Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dem Hopefuls Crowd 10th District Congressional Race to Battle Congressman Bob Dold (UPDATED)

Veteran reporter Steve Sadin of The Patch has been doing a great job lately on keeping an eye on local affairs in the 10th District and Lake County, and he posted a nice update on the 10th District race from the Dem side, now that petition filing is getting close to closing.

As Sadin notes, so far, it seems that incumbent Congressman Bob Dold has not drawn a GOP opponent. We have not heard anything on the street about any credible candidate sticking his or her neck up to discuss a possible run, to say nothing of actually circulating petitions (I'm sure we would have heard about that), so I think it's safe to say that Dold will run unopposed. I suspect his million-dollar-plus warchest probably also had something to do with dampening the enthusiasm of any potential Republican competition.

Not so on the Dem side, as in addition to the candidates we've been talking about over the past few months, Sadin notes that yet another one has filed petitions (Aloys Rutagwibira of Hainesville), for a grand total of five Dem primary hopefuls: Rutagwibira, progressive activist and organizer Ilya Sheyman of Waukegan, Deerfield management consultant Brad Schneider, air force reservist and businessman John Tree of Long Grove, and Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda.

Assuming that all of the Dem candidates survive any petition challenges and that they all stick it out (the Dems in the 10th have had a history of not shying away from contested primaries), it will be interesting to see how having so many candidates on the ballot will effect the race. I think at this point, our view is that Ilya Sheyman is the likely beneficiary, as he seems to be the most organized and have the best boots-on-the-ground campaign team (as well as having been in the race the longest). Both Tree and Schneider will have to rely on spending money to buy help and name recognition. The other two, well, lots of people run for Congress for lots of reasons, and it's not always to actually win.

Stay tuned campers, it's about to get very interesting.

UPDATED: Today, Crain's blogger Greg Hinz dishes on several congressional races and implies that the 10th is not the red-hot pick-up prospect that the Dems planned for, largely due to the failure of the Democrats to recruit a top-level contender to battle Bob Dold. Hinz's take:

Mr. Obama's popularity also will be a factor in the north suburban 10th Congressional District.

GOP incumbent Bob Dold, a sometimes-moderate in an increasingly conservative Republican Party, on paper is vulnerable. But his stock has risen among GOP pros, and Democrats oddly were unable to recruit any of several state lawmakers who would have been instant favorites in the 10th.

We'll see who wins the Democratic primary: contenders Brad Schneider, Ilya Sheyman and John Tree all have a shot. Then we'll see if Mr. Dold really can convince voters he's been reborn in the mold of John Edward Porter or Mark Kirk, the district's prior two moderate GOP congressman.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

State Senate Races In Lake County Will Make For An Interesting Cycle

Hi everyone, and hope you are all enjoying the holidays. I need to get some actual work done this week, so for now, I thought I'd see if anyone has any thoughts on the race to replace outgoing State Senator Suzi Schmidt in the 31st District, since Daily Herald reporter Russell Lissau just did a big article on the fact that the GOP candidates (all four of them) seem to be lagging behind County Board Member Melinda Bush on the Dem side.

While we're on the subject of State Senate races, it looks like State Senator and Lake County Dem Chairman Terry Link may have a serious contender in Vernon Township GOP Chairman Don Castella (it looks like the other potential Republican contender, Greg Jacobs, is going to get kicked off the ballot for filing with an insufficient number of petition signatures). Don is a pretty conservative guy, for sure, but he's also very, very good at social media (he's a prolific Facebook poster) and I think he's the kind of opponent that Link could easily underestimate.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dold Blinks on Temporary Payroll Tax Extension; Will House Do The Same? (UPDATED)

UPDATED: As you probably know by now, the House is expected to pass the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

* * *

Well, despite the steadfast attempt of the House and several members of the U.S. Senate to hold out for a year-long payroll tax cut extension, it seems to now be clear that the Senate is not going to budge. Facing this stalemate, it looks like the House is going to have to negotiate, or many folks will be impacted. From Congressman Bob Dold:

