Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Senator Mark Kirk Takes Oath of Office, and Gets Right to Work

Last night's swearing-in ceremony for now-Senator Mark Kirk was a truly amazing experience.

The evening began with a small group of about 100 of Senator Kirk's family, friends and die-hard supporters waiting anxiously in the U.S. Senate Gallery for the typical tardy appearance of Vice President Joe Biden who was to administer the oath to Mark. I had a few bad moments when I wondered if Biden was going to show, since that afternoon, Senator Al Franken was the designated senator presiding over the Senate, and I sure as heck didn't want to see Mr. Franken administer the oath (!) Former State Senate candidate Keith Gray and I had wandered over to the Capitol earlier in the afternoon and managed to get passes to see the Senate in action, and we were able to witness former Presidential candidate John Kerry give a speech supporting the START nuclear arms treaty. Franken looked extremely bored throughout his entire time on the dais, and I really wondered why he'd wanted to be become a U.S. Senator in the first place (actually, we know why - it's a very powerful position if you want to inflict your liberal agenda on the rest of the country). But I digress.

Kirk appeared on the floor of the Senate as VP Biden called the Senate to order, and Mark walked to the front of the room accompanied by Senator Dick Durbin, the Senior Illinois Senator, and Peter Fitzgerald, who was the previous Republican to hold the seat. The Bible used is an 1827 Bible used by Admiral David Farragut, who was the Navy's first admiral (his famous quote was "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"). The Bible had arrived courtesy of the Navy in the keeping of two high-ranking officers with an awful lot of gold braid on their sleeves. Kirk took the oath, and received a lengthy standing ovation from the Gallery crowd, and then shook hands with the assembled Senators, including John McCain.

You can see ABC-7's video recap here:

After a brief re-enactment of the swearing in for the camera, Kirk arrived at the Russell Office Building to an enthusiastic crowd of at least 300 assembled in one of the main meeting halls. I stood outside the room and watched Senator Kirk make his entrance and then got on the phone to call in to Kerry Lester at the Daily Herald to give her an update.

I then took this picture from all the way in the back of the room, which will give you some idea of the size of the crowd:

Reader Daniel Wein from George Washington University sent in this picture (as well as the top photo above), and he was a little closer to the action:

Mark then addressed the crowd, and gave a great speech in which he told how humbled and honored he was to have been elected to the Senate, and that he pledged to work hard every day for the people of Illinois and the country. Kirk called on the family of fallen Marine Lance Corporal James Stack of northwest suburban Arlington Heights, who was killed in action on Nov. 10 in Afghanistan, and reaffirmed his commitment to support the nation's military, and protect its veterans, to the obvious delight of the many Navy personnel and other military types gathered in the room. There was a lot more, but as I commented to the Sun-Times' columnist and DC correspondent Lynn Sweet, who I was standing next to, the only thing you really needed to remember was Kirk's pledge to 'pay our bills,' reduce the size of government and grow the economy. She gave me a little smirk, so who knows if she'll actually print that (ha ha).

I saw a lot of people at the reception that I hadn't seen for a while, including Kirk's ex-wife Kimberly, many current and former Kirk staffers that I've known over the years, and lots and lots of folks from back in the 10th District like Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne, who came out with his whole family. Congressman Bob Dold, who succeeded Kirk in his 10th District Congressional seat, was also there.

We then proceeded to a little after-party at Dubliner's Irish Pub, which went on long after Mark left. The only picture I decided to share from that was this shot of Mark and Campaign Chairman Mike Morgan, so you can see how excited and happy everyone was. Sorry, but the rest of the pix are all highly classified...

It was truly a historic campaign and a great victory. Now it's time to go on to the real work. Senator Kirk plans to get right down to it, and his first bill will be a “budget control bill” aimed at helping the federal government find ways to cut costs by developing expert recommendations on eliminating waste and creating strenuous oversight of spending. Kirk's “Spending Control Act of 2011” would re-establish the Grace Commission of the 1980s to investigate government waste and identify programs that could be eliminated with an up or down vote of the full House and Senate.

I also want to wrap up by adding that given the tensions in North Korea and other international problems, I could not be more pleased and confident that someone of Mark's qualifications and caliber is now serving us in the U.S. Senate.

My work here is done, so it's back to sunny Chicago!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today is the Big Day For Senator Mark Kirk

Today is a day that we here at Team America have been waiting for since last summer, when Mark Kirk first announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

We were proud to support Mark then, and we're even prouder now.

I'm in D.C. today to attend the swearing-in, and while there are no pictures allowed in the Senate gallery (at least not by any of the guests), I'm sure I will be able to post a bunch of before and after pix, as well as give you all some flavor of the ceremony. Be sure to check back later tonight for all the details!

