Monday, October 31, 2011

Breaking... State Senator Suzi Schmidt to Not Run Again (UPDATED)

T.A. got word late last night from a reliable source that State Senator Suzi Schmidt will not run for her job again. As most people are aware, her domestic difficulties with her husband, Bob Schmidt, boiled over into the public eye as the result of calls to 9-1-1 that Senator Schmidt made, in which her statements could be taken to be an abuse of her position with respect to her conversation with the 9-1-1 dispatcher.

Former Lake County Board member Larry Leafblad, quick to try to take advantage of Schmidt's weakened political position, announced that he would run against her a few weeks ago, but he lost his re-election bid for county board to the Democratic challenger, Lake County Board Member Melinda Bush of Grayslake. Not a lot of ethusiasm among the GOP ranks for Leafblad's candidacy, from what I have heard.

The word is that Joe Neal (who happens to be the son of Bob Neal, a long-time Lake County GOP Chairman) will run, and he may have the backing of some prominent Lake County GOP-ers. Joe Neal is currently Newport Township GOP chairman.

Much more as this story develops.

UPDATED 10:00 am: Illinois Review is reporting that Lake County Tea Party founder Lennie Jarratt is throwing his hat in to the ring to replace Suzi Schmidt.

So, so far it's three guys, Leafblad, Neal and Jarratt. Can we expect a female to break up this meatball party and walk away with the nomination based on gender voting? We shall see.

We have early word that State Rep. Sandy Cole will NOT be running; however, time can always change someone's mind, I guess.

ALSO - Vernon Township GOP Chairman Don Castella announced over the weekend that he will seek the GOP nomination for State Senate in the 30th District against Terry Link. Greg Jacobs has flip-flopped a few times on which race he was running in, but last word was that he was running in 30, so this may set up a conservative primary battle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Fed Up" Scott Drury Better Look Around to See Which Side He's On

As regular Team America readers know, we've been following with interest the flips and flops of Democrat Scott Drury, who was running gung-ho for Lake County State's Attorney, until just this past weekend. Drury was very concerned that the retiring Lake County State's Attorney, Michael Waller, had "abused" the principles of justice while in office (although he gave no examples on his website) and pledged to "restore justice" to Lake County. Again, no examples, just soaring rhetoric.

As we reported yesterday, Drury has now dropped out of the Lake County State's Attorney's race, in favor of jumping into the 58th Legislative District race, to try to replace retiring State Representative Karen May.

Of course, Drury is no doubt still very concerned about the lack of justice in Lake County, but apparently that did not stop him from jumping over to a different race when the opportunity presented itself.

Of course, "justice" isn't really a theme that resonates in a race for the General Assembly, given the legislative branch is concerned with matters of state budget, pensions, governance, etc. So, Drury needed a new theme.

One theme Drury may be trying out is that he is "fed up," with the condition of the State.

“A major reason I am running for this office is because I am fed up with the condition of our state,” stated Drury.

Actually, I think that's a great theme. I'm certainly fed up with the condition of the state, too. Every day, the news seems to get worse and worse, as more corruption, pension scandals, sweetheart deals and general malfeasance is uncovered with respect to how this state has been run.

But, there's one problem: the Democrats, and specifically speaker Mike Madigan, have had a stranglehold on state government for what seems like, oh, almost forever. Drury's running as a Democrat. He can't win the May seat without the help of the very establishment that's been busy running this state into the ground for years now. Yet, Drury claims to be "fed up."

Something here doesn't click. Mr. Drury, if you truly want to be an "independent" voice, why not run as an independent, and swear off support from the Democratic Party and Mike Madigan? Without such a commitment, your claims to be "fed up" with state government and your pledge to be an 'independent voice' simply ring hollow.

A true independent voice, or simply another Democratic opportunist hack?