Rep. Dold Calls on House To Pass Two-Month Payroll Tax Extension Immediately

Calls on Senate to Appoint Conferees Immediately and work Towards a Long-Term Solution

U.S. Representative Robert Dold (IL-10) issued the following statement today on extending the payroll tax holiday:

"For months I have been advocating for the extension of the payroll-tax holiday and have been working in a bipartisan way in Congress to find common ground so we can get things done for the American people. It is clear that the Senate will not negotiate with the House so I am calling on House Leadership to immediately pass the Senate’s temporary two-month extension. Furthermore, I am calling on Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to immediately appoint Senate conferees so that both bodies of Congress can come together and work out a long-term solution. 

"It is unfortunate that the American people have to worry this holiday season about whether or not they will be giving more of their hard-earned money to the government. That is why I believe it is necessary to pass the two-month extension so that the people of Illinois aren’t faced with a tax increase on January 1st. But let me be clear- the Senate must come to the table and work with the House so that we can find a permanent solution so that hardworking Middle Class families aren’t faced with the same uncertainty in 60 days. In the spirit of the season, let’s end the games immediately and pass the two month extension."


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Does a Vote For a $1,000 Tax Cut Become A Vote for A $1,000 Tax Hike? Only In the 10th Dem World of Fuzzy Campaign Math (UPDATED x2)

So, you might ask, since when is holding out for a $1,000 tax cut instead of settling for a $167 tax cut actually a vote to raise taxes on middle class families by $1,000?

You might want to ask Democratic congressional hopeful John Tree.

From a John Tree e-mail asking for $10 for his campaign fund to defeat that horrible, tea party sympathizing Bob Dold:

It's unbelievable.  In the midst of this very tough economy, Congressman Bob Dold voted this morning to raise taxes on middle-class Illinois families.
On Saturday, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly - Democrats and Republicans - for a bipartisan compromise on the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment benefits.
Congressman Dold could have shown some courage and broken with the Tea Party crowd that runs the House Republican leadership and voted for a bipartisan payroll tax cut extension. Instead, Dold voted to raise taxes on middle-class families by an average of $1000, just in time for the holidays.

Really, Mr. Tree? Let's read Congressman Dold's explanation of this vote:

Dear Friend,

As you may have heard there is a debate going on in Congress today about extending the payroll tax cut for working American families. The President asked Congress for a one year extension on the payroll tax cut and that is what I supported. Last week the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation that provides a one year payroll tax cut and protects seniors' health care for the next two years by ensuring doctors in the Medicare program don't have their reimbursements cut by more than 27 percent. The Senate in turn passed a measure to cut taxes and protect seniors for only the next sixty days. I voted today to take this bill to conference to work out the differences.  

Under the House plan an American worker making $50,000 is certain to receive a tax cut of $1,000 next year. While under the bill passed by the Senate on Saturday that same worker would only be guaranteed a $167 tax cut. Another feature of the House legislation is a pay freeze for congressional members. The Senate didn't include this key provision in their bill. 

Now the Senate is refusing to take the bill to conference to work out the two sides differences and is refusing to come back to Washington before the end of the year.

Hmm... I guess you, the voter, can take a look at the position taken by each campaign and decide who you are going to support. That's what makes our Democracy great. But, I would suggest to you that Tree's position that not supporting the Senate's temporary $167 tax cut is not the same as voting for a $1,000 tax hike. It's much more logical to use that same logic against Tree's position and point out that the Senate, if they did nothing more, would be supporting a $833 tax hike for the year, compared to the House cut of $1,000. This kind of disingenuous manipulation of the facts is something that most 10th District voters are smart enough to see right through.

By the way, I went over to the Tree website to see what his press release on this issue stated, and I noticed that Tree has completely reworked his biography to make his relationship with his current (second) wife and the parentage of his children clear. I can only assume this is in response to our previous post questioning his original vague language on the subject, since Tree brought it up on his website in the first place.

While you have to give Tree credit for tacitly admitting his misleading language by fixing it to address our concerns, I do have to say that such actions only encourage me...