Meanwhile, here's this morning's Chicago Tribune coverage, a great background story by Kerry Lester of the Daily Herald (with whom I'll be speaking later tonight to relay the boots-on-the-ground story of the event), and an op-ed piece by Mark Kirk in this morning's Tribune that clearly shows he's ready to get work.

Go Mark! And Ellen, eat your heart out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Team America!

Thanksgiving is a day when, traditionally here at Team America, we sit back after dinner, fingers laced over distended stomach, and bang out a bunch of deep political thoughts on the keyboard to keep us occupied through the turkey digestion process. I'm a little late in doing that today, but spent a lot of time with the family, which, after all, is what Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be all about after all. So, let's get to it:

First off, I'm pretty pumped about Senator-Elect Mark Kirk getting sworn in on Monday evening in Washington, DC. Of course, we'll have to suffer through the fact that it's VP Joe Biden performing the swearing-in, but we'll deal with it. I truly look forward to a lot of great things from Mark in the next six years. His depth of experience, especially in foreign policy, is going to be extremely important in the U.S. Senate, as we can see just in the past few days with the craziness being exhibited by North Korea. Mark is also expected to work closely with Senator Dick Durbin for the good of Illinois (yes, I know, stop grinding those teeth, but it's necessary for the betterment of the state, campers).

We'll also be looking from great things coming from our new Congressional leaders like Bob Dold and Joe Walsh. I think all of the new Republican congressmen are well aware of the mission that the American people have sent them to Washington to fulfil -- less government, more restraint, boost the economy and maintain individual freedoms. And tell TSA to keep their hands off our junk, while you're at it (look for that to be the #1 phrase for the year).

Next, looking at the state general assembly and state government as a whole, things look a lot grimmer. Yes, we got Dan Rutherford and Judy Baar Topinka in, ending the recent Dem lock on the top statewide offices, but Mike Madigan is still firmly in charge of Springfield, and Governor Pat Quinn had to cut so many deals and owes so much to organized labor, it's unclear just how the state is going to bail itself out of this mess. Will Madigan allow things to continue to degenerate for four more years to put the blame on Quinn and install daughter Lisa Madigan in the Guv mansion? Will the state's finances even last that long?

As to the GA, at least we're sending Suzi Schmidt down there to shake things up a bit. Between her and Senator Dan Duffy, my old college football teammate, they are really going to wonder what's in the water up here that molds these mavericks we are sending down to Springfield. It's really too bad we didn't do a better job shaking up the state representative ranks, but we'll keep pushing next cycle.

Speaking of next cycle, look for my good friend Keith Gray to make another run at State Senator to finally unseat Terry Link, who, having flubbed a run for Lt. Governor and embarrassing himself over a try for Senate President, is back to his old obsession of landing a casino in Lake County. There also is word that Link may, instead of running for Senate again, run for Mayor of Waukegan, which many folks suggest has always been a dream of his.

We'll all be watching the remap process very closely, as the remap year means that next cycle, ALL state senators and state representatives are up for election, in a presidential year when we can expect Barack Obama to be back on the ballot. So that'll be interesting to say the least.

On the County Board level, the word is that the decision on county board chairman is all but done, and it looks like it will be David Stolman from Buffalo Grove. Ann Maine of Lincolnshire is most likely to be the new Forest Preserve Board President, from what I'm hearing. All 15 county board seats will be up for election this next cycle, with a new map in place, so we'll also no doubt see a lot of jockeying and probably new faces this next time around.

That's all I have time for right now, but feel free to add your own comments, insights, observations and words-from-the-trenches, as you always do.

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lake County Republican Federation Holds Annual Meeting; Renews Pledge of Support and Partnership with GOP Central Committee

Last night the Lake County Republican Federation held its annual meeting at its headquarters in Libertyville. We usually have this meeting a little earlier in the fall, but we were all so busy (in a good way) getting ready for the November election, especially including our Fall Dinner featuring Mitt Romney, that we had to push it back a bit.

The meeting was a rather casual affair, with pizza and adult beverages served as Federation President Sandy Stuart gave a introduction, followed by a financial report and year-end wrap up from now-seasoned Executive Director Chelsea Stanley. Chelsea commented on the active role the Federation played in supporting our candidates with phone banking, office coordination and other assistance, including direct financial support to the Lake County GOP Central Committee. Our two major fundraising dinners with Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, respectively, were huge successes, both financially and in terms of attendance.

LCRCC Chairman Bob Cook echoed Chelsea's comments and stated that he was very pleased at the support and cooperation that he has received from Chelsea and the Federation, so it seems like we're firing on all cylinders. We all recognize that we have a lot of work to do in the next cycle, however, so we're not taking too long to rest on our laurels before we get back to work.