Your move, Mr. Drury.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Latest Whispers: Scott Drury to Run in 58th District for Karen May's Seat (UPDATED)

As we noted earlier, we have now had several reports that former Democratic Lake County State's Attorney Candidate Scott Drury is dropping out of the State's Attorney Race and will enter the 58th Legislative District to try to succeed retiring State Rep. Karen May. I also heard today that House Speaker Mike Madigan himself was recently involved in trying to recruit a candidate to carry the torch for the Dems against presumptive front running GOP candidate Lauren Turelli. It looks like Drury may be it.

Drury began his campaign committed to the notion that the State's Attorney's office was soft on prosecuting 'political insiders' (although no examples are given on his website, and no names are named), and his experience and leadership was needed to promote 'justice.'

Well, if it turns out that Drury will bail on the State's Attorney race to run in 58, I can think of a number of questions that ought to be asked of him, beginning with, if he was so committed to bringing justice to Lake County through his legal experience, why the sudden change of heart and what makes you so qualified to serve in the General Assembly -- a very different job than the Lake County State's Attorney.

UPDATE: 4:45 pm: Apparently Drury has released a statement confirming his flip over to the 58th legislative race. See Patch for more details.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing? Yet Another Candidate Enters Race for Lake County State's Attorney (UPDATE: DRURY TO SWITCH RACES?)

We knew that the announced retirement of long-time Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller would encourage a plethora of candidates among both Republicans and Democrats, but this is really getting interesting. Only a day or so ago, yet another candidate (this time, one the Dem side), announced her intention to join the race.

That makes 4 Democrats, 3 Republicans, for everyone keeping score at home.

The new candidate is Karen Boyd Williams, a Mundelein lawyer. According to the Tribune's article, Williams is a human resources professional-turned attorney.

Williams' Linked-In page tells us that she is a DePaul Law School Graduate (can't be all bad!), but she has only been licensed to practice law since 2007 (according to the ARDC website). She appears to have gone out on her own to practice immediately after graduating law school, but has done a lot of volunteer legal work for Prairie State Legal Services and other organizations.

Williams seems light on experience to be state's attorney, but does seem to be committed to the community, unlike some of the other Dem candidates.

UPDATED 10/24/11: Someone sent me a tip yesterday that Democratic candidate for SA Scott Drury might be planning to pull out of the SA race and jump in the 58th District Race. More on this as it develops, if it does.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The New York Times Takes a Swing at Joe Walsh (UPDATED)

I guess when The Grey Lady, that bastion of liberal ideology thinly disguised as journalism, takes a swing at you, you ought to regard that as a badge of honor. Especially if you are just a freshman Congressman from Illinois. Whatever you're doing must be really worrying the liberal elite.

Hopefully that's the way Congressman Joe Walsh is taking it, since the New York Times published a nice hit piece on Walsh yesterday.

The NYT goes through Walsh's various troubles with his divorce and other tidbits (have you heard his driver's license was suspended? Twice? Horrors!) to set up the real question so that us parochial voters here in Illinois can hopefully understand it -- don't you people see what kind of a hypocritical, loose-cannon you losers out in the cornfields have elected?

The thing about Joe, though, is that he cares little for what anyone thinks about him, especially an outfit like the NYT, except that he does care for the people who elected him. A lot. And Joe doesn't back down from such criticism, either:

Mr. Walsh, a self-employed consultant whose income fluctuated in the years leading up to his election, shrugs off his financial history, calling it part of why voters related to him during last year’s campaign. “I talked openly about every aspect of my life,” he said. “The fact that I lost a home a few years ago, the fact that I struggled financially. I told people, ‘If you want a building full of millionaires who all have perfect credit scores, then Joe Walsh is not your guy.’ ”

Nor, he contends, do his financial troubles matter much to the job he was sent to do. “I didn’t go to Washington to manage anybody’s money,” he said. “What I want to do is limit what they take from you, so you can manage your money.”

