over in the 58th District, where Republican Lauren Turelli is challenging Democratic "stalwart" Karen May, a 10-year Springfield veteran, both candidates are trying to claim the badge of "reformer." So, who will the voters believe is really trying to go down to Springfield to represent their interests, and not the party bosses, the unions, or other special interests? The folks who have already been there and are part of the entrenched power structure (e.g., May, Sente) or the real reformers like Turelli and Sugrue?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Events of September 11th Are Seared Into the Hearts and Minds of the American People

When I was growing up, I used to recall adults talking about remembering where they were when President Kennedy got shot, or the first men landed on the Moon, and similar events. I do recall coming home from school one day and my mom telling me that President Reagan had been shot, but that event didn't sear itself into my mind anywhere near the degree to which the events of September 11, 2001 will never be put out of my mind.

I happened to be out east on business on that day, coincidentally not too far from where Flight 93 crashed into a field. I drove all the way back to Chicago in my rental car later that day and into the night, since all planes were grounded. All the way back, I listened to the radio reports as the announcers tried to piece together what happened, and what it all meant.

Use comments to share your remembrances of that fateful day, if you like, or other related thoughts on this important day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

59th District Representative Carol Sente Celebrates Her One-Year Anniversary of Appointment At... UAW Headquarters???

I almost spit out my coffee this morning when I saw this news blurb - Carol Sente, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of retiring State Rep. Kathy Ryg, will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of her appointment to the office at... wait for it... an open house at the United Autoworkers (UAW) hall in Lincolnshire.

I can't find the text online, but here's the story as printed in this morning's Lake County News-Sun:

SENTE OPEN HOUSE: To mark her one-year anniversary of being sworn in as a legislator, state Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, is inviting residents to an open house Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. at the United Autoworkers office, 680 Barclay Blvd., Lincolnshire. Sente will discuss what she has done to change the business-as-usual attitude in Springfield. The open house is free of chrage and open to the public. Coffee and bagels will be available. Following the open house, Sente and volunteers will circulate a community survey door to door to help identify priorities and concerns for area residents who are not able to attend. RSVP by Friday at (847) 883-0060, or my e-mail

Nothing says thank you to a special interest like having a big ol' "thank you" party at the house of the ones that you need out there muscling the votes this November.

So, is this an official open house and constituent outreach to residents of the 59th District??? It sure sounds that way from the news blurb above, especially the part about distributing a survey. Heck, I was ready to show up myself.

But the true story is revealed on the "Organizing for America" (formerly Obama for America) website:

Open House & Canvass for Carol Sente (Democratic Campaign Event)

Since taking office nearly one year ago, Carol has spent her time listening, learning and building strong bi-partisan relationships. Please join us for an Open House as we mark Carol's one-year anniversary of becoming State Representative and learn about the actions she has taken to change the status quo in state government on Saturday, September 11, at 10:00 a.m. at the U.A.W. Building located at 680 Barclay Blvd. in Lincolnshire.

Yup, same event. But on the O.F.A. site, it is clearly labeled as a campaign event. Sheesh.

If you live in the 59th District, vote Dan Sugrue, and end business as usual in Springfield. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Do the Good People of Highland Park Feel About Obama's Refusal to Extend Tax Cuts? Dan Seals, Are You Listening?

Today President Obama is expected to announce that he is against extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the 'wealthiest Americans,' who, according to Obama-nomics, is anyone who makes over $250,000.

Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod says that the president isn't supporting tax cuts for high-income earners because they "aren't asking for them, don't need them and have the money to spend."

Let me go on record as saying that, au contraire, Mr. Axelrod, I don't have the money and I would really, really like to not see my taxes go up. Am I alone in the 10th District?

I wonder how "rich" voters in some of the more affluent areas of the 10th District really feel? If you have two (or more) kids, are trying to save for kids' college (maybe still even paying off your own student loans), build a business or maybe work as a middle manager for a big company, and your spouse also has to work to be able to afford to live in the community, do you feel "rich?"

I wonder where the 10th District Congressional candidates fall out on this?

Dan Seals, the Democratic candidate (who has run unsuccessfully twice before) claims on his website that "Dan will work to trim the deficit by cutting spending, not by raising taxes." (emphasis mine)

Does that mean that Seals supports extending the Bush tax cuts across the board?