The new Executive Committee Members and Officers for the 2010-2011 year are:

Sandy Stuart - President
Larry Falbe a/k/a "Team America"- Vice-President
Herb Stride - Vice President
Daniel Bryant - Vice President and Treasurer
Robert Mayo - Secretary
Mark Shaw - new Executive Committee Member
Barry MacLean - Member
Corinne Wood - Member
Rob Isham - Member
Bob Cook - County Chairman and Ex-Officio Member

Congratulations to our new Federation Leadership Team, and we look forward to another great year in 2011.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

200,000 Hits

Sorry I've been a little slow in blogging the last few days... needed a bit of a break. Plus, I had to get over and try shopping at the new Mettawa Costco... (!) But, despite the lack of anything earth-shattering up this weekend, we managed to roll over the 200,000 hit mark! We long ago eclipsed our arch-rival, Ellen of the Tenth, so we're ready for the next level. There's a lot of work coming with tracking the legislative exploits of soon-to-be Senator Mark Kirk, new Congressmen Bob Dold and Joe Walsh, as well as State Senator Suzi Schmidt and others. And, of course, there's that damn remap to worry about. But, we'll have fun bringing it all to you, and we'll continue to strive to make this blog "the" place to be to talk about Lake County and 10th District politics. Thanks for reading!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lake County Board Will See Change In Leadership, As Will Forest Preserve Board

As Lake County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt prepares to go to Springfield as the new State Senator from the 31st District (replacing Michael Bond, see ya, buddy), she is being lauded by her former colleagues on the Board, as well as the press. This obviously signals a change in leadership at the Board level, and the Board will very soon elect a new chairman/chairwoman from among their ranks.

Interestingly, Forest Preserve District Chairwoman Bonnie Thompson Carter has just announced that she will not seek to continue as President of the Forest Preserve Board (under state statute for a county with the population of Lake County, the Boards of the County and the Forest Preserve are co-terminus, but different board members serve in different capacities on each board). Could this signal a run at the Chair of the Board spot for Thompson-Carter?

There's several good options among the current County Board members for the Chair position. We like David Stolman, but we like Bonnie too. Then there's Steve Carlson. What to do? It's times like these that I'm glad the decision isn't up to me. But if they call me to mediate, I'll be happy to do it. ;-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Votes Are In, and Joe Walsh Wins... But Is Bean Going Away Quietly? (UPDATED x2: BEAN CONCEDES; BEAN SAYS SHE TOOK WALSH SERIOUSLY)

Looks like with all the votes counted, Joe Walsh has won the election in the 8th Congressional District in an upset that very few folks predicted....

But will Melissa Bean demand a recount? To paraphrase a famous saying, we count the votes, and if the right person doesn't win, we keep counting until he does... it worked for Al Franken in Minnesota, so the GOP needs to remain vigilant...

UPDATED 10:00 p.m.: The Daily Herald has now updated its story to state that Democrat Melissa Bean has conceded the race, which means no recount and no costly and drawn-out legal battle, which is great news. Walsh has a lot of work to get done in the House, so it's time to dig in and band together with his new freshman house members like Bob Dold to start making some real changes in Washington. Congrats, Joe!

UPDATED x2 11:30 a.m. 11/17/10: Melissa Bean is now speaking out about her loss to Joe Walsh and blames the national GOP tsunami. Bean says she took Walsh "seriously". Agree/disagree?

Monday, November 15, 2010

All Wrapped Up About The Map

Since the Republican wave that overcome the nation seemed to hop-skip-jump over Illinois in various ways (we won lots of Congressional seats but won few General Assembly seats), we are now facing the dubious proposition of being more or less shut out of the re-map process. The Chicago Tribune looks at the issue in depth today, complete with an above-the-fold photo of State Senator Terry Link (yuck) who will no doubt be inserting himself into the process, in order to cram as many GOP votes into as few districts as possible, to give the Dems an advantage for the next 10 years. I like to call that process "Terrymandering" (TM).

Before the election, even 'policy-over-politics' Ellen of the Tenth was unbashed about how important controlling the remap process was going to be.

Now we're a bit stuck with it. Any guesses on how this may change life here in Lake County? Which Congressional District is going to disappear, and who will be left to duke it out? What are our state rep/senate districts going to look like?

Meanwhile, in Washington, Congressman Charlie Rangel begins his ethics trial today before the House Ethics Panel. I guess that means he won't be sending any more money to three-time loser Dan Seals.

