Partisan Democrat

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I am Shocked, SHOCKED to find Another Republican Breaking the Law

Again.

There's a pretty damning Topinka Watch, if it's accurate, about how the Topinka campaign's last campaign finance report (the one filed in July covering the first half of this year) is full of violations in every section.

I know, shocking.

But this looks pretty bad. I've been reading through campaign finance law (jealous?) to try and figure out if this is legit, and it appears to be. Here's what the Topinka Watch says:


Topinka failed to meet the basic requirements of current campaign finance law on a report she filed last month which was loaded with violations in every section of the report. One month has passed and Topinka’s campaign has yet to amend her report to fix multiple violations of election law. Some of the violations include hiding payroll expenses for the month of June, and failing to find critical information on over 80 donors and improperly reporting of expenditures such as payments made directly to Judy Baar Topinka, in violation of rules for expenditure of that type.


And here's the specifics of what they're alledging:


Topinka neglected to disclose the employer and occupation information for over 80 individual donors who gave over $500. The Blagojevich campaign performed a quick search of these ‘missing’ donors and found many of them in under an hour using the procedures that the State Board of Elections says the Topinka campaign was required to follow in the first place.

Topinka also failed to follow the proper procedure for disclosing expenditures such as media buys, production expenses, and expense reimbursements for almost 80 expenditures in direct violation of board rules. Even payments made directly to Judy Baar Topinka are in violation of the rules for expenditures of that type.

And Topinka failed to disclose any debt, even though it is clear that at minimum she should have disclosed at least $60,000 in payroll that was due but not paid in June.

Let's take the easy one first, the debt. If you don't pay your bills you need to show that as debt. It's pretty straightforward. If you look at her expenditures and look at all the people she has on payroll (a lot btw) none of them got a paycheck for the whole month of June. It seems pretty simple to me.

Next let's do the contributions. If people give more than $500 you are supposed to list their employer and occuption. Well, more accurately, you are supposed to "make a good faith effort" to find and report that information. I looked through her contributions and she definitely has a ton of missing employer/occupations, I don't know if it's the 80 they're claiming but it easily could be. According to the Topinka Watch, "the Blagojevich campaign performed a quick search of these ‘missing’ donors and found many of them in under an hour using the procedures that the State Board of Elections says the Topinka campaign was required to follow in the first place." I think they are referring to this, where it defines good faith effort:

Section 100.160 "Good Faith"
a) For purposes of this Section, "contributor" includes the terms "lender" and "endorser". A committee actsin good faith under 10 ILCS 5/9-11, 9-12, 9-13, and 9-14 if:

1) its written solicitation for funds includes a clear written request for the name of the contributor's employer and the occupation of the contributor;

2) in the event it receives a contribution lacking the name of the contributor's employer and occupation of the contributor in circumstances where such information is required, it makes at least one effort to obtain the missing information; and

3) in the event its request for information is unanswered, the committee includes in its report thebest and most current information it may have from whatever source, including its own records and earlier reports, about the name of the contributor's employer and the occupation of the contributor.

They must have looked up other reports and found these people.

Then there's the expenses. Here's what the Topinka Watch says, "Topinka also failed to follow the proper procedure for disclosing expenditures such as media buys, production expenses, and expense reimbursements for almost 80 expenditures in direct violation of board rules." That has to be this rule:

c) An expenditure to a payee who is in whole or in part only a conduit for payment to another, such as a political consultant or a credit card issuer, must include by way of detail or separate entry the amount of funds passing to each vendor, business entity or person to receive funds from the payment, together with the reason for each disbursement and the beneficiary of the disbursement. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to impose a reporting obligation on any person not otherwise required to report under Article 9 of the Election Code or to require the itemization of expenditures not otherwise required to be itemized under Article 9 of the Election Code.

She's got a ton of expenses listed as reimbursements and so forth.

Maybe I'm missing something but it seems pretty clear to me. I don't know what the State Board of Elections is going to do about it, but it's had to argue that they aren't violating the law. I love this quote at the end:

“These are just the violations that we know about,” added Nix. “What else is she hiding, and why after misleading the public by filing a report full of violations has she not filed any amendments to fix her report? At best this represents sloppy and incomplete work; at worst it is a deliberate intent to mislead the voters. Illinois deserves better than that.”


It will be interesting to see what happenes and if the press picks this up.


