Good Monday morning, Illinois. The first post-election non-politics weekend had a fair amount of politics after all.

Eyes have trained onto Tammy Duckworth — and her Senate seat in particular. Duckworth, a shortlister in the veepstakes just a few months ago, is getting a fair bit of buzz about whether she gets airlifted into Joe Biden‘s not-yet-named Cabinet.

And should Duckworth depart for Washington, it falls to Gov. J.B. Pritzker to fill the empty seat, and he’s not interested in addressing the issue for which he’ll be lobbied on all sides.

“The governor, myself and our staff have had zero conversations about filling a Senate seat that is already occupied by the extremely capable Tammy Duckworth,” Pritzker chief of staff Anne Caprara told Playbook. “Any names that are being ‘floated’ are not being done so by us and any speculation out there should be looked at with the biggest grain of salt imaginable. Right now we are focused on dealing with a deadly pandemic in our communities. That’s where everyone else’s focus should be too.”

Point well-taken, but that hasn’t stopped speculation from following the senator wherever she goes. Duckworth told Fox/32 on Friday: “Some girls fall for the drummer in the band. I fall for ‘your country needs to serve you’ line… Of course, I would be honored to serve in the Biden administration.”

She’s not alone. Other Illnois names that pop up: Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Cheri Bustos, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton, Attorney Gen. Kwame Raoul, and deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell.

Fox also talked to Kelly, who said she’d want to be considered should a gig open up. “I love my job. I love my constituents. But, yes. I would be interested,” Kelly said. “I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls in anticipation from in and outside of my district.”

And though Bustos’ name also is batted about for a Cabinet position, there’s concern, given she’s in a conservative district, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can’t afford to lose a single Democrat during the midterm election, according to POLITICO’s national Playbook.

If Duckworth’s seat were to open up, jockeying for the appointment would be fierce. There would be a push for the governor to replace her with another woman of color and given that Black women have been so loyal in electing Biden and other Democrats, that may give Kelly or Stratton the inside track.

The challenge is finding a candidate who can run for the statewide office two years from now.

Michael Sacks, a top Democratic donor and supporter of Joe Biden, questioned efforts to push Michael Madigan out of the speakership at a time when Democrats need him most.

“We have a raging pandemic, a precarious economy, a huge budget hole and we might be coming into one of the toughest budget-making sessions we’ve ever had. The idea that we don’t have all of our best players on the field protecting social services, education, working families and other things Democrats care about is nonsensical,” Sacks told Playbook in an exclusive interview.

Sacks is chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor investment firm and a longtime Democratic donor who was an unofficial adviser to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and plugged into Illinois politics and national Democratic ambitions.

Sacks questions the narrative that Madigan is to blame for any of the electoral losses Illinois Democrats suffered this year.

“I’m a Biden guy, but it’s clear to me that President Trump turned out votes very successfully. Republicans came to vote for Trump and not against Mike Madigan,” Sacks said. “Those Trump voters lifted down-ballot Republicans across the country, not just in Illinois.”

Top Illinois Democrats have blamed Madigan in recent days for not capturing the 13th Congressional District and for the graduated income tax’s failure. They say Madigan’s connection to an influence-peddling investigation into ComEd is what crushed Democrats’ hopes of winning.

Sacks disagreed, saying Trump’s supporters toppled any blue wave Democrats had hoped for anywhere. Congressional Democrats sustained losses in places like New York, Florida, California and New Mexico. And former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican, defeated Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat in that state who voted against impeaching Trump.

In the 13th District, Democratic turnout was up, but so was Republican. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan’s race against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis saw Davis receive 187,583 votes to Londrigan’s 126,811. In 2016, Davis received 179,567 to his Democratic opponent’s 148,517.

Sacks isn’t wrong about down-ballot races nationwide, either. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 5,876 regularly scheduled legislative races in 44 states, “the big surprise is that only two chambers — the New Hampshire House and Senate — changed hands. The GOP won both.”


Illinois Democratic Party not ready to yank the chair from under Madigan, by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton

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

At City Hall to preside over the virtual City Council meeting at 10 a.m.

At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. daily Covid-19 briefing. Watch live

No official public events.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 72 additional deaths and 10,631 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 10,742 deaths and 573,616 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 8 through 14 is 12.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 15.7 percent.

