Good Monday morning, Illinois. A reminder to expect everything to be drenched in politics for (at least) the next eight days: A blitz of political ads will air during tonight’s Monday Night Football game with da BEARS.
Although it’s clear how Illinois will vote in the presidential race, President Donald Trump’s sinking popularity and poll numbers threaten down-ballot GOP congressional and legislative candidates in the northern suburbs. Republicans are crossing their fingers that a few other factors will prevent an already besieged state party from suffering a complete Election Day blowout.
Privately, Republicans use words like “tsunami” and “massacre” to describe what the 2020 election could mean for the Illinois GOP.
“For suburban candidates, the best thing they’ve been doing is knocking on as many doors as possible and directly speaking to as many people as possible to get voters to see them and hear them as an independent entity and not just part of team Trump or team Biden,” said one political operative.
But the Illinois GOP is sensing pockets of success for some candidates who latch onto Trump. “We’re seeing in southern Illinois that Donald Trump is somebody who is helping drive turnout for us,” Illinois GOP executive director Derek Murphy told Playbook, describing downstate lawn signs of local candidates paired with Trump signs for president.
Murphy expects Republicans might even gain seats in the state House that were lost in 2018. Foster Township Trustee Amy Elik, a Republican, is putting up a fierce fight against Democratic Rep. Monica Bristow in the 111th District. And Republican David Friess could also flip the rural 116th District, now held by Democratic Rep. Nathan Reitz.
Northern Illinois is a different story, Murphy acknowledges, saying GOP candidates there “are in their toughest fight” trying to dance around supporting an unpopular president (at least in Illinois) while sticking to their Republican values.
It’s a delicate dance. Local Republicans are leery of rejecting Trump outright, for fear of alienating GOP voters. Instead they appeal to suburban voters’ independent streak — reminding them that it’s OK to vote one way at the top of the ticket and Republican down below.
Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli is in the fight of his political life in the 41st House District partly because he has refused to endorse Trump. Meanwhile, Democrats have poured money into challenger Janet Yang Rohr’s race, making it one of the most competitive and expensive statehouse races this cycle.
Two other factors that will play a role in the 2020 results: whether Democrats return their mail-in ballots and Republicans come to the polls in early voting or on Election Day.
So far, Democrats are outpacing Republicans in requesting ballots by more than two to one, but it won’t mean anything if they aren’t returned.
In the 14th District, for example, Jim Oberweis appears to be trailing Democratic incumbent Rep. Lauren Underwood. If Democratic mail-in ballots aren’t returned and Republicans do come out on Election Day, Oberweis could have a shot in a district that Trump won in 2016.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the most visible figure next to Gov. J.B. Pritzker in managing the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois, says it was Covid fatigue that prompted her to cry in front of cameras on Friday while sharing the latest statistics about cases and deaths during the governor’s daily Covid-19 press briefing.
“I can’t break down why. I think it’s probably just a culmination of the frustration of seeing that we are repeating history,” Ezike, the head of the state’s Department of Public Health, told Playbook on Sunday.
A new wave of the coronavirus has been sweeping across much of the Midwest in recent weeks, and all the harrowing stats we’ve become attuned listening for — positivity rates, hospitalizations and death — are stubbornly on the rise.
Despite “constant messaging,” Ezike said she’s anguished knowing families will come together on Thanksgiving with loved ones missing from the table. “There’s some disappointment in myself that I have not been able to convey the message in the right way, in the right tone, the right style and to win over those that are not fully on board yet” with what’s needed to be done to curb transmission of the virus.
There’s also frustration at having to battle critics who have made regional mitigation efforts and mask-wearing political issues.
It’s “confounding,” Ezike said. “When we had the statewide order, people were complaining that it shouldn’t be done as a state but [instead] region by region. Now we are doing region by region… So it shows that you’re never going to please everyone.”
Ezike echoed Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said over the weekend that the coronavirus will be part of our lives through next year. It’s as if we’re “suspended in perpetuity,” she said. “It’s disheartening for everyone, including health officials who have been logging the most insane hours and stretched beyond capacity with no clear end in sight.”
The fact that the virus surging again “is really saddening for us all.”
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At Ogden Commons at 9:30 a.m. to mark the 1-year anniversary of the INVEST South/West initiative.
