Good Monday morning, Illinois. Loyola students “take claim of Illinois” after a 71-58 defensive stunner against top-seeded Illinois in the NCAA tourney. h/t Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER plugged $35 million into his campaign fund, a not-so-subtle move that he’s gearing up for re-election even though he told Playbook and other reporters last week he wasn’t ready to announce anything because he’s focused on handling Covid-19.

Pritzker, an entrepreneur and heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, gave himself the big donation on March 12, according to state campaign finance records released Friday. The donation does not lift the caps on donating because March 12 is more than a year ahead of the March 15, 2022, primary.

Campaign spokesman Quentin Fulks told Playbook that Pritzker remains “laser focused” on battling covid, “but given the increasing number of Republicans who have declared their candidacies for governor in 2022,” the governor wanted to have cash on hand to respond to any “false and misleading attacks” on him.

“Over the past two years, the governor has led Illinois through a global pandemic by listening to the experts, not the anti-science conspiracy theorists currently running in the Republican primary,” Fulks said in a statement.

Republicans who have already put their names in the hat include state Sen. Darren Bailey, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, businessman Gary Rabine, and former law enforcement officer Christopher Roper. Another potential candidate is Richard Porter, who represents Illinois on the Republican National Committee.

Pritzker’s $35 million donation to himself is a drop in the bucket compared to the $171 million he spent in 2018 to defeat former Gov. Bruce Rauner, a multimillionaire. That race totaled $283 million. Four years earlier Rauner and then-Gov. Pat Quinn spent $100 million combined.

Speaking of personal donations: Rabine donated $110,000 to himself on Friday, according to the Board of Elections.


A year after his coronavirus shutdown, Pritkzer will continue to face questions over ‘signature issue’ of his first term: How he handled the pandemic, by Tribune’s Dan Petrella and Rick Pearson

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is at odds with House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon over how redistricting should be conducted, even though they say they’re on the same page about doing it in a transparent way. It’s a polite divide at the top of the party.

Public hearings on the remap process began last week and will continue through April. Harmon and Welch are united in keeping the process in the hands of the General Assembly, which is headed by Democrats in both chambers.

Pritzker, who campaigned on pushing an “independent method” of drawing the maps, says he’ll veto one that is partisan (though he hasn’t been specific about what that means).

Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Center for Illinois Politics that the governor made a “rookie” move by not taking control of the remap process to make it independent. “You can’t reform a process in the middle of the process,” he said.

The governor’s “view is that legislative maps should reflect Illinois’ gender, racial, and geographic diversity, along with preserving the Voting Rights Act decisions that help ensure racial and language minorities are fully represented in the electoral process,” Jordan Abudayyeh, Pritzker’s spokesperson, said in a statement to Playbook.

That’s what Harmon and Welch want, too. So the spotlight will be on how transparent lawmakers really are in redrawing the districts. Hearings are public and headed by Black and Latino lawmakers to make sure minority communities have a strong voice at the table. The actual drawing will likely be behind closed doors though votes on it will be public.

Illinois Republicans remain skeptical about transparency given how much political power Democrats have in the state.

Welch points out Republicans only complain because they aren’t in charge. “You don’t hear them calling for these [independent] commissions in Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, or Missouri — states that are gutting working families,” Welch told Playbook. “So it’s a partisan issue.”

And Harmon says the proposals out there for independent redistricting commissions pose their own problems. “Who chooses who’s going to be on the commission? How can a small commission possibly reflect the remarkable diversity of the state of Illinois?” Harmon asked rhetorically in an interview with Playbook.

“Right now, the task is left to 177 people elected by their communities to represent them,” Harmon said of the General Assembly. “It’s hard to imagine a scenario that better reflects the diversity of the state.”

Maybe, but critics worry that Democrats’ decisions will lead to gerrymandering. The question will be how Pritzker sees it.

RELATED: The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gives a state-by-state view of how the delay in getting Census numbers will play out.

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

At UI Health Mile Square Health Center at 1 p.m. to register Back of the Yards residents for Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

In Forest Park at 9:30 a.m. to announce expanding mass vaccination sites in Cook County. At Ping Tom Memorial Park at 11:15 a.m. to discuss the State of Illinois standing in solidarity with members of the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. At Olive Harvey College at 12:45 p.m. to discuss a landmark education reform law with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus on hand.

In Forest Park at 9: 30 a.m. to announce expanding mass vaccination sites in Cook County.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 22 additional deaths and 1,431 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus. That’s a total of 21,081 fatalities and 1,221,863 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from March 14-20 is 2.5 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.0 percent.