After all, Dan Seals is the one who famously implied that you have to be a 'millionaire' to live in the 10th District, and that's why he couldn't afford to move into the District:

“If I was a millionaire I could certainly just pick up and buy a new home, [but] I’m not a millionaire, and if you want more millionaires in Congress, I’m not your man,” Seals said.

So, let me get this straight - you need to be a millionaire to live in the 10 District, and therefore, you have money to spend on higher taxes, a la Mr. Axelrod??? Um, no thank you. Dan Seals does know something about the high cost of living in (or at least near) the 10th District, since he paid his nanny $50,000 last year.

Robert Dold, the Republican candidate, on the other hand, states clearly and emphatically that:

"I support the permanent extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all Americans. In this time of recession, we must not raise taxes on the American people and the very small businesses that we need to pull us out of recession. We need to put more money in the hands of business owners who would be able to make prudent investment and hiring decisions."

The people in Highland Park, a major community in the 10th, are currently up in arms over the recent scandal of the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars that their Park District executive director was paid, which also astronomically boosted his pension payments, and this has caused several Park Board members to resign in disgrace. It's probably not a good time for someone like Dan Seals to tell Highland Park residents that their federal taxes are now going up because they all make too much money.

If you are a typical 10th District double income family, paying your bills, saving for kids college, and (let's not forget) worried about socking enough money away for retirement, and think that you know better than President Obama and Nancy Pelosi about how your money should be spent, maybe you should consider voting for Bob Dold. I know I will be.

If I Were Rahm Emanuel, I'd Bail On Obama for the Mayor's Spot, Too

Rahm Emanuel, former Illinois Congressman and current chief of staff for President Obama, must've had quite a day yesterday in the wake of Mayor Richard Daley's announcement that he was hanging it up as Mayor of Chicago. Of course, many people always thought that Mayor Daley would never willingly give up that post (which we all know was also held by his father, Ricahrd J., who died in office), plus the City probably can't afford to change all the signs that say, "Welcome to Chicago, Richard M. Daley, Mayor.

While Rahm has clearly coveted that office, even while he was a Congressman according to some, it appears that Daley's announcement took him, as well as almost everyone else, by surprise.

The timing of this puts Rahm in a bit of a pickle. While serving Obama in the White House, at a critical time before the mid-term elections, when everyone expects the Democrats to take a pasting, it'd be a very bad time for Rahm to leave, or even get too publicly excited about running for that Mayor's job. All the Dems are already lining up to blame Obama for the expected drubbing that the Dems are expected to take in November. Who better to be a fall guy than someone like Rahm, who doesn't want to stick around anyway, and would probably bolt today if it wouldn't look bad on Obama.

But, it's far too late into the election cycle for Rahm to try to make a graceful exit and Obama to use Rahm as a behind-the-scenes fall guy to show the D.C. Dems that he understands he needs to restaff and refocus on his policies and his politics.

While Rahm might already be the presumptive front-runner for the spot, they are already lining up in Chicago to replace daley as soon as the customary period of showering accolades on Daley is over. There, that was fast. But Rahm is losing ground simply by standing still in D.C., so I can only imagine the itch he's got to get his boss past November and find a quick flight home to Chicago.

If Rahm wants to have a chance to win Da Mare's office, Rahm better start thinking of ways to balance the Chicago budget, and change all those Daley signs without having to sell off any more assets, like maybe City Hall. Otherwise, where are you going to park your ballerina butt?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Will Even Alexi Giannoulias Throw Hapless President Obama Under the Bus This Fall?

This morning, the Chicago Tribune offered up a big article on President Obama's freefalling approval ratings here in Illinois, which is no big surprise to anyone who has been keeping an eye on national trends. Obama has still remained more popular and maintained a higher approval rating here in his adopted home state, but as the summer of 'non-recovery' has stretched on, with no real improvement in the economy (at least on a level people can see and feel, it seems), Obama's ratings here at home are no longer immune to the decline that we have noticed elsewhere.

