The ruthless world of campaign endorsements

The ruthless world of campaign endorsements

TGIF, Illinois. And cheers if you survived the time-change without missing a beat.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Gilbert Villegas has secured endorsements from Congressman Brad Schneider, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer and Firefighters Local 2 , which represents some 5,000 Chicago firefighters and paramedics. And Delia Ramirez has won support from New Mexico Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez and the Mijente PAC, which supports Latinx candidates.

They’re the latest volleys in what’s becoming a high-octane battle for endorsements in the newly formed 3rd Congressional District — and more barbs are flying between the two campaigns.

Get this: Villegas’ campaign announced a few weeks ago that the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, the union that represents Chicago rail workers, had offered an endorsement. A spokesman for the campaign says the backing came during a sit-down meeting in early February with ATU Chicago President Eric Dixon, ATU Local 308 lobbyist Calvin Tillery and Villegas.

But when labor leader Clem Balanoff learned of the endorsement, he cried foul. Balanoff is a former national political director who now consults for ATU and says local union officials can make recommendations, but only the international organization can endorse in a congressional race.

Oh and by the way, Balanoff has personally endorsed Ramirez in the race. (He’s an ally of Rep. Chuy Garcia, who also backs Ramirez.) Balanoff denied that his support for Ramirez has anything to do with the ATU going neutral “for now” on endorsing in the race.

Balanoff called Deborah Cosey-Lane, a labor leader with ATU, to get the announcement pulled. Cosey-Lane told Playbook yesterday that “we didn’t agree to endorse.” Since she wasn’t in the room for the endorsement meeting we asked to talk to Dixon, the ATU president, and Cosey-Lane said he wouldn’t be returning phone calls. And he didn’t.

Tillery, the lobbyist, did. “We had a good dialogue,” he said of the meeting with Villegas. “Because he got such positive feedback from [Eric Dixon] at the time,” Villegas may have left thinking it was an endorsement. Tillery would later call Villegas to explain otherwise.

In a statement, Villegas says he’s proud of his family’s connection to the ATU 241 bus transportation workers. "My stepfather was a member of the ATU for 34 years and I appreciate our public transit workers immensely. I was a union shop steward and will always fight for working people, no matter what.”

David Axelrod has drawn the ire of some people in the White House and Biden world, according to POLITICO’s West Wing Playbook.

At issue are comments he made recently in a New York Times op-ed telling Biden that it’s “time for a little humility,” and his criticism of Biden’s performance during a recent marathon press conference.

“One White House source said there was a feeling among some staff that the former top Obama adviser was hurting the president at a moment when he was already on unstable political ground,” according to WWP.

But some of the hand-wringing “seems to miss Axelrod’s overall view of the president. A spin through his Twitter feed paints a largely positive view of Biden’s presidency. In recent weeks, he’s regularly used his platform to praise the president’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

For Chicagoans who have followed Axe, we know that he’s moved past being a Democratic talking head. That’s in part because of his work as director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, where he talks big issues with Ds and Rs alike, and for interviews on his Axe Files podcast on CNN. Recent examples: Republican Chris Christie and Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

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

At Lawrence Hall Gymnasium in Chicago at 10 a.m. to announce a new children’s behavioral health initiative.

Meeting with New York City Mayor Eric Adams during his visit to Chicago, according to our friends at New York Playbook.

At the Hyatt Regency Chicago at 7:30 p.m. where she’ll provide remarks at the Central Region Alpha Kappa Alpha Conference.

Ex-Ald. Ricardo Muñoz sentenced to 13 months in prison for spending $38,000 in political cash on tuition, trips and sports tickets: “In handing down the sentence, the judge rejected arguments by Muñoz’s attorney that probation was more appropriate since sending crooked politicians to prison has apparently failed to deter others,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.

Political operative Roberto Caldero charged in new indictment featuring ex-Ald. Danny Solis: “Also charged in separate tax indictments were former state Rep. Edward ‘Eddie’ Acevedo and his sons Michael and Alex Acevedo,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel, Mark Brown, and Lauren FitzPatrick

— Terry Cosgrove, the longtime president and CEO of the Personal PAC abortion rights advocacy group, is retiring in January, giving him time to help Personal PAC through the November election — “the most consequential election in this state in over 50 years,” Cosgrove said in a note about his retirement. He’s been with Personal PAC for 33 years and is credited with helping make Illinois one of the most progressive states for abortion rights at a time when surrounding states are pulling back.