UPDATE: Capitol Fax has something on this already.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

This is from Justin Rood of TPM Muckraker on the campaign of Florida republican Senate candidate Katherine Harris whose corrupt lobbyist dealings, repeated mass staff defections and foot-in-mouth disease are making Alan Keyes look like a credible candidate:

It's increasingly clear to observers that the Harris for Senate campaign has become, in essence, a Civil War re-enactment of Sherman's march through Atlanta, with Harris playing Sherman and her campaign playing Atlanta.

Rutherford Coordinator More of the Same

I came across this story in the Naperville Sun this morning [hat tip Capitol Fax morning shorts] on the Rutherford campaign's new DuPage county coordinators (note: quickly scroll past the part where Topinka talks about who she wants to make out with if you are eating or just ate):


Liz Martinez and Patrick Durante will cover nine townships in DuPage County as coordinators for Rutherford's campaign.

"I can't think of better people to organize and represent my campaign in DuPage County," Rutherford said in a statement.


And who is Patrick Durante:

Durante has chaired the Addison Township Republican organization for 33 years and has been U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde's executive assistant for 32 years.

I thought I remembered him being involved with something bad when they were trying to come up with a replacement for Pate Philip. It turns out he wasn't involved with any controversy then, at least not to my knowledge, he was only quoted as saying that the replacement should come from his part of the district. But aside from that issue, here is the first thing that came up on a google search of him in an article that was mostly about Henry Hyde:


Hyde may use sneaky parlimentary tricks to pass his ultra- conservative legislation, but such actions aren't illegal, or even considered particularly unethical. But in Hyde's past are incidents that deserve close scrutiny by investigators. Start with the funny documents found in a dumpster in 1995.

Looking for evidence of a conspiracy against him, a formal mental hospital patient searched through the trash of a Chicago suburb lawyer. His lawsuit against the attorney was quickly dismissed as baseless, but not before certain documents he had found became part of the public record.

In those documents -- which became a page one story for the Chicago Tribune on March 28, 1995 -- it was detailed how two men named Patrick Durante and James Schirott were privately made an astonishing offer from a Nevada gambling company, Primadonna Resorts. If they would only help the casino obtain an Illinois riverboat gaming license, they would be each be paid $10 million.

Both men were well-connected in the world of Illinois politics. Schirott -- one of the lawyers being sued by the dumpster diver -- was the personal attorney for both Henry Hyde and "Pate" Philip, President of the Illinois state senate. Durante was a pal of the speaker of the Illinois House. Another important detail about Durante: he was also an aide to Henry Hyde, who regularly served as liason between Hyde and Philip.

When the story came out, Hyde and other politicians expressed astonishment and scrambled to distance themselves from a potential runaway scandal. Hyde told the Chicago Sun-Times that publicity about the $ 20 million deal will "bury" any casino bid by Primadonna Resorts. State senate president Phillip insisted that neither man had approached him about a riverboat license.

Other incriminating evidence emerged. Durante allegedly misrepresented himself to a House ethics office in 1993, when he said he would be doing some consulting for a gambling outfit, "[but the] amount of time I will be putting into this venture is at best minimal." Other well-connected locals had been hired by the casino to serve as consultants or lobbyists. And Primadonna also came forward and admitted that it had illegally laundered $9 thousand in campaign contributions through Schirott and Durante, a clear violation of Illinois law.

Since the last republican Secretary of State is now awaiting sentencing for using the power of his office to manipulate contracts into big windfalls for he and his friends as well as crooked fundraising deals, this seems to be exactly the type of new hire you would expect from Rutherford. Maybe Durante can help Topinka with her casino plan too.

Note: Dan Rutherford is the republican candidate for Secretary of State running against Jesse White, with the election to be held this November, you may be entirely unaware of this as most Illinoisans are. A complete list of republicans allegedly running this fall can be found here.

Hiring Freeze? What Hiring Freeze?

I stole the Sun-Times title from their story yesterday that Cook County has hired almost 1,300 people during a hiring freeze since John Stroger had his stroke. I must admit that my initial reaction to the story was one of upset/angry/embarrassed that people in county government would take advantage of a man's illness to pad the payroll during tough budget times. Here's the story's opening:

Almost 1,300 people were added to the Cook County payroll in the months after Cook County Board President John Stroger suffered a stroke that left him incapacitated and unable to run county government.


Here's what Republican candidate Tony Peraica had to say:

"They're thumbing their nose at Cook County taxpayers by packing the payroll with all their friends and relatives," said Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica, a Republican vying with Ald. Todd Stroger to be the next president. "The level of hubris they're exhibiting is absolutely amazing."