Why? Time Magazine, of all publications, takes a long look at this phenomenon, and concludes very simply that Obama's philosophy of solving problems by throwing big government at them comes at a time when America's distrust of government has skyrocketed, and the enormous budget deficits that have been and continue to be incurred have the entire country in a state of great concern, if not near-panic:

"One explanation for Obama's steep decline is that his presidency rests on what Gallup's Frank Newport calls a "paradox" between Obama and the electorate. In 2008, Newport notes, trust in the federal government was at a historic low, dropping to around 25%, where it still remains. Yet Obama has offered government as the primary solution to most of the nation's woes, calling for big new investments in health care, education, infrastructure and energy. Some voters bucked at the incongruity, repeatedly telling pollsters that even programs that have clearly helped the economy, like the $787 billion stimulus, did no such thing. Meanwhile, the resulting spike in deficits, which has been greatly magnified by tax revenue lost to the economic downturn, has spooked a broad sweep of the country, which simply does not trust Washington to responsibly handle such a massive liability."

Article after article is now expounding on the worries of the Democrats that their deficit/Obamacare/porkulous chickens have come home to roost, and the November 2010 elections have a very bleak look. None of the Dems are campaigning on the virtues of ObamaCare or other big government initiatives, and in fact, most Dems are running from the President and his policies at light speed. Whether they can run fast enough to escape the collateral fallout from sticking with the President when all of this garbage was passed, well, I guess we'll see in November. Based on Obama's 'new' plan revealed today to spend our way out of this economic funk, it's clear that he hasn't learned any lessons, and is simply doubling down on a failed strategy.

It appears that Alexi Giannoulias is a bit of an anomaly compared to many Dems nationwide, as Alexi was only too happy to have Obama come in last month for a high-profile fundraiser that provided some sorely-needed funds. But even as recently as last week, we are now seeing even Alexi back away a bit from Obama, and I would expect this trend to continue, as the Obama/Pelosi/Reid economic and social message appears to be failing across the nation.

We'll see if Alexi "Now I'm Mr. Independent" Giannoulias even wants Obama to come back in the last 60 days of the campaign, or cut any campaign commercials on Alexi's behalf.

Wow, what a difference a summer makes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

62nd Legislative District Challenger, Richard T. Longoria de Voltair, Is Just Waiting For You to Die Off If You Don't Agree With Him

The Daily Herald looked today at the 62nd Legislative District race between incumbent GOP candidate Sandy Cole, and Dem challenger Rich Voltair, on the issue of the legalization of gay marriage.

Cole, who some have asserted is pretty liberal for a Republican, nevertheless has staked out a fairly conservative stance on the issue, opposing not only gay marriage but civil unions. Cole bases her stand in part on the viewpoint of her constituents, who she says have shown through extensive polling that they are against both, although she notes that support for civil unions tends to be gaining (but still not a majority in her district).

Newcomer Voltair (full name Richard T. Longoria de Voltair), on the other hand, zealously supports gay marriage, and thinks that anyone who doesn't support it is some kind of troglodyte.

The arguments against gay marriage are "absurd," Voltair told the Herald.

"As a 32-year old, I hold views that are consistent with my age group," he said. "These views represent the future and it is only a matter of time before the previous generation expires and our generation takes over."

Ha ha. The notion that any age demographic should have a totally consistent view of an issue simply because of their age shows either a hopelessly shallow understanding of constituent viewpoints, or simply someone who can't see beyond his own ideology to consider anyone else's opinion. Neither is a good trait for a wanna-be state legislator. For someone who has a Ph.D. in PolySci from the University of Maryland, that doesn't show a real keen understanding of politics.

Interestingly, despite his impassioned defense of gay marriage as noted in the Herald article, it's not a topic listed under the "Issues" button on Voltair's campaign website. rather, Voltair focuses on deficit reduction, campaign finance reform, property tax reform, and Second Amendment gun ownership rights. Sounds almost like a Republican.

So, overall, I guess that means if you don't agree with Voltair, you must be a fossil, and he's just waiting for you and your outdated views on life to fade away. He obviously has no interest in considering or representing viewpoints that differ from his own.

ALSO - Voltair has a gigantic "Stop Corruption" sign on his website. Um, isn't he running as a Democrat? How's he going to stop corruption in the General Assembly by going down and doing everything Mike Madigan tells him to? Little wonder that Voltair is clearly not emphasizing the fact that he's the Democratic nominee.