In Peoria at 11 a.m. for an update on the reopening of the Murray Baker Bridge, at 12:30 p.m. he’ll tour Prestige Barbershop to highlight the impact of the Business Interruption Grants program for small businesses impacted by the pandemic, and at 2:30 he’ll hold a Covid-19 press briefing at the OSF Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center. Watch live
At the Cook County Building at 9:30 a.m. to announce the launch of a $2.1 million Cook County Covid-19 Recovery Resident Cash Assistance program. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 24 new deaths to the coronavirus and 4,062 new cases. That’s a total of 9,505 deaths and 374,256 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 18 through 24 is 6.1 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 7.1 percent. (Two months ago today, state numbers were 4.1 percent and Chicago was 5.1)
— Trump pitches an alternate reality as coronavirus troubles deepen: “President Donald Trump is heading into the final nine days of the 2020 election with a new nationwide explosion in coronavirus cases and a second outbreak in the top ranks of his own White House — all while he tries to sell an alternate reality to voters. Trump claims the U.S. is turning the corner on the pandemic, blames the media for being too focused on the coronavirus and blasts the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, for trying to lock up the country,” by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar and Nancy Cook.
— Rep. Butler tests positive for Covid-19: “Illinois State Representative Tim Butler, (R) Springfield, has tested positive for Covid-19. In a tweet, Rep. Butler said he was experiencing symptoms, got tested at Walgreens, and got his results in 30 minutes,” by ABC/20.
— Geneva restaurant sues Pritzker over ban on indoor dining: “FoxFire has already announced that it plans to keep its dining room open as a way to protest the new rules. K.C. Gulbro, one of the owners of FoxFire restaurant, states in an affidavit that a temporary shutdown of all indoor dining and drinks at FoxFire for more than a few days will lead to an ‘insurmountable’ loss of income, putting the restaurant out of business along with countless others,” by Kane County Chronicle’s Eric Schelkopf.
— U. of Dayton student from La Grange dies after contracting Covid-19, by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley.
OBAMA’s NEW MEMOIR reflects on his toughest fight: The New Yorker has an excerpt from “A Promised Land,” featuring the 2009-2010 battle for universal health care. Former aides David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, and the Obama children all pop up:
“I think back to those early conversations, it’s hard to deny my overconfidence. I was convinced that the logic of health-care reform was so obvious that even in the face of well-organized opposition I could rally the American people’s support. Other big initiatives — like immigration reform and climate-change legislation — would probably be even harder to get through Congress; I figured that scoring a victory on the item that most affected people’s day-to-day lives was our best shot at building momentum for the rest of my legislative agenda.
“As for the political hazards that Axe and Rahm worried about, the recession virtually guaranteed that my poll numbers were going to take a hit anyway. Being timid wouldn’t change that reality. Even if it did, passing up a chance to help millions of people just because it might hurt my reëlection prospects—well, that was exactly the kind of myopic, self-preserving behavior I’d vowed to reject.”
— Biden flips script on Trump in campaign’s final week: “It’s a jarring flip of the script for an incumbent president and his challenger eight days before Election Day. Trump, in the last gasp of his campaign, is barreling across the country, hoping large rallies and bets placed across the board will pay off for his underdog campaign. Biden is doing fewer and smaller events — and even peering past the election toward governing,” by POLITICO’s David Siders and Christopher Cadelago.
— Polls show Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan. But are they right this time? In 2016, polls didn’t show Trump leading…Now, “a little more than a week out from this year’s election, the polls are offering a similar narrative with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden ahead of Trump by an average of about 5 points in Wisconsin and nearly 8 points in Michigan. All told, just six of 104 polls conducted in the two states this year have shown Trump with a lead — and just two in the last two months,” by Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart.
— Early vote total exceeds 2016; GOP chips at Dems’ advantage: “With eight days before Election Day, more people [in the U.S.] already have cast ballots in this year’s presidential election than voted early or absentee in the 2016 race as the start of in-person early voting in big states led to a surge in turnout in recent days,” by the AP
— Republican Senate candidate Mark Curran is taking his campaign to the streets — literally. He’s “walking for positive change.” Today, he’ll walk from Lake Michigan to Oak Park, along Madison Avenue. Wednesday, he plans to walk from Lake Cook Road and to Chicago along Milwaukee Avenue. And Friday, he’s walking from Howard to Beverly along Western Avenue.
— GOP sees chance to take out Democratic House campaign chief: “Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, is facing an increasingly competitive reelection bid to represent Illinois’ 17th District. Bustos, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), represents a congressional district that then-candidate Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016. And while she trounced her GOP competitor in 2018, winning by more than 24 percentage points, Bustos is now facing what may be her most expensive and heated battle yet against GOP candidate Esther Joy King,” by the Hill.
— Dem Rep. Sean Casten, Republican Jeanne Ives at odds over Covid-19 response: “In the Casten/Ives battle, outside groups are not spending millions in independent expenditures to win this seat, a contrast to 2018, when third parties were major players,” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
— Davis, Londrigan continue to spar over business loan ad: “Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, says a TV ad being run by the campaign of his Democratic opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, is based on a lie because the small business featured never applied for a federal loan from the Paycheck Protection Program. The ad in the 13th Congressional District U.S. House race features Ross Richardson, who with his wife, Ann Laurence, long owned The Feed Store restaurant in downtown Springfield. In the ad, he talks about his inability to get a PPP loan. Richardson said Friday he stands by the wording of the ad,” by State Journal-Register’s Bernard Schoenburg.
