Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Seals for Dold" Video Making Waves on the Internet

One of the most creative political ads this season, and one that invokes at least a wry grin, if not outright chuckles, from viewers, is Republican Bob Dold's "Seals for Dold" video (which, of course, takes a light-hearted look at his opponent, Dan Seals' positions), which has now exceeded 12,000 views on YouTube. In case you haven't caught it yet, it's a must-see:

While some of the usual political pundits, notably those on the "dark side," seem obsessed with fact checking and the biological issue of whether the seal lion in the video is legitimately a member of the "seal" family, it's clear a lot of folks are viewing the video and getting a kick out of it.

By comparison, views of the "Seals for Dold" video have eclipsed any other 10th District political videos put out by Democrat Dan Seals by thousands of views, even though some of his videos were posted over two years ago, and the "Seals" video has been up about a week.

Congressman Dan Seals? For real, Broheim?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bob Dold Criss-Crosses the 10th Congressional District on His "Let's Get to Work" Bus Tour

Republican candidate Bob Dold is taking his famous campaign bus out for one more spin as he criss-crosses the 10th Congressional District to bring his "jobs, jobs, jobs" message to the people of the 10th. Here's a feel-good photo montage of some of the places and businesses he has visited, and the enthusiastic supporters who are lining up behind him:

This race is going to be close, but I think Bob will be able to put a large part of the credit for a win to his bus tour and getting out directly to the people in a big way, while his opponent Dan Seals... well, we're actually not quite sure what Dan Seals has been doing with his time, besides pestering the DCCC for more money for negative campaign ads.

Michael Bond (Hasn't) Said Suzi Schmidt Hates Kittens (Yet)

It's tough to get attention with a political flyer in the last weeks before an election just because the sheer volume of political mail that hits the mailboxes, and the tendency of the voters to just tune out after a while. But if any mailer is going to get your attention, this one from Suzi Schmidt pointing out the ridiculousness of the lies told by her opponent, State Senator Michael Bond, about Schmidt, will do it:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Politico Article Suggests That Alexi Giannoulias Exaggerated His Involvement With Saving Jobs at Hartmarx

A new article on Politico this morning suggests that U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias is taking a lot more credit for saving jobs at Hartmarx then he deserves. Given the importance of job creation this election cycle and Alexi's very thin resume, his claim to have intervened and used the power of the State Treasurer's office to convince lender Wells Fargo to back off on its pressure on Hartmarx, resulting in saving 600 jobs in Chicago, has been a centerpeice of his campaign. Maggie Haberman at Politico did a little digging, though, and concluded the following based on an interviews with a Hartmarx official:

I spoke to a former Hartmarx official, who agreed to speak on background and suggested that Giannoulias was making more of his role in the crisis than may have been the case. The official said that Giannoulias had just one contact with the company, and heavily credited other officials, including Schumer and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), with working to get the bank to agree to a plan to save the jobs.

The company "had relationships with politicians," the former official said. "Schumer ...and Louise Slaughter were exceptionally helpful." The official said company honchos spoke with Schumer and Slaughter "several times."

They played a role "sort of persuading or suggesting" or, in some cases, threatening Wells Fargo, the source added.

"I can't say he did nothing," the source added of Giannoulias, but insisted that much of the work came from elsewhere.

Politico contacted the Giannoulias campaign which quickly backpedaled and stated that 'the campaign had never claimed that Giannoulias was the only force involved in saving Hartmarx, and that it was an effort of labor groups, elected officials and others.'

Sure looked like at the time Alexi was taking full credit:

Also not noted in the article, but brought up elsewhere, is that the Hartmarx tale doesn't end with the saving of 600 jobs in Chicago, because apparently they lost 300 jobs in Rock Island as a result. So, net score -> 300 jobs "saved". Only problem is, it looks like Alexi has been taking a lot more credit that he deserved. And I betcha the folks in the Quad-Cities are not huge Giannoulias fans now in any case.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Democrat Carol Sente (59th Dist.) Claims Son of Breast Cancer Survivor Dan Sugrue Is Against Funding Cancer Research, And Other Lies (UPDATED x3)

Appointed 59th District Democratic State Rep. Carol Sente (who replaced former State Rep. Kathy Ryg after her retirement) vowed that she would fight against the status quo in Springfield and bring a new and badly-needed perspective to state government. She promised that if we elected her, she would go to Springfield to fight for us, and not be a rubber-stamp for Mike Madigan or the Democratic party.

Today, we learn in the Daily Herald that not only has Carol Sente gone back on all of these promises, she has attacked her opponent, Dan Sugure, with baseless accusations of "exremeism" and cutting women's programs.

First, the Herald notes that, despite Sente's pledge to be independent of the Dem machine, she has so far taken way over $200,000 in campaign cash from the State Democratic Party, and more is pouring in on a daily basis, it seems. In fact, based on Sente's campaign disclosures, it appears that Sente has no less than FOURTEEN Dem staffers that have been sent up to work on her campaign, which is viewed as a "must-keep" seat for Madigan, since he expects to bleed seats all over the state.

When the Daily Herald confronted Sente with this obvious incongruity, the only response Sente made was that she didn’t ask for the party’s financial assistance. If that's the case, Ms. Sente, you could have sent all of it back to Springfield, which would have been a lot more consistent with your campaign rhetoric. Now, we see that Sente is just another Democratic operative. (By the way, if taking Mike Madigan's money feels so wrong to you, Carol, send it up to Rich Voltair, who is running against Republican Sandy Cole in the 62nd District - he's not received any help from the Democratic Party and I'm sure he'd take $200K and 14 staffers in a heartbeat.)

Even worse, Sente's Dem party hacks have made baseless attacks against Dan Sugrue, claiming that he'd blindly cut important programs like funding for breast cancer research:

There's, of course, no basis for this, or any of the other attacks Sente has made on Sugrue. The "cancer" allegation is all the more reprehensible, though, since Sugrue's mother is a breast cancer survivor. Sugrue mentioned that to the Herald, too:

“I nowhere have said I would cut breast cancer research my mom is a breast cancer survivor,” he said of an assertion in one of the ads.

“I think it’s an act of desperation on their end,” Sugrue said of campaign tactics.

Bottom line, apppointee Carol Sente is the worst kind of politician -- telling us what we want to hear on one hand, and then when she thinks we are not looking, gets in bed with the very people she has vowed to repudiate when she gets to Springfield. Shame on her.

Vote for Dan Sugrue, who the Chicago Tribune called "truly independent".

UPDATED: I forgot to point out that one fact that didn't make it into the Daily Herald article was that in addition to taking mega-bucks from the Democratic State Party, Sente has her campaign headquarters in the local U.A.W. hall in Lincolnshire.