But my reaction was tempered by looking at the chart that shows where these jobs are. 718 of them are in either the Sheriff's office or corrections. You may remember that earlier this year people breaking out of jail had become almost a regular occurrence. During the primary there was one jailbreak that resulted in 5 inmates escaping, and one of the democratic primary candidates for sheriff claimed he thought the breakout was intended to make him look bad because he was a former jail guard. The sheriff's office and the jail claimed they were massively understaffed and the response was hiring.

Not to mention the fact that those jobs fall under the budget and operations of the sheriff's office, not the Cook County Board President.

Then another 251 of the jobs came from the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Dorothy Brown's office. She also claims this was in response to previous understaffing. Whether or not these jobs were needed, I have no idea. What I do know is that these jobs fall under the budget and operations of the clerk's office and not the Cook County Board President.

I have no idea if any or all of the jobs under "clerks" and/or "student aides" were necessary, although student aides sounds like summer jobs for kids to me. But clearly the Sun-Times used inflated figures that were beyond the control of the people in question to write some sort of gotcha story. I guess the mentality is that Woodward and Bernstein didn't get famous for writing puff pieces. I just don't like these over the top gotcha stories when they don't stand up to even the flimsiest scrutiny.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Possible Senate Republican Pickups

Here's the Senate republican chances. As I said before I'm not suggesting by the title that I think these will be pickups, in fact some of these seats here are unopposed, I'm just listing the districts that lean the most favorably.

Number 1

47th Senate District Dem Index: 50.58 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: John Sullivan (D)
No Election


Number 2

59th Senate District Dem Index: 53.55 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Gary Forby (D)
No Election


Number 3

49th Senate District Dem Index: 54.8 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Deanna Demuzio (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $466,066.39

Challenger: Jeff Richey (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $23,634.37

2004 Results:
Deanna Demuzio (D) 100%
Unopposed

2002 Results:
Vince Demuzio (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 44.1%
04 Obama: 63.2%
02 Blago: 50.6%
02 Durbin: 61.3%

Comments: Demuzio now serves in her late husband's seat. While this is her first contested election she does have the family name recognition in a district that leans democratic and she has a sizeable cash advantage.


Number 4

56th Senate District Dem Index: 58.68 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Bill Haine(D)
No Election


Number 5

36th Senate District Dem Index: 58.85 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Mike Jacobs (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $121,836.11

Challenger: James Beals (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $4,561.79

2004 Results:
No Election

2002 Results:
Denny Jacobs (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 54.1%
04 Obama: 70.4%
02 Blago: 51.1%
02 Durbin: 59.8%

Comments: It's a strong dem district and Jacobs the incumbent has a huge cash advantage.


Number 6

40th Senate District Dem Index: 60.9 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Debbie Halvorson (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $283,504.24

Challenger: Joseph Maun (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $1,688.53

2004 Results:
No Election

2002 Results:
Debbie Halvorson (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 55.7%
04 Obama: 72.9%
02 Blago: 54.3%
02 Durbin: 60.7%

Comments: How do you take someone with $1,600 seriously, especially in a district where competitive dems are winning by 10 points.


Number 7

46th Senate District Dem Index: 61.5 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Open Seat
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

Incumbent Party Candidate: David Koehler (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $6,533.18

Challenger: Ernest Russell (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $1,238.11

2004 Results:
No Election

2002 Results:
George Shadid (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 56.3%
04 Obama: 72.8%
02 Blago: 52.8%
02 Durbin: 64.1%

Comments: It's an open seat for George Shadid's old district that leans pretty strongly dem where both candidates have very little money and the Republican candidate just got on the ballot this June. Expect a lot of money from the party committees. Also this is the Senate district that contains the Aaron Schock/Bill Spears race so this race will be affected by whichever side gets out their base in that race.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Possible Senate Democratic Pickups

Now let's give the Senate rundown starting with the democrats. As I said before I'm not suggesting by the title that I think these will be pickups, in fact some of these seats here are unopposed, I'm just listing the dem districts that lean the most republican.

Number 1

34th Senate District Dem Index: 59.23 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Dave Syverson (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $215,490.60

Challenger: Dan Lewandowski (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $25,518.51

2004 Results:
No election

2002 Results:
Dave Syverson (R) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 55.4%
04 Obama: 69.7%
02 Blago: 52.8%
02 Durbin: 59.0%

Comments: Syverson is one of the more conservative members of the Senate Republican caucus and is widely credited (or blamed) for being the person who brought in Alan Keyes. It's a district that leans democratic with Kerry, Blagojevich, Durbin and Obama all carrying the district but Lewandowski will need an influx of cash to be competitive.


