Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. Phrase of the day: TOO CLOSE TO CALL! That’s especially the case with the presidential contest, where Donald Trump is up in Michigan and Pennsylvania and Joe Biden has an edge in Wisconsin. Despite the president’s premature declaration of victory early this morning, the race is still up in the air. It’s also not the rout Democrats had been hoping for. We told you this election was going to be a marathon.

Illinois gave all its electoral votes to Joe Biden, but numerous contests across the state are still shaking out as mail-in ballots are still being counted. Case in point: only 895 votes separate Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis in the 14th Congressional District race. Oberweis has the lead with 100 precincts counted, but there’s a question about whether that includes mail-in ballots and the race hasn’t been called.

“It looks like voters delivered a low tide for Democrats instead of the blue wave they wanted,” Democratic strategist Ty Cratic told Playbook. He pointed to cross-party voting in areas where Biden had strong backing but Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated income tax ballot measure was rejected. The proposal is trailing by 10 points with 93 percent of votes counted. To pass, it either needs 60 percent of votes cast on the ballot measure itself, or a simple majority of all votes in the election.

Voters also rejected Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride’s retention effort, making him “the first ever Illinois Supreme Court justice to lose retention,” judicial analyst Frank Calabrese told Playbook.

Richard Porter, the Illinois Republican National Committee member, called it “a good night for the Illinois GOP despite being wildly outspent.” Along with the ballot measure trailing and Kilbride losing, he pointed to Rep. Rodney Davis’ victory and Trump’s position nationally.

Bright spots for Democrats included Sen. Dick Durbin’s win over Republican Mark Curran and third-party candidate Willie Wilson, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decisive victory over Republican Pat O’Brien (O’Brien conceded).

Kilbride’s failure to receive the 60 percent necessary to stay on the bench is a blow to House Speaker Michael Madigan. Labor unions, law firms, and the Democratic Party funded Kilbride’s retention effort. He was ultimately defeated by an organized Republican effort chaired by Jim Nowlan of Stark County and largely funded by billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin. The Kilbride retention fight cost more than $10 million, making it the second-most expensive race next to the ballot measure. Kilbride only broke 60 percent in 2 of 21 counties, Rock Island and Henderson, according to Calabrese who mapped the race. Kilbride’s defeat opens the possibility of a Republican win on the Illinois Supreme Court in 2022, with Kilbride’s district now open for an election that would likely favor a GOP candidate.


In Illinois, Biden wins across all broad demographic groups: AP survey of Illinois voters: “An Associated Press poll of Illinois voters suggests that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump across all broad age, race, ethnic and education groups,” by Tribune’s Joe Mahr.

Graduated income tax amendment runs into resistance in big bucks battle of billionaires: “More than $124 million was raised by groups for and against a proposed change to the Illinois Constitution that would switch the state from a flat-rate income tax to a graduated-rate system in which taxes would increase as income rises. After all that, the fate of the ‘yes or no’ referendum might remain unknown for days or weeks as late-arriving mail-in votes continue to be counted,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.

6th Congressional District race called for Sean Casten: “Democratic Rep. Sean Casten has won reelection in the 6th Congressional District, the Associated Press declared early Wednesday morning. In the hotly contested race, with more than 99 percent of precincts reporting, the incumbent Casten bested Republican challenger Jeanne M. Ives with 51.5 percent of the vote to her 46.7 percent. Libertarian Bill Redpath got 1.7 percent of the vote,” by the Daily Herald.

— Rep. Rodney Davis holds onto House seat in rematch with Betsy Dirksen Londrigan: In 2018, Davis won by less than 2,000 votes. This time the spread was about nearly 29,000 votes. Londrigan, a Democrat, had hoped to pull in votes from students from the more than 20 colleges and universities in the district. And it appeared she could have had an edge given most of those students are on campus, but the challenge was building a ground game in those communities amid Covid.

— Rep. Cheri Bustos, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has been neck and neck with Republican newcomer Esther Joy King.