UPDATED: The Daily Herald spoke to Congressman Dold and asked him if the vote to have a formal negotiation with the Senate on the payroll tax issue was a political "punt." According to the DH:

He said "absolutely not."

"I think what we don't want to do is say we're going to do (the payroll tax extension) for two months." He called that "a punt" instead.

The article continues:

Dold said he's spent time talking to Kirk - his predecessor in the 10th Congressional District in northern Cook and Lake Counties - about the deal.

"We have notices that we are ready to come back at any time," Dold said.

"It is the right policy because one of the lessons of Europe is that you can't run retirement security programs without contributions to retirement security," Kirk told C-SPAN. "Seniors have enough to worry about as it is without the Congress voting on a bipartisan basis to undermine contributions to Social Security."

UPDATED x2: Seems like Greg Hinz at Crain's is drinking the Dem Kool-aid on this one.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Cheer with Lake County Conservatives

Last night I spent a nice evening with the movers and shakers of the Lake County conservatives, as a guest at the annual Republican Assembly of Lake County (a/k/a the RALC) holiday party. As usual, the event was held at White Deer Run golf course in Gregg's Landing in Vernon Hills. Coincidentally, Don Castella, who is Vernon Township GOP chairman and is running for the Republican nomination for 30th Senate District to take on incumbent State Senator Terry Link, is having a fundraiser there this coming Tuesday at 5:30 pm. The event even featured a surprise drop-in visit by Congressman Joe Walsh. Walsh spoke very briefly (for Walsh) and noted that while he is very excited to be running in the new 8th District to face (most likely, we think) Tammy Duckworth, he is a bit sad that no part of Lake County is in the new district.

Without further ado, here's my pix:

Colonel Raymond True, the founder and chairman of the RALC, gets things going.

Mundelein Trustee Ed Sullivan, Sr., Rita Mathias and State Representative Sid Mathias.

County Board Chairman David Stolman and Sid.

David Stolman and Lake County GOP Chairman Bob Cook.

Waukegan Township GOP Chairman and County Board candidate David Pfeiffer, former county board member Bob Powers, and former county board member and candidate for State Senate, 31st District, Larry Leafblad.

County Board Member Ann Maine, former 30th Senate District candidate Keith Gray, and Joanne Tonge.

State Senator Dan Duffy and attorney and Lake County State's Attorney Candidate Bryan Winter.

Dan Duffy, long-time GOP anti-tax activist Jack Martin, and Ray True.

Dan Duffy, businessman Eric Burgess, Kris Duffy and former Lake County Recorder of Deeds candidate Dana Sabonjian.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, Green Oaks Trustee Dan Sugrue, and candidate for 29th State Senate District Arie Friedman, M.D.

Lake County Recorder of Deeds candidate Bob Bednar and State Senate Candidate (30th District) Don Castella.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Calling Bullpucky On Barack for Test Message 'We didn't know it was this bad'.

Some time before the November 2008 election, when Barack Obama was really picking up steam and about ready to roll over HRC, it became pretty apparent to many that the 'hope and change' hype surrounding Obama was simply starting to take on a life of its own, and that no one, even the Obamastar, was going to be able to live up to the expectations that were being set, even half a year before the actual election. I therefore found it quite telling when, as early as May 2008, the Obama campaign was already working behind the scenes, subtly, it seemed, to try to manage expectations without dampening enthusiam and hope... because that's really all the campaign had.

Now we are hearing a new test theme being thrown out there by the Obama camp to see how it plays: essentially, if only we had JUST KNOWN how bad the economy was before the election, we could have let the American people know just how bad the first few years of the Obama presidency would be (not his fault, mind you), but you know, just so expectations were not put so darned high and unrealistic that we now look like we completely failed.

Well, I have to call bullpucky on Obama; first of all, he knew it was bad, and he told us, sorta, that the next president (him) was going to need time to fix it... and that was when the deficit was a few trillion LESS than he cranked it up to be currently:

"Well look," Obama said. "If I'm elected I won't be sworn in until January 2009. And then let's take the example of healthcare. My goal is to have the bill passed by the end of 2009, but we're still gonna have two or three years. Same with changing the tax code. So we're looking at two or three years away, and frankly we're going to have to figure out where the economy is at because the next president is going to inherit a mess. The president has put us in a deficit. We've got four trillion dollars of debt more than we have when he took office. All those veterans who are coming home are going to have to be cared for."

