Happy Thursday, Illinois. Joe Biden is one state shy of hitting 270 electoral votes but this race isn’t over yet.
In a stunning rebuke, Sen. Dick Durbin blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan and his connection to a looming federal investigation for the Democratic losses suffered in Illinois on Election Day.
“All across our state — and the advertising told the story — we paid a heavy price for the speaker’s chairmanship of the Democratic Party,” Durbin told WTTW’s Paris Schutz on “Chicago Tonight.”
Durbin’s comments are perhaps the most bluntest criticism an elected Democrat has leveled against Madigan, who has been tied to — but not charged in — a corruption investigation involving ComEd. Durbin, who was reelected Tuesday to his fifth term and previously served in the General Assembly, holds the No. 2 spot among Senate Democrats as minority whip. Madigan declined comment through a spokeswoman.
In his interview, Durbin said: “Candidates who had little or no connection with [Madigan] whatsoever were being tarred as Madigan allies who are behind corruption and so forth and so on,” Durbin said, most likely alluding to the TV ads that aimed to link Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan to Madigan.
Londrigan fell short in her rematch against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis that was expected to be as close as it was two year ago, when Londrigan lost by a mere 2,000 votes.
This time, Davis ran an attack ad that tied Londrigan to Madigan and said “Betsy Londrigan would make Washington more corrupt.”
Londrigan’s campaign had called the ad “desperate and misleading,” given she doesn’t interact with Madigan. But the ad played nonstop. It wasn’t the only reason for Londrigan’s loss but it surely played a role.
The retention race of Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride was similarly linked to Madigan in TV ads as were the graduated income tax ballot measure and numerous General Assembly races that haven’t been called yet but appear headed for Democrats losses.
“Let’s wait and see what happens in the near term here. The [Illinois] House is about to reconvene in Springfield,” Durbin told Schutz. “I’m sure this conversation is going to move to a new level now that the election’s behind us.”
The next question is whether Gov. J.B. Pritzker decides to address the issue, says Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown. “Sooner than later, for his own self-preservation but more importantly for the sake of his state and political party, Pritzker needs to see — and say — that Madigan has gotta go.”
Key player in ComEd scandal ‘has declined to participate’ in legislative Madigan probe, by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel
Thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots are being counted in the 14th Congressional District race where freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood is short a mere 895 votes behind her Republican challenger Jim Oberweis in a race where more than 300,000 ballots were cast.
Instead of waiting for results, Oberweis issued a statement Wednesday declaring victory. “Today, after contacting every county clerk across the 14th District, I am pleased to say that, with only a handful of outstanding ballots, it appears that I have won a tough fought campaign against Lauren Underwood.”
It was a move out of President Donald Trump’s handbook. Earlier Wednesday, Trump prematurely declared himself the winner of the presidential contest even though millions of ballots were left to be counted and more states have been called for Joe Biden.
In the 14th District race, Underwood’s campaign responded by issuing its own statement: "Jim Oberweis doesn’t get to call this election: the voters do. There are thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. … Based on publicly available data, we remain confident that once ballots are counted, this race will reflect that the voters have reelected Congresswoman Lauren Underwood."
A winner has not yet been declared in the race. According to unofficial counts reported by county clerks and election offices, Underwood was seeing a 2 to 1 to 3 to 1 edge in vote tallying in some areas. In Lake County, Underwood received about 6,000 votes to Oberweis’ 2,400. In Will County, Underwood received 13,500 to Oberweis’ 5,000 of mail-in ballots already counted, and in McHenry County, she saw 12,700 mail-in ballots to his 9,500.
If that trend holds, Underwood could close the gap — and hold on to her seat.
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In City Hall at 1 p.m. for a Covid-19 briefing. Watch on social media channels.
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 Wednesday reported 55 new deaths and an additional 7,538 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 9,93 deaths and 437,556 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 28 through Nov. 3 is 8.5 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 10.9 percent.
— Region 2 begins enhanced coronavirus mitigations; all of Illinois now under stricter rules: “With that, all 11 health care regions in the state of Illinois are now operating under enhanced mitigation rules as a result of elevated positivity rates and hospitalizations,” reports NBC/5.
— McConnell calls for coronavirus package before year’s end: “We need another rescue package,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election and I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year.” POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine reports
— Kendall Co. reopening: Highest-ever coronavirus positivity rate: “Public health data shows the positivity rate in Region 2 reached 10.1 percent as of Wednesday,” by Patch’s Abhinanda Datta.