Number 2

52nd Senate District Dem Index: 57.55 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Open Seat
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

Incumbent Party Candidate: Judith Myers (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $65,790.78

Challenger: Mike Frerichs (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $113,242.43

2004 Results:
No election

2002 Results:
Rick Winkel (R) 50.5%
Dan McCollum (D) 49.5%

04 Kerry: 52.9%
04 Obama: 67.9%
02 Blago: 48.8%
02 Durbin: 60.6%

Comments: This is Rick Winkel's old seat that in 2002 was decided by 1 point. Now Frerichs has a cash advantage, but with the various issues surrounding the University of Illinois and the unpredictable nature of student turnout it's just too hard to predict what will happen.


Number 3

22nd Senate District Dem Index: 57.45 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Open Seat
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

Incumbent Party Candidate: Billie Roth (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $81,622.55

Challenger: Michael Noland(D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $16,651.60

2004 Results:
No election

2002 Results:
Steve Rauschenberger (R) 56.6%
Robert Steffen (D) 43.4%

04 Kerry: 54.6%
04 Obama: 71.9%
02 Blago: 48.1%
02 Durbin: 55.2%

Comments: This is Steve Rauschenberger's old seat that he gave up to not run for Governor and not win for Lt. Governor. I'd tell you more about Billie Roth except I've never heard of her before and I can't remember seeing a single news item that mentioned her. Noland has had run several times for one of this district's House seats and now is hoping to get more help from the Senate dems than he did from the House dems.


Number 4

42nd Senate District Dem Index: 55.30 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Open Seat
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

Incumbent Party Candidate: Terri Ann Wintermute (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $37,457.59

Challenger: Linda Holmes (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $7,805.16

2004 Results:
No election

2002 Results:
Ed Petka (R) 63.3%
Alex Arroyo (D) 36.7%

04 Kerry: 51.8%
04 Obama: 70.6%
02 Blago: 45.2%
02 Durbin: 53.3%

Comments: Another open seat, this time it's Ed Petka's old seat. It's a district that Kerry won in a presidental year and Blagojevich didn't in an off year election.


Number 5

58th Senate District Dem Index: 55.25 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: David Luechtefeld (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $132,569.16

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
No election

2002 Results:
David Luechtefeld (R) 62.5%
Charles Goforth (D) 37.5%

04 Kerry: 47.7%
04 Obama: 64.9%
02 Blago: 50.3%
02 Durbin: 58.1%

Comments: Wise man say, "it's hard to win when you have no canidate."


Number 6

38th Senate District Dem Index: 54.93 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Gary Dahl (R)
No Election


Number 7

50th Senate District Dem Index: 51.80 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Larry Bomke (R)
No Election


Number 8

33rd Senate District Dem Index: 51.68 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Cheryl Axley (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $87,214.66

Challenger: Dan Kotowski (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $56,969.93

2004 Results:
No election

2002 Results:
David Sullivan (R) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 45.5%
04 Obama: 69.9%
02 Blago: 38.3%
02 Durbin: 49.0%

Comments: Kotowski will have to work his butt of in a district that Kerry, Blagojevich and Durbin all lost. However the suburbs have been trending more democratic.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Possible House Republican Pickups

Yesterday I did the dem pickups, today let's focus on the other side. As I said yesterday I'm not suggesting by the title that I think these will be pickups, in fact the first one here is unopposed, I'm just listing the dem districts that lean the most republican.

Number 1

63rd House District Dem index: 47.4 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Jack Franks (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $23,841.01

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
Jack Franks (D) 65.1%
Perry Moy (R) 34.9%

2002 Results:
Jack Franks (D) 69.0%
Steve Cuda (R) 31.0%

04 Kerry: 39.7%
04 Obama: 63.2%
02 Blago: 37.3%
02 Durbin: 49.4%

Comments: Franks has been winning his district with a higher percentage than even Obama, maybe that's why he's an unopposed democrat in a district that leans strong republican. Still, given this district's makeup it's surprising that they're giving him a free pass.

Number 2

75th House District Dem index: 50.4 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Careen Gordon (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $7,477.35

Challenger: Jason Briscoe (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $12,642.87

2004 Results:
Careen Gordon (D) 51.7%
Doug Hayse (R) 48.3%

2002 Results:
Mary Kay O'Brien (D) 70.8%
Patricia Clemmons (R) 29.2%

04 Kerry: 41.3%
04 Obama: 64.0%
02 Blago: 41.7%
02 Durbin: 54.6%

Comments: Gordon was appointed to fill the seat of Mary Kay O'Brien when she went on to be a judge. In 2004 she won her seat by running 10 points higher than Kerry and squeaked by in a tough race. It looks like they will be heavily dependent on money from the leadership caucuses becasue these two candidates can barely afford to take a New Lenox mayor to the strip clubs.