— Martha Minow has been elected chair of the MacArthur Foundation board of directors. The legal and human rights scholar has served on the board since 2012 and will assume her new role in June. Minow is the daughter of Newt Minow, the Chicago attorney and former chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Martha Minow is a professor at Harvard University, where she also heads the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She’s a previous dean of Harvard Law School and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. At MacArthur, Minow replaces Daniel Huttenlocher, who has served as board chair since 2017.

— David M. Rubenstein was elected chair of the University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees. Rubenstein will succeed Joseph Neubauer, who has served as chair since 2015, and will begin his three-year term after the board’s annual meeting on May 26.

Corruption’s murky toll on Chicago and Illinois finances: “Political corruption taints the reputations of Chicago and Illinois and may influence decisions by businesses and voters at the polls, but it’s harder to measure the indirect toll on ratings, borrowing costs, and population trends. ‘Corruption of public officials makes headlines, but if it is one-time in nature it is unlikely to have any credit impact,’ said Emily Raimes, a vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s. ‘We consider corruption as part of our overall governance assessment, however, if it is long-term or systemic, particularly if it has affected the government’s financial stability, or is likely to affect financial stability in the future,’ she said,” Bond Buyer’s Yvette Shields reports. Subscription only

In-network doctors in decline, “State reviewing whether Blue Cross still has ‘network-adequacy,’” by Illinois Times’ Dean Olsen.

— INVESTIGATION | ‘Last gasp for coal’ sees Illinois plants crank up emission-spewing production: “Burning coal to create electricity will be largely banned in Illinois in 2030. But plants in Romeoville, elsewhere burned more in 2021 than a year before. One day, their emissions will end — but not yet” by Brett Chase and Dan Gearino in the Sun-Times.

Lawmakers could boost TANF benefits this year: “Rep. Marcus Evans’ bill could help a family of three currently receiving $549 per month from TANF get $915 in benefits. Evans said his plan also allows dollars for child support to go directly to parents or guardians instead of the current system where some of the money is dispersed by the state,” by WGEM’s Mike Miletich.

Illinois DCFS Director Marc Smith held in contempt a seventh time for failure to place a child, by CBS 2

A bit more normal, state lawmakers welcome in-person guests for first time in two years, by State-Journal Register’s Andrew Adams

Nearly 1.6M Illinois Facebook users could get their $400 checks soon after appeals court upholds $650M settlement, by Tribune’s Robert Channick

— Judicial retention | Data highlights leniency of ex-officer Jason Van Dyke’s murder sentence: “The anger about Van Dyke walking out of prison — and renewed scrutiny over [Judge Vincent] Gaughan’s sentencing decisions in the case — comes as the judge faces a retention election this fall. To stay on the bench, 60 percent of Cook County voters have to vote ‘yes’ to give him another six-year term. Gaughan, a former public defender and Vietnam War veteran, has been a judge since 1991 and has a reputation for his strict temperament in court,” Injustice Watch’s Maya Dukmasova reports.

Karla Bailey-Smith runs for state representative a second time: She’s set to face Sharon Chung in the Democratic primary for the newly drawn 91st District that includes “Bloomington Normal as well as areas like Carlock, Goodfield, East Peoria, Washington and more.” James Fisher and Scott Preston have filed to appear on the Republican primary ballot, by CIProud’s Matt Sheehan.

Judicial candidates with clout face off in local race: “Relatives of Illinois House speaker, Cook County clerk running in 4th Subcircuit,” by Riverside-Brookfield’s Bob Skolnik.

— Alexi Giannoulias has been endorsed by Ironworkers Local 1, whose members include construction workers, in his bid for secretary of state.

Willie Wilson’s gas giveaway — traffic jams and all — is latest venture for businessman, philanthropist and erstwhile candidate: “‘Look, Chicago is my town. I’m responsible as a human being to help those who cannot help themselves, ‘Wilson said Thursday morning, as city and suburban residents flocked to 10 service stations. Wilson hired around 100 people at about $15 an hour to fan out across the selected service stations in neighborhoods from Rogers Park and Calumet Heights to Albany Park to pass out $50 gas cards and help people fill their tanks,” by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley and Oliviaa Olander.

He is already planning another gas giveaway next week, via Fox News

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez condemns Lightfoot as ‘phony reformer’: “He’s furious over the tavern license granted to the Giant Penny Whistle, defying a moratorium along a three-block stretch of Blue Island Avenue. Sigcho-Lopez joined the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council in suing to nullify the license,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

In Chicago school budgets, federal COVID relief pays for existing staff, by Chalkbeatt’s Mila Koumpilova

Amazon’s bookstore in Lakeview is closing — ‘Boo-hoo’ and don’t let the algorithms hit you on the way out, by Tribune’s Christopher Borrelli

Researchers get ready for bird banding season in Chicago: ‘It gives you a wonderful look into our surroundings.’ Tribune’s Morgan Greene reports

—  Because it’s Friday: The Museum of Contemporary Art is premiering "All the Sex I’ve Ever Had," a performance that features six real-world Chicagoans over the age of 62 “sharing their most intimate, successful, and difficult times — all refracted through the prism of their romantic and sexual lives.”