20 million Americans could receive Covid-19 vaccine in December: “Americans can expect that about 25 to 30 million people could be vaccinated each month afterward, said Moncef Slaoui, co-lead of Operation Warp Speed,” by POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle.

Here are the restrictions effective today as Chicago braces for stay-at-home advisory: “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stay-at-home advisory effective Monday as the city reaches a "critical point" in the second surge of its coronavirus pandemic,” by NBC/5.

National lockdown ‘a measure of last resort,’ Biden coronavirus taskforce head says: “The way we think about lockdowns, I think, is different now than it was in the spring,” Vivek Murthy told Chris Wallace. POLITICO’s Eleanor Mueller reports.

— Arne Duncan, managing partner of Emerson Collective and former Education secretary, and his family are battling Covid-19. In a Twitter post, he said: “Our family been battling COVID for 10 days now. We were all in shape. We have what is considered ‘mild’ cases. And, it has absolutely flattened us. I’m pleading w you to please rethink your Thanksgiving plans. You wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy. Let alone those you love.”

Double lung transplants at Northwestern Memorial allow seriously ill patients to survive Covid-19’s ‘bomb blast’: “The double lung transplant surgery for critical COVID-19 patients, which was first performed in the U.S. at Northwestern in June, has now been done seven times at the Chicago hospital by Dr. Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program, and a team of surgeons. The surgery is considered more difficult than other lung transplants because of the damage COVID-19 has done to the organ, Bharat said,” by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley.

How language barriers can add anguish and complicate care for Covid-19 patients: “Patients, community leaders and health officials say language barriers are ‘an added burden’ to those suffering from COVID-19 and their loved ones. They recognize the lack of bilingual medical staff and prevention resources in Spanish influenced the way the virus harshly hit the Latino community in Chicago and across the nation,” by Tribune’s Laura Rodriguez Presa and Alison Bowen.

REP. DARIN LAHOOD says Joe Biden should be receiving security briefings, a sign he acknowledges the Democrat won the 2020 election. “It is appropriate from a national security perspective for Joe Biden to be afforded access to intelligence and security briefings,” the Republican congressman told Playbook through a spokesman.

LaHood’s comment about Biden’s post-election position follows Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who took to Twitter on Nov. 7 to acknowledge Biden’s victory: “Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Our nation deserves two competing parties who can work together when possible, and compete honorably when not.”

Other Illinois Republican Party leaders, however, are keeping quiet about their opinions on the outcome of the presidential race. Illinois GOP Executive Director Derek Murphy and party Chairman Tim Schneider didn’t respond to requests for comment, and neither did GOP Reps. Mike Bost (12th), Rodney Davis (13th), or John Shimkus (15th).

GOP Rep. Mike Bost tweeted Nov. 8 that he supports Trump’s “efforts to ensure all legal votes are counted… So while Joe Biden & supporters celebrate, our work continues.”

Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and newly named state Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie said they don’t comment on national security issues.

Political strategist Collin Corbett says he’s not surprised some Illinois Republicans are keeping quiet. “Everyone knows Biden has won. It’s a matter of respect [for Trump]. They want to let the guy get through the process.”

Corbett, who heads the “right of center” Cor Strategies, expects transfer of power will happen “and it will be peaceful. There’s no sense in angering him in the meantime.”

LIGHTFOOT CANCELS 350 LAYOFFS tied to her ‘pandemic’ budget: “Revenues generated by the sale of recreational and medical marijuana have “gone through the roof,” allowing the city to cancel the layoffs,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Mayor doubles down on property tax hike—and tells aldermen not to record her: Lightfoot “reiterated that she plans to link her budget with changes to the city’s sanctuary city ordinance even though the Latino Caucus opposes tying them together,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

Progressive aldermen to introduce amendments to Lightfoot’s proposed budget: “An employee tax aimed at online giant Amazon and other big retailers is among the proposals progressive aldermen will bring forward Monday to balance Chicago’s 2021 budget…. Progressive aldermen also will introduce ordinances to the City Council on Monday to fund a program within the city Public Health Department to have mental health teams respond without police officers to mental health crises; to defund the Chicago Police Department’s Homan Square facility on the West Side; and to sunset a handful of special taxing districts in order to return more property tax funds to the city and other taxing bodies. These ordinances face uphill battles to make it into the budget,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.