Sen. Dick Durbin declares victory on most ‘unusual’ election night in four-decade career: “Durbin said on a video call Tuesday evening that ‘this is the most unusual victory speech I’ve ever given, sitting in my home in Springfield, staring into an iPad,’” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx fends off law-and-order candidate Pat O’Brien: “In unofficial totals, Foxx had 54 percent to O’Brien’s approximately 40 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting at the end of the night. Libertarian candidate Brian Dennehy had garnered about 7percent. Foxx’s win was based on her support in Chicago, where unofficial totals showed she had hauled in nearly 560,000 votes to O’Brien’s roughly 263,000 with some 98 percent of precincts reporting,” by Tribune’s Dan Hinkel and Alice Yin.

There are a few hundred thousand mail-in ballots out there that could determine elections for the General Assembly. Republicans have already picked up a few seats and have held onto others, crushing the buzz that House Speaker Michael Madigan could win as many as eight or 10 seats for Democrats.

The Republican surge suggests the corruption investigation that has hung over Madigan’s head may have had an impact. There will be reverberations for sure.

Though the story line has been that Madigan wants to make sure he has a cushion when it comes time for the House Speaker election, he is a;sp thinking about redistricting. “The balance of power in the General Assembly resulting from the election will determine who will draw the boundaries in the once-a-decade legislative redistricting following the 2020 U.S. census,” according to the Tribune’s Dan Petrella and Jamie Munks.

Here’s how some of the races are playing out…

Republican Rep. Brad Stephens beat Democrat Michelle Darbor, a firefighter and EMT, in the 20th House District. This was a tier-one race that saw Democrats, led by Michael Madigan, hurl big money to Darbro. “Three funds controlled by Madigan donated more than $900,000 to Darbro, with Madigan allies contributing much more. Overall, she raised roughly $2.5 million, a staggering amount for a state legislative contest. Campaign committees benefiting Stephens — whose family has controlled Rosemont, virtually unchallenged, since its founding in the 1950s — raised more than $2 million since early last year,” by Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth and Jon Seidel.

Races that have not been called:

*Republican Rep. Mark Batinick is holding off a challenge from Harry Benton, another Democrat who had big support from Madigan.

*Republican Rep. Thomas Morrison is beating Democrat Maggie Trevor in the 54th.

*Republican challenger Amy Elik ahead of Democratic Rep. Monica Bristow in the 111th District. “When I launched my campaign, I said I’m running to represent the forgotten voices of people looking for more favorable policies toward the middle class. Tonight, I’m proud to say those voices were heard loud and clear,” Elik said in a statement sent to Playbook. She also thanked Bristow for her service.

*GOP challenger Seth Lewis is beating Democratic state Rep. Diane Pappas, who had endorsed the graduated income tax, while Lewis adamantly opposed it. “The Fair Tax [as it was nicknamed by supporters] was clearly on the ballot and voters made a decision about it and held candidates to their word in support of it,” said political strategist Ty Cratic.

*Republican Chris Bos is beating Democrat Rep. Mary Edly-Allen in the 51st.

*Republican David Friess is clobbering Democratic Rep. Nathan Reitz in the 116th.

*Democratic Rep. Joyce Mason is beating Republican Dan Yost in the 45th District.

*Democratic challenger Suzanne Ness is leading against GOP Rep. Allen Skillicorn.

*Democrat Maura Hirschauer is ahead Republican Laura Curtis in the 49th House District. This seat was held by Democratic Rep. Karina Villa who’s in a virtual tie with Republican Jeanette Ward for the 25th District state Senate seat that Oberweis holds.

*Republican Rep. Grant Wehrli trails while being in a virtual tie with Democrat Janet Yang Rohr in the 41st District. And Democratic state Sen. Robert Martwick is in the same situation in a race against Republican Anthony Beckman

Tribune’s results page has more details on more races.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

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At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. daily Covid briefing. Watch live

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The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 68 new deaths to the coronavirus and 6,516 new confirmed cases. That’s a total of 9,878 deaths and 430,018 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 27 through Nov. 2 is 8.2 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 10 percent.

U. of C. begins recruiting for Phase 3 Covid-19 investigational clinical trial: “The University of Chicago Medical Center will serve as a testing site for Janssen Pharmaceutical’s Phase 3 clinical research study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” by WGN/9.

Southern Illinois health care worker dies, and daughter has a message: “Even I didn’t take it really seriously until she got sick…I just thought it was a big ole presidential hoax but people have got to realize it’s real and it’s a nasty thing. It turned her lungs to concrete and she was about to lose her right foot because no oxygen was getting to her right foot … She was only 59.”