— BLAMING BUSTOS: Rep. Cheri Bustos’ race against GOP newcomer Esther Joy King has yet to be called, even though the 17th District Democratic appears to have a comfortable lead. Bustos has bigger problems, however. Some rank-and-file Democrats, frustrated that the party’s campaign tactics failed, are calling for a revamp of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — and the ouster of Bustos, the chairwoman. The buzz follows Bustos and Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicting earlier in the week that the House would win a dozen seats. Instead, some freshman Democrats, including Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood, are in races too close to call, or already out. Florida Rep. Donna Shalala is among the losers form Tuesday night. POLITICO’s Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick have more on the blame game.
— ‘Blue wall’ holds up for Biden in close Wisconsin and Michigan wins: “Giant vote margins in the Democratic strongholds of Madison and Milwaukee helped Joe Biden secure a tight victory in Wisconsin on Wednesday, a win so close that President Donald Trump’s campaign immediately requested a recount,” reports Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart.
… Three reasons Biden flipped the Midwest, by POLITICO’s Tim Alberta.
— After voters reject the graduated income tax proposal, Pritzker says ‘painful’ cuts likely: “Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker gave an impassioned and pointed response to voters’ rejection of his plan to move the state to a graduated income tax, blaming those who funded opposition to the plan for throwing ‘middle class families under the bus.’… On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported the amendment failed, with those voting ‘no’ on the constitutional amendment garnering around 500,000 more votes than those voting ‘yes’ on the question,” by WBEZ’s Tony Arnold.
— Campaign scorecard: Pritzker, Preckwinkle, Madigan — big winners or big losers? “Preckwinkle wasn’t ready to concede defeat in her effort to deny Judge Michael Toomin another term on the bench. But the Cook County Board president said she was grateful for her protégé Kim Foxx’s landslide win in the state’s attorney’s race,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Republicans ride voter dissatisfaction with state government to deal Pritzker, Madigan defeats: “Instead, voters delivered a repudiation of Illinois government, spurred by amped-up Trump supporters, a billionaire benefactor, concern over high taxes, a House speaker caught up in a federal investigation and recently reinstituted pandemic restrictions due to renewed cases of Covid-19,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.
— Skillicorn concedes with a tweet: A decision on numerous state Senate and House races awaits vote-counting of mail-in and provisional ballots, including Republican Rep. Allen Skillicorn’s 66th District seat. On Wednesday, Skillicorn, who had appeared to exit the race before the election, conceded to Democrat Suzanne Ness. Election returns before the mail-in votes show Ness leading 51.6 percent to Skillicorn’s 48.4 percent. “Congratulations to Ms. Ness! I truly wish her well,” Skillicorn tweeted. “The demographics of the suburbs are changing because many Republicans are moving to TN, FL, and TX. They are leaving for lower taxes, booming economies, better schools, and less crime. Chicago runs Illinois now.”
State Sen. Bill Brady told Republican caucus members Tuesday he won’t run for re-election as Senate minority leader, a position he’s held since 2017. “When I was elected leader, I said I would not pursue any other elective office during my leadership of the caucus. While my decision not to seek reelection as Senate Republican leader may close this chapter, it by no means is the final word on my desire to serve our state and tackle those challenges,” according to the memo sent Tuesday to lawmakers and shared with reporters Wednesday.
The news prompted speculation about what Brady might do next. The Herald & Review suggested “Brady may make another run for governor.” Brady previously ran in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Brady isn’t revealing his cards. In the meantime, his Democratic counterpart, Senate President Don Harmon, issued a statement saying: "Bill quietly and effectively advocated for the Republican senators and the communities they represent. He understood that conflict for nothing more than the sake of conflict is counterproductive… While we approach challenges from different political perspectives, I have appreciated Bill’s focus on getting things done and his understanding and willingness to work with others to find success."
The process for selecting a new GOP caucus leader begins Nov. 17, when the General Assembly convenes for its veto session.
— Aldermen question special downtown taxing district for Mag Mile area that suffered looting: “A city-sponsored special downtown business tax to help pay for security for businesses that got hit by summer looting ran into turbulence Wednesday from aldermen who said Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s planning director doesn’t work with them enough on projects in their wards. Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox has aggravated aldermen who say he hasn’t communicated enough with them since he came on the job last year, which is perhaps inevitable for the man tasked with being the face of Lightfoot’s more centralized Planning Department,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.