He added, "My goal is in my first term is to get us on the right track."

Yes, that's what he said, but few were listening, or wanted to listen. We did, though, and looking back, it seems clear that he was indeed laying the groundwork for exactly this situation. I first looked in this back in May 2008, and then later as the election grew nearer, as I set forth in a post on Halloween in 2008 (how apropos). Here are those two posts repeated below. [note that several of the original internal hyperlinks no longer work because of the age of the links]

Um, I hate to be an I-told-ya-so, but....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden: Obama Already Working to Lower His Own Bar for Effecting "Change," Should He Be Elected

No one ever said Barack Obama wasn't smart, or that he didn't plan far down the political road. From what I've read and heard recently, he's already figured out that his grandiose promises of "change" pose a problem for him: no one, no matter how skilled, how 'messianic', can change something like the way Washington, or indeed the country, works overnight. Even more simply, many people massively overestimate the effect a single individual, even the president, or his or her administration, can have on the course of the country (little things like the global economy, rogue nations, acts of God, etc., can throw a little wrench into even the best-laid plans of a president).

So, what's the problem that Obama faces? Well, when you campaign on a promise of "change," and you don't deliver, people will lose faith and you will come under massive criticism for failing to meet your own goal. So, Obama, ever the clever politician, is already seeking to diminish expectations for the effectiveness of his presidency, should he win. He has already realized that he cannot meet the promises he has made, even as vague and empty as they are, given that he has positioned himself as the guy who will turn Washington around on a dime the first week he's in office.

This attempt to manage expectations has not happened overnight. Only a few weeks ago, Obama promised grand change to an enthusiastic crowd, but then admitted it'll be a long slog:

"I'll be honest with you," he said. "We've dug ourselves into a hole, and it's going to take some time to get out." He also said that change for some issues could be "two or three years away."

Now, we're hearing it may even take him two terms.

Wow, ya gotta hand it to this guy. He hasn't even gotten the Dem nomination, but he's already campaigning for his second presidential term.Clearly, he's buying some insurance. Don't blame me, he says, if my first term is a failure by the very standards I've set--the problem in Washington is simply too big for anyone to handle in only four years, and the GOP has made such a mess of things, what could anyone have done?

The message is subtle, but it's clear. Obama doesn't believe the package he's trying to sell to the masses, because it's unrealistic. Obama is sowing the seeds now to be able to say in the future, I never promised you a rose garden.

Oh, but you did. And now, you're already backing away.

Friday October 31, 2008

Obama Promises Everything; Already Preparing to Deliver Nothing

Folks, I called this months ago (back in May, actually), even before the current economic crisis was so apparent. Now that Obama's folks seem comfortable in the prospects of winning the White House, they are already laying the groundwork to admit to the American people that they can't deliver on all the crap that Obama promised. BIG. SHOCK. PEOPLE.

What will the excuses be?

Will he be like Rod Blagojevich, who is still trying to blame some problems on former Governor Ryan, though Blago's been in office six years now? Or will Obama blame the Congress, again kind of like Blago, whose party has a virtual lock on the state legislature--considering that Obama, if elected, will likely have significant Dem majorities in both the House and Senate?

Or will he simply say that not even Superman could have fixed the mess he inherited?

Oh, wait, you told us you WERE Superman.

If you vote for Obama, DO NOT COME CRYING LATER.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Don't Let Top Dems Brush Aside Their Affiliation with Blago

Now that disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, as Darth Vader might say, 'the circle is complete.' All of the Dems who cozied up to Blago, kissed his ring and eagerly posed for pictures with him (as well as curried favor and looked for political support), are now, of course, coming forward, as they did after he was indicted, and denouncing him as the lying, thieving manipulator that, gosh, had they just KNOWN, they never would have even breathed the same air as him.