Getting vaccine envy as nearby states expand eligibility more quickly: “Just because different groups or more people are eligible, that doesn’t necessarily mean more individuals are getting immunized. In fact, Illinois has been slightly faster at getting shots into arms than Indiana and Ohio ― two of the states that opened up age tiers sooner,” report Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos, Joe Mahr and Lisa Schencker.

— VIDEO: Chicago crosses milestone of 1M vaccine doses administered: The city will expand to Phase 1C of Illinois’ vaccine rollout on March 29, reports NBC/5.

KARL ROVE headlining March 31 virtual fundraiser for Rep. Adam Kinzinger: More than 150 people have signed on as co-hosts to the event, including such notables as former Ambassador Ron Gidwitz, former Sen. Mark Kirk, trading titan Don Wilson, and retired Air Force Gen. John Borling, who was in the same POW camp as the late Sen. John McCain. And while 11 of Kinzinger’s relatives signed two letters blasting him for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump, Kinzinger’s parents, Jodi and Rus Kinzinger, and his brother, Nate, are among the co-hosts, too, reports Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet. Here’s the full list of co-hosts.

— Fact-Check: Does the American Rescue Plan limit how states can spend funds? “U.S. Rep. Mike Bost claimed the federal plan just signed into law doesn’t restrict spending on the $350 billion allocated to state and local governments. That leaves out important details,” reports Better Government Association’s Kiannah Sepeda-Miller.

— DEEP DIVE: Bail abolition is just the tip of the iceberg: Illinois’ sweeping new criminal justice reform also affects “elements of policing, pretrial procedures, sentencing, and incarceration as well as prison gerrymandering and crime victims’ rights. Most of the provisions in the bill take effect on July 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted,” reports the Reader’s Maya Dukmasova.

Pandemic batters middle school sports association; no state tourneys means no revenue: “Its $1.6 million budget is funded primarily from selling tickets to those events, but since Covid-19 arrived last year, there have been no events to attend. That has put the group in a $1.5 million hole,” by Tribune’s John Keilman.

State senator discusses Commonfields job: “But Sen. Christopher Belt declined to describe what he does there when asked on Friday, citing ongoing litigation. ‘I show up. I work. I do whatever needs to be done,’ Belt told the Belleville News-Democrat. ‘There’s open litigation. That’s just the way it works. You can’t comment when there’s that process going on.’”

Who will attend LGBTQ town hall for downstate mayors and reps? Only one of five mayors invited has said they’ll attend, and none of the five state reps invited has responded. By WPSD’s Shamarria Morrison.

All systems go on I-490, which could change O’Hare access and suburban driving: “The massive Route 390 and I-490 interchange should be built by the end of 2023. Additional ramps taking vehicles from I-490 to the airport will be finished by 2025,” reports Daily Herald’s Marni Pyke.

A new push to expand the state’s Earned Income Credit could include immigrants: “Two bills pending in the Illinois General Assembly call for the expansion of a tax credit that has been seen as an anti-poverty program because it provides relief for low-income households,” by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón.

Illinois budget targets ‘loopholes’ critics call crucial to renewal: “The spending plan Pritzker presented last month and which lawmakers will contemplate in coming weeks eats up a projected $2.6 billion deficit in part by curtailing spending by $400 million and raising $1 billion in taxes through eliminating what he calls ‘unaffordable’ corporate loopholes — several of which weren’t loopholes two years ago when he signed them into law,” by the AP’s John O’Connor.

Illinois college enrollment drops as students take a pandemic pause: “Declining enrollment is raising concerns about students falling off track. But some say they need the time off to reflect and realign goals,” by WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad.

Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Biden’s MO: “Anyone surprised that Joe Biden would scrutinize the weed-smoking habits of his White House staff hasn’t paid attention to one of the more consistent policy threads of his decades-long career. He’s just not ready to embrace cannabis,” by POLITICO’s Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang.

Marking more than a year of pandemic, Lightfoot rallies Chicagoans: ‘Let’s stand up together’: “The mayor gave the speech one year after she delivered a similar address as the pandemic took hold. At times, her remarks — delivered from City Hall — resembled a campaign kickoff or State of the Union-style address as she laid out policy priorities from helping residents with housing to getting Chicagoans back to work in construction jobs,” reports Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

In city after city — including Chicago — police mishandled Black Lives Matter protests: “Inquiries into law enforcement’s handling of the George Floyd protests last summer found insufficient training and militarized responses — a widespread failure in policing nationwide.” Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s office is heavily cited, by New York Times’ Kim Barker, Mike Baker and Ali Watkins.