Meanwhile, the Sugure campaign is hitting back at Sente's lies with a timely mailer of its own:

UPDATED x2 10/29/10: More Lies from Carol Sente: The last days of an election cycle are traditionally the time to lob out your campaign's most baseless and egregious accusations, because there isn't much time for the opposing candidate to refute them, and traditional media outlets like the Daily Herald won't cover them. Politician Carol Sente has this down to a science, although she's been lobbing baseless claims at Dan Sugrue for weeks now. The latest bullsh*t claim she's made against Sugrue is that Dan "wants to take taxpayer funds away from public schools to subsidize private and religious schools." Sente also claims that Sugrue "will help property taxes spike to fund public education so he can direct your tax dollars to religious and private institutions." Sure. Of course, on Sente's latest mail bomb, there's no documentation for any of this.

Perhaps someone should call Sente's office and let her know that, except for the pre-schooler, all of Dan's kids are in public school. If that was really Dan's hidden agenda, I think we'd know it by now. Sente, as you may know, doesn't even have children. Who do you think is more concerned with the state of our public schools? That's right, the guy who has his kids in the system.

Sente claims that Sugrue is a "radical, anti-government extremist." I am very hopeful and optimistic that Sente's false campaign of terror and alarmism is going to spectacularly backfire on her. Voters don't like to be lied to. The real extremist here is Sente, not Sugrue.

Meanwhile, if you haven't seen it, here's Dan's latest mailer touting all of his endorsements:

UPDATED x3: Here's a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald from someone who knows the Sugrue family, and is appalled at the scurrilous lies being told about Dan by Carol Sente and her mob of thugs from the Mike Madigan brigade:

I have received four mailers paid for by the Democratic Party of IL accusing Dan Sugrue of several insanities like his alleged radical social views and being supported from an extremist organization from the far right wing, and of agreeing with alleged gender discrimination practices defended by one of his financial supporters.

I had met Sugrue at a meeting for the committee of a foundation that would benefit the community where his kids attend school. Sugrue was volunteering his time and provided free services as a lawyer. A few months later, I met him again, this time with his wife and children at a dinner party. I was well impressed with both of them and the dynamic of their family. When I learned that Sugrue was going for the state representative seat, even though I am not registered with the Republican party, given the fact that the Sugrues were such genuine people with high moral and family values, I decided to check him out further and validate his commitment to the community.

I am outraged at the lies that Carol Sente is raising about him. They are so unfounded that my first reaction was to feel sorry for her, seeing how her strong opponent drove her to such desperation and lack of common sense. If Sente really cares for the people, why is she misleading them? Sugrue is leading his campaign with the positive approach of how he will represent the current issues that are affecting us. Why isn’t Sente doing the same thing instead of undermining the only option that will bring a real solution to the major issues in our community? What would happen with us if she gets elected? I will vote for Dan Sugrue.

Emma Flanagan

Green Oaks

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mark Kirk Hits Alexi Giannoulias on Foreign Policy Experience and Temperment in WTTW Debate (UPDATED WITH VIDEO)

Tonight on WTTW in Chicago, Phil Ponce moderated the last scheduled debate between Republican Congressman Mark Kirk and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, in the hotly-contested U.S. Senate race here in Illinois. Based on what I saw and read afterwards, Kirk and Giannoulias each gave it everything they had, but once all the chaff was fired into the air, it was Mark Kirk who emerged less scathed, and looking much more senatorial by the end of the debate.

Here's your early news wrap-up: AP story here, Tribune Clout Street Blog here, Sun-Times/Lynn Sweet live blog here, Sun-Times article here, Politico here, debate fact-check (courtesy of the Kirk campaign) here,


my very favorite, the debate live blog at Capitol Fax Blog, done mostly by our favorite commentor FOKLAEAPS, who goes by "Shore" over at Cap Fax. Don't miss it.

UPDATED: If you missed the debate last night, Lynn Sweet provides the WTTW video, all 56 minutes of it. Enjoy.

Politico Notes What We Already Knew: Independent Voters Turning to GOP Senate Candidates, Including Mark Kirk (UPDATED: Rasmussen Poll Shows Kirk Up)

Today Politico picks up on what we noted a few days ago when the latest Tribune poll came out -- undecided Independents are turning to the Republicans in general nationwide, and in Illinois, Congressman Mark Kirk in particular:

In the dead heat Illinois Senate race, Republican Mark Kirk is now up 44-41 over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias according to a Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released Monday—thanks in no small part to independents.

Kirk takes 50 percent of the undeclared voters to Giannoulias’s 28 percent . In a Tribune/WGN poll a month ago, Kirk was taking 38 percent of independents while Giannoulias was taking the same 28 percent he’s getting now. And in that period, those independent voters saying they were undecided fell from 22 percent to eight percent.

From what I hear from GOP insiders, all Republican polling points in this same direction. I tend to think that if Alexi had contrary information, he'd be releasing it to cancel out Kirk's momentum, especially after the above-the-fold headline in the Chicago Tribune the day the poll was released. So far, crickets.

UPDATED: Blog reader and local political junkie Adam Beeson noted in comments the just-released Rasmussen poll showing Mark Kirk up over Alexi Giannoulias, with a still-close 46% to 42%. Rasmussen says:

The race is little changed from last week, when Kirk led 44% to 40%. Highlighting the closeness of the contest is the fact that Kirk and Giannoulias have now run within four points or less of each other in 11 surveys since early June. Prior to the latest results, Jones' support held steady at four percent (4%) in four surveys since September.

But Democrats are counting on visits to Illinois this week by Bill Clinton and President Obama to shift voters in the Democratic-leaning state into Giannoulias' column.

But, based on Clinton's rather lackluster performance yesterday, and considering he seemed to pretty much be preaching to a choir of voters who would very likely have voted Dem with or without the visit, I doubt very much that Clinton moved the needle for any Dem candidate. Obama is going to make a much bigger splash and have a much bigger turnout, but again, many attendees will likely have voted Dem anyway, or are just showing up for the free concert or to see Obama and could give a hoot about voting if the Barackstar isn't personally on the ballot.

At Least One "Seal" Endorses Bob Dold in New Video (UPDATED: PolitiFact Calls Video "Priceless")

Bob Dold takes a light-hearted look at one "seal" that endorses him in the 10th District Congressional race:

UPDATED: Over on Cap Fax Blog, the reviews are mixed, but a lot of Dems frequent that blog, so who knows. Here's a positive review of the video from PolitiFact:

It's not every day that a campaign ad lands in our inbox and makes us laugh out loud -- especially in the midst of a campaign cycle with commercials featuring Viagra-fueled sex offenders, puppy mass-murderers and roving psychopaths. But the ad aired by Republican Robert Dold targeting Democrat Dan Seals had us at "broheim."

It features a charming if foul-mouthed sea lion hired to film an "endorsement" for Dan Seals. Seals (not the sea lion) is running for the Chicago-area seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican nominee for Senate. With a slight Democratic edge and a moderate, suburban vibe, the 10th District is one of the rare GOP-held seats that's actually in play for the Democrats this year. In fact, political handicapper Charlie Cook rates it Lean Democratic, meaning that Dold, even though he's a Republican running in a Republican year, is airing the ad as a slight underdog.

