Good Tuesday morning, Illinois. Raise your hand if you shoveled more than three times yesterday!
Former Republican state Sen. Paul Schimpf threw his hat in the ring for Illinois governor Monday, criticizing Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker for not giving the Illinois General Assembly a chance to call the shots in how to deal with Covid-19.
“Because of that, people have frankly lost confidence in Gov. Pritzker’s ability to handle the pandemic,” Schimpf, a former military prosecutor who served one term in the state Senate, said in announcing his bid for governor. Tribune’s Rick Pearson has more on Schimpf’s videoconference announcement.
Pritzker’s handling of the pandemic is going to be a familiar refrain in the 2022 election.
While the governor was praised for his early handling of Covid-19, Republicans’ complaints about mitigation efforts and challenges in the courts have taken a toll. The governor had a 49 percent approval rating (with a 5 percent margin of error) in October, according to The State of the Nation Survey (on page 11). That was down from 63 percent in April, the same survey group reports.
Pritzker’s criticism of former President Donald Trump being slow to help states handle the crisis played well in blue Illinois. But downstate conservatives and business owners whose livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic don’t see it that way and Schimpf and other likely GOP candidates for governor hope to capitalize on that.
Schimpf, who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general in 2014, is the second Republican to declare his candidacy. Businessman Gary Rabine, who heads a paving and roofing company, has also declared he’s running.
Reps. Rodney Davis — who isn’t shy about criticizing Pritzker as “an unmitigated disaster” — and Darin LaHood have not ruled out a run for governor. State Sen. Darren Bailey is expected to announce his candidacy next week. And Republican National Committeeman and Chicago attorney Richard Porter is toying with a campaign, too.
Davis and LaHood are waiting to see how their districts could be adjusted in the upcoming redistricting process.
Along with rejecting Pritzker’s handling of the pandemic, there’s another theme that will play out in the gubernatorial race: who supports Trump. So far, all the GOP contenders do.
There’s another delay in issuing census numbers, which poses a huge problem in how Illinois officials redraw boundaries for federal and state seats.
Census officials say data won’t be available until Sept. 30. Given it normally takes a few months to process that data, it seems impossible for the state to file a congressional redistricting plan by its Oct. 5 deadline. And meeting the May 31 deadline for state house seats is even more difficult.
Given Illinois is expected to lose at least one congressional seat, candidates for the remaining House positions will have little time to figure out which district they represent when it comes time to gather the signatures they need to get on the ballot. That deadline, by the way, is in December.
“Illinois is in a quandary. But it’s not alone. A lot of states are looking at what their avenues are,” Kimball Brace, a D.C.-based redistricting consultant, told Playbook.
Some states are considering special legislative sessions later in the fall, asking state courts for guidance, or using preliminary population data to begin redrawing maps. The latter is a possibility in Illinois. There’s also the expectation that maps could face court challenges that draw out the process — possibly long enough to then pull in the official numbers when they arrive in September.
The congressional remap is trickier because the law requires that each district be represented equally “down to the penny,” Brace said. The courts have allowed a larger deviation of 5 percent above and 5 percent below for state legislative maps.
A spokesman for House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who is among the Democratic leaders dictating the remap process, called the census delay “a unique situation.” The spokesman, Sean Anderson, added: “The speaker, members, and staff are still assessing all options, but his goal remains making sure all communities get their due representation in Congress.”
Asked if Illinois has a plan to use early data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey taken in advance of the census, Gov. J.B. Pritzker told reporters Friday: “We’re looking at that. We’re looking at how we might manage through that. We’ll deal with it like all the other challenges we’ve faced with Covid-19.”
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At the Chicago Fire Department Quinn Fire Academy at 9 a.m. to congratulate new firefighters at a CFD graduation ceremony.
No official public events.
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 41 new deaths and 1,420 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 20,002 fatalities and 1,163,574 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Feb. 8 through 14 is 2.9 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.6 percent.
— Illinois sees lowest Covid-19 caseload since fall, but death toll tops 20,000: “While it took more than nine months from the beginning of the pandemic in Illinois to reach 10,000 deaths, it only took a little over three months for the death toll to double,” reports Sun-Times’ David Struett.
— Chicago hospital faces vaccine mistrust from an unlikely source: “Just 37 percent of the 600 doctors, nurses and support staff at Roseland Community Hospital have been vaccinated even though health care workers are first in line. Many holdouts come from the mostly Black, working class neighborhoods surrounding the hospital, areas hard hit by the virus yet plagued with vaccine reluctance,” by the AP’s Lindsey Tanner.
— Covid a killer for the obese: “It’s like pouring gasoline on top of a fire when you have Covid,” said Dr. Terry Mason, former Cook County chief medical officer. “It creates these horrific situations in our bodies. That’s why most of these people who died from Covid, most of them have these underlying issues. If we really want to get to the core of the problem, we have to change what we eat.”