Oh- if you want to know what the funny map picture is
all about, click here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Potpourri: ObamaCare Waivers; Kirk and Dold on the Road (UPDATED)

Wow, this ought to really frost everyone. Looks like the number of "waivers" from having ObamaCare apply to companies and UNIONS (big shocker) is shooting up precipitously... and the Obama administration is certainly not advertising it. So says Fox News:

So, the law that was supposed to bring everyone these great benefits and level the playing field, stop insurance companies from profiteering and all that other polysyllabic bullsh*t, is obviously so flawed that it can't be enforced without doing such grave damage to the economy. But here's the kicker, as the Fox segment points out: the only companies and unions are the ones who can afford to hire attorneys to get a waiver. Stunning.

In more local news, Senator-elect Mark Kirk and Congressman elect Bob Dold jointly held a town hall meeting in Arlington Heights to discuss reducing federal spending before an overflow crowd. I think the record time between being elected and reaching back out to the people on the issues that matter most bodes well for how these gentlemen intend to govern.

(((UPDATE: Here's an interesting article about the freshman congressmen heading to Washington DC for the first time. Eric Cantor, the new or soon-to-be GOP Majority Leader, sent out a 144-page memo to frosh GOP congressmen, which included a host of good tips, such as "Don't: Completely disappear from the public" between Election Day and the new Congress. "Even though you won't take office until January, many of your constituents will view you as their member of Congress." Well, it looks like Bob Dold certainly 'got the memo,' huh? END OF UPDATE)))

What else are people hearing on the street? We mentioned last this week that soon-to-be former Congresswoman Melissa Bean may already be lining up a new job, but I'd like to keep an eye on some of the other Dem losers, like Dan Seals and Michael Bond, to see what kind of cushy government job they end up with. The Dems always take care of their own, make no mistake about it, folks.

I'm going to go watch the Bears, but before I do, I wanted to give a shout-out to my high school football team, Maine South, which won over the Stevenson Patriots last night that was a nail-biter right up until the end. Go Hawks!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Joe Walsh Prepares for Congressional Orientation, But Knows Time Is Ticking on Meeting 8th District Voters' Expectations; Bean Planning Her Next Gig?

As most of us are aware, the race between Republican Joe Walsh and Incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean for the 8th Congressional District has not been officially called yet due to remaining uncounted votes, although Walsh still has a lead of over 300 votes. But, the Daily Herald reports that Walsh is on his way to Washington, D.C., to participate in new member orientation, which is standard procedure in such cases. Bean obviously doesn't need any orientation, given that she's a three-term congresswoman. But, Bean may already be preparing to bow to the inevitable behind the scenes, and lining up her next gig, according to the Huffington Post (h/t to a commenter on the Daily Herald article).

Walsh, one of the few unabashed tea party candidates in Illinois that was successful, knows, however, that the voters are going to be watching the actions of the new Republican majority in Congress very, very, closely:

“As I say to my fellow Republicans, we have been given a gift,” Walsh said. “If we don’t do what we need to do in two years, our butts are going to be thrown out of that city (Washington, D.C.) so quickly.”

He said the new Republican majority would make a priority of curbing government spending and defunding the health care reform bill until a Republican president can help them repeal it altogether.

I didn't always agree with some of Walsh's rhetoric out on the campaign trail, but I think he's got this point dead-on. Walsh may have the makings of a decent Congressman, and he may continue to surprise those who have underestimated him before, including me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank a Vet, By Name

While the entire Chicago area is obsessed with Rahm Emanuel's ascent to the Mayoralty, let's use our space today to thank a vet, by name, for all they do and have done.

TA would like to give a personal shout-out to a few special vets:

First off, Senator-Elect Mark Kirk. I genuinely already feel better about national security knowing someone with his military experience and deep foreign policy experience is going to be helping to lead the nation for the next six years.

My Uncle, Robert Tyrell, who was a Korean War vet and sadly passed away a few years ago from cancer. His son, Tom, is a big fan of the Blog. Hopefully he doesn't have a completely different idea of me now after reading my rants for the last few years.

GOP County Chairman Bob Cook, and his sons, who are vets: Bob has a really tough job trying to meld the varying interest groups that make up the Lake County GOP - a little word of advice to everyone - now that we've had a good election cycle, there's a lot more to do, so please don't go back to the old ways of instantly trying to screw each other over for a percentage. If you can't play nicely in the sandbox, go find your own.

Finally, although there are many more I could name (but I have to get to work), my new friend and fellow blogger Paul Mitchell, with whom I don't always agree, but we bonded over our mutual efforts on behalf of State Rep. candidate Dan Sugrue. Plus, Paul has a great voice.

That's it for me. Feel free to add your own personal tributes to your favorite vet(s) in comments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Post 2010 Elections, Lake County, IL "Still Republican"

In the wake of last week elections, Pioneer Press has a nice set of articles recapping the local results, focusing on the congressional, county and state general assembly races.