… PHOTO PROJECT: Black mothers and fear of police brutality, by the Marshall Project’s Morgan Hornsby.

Chicagoans could decide if civilian panel can fire top cop, negotiate CPD contracts: “If Chicago voters OK the binding referendum on the 2022 primary ballot, Mayor Lori Lightfoot would lose the power to hire and fire the police superintendent even though her political future could rise and fall on that choice,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Carjacking victims’ fears are realized as city fights to control the crime: “Through mid-March, there had been more than 370 carjackings in Chicago. Despite a dip during February’s harsh winter weather, that figure was easily the most seen here during the same period in any year since at least 2001, crime statistics show,” by Tribune’s Paige Fry and Jeremy Gorner.

All CPS families getting $450 pandemic food benefit cards. Some trying to pay it forward: “[W]ith government aid failing to solve the financial challenges facing many Chicagoans, some community groups are effectively trying to redistribute the money instead,” by Tribune’s Hannah Leone and Jenny Whidden.

Kim Foxx focuses on carjackings and violence as jury trials resume today: “Cook County courts are scheduled to resume jury trials on Monday, but it will be a slow start that doesn’t offer much hope for relieving the massive case backlog that’s built up over a yearlong pandemic shutdown. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said there are more than 28,000 pending cases right now — about 35 percent higher than the number before Covid-19 forced an end to normal court operations,” by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH disagrees with FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said last week that the Atlanta spa shootings didn’t appear to be racially motivated. “It looks racially motivated to me but I’m not a police officer. I’m not investigating the crimes,” Duckworth said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Duckworth has asked Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland for a deeper investigation into crimes that involve Asian Americans to see how many have been underreported,” she said. Duckworth also spoke to VP Kamala Harris “at length” about the issue and expects the administration to do more, she told national Playbook’s Eugene Daniels.

Jim Clyburn saved Biden’s campaign. Now he wants to put his imprint on his presidency, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki

Trump looks to take down Raffensperger in Georgia, by POLITIO’s Alex Isenstadt and Zach Montellaro

GOP hopefuls crank up the ‘if-Trump-doesn’t-run’ primary, by POLITICO’s David Siders

Rallies in Atlanta, nation against hate after spa shootings, by The AP

Why TIME’S UP isn’t calling for Cuomo’s resignation — yet, by your Playbook host

— Shawn Ray White will join the Obama Foundation as general counsel. White will lead all aspects of the foundation’s legal affairs including those related to the design, construction, and operations of the Obama Presidential Center, according to the foundation. Most recently, White was general counsel to the Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation and the Broad Family Office.

— Rob Rose is stepping down as executive director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority in June to work in the private sector. Rose has led the organization for six years. In a statement, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle praised Rose, saying “Rob’s leadership helped spur economic development where it was needed the most.” The Land Bank will launch a national search for its new ED.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar headlined a fundraising event last week for the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s virtual humanitarian awards. The event, which saw nearly 2,000 attendees, raised $2.1 million. Humanitarian awards were given to Scott Swanson, president of PNC Bank Illinois and to the Exelon Corp., for which company CEO Chris Crane accepted. The Survivor Legacy Award was given posthumously to Zev and Shifra Karkomi.

Today at 4:30 p.m.: Evan Osnos, a New Yorker staff writer and author of “Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now,” headlines a virtual discussion sponsored by Chicago’s International Women’s Forum. Moderator is veteran journalist and media exec Joyce Winnecke, who heads the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago board of directors.

FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to philanthropist, securities trader Lee Blackwell for correctly answering that the 9th Congressional District race between Sidney Yates and Edwin Eisendrath was the most expensive in the nation in 1990 at $1.4 million.

TODAY’s QUESTION: In what Chicago ward did John Dillinger purposefully have his fingerprints burned off by the mob to help with a disguise? Email to

Bill Houlihan, state director for Sen. Dick Durbin and Dem state central committeeman, Johnson Publishing’s Linda Johnson Rice, clinical psychologist Dr. Patricia Howse, business consultant Benton Cook III, Piece pizzeria co-owner Billy Jacobs, and Connie Mixon, associate professor of political science at Elmhurst College and co-author of “Twenty-First Century Chicago.”



March 22, 2021 at 07:08AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s