Number 3

118th House District Dem index: 52.18 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Brandon Phelps (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $129,601.16

Challenger: Rhonda Belford (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $5,120.08

2004 Results:
Brandon Phelps (D) 100%
Unopposed

2002 Results:
Brandon Phelps (D) 62.8%
Darla Partridge (R) 37.2%

04 Kerry: 40.2%
04 Obama: 58.1%
02 Blago: 52.2%
02 Durbin: 58.2%

Comments: This is the kind of district that you don't see as much anymore, home to a lot of pro-life, pro-gun democrats. Blagojevich won it but Kerry got creamed by 20 and Obama got held under 60%. The last time he had a race Phelps took 62% exceeding Obama's popularity and given his cash advantage I would be surprised if he is vulnerable, but given the atypical nature of the district I'm not making any predictions.


Number 4

37th House District Dem index: 53.15 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Kevin McCarthy (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $91,310.54

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
Kevin McCarthy (D) 100%
Unopposed

2002 Results:
Kevin McCarthy (D) 68.7%
Joel Herrick (R) 31.3%

04 Kerry: 46.6%
04 Obama: 70.1%
02 Blago: 43.4%
02 Durbin: 52.5%

Comments: I like his chances but if there's anyone who could screwup a race while running unopposed it's McCarthy.


Number 5

107th House District Dem index: 53.35 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Kurt Granberg (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $367,757.61

Challenger: John Cavaletto (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $27,907.59

2004 Results:
Kurt Granberg (D) 67.3%
Wayne Steevens (R) 31.7%

2002 Results:
Kurt Granberg (D) 54.7%
John Cavaletto (R) 45.3%

04 Kerry: 42.5%
04 Obama: 60.4%
02 Blago: 52.4%
02 Durbin: 58.1%

Comments: This is another one of those districts with a lot of conservative democrats. My guess is that the republicans will try to take a page out of the handbook they used in 2004 for David Reis' win over Bill Grunloh in the neighboring 108th district, but Granberg has a history of winning the district and beat this opponent in 2002.


Number 6

117th House District Dem index: 53.98 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: John Bradley (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $25,590.36

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
John Bradley (D) 71.8%
Leslie Donelson (R) 28.2%

2002 Results:
Gary Forby (D) 62.8%
Bob Brown (R) 37.2%

04 Kerry: 41.8%
04 Obama: 62.8%
02 Blago: 50.8%
02 Durbin: 60.5%

Comments: Unopposed is unopposed.


Number 7

116th House District Dem index: 55.53 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Dan Reitz (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $281,868.83

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
Dan Reitz (D) 100%
Unopposed

2002 Results:
Dan Reitz (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 45.8%
04 Obama: 63.4%
02 Blago: 53.3%
02 Durbin: 59.6%

Comments: You kind of get the sense that the Republicans don't even want to win the House back.


Number 8

101st House District Dem index: 56.58 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Bob Flider (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $48,425.35

Challenger: Dick Cain (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $30,428.78

2004 Results:
Bob Flider (D) 53.1%
Scot England (R) 46.9%

2002 Results:
Julie Curry (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 47.1%
04 Obama: 63.4%
02 Blago: 51.4%
02 Durbin: 64.4%

Comments: Flider was appointed after Julie Curry left to go work for the Blagojevich administration. He won the seat after a tough race in 2004 and now looks to do it again. The district seems to lean democratic and he is the incumbent but you never know.


Number 9

71st House District Dem index: 56.7 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Mike Boland (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $137,011.02

Challenger: Steve Haring (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $12,040.09

2004 Results:
Mike Boland (D) 55.5%
Steve Haring (R) 44.5%

2002 Results:
Mike Boland (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 51.5%
04 Obama: 68.6%
02 Blago: 49.2%
02 Durbin: 57.5%

Comments: This should be a safe seat but with Lane Evans retiring from Congress and that district in play who knows what will happen.


Number 10

112th House District Dem index: 56.88 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Jay Hoffman (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $924,410.32

Challenger: Carol Kugler (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $19,675.16

2004 Results:
Jay Hoffman (D) 87.8%
Carol Kugler (R) 12.2%

2002 Results:
Jay Hoffman (D) 68.5%
Allen Wright (R) 31.5%

04 Kerry: 50.4%
04 Obama: 65.6%
02 Blago: 53.4%
02 Durbin: 58.1%

Comments: You can't beat that much money and the House Republicans aren't going to piss away their money trying.