— Chicago closes Covid-19 testing sties due to holiday, weather, by WTTW’s Kristen Thometz
SNOW, SNOW, SNOW….
— With another foot of snow expected, schools close, flights canceled: “As the Chicago area braced for as much as 14 inches of snow by Tuesday, city and county officials sought to reassure residents that Chicago Public Schools will be closed, streets will be plowed, vulnerable residents will be made safe and that help is just a phone call away,” by Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.
— ‘All-hands-on-deck moment,’ Lightfoot says, as Chicago prepares for snow blitz, by WTTW’s Patty Wetli and Brandis Friedman. With video
— That snow on the ground isn’t going anywhere anytime soon: “Chicago Public Schools announced that Tuesday’s in-person classes were canceled due to travel concerns stemming from ‘the significant snowfall on the ground and anticipated inclement weather,’” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell and Tom Schuba.
— 4 buildings collapse in Chicago and Elgin over 3 days: “As storms continue pummeling northern Illinois, experts warn more old, vacant or poorly maintained buildings may buckle under the weight of the snow,” by Tribune’s Leslie Bonilla and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.
— What Kinzinger’s family said: “Two days after Mr. Kinzinger called for removing Mr. Trump from office following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, 11 members of his family sent him a handwritten two-page letter, saying he was in cahoots with ‘the devil’s army’ for making a public break with the president. ‘Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God!’ they wrote. ‘You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!’ New York Times’ Reid Epstein reports.
— New state GOP chairman talks future of the party, condemns impeachment trial and Jan. 6 riots: “We have a new president now, a hard-fought election, a lot of concerns about election security with all the massive mail-in balloting, including live ballots going out in several states, including the people outside, obviously, we weren’t able to prove that enough to set aside the election,” Tracy tells WMBD’s Matt Sheehan. “We have a new President, he has the opportunity in his honeymoon to unite this country, because united countries do not do well in the scheme of history, yet he’s wasting any goodwill he might’ve gotten in this honeymoon period to try to further divide the country. I think that’s a big mistake, I think it’s bad to the country, and it’s a big mistake to the Democrats.”
— NEW CPS DRAMA: Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the New York Times that Chicago Public Schools wouldn’t have opened “without mayoral control.”
… Lightfoot’s statements are “fueling speculation about whether she will ever deliver on that pivotal campaign promise,” writes the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman. And Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said Lightfoot’s claim is par for the course: “Our mayor has misled us on a number of issues.”
— Some aldermen propose plan go give fired hospitality workers first dibs on new jobs: “The hotel industry is pushing hard against an ordinance sitting in the Chicago City Council that would force hotel owners to rehire all employees that had been laid off during the pandemic before offering jobs to new hires. The so-called Hotel Worker Right to Return Ordinance hasn’t been called for a hearing since it was introduced in November by Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward and Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward,” by WBEZ’s Claudia Morell
— For pandemic-era high school students, the thrill is gone: “Nearly one year after the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, students across Chicago and the suburbs say when it comes to high school, the thrill is gone, with simple pleasures such as huddling with friends in the hallways and catching up over lunch in the cafeteria displaced by a dystopian landscape of remote learning and virtual extracurriculars….Many teens have concluded that as everything they cherished about high school is now forbidden, they might as well get some extra sleep, and sign on to remote learning from their bedrooms,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta and John Keilman.
— Another miracle for Covid survivor: First, she beat a coma. Then her medical bill. Then foreclosure: “Unable to work during a long recovery, Karla Taylor-Bauman was faced with losing her home. Then, a group of business leaders stepped in after reading about her in the Sun-Times,” writes Stefano Esposito.
— City requires convicted gun criminals to register, makes arrests but won’t prosecute violators: “Hundreds are arrested every year for violating a 2013 ordinance requiring those convicted of gun crimes to register annually. They’re almost never fined or jailed,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.
— Despite efforts to reduce jail populations amid Covid, few inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes have been released early: “Former Attorney General William Barr recommended that federal inmates who were convicted of nonviolent crimes, are immunocompromised and don’t pose a risk to society should be prioritized for home confinement….But less than 14 percent of the more than 150,000 federal inmates, the majority of whom were convicted of nonviolent crimes have been released to home confinement since last spring, according to the Bureau of Prisons website,” Tribune’s Nausheen Husain reports.
— Federal fight against carjackings brings tough sentences, but hurdles limit case count as violent heists mount: “Federal prosecutors say they’re doing what they can, but there are legal obstacles that can prevent them from taking more cases themselves, particularly in situations involving juveniles where no one is hurt or killed,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.
