Happy Thursday, Illinois! I’m still in Springfield, where Republicans will celebrate their own day in the sun with headliner Rep. Steve Scalise.
Three African American candidates are eyeing Dorothy Brown’s seat now that she says she’s not running for re-election next year, piling into an already crowded field of would-be Cook County Circuit Court clerks.
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TODD STROGER, the former Cook County Board President, told Playbook he’s thinking about it. “I have more people to talk to before I make a decision,” he said. Stroger drew criticism as board president when he forced through a controversial one-cent sales tax hike that his successor, Toni Preckwinkle, rescinded — and then re-issued.
RICHARD BOYKIN, the former Cook County commissioner who just a few weeks ago was mulling a run for Cook County State’s Attorney, says he’s in now that Brown is out. “I plan to run” for the clerk job, he told Playbook. “I’m excited to share my ideas with Cook County voters on how we can expand access to justice by leveraging technology in a way that benefits everyone who comes in contact with our Circuit Court, regardless of color, creed or income.”
And THERESA SIAW, a health-care entrepreneur who ran unsuccessfully for alderman last year, is also considering a run — and has even been interviewing potential campaign staffers.
Earlier this week, Brown told Playbook that she’s decided not to seek re-election in 2020. Her decision fueled speculation that the feds could be closer to acting on a yearslong probe into Brown’s office although Brown made a note that she could draw a full pension if she serves through her current term.
Four candidates had already lined up to challenge her. But the longtime clerk was unswayed buy their fundraising efforts and vows to criticize her work. Brown is a force on the campaign trail, especially among African American voters. And the office she’s held for nearly 20 years has a $117 million budget, handles mostly civil cases and employs 1,350 employees.
The candidates already in the race are Mike Cabonargi, a Board of Review commissioner; state Sen. Iris Martinez; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos; and attorney Jacob Meister.
The three new potential candidates have their work cut out for them if they want to woo the 80 Cook County Democratic Committee members who will be gathering today and Friday to discuss slating decisions that could lead to their coveted endorsement. Endorsement decisions will be made on Friday. The question will be whether the Committeepeople endorse or allow an open race.
Goat meat, jeans day and a free building: 5 controversies that engulfed Dorothy Brown’s office, by Sun-Times’ staff.
SCOOP: JESSE WHITE says he won’t seek a seventh term as Illinois Secretary of State when he’s up for re-election in 2022. “This is my last tour of duty,” the 85-year-old told Playbook at the Illinois State Fair.
Asked whether he might step down before his term is up, he said “No way. I’m seeing it all the way through.”
This isn’t the first time White has said he’d retire. Back in 2015, in an eerily similar interview at the State Fair, White told a Sun-Times reporter that he didn’t plan on seeking a sixth term. “This is my last tour of duty,” he said at the time. Two years later, he changed his mind and in 2018, he won re-election handily.
Back then, White was working with a Republican governor and may have wanted to run just to be assured his seat stayed in Democratic hands. With J.B. Pritzker now in the governor’s office, even if he were to decide not to finish out his term, White could leave knowing a Democrat would be named to fill his seat.
The big takeaway from Wednesday’s political day at the state fair is that Illinois Democrats are pleased as punch with Gov. J.B. Pritzker. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the headliner, and state party leaders praised the governor for having accomplished so much in Springfield in so little time — from raising the minimum wage to approving infrastructure plans, passing a cannabis legalization bill and a balanced budget. They went so far as to compile the accomplishments into a video presentation.
House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton seemed almost incidental as they took their turn at the podium expressing unity for the party and support for Pritzker’s work, which they steered through the Legislature.
And though Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent only Tuesday evening with Democrats in Springfield, it was all the buzz Wednesday among participants. Her willingness to come downstate to build relationships with state lawmakers made an impact. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t seem as committed to doing that, lawmakers and wonks told Playbook.