Number 11

79th House District Dem index: 57.08 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Lisa Dugan (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $41,204.30

Challenger: Sam Nicholos (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $9,428.00

2004 Results:
Lisa Dugan (D) 52.7%
Kay Pangle (R) 47.3%

2002 Results:
Phil Novak (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 49.3%
04 Obama: 68.9%
02 Blago: 50.5%
02 Durbin: 59.6%

Comments: Dugan took over Phil Novak's seat when he got appointed to the Blagojevich administration and then wound up in a tough race to defend the seat in 2004. It should be a safe district but I went all the way down to this race just because it was so close last time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Possible Democratic House Pickups

All Illinois State House seats are up this November. Here is the basic information on the House seats where the district has the highest democratic index (see here for an explanation) for seats that aren't already controlled by democrats.

Note: just to be clear I'm not suggesting by the title that I think these will be pickups, in fact a couple of them are unopposed, I'm just listing the Republican districts that most lean democratic in descending order.

Number 1

92nd House District Dem index: 63.03 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Aaron Schock (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $106,017.56

Challenger: Bill Spears (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $34,680.50

2004 Results:
Aaron Schock (R) 50.3%
Ricca Slone (D) 49.7%

2002 Results:
Ricca Slone (D) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 59.8%
04 Obama: 74.9%
02 Blago: 53.4%
02 Durbin: 64.0%

Comments: Young Aaron Schock pulled off the surprise upset of the 2004 legislative elections by winning in what was thought of as a safe democratic district. He's been a top target from the day he was sworn in.


Number 2


17th House District Dem index: 62.95 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Beth Coulson (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $130,064.96

Challenger: Judith-Rae Ross (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $3,168.08

2004 Results:
Beth Coulson (R) 53.9%
Michele Bromberg (D) 46.1%

2002 Results:
Beth Coulson (R) 50.89%
Pat Hughes (D) 49.11%

04 Kerry: 58.8%
04 Obama: 78.0%
02 Blago: 53.2%
02 Durbin: 61.8%

Comments: It seems like it should be a competitive district, but Coulson keeps winning tough races and Ross hasn't raised any money.


Number 3


17th House District Dem index: 60.88 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Mike McAuliffe (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $15,765.56

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
Mike McAuliffe (R) 59.2%
Ralph Capparelli (D) 40.8%

2002 Results:
Mike McAuliffe (R) 53.77%
Robert Bugielski (D) 46.33%

04 Kerry: 55.0%
04 Obama: 74.1%
02 Blago: 52.4%
02 Durbin: 62.0%

Comments: I like McAuliffe's chances in this one.


Number 4


85th House District Dem index: 59.03 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Brent Hassert (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $300,295.87

Challenger: Karen Gonzalez (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $9,602.16

2004 Results:
Brent Hassert (R) 79.9%
Austin Hough (L) 20.1%

2002 Results:
Brent Hassert (R) 79.68%
Eric Ferguson (L) 20.32

04 Kerry: 54.5%
04 Obama: 73.2%
02 Blago: 50.4%
02 Durbin: 58.0%

Comments: The cash on hand in this one is pretty lopsided, especially to unseat an incumbent.


Number 5

99th House District Dem index: 57.88 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Raymond Poe (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $61,409.81

Challenger: Sam Cahnman
June 30 Cash on Hand: $7,811.56

2004 Results:
Raymond Poe (R) 64.4%
CJ Higgason (D) 35.6%

2002 Results:
Raymond Poe (R) 59.6%
Don Craven (D) 40.4%

04 Kerry: 48.6%
04 Obama: 70.1%
02 Blago: 50.0%
02 Durbin: 62.8%

Comments: For a while Poe was considering running statewide but he decided to stick with his seat and now he faces surprise primary winner Cahnman who won an upset over a Springfield alderman, partly by tying his campaign to a local ballot referendum. Now the underfunded Cahnman is trying to generate the same grassroots support with another ballot measure.


Number 6

77th House District Dem index: 57.6 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Skip Saviano (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $476,861.27

Challenger: Unopposed
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
Skip Saviano (R) 100%
Unopposed

2002 Results:
Skip Saviano (R) 100%
Unopposed

04 Kerry: 55.2%
04 Obama: 73.5%
02 Blago: 50.0%
02 Durbin: 51.7%

Comments: Too close to call.