PolitiFact does take issue with the ad's assertion that Dan Seals was running for Congress "before there were, like, iPods." We're more forgiving than PolitiFact, apparently, as that little misassertion didn't bother us.

For anyone who cares: Anticipated "Ellen of the Tenth" rating of the "seal" video: "0 Cat Treats"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Isn't Gasoline-Obsessed Dan Seals Complaining About the Rise In Gas Prices Since President Obama Took Office?

We've known for some time that two-time loser and unemployed Democrat Dan Seals, who is running once again in Illinois' 10th Congressional District, has some kind of strange obsession with gasoline.

A couple years ago, pre-recession, when gas prices were spiking in excess of $4.00 a gallon, Dan Seals wanted us to believe that it was all Congressman Mark Kirk's fault. To illustrate that point, Seals engineered a poorly planned and executed gas giveaway (technically, a price-roll back to the time when Mark Kirk first entered Congress, I believe) that succeeded in doing little more than earning him the derision of the media, annoyed would-be gas-getters (Seals didn't publicize that he planned to give free gas only to the first 50 customers at a Lincolnshire gas station), and really ticked off Lincolnshire police and area lunch-time commuters.

Yes, yes, all Kirk's fault, Seals said. He's to blame for high gas prices with his support of loopholes for companies like Enron (remember them?) Well, Seals was the one who ended up with egg on his face, and given that it was a fairly tight race, who's to say that the bad publicity he got over the gas stunt didn't cost him the election.

Only a short time later, when gas prices plummeted as the recession took hold, I was convinced that Seals, being the fair guy he is, would then credit Congressman Kirk (who, of course, was still our Congressman) with reducing gas prices. Alas, it was not to be.

More recently, it appears that Seals has been guzzling a lot of gas for his daily commute to the 10th District from his home in the 9th District, even though it's only a couple of blocks. But I digress.

Today's point is that under President Barack Obama's failed economic policies, gas prices have risen by around a dollar a gallon. Just to remind y'all, the national average for gas when Obama took office was around a buck-eighty.

So, why isn't Dan Seals loudly blaming Barack Obama for a 50% increase in the cost of gas since he took office? What's Seals' plan to bring rising gas prices under control?

Maybe he just plans to give away more gas out of his campaign fund. Or maybe Bob Dold could try the same stunt, if it wasn't of questionable legality.

Enthusiasm Gap For Democrats Can't Be Filled With Clinton/Obama Star Power (UPDATED x2: Clinton Rally a Bust; Does Clinton Not Heart Obama?)

Here in Illinois, which many acknowledge to still be a "blue" state, and the adopted home state of President Barack Obama, the Democrats are nevertheless taking a pounding, not only because of malaise in their own party, but also because Independents appear to be beating a path to the GOP door.

To help fill the so-called "enthusiasm gap," this week, former President Bill Clinton will be in town this morning to rally enthusiasm for the Dem base, and on Saturday, President Obama will make yet another trip back here to hold a big rally to, again, try to energize the Dem base.

The fact that the Dems feel they have to do this at all, in one of their few remaining strongholds, is telling. But will it work?

First off, President Clinton couldn't even fill a high-school gym at a rally last week in Michigan, in which many of their important state-wide candidates attended. With the awful weather in Chicago this morning, it's questionable if this event will even make a mark.

Obama, of course, has the ability to draw bigger crowds, and throw in a free concert on a nice Saturday afternoon in Chicago, it's likely that many people will attend, but will they remember to vote the next Tuesday? And if they do, weren't these the kind of Obama fans likely to have voted anyway? I don't see a lot of Independents, who are generally fed up with the unfulfilled administration promises and lousy state of the economy getting "fired up" about another Obama visit.

None of this seems to have the Republicans worried, especially Congressman Mark Kirk, who is locked in a tight race with Alexi Giannoulias, but may be beginning to pull away.

"While you always want the stars of your party to come in and it rallies up the base, I don't think it moves the needle that much," Kirk told Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. "In the end, people are going to be voting their pocketbooks."

Kirk added, "In the end, I think the time of the big endorsements has past. This is now a contest between Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk."

UPDATED: I didn't think the Clinton event this morning was going to be a home-run by any means, but it looks like Slick Willy may have massively struck out in Chicago. Bill Cameron of WLS reports:

Former President Bill Clinton’s ‘get out the vote’ rally for Democrats at a downtown Chicago hotel was the most unenthusiastic WLS veteran political reporter Bill Cameron has ever witnessed.

Clinton was an hour late for the Tuesday afternoon rally at the Palmer House and droned on for another hour, sending dozens of the few hundred Democrats in attendance for the exits.


UPDATED x2 10/27/10 Does Clinton Really Have His Heart in Campaigning for Obama's Agenda and Chosen Candidates? Check out this story from the Washington Examiner, which uses yesterday's tepid rally in Chicago led by Bill Clinton to discuss whether his heart really seems to be in this business of campaigning for his wife's former political nemesis, Barack Obama, and Obama's chosen candidates:

The problem was, it wasn't entirely clear how much Clinton really wanted to help Democrats, and especially Obama, win next week's elections. In the course of a one-hour speech, Clinton, whose wife lost a bitter nomination battle to Obama just two years ago and might still be considering another run for the White House, offered faint praise for the current president and a steady stream of criticism for Democrats, who he said have failed to communicate their message to the voters. If Clinton, who also seemed deeply concerned with defending his own record as president, had simply wanted to fire up the troubled party faithful here, he could have delivered a rousing defense of Obama and his party. Instead, his message was at best mixed, and at the end a listener could not be entirely sure whether Clinton truly believes Democrats deserve to win in November. [snip]

After the speech, in an impromptu interview with ABC News, Clinton said, "It's what happened to me in '94," meaning that today's political atmosphere is similar to the time he famously lost both houses of Congress to Republicans in his first midterm election. Bringing up that disastrous defeat is a comparison that cannot have been welcome in Democratic circles. Then, in what appeared to be a clear jab at the White House, Clinton agreed to campaign on behalf of Frank Caprio, the Democratic candidate for governor of Rhode Island who was snubbed by President Obama and who later said that Obama can "take his endorsement and shove it." Caprio endorsed Hillary Clinton over Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary; now, Clinton's endorsement of Caprio sends the signal that he's not necessarily on the same page with the president.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Classless Alexi Giannoulias Dismisses African-American Ministers Who Endorse Mark Kirk

In yet another display of juvenile political acumen, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias offhandedly dismissed a group of respected African-American ministers who endorsed Republican Mark Kirk, simply because they support his opponent.

This morning, African American community leader Dr. Willie Wilson and other ministers gathered at the Holy Corinthian Baptist Church to endorse Kirk. In a press release from the Kirk campaign, Dr. Wilson stated:

“Congressman Kirk's vision to encourage economic development and job creation is one that is important not only for the African American community, but for every family in the state. I endorse Congressman Kirk because he is a proven leader with a record of independence. We face very serious challenges, and I look forward to working with him to bring more economic opportunity to our state.”

