Good Monday morning, Illinois. Reality TV takes a new turn this week as President Donald Trump is expected to speak every night of the Republican National Convention.
SCOOP: Former Gov. Jim Edgar joins a growing list of Republican leaders who are voting for Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump.
“I think a president should be someone we can point to our children and say: ‘That’s someone we can respect,’” Edgar said when asked by Playbook who he was voting for in November. “I don’t agree with some of his policies, either. But the real issue is character. The president of the United States isn’t going to be perfect. But you don’t want to be embarrassed.”
Four years ago, Edgar would say only that he wasn’t voting for Trump. He wouldn’t say if he backed Hillary Clinton. This time, he’s taking a stand, following in the steps of former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who endorsed Biden last week at the Democratic National Convention.
“I know a lot of people say, ‘but look at the economy.’ Well, the economy wasn’t terrible before,” said Edgar, also ticking off Trump’s handling of Covid-19 and international relations as problematic. “I don’t trust Putin. And I don’t understand why [Trump’s relationship with the Russian president] doesn’t rattle Republicans more.”
Former Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood has also endorsed Biden, according to a release from the Biden campaign this morning.
Rep. Rodney Davis, an honorary co-chair of the Trump campaign, told Playbook through a spokesman Sunday that he “supports the president’s re-election.” We asked because Davis created some buzz over the weekend when he said voting is a private matter.
And in case you’re wondering, Rep. Adam Kinsinger, who isn’t afraid to criticize Trump, says he’s voting for Trump, too. “It doesn’t mean I have to embrace everything he says,” the Illinois Republican told MSNBC.
Other Republicans are walking a fine line: former President George W. Bush is skipping the GOP convention. So are former VP Dick Cheney and former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
CONVENTION BUZZ: Plenty of Republicans will be in attendance at the four-day Republican National Convention—including Illinois delegates Richard Porter, a Chicago attorney and GOP national committeeman, and Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider. They’re in Charlotte, N.C., where the business portion of the convention will take place. Other live speakers will appear from Washington.
“Everyone is very upbeat. We’re pumped,” Porter told Playbook after he arrived in Charlotte over the weekend. “We’ve accepted the fact that we’re not doing the big shindig but we’re still upbeat. We’re pumped.”
He expects the next four days to reveal the “stark” differences between “the Democrats’ dark vision of an America that’s systematically evil and our vision of an America that’s fundamentally good. I think people are looking forward to making the case and showing that contrast.”
Illinois’ delegates: Along with Porter and Schneider, they are Reps. Darin LaHood and Mike Bost, state Rep. Andrew Chesney of Freeport, Black Conservative Foundation President Diante Johnson, Will County GOP Chairman George Pearson, 41st Ward Committeewoman Ammie Kessem, Palatine Township Committeeman Aaron Del Mar, and congressional candidates Mary Miller for the 15th District and Jesus Solorio Jr. in the 4th.
— Illinois Republicans sense momentum against Dems but uncertain how to deliver their message: “Already political underdogs in a decidedly blue state, holding no statewide offices and serving as the minority party in a veto-proof Democratic legislature, the GOP had fears of seeing its ranks further diminished in legislative and congressional offices in November due to the controversial Trump. But Republicans in the state have gained a modicum of momentum in recent weeks” thanks to the ComEd bribery scandal and infighting about how to handle looting and violence in Chicago, writes Tribune’s Rick Pearson.
— Illinois voice among convention speakers: Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, an Illinois native, takes the stage tonight, along with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Donald Trump Jr., and Mark and Patricia McCloskey (the St. Louis couple who waved guns at protesters). POLITICO has the full list.
Scientists at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may have the answer to helping cure Covid-19, and a tiger is involved. Back in March, the university’s top brass enlisted scientists from across the campus to develop a quick and scalable test that would allow the campus to open up to students. The testing “needed to be fast and frequent,” Martin Burke, the lead scientist of “The Shield Program” project, told Playbook. “If we are going to test everyone twice per week, the current nasal-swab test wasn’t going to work.” He called it a classic situation of necessity driving innovation.
Fellow U. of I. scientist Paul Hergenrother launched “a Manhattan Project-style effort” over the next six weeks. “Early on, we realized that it was possible and then we just kept making it better and better and were cognizant of the need to test at least 10,000-plus a day,” said Hergenrother. “Regarding that eureka moment, it’s a process.”
By June, the scientists realized they had found the right test. “It was clear the test could be very sensitive and very effective. And then we wanted to figure out if we could scale it and actually start executing it as a part of our efforts to open campus as safely as possible,” Burke said.
How the test works: A person dribbles saliva into a tube, which is capped and then put in a hot bath, which kills the virus— keeping workers safe. The heating breaks open the virus and releases the genetic material that allows scientists to do the test directly. That heating step is the key to the test being scalable.
Next, the scientists needed a lab to conduct the tests en masse. They turned to the College of Veterinary Medicine, which had done tests on the tiger from the Bronx Zoo that was diagnosed with Covid back in February. The veterinary lab was transformed into a human Covid-19 testing facility.