This is Illinois. The politicos cozy up to those politicians whose star appears to be on the rise, and they will dump anyone in a millisecond whose career and fortunes turn toxic.

Governor Quinn, who ran twice with Blago, said yesterday that both he (Quinn) and the People of Illinois, were 'let down'. Uh, yeah.

Senator Dick Durbin issued the same statement he did when Blago was convicted: "I hope today’s sentencing finally draws this sad chapter in Illinois history to a close."

I don't know if State Senator and Lake County Dem Party Chairman Terry Link said anything publicly yesterday, but I do remember what he said a while back in defense of his close association with the Governor: 'We were duped.' Yeah, sure. Let's not forget that Link was so completely duped that he was one of the "Blagojevich 26," as the Chicago Tribune coined them, who stood in the way of removing Blago from office years earlier when they had a chance by opposing a recall amendment to the state constitution.

I also don't know if 10th Dems Chairman Lauren Beth Gash said anything yesterday, but she was probably just hoping I wouldn't run the above picture again.

No chance of that; commentor FOKLAES has been waiting for it, I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

29th Senate District Race May Take Turn to the Left With Late Entry of Gambling Investment Banker Milton J. Sumption

Dr. Arie Friedman, a pediatrician and veteran, positioned himself well in the months heading up to the filing period for the 2012 primary and so impressed the local GOP that, as far as I know, no serious potential primary competition ever surfaced, and now that the filing period is over, Friedman has a clear path to the GOP nomination with no primary opponent. That's important, since in the race to succeed retiring State Senator Susan Garrett, every dollar will count, and Friedman will have the luxury of hoarding his cash for the time being, as well as avoid having to beat up (or being beaten up by) any fellow Republicans.

They are not so lucky on the Dem side, though -- even with the early endorsement of Garrett, West Deerfield Township Supervisor and presumed front-runner on the Dem side, Julie Morrison, pulled a primary opponent in none other than Milton J. Sumption, an investment banker from Lake Bluff.

Sumption had an ill-fated brief run for Congress in the 2010 cycle, when he bowed out of the Dem competition once he realized he'd get his clock cleaned by Julie Hamos and Dan Deals. That apparently didn't stop Sumption from pursuing public office, however, and now he's back to try for State Senate.

While his resume describes himself as a 'business consultant,' he made his money as part of the 1%, interestingly focusing at least in part on the gambling industry.

In the prior campaign, Sumption took a lot of heat for parachuting in and thinking he could buy the election (as many on both sides of the political spectrum have done over the years, to be sure), as we see that much of his campaign fund came from himself.

Here's one blogger's perspective on Sumption back in 2009:

Milton J. Sumption announced this past week that he was withdrawing his candidacy for Congress in the North Suburban Illinois 10th Congressional district.

If you are scratching your head and saying, "Who?," you are not alone.

Milt Sumption is a 40-something resident of Lake Bluff, who briefly had a low level job in Senator Tom Daschle's office in the 90's, then made a small fortune as an investment banker on Wall Street, got out just before the crash and decided to buy a pricey home on the North Shore and run for public office.

As often the case with overacheiving business types, he declined to start with something modest like school board or even the county Board, but reckoned that only his rapier intellect could save the rubes of Mark Kirk's district from themselves. So he jumped right in to run for the U.S. Congress. A fellow has to start somewhere, why not the top?

But after spending a few grand to get on the ballot and accosting voters door-to-door in his posh neighborhood, Milt came to the sad realization that he had no name recognition, no base and not a snowball's chance in hell against the relatively veteran Dems, State Rep. Julie Hamos and perennial candidate, Dan Seals.

At least Milty had the good sense to pull the plug on his 3 month campaign whimsy before a bevy of political consultants could milk his hubris for all it was worth.

Ha ha. That blogger sounds a lot like us. Frankly, if we'd cared at the time, we might have posted something very similar, but looking back, this guy didn't cause much of a blip on our radar. I guess we were right.

In any case, Sumption's entrance into the race now means that Morrison has to spend money and likely tack to the left, as well as defend her record on public spending and job creation as a Township trustee in the face of Sumption's likely angle that he, as a private sector guy, is just what is needed to clean up Springfield.