As one of the most visible members of the Tea Party on the national scene, one can understand why the NYT would want to paint Joe in the most unflattering light possible -- take a look at the snapshot they ran on their Internet version of the story -- and implies that, don't worry, his election must have been some kind of fluke, and we're in little danger of being saddled with this bozo a second time around.

What the story doesn't mention, though, is that Walsh had almost a half-million dollars in cash-on-hand in his campaign account, no credible Dem opponent as of yet (yes, we know he has a primary to get past first), and a core group of solid (dare I say rabid) supporters. NYT notwithstanding, anyone who sneers and writes off Joe Walsh at this point would be making a big mistake.

UPDATED: The Daily Herald Blog noted the NYT article too, but they were more interested in what insight could be gleaned into the presumed matchup between Walsh and Randy Hultgren.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dems Badly Lag Congressman Bob Dold In Fundraising for 10th District Race

Campaign finance disclosure reports are filtering in from all around, but it's not good news for the Democrats seeking to take on freshman Congressman Bob Dold in northern Illinois's 10th Congressional District.

Dold himself had a solid fundraising quarter, $376,000, bringing him to a total cash-on-hand figure of almost $1 million. He's expected to need it to fend off the Democratic competition, since the remap of the 10th gave the Dems a further advantage in an already Dem-leaning district.

But, as we like to say in Chicago, you can't beat somebody with nobody. And so far, it seems that Nobody is all they have showing up on the Dem side.

Progressive activist Ilya Sheyman may been good at coordinating door-knocking campaigns, but apparently he must not have worked in the fundraising department at, as his quarterly fundraising was only around $150,000. That's still a little better, though, than his Democratic primary competition, lawyer Brad Schneider, who raised just under $80,000, once you back out a $100,000 loan to himself (on the last day of the reporting cycle, as WBEZ pointed out). With the loan, Schneider has a bit over $400,000 in the bank, which is nothing to sneeze at, but pales in comparison to Dold, who has no primary opponent (and which total, by the way, also includes the $50,000 the candidate gave himself his first quarter). Also, we don't know how much of Schneider's contributions must be reserved for the general, due to the large number of over-limit contributors he had in his first fundraising quarter. Ya gotta win the nomination first to spend that extra dough in the general, pal.

We've seen this kind of pattern with well-heeled candidates like Schneider before -- a good first quarter fundraising effort when all of the candidate's well-off friends and family max out their contributions right away. Once you get beyond your close-in network, however, the appeal of the candidate to the rest of the district becomes more apparent.

Steve Sadin over at Patch reminds us that there is another candidate on the Dem side, as well, Vivek Bavda, but he's hardly even worth an honorable mention, with under $30,000 in the bank (even including a $25,000 loan to himself).

Technically, it's not too late to get another candidate in the 10th District on the Dem side, but Dold's million-dollar war chest is sure to scare off anyone with any brains. The Dems' failure to recruit a top-tier candidate has got to be very frustrating for them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lake County State's Attorney Race Shaping Up to Be An Expensive One

As regular TA readers know, the race to succeed retiring Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller is a popular one -- six announced candidates so far -- and could wind up being a fairly expensive one as well.

As a county-wide office, it takes money to reach the likely primary voters, and given that none of the candidates have held any significant public offices before, to our knowledge, it's going to take a lot of coin to get their name out there. Most of the candidates, with the exception of federal prosecutor Scott Drury, are fairly well known in the Lake County Bar circles of lawyers and judges, but that doesn't count for a whole heck of a lot among the voting populace.

Recognizing that money is going to be key, GOP hopeful Louise Hayes made raising a lot of dough a focus of her campaign from the get-go. She announced her first quarter's worth of fundraising yesterday, with an impressive $130,000. No public announcement from any of the other candidates that I have seen so far, but here's Hayes' press release:

GOP’s Louise Hayes Builds Impressive Campaign Fund

Career Prosecutor Builds Six Figure Campaign War Chest

Lake Bluff 10/10/2011 — Louise Hayes, a veteran Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney running for the office’s top job announced that since she began her campaign for State’s Attorney in August, she has surpassed all fundraising goals. In less than two months of fundraising, Hayes has raised over $130,000 in support of her campaign to become Lake County’s first female State’s Attorney.