Mary Ann Ahern, writing at NBC-5's Ward Room blog, noted that Rev. Wilson, traditionally affiliated with Democratic causes, says he's more independent these days: "I've been trying to support people who will help our community," Wilson said.

The Ward Room Blog also noted that Alexi's campaign team dismissed the endorsement, claiming Wilson is "not the leader of the Westside."

This insulting dismissal of a significant group of African-American community leaders comes on the heels of Alexi's statement last week that Kirk had committed "economic treason" with a fundraiser this part spring with American businessmen in China. So, first veterans, and now African-Americans (and ministers, to boot). Shall we see if Alexi can offend another important voting group in the eight days before the election to make a trifecta?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chicago Tribune Calls Out Dan Seals and DCCC for Misleading Campaign Ads Attacking Bob Dold

There's been an awful lot of misinformation (to put it charitably) being tossed around in campaign ads and the blogosphere about Bob Dold's position on abortion, and the Chicago Tribune editorial board has finally had enough:

You can get immune to candidates taking liberties with the truth as they rip each other during campaigns, but sometimes they mislead voters so badly you have to call them on it. Such is the case with Democrat Dan Seals.

Seals is running for the U.S. House in the north suburban 10th District. He and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are running ads that say Republican Robert Dold is "too extreme" on abortion. But they don't cite Dold's own words or views on abortion. That wouldn't work, because Dold plainly says he supports abortion rights. They cite, instead, the views of the Illinois Federation for Right to Life.

"Bob Dold is hiding who he is. Dold's supported by radical groups that would criminalize abortion in every case," says an ominous voice in a Seals TV ad.

"Dold is backed by the Illinois Federation for Right to Life," says a DCCC-sponsored ad. "They oppose abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, or to protect a mother's health. Dold's supporters want to change the Constitution and criminalize a woman's choice."

Now here are the facts. Illinois Federation for Right to Life has not endorsed Dold. The group said it preferred Dold over his opponents in the Republican primary, but didn't make an endorsement then either. Bonnie Quirke, who represents the 10th District on the federation's board, told us that Dold "basically considers himself a pro-choice candidate, so we can't endorse something like that."

"On the basic common issue of 'does a woman have a right to make a choice,' he would differ with us," she said.

Dold and Seals recently met with the Tribune editorial board. Here's what they said about abortion.

Dold: "Let's be clear. I'm pro-choice. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I don't believe that should be a decision that the government gets in between a doctor and the patient."

Seals: "I differ in that I actually mean what I say when I say the government shouldn't have a role. I believe this is a decision that should be made by a woman, and her family, and her doctor and her God … we want abortions to be safe, legal and rare."

There are differences in their views. Dold supports laws that require a parent be notified before his or her minor child has an abortion, Seals opposes parental notification. Seals supports public funding for abortion; Dold opposes it. Seals supports partial-birth abortion, Dold opposes it.

The Tribune has endorsed Dold (who is not related to editorial page editor Bruce Dold). We have described Seals as "impressive," praise that shows up in his campaign ads. That's fair game. We said that about him in 2008 when we endorsed his opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk.

We're not impressed that Seals would give voters false ideas about his opponent's views on abortion. Not impressed at all. He and the DCCC should drop these very misleading ads.

The Trib could have added Lauren Beth Gash's Tenth Congressional District Democrats to their list of liars on this topic, but that group is, I am sure, bneneath the Trib's notice.

Fact is, Bob Dold is a pro-choice candidate but supports some common-sense restrictions like parental notification. Dan Seals, on the other hand, wants abortions to be as easy to order as a Big Mac (I stole that from some other source today but forgot where I saw it, and couldn't resist), brooking no restrictions at all, including using federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Dan Seals, not Bob Dold, seems to be the one with the "extreme" views on abortion that don't fit the voters in the 10th District.

But, is this all really what we need to be talking about less than two weeks before the election? While many one-issue voters on both sides obsess about abortion, I think more people in the 10th District are concerned over the economy, their livelihood, their retirement, and their childrens' future. On these issues, Bob Dold has the right message, and that's what's going to carry the day for him come November 2nd.

New Poll Shows Encouraging Trends for Congressman Mark Kirk, Who Maintains Lead Over Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois Race for U.S. Senate

Tonight Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson is stating that the results of a new Tribune/WGN poll in the U.S. Senate race shows "encouraging trends" for Congressman Mark Kirk, although the race is still very close:

Kirk held a 44 percent to 41 percent advantage over Giannoulias, but the slight edge fell within the poll's 3.7 percentage-point margin of error. Another 7 percent were undecided — a key category of voters both parties are spending millions of dollars to sway with President Barack Obama's former Senate seat on the line in a nationally significant contest.

Despite the statistical tightness of the race, the survey revealed several encouraging trends for Kirk and some troubling concerns for Giannoulias. Independents, suburban voters and Republicans are all moving toward Kirk. [snip]

The poll of 700 registered voters, conducted last Monday through Friday, also found that Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones at 5 percent support and Libertarian Mike Labno at 4 percent.

This would all be consistent with what I've been hearing on the street from various sources. Add to that, the Kirk campaign is going to be spending every last dime of their $4 million+ warchest at pretty much the same time Alexi's campaign stash is running dry.

The Trib poll was also conducted before the full impact of Alexi's potential game-changing flub of accusing Mark Kirk of committing "economic treason" likely could be measured as of last Thursday. Look for Alexi's negatives to take a nice nose-dive after that.

This will be a fight to the finish, no doubt, but on election night, I think we will be having reason to celebrate.

The Dold Bus Makes Its Reappearance With House Minority Whip Eric Cantor to Kick Off Final Election Push (UPDATED)

As I predicted it might, this afternoon, the Bob Dold campaign bus reappeared to kick off the final election push to maintain the 10th Congressional District as a GOP seat, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor as the special guest.

Dold and Cantor addressed a crowd of over 200 supporters and volunteers at Dold's campaign headquarters in Winnetka. Dold's consistent theme has been getting people back to work in Illinois, which theme was emphasized by Congressman Cantor.

The Dold Bus will be making stops criss-crossing the 10th District from now until Election Day.

Here's Bob with one of his kids getting ready to address the large crowd.

Bob and Congressman Eric Cantor wait to be introduced.

Bob makes his case to the crowd.

Eric Cantor explains why we need Bob Dold in Washington.

UPDATED: Read some analysis on the prospective Cantor visit with Dold here from The Hill:

The No. 2 ranking House GOP lawmaker’s appearance in the Democratic leaning district comes less than two weeks since The Hill released a poll showing GOP candidate Bob Dold trailing in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Mark Kirk (R).

GOP insiders familiar with the party’s strategy to defend the open seat say that new polling numbers, an influx of cash and a reorganized campaign focus capped by Cantor’s visit point to positive signs for Dold.

Chicanery In the 17th District: Hamilton Chang's Opponent Daniel Biss Misappropriates Image of Beth Coulson in His Campaign Literature

We haven't had as much of a chance to pay attention to the hot race over in the the 17th Legislative District, which is a little out of our usual territory, but is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is the impressive GOP nominee, Hamilton Chang, a successul financial professional whose parents immigrated from China and really did live the American Dream. He's also very tall. ;-) Read more about Hamilton here.