First, Lynne Stiefel takes a look at the Dold-Seals matchup. Of particular interest in this article is the impact that voter turnout had in the 10th, where Waukegan Township, a Dem stronghold, had almost 10,000 voters less than in the Obama run in 2008, and Warren Township, which had 1,600 fewer voters turn out, but Dold increased his percentage win over Seals by about 5 points more than Mark Kirk in the last cycle.

Next, John Roszkowski takes a broader look at the county as a whole and interviewed the respective Democratic and Republican County Chairmen, Terry Link and Bob Cook.

"Everything went really well. Lake County remains a Republican county," said Lake County Republican Party Chairman Bob Cook.

The Joe Walsh-Melissa Bean race doesn't seem like it's going to be decided for another week, but Walsh' campaign seems pretty confident that he will prevail, so add his unlooked-for win over 3-termer Bean as another big victory for the GOP.

The Pioneer Press also interviewed our old friend Lauren Beth Gash of the Tenth Congressional Democrats, who rationalized Dan Seals' THIRD loss for the 10th Congressional District seat as follows:

"There's no question that this was a wave election but I still very much hoped Dan Seals would be elected," she said. "I think it probably shows there's nothing else Dan Seals could have done to win in this national climate."

OK, so Seals could not win in a landslide year for Dems (2008) and he couldn't win in a landslide year for Republicans (2010). Basically, the guy just can't win... which is what we've been saying for years.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some Are Understandably Curious About Where Alexi Giannoulias Goes From Here

People seem curious about what the next move for defeated candidate Alexi Giannoulias is. We speculated after the election that:

[I]f Obama really misses Alexi that much, he can give Alexi a job in his administration somewhere, which I bet is a good possibility, since Alexi needs something to do, and to get some age on him, before he comes back to make a run for something else here in Illinois.

Others are also curious, and seem to be on the same page with us:

At 34, Giannoulias is likely to have options, said friends and strategists. He is young, wealthy and has an important ally in the White House.

A job in Washington does not seem out of the question, several political strategists said. If he chooses to pursue a political career, the analysts said, Giannoulias needs to broaden his resume, perhaps with fresh public and private sector experience.

President Obama, who befriended Giannnoulias in pickup games on Chicago basketball courts and repeatedly campaigned for him, could help.

What do you all think? Will we be seeing Alexi again soon here in Illinois, or is his best bet to go out and burnish his credentials and then return?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Will Democrats Play Games In Seating Senator-Elect Mark Kirk for Lame-Duck Session?

We, and others, have been talking about the significance of the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress for months now, ever since it was becoming clear that the Democrats were going to be taking a drubbing in the 2010 mid-terms, potentially losing control of both the House and the Senate. We won the House, of course, and are looking forward to the elevation of Speaker Boehner (and the firing of Nancy Pelosi) and expected Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The Dems held on to the Senate, but lost a couple votes, including that of Roland Burris, who of course is to be replaced by Mark Kirk as a result of the court-ordered special election.

It appears that, unlike a few other states where 'replacement' elections were held, it may take a while for Mark Kirk to be sworn in and seated, due to the paperwork delays that are inherent in the Illinois system (recall that Burris' appointment by Blago was held up for some time when SOS Jesse White initially refused to sign off). Once the paperwork is in, the Dem-controlled Senate is in control of when Kirk actually is sworn in and seated. It's clear that Kirk will miss at least the start of the lame-duck session, which begins November 15th, so we will have to deal with almost-ex-Senator Burris for a few more weeks yet.

I was looking forward to a swearing-in on November 29th, which is the first session day after the deadline for getting the Illinois paperwork in. However, one source, namely Politico, is now projecting that it may not be until December 3rd or so before Kirk takes his seat. It's unclear why Politico thinks it may take that long, but I wonder if the Dems are planning to delay seating Senator Kirk (love saying that) due to his expected vote AGAINST many of the bills that have been expected to make an appearance in the lame-duck session, including but not limited to DADT and the so-called DREAM Act. There is also the little matter (cough, cough) of extending the Bush tax cuts, and the White House has signaled that it may be open to compromise. The notion of a $500,000 income ceiling, which may be on the table, is much better for many two-income families than $200,000 or $250,000.

One would expect that Kirk's seating would be less controversial than Scott Brown of Massachusetts, as the Dems no longer have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But if the goal is to put enough votes on some of these bills to pass, and it appears to be close, I wonder if the temptation to hold off on seating a relaible "no" vote will be too much for the Dems to resist playing some games and delaying Kirk's rightful place in the Senate.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Thoughts and Reflections After the 2010 Midterms

In no particular order, here are some of the thoughts I've had in the past 48-odd hours since the election.