Throughout July, the scientists frequently tested faculty, students and staff on campus and watched positivity rates drop from 1.5 percent down to 0.2 percent or less. “And that’s when I knew we had something,” Burke said. Quickly identifying Covid-19 cases prompts people to isolate before others are infected, which in turn leads to drops in positivity rates.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sen. Dick Durbin started working behind the scenes to make the discovery as accessible as possible. The test is now operating under a Food and Drug and Administration emergency use authorization and the hope now is it might control the spread of the virus.
On Friday, as an example, the scientists ran more than 10,000 tests — more than 1.5 percent of all the tests run in the entire country. Some 50 universities have already contacted U. of I. to set up similar labs. Because equipment is easily available from different vendors, any supply chain bottleneck is avoided, Hergenrother said. “It just requires organization.”
No official public events.
No official public events.
At the Cook County Health Building at 12:30 p.m. with Sen. Dick Durbin, Reps. Bobby Rush, Sean Casten and Danny Davis and Cook county Health Chief Medical Officer Claudia Fegan to discuss how U.S. Postal Service cutbacks have impacted delivery of medication to patients.
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Surpassing 220,000 cases: The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6 new deaths to coronavirus on Sunday and 1,893 new confirmed cases. That’s a total of 7,880 deaths and 220,178 cases. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Aug. 16 through Aug. 22 is 4.2 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is 4.9 percent.
— Illinois faces a ‘perfect storm’ of Covid-19 risk this fall, researcher says: “The combination of some schools returning to in-person instruction, Labor Day travel and cooler fall weather would all be piled on top of a steady uptick in Illinois’ statewide test positivity rate over the last several weeks, said Dr. David Rubin, director of the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” by Tribune’s Jamie Munks.
— A renewed warning about Covid-19 at summer’s end: “A Lake County outbreak magnifies the danger of catching the coronavirus outdoors,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze: “The drop in overall employment that white-collar industries have seen in five months is already on par with or worse than the hits they took during the Great Recession,” by POLITICO’s Megan Cassella.
— Trump calls out FDA chief, suggests agency is slow-walking Covid clinical trials: “This is the second time in a week that Trump has accused FDA scientists of purposely hindering the coronavirus response,” by POLITICO’s Dan Goldberg.
— How the FDA is trying to soothe coronavirus vaccine fears: “Stephen Hahn, the nation’s top drug regulator, has been pumping out op-eds and popping up at scientific conferences in recent weeks to make the case for his agency’s independence.” by POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle.
Another shooting: Kenosha protests escalate after police shoot unarmed Black man in the back: “Wisconsin officials identified the shooting victim as Jacob Blake, a Black man. He was in serious condition at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee as of early Monday morning, law enforcement said. Large crowds soon gathered at the scene of the shooting. A livestream from podcaster Koerri Elijah showed small fires in the street and a person, possibly an officer, lying prone on the ground, surrounded by officers,” by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
… State DOJ will probe officer-involved shooting, reports Kenosha News.
— Lightfoot pledged $10M to businesses damaged by looting. The city paid out far less, records show: “Just $232,760 in grants were approved for 77 Chicago businesses, records show. The city determined 120 businesses that applied weren’t eligible and said another 300 or so applications were incomplete,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Alice Yin.
— 6 out-of-town protesters arrested near Lightfoot’s home: “The arrests come days after reports that police no longer were allowing protests near Lightfoot’s Logan Square home. It wasn’t immediately clear whether these were the first such arrests since the directive had been communicated to officers in a July email but a spokesman said he was not aware of others. The protesters are believed to have been arrested by uniformed officers assigned to her home,” by Tribune’s Jessica Villagomez.
— National Guard won’t cure Chicago violence, Lightfoot Says: ‘It can go disastrously wrong’: “A small group of aldermen have said they want the troops to be used to stop violent crime, which has surged this summer,” by Block Club’s Kelly Bauer.
— Developer lays plans for Moody Bible’s ‘excess’ property: “Pending sale could bring a rush of investment in coming years to the Near North Side,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— Chicago River keeps getting wilder, and that’s a good thing: Friends of the Chicago River reports “on overall native plant coverage at 14 targeted work sites, encompassing more than 400 total acres along the river within Chicago parks and forest preserves. Nearly 70 percent of the surveyed area is now populated by native plants, up from just under 50 percent five years ago…Benefits of native plants include deep roots that break up dirt and absorb stormwater, and they also support Chicago’s native wildlife, from bees and butterflies to fish and turtles,” by WTTW’s Patty Wetli.
— Why police officer’s accidental death struck a chord with Chinese Americans: “In a summer of pandemic and unrest, the accidental death of Chicago police Officer Xu Meng resonated deeply among those of Chinese descent here and across the country….the community felt threatened by rising anti-Chinese hate,” by Tribune’s Claire Hao.