The 17th District is also notable because this is State Rep. Elizabeth Coulson's district. As most of us know, Beth is retiring after a long and respected career in the Illinois General Assembly, and has heartily endorsed Chang to fill her shoes in the state legislature.

Chang is running against Danel Biss, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Coulson last cycle. But that has not stopped Biss from stooping to one of the lowest dirty tricks in politics, which is the unauthorized use of another politician's likeness, with the untrue implication that such politician is a supporter. Biss has sent out a mailer with Coulson's picture on it, which use was unauthorized by Coulson, and who has denouced such false and misleading tactics, and the misappropriation of her good name and reputation.

Here's the press release from the Chang campaign giving Coulson's take on the scurrilous actions of the Democrat, Daniel Biss:


Glenview, IL – Well-known, highly respected State Representative Beth Coulson is retiring after 14 years of service in the Illinois Legislature. In 2008, candidate Dan Biss ran a highly negative campaign against incumbent Representative Coulson but lost the race when he was unable to overcome the tremendous support that Coulson has garnered over the years. Biss seems to have learned from his mistakes and this year, rather than attacking Coulson, he is aligning himself with her to try to get elected.

Coulson is known for her integrity and steadfast dedication to ethical legislation and politics. It is not surprising, therefore, that she is troubled by a recent piece of campaign literature sent out by the Democratic Party of Illinois on behalf of candidate Dan Biss. The mailer prominently features a photo of Representative Coulson on each side and implies that Coulson is endorsing Dan Biss.

“I am upset by the literature and would like to set the record straight,” said Representative Coulson. “I have endorsed Hamilton Chang because Chang is the best candidate in the race. Using my name and my photo to suggest that I support Biss is unacceptable. Voters in this district are conscientious, and extremely thoughtful. I endorse Chang because I am confident that he will continue the fight to eradicate wasteful government spending, promote and create Illinois jobs and careers and improve education for the children of Illinois.”

Biss’ literature comes with two weeks before Election Day in this highly watched and contested race for Coulson’s vacancy. “I was absolutely appalled by the deceitful campaign piece I received from Biss today,” stated Jane Evans, Wilmette Resident, in an email to Hamilton Chang’s campaign office. “Representative Coulson should publicly denounce the implication that she endorses Biss.”


Here's the offending (and offensive) mailer:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Classless Alexi Giannoulias Accuses Veteran Mark Kirk of "Economic Treason" (UPDATED x2: Tribune Calls Alexi's Charge "Shameful")

I sincerely hope we've hit rock-bottom in this campaign, but alas, there's still over a week to go. Today's events have topped everything so far, though as Democrat Alexi Giannoulias today accused Congressman Mark Kirk of "economic treason." Yes, that's basketball banker Alexi, who never served a day in uniform, accusing Naval Reserve commander Mark Kirk of treason. Nice.

Kirk said in a statement in response:

Alexi Giannoulias is running a desperate and dishonorable campaign. I have worn our country's uniform for 21 years and to accuse me of treason in any context is beyond the pale. Giannoulias is a desperate candidate who is now dishonoring the office he aspires to.

Rich Miller over at Capitol Fax Blog said, "[C]alling somebody a traitor is truly beyond the pale in politics. Giannnoulias ought to apologize."

Look for a lot more comments like Rich's to be coming out soon, I think.

In a press conference today, Giannoulias rightly took it on the chin, and was called out for his own fundraising in Canada.

Updated: Video from NBC-5:

Desperation may be the key here, as early voter turnout in Chicago appears to be fairly low, and if the Dems don't have a huge showing in Chicago, it's all over for them. It's so bad, President Obama is parachuting back into town this weekend to try to get out the vote, but if the Dems haven't been excited enough to go vote after several visits from Obama and his surrogates, including Mrs. Obama, VP Biden, and others, it looks like the enthusiasm gap may just be too wide to bridge.

UPDATED x2: The Tribune calls out Alexi for his shameful behavior:

Be unkind and blame desperation, or be kind and blame fatigue. Either way, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias' juvenile pander to Big Labor — his charge that Republican Mark Kirk is guilty of "economic treason" — suggests that he's too reckless and immature to fill a seat occupied by Everett McKinley Dirksen, Adlai Stevenson III and Barack Obama. [snip[

Giannoulias trails Kirk in fundraising. He's making public appearances to draw free news coverage. Foolish charges of "economic treason," yes, that'll draw coverage. Expect reporters to ask any politician who stands with Giannoulias at a campaign event, "Do you, too, view Mark Kirk as a traitor?"

What Giannoulias did Thursday is shameful.

Suzi Schmidt Runs the Table With Endorsements in 31st State Senate Race Against Michael Bond (UPDATED)

This blog is no fan of Michael Bond, who we think unfairly took advantage of the well-respected Senator Geo-Karis at the twilight of her career and health, to maneuver himself into office. Well, he's had four years with not much to show for it, except to busy himself with meddling in local races to build himself up a political army in the style of his mentor, Senator Terry Link.

Well, the ghost of Geo isn't coming back to save Bond, and if she did, she'd probably support County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt.

It seems the local newspapers would also agree, as the 'four local papers that matter,' at least to TA, have all heartily endorsed Suzi Schmidt:

Chicago Tribune: 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.

Daily Herald: The race for the Illinois Senate from District 31 in northern Lake County is a competitive one between two solid candidates — incumbent Democrat Michael Bond of Grayslake and Lake County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt, a Republican from Lake Villa.

Each is a fiscal conservative and each is an advocate of reform essential attributes in Springfield these days.

We like both, and find it difficult to choose between them.

The political process forces us to do so, however, so our slight preference is Schmidt, and she wins our endorsement. We give her the nod because of her strong record of leadership in Lake County government, where she has built consensus, balanced budgets and worked to make government responsive to the taxpayers.

She rightly wants to cut state government costs and encourage job and business growth.

She’ll be a good legislator.

Pioneer Press: Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa has done a great job as chairman of the Lake County Board, where she has cut costs and made the most of the county's money. She's hard-working and approachable, but most importantly she gets things done.

Schmidt will provide some welcome direction to the State Senate as the state faces huge problems in balancing the budget and reducing its pension obligations.

And just today, the Lake County News-Sun: In the hotly contested 31st Senate District, we heartily endorse Lake County Board Chair Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa, the Republican, over incumbent state Sen. Michael Bond, D-Grayslake. While Bond has been in office for four years he has spent most of his time and energy working on highway expansion in the western part of the district, ignoring eastern communities such as Gurnee, Zion, and Winthrop Harbor. Schmidt has done an outstanding job on the County Board, working on business development and keeping costs in line. Her county experience means she can ease right in to the Senate post and provide some county perspective on the state's deepening problems of balancing the budget and reducing pension obligations.