OPPO DUMP: Libertarian candidate in Cook County state’s attorney race faced 2019 misdemeanor arrest in family dispute: Brian Dennehy “pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct last year after being accused of breaking the law when he messaged a young family member with whom a judge had temporarily barred contact…[he] was placed on one-year court supervision and paid about $350 in court fees as part of a July 29, 2019, agreement with prosecutors after entering a guilty plea in far northwest Jo Daviess County, court records show,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin and Christy Gutowski.
— Challenger in Cook County judicial race is also at the center of a lawsuit: Republican candidate Frank DiFranco is challenging Judge Patricia Fallon, a Democrat in the 12th subcircuit. DiFranco, a former state’s attorney, is named in an ongoing lawsuit of conspiring with police officers to obtain a false confession from Jose Juan Maysonet, Jr., whose murder conviction was reversed in 2017 after he spent 27 years in prison, by Pioneer Press’ Jennifer Johnson. (Injustice Watch initially wrote about DiFranco’s case earlier this year.)
— Eight panelists square off in The Great Graduated Income Tax Debate: “Analysts, state legislators, and leaders in business, labor and economic development debated the pros and cons of adopting a graduated income tax” on WCIA’s Capitol Connection with Mark Maxwell.
… Illinois’ flat tax, a boost for economy or a burden for schools? Two opposing views, in the Daily Herald.
— Column: Illinois should modernize its quaint old Supreme Court justice retention system: “If you think it’s weird that, in one of the most important, expensive and high-profile races in Illinois this year, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride is, in effect, running for retention against “Somebody Else" and needs to win in a landslide to claim victory, you’re right. Illinois is the only state where justices on the high court have to earn a supermajority 60 percent “yes” votes to keep their seats, according to Bill Raftery, a senior analyst for the National Center for State Courts who follows such elections nationwide,” by Tribune’s Eric Zorn.
— Op-ed: Penny Pritzker calls Biden the jobs president: “When it comes to the economy, Donald Trump is essentially asking us to judge him only on his first three years in office. What he fails to mention is that his record over the last nine months represents the worst federal mismanagement of a crisis in our nation’s history. It’s akin to a football coach declaring victory after the third quarter only to then get blown out in the fourth,” she writes in Yahoo Finance.
— Opinion: Understanding the upper Midwest: “Campaigns, good ones, work hard to connect with the small-to-medium sized towns and cities that comprise so much of the Midwest,” writes communications consultant Porter McNeil.
— THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS: Chicago billionaires Ken Griffin and Sam Zell have pumped more money into an effort to oppose the graduated income tax-rate proposal that’s on the November ballot. Griffin, the CEO of Citadel hedge fund company, has given an additional $7 million — for a total of $53.75 million to the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike group, which opposes Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s effort to swap the state’s flat-rate income tax to a graduated income tax that would see higher-earners (like Griffin and Zell) pay more in taxes. Real estate mogul Zell gave an additional $1 million to the same group, putting his total at $1.1 million. Tribune’s Rick Pearson has more on how the numbers add up.
— Dick Uihlein has donated $500,000 to Citizens for Judicial Fairness, the group that’s opposing state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride’s retention.
— Brendan Reilly, the 42nd Ward alderman and vice mayor of Chicago, has donated $1,000 to Pat O’Brien’s campaign for Cook County state’s attorney.
ELECTIONLAND: POLITICO is partnering with Electionland, a ProPublica project that works with newsrooms to track voting issues around the country. The Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. We’re part of a coalition of newsrooms around the country that are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more. Tell us here if you’re having trouble voting.
— Amazon’s massive Chicago-area expansion fueled by $741M from taxpayers: “As part of a nationwide effort, the online retail giant has commissioned 36 warehouses in the Chicago area since 2015, creating thousands of jobs. Most of the taxpayer assistance comes from Black communities,” by John Lippert and WBEZ’s Natalie Moore for Better Government Association.
— Chicago teachers strike a year (and a pandemic) later: Was it worth it?: “The contract changes won by the Chicago Teachers Union were hailed as major victories for public education, but bitterness between the two sides has only intensified,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— Chicago native Wilton Gregory’s historic appointment stirs pride in area Catholics who claim him ‘as our own’: “Some see Wilton Gregory’s appointment by Pope Francis — after a summer of racial reckoning in the United States — as “a statement of the Church to say, ‘We stand with you,’” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— Trouble for Trump hotel? Loan payments loom as Trump fights for his political future – and the future of his business: “At President Trump’s hotel in Chicago, the most recent board meeting began with bad news. This year’s numbers were awful. Revenue had plunged. The hotel was just 24 percent occupied. And worse: The hotel expected next year to be bad, too. In fact, the hotel’s managing director, Gabriel Constantin, said the coronavirus pandemic had hurt the Trump hotel so deeply — reducing business travel and forcing the cancellation of Chicago conferences — that it might be nine years before their business returned to 2019 levels. ‘The most optimistic [date] would be 2024,’ Constantin said, according to an account of the meeting obtained by The Washington Post. He had a warning about the hotel’s future, if the pandemic’s economic effects didn’t ease: ‘It’s going to be very, very tough to keep the boat afloat,’” by Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell and Joshua Partlow.