Judge Michael Toomin, who presided over Jussie Smollett case, in a close fight for his seat: “Early unofficial results indicate Cook County Judge Michael Toomin is in a close fight to keep his spot on the bench, after a shunning from the county Democratic Party and a widespread campaign among juvenile-justice activists painting him as dangerously out of touch. With 98 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, about 62 percent of voters opted to retain Toomin. Judges need 60 percent of the vote to win retention. That means the longtime jurist, who has been presiding over the court’s juvenile division for a decade, could maintain a hold on his seat,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau. Map here

… The proxy battle of the Toomin race: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot mixed it up with an activist Tuesday outside a Far North Side polling place over Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, accusing the woman of having her facts wrong and tossing in a shot at the Chicago Teachers Union. Toomin’s reelection is opposed by the Cook County Democratic Party and its chair, Toni Preckwinkle,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

Marijuana ballot measures ahead in several Chicago suburbs including Wilmette, Park Ridge, Batavia and Elk Grove; Western Springs seems to reject bid, by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley and Robert McCoppin

Jill Rose Quinn elected Cook County judge, becoming state’s first elected transgender official: Quinn, who ran unopposed to fill a vacancy, said she’s “grateful to the people of Cook County who are having an open mind to elect me,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

Iris Martinez elected as first Latina Cook County Circuit Court clerk: “Her win marks the second time a woman of color will run the court clerk’s office, which keeps records of the nation’s second largest court system,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.

Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant declared winner in race for Will County executive: "I do not take lightly the fact that I am entering office in unprecedented times and in the middle of a public health crisis," Bertino-Tarrant said in a statement. "My number one priority is to get to work rebuilding our economy and getting our residents and businesses back on their feet in every neighborhood in this county.” By Herald-News’ Alex Oritz

Illinois weed sales top the half-billion mark: “Recreational marijuana purchases rose 11 percent in October, the best showing in three months. Recreational marijuana sales rose 11 percent in October, pushing total sales over the half-billion dollar mark in the 10 months since weed was legalized in Illinois. Cannabis retailers recorded $75.3 million in sales last month, the Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation said. Sales have been steadily climbing since March. The biggest increase came in July, when sales grew 28 percent, as expansions of cultivation centers began to come online,” by Crain’s John Pletz.

Pritzker keeps push to lift feds oversight of state hiring, says law only blocks forced political work: “Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is arguing federal oversight of state employment practices can do no more than challenge the political coercion of workers, but federal watchdogs contend they can also monitor all employee movement, such as hirings, transfers and promotions,” by Cook County Record’s Dan Churney.

Presidential winner could take days to decide: Trump collected wins in Florida and Ohio, while Biden picked up Arizona. It’s too early to call Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, by POLITICO

Democrats keep the House, but unclear if they will gain seats, by POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris

Republicans clinging to Senate majority as Dems underperform, by POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio and James Arkin … even if Biden wins the White House, odds of a pandemic relief measure for states are slim if Mitch McConnell remains in charge of the Senate.

Billionaire businesswoman Jennifer Pritzker married writer Erin Solaro, according to Crain’s Wendell Hutson. The two have much in common. Pritzker is a retired commander in the Illinois Army National Guard and Solaro is the author of a book about women serving in the military. Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt Hotel empire and a real estate maven in her own right. More recently, she’s been a voice on the political scene, often on the other side of her cousin, Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Jennifer Pritzker, a Republican who previously donated to President Donald Trump’s first campaign, has become disenchanted with his administration. Last month, she donated $100,000 to the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump super-PAC. Pic

TUESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Kristin Rubbelke, VP of Government Relations for Capitol Edge Consulting LLC, for correctly guessing that precinct workers from Chicago’s 28th Ward pleaded guilty and served jail sentences involving election fraud in the 1960 presidential election.

TODAY’S QUESTION: Who was Barack Obama’s campaign manager for his 1st Congressional District campaign in 2000? Email your answer to [email protected].

Former state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Sam McCann, GOP political veteran Michael Fontneau, Data Reporting Lab editor Darnell Little, National Equity Fund president and CEO Matthew Reilein, Tribune investigations editor Kaarin Tisue, and businesswoman Courtney Wright



November 4, 2020 at 08:02AM

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