The two candidates have also been duking it out on cable TV, but all prognosticators seem to already be calling this one for Schmidt. Good bye, and good luck, Mr. Bond.

UPDATED: Seen this morning at the Lake Forest (west) Train Station: Dan Sugrue and Judge Wally Dunn shaking hands with commuters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rasmussen Polling Has Mark Kirk Up Over Alexi Giannoulias 44% to 40%

A brand new poll by Rasmussen has Congressman Mark Kirk up over State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, 44% to 40%, in the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The undecideds are at only 5%. That's where the battleground will be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dan Seals Pays $1000 a Month for His Commute to the 10th District (UPDATED)

Dan Seals, the Democratic candidate for Illinois' 10th Congressional District, doesn't live in the 10th District, as we've noted time and again, for some years now. He's never moved in, despite the fact that he can't vote for himself (he actually lives in Jan Schakowsky's district, but could never beat her in a primary), and every cycle (this is his third try for the seat) he hands his opponent - first Mark Kirk and now Bob Dold - a juicy campaign issue.

We've talked about this so much that even I'm sick of the harping on it, although I found it interesting that as recently as last week, the Lake County News-Sun felt compelled to ding Dan once again on the issue, even as they gave him their endorsement.

So, we were content to let it lie, and allow 10th District voters to once again decide for themselves is this is an issue or not, until we noticed while looking through Dan Seals' FEC campaign disclosures that Dan buys a lot of gas every month for his commute into the 10th District from his home in the 9th District, even though it's only a few blocks, as Seals' defenders always like to point out.

And I mean A LOT of gas.

We've known that Dan Seals has a thing for gas ever since his ill-fated "gas for votes" stunt that failed miserably last cycle, and got him in a whole lot of hot water with Lincolnshire police, as Team America readers well remember.

But now we find that Dan Seals has been getting reimbursed, on average, about $1000 EVERY MONTH since January, for his gasoline expense. Check out the monthly reimbursements (with filing links) below:

"Jan auto reimbursement", $1112.00
"Feb auto reimbursement", $1009.00
"March auto reimbursement", $994.50
"April auto reimbursement", $1132.00
"May auto reimbursement", $1018.50

"June auto reimbursement", $1059.50
"July auto reimbursement", $1006.00
"August auto reimbursement", $1078.00

By the way, this is all apparently personal reimbursement to Dan, as his other campaign workers also get specific reimbursements for things like their auto expenses, medical insurance, etc. So, doing the math, if you take $1000 worth of gas a month, assuming about $3.00 a gallon, that's using about 333 gallons a month. If Seals' car gets about 20 miles to the gallon (I assume being the 'green' kind of guy he is, he probably drives a hybrid, so I think 20 miles is probably pretty conservative), that means that Seals is driving a whopping 6,600 miles a month, or over 200 miles a day. That's an awful lot of round trips around the 10th District, PER DAY.

Now, I suppose Seals could be leasing a car and is being reimbursed for that (although I suspect his supporters might look quite askance at that kind of use of their donated campaign funds), but even supposing the campaign is paying for a $500/month Beemer for our frugal man-of-the-people candidate (and I have no idea if that's the case), that's still around a hundred miles a day in gas expenses, EVERY DAY of the month.

Seals has been called out before for paying himself living expenses out of his campaign fund. Is he really using this much petrol exclusively for his campaign efforts, or is something else going on here, folks?

UPDATED 10/20/10 6:30 a.m.: I did some more looking at Seals' FEC filings last night and came away with two other interesting observations:

First, if you look at the entries for 'auto reimbursement' for 2010, the checks for the first three months, January, February and March, were all cut to Seals on the same day, April 21, 2010 (he then started being more timely with cutting monthly reimbursement checks to himself the rest of 2010). Odd - Seals was keeping his car/gas/mileage/whatever-he-did records for those months but decided to sit on them until April? Didn't he famously complain about how he's not a "millionaire" who can't personally afford to move into the District -- but now he can eat $3000 of car expense for several months until he gets around to asking his campaign for the money back? Moreover, didn't a Seals sycophant recently make a similar complaint about something similar with Bob Dold not timely accounting for expenses in his campaign?

Second, I went back to the FEC filings and as far as I can tell, Seals did not claim any auto reimbursements in 2009, despite the fact that he announced his third try for this congressional seat way back in July 2009.

So, let's get this straight: in 2009, the beginning of this campaign cycle for Seals, he claims no auto reimbursements that entire year. He was locked in a tight battle with State Rep. Julie Hamos for the February 2010 Dem primary, which he won by the slimmest of margins. So, he was definitely campaigning his guts out (or at least what passes for that for Seals). Then, in April of 2010, he makes a retroactive claim to his campaign for three months worth of 2010 car expenses, with amounts eerily consistent every single month, showing that from nothing in 2009, he instantly started driving around the District to the tune of roughly a $1000 a month in 2010, and continued this level of consistency, based on the monthly average, the rest of 2010?

And don't tell me that Seals is new to this and only just now, in 2010, figured out to reimburse himself for his campaign car expenses. He's been campaigning for this seat for five years, has moved millions of dollars through his campaign account, and even knows how to pay himself a salary out of his campaign fund when he needed to.

Folks, something about this just ain't right.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where Was Alexi Giannoulias In Opposing the ObamaCare "Mistake" When it Mattered?

Now that there's just 16 days until Election Day 2010, Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias has suddenly discovered what most of the rest of the country already knew - the issue is jobs, jobs, jobs, folks, and his basketball buddy, President Obama, has done a miserable job in focusing on jobs, instead spending his time, effort and political capital to transform our country to a European-model, high tax, big government society, starting with Obama's massive revamping of our health care system. From today's AP story:

Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias says President Barack Obama made a mistake by focusing heavily on health care reform.

During an Associated Press interview Monday, Giannoulias said there should have been a "laser like" focus in Washington on creating jobs.

Giannoulias, who's running for Obama's old U.S. Senate seat, said putting people back to work should have been the focus of the administration to the exclusion of almost everything else domestically.

Is this a sign of desperation for Team Alexi? After all, that seriously has to be the first time that Alexi has publicly uttered the words "Obama" and "mistake" in the same sentence. For some months, Alexi has been one of the few Democrats running to, rather than away, from Obama and his failed policies. Now, today, Alexi suddenly discovered that jobs, not a progressive agenda to reform healthcare and redistribute the nation's wealth, is what is keeping real people (as opposed to Alexi's favored company of fellow limousine liberals like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) up at night.

This revelation is a bit late in coming to young Alexi, methinks. For months now, Alexi has been touting his full support of Obama and his healthcare plan, and excoriating anyone who opposed it, focusing, of course, on his Republican opponent, Congressman Mark Kirk. And Alexi has made accusing Kirk of being a 'shift-in-the-wind' politician a cornerstone of his campaign.... Sheesh.