Speeches were made at the annual pre-fair brunch of the Democratic County Chairs’ Association and on the fair grounds. Pelosi, who headlined the lunch, drew standing O’s as she discussed the real Democratic unifer: President Donald Trump. My Twitter feed offers clips of of the day. Here are some good lines that go beyond 140 characters:
Pelosi praised Pritzker, called for Sen. Dick Durbin to be re-elected and lambasted Republicans — especially that guy “who works down the street” (in the White House). She criticized Trump for “continually undermining our Constitution.”
Pritzker called the campaign to split Chicago from the rest of the state an “insidious danger” led by lawmakers “who think if you live in one part of the state, that you’re less patriotic or less American than if you live in another part of the state.”
Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association President Kristina Zahorik: “Democrats will not be divided by race, by gender or by whom they love. We will not be swayed by small-minded Republicans who seek to build a wall against Chicago and strive to use diversity as a political weapon.”
— Beleaguered state GOP gathers at State Fair to hear Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise: “Bereft of their financial lifeline after Gov. Bruce Rauner’s loss last fall, Illinois Republicans gather Thursday for their day at the state fair pondering the future of a party denied all statewide elected offices and holding a superminority to Democrats in the state legislature. Top Republican leaders and local county chairmen are scheduled to gather at a downtown hotel in the Capitol for brief speeches before heading to the fairgrounds, where U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 ranking Republican in the House, will give a keynote address,” write Tribune’s Rick Pearson and Jamie Munks.
— Pelosi urges Dems to ‘catch the spark of Illinois,’ and Pritzker blasts those who pit Downstate against Chicago, by Tribune’s Rick Pearson
— Pelosi rips ‘Moscow Mitch,’ by Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles
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At City Hall to announce the 22nd annual Chicago Football Classic, then later at CPD Area Central to announce the launch of two new Area Technology Centers in Area Central and Area North.
At Ridgely Elementary School in Springfield to announce the members of the Broadband Advisory Council ahead of the statewide broadband expansion made possible by Rebuild Illinois.
No public events. She’ll be interviewing 2020 candidates for a range of political offices during the Cook County Democratic Party’s slating session.
— BATTLE FOR THE BENCH: State Supreme Court hopefuls tout credentials, connections, compassion ahead of Dem slating: "Sitting Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville could indeed have a fight ahead. He is one of seven candidates actively running for the seat in next year’s election.”
— DANIEL BISS is endorsing Elizabeth Warren for president. In a message to Playbook, the former state senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate wrote: “I think Elizabeth Warren is the perfect candidate for the moment — someone with a deep understanding of what needs to be fixed, the capability to use government to do so, and total fearlessness when it comes to taking on the entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo. I also see her running a movement campaign that is lifting up the voices our system too often ignores, which says a lot about what kind of president she’ll be.” Biss said he’ll also offer his network of supporters to Warren’s campaign.
Biss’ support follows news we broke in Playbook that state Treasurer Mike Frerichs is backing Warren as well. NPR has more.
— KIM FOXX courts donors as challengers emerge: "Millions of dollars went into Foxx’s insurgent campaign for Cook County state’s attorney against an embattled incumbent four years ago,” writes Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The Joyce Foundation is out with a new report today on gun violence prevention research. “25 Years of Impactful Grant Making; Gun Violence Prevention Research Supported by the Joyce Foundation,” is about Joyce’s experience in supporting and sustaining the field of gun violence research for the past 25 years.
In a statement about the report, the foundation says it spent $32 million in gun violence prevention research over two decades at a time when other funding for the issue was all but non-existent. Joyce’s findings reveal the U.S. has 25 times the gun homicide rate of comparable countries, that gun availability is correlated to higher rates of gun violence, and that strong gun laws reduce deaths.
— You can’t take it with you. So what happened to the $241,565 in dead pol’s war chest? Asks Sun-Times’ Mark Brown: “What particularly piques my interest is that one person who might be in a position to solve the mystery is Ald. Carrie Austin, heir to Frost’s 34th Ward Regular Democratic Organization.”