Hayes said, “I’ve always expected a spirited Primary and General Election and am so grateful for the almost 150 people that have made donations to my campaign fund. Our strong fundraising shows that I am capable of putting together a strong campaign, one that will bring me to victory and allow me to continue my passion, working on behalf of justice and victims’ rights.”

Hayes stands apart from the GOP pack in other ways also. She is the only Republican candidate that has spent her entire career as a prosecutor. She has prosecuted hundreds of cases on behalf of the people of Lake County and has a thorough understanding of the justice system.

Currently she works in the Mental Health Court, the Veterans' Court, and runs the Grand Jury. Each Grand Jury meets weekly for four months, and indicts those charged with murder, sexual assaults, weapons violations, and numerous other violent or property offenses. Hayes recently extradited from Mexico a fugitive who is awaiting trial on a murder charge in Lake County.

In addition to keeping the office running within budget and ensuring justice, Hayes also has set goals to:

• Continue excellent programs run by the office including the Lake County Domestic Violence Council, the Lake County Children’s' Advocacy Center, and the Major Crash Assistance Team.

• Reallocate funds to the Cyber Crime Division. This division of the office prosecutes criminals who misuse the internet, for example those who prey on young children.

• Protect the ever-growing elderly population from abuse, by continued collaboration with outside Lake County agencies. This includes continued training of law enforcement personnel to recognize the abuse that elders suffer at the hands of others.

• Implement a post-conviction review board made up of attorneys, law enforcement personnel, scientists, and other representatives of the community.

Hayes is a graduate of Stevenson High School, and currently lives in Lake Bluff. She is a graduate of Purdue University and of John Marshall Law School. She and her husband have been married for close to 25 years and have four children, all educated in Lake County's public schools.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Businessman Keith Gray to Bow Out of 58th District Race for Karen May's Seat; Will Support Lauren Turelli

As we predicted, my friend and Mettawa neighbor Keith Gray will announce today that he has withdrawn his candidacy for the 58th Illinois House District, which seat is held by Karen May. Gray's move is geared to support Lauren Turelli, who announced her candidacy for the seat on Monday. Recent comments here have supported Gray as a team player, in looking out for the interests of the party over his own.

In another show of class, Gray has transformed his previously-scheduled kick-off fundraiser scheduled for October 26th at 6pm at Bertucci’s in Highwood, into a fundraiser for Turelli’s campaign.

In a press release to be sent out later today from the Gray campaign, obtained by TA, Gray states:

“Lauren and I have been friends for a long time, and I made a promise to her a while ago that should she seek public office again I would support her. In Illinois politics we see the negative results of so many broken promises by politicians, and I feel that it is most important to uphold my honor and keep a promise made to a good friend and fantastic candidate,” Gray explained.

“By stepping out of the race I can ensure my Party does not waste resources in a tough Primary battle when those resources should be spent showing the voters the clear differences between the Democrats, who raised taxes on families and businesses, and Republicans, who understand we must grow our way back to prosperity.”

Gray also says:

“What’s more important than politics and ego is that we elect someone to represent the voters in the 58th District who understands the vital importance of putting a stop to Springfield’s reckless spending and shifting the focus to pro-growth policies that will create jobs for our hard-working residents and improve Illinois’ economy. I believe Lauren Turelli is that person and I will work tirelessly to ensure she is elected.”

Very, very classy. Keith's race will come, and I will be excited to see him in office someday soon.