You may recall several campaign videos that Alexi produced trying to smear Kirk as the obstructionist who wanted to thwart Obama's grand vision for healthcare reform. At the time, Alexi was all-in:

Not a word about how this was all a mistake, and Obama should have been focusing on jobs and the economy. Not even a mention on how there are, at the very least, problems with ObamaCare that a few days ago, Alexi was suggesting needed to be fixed.

Or maybe you remember this campaign video, "Really, Mark Kirk?"

I now ask Alexi, "Really Alexi?" You expect us to believe that you've seen the light and you take back all the criticisms you've made of Mark Kirk over his opposition to Obamacare? Where were all the videos, where were the press statements, in the months leading up to this point, pleading with President Obama to drop his obsession with taking over health care, and rather urging him to re-focus the awesome power and prestige of the White House into getting the nation back to work?

As recently as October 7th, when Obama was in town to stump for Alexi, did Alexi make any mention of this tiny, weeny "mistake" to the President? Nope, nothing, nada, zilch. Of course, it's probably not something that Alexi had the guts to say to Obama's face, and moreover, would have spolied the chance to get good video footage for campaign commericals.

Perhaps Alexi was a bit stung by his recent failure to point out any federal spending bill in which he would not have supported the plans of Nancy Pelosi and the President, and is now grasping for something, anything, to convince the voters of Illinois that he will not simply be a rubber stamp for the Obama/Pelosi agenda.

If that's what this was all about, that makes two "mistakes," Alexi - your support of Obamacare, and now trying to so transparently distance yourself from it for political gain.

Endorsements Continue to Roll In for Mark Kirk for U.S. Senate

With the exception of the massively liberal Chicago Sun-Times, and the apparently socialist St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it appears that just about every major Illinois-market newspaper has lined up behind Congressman Mark Kirk to endorse him over his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. Look for these endorsements to start moving the poll numbers up for Kirk very soon...

From the Kirk for Senate campaign, here are the three latest major endorsements:

Kirk for U.S. Senate

Southtown Star

October 17, 2010

When U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) announced in February he would not seek another term, he cited Congress' bitter partisan divide.

"There is too much partisanship and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving," he said. "Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples' business is not being done."

Bayh's decision was our nation's loss. He was a rare, practical-minded public servant who ignored party ideology and supported or opposed legislation based on merits. He worked across the aisle, often to the grumblings of his fellow Democrats and without regard to the next election.

The U.S. Senate needs more of that, which is why we endorse U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10th), of Highland Park.

Kirk has shown a willingness to break with his own party on key votes…

…Kirk also rejects the earmark process, declining to submit pork projects for his own congressional district. We wish more members of Congress would do the same.

Representing a fiscally conservative, socially moderate district has shaped Kirk to take those same principles to the U.S. Senate. Members of his party have scorned his willingness to work across the aisle, but fortunately those voices are the minority. As Bayh said, we need more problem-solving and less "narrow ideology."

We want to send Kirk to the U.S. Senate to unwind the partisanship, to leverage his independence by swinging between both sides of the aisle. Illinoisans embrace middle-of-the-road positions, and so do most Americans. It's called common sense. It's called compromise. We look forward to watching Kirk work more closely with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Springfield) for the betterment of Illinois than with the partisan political leaders of his chamber.

Kirk also brings unparalleled perspective to foreign policy issues. He is a go-to lawmaker on Middle East policies and remains focused on addressing Iran's terrifying pursuit of nuclear weapons, as well as the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region…

…While we find Giannoulias earnest and thoughtful, he simply hasn't acquired a portfolio of accomplishment yet to merit election to the U.S. Senate.

We endorse Kirk.

Illinois would be best served by Kirk in Senate

Bloomington Pantagraph

October 17, 2010

In a debate on “Meet the Press,” each candidate was asked to name two parts of his party platform with which he disagreed. Kirk quickly listed at least four. Giannoulias talked around, but did not answer, the question.

Kirk has been effective in Congress working with both sides of the aisle. He has demonstrated leadership in the House and would be better able to hit the ground running in the Senate.

Kirk said the government needs to spend less, borrow less and tax less.

He supports extending the Bush era tax cuts because current congressional leaders would spend the extra revenue rather than use it for debt reductions and because this is the wrong time to enact large tax increases.

He wants to do more to increase exports and sees agricultural exports as particularly important for Illinois.

Giannoulias is bright, but still inexperienced.

This is the seat once held by President Obama. But it has been under a cloud since Roland Burris was appointed by Rod Blagojevich on the heels of the former governor’s arrest on federal corruption charges. Illinois deserves better.

Because of the convoluted procedures around the appointment of Burris, voters actually will be voting twice on the ballot: once to fill the seat from after the election until the swearing in of the next Congress, the second for a full six-year term.

The brief two-month term takes on added significance because of the important matters that could come up in the lame duck session — particularly budget and tax cut measures.

The Pantagraph Editorial Board endorses Mark Kirk for the interim term and six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

Kirk for Senate

Belleville News-Democrat

October 17, 2010

…we think Republican Mark Kirk's maturity and seasoning, gained during a decade in the U.S. House, make him the better choice in this race. We urge Kirk's election on Nov. 2.

Kirk brings a thorough, thoughtful understanding to the issues of the day, from the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program to the dangers of the federal government now borrowing 40 cents of every $1 it spends.

His time in the House has made him increasingly a fiscal conservative. He said he will work to rein in government spending, eliminate waste and promote more public-private partnerships for public works programs.

He has a reputation of working well with politicians on both sides of the aisle, which is preferable to the polarized, can't-get-anything-done politics often on display. For example, Kirk says Republicans should support Democratic President Barack Obama's proposal for a line-item veto because it's a good idea.

Giannoulias also promises to be an independent voice in Washington and has criticized some of Obama and the Democrats' decisions. However, Giannoulias either couldn't or wouldn't cite even one Democratic position he disagreed with when asked for two during a debate on "Meet the Press."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Joe Walsh: Ready to Rumble in IL-8 Against Melissa Bean (UPDATED)

Melissa Bean of Illinois' Eight Congressional District has got to be the luckiest person in politics, unless you count President Barack Obama, for being in the right place at the right time. She defeated long-time Congressman Phil Crane in 2004 after a surprisingly strong initial challenge in 2002, largely, it seemed, simply because voters felt that Crane had overstayed his welcome, despite the fact that IL-8 went with George Bush 58%. Bean then faced a series of somewhat lackluster candidates, self-funder David McSweeney (although Bean only won by 51%) and 'anticipated self-funder' Steve Greenberg.

McSweeney was a nice, earnest guy but never excited on the campaign trail. After seeing him in person several times, his wife clearly outshone him when they appeared together (of course, I'm sure Mrs. Team America would do the same to me in a similar situation). We ought to have nominated Mrs. McSweeney. Steve Greenberg, a businessman and minor league hockey player (where have we heard something similar, perhaps in the basketball arena?), got trounced by Bean after his promises to largely self-fund his campaign never materialized. I think the local GOP has been somewhat wary of so-called 'self-funders' as a solution, ever since.

