Tom Kacich: Treasurer Frerichs remains unchallenged

The candidate filing period in Illinois begins in six weeks, and State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Champaign Democrat, still doesn’t have a Republican opponent.

That means that if a Republican challenger wants to appear on the primary election ballot in March, she or he is going to have to hustle to come up with the required 5,000 to 10,000 signatures on candidate petitions that have to be filed between Nov. 27 and Dec. 4.

A spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party, Aaron DeGroot, displayed no sense of panic or urgency about candidate vacancies for statewide offices (there also is no announced GOP candidate to challenge State Comptroller Susana Mendoza).

“There are several individuals considering a run for Treasurer, but there are no declared candidates at this time,” DeGroot said. “Stay tuned.”

OK, but four years ago — when incumbent Treasurer Dan Rutherford was running for governor — the major party candidates were already announced, passing petitions and raising money.

Frerichs had announced in June 2013, and Republican Tom Cross had announced that September. Both already had more than $400,000 in their campaign funds at this point four years ago.

Frerichs now has at least $300,000 in the bank. Third quarter campaign disclosure reports are due Monday.

The lack of a Republican candidate this late in the campaign season seems odd, I suggested to state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” said Rose, “but everything in the last six to eight years in Illinois has been odd.”

True that.

Frerichs didn’t want to say much about the lack of a Republican election foe.

“I don’t know of anybody interested but I’ve been focused on the veto session coming up and we’re making a big push of the governor’s veto of our life insurance bill (HB 302),” Frerichs said. “There will be time for campaigning and speculating after the veto session.”

The veto session is Oct. 24-26 and Nov. 7-9.

But if there are no Republican candidates for treasurer or comptroller then, we’ll know for sure that things are odd in Illinois.

Khan on Trump

Shahid Khan, the University of Illinois graduate who is the owner of Flex-N-Gate, the Jacksonville Jaguars and a host of other businesses, had interesting things to say last week about President Trump, to whom he gave $1 million for the president’s inaugural festivities.

He called Trump “the great divider.”

“You have to give Trump credit. People are confused on the First Amendment versus patriotism, that if you exercise your First Amendment you’re not a patriot, which is crazy,” Khan told a business conference in Chicago. “People are confused on it. (Trump) knew he could hit on it and take advantage. I think what we’re seeing is the great divider overcoming the great uniter.”

He said that Trump’s outspokenness “is highly calculated — he looks for issues that you can touch and it will blow people up.”

Khan, who has a home in Champaign but listed his residence as Naples, Fla., said that Trump got elected by dividing people and groups against one another.

“What (Trump) has done is shown leadership as the great divider, not uniter. We are used to being warm and fuzzy and cuddled,” Khan said. “Well, it’s a different time.”

Congressional candidate contributions

The first two congressional candidates in East Central Illinois to file third quarter campaign disclosure reports were Democrats Carl Spoerer of Mahomet and Anthony March of Danville, both of whom are running in the heavily Republican 15th Congressional District, where Republican John Shimkus of Collinsville is the longtime congressman.

Spoerer reported having $1,231 on hand while March had $249. That’s a big disadvantage against Shimkus, who had more than $1 million in June.

Spoerer’s already loaned his campaign more than $9,400 in personal funds. He reported $805 in contributions in the July-September period.

March reported $225 in contributions in the quarter. He’s loaned his campaign $100.

IEA money

The list of third quarter contributions to Illinois politicians by the Illinois Education Association’s political action committee made for some interesting reading.

Among the $459,750 in campaign contributions — as usual, the vast majority to Democrats — were donations made to four House Republicans, all of whom voted for the state income tax increase in July.

The IEA gave $11,000 to the campaign fund of state Rep. Chad Hays of Catlin, $10,000 to the fund of Rep. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth, $10,000 to Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville and $25,000 to Rep. Norine Hammond of Macomb.

Davidsmeyer and Hammond are running for re-election next year. Hays and Mitchell are not.

Rauner campaign

There has been some speculation in recent weeks that Gov. Bruce Rauner, stung by Republican defections in recent months on the tax increase and budget votes and his decision to sign an abortion funding bill, might not run for re-election.

But he’s sure spending like someone running for a second term.

His Citizens for Rauner campaign fund bought more than $455,000 of cable television advertising around the state that is running from Monday through Nov. 5. Rauner’s on broadcast TV too. He’s paid about $10,000 for 22 spots on WCIA-TV through today.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

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