— Debate about gig-based workers: The tech industry secured a landmark win in its home state of California, where app-based companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash circumvented a new state labor mandate after spending more than $200 million to pass Proposition 22. Rather than eliminating independent work and forcing drivers into traditional employment, California voters sided with Uber, DoorDash, Lyft and others to instead offer some benefits and protections to these workers. The outcome could have implications in Illinois, which is poised to be one of the next battlegrounds between unions and gig economy companies that oppose classifying drivers as employees.
— Protesters march downtown demanding a fair election: “As President Donald Trump’s campaign laid the ground for contesting election results with lawsuits filed Wednesday in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, about 1,000 people marched through downtown Chicago behind a 20-foot banner emblazoned with the American flag and a simple message: ‘Count every vote,’” by WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell, Michael Lansu, Linda Lutton.
— As the pandemic rages on, Chicago renters are organizing for support and protection: “The economic fallout from this public health crisis has left many people unemployed — and unable to consistently pay rent, if at all. Illinois currently has a statewide moratorium on evictions. But renters worry what happens when the moratorium is lifted,” by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.
— As fall term ends, CPS still mum on a reopening date. Teachers union confirms it won’t happen Monday: “Thursday marks the final day of student attendance for the virtual fall quarter, and Chicago Public Schools has yet to publicly announce a date for a return to classrooms, beyond its plan to offer in-person learning to students in prekindergarten and special education clusters sometime before 2020 is over. CPS also has not publicly released the outcome of intent-to-return surveys submitted by parents of eligible students,” by Tribune’s Hannah Leone.
— ‘Check, Please!’ host renounces master sommelier title after NYT report: “Alpana Singh, the Chicago-area restaurateur and host of “Check, Please!”, has renounced a title conferred by an elite wine organization after multiple women accused male members of the group of sexual harassment and assault in a New York Times article. The announcement Wednesday night in an Instagram post comes less than a week after a New York Times article detailed the accusations against male members of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. Twenty-one women reported they had been ‘sexually harassed, manipulated or assaulted by male master sommeliers,’ according to the article,” by Tribune’s Grace Wong.
— Sycamore residents file class-action lawsuit against City of Sycamore over water quality: “According to U.S. District Court documents obtained by the Daily Chronicle, residents Jennifer Campbell, of the 400 block of Edward Street, and Jeremy Pennington, of the 600 block of Park Avenue, filed the lawsuit with class attorneys Steve W. Berman out of Seattle, Washington and Mark T. Vazquez of Chicago on Friday on several counts, including fraud, deceptive business, negligence and public nuisance,” by the Daily Chronicle’s Katie Finlon.
‘The horse is out of the barn.’ Voters in suburbs show support at polls for recreational marijuana sales: “The area they live in was once a bastion of conservatism, but nearly two-thirds of voters in northwest suburban Mount Prospect on Tuesday supported allowing marijuana sales in the village. The village was one of six suburbs — along with Batavia, Glen Ellyn, Elk Grove Village, Park Ridge and Wilmette — where advisory referendums showed majority support for allowing sales. The one exception was west suburban Western Springs, where 60 percent of voters rejected the idea,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.
— Biden gears up for legal warfare as he nears 270, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki, Elena Schneider and Alex Isenstadt
— Trump eyes Supreme Court, but campaign takes election fight to state courts, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar
— Recruitment push fuels record number of women in House GOP, by POLITICO’s Melanie Zanona and Ally Mutnick
— Democrats look at Trump voters and wonder, ‘What the hell is your problem?’ by POLITICO’s John F. Harris
Danielle K. Perry, who serves as the state’s Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer, married Tiana M. Booth on Oct. 22. The couple had planned on a large ceremony but after rescheduling their wedding twice due to Covid-19, they opted for an intimate wedding at Danielle’s parents home in Flossmoor. Judge Judith Rice officiated in the garage of Danielle’s childhood home, which was transformed by her mother into a mini wedding venue. More family and friends attended via zoom. Pic!
WEDNESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to nonprofits consultant Nancy Kohn, who was the first (of many) to correctly guess that Barack Obama’s campaign manager in his 2000 congressional district race was Dan Shomon. H/T to lobbyist Dan Johnson who reminds that he and former state Sen. Chris Nybo — students of Obama’s constitutional law class at the time — volunteered on that campaign, and former Ald. Will Burns was on staff.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who’s the former Illinois state senator known to bike from his Chicago home to Springfield? The 10th person to get it right wins. Email your answer to [email protected].
Content strategist and former Tribune editor Andrea Hanis and Crain’s contributing editor Cassandra West.
November 5, 2020 at 07:23AM