First, let's just all say it together: "Senator-Elect Mark Kirk." Wow, that sounds great! Let's not forget in all the news about the Quinn-Brady drama, Walsh-Bean, the Beer Summit, and other post-election intrigues, we will now have a U.S. Senator from Lake County, the first since Adlai Stevenson III, if he counts. Probably more important, we took back the U.S. Senate seat that was formerly occupied by now-President Barack Obama, and more recently, Blago-appointee Roland Burris.

Mark is not especially tall, so I wonder if the President will invite Mark onto the White House basketball court for one of his famous pick-up games, and give him a little street lesson on what happens when you beat the President's basketball buddy in a U.S. Senate race. ;-) I suppose if Obama really misses Alexi that much, he can give Alexi a job in his administration somewhere, which I bet is a good possibility, since Alexi needs something to do, and to get some age on him, before he comes back to make a run for something else here in Illinois.

I've talked to some of Kirk's staff in the last day or so, and it appears to me that they have basically not even had time to process all this, as they instead are concerned with logistics for the swearing-in, and what the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress is going to look like. For the first time in seven years, I believe Mark is planning a few days away, though, so good for him.

What else? Well, there's the big win by Bob Dold over three-time loser Dan Seals. And yes, despite some protestations from the usual quarters, he is a L-O-S-E-R. I wonder if the DCCC will ask for the $8 million+ in campaign cash that they have wasted on Seals over the past three cycles. Believe it or not, I read some speculation about whether Seals would consider yet another race for Congress in 2012. Sometimes you just have shake your head over these things.

Bob Dold himself credits his win on reaching out to the people of the 10th District, and I couldn't agree more. As we've said, some people thought his campaign bus was a stupid idea, but Dold was out in the District making as many direct voter contacts as possible, while Seals was.... well, during the last two weeks of the election cycle, I had no idea what Seals was doing. As we've seen here and on other blogs, even many Dems resoundingly criticize Seals' campaign strategy and implementation, so we're not alone on this. I should also note that my nine-year old still insists on watching the "Seals for Dold" video, which I have to say I find funnier each and every time I see it. For real, Broheim?

Speaking of the Kirk-Dold interplay, Russell Lissau at the Daily Herald takes a look at the odd circumstance that, since Mark Kirk will be sworn in early to the U.S. Senate as a result of the "special" election to replace Roland Burris until the rest of the new Senate is sworn in this coming January, there will be a temporary vacancy in the 10th District. But my friend John McGovern (who came in to work for Dold in the last months of the campaign) explains in the article that there is no provision for fulling such temporary vacancies by appointment, as there is with the Senate.

Moving on, the biggest disappointment in this election cycle for me (and I would argue, for the State of Illinois) is the failure of the House Republicans to make any meaningful inroads towards stripping Speaker Mike Madigan of his majority. Not only will Madigan and the Dems control the remap process, which spells bad news for the GOP, but more importantly, the people of this State have seen fit to send back the very same folks who drove us into a $13 billion budget hole. We simply can't keep kicking the can down the road and expect to dig our way out of this mess. Already, another $4 billion in borrowing is being discussed in Springfield as the way to temporarily plug the budget gap. But what next? By the way, we'll be watching all of the Dems that won election, such as Carol Sente, Karen May, Daniel Biss, etc., to see if they make good on their promises to be "independent" and vote against party leadership when it is in the interests of their districts. WE WILL BE WATCHING YOU. For better or for worse, it's not a heckuva long time until they will be up for re-election.

We did better in the State Senate, of course, where Suzi Schmidt trounced Michael Bond. What goes around, comes around, buddy. Whaddya think Geo thinks about you now? The rest of us will keep an eye on Bond to see where he lands in a state-appointment and see your tax dollars continue to pad the pockets of Democratic politicians. Our eyes will also turn to the Lake County Board to see who is appointed to fill Suzi Schmidt's spot (my guess is Dan Venturi, Lake Villa Supervisor, but we'll see), and how the leadership positions on the Board are jostled around a bit after Suzi's departure to the General Assembly. I'm hoping for David Stolman for County Board Chairman, but we'll see.