As we also reported earlier, the other GOP contender for the seat, Dr. Mark Neerhof, came out within hours after Turelli's announcement was confirmed, to state that he was staying in the race.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lauren Turelli To Announce for 58th State Representative District; Keith Gray Likely to Bow Out (UPDATED)

(scroll down for Tuesday's update) I just heard from Lauren Turelli, who has widely been rumored to be looking once against at running for a second time in the 58th State Representative District, now that long-time State Rep. Karen May has announced her retirement. Interesting, two other Republicans were looking at the race and anounced their intentions to run, even before May announced her retirement. One of these, Keith Gray (who previously ran against Terry Link for State Senate in the 30th District) is a close friend of mine, and we have been talking extensively about what he would do should Turelli enter the race. Keith told me pretty clearly that, for the good of the party, he would most likely bow out if Turelli officially got in, as Keith's primary goal is to help gain this seat for the GOP -- and he's not ashamed to admit that, given her name recognition, Turelli is likely the stronger candidate.

So -- this morning, TA exclusively learned that Turelli has made up her mind, and she's in. She will announce her candidacy later today and release the following:


County and state Republican leaders are excited by Lauren Turelli’s decision to seek the office of State Representative for the 58th District. Recently, the state drew new boundaries for District 58 creating a Lake County-centered district with 92% of the voters residing in Lake County and 8% residing in Cook County. Turelli, a Republican from Lake Forest, made an impressive showing in last year’s election against incumbent, Karen May (D-Highland Park), when only 72% of the district’s voters resided in Lake County and 28% resided in Cook County. May surprised many with her recent announcement that she would not seek re-election to a seventh term in the new district.

In announcing her candidacy, Turelli said “I am deeply honored and humbled by the outpouring of support from district residents and Republican Party leaders who have encouraged me to continue the fight to repair the damage done to Illinois by years of mismanagement in Springfield.”

As a small business owner, former teacher, and mother of three, Turelli understands the many challenges placed upon Illinoisans from run-away deficit spending, heavy tax burdens, underperforming schools, and a jobless rate exceeding the national average. More specifically, Turelli noted that, “record numbers of businesses are fleeing Illinois to neighboring states because of Illinois’ hostility to job creators. In addition, Illinois’ irresponsible deficit spending and unfunded pension liabilities have brought the state to the brink of insolvency. Any person seeking to effectively represent the residents of this district in Springfield must begin asking hard questions about expenditures which impose substantial, additional financial burdens upon our already overtaxed residents, and must develop creative solutions to encourage businesses to flock to Illinois instead of fleeing from it.”

Turelli cited her strong support from Republican Party leaders throughout the district, the county and the state. Among her supporters are Mark Shaw, Lou Atsaves and Daniel Bryant, Chairmen of West Deerfield, Moraine and Shields Township GOP organizations, respectively, many of their precinct committeemen, Bob Cook, Chairman of the Lake County GOP, and Representative Ed Sullivan, a member of the Illinois House GOP Leadership Team.

Specifically, West Deerfield GOP Chairman Mark Shaw commented that, “Lauren ran an extremely impressive, issue-oriented campaign against a long-time, incumbent in a strongly Democratic district and did very well. In fact, this time, Lauren only needs to persuade approximately a couple of dozen voters in each of the district’s precincts to shift their support behind her message of fiscal responsibility, a business-friendly environment, and an educational renaissance, for her to represent the residents of the 58th District.”

In addition, Moraine GOP Chairman Lou Atsaves acknowledged that “Lauren’s ability to unite differing viewpoints within the party and among the electorate demonstrates that she will be an even-handed and effective voice for all of us in Springfield. That’s why Township Chairmen from all over Lake County selected her to represent them as Lake County GOP Chairwoman.”

Also, Shields GOP Chairman Daniel Bryant observed that “Lauren’s selection as Lake County’s GOP Chairwoman, as well as her award for generating the highest voter turnout in her precinct in last year’s primary election, demonstrates her broad-range appeal among the electorate.”

Lake County GOP Chairman Bob Cook praised Turelli’s strong leadership skills when he said “I asked Lauren Turelli to serve with me as Lake County GOP Chairwoman because I knew that she had the leadership qualities necessary to bring all factions of our party together in a united effort.”