Number 7

43rd House District Dem index: 57.38 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Ruth Munson (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $30,183.60

Challenger: Laurel Bault (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: N/A

2004 Results:
Ruth Munson (R) 50.8%
Mike Noland (D) 49.2

2002 Results:
Doug Hoeft (R) 58.8%
Mike Noland (D) 41.2%

04 Kerry: 54.9%
04 Obama: 71.0%
02 Blago: 48.0%
02 Durbin: 55.6%

Comments: This was expected to be a tough race in a district that leans more and more democratic but the challenger is a late addition after the dems first candidate had to drop out due to family issues. There's a lot of ground to make up and not a lot of time to do it.

Number 8

44th House District Dem index: 57.23 (see here for an explanation)

Incumbent: Terry Parke (R)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $124,111.12

Challenger: Fred Crespo (D)
June 30 Cash on Hand: $4,571.10

2004 Results:
Terry Parke (R) 100%
Unopposed

2002 Results:
Terry Parke (R) 61.0%
Jesse Macro (D) 39.0%

04 Kerry: 54.3%
04 Obama: 72.8%
02 Blago: 47.0%
02 Durbin: 54.8%

Comments: Parke has been known to get under the skin of the democrats, and some republicans, but it looks like the house dems will have to dump some money into this race to make it competitive.

State House and Senate Races

I thought I'd write a little about the state house and senate races that should be the most competitive, at least based on past performance and generic district info, but don't be surprised if the strengths/weaknesses of the candidates prevent them from actually being competitive.

First of all, I used as my source for most of the information here the 2006 Almanac of Illinois Politics that is published by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield. If you don't already own this book you should and you can find it here.

To rate the districts relative to one another I took the vote percentage in each district for Kerry 04, Obama 04, Blagojevich 02 and Durbin 02. While the scores will appear somewhere on the 0-100 range and they were taken from democratic vote totals it would be incorrect to assume that a district with a score of 60.2 is 60.2% democratic. That is not the case. Remember that Obama took about 70% of the vote and Durbin took 60% so their two percentages will skew all scores upward.

The only assumption that you can reasonably make is that a district with a score of 60.0 is probably more democratic that a district with a score of 50.0. These scores, while certainly not perfect, will allow us to measure each district relative to one another. But I implore you, please do not think that this score in any way correlates to the actual percentage democratic (or republican for that matter) the district is.

That being said, I'll try to highlight the democratic House pickups today, the republican House pickups tomorrow, the democratic Senate pickups Wednesday and the republican Senate pickups on Thursday. We'll see how it goes.

Bi-Partisan-like Spirit-substance

While this blog has never been for bi-partisanship (please refer to title), nor have I displayed it, I must (regrettably) break with tradition, albeit briefly, to ask of you in a spirit that can only be described as, ahem, "bi-partisan", that you exercise restraint, particularly those of you in this fair state who have never heard a local weather forecast that included "cooler by the lake".

In their coverage of the Republican ticket's 30-something stop tour of "downstate" the Chicago Tribune cautions that the tour might not have the desired effect for Topinka:

Still, Illinois' political history is littered with candidates who stumbled while trying to strike the right symbolic note in their appeal to Downstate voters.

Topinka chose to launch her bus tour at the historic train depot where Abraham Lincoln delivered his farewell to Springfield en route to assuming the presidency. And we all know how Lincoln returned to Springfield.
Spoiler Alert: He was shot and killed.

Please ladies and gentlemen of this fair state, I implore you, don't kill her. But if you're already dead please feel free to vote against her as often as you'd like.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Facts be Damned!

Topinka continues to pander to the business community in hopes of adding to her anemic fundraising totals. After last months campaign finance reports showed Judy Baar Topinka trailing Blagojevich 8-1 in the money department she has started pandering to the business community by pledging to fix imaginary problems.

Now yesterday's Crain's shows that Illinois' job growth in July was the highest for any month since 1999:


Illinois businesses created more new jobs last month than any other month in more than six years.

The 29,800 new jobs in July were the largest for any single month since October 1999, according to figures released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment security. The numbers are based on employment statistic surveys on
every firm in the state, IDES officials said.

But she has never been one to let the facts get in the way of her half-baked campaign proposals, from the Herald Whig:

Topinka says Illinois lagging in job creation


These two articles were in my aggregator right next to each other. It just goes to show how completely out of touch she is.

Are They Even Trying??? Part IV

It's just unimaginable that the Roskam campaign could be this lousy. Normally I prefer to give my own thoughts on a subject but Austin Mayor does this so well I wish I said it first.