I've droned on long enough, but I also wanted to mention the BIGGEST surprise of the election (although we'll give Bill Brady's loss an honorable mention, since it seemed to go against the majority of the polling), which is, of course, Joe Walsh's slim victory over Congresswoman Melissa Bean in the 8th District. Even though some polling showed Walsh ahead, really no one except he, his wife, and his die-hard supporters believed he had a chance. While his lead appears to be narrowing somewhat as late-arriving ballots are counted, he still appears to be holding on. This one isn't over by a longshot, however - remember how Al Franken basically stole the election in Minnesota through the recount process, and it's not impossible the same could happen here, if the GOP isn't careful.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kirk Meets Alexi for Beer Summit

My friend Jeff Berman, having dealt handily with his fellow trustee Lisa Stone in Buffalo Grove yesterday in its recall vote, showed up to the Billy Goat Tavern tonight to see if his services were needed to deal with defeated U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, but it appears that Alexi and Senator-elect Mark Kirk were getting along swimmingly.

We need to get Jeff a better cell phone camera, but here are his photos from the field:

Are we witnessing a whole new chapter in Illinois politics, or were they just both thirsty?

I Guess the Catlady Has Sung; Mark Kirk, Bob Dold Winners (UPDATED)

Just got back from the Mark Kirk event in Wheeling, and I want to congratulate him (yes, let's call him Senator-elect) and Congressman-elect Robert Dold. Above photo, Mark waits 'backstage' to give his acceptance speech. Below, a glimpse of the high-tech Kirk for Senate technology center, or as we like to call it, the "war room," where we monitored the incoming election results, and where Mark took the concession call from Alexi Giannoulias.

Alexi Giannoulias did give a classy concession speech, but Mark gave an even better acceptance speech. The really big loser: President Obama, who did absolutely everything he could to save his old senate seat, but still fell embarrassingly short. C'est la vie. Also, a shout-out to the rest of the new Illinois Congressmen, including, perhaps, Joe Walsh, if his lead holds up.

Sheriff Mark Curran, who handily won re-election, gave me a ride home. Thanks Mark! Also, congrats to our other country-wide winners, Willard Helander, Bob Skidmore, and Roycelee Wood.

Also congrats to Lauren Turelli, Hamilton Chang and especially Dan Sugrue who ran hard races against the lies and money of Michael Madigan.

Congrats to our Lake County county board members, all of whom I believe held on for re-election, Suzi Schmidt, who pasted Michael Bond, and our State Rep. incumbents, Sandy Cole, Ed Sullivan, Jr., Sid Mathias, and JoAnn Osmond.

I guess Dan Seals is now a three-time loser. In some states that means prison for life, but in Illinois, that most likely means that Mike Madigan will just give him a no-show state job. Ain't life grand?

More in the morning. ;-)

UPDATED 11/3/10 10:30 a.m.: Seals Finally Concedes: I didn't realize it last night, but Dan Seals didn't concede until just this morning. I think our prediction was pretty much on the money on that race. Don't go away angry, Dan, just go away.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Not Over Until the Catlady Sings, and Other Predictions (PLUS ELECTION MORNING UPDATE)

Our love/hate relationship with Ellen of the Tenth may be coming to an end, as her post tonight sounds an awful lot like a swan song of sorts. We're flattered, however, that she appears to have saved her last breath to hiss (or was that her cat) in our direction with a link back to Team America.

Well, Ellen, if it seems that we're the last blog standing, all I can do is wish you well, and remind you that the entire reason this Blog exists is that you kicked me off yours, when all I wanted to do was engage in debating the issues. That was obviously too much for you to handle. And, I might add, considering how things have worked out for Dan Seals the last two cycles, probably something you've regretted quite often since then.

In any case, unlike Ellen, I don't mind doing predictions. I think it's fun to see how things turn out. Illinois may still have some surprises for us, to be sure. As Congressman Mark Kirk said tonight, after all, this is the state that twice elected Rod Blagojevich. And, frankly, the thought of the SEIU army with pockets full of walking around money supplied by the DNC does give me some angst.

So, anyway, here goes:

(all predictions are percentage points winner over the next best runner-up, since predicting percentages for all candidates for multi-party races are just too hard)

Governor: Bill Brady 4 pts over Pat Quinn
U.S. Senate: Mark Kirk 3 pts over Alexi Giannoulias
10th District Congressional: Bob Dold 1 pt over Dan Seals
8th District Congressional: Melissa Bean 5 pts over Joe Walsh
31st State Senate: Suzi Schmidt 8 pts over Michael Bond
59th Legislative: Dan Sugrue 2 pts over Carol Sente
58th Legislative: Lauren Turelli 1 pt over Karen May

There are obviously more races, so if you feel like adding more, or giving your own predictions, have at it.


I spent three hours this morning at my polling place at Lambs Farm in Lake County holding a Kirk-Dold-Sugrue sign. Generally very positive reactions from people going in to vote. Made friends with a nice young lady who is a Carol Sente legislative aide (she got the day off and was paid to hand out literature) but she had difficulty getting anyone to take a flyer. The flyer itself had just Carol Sente’s name and Lisa Madigan’s name on it - nothing about positions, etc.