Finally, Representative Ed Sullivan, a member of the Illinois GOP Leadership Team, congratulated Turelli on her strong showing in the race for State Representative last year by noting that “I was excited by Turelli’s candidacy last year and am even more excited this year because she represents the common sense values that the 58th District deserves, and is our strongest candidate to win this election.”

Turelli also highlighted her diverse experience with fiscal, budgetary and pension-fund issues through her work in institutional finance and her service on numerous volunteer boards. Currently, Turelli serves on the Lake Forest Parks & Recreation Board, which oversees the City’s many parks and beachfront. As a board member for A Safe Place, Lauren was involved in budgeting for a new transitional home for victims of domestic violence. Lauren also served as the Chairman of Lake Forest Caucus’ Second Ward organization. “These responsibilities have prepared me extremely well to represent the residents of this new district at the state level,” Lauren added.

In closing, Lauren said, “my husband, Ken, my three sons, and I have lived in Lake Forest and the district for virtually our entire lives, and we are totally vested in serving our community in particular, and this district in general. It would be a privilege to represent our area in Springfield as a State Representative.”

UPDATE 10/11/12: 7:15 am: I exchanged some e-mails with Keith Gray yesterday and I think it's likely we'll hear something official from him today. I strongly suspect he will relinquish his place and let Lauren Turelli run with it. I also suspect an endorsement announcement is in the works.

Meanwhile, though, the other announced GOP candidate, Dr. Mark Neerhof, isn't quite so ready to back off. Shortly after I got the Turelli press release yesterday, poltical strategist Brad Goodman e-mailed me to make sure I knew that Neerhof wasn't planning on giving Turelli a free ride. I also got a press release to that effect (below). That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. I think Turelli can use the practice to hone her campaign in preparation for taking on the Dem nominee in the general election. The Lake Forest edition of The Patch has the update on the Dems who are looking at the race.

Dr. Mark Neerhof Welcomes Lauren Turelli to the
Race for Illinois’ 58th District

Doctor looks forward to a spirited primary campaign

Lake Forest 10/10/2011—Today, Dr. Mark Neerhof welcomed Lauren Turelli to the GOP Primary for Illinois’ 58th House District.

Campaign Spokesman Brad Goodman said, “Mark was looking forward to being the Republican that would defeat Karen May in November 2012. When Representative May decided not to run for reelection, then Lauren Turelli decided to jump in the race. We look forward to a spirited Primary Campaign with Lauren. Mark is in this campaign to win the GOP Primary and bring the common-sense values of the 58th district to Springfield.”

Neerhof is an obstetrician having served patients in the Chicagoland area for over 20 years. He is an attending physician at NorthShore University HealthSystem and a Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago.

Dr. Neerhof is also an executive board member and founder of the Illinois chapter of Docs4PatientCare, a nationwide organization of physicians committed to a healthcare system that preserves the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, promotes the quality of care, and supports affordable access to all Americans while protecting patients' freedom.

Neerhof said, “I am running for State Representative because Springfield is broken and nearly bankrupt. The Democrats have done nothing meaningful to bring spending under control, and know of no other response to increasing deficits other than increasing taxes. This approach has cost Illinois hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Neerhof will bring a fresh perspective as a physician and fiscal conservative. He will work to ensure Illinois gets its fiscal house in order. He will use his expertise as a physician, well versed in matters related to health care reform, to make health care better and more cost-effective. Medicaid is the leading budget item in Illinois and is rapidly growing. It is wasteful and inefficient and needs to be reformed.

Neerhof’s priorities for Springfield also include:

• Reversing the 66% tax increase that Karen May voted for in January and keeping taxes low for individuals and businesses in Illinois

• Cutting fees and regulations on small business that cost Illinoisans their jobs

• Reforming Illinois’ public pension system

Neerhof is committed to ensure his campaign will have the funding needed to win both races and become the next State Representative for Illinois’58th district.