— Concern over holiday exposure to Covid-19 prompts Chicago Archdiocese to switch to remote learning for 2 weeks in January, by Tribune’s Deanese Williams-Harris.
— Probe of failed Bridgeport bank now involves suburban gambling parlor: “DaVinci’s Gaming Bar in Chicago Ridge is owned by the mother of Robert Kowalski, who’s charged with embezzling millions from clout-heavy Washington Federal Bank for Savings,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak.
— Zoning Committee to vote on Pilsen landmark district in early December, aldermen say: “The news comes after community activists targeted the committee’s chairman, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), as he served brunch Sunday at his Lake View restaurant,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Chicago residents say rats are a problem, so what is the solution? WBEZ’s Monica Eng answers a Citizens’ Agenda question.
— Feel like your property taxes are climbing higher than your other bills? New 20-year study shows you’re right: “In the past 20 years, the total annual amount of property taxes billed by local governments in Cook County increased at nearly three times the rate of inflation, according to a new study out of the county treasurer’s office. The total tax tab went up by 99%, while the regional cost of living went up by just 36%, the study found,” by Tribune’s Hal Dardick.
— Waukegan mayor: Video of fatal police shooting involving 19-year old will be released after family views it, by Lake County News-Sun’s Clifford Ward.
— Torture victim released after being imprisoned 33 years for double murder he did not commit: “In 1990, Smith was convicted of the double murder of his in-laws, despite evidence proving he had no involvement, and the Circuit Court refused to suppress his forced confession, his attorneys said,” by Sun-Times’ Jermaine Nolen.
Chicago police called to domestic incident at home of ex-Supt. Eddie Johnson: sources: “According to sources familiar with the matter, officers were dispatched to Johnson’s home around 9:30 p.m. Friday after a ‘verbal altercation escalated’ and Johnson allegedly shoved his wife,” by Sun-Times’ Sam Charles and Madeline Kenney.
Jewish groups allege an ‘alarming increase in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism’ at U. of I. Urbana-Champaign campus: “Three notable Jewish organizations have filed a federal civil rights complaint to investigate what they call ‘an unrelenting campaign of intimidation and harassment’ of Jewish and pro-Israel students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” by Tribune’s Elyssa Cherney.
Weed has delivered on some promises so far. One remains unfulfilled: “Legalizing marijuana has produced nearly a half-billion in sales of pot and related products, over $100 million in tax revenue and thousands of new jobs. But social equity remains elusive,” by Crain’s John Pletz.
— Barrett clears pivotal Senate hurdle ahead of Monday confirmation vote, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine and Andrew Desiderio
— Pelosi holds firm grip on power as Dems dream of a sweep, by POLITICO’s Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris
— SCOOP: Staffers flee HHS amid growing fears of a post-election exodus, by POLITICO’s Dan Diamond
— Democrats already angling to take out Ron Johnson in 2022, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki
— Georgia’s legacy of voter suppression is driving historic Black turnout, by POLITICO’s Maya King
Ben Head and Christina Granfield were married twice on Sunday — they had two shifts of 30 people each so all their friends and family could take part. Head is political director for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and Granfield is campaign manager for Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz. The outdoor wedding at Villa D’ Citta in Lincoln Park was officiated by Dan Pogorzelski, community affairs specialist for the state Treasurer’s Office. Among the attendees: Schakowsky, Gong-Gershowitz, Men4Choice co-founder Oren Jacobson, Biden Midwest Deputy Director Claudia Chavez, Springfield lobbyist Blanca Campos, and Really American founder and CEO Justin Horwitz. Also spotted: their dog, Skillet. Pic!
FRIDAY’s GUESS: Congrats former congressional and Interior Department staffer Victoria Dixon, who correctly guessed that the late former Rep. Joseph Ebbesen was an optometrist before entering public office (h/t Vincent Brandys for the question).
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who ordered air-raid sirens to go off in Chicago, causing panic that the Soviets were waging a nuclear attack? Email your answer to [email protected].
Chicago-area native and former Sen. Hillary Clinton, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), Ald. James Cappleman (46th), Highland Park Councilman Michelle Holleman, former Congressman David Phelps, Silver Property Group’s Ron Abrams, WTTW host Brandis Friedman, and political consultant Hanah Jubeh
October 26, 2020 at 07:44AM