The Sente worker was nice enough to hold our camera when Dan Sugrue came up with his family (Dan is on the right of the sign, I'm on the left) to cast their votes:

I got her name, since she seemed pretty conservative for a Democrat, and she may be needing a job tomorrow. Dan Sugrue could probably use an experienced legislative aide.

As far as turnout goes, there was a line at 6:00. No Dems are standing in a line to vote in this election on a dark, chilly morning. In fact, if you don’t live in Chicago and aren’t getting dragged kicking and screaming to the polls (or being otherwise ‘encourged’ by those precinct captains) I wonder how many Dems are going to show at all.

Independents will decide this election, which is what I told the Daily Herald:

“We know the battleground in all these races will be independents,” said Larry Falbe, a Mettawa village trustee and Republican political blogger. “I think there are a lot of people upset and don’t know where to turn.”

If the trends hold up, those Independents will be breaking heavily for the GOP. And that's the election, folks.

Rasmussen Predicts Mark Kirk Victory Over Alexi Giannoulias

Scott Rasmussen is predicting that Congressman Mark Kirk will win tomorrow over State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias:

h/t Illinois Review.

Mark Kirk Leads Alexi Giannoulias 46% to 42% in PPP Poll; Maybe Send In Clinton to Persuade LeAlan Jones to Drop Out?; Other Polls

A new poll out by Public Policy Polling (PPP) has Congressman Mark Kirk up over State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, by 46% to 42%. This trend has been consistent among pretty much every poll that's been taken over the past two weeks. The detail on the poll shows that PPP surveyed 814 likely Illinois voters on October 30th and 31st. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.4%. That suggests that the Barackstar's third visit to Illinois on behalf of Alexi just hasn't been enough to stem the GOP tide against the Dem nominee, even in Obama's adopted hometown.

The pollster points out that:

The presence of the third party candidates in the race seems to really be hurting Giannoulias. In a straight head to head between him and Kirk he trails by only a 46-45 margin. But a fair number of progressive voters who don't like Giannoulias but can't bring themselves to vote for Kirk are supporting the minor candidates in the contest.

That means that third-party candidate LeAlan Jones is hurting Giannoulias more than Libertarian Mike Labno is hurting Kirk. Likely, the voters are seeing through the attempts of the Dems to push Labno as a "conservative" alternative to Kirk, which isn't too hard to do, since the three recent mail pieces promoting Labno were all sent by the Lake County Democratic Party (Terry Link claims no knowledge of this mailing, but that's a post for another day).

The word I'm looking for to describe Alexi's campaign is... desperate. So, perhaps former President Bill Clinton will be returning to Illinois to try to encourage LeAlan Jones to drop out, just like Clinton tried to do to Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for Senate down in Florida, who is losing to both Republican Marco Rubio and now-Independent Charlie Crist. Of course, I'm only joking about that idea, since it ain't gonna help the day before the election. No, if the Obamastar's final last-ditch act of gracing Chicago with his presence to the people in a (finally) free forum wasn't enough to seal the deal for Alexi, he's pretty much toast.

From Fox News:

Obama’s Senate Seat Leaning GOP

Republican chances to capture the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama are improving markedly in final days of the election.

Rep. Mark Kirk doubled his 2-point lead in last week’s Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters, and now leads Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias 46 percent to 42 percent.

Giannoulias continues to suffer from Democratic defections to Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones, who drew 6 percent support, including 8 percent of Democrats. [snip]

Kirk’s improving performance in the Senate race may spring from greater voter confidence in his character. Kirk, who was found to have embellished the list of military citations he received, was seen as honest and trustworthy by only 18 percent a month ago. That number has nearly doubled and is now at 34 percent, even with the percent who don’t trust him.

Giannoulias, meanwhile, has gone the other direction. Amid persistent questions about his family’s failed bank and its connections to organized crime, the percentage of voters who distrust Giannoulias raised 11 points in a month to 45 percent.

Reliably liberal NPR covers the Scott Brown event over the weekend for Kirk and Brady. Listen here.

In other polling: We all know now that Mike Madigan is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to hold onto his Illinois House majority and his position as speaker. Despite the hundreds of thousands of dollar he's poured in to the Sugrue-Sente matchup in IL-59, the IMA has Republican contender Dan Sugrue up by almost two points over Democratic Appointee Carol Sente, and Hamilton Chang is closing fast on Dem. Daniel Biss in the race to succeed State Rep. Beth Coulson. Lauren Turelli may be catching up on legislative fossil Karen May, too. State Senate candidate and Lake County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt is crushing freshman State Senator Michael Bond by more than 10 points. Wow.