It's looking better and better for a likely State Senator Arie Friedman all the time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Senator Mark Kirk Marks the Anniversary of His First Year In the U.S. Senate

Senator Mark Kirk marked the anniversary of his first year in the U.S. Senate with a floor speech reflecting on the challenges and successes of the past year.

h/t Lynn Sweet.

We'd like to reflect as well on the tough battle we fought to put Kirk in the Senate, from the testy primary all the way through the general election fight against our old friend and B-Ball player Alexi Giannoulias. Thanks to all the Team America supporters who helped out.

Five more years like this, please.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanks to Illinois Gun Control Laws, You May Have to Be A Mixed-Martial Arts Expert to Avoid Being Beaten and Robbed

Score a rare win for the good guys -- a Tribune story today tells us how a gun-wielding punk, who was out on parole for burglary already, tried to rob a mixed-martial arts expert and wound up with a bullet wound in his own foot, and being soundly thrashed:

The victim was sitting in his car near Kenneth Avenue and 55th Street about 11:30 p.m. Friday when a man came up to the car and asked him for a light, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.

The man in the car replied that he didn't have a light, and the other man pulled out a handgun and demanded the driver's valuables, Mirabelli said. The driver handed over his cash, wallet and valuables, and the gunman then ordered him out of the car.

At some point, the older man was able to grab hold of the handgun, and during a struggle, the robber discharged a round, striking himself in the ankle, Mirabelli said.

The victim was able to hold the robber until police arrived. When he turned the robber over to police, the victim told them that he participates in Ultimate Fighting Championships, a mixed-martial arts competition, Mirabelli said.

Nice. The sad part is, here is a convicted felon who obviously was able to obtain a gun, no problem. Mr. Would-Be-Victim would have indeed been a victim, had not the man been able to physically overcome the robber with his own muscle and skill. Sadly, not everyone is able to do that, which is why carrying a gun is the great equalizer.

When is this state going to get the fact that gun control laws largely operate only to keep guns out of the hands of lawful citizens and empower criminals to go after anyone they please? The only thing they have to worry about is whether their victim just happens to be a mixed-martial arts champion.... and what are the odds of that?

No worries, though, the robber will no doubt someday be out on the street again, and next time will no doubt target some little old lady who may or may not be a martial arts champion.... but he can be fairly sure that he is the only one in the matchup who will have a gun.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one."

What Will Be the Impact of the Top of the GOP Ticket for IL-10 and Local Races? (UPDATED x2)

Over the past week or so, I attended a few campaign meetings for some of the folks I am helping out this cycle, and the question of the impact of the eventual GOP Presidential Nominee will have on local races is really starting to be asked, now that we have basically winnowed down a wide field to two front-runners, Gingrich and Romney (although did I see a poll somewhere that, egads, Ron Paul is still in the running?). Up to now, the large number of candidates made it a bit of a silly exercise to try to predict the impact our eventual nominee would have on local races, but we're getting to the point where that question is no longer quite so academic.

A few people I talked to over the weekend noted that the local Dems (a/k/a Terry Link) have packed every race they could with a candidate, any candidate. Some of these candidates reportedly don't have a lot of interest in the office; rather, they are doing it because they were asked (begged), and don't plan on spending a lot of time, energy or (especially, their own) money. They figure, quite literally, that 'if it's a great Obama year and he sweeps me into office, great. Otherwise, no big whoop.'

Given the lack of motivation on the part of such candidates, the respective top of the ticket becomes even more important. Columnists like Charles Krauthammer seems to be increasingly concerned that the two main candidates on the GOP side are so flawed, that Obama, despite his best efforts not to be re-elected, will nevertheless squeak by.

So, what does everyone think about the GOP ticket, who the eventual nominee will be, and how that will affect our local races?

UPDATED: From The Hill, here's kind of a frightening assessment of where things might head if Newt Gingrich continues to gather momentum.

UPDATED x2: Here is Gingrich's response (to Nancy Pelosi, from the above link). This could be getting quite interesting....