So what exactly it it with the 8th District anyway? Given the historical right-leaning base of the district, you would think viable candidates would have been coming out of the woodwork to pose a serious challenge to Bean. And, indeed, the primary field in 2010 was rather crowded, with several good candidates such as Maria Rodriguez, Dirk Beveridge, and Chris Giessler. The eventual winner, Joe Walsh, had run for Congress twice before in other districts in the 90s, and in 2010 almost immediately proved himself to be rather flawed, with questions and concerns raised regarding a foreclosure on his Evanston condo, and inter-campaign strife over claims of broken promises and bad checks.

Through all of this, though, Walsh has benefited from a core group of dedicated supporters, many of whom appear to identify with the tea party movement, and who have been very visible in the district. Walsh filled three tables at the recent Lake County Republican Federation Fall Dinner featuring Mitt Romney, and his supporters were clearly the most enthusiastic out of the entire packed room.

So does Walsh have a chance to succeed where others have recently failed, in what is looking to be one of the most favorable environments for Republicans in decades?

Maybe he does.

This morning in the Daily Herald, the DH takes a close look at the dynamics of the campaign, and although it appears so far that the national Democrats have not been scared into spending heavily in the 8th District, Walsh's grass roots campaign does exhibit some markers of a grass-roots surprise brewing for Bean. Walsh is greatly hampered by his inability to raise significant funds, and Bean has about a million bucks more to spend than Walsh going in the final weeks. So, if this race is going to be won by Walsh, it's going to be won by the 'boots on the ground' efforts of his supporters.

The national GOP tried to parachute in during the final weeks of Phil Crane's last election bid as well, when it was clear he was in trouble. Bean reaped the benefits of that surprise, so perhaps it would be some ironic justice if Bean were caught sleeping this time around.

UPDATED: Cal Skinner at the McHenry County Blog has some pretty strong words for the Daily Herald given Melissa Bean's uber-liberal voting record and the Herald's decision to endorse her. Is the DH now looking for some cover, Cal wonders?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Giannoulias Campaigns with Coalition Known for Ties to Radical Islamic Groups

Our friend, U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias (as well as Democratic guv candidate Pat Quinn) campaigned today alongside a coalition that includes two highly controversial groups with suspected ties to Islamic terrorism.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is a coalition that includes two groups with possible links to terrorism: the Arab American Action Network and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

In September, the FBI raided the home of the executive director of the Arab American Action Network on suspicion of ties to Palestinian and South American terror groups. From ABC 7 Chicago:

As executive director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago, Mr. Abudayyeh is a well-known advocate for immigrant rights. When federal officers raided his North Side home last week, along with residences in Minneapolis, they were looking for funding links between Abudayyeh and the radical Islamic group Hamas that took power in the Gaza Strip three years ago.

CAIR is also suspected of ties to terrorism, which prompted the FBI to cut ties with the group in 2009. Earlier this year, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich sent a letter to four members of Congress who asked for details on why CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror-finance trial against the Holy Land Foundation and its former officials.

Weich included trial transcripts and exhibits "which demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders, and the Palestine Committee. Evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and HAMAS, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995."

The Anti-Defamation League recently named CAIR to its top 10 list of anti-Israel organizations in America. From the ADL’s website:

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): Along with advocacy for fair treatment of Muslims in the United States, some of the largest Muslim American organizations commit significant resources and attention to condemning various Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington D.C.-based non-profit with offices around the U.S., has a long record of anti-Israel rhetoric, which has, at times, crossed the line into anti-Semitism. Their rhetoric has included public statements casting Jews and Israelis as corrupt agents who control U.S. policy and are responsible for the persecution of Muslims in the U.S. CAIR has also accused Israel of genocide, described Israel as a terrorist state and portrayed terror-related trials in the U.S. as evidence of undue Israeli political influence. CAIR was founded in 1994 by leaders of the Islamic Association for Palestine, a Hamas-affiliated anti-Semitic organization, and has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood's efforts in the U.S. to support Hamas. In 2007, CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, during which evidence was produced by the Federal prosecutors demonstrating that CAIR and its founders were part of a group set up by the Muslim Brotherhood to support Hamas. CAIR has participated in and endorsed many rallies where support for terrorist organizations was expressed, and continues to offer a platform to conspiratorial Israel-bashers through its affiliated California-based publication, InFocus News. In response to the Israeli Navy's raid of a flotilla of ships heading to Gaza in May 2010, the executive director of CAIR-Chicago accused Israel of a "failure to apply Jewish values" and CAIR's Southern California executive director, Hussam Ayloush, posted a message on Facebook calling for "ending this failed destructive and racist experiment called Zionism."

Alexi Giannoulias Doesn't Play in Peoria: The Journal Star's Endorsement Goes to Mark Kirk (UPDATED: Socialist Tripe from St. Louis)

Alexi Giannoulias flubbed the Peoria Journal Star's local knowledge triva test, and it, among other defects, cost him the newspaper's endorsement, which went to Congressman Mark Kirk:

When asked, the Democratic candidate for Illinois' U.S. Senate seat, Alexi Giannoulias, could not name the mayor of Peoria or Caterpillar's new CEO. When likewise asked, Republican Mark Kirk quickly rattled off Jim Ardis' name, then Doug Oberhelman's, noted that former Cat CEO Jim Owens had endorsed him, and then threw in Peoria Police Chief Steven Settingsgaard for good measure.

We don't mean to go all parochial on everybody, and running for high office is not a mere trivia contest, but the difference in the two responses should be important to voters because it's emblematic of some critical characteristics regarding public service: that you do your homework, that you care enough about the communities you represent to get to know something about their most influential citizens, that you don't intend to forget those places after the votes have been counted, that their issues are your issues. It's forgivable, perhaps, not to recollect one mayor from among hundreds, but if job creation is a centerpiece of your campaign, wouldn't you make it your business to learn about the head honcho at one of the state's biggest employers?

This is no shock to anyone who knows Alexi. He thinks the only people who are important to know are Barack Obama and Dick Durbin. Neither of those guys has much of a record of creating jobs. Next time, Alexi, try to learn a little bit about what keeps up the locals when playing Peoria, and who they are, and maybe you'll impress them a little more.

UPDATED: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch lauds both Kirk and Lexi, but goes for Lexi because they believe that Lexi would better serve the apparent socialist (or communist) ideals of the Post-Dispatch editorial board by supporting President Obama's goal of wealth re-distribution and government take-over of our lives:

Alexi Giannoulias is the choice for Senate because he understands the existential threat caused by the reality that 20 percent of Americans control nearly half of the nation's earned income and 84 percent of all forms of wealth.

"Income inequality has been the cause of the downfall of every great nation," he said.

The Senate is a place where those inequalities can begin to be reversed, through tax policies, job creation and public spending on infrastructure and education.

Gag me.

My wife is from St. Louis, and when I'm down there visting the in-laws, I always look forward to picking up the Post-Dispatch in the morning because it is so devoid of actual content I can skim the entire paper in less than five minutes. Then I go online for the real news. Their endorsemnt of Lexi is sad, but not surprising.