— ‘When they killed her, they killed me, too’: A single dad deals with his daughter’s death: “‘I feel bad that I even smile or laugh knowing that my baby is in the ground, and I feel like I let her down. I was supposed to be there to protect her,’ said Nathan Wallace, whose 7-year-old daughter Natalia was shot in front of her grandmother’s home in Austin,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— It’s official. Kanye fails to make it on the Illinois ballot: “The rap star fell short of making it on the ballot by 1,300 signatures despite a lower threshold to qualify,” via your host in POLITICO.
… Kanye’s presidential campaign is both proceeding and unraveling: “In a span of two days, West was booted from the ballot in five states: Illinois, Montana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In Illinois, Montana, and West Virginia, it was because he filed an insufficient number of valid signatures. In Wisconsin, it was because West did not file on time. In Ohio, the information and signature on West’s nominating petition and his statement of candidacy did not match those on petitions circulated to be signed,” by New York Magazine’s Ben Jacobs.
— Sun-Times endorses Biden: “Biden was born in 1942. But in his insistence on embracing the nation that we are today — all colors, religions, genders and identities — he is an American for 2020.”
… Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown tweaked the Tribune in a tweet: “Ok, Tribune. How are you going to handle it this time? The clock is running.” Brown was referring, of course, to the Tribune endorsing Libertarian Gary Johnson for president in 2016.
Meeting to oust Link: Lake County Democratic Party committee members have called an Aug. 31 meeting to vote out state Sen. Terry Link as county party chairman. We scooped last week that the Vernon Hills Democrat planned to resign his party seat effective Sept. 15 in wake of federal charges of income tax evasion. But he hasn’t yet resigned his state Senate seat.
The concern is if Link were to resign after Sept. 11, he would get to choose his successor (before leaving the party position a few days later). In an email forwarded to Playbook, the Democrats said they have the votes to tamp down on Link: “The conveners of this meeting find this delay unacceptable in the midst of an epic election battle to defeat Donald Trump and his Republican enablers.” The letter says a meeting can be called if 25 percent of Lake County Democratic precinct committeepersons agree. And in this case, “More than 60 percent of precinct committeepersons have called for that meeting.”
On Friday, Rep. Brad Schneider and state Reps. Bob Morgan and Sam Yingling were among lawmakers signing another letter calling for Link’s immediate resignation from the party’s top job.
Ex-county official and McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski charged with extortion conspiracy, filing false tax return: “The two-count criminal information filed against Tobolski marked the latest domino to fall in a sprawling federal corruption investigation that has touched some of the Democratic Party’s key suburban political players — including Tobolski’s own chief of staff and fellow local mayor Louis Presta,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.
Is Illinois ready for mail-in voting? “Local officials in charge of running elections in Illinois have had to scramble to get ready for an anticipated surge in mail-in ballots this November, but they say they are in relatively good shape as they prepare for a presidential election allowing most Illinois voters to cast their ballots from home,” writes Daniel Vock for Center for Illinois Politics.
Zoning Board rejects proposed pot shop near Gold Coast during 12-hour meeting: “‘This issue isn’t about marijuana. It is about the significant negative impact that the pot dispensary would’ve had on our community,’ said Matthew Newberger, a member of a community group that opposed the dispensary,” by Sun-TImes’ Tom Schuba.
— Kellyanne Conway leaving White House: “She said she and her husband were making changes based on what they thought was best for their four children,” by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar and Meredith McGraw.
— The Grand Old Meltdown: What happens when a party gives up on ideas? By POLITICO’s Tim Alberta
— ‘It was great’: In leaked audio, Trump hailed low Black turnout in 2016, by POLITICO’s Nolan d. McCaskill
— Tuesday: A fundraiser for congressional candidate Betsy Dirsken Londrigan will be hosted by Steve Sheffey and Dana Gordon via Zoom at 4 p.m. Co-hosts are Richard Goldwasser and Dan Kohl. Details here
— Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.: Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle and Ald. Walter Burnett headline Haymarket Center’s annual fundraiser, which raises funds to support its mental health and substance use treatments. This year’s event is virtual and features discussions with both politicos. Supporters can tune and make a donation here.
— Wednesday: Former House Speaker Paul Ryan headlines a fundraiser hosted by state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. This live event will take place in Rosemont. For details, call 630-908-7685 or [email protected]
Tyler Power has been named director of government relations at Hy-Vee, a Midwestern-based employee-owner grocery store and pharmacy. He previously was director of government affairs for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.
Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle dies at 38: The son of acclaimed country rocker Steve Earle had made Chicago home, writes Sun-Times’ Darel Jevens.
General Assembly candidate Michelle Darbro and her wife, Erika Darbro, welcomed Owen William Darbro on Aug. 19. Moms and baby are all doing well. Pic
State Rep. Thaddeus Jones (29th), Chicago lawyer and politico Gery Chico, Local 881 Legislative and Political Director Zach Koutsky, JUF President Lonnie Nasatir, Durbin aide Brad Ruppert, and comms specialist Galia Slayen.
August 24, 2020 at 07:41AM