What we learned in 11 days of virtual Chicago budget hearings: “The hearings covered everything from the mayor’s proposed perpetual property tax increases, to the ongoing debate over police funding, to the kind of minutiae that only the most dedicated ally alderman could find riveting. (Does the rest of the city really care how many two-man vs. one-man garbage trucks roam the streets?) But this exercise in municipal government is just the beginning. The mayor’s quest for 26 “yes” votes to pass a budget by the end of the year is underway,” by WBEZ’s Becky Vevea and Claudia Morell.

… Commission caps: Watch for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to lay out a plan for commission caps on restaurant delivery service fees this week during one of the City Council’s two meetings (today or Friday). A 5 percent cap on fees that delivery apps charge restaurants has already been proposed. The mayor may offer something higher in an effort to help restaurants already reliant on delivery companies during the pandemic.

Chicago considers changes to emergency mental-health response as recent police cases highlight the issue: “A group of aldermen and community activists are now calling for a plan to remove police from non-life-threatening mental health calls altogether by creating a dedicated emergency line that would dispatch a paramedic and a clinician instead. And just this month, the Chicago Department of Public Health outlined its own idea: a $1.4 million plan to create three-person teams of clinicians, cops and paramedics to respond together to mental health calls, by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Jeremy Gorner.

After backing losing candidate for state’s attorney, city’s largest police union makes big plans for governor’s, mayor’s races: They are the two offices where FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara said he would like to see change. “The union will also try to recruit candidates from police, firefighter, Streets and Sanitation and other city worker backgrounds to take out aldermen it feels aren’t supportive of law enforcement causes, Catanzara said,” reports Tribune’s Alice Yin

Richard J. Daley a ‘horribly racist mayor,’ great-grandson says in letter: “In an open letter to his cousins, Bobby Vanecko also condemns his great-uncle Richard M. Daley and parents’ cousin Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) for racist policymaking,” by Sun-Times’ Clare Proctor and Tom Schuba.

Now-closed McCormick Place Covid-19 hospital cost taxpayers $15M to staff, run: “That brought the total cost to build and run the short-lived facility to about $81.1 million, including construction costs. The emergency facility will not reopen, state officials say,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Robert Herguth.

If only in a mural, Oprah Winfrey is back in the West Loop: “‘It took my breath away,’ the former TV talk-show superstar says of how artist Shawn Michael Warren ‘was able to capture a feeling of hope and inspiration and strength,’” by Katie Anthony for the Sun-Times.

Lost for decades, the Adler Planetarium’s original Zeiss star projector back in Chicago: “Planetarium staff hope to restore the rust-blotched 1930s projector to something approaching its original glory,” by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito.

Historical photos revisit the rise of parks and public spaces in Chicago’s bygone eras: “Over a hundred historical photos, drawings and artifacts from some of Chicago’s most iconic public spaces are in a new exhibit at the Harold Washington Library Center downtown,” by WBEZ’s Minju Park.

— BULLIED, BADGERED, SCORNED: Suburban school boards feel the heat — and the hate — as they weigh Covid-19 school closings: “As the latest deadly surge of the virus is breaking records across the Chicago region, local school board members are being targeted by frustrated parents in towns including Wheaton, Deerfield and Naperville who are demanding that schools reopen and contending that the virus itself is far less dangerous to their kids than the devastating impact of shuttered schools,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.

Under Cook County budget proposal, sheriff’s office faces 4% budget cut: “Activists who support less funding for law enforcement say that’s ‘not enough,’” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Cook County Jail suspends all visitations due to coronavirus concerns: “While video visitations will be made available, officials said banning in-person visits ‘will help protect the health and safety of staff and detainees,’” by WGN/9’s Mike Ewing.

Evanston issues stay-at-home advisory after reporting record-high number of new Covid cases: “On Thursday and Friday, city officials reported 43 and 60 confirmed new COVID-19 cases, the city’s largest daily numbers since the pandemic began in March,” by Tribune’s Genevieve Bookwalter.

PRITZKER WARNS of widening budget deficit over next five years without action, says cuts alone won’t be enough: “Still smarting over the loss of his proposed graduated-rate income tax amendment and the revenue that would go with it, Pritzker restated expectations of a $3.9 billion deficit for the budget year that ends on June 30. A forecast from his budget office project deficits of $4.8 billion in the budget year that starts in July and continuing in the $4 billion range annually, including $4.2 billion for the 2026 budget year,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.