— ALD. LESLIE HAIRSTON accused of lying about nature sanctuary as part of ‘marketing campaign’ to jump-start golf course merger: “Hairston claimed the South Shore Nature Sanctuary has been ‘dead for some years … because there was nobody to maintain it.’ But Jackson Park Watch posted pictures on Twitter to prove the sanctuary is alive and well and distributed them at a Chicago Park District board meeting,” writes Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Illinois schools are starting earlier and earlier — except in Chicago, writes Sun-Times Nader Issa: “More than half the state’s public school districts this year brought either teachers or students back by Wednesday.”
— Challenges to the Obama center might work this time, by Chicago magazine’s Edward McClelland: "As little as a year ago, few politicians batted an eye at Obama muscling his presidential center into Jackson Park. But times are a-changing."
— Chicago’s building industry creates 1st-ever loan fund to help minority biz, by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika: "Related Midwest, which earlier raised the diversity hiring bar with what amounts to a community benefits agreement governing ‘The 78’ development, now lifts the bar higher. It has assembled building industry players to create a first-of-its kind loan fund guaranteeing capital for left out minority- and women-owned businesses."
— New group opposing graduated income tax puts Madigan in the middle: “Taking a page from Rauner’s book, a new group opposing the graduated income tax amendment puts the Illinois House speaker at the center of its campaign,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— State seeks to disbar Blagojevich more than 8 years after conviction, writes Tribune’s Jason Meisner: “[As] Blagojevich awaits word at a Colorado federal prison on whether President Donald Trump will commute his 14-year sentence, the Illinois panel that licenses and disciplines attorneys has quietly moved to finally take Blagojevich’s law license away permanently.”
— Rep. Darin LaHood says he told Trump not to free Blago, according to this FOX/32 video interview.
— Illinois corn growers expecting worst yields in two decades, by Northern Public Radio’s Tim Shelley: "Illinois corn farmers are on track to see their worst yields in more than 20 years. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports planted area is 10 .7 million acres, or 3 percent less than last year. The corn yield is forecast at 181 bushels per acre, down 27 bushels from last year. And production is down 17 percent from 2018. Illinois State Statistician Mark Schleusener said those would be the worst reported numbers since 1998."
— 5 teens charged for murder under a law that must change: “Two tragedies happened in suburban Chicago the other day. A 14-year-old boy was shot and killed for allegedly trying to steal a car from a driveway and the five teenagers who were with him were charged with a murder they did not commit. That’s because of an obscure Illinois law that allows authorities to charge people with murder if someone dies during the commission of a serious crime, whether they personally inflicted the injury or not. In this case, the crime was burglary.”
— More administrators, more money for small schools: Here are 8 items getting more funding in Chicago schools budget, by Chalkbeat’s Adeshina Emmanuel and Yana Kunichoff.
— Illinois becomes first state to require insurers to cover EpiPens for kids, but questions remain about costs, by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker
— Trump’s recession risk rises, by POLITICO’s Ben White
— Susan Collins and the GOP court Trump on guns, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
— ‘Biden bungalow’: Donor with deep Ukraine ties lent $500,000 to Biden’s brother, by POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger
— Is big soda winning the soft-drink wars? By POLITICO’s Jeremy White
— ‘I let my teenage son smoke marijuana and he turned out just fine,” writes Mike Sager in Patch: “A new study confirms what 50 years of experience taught me — smoking marijuana as a teenager doesn’t cause brain damage.”
— How an overlooked facet of the weed law could trip up two of the industry’s biggest players, by Crain’s Chicago’s John Pletz: "The fine print in the state’s 610-page recreational marijuana bill could provide some challenges to getting retail sales up and running by Jan. 1."
Marlena Baldacci has been named national media relations manager at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She was previously producer/news editor at CNN in Chicago.
Former state Rep. Steven Andersson, former Rep. Judy Biggert and CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy.
August 15, 2019 at 07:20AM