Impressive

Just getting back to normal after being at the fair. Democrat day was impressive, as big a crowd as I've ever seen. I wasn't really sure what to expect given all the craziness leading up to the event, but it went much better than I was expecting. The Speaker showed up and did what he had to do, Obama went all out in support of the ticket and Mayor Daley and a bunch of the Congressional Delegation was there, I can't remember the last time that happened. The crowd was enormous and the only drawback was that there was a long line for food. It worked out for the best, I just went and got a porkchop on a stick instead.

The program was a little long, although you could actually hear it this year. All in all it was a fun day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Topinka Tries New Fundraising Approach

In light of recent campaign filing disclosures that show Rod Blagojevich with an 8 - 1 money advantage over Topinka, she has taken a new approach by pandering to big business' non-existant issues. Apparently trying to run a statewide campaign using George Ryan's fundraising list doesn't work like it used to.

In today's Daily Southtown we find out that Topinka is oppsed to "venue shopping", the practice of trying civil cases in the most advantageous location instead of the most logical one.

Joined by lawyer and state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), Topinka called for stricter access to Illinois courts. Basically, if you live in Cook County, you should file your cases in Cook County; if you live in Will County, file your cases in Will County.


One problem, the law already exists.

"She needs a lawyer on her staff who can read Illinois case law," said Judy Cates, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and a practicing attorney from St. Clair County. "There is already a law in existence that says just that."


Also, Kirk Dillard filed Senate Bill 404 for consideration this veto session that states, "Existing Illinois case law shall not interfere with half-baked Judy Baar Topinka campaign proposals." It is not expected to get out of the Rules committee.

She attacked the non-issue with the requisite mock indignation, according to the Post-Dispatch she was "practically glaring" at the courthouse, the way a desperate fundraiser should. But make no mistake about it, this is not a real issue, she is not proposing anything that doesn't already exist. She's just pandering to the tort crowd and hoping they'll look hot on her next campaign finance report.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Grown Man in Pajamas Fears Fat, Possibly High Ghost


Also called "Are They Even Trying Part III?"

You have to see this to believe it. Courtesy of Austin Mayor, excuse me, "So Called" Austin Mayor, comes the lastest GOP mailer attacking Tammy Duckworth. I'm completely at a loss for words.

It immediately brings to mind this Daily Herald story:

Roskam, on the other hand, is a veteran candidate and widely acknowledged as a talented public speaker, but his inexperienced campaign team has been bedeviled by gaffes and odd choices thus far.



Then again, maybe he's just trying to make other Republicans look good by comparison.

Are They Even Trying, Part II?

This is the first line of a Decatur Herald & Review story today:

SPRINGFIELD - Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka says her vagueness on several hot-button issues is part of a campaign strategy.


Oh, I get it, it's all part of the plan. First Alan Keyes and now Topinka, it's just unbelievable. You can read the whole story if you want, but it doesn't get any better from there.

Are They Even Trying?

Last month I asked if anyone could name the Republican statwide ticket. Well here's not only their names but also their cash on hand from June 30th:

Judy Baar Topinka - Governor - $1,538,555.30
Joe Birkett - Lt. Governor - $108,971.83 (plus almost $300,000 in debt)
Dan Rutherford - Secretary of State - $591,666.86
Stu Umholtz - Attorney General - $44,301.82
Carole Pankau - Comptroller - $43,607.06
Christine Radogno - Treasurer - $263,122.24

They have two statewide candidates running against incumbents who have less than $50,000. Are they even trying?

Topinka's Ideas on Jobs Are, you know, Illegal

Judy Baar Topinka wants to make the list of all candidates considered for state jobs public. The problem is that it would violate the state's privacy laws.

"I'm surprised the treasurer said she would break privacy laws," Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said by e-mail.

Seriously, what's she thinking?

Lieberman

Blind loyalty to President Bush, supporting an ill-conceived war and then defending the incompetent execution of the war, defending the administration as they try to vastly increase the scope of federal and executive branch power and then berating any Democrats that would stand up to such an expansion will get you voted out of office. It's the democratic process at work.

Think of it this way, we're spreading Democracy over here becasue George Bush can't manage to spread it anywhere else.

Great Quote

In response to this item:

Sources close to Obama have told CBS 2 News that Obama would reconsider his previously announced decision to skip the 2008 presidential contest only if Mrs. Clinton does not run.

Here is what Obama's communications director Robert Gibbs told Rich Miller of Capitol Fax:

Sources close to Obama have told people that he would reconsider his previously announced decision to skip the PGA Tour only if Tiger Woods does not play.