Illinois reports $285M in September sport bets: “Gamblers can place bets on sporting events at seven of Illinois’ casinos and one horse racing track. The state’s most lucrative casino and its first to start taking sports bets, Rivers in Des Plaines, accepted about $105 million in wagers in September, the most of any Illinois casino, according to the gaming board. Sports betting has generated about $3 million in tax revenue for Illinois in its first three full months,” by the AP.

GI Bill snafus still keeping veterans from tapping benefits to pay for their kids’ college:The problems with the Post-9/11 GI Bill persist. Even a retired Navy commander who served as an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff was nearly cheated out of benefits,” by Sun-Times’ Stephanie Zimmermann.

— Column: The next test ahead for the governor: “Fifty-five percent of people voted against J.B. Pritzker’s "fair tax" proposal which was a crushing turnabout. The questions that remain are: What lessons does Pritzker draw from his first big loss and what does he do in response?” By Better Government Association’s David Greising.

— Column: Is Chuy Garcia the key to Michael Madigan’s future? The Democratic congressman has a political alliance with the embattled House speaker. “Congressman Garcia has significant influence over at least three Chicago Democratic House members [Gonzalez, Aaron Ortiz and Delia Ramirez]. But if he makes a strong statement either way on Madigan, several other progressives in the chamber could very well follow his lead….But a deal is a deal and, in the long term, Garcia has the better end of it. Madigan gets peace and Garcia gets more of his people into influential positions every time there’s a path,” writes Rich Miller in the Herald & Review:

Ex-Harvey mayor’s brother, a ‘deeply corrupt police officer,’ gets 9 months in Uzi coverup: “Derrick Muhammad, a former police supervisor in the south suburb, orchestrated the coverup of the submachine gun found in the towed vehicle of a felon,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.

Why the ‘Fair Tax’ didn’t pass: “Gov. Pritzker threw his personal checkbook into the effort, he didn’t invest his political capital in the same way. He didn’t personally campaign for the referendum, preferring to let a direct mail, radio, TV and digital media campaign do the heavy lifting. Aides say he was pre-occupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on saving lives, and didn’t have time to barnstorm for the tax effort,” by Center for Illinois Politics’ Derrick Blakley.

— BARACK OBAMA’S new book is out this week: “A Promised Land”

…The Atlantic interview: Why Obama fears for our Democracy: A Promised Land is an unusual presidential memoir in many ways: unusually interior, unusually self-critical, unusually modern (this is the first presidential memoir, I believe, to use the term ethereal bisexual to describe an unrequited love interest), and unusually well written. The book does suffer at times from a general too-muchness, and it has its arid stretches, although to be fair, no one has yet invented a way to inject poetry into extended explanations of cap-and-trade, or Mitch McConnell’s motivations,” writes Jeffrey Goldberg.

… ‘60 Minutes’ interview: Obama on his book, President Trump, George Floyd, the divisions in the country, and more: “When your time is up then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments. My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing,” Obama says.

Obama’s book tour doubles as a warning about ‘deeply divided’ media landscape, by CNN’s Brian Stelter

Readers have been eagerly waiting for Obama’s new memoir. Struggling booksellers have, too, via the New York Times

Trump campaign pares back federal suit over Pennsylvania election results, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein

The hard-knock political education of Ron Klain, by POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald

Trump edges closer to conceding the election, then backs off, by POLITICO’s David Cohen

The ending of Trump’s presidency echoes the beginning — with a lie, by Washington Post’s Ashley Parker

Congratulations to Appellate Court Justice Nathaniel Howse Jr. and Patricia Howse, who just celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary. Nate and Patty, as their friends know them, met in 1985 at a friend’s wedding, where she caught the bouquet and he caught the garter. They married Nov. 8, 1986, at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, celebrated at a reception at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Lawn, and honeymooned in St. Thomas. Their nuptials were written up in Ebony and Jet magazines. Pic!

TV reporter and Illinois native Jennifer Lenzini dies in Florida motorcycle crash, via Sioux City Journal

FRIDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Reform for Illinois Policy Analyst Isaac Wink for correctly guessing that five former White House chiefs of staff were born in Illinois: Donald Rumsfeld, Samuel Skinner, John Podesta, Rahm Emanuel, and Bill Daley.

TODAY’S QUESTION: How many amendments to the Illinois constitution have been put to voters? Email your answer to [email protected].

Steve Niketopoulos, director of Community Relations for Ald. Hopkins’ 2nd Ward office, who celebrated Sunday.



November 16, 2020 at 07:52AM

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