BONUS QUESTION for inquiring minds - why does Voltair wear long-sleeved shirts on hot parade days:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Democrats Desperate to Scrape Up Money to Help Alexi Giannoulias Thwart Mark Kirk From Winning the "Ultimate Political Trophy"

It's getting clearer and clearer that Congressman Mark Kirk has a big advantage going into the Illinois race for U.S. Senate this fall: cash. And he's going to need it. But it bodes ill for his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias who, aside from a fundraising cash infusion thanks to his basketball buddy, President Obama, last month, has badly trailed Kirk. The Chicago media market is extremely expensive, and while it's not the whole state, is definitely going to be a battleground that will suck up funds from both sides.

Besides Kirk's own multi-million war chest, the national GOP has already pledged around $3.4 million to help the cause. They know what the stakes are. And so do the Democrats: while the DSCC has not made public any commitment to Alexi, based on the recent comments of Senator Dick Durbin (who happens to be Alexi's campaign chairman), that level of national money simply isn't going to be made available to Alexi.

What's a little odd, though, is that the Dems are using the potential loss of Obama's former Senate seat as a fundraising gimmick to their donor base, while on the other hand seeming to back away from a serious commitment to Alexi financially. From The Hill:

In a last-minute fundraising appeal, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) warned that capturing President Obama's former Senate seat would be the "ultimate political trophy" for Republicans in 2010.

"Nothing would give them more bragging rights than winning this seat," Menendez wrote in a fundraising e-mail Tuesday. "Polling shows we're in a dead heat, and your gift now will help level the playing field in this and other important races."

Then, we have Alexi out on the campaign trail claiming that he's going to be a candidate who is not beholden to President Obama, Dick Durbin, or other top Dems. Yeah, right. Alexi is now all of a sudden "Mr. Independent" and will boldly give Obama (the man who made his political career and recently raised a million dollars for him) the what-for. The only decision Alexi would ever buck (and you certainly can't show me any so far) is one that isn't liberal enough for Alexi, who plans to found a Senate progressive caucus.

The Kirk campaign, as usual, is on top of this farcical claim by Alexi:

Kirk Campaign Challenges Giannoulias to Identify Five Times He Would Have Voted Against Reid

Congressional Quarterly Rated Social Moderate, Fiscal Conservative Kirk Most Independent Member of the House on Presidential Support in 2009;

Giannoulias backed higher taxes and increased spending in this Congress

Northbrook, Ill. – The Kirk for Senate campaign today challenged Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias to identify five items where he would have voted against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after claiming he would not support ideas he disagreed with “whether it's Harry Reid's, whether it's Dick Durbin's.”

While Congressman Mark Kirk has a proven thoughtful, independent voting record, Alexi Giannoulias has supported every Reid-Pelosi tax and spend initiative of this Congress. Recently, Giannoulias pledged to establish a Progressive Caucus in the Senate to offset the influence of fiscally conservative Democrats.

“From the stimulus to government health care, Alexi Giannoulias remains a cheerleader for increased spending and higher taxes,” Kirk spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said. “Alexi Giannoulias will vote lock and step with Harry Reid to raise taxes, increase government spending and stifle economic growth. Illinois families cannot afford the Giannoulias job-killing rubber stamp.”

For 2009, the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly rated Mark Kirk’s voting record on presidential support at the exact center of the House. Kirk agreed with President Obama on a number of issues this Congress, including support for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Vote 16: H R 2), mortgage reform and anti-predatory lending legislation (Vote 242: H R 1728), federal regulation of tobacco (Vote 335: H R 1256), hate crimes legislation (Vote 223: H R 1913) and the Small Business Jobs Tax Relief Act of 2010 (Vote 363: H R 5486).

Unlike Giannoulias, Kirk has an established record of working across party lines to build bipartisan consensus. Key partnerships include Congressman Bill Lipinski (D-IL) in the defense of Lake Michigan; Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) on U.S.-China relations; Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA) on national security, veterans and military issues; Congressmen Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Steve Israel (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Ron Klein (D-FL) on Iran; Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ) on issues affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship; and Congresswoman Diana DeGette on stem cell research.