— NO CHARGES in the deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak At Quincy Veterans’ Home: “After investigating the matter for more than two years, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is closing a criminal investigation without filing charges relating to the state’s mishandling of deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at a downstate veterans’ home. Starting in 2015, dozens of residents and employees of the state-run Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy were sickened with the preventable, water-borne form of pneumonia. Outbreaks at the home occurred again in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Another case was reported at the home last December,” by WBEZ’s Tony Arnold, Dave McKinney.
— House Republicans to Pritzker: Base budget on reality — ‘not wishful thinking’: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to deliver his annual budget address to the General Assembly via a live video feed at noon Wednesday. So far, he has revealed little about the budget he plans to propose for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— Graduated income tax failed, but the alternatives aren’t materializing either: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker long warned that without his graduated-rate income tax, which voters rejected in November, Illinois would be left with only two options to address its chronic budget problems: raising income taxes or double digit across-the-board spending cuts. But ahead of his budget address to lawmakers Wednesday, Pritzker outlined a state spending plan that would neither raise the income tax or alter the total budget outlay,” by Tribune’s Dan Petrella.
— Newly appointed state Sen. Mike Simmons on goals for Illinois’ 7th District: “Neighbors in Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown and Ravenswood have a new state senator representing them in Springfield, and he says he plans to tackle the health and economic disparities his constituents experience,” by WTTW’s Evan Garcia.
— Column: Hold off on celebrating new term limits on leadership in Springfield until they’re set in stone: “New Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch led the way for the enactment of a new rule limiting leadership positions to 10 year terms. But mere rules are easy to make and easy to break. If, 10 years from now, Welch is still speaker and decides to ask for a few more years, all he’ll need is majority support on his floor — not the approval of the Senate or the signature of the governor and certainly not the approval of the people of Illinois….[B]ut if the Democrats are sincere about term-limiting legislative leaders, they should begin the process of amending the Illinois Constitution to reflect this sincerity,” writes Tribune’s Eric Zorn.
Wednesday at noon: Gov. J.B. Pritzker will deliver his annual State of the State and budget addresses together and virtually. “The addresses are being combined this year due to the unique circumstances and challenges we still face with Covid-19,” according to the governor’s office. The combined speech will also be streamed on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Rep. Chris Miller listed among lawmakers tied to insurrection: “At least 57 state and local Republican officials attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington that turned into a deadly insurrection, according to an updated HuffPost tally. Almost all of them are resisting calls to resign,” via Huffington Post.
— Han Nguyen, the creative mind behind Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s official Twitter account and digital communications program, has stepped down to take a job in the Biden administration. Nguyen will join the leadership team at the Small Business Administration. Nguyen has been with the mayor’s office since the start of the Lightfoot administration.
— Adam Hodge joins the Biden administration as assistant trade representative for media and public affairs. He most recently was senior VP for external affairs at Ariel Investments. Hodge is a veteran of the Obama Treasury Department and former DNC communications director. He also served as the press secretary for House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and worked for former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).
— GOP tries to weaponize pandemic-exhausted parents against Biden, by Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki
— High-flying fintech startups get new scrutiny after the GameStop debacle, by POLITICO’s Victoria Guida
— Covid wars launch DeSantis into GOP ‘top tier,’ by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo
— Jason Heffley has been named Illinois state director for Americans for Prosperity, the political and grassroots arm of the conservative Koch network. Heffley previously headed Ideas Illinois, the group that led the effort to defeat the graduated income tax amendment. Heffley also is the former energy and environmental policy director for former Gov. Bruce Rauner and former executive director of the Congressional Western Caucus in Washington, D.C.
— Sheila Simon, the former Democratic lieutenant governor, has joined the board of CHANGE Illinois, which advocates for good-government reform.
— Mark Mclaurin is joining the 1833 Group as senior VP for campaigns and will work to expand the firm’s presence on the East Coast. He previously was political director of SEIU.
Pioneering sleep researcher Rosalind Dymond Cartwright, ‘Queen of Dreams,’ dead at 98: “Her groundbreaking research concluded dreaming is important for mental health because it helps people organize thoughts and deal with worries and emotions,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Heather Wier Vaught, one of the House prosecutors for the impeachment trial of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, for correctly answering that Rep. John Logan (IL-09) and Rep. Henry Hyde (IL-06) served as impeachment managers in the trials of Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, respectively. (Vaught knew the answer because she remembered looking it up when the Blagojevich trial was being set up.)
TODAY’s QUESTION: What was the largest majority any party carried in the General Assembly and in what year? Email to [email protected].
State Sen. Don DeWitte (33rd), POLITICO publisher Robert Allbritton, Chicago City Council Legislative Reference Bureau deputy director Dana O’Leary, breakfast guru Ina Pinkney; and belated greetings to Jason McGrath, pollster for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who celebrated Monday.
February 16, 2021 at 07:16AM