— Morning email from Cook County State’s Attorney: “In the interests of public safety and justice, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is announcing the launch of its Resentencing Initiative. The initiative utilizes a new state law to review cases and identify incarcerated persons with sentences that may be eligible for resentencing in the interest of justice. Details on criteria for potential resentencing can be found here,” according to an email from Kim Foxx’s office.

Bears’ move to Arlington Heights is ‘past the hypothetical stage,’ mayor says: “He’s also confident the Bears are talking about putting a full-fledged stadium on the racetrack site, as opposed to a practice facility,” by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau.

Striking Proviso teachers call for superintendent’s resignation after confrontation with school board member, by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta

Despite top cop’s objection, officer who struck activist during chaotic Grant Park rally now faces dismissal, by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba

Retired judge arrested in Florida on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute during human trafficking enforcement operation, by Tribune’s Shanzeh Ahmad

Jussie Smollett walked out of jail Wednesday night. Will he ever have to go back? “The former ‘Empire’ actor was freed on bond while his appeal is pending, and experts say he might avoid more jail time even if the ruling in his case eventually doesn’t go his way,” by Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm.

The actor still must serve the 30-month probation term while his case makes its way through the higher courts: “And he is still on the hook to pay more than $120,000 in restitution, according to his legal team,” report Tribune’s Megan Crepeau and Jason Meisner.

Tenured UIC professor fired over sexual harassment allegations: “The associate professor, whose research focused on sexual assault prevention, and the university are being sued by six female graduate students,” by Crain’s Elyssa Cherney.

We asked about the best perk of your job that’s not part of your job description: From Rob Christie: “As the lead person overseeing the external affairs activities at Northwestern Medicine, I obviously had no involvement in patient care but I was so very fortunate to work with and get to know so many wonderful nurses, doctors, researchers and other caregivers who are all so dedicated to caring for others — especially during the pandemic. I can’t tell you how rewarding and inspirational it is to be around such heartfelt professionalism.”… Chicago Department of Law Assistant Corporation Counsel Kalpana (“Kali”) Plomin: “Feeling empowered to be a changemaker and working in a collaborative environment with other idealists.”

What’s the wildest freebie you’ve ever gotten? Email [email protected]

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin and the White House jumped to Ketanji Brown Jackson’s defense Thursday, blasting GOP attacks that centered on her handling of sex offenders, POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine reports. “I don’t believe in it being taken seriously,” Durbin said in an interview about the charges leveled by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “I’m troubled by it because it’s so outrageous. It really tests the committee as to whether we’re going to be respectful in the way we treat this nominee.”

For McDonald’s, a new Russian trademark headache: “As fears of trademark infringement surround McDonald’s shuttered Russian locations, several applications have been filed with the government there using McDonald’s name or signature Golden Arches,” by Crain’s Ally Marotti.

GOP shrugs off Trump impeachment echoes in Russia-Ukraine war: “The former president withheld aid from the same nation that Republicans are accusing Joe Biden of slow-walking aid to. They don’t see the parallels,” by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney, Andrew Desiderio and Olivia Beavers.

Chicago medical student with family in Ukraine organizes relief effort, by WTTW’s Evan Garcia

‘Does Washington society have a bottom? We don’t know yet,’ by POLITICO’s Michael Schaffer

As Trump’s Alabama Senate pick struggles, Shelby to pour in millions, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Natalie Allison

Under Trump, DHS directed to probe bogus claims about voter fraud, by POLITICO’s Betsy Woodruff Swan

Changes to the State-Journal Register start Saturday: “Home delivery and single-copy retail sales of our Saturday edition will end beginning March 19. Subscribers instead will have access to a full digital replica of the newspaper,” writes Leisa Richardson.

Naomi Savin is now deputy comms director for the House Budget Committee Democratic staff. She most recently was comms director for Rep. Bobby Rush and, before that, deputy press secretary for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

Eileen Mackevich, former executive director of Lincoln library and museum, has died: “Eileen Mackevich, who served as executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from 2010 to 2015, died Monday in Chicago. She was 82. Mackevich also co-founded the Chicago Humanities Festival,” by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie.

Today at 9 a.m.: State Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas and state Rep. Kam Buckner are among lawmakers, athletes, and youth advocates discussing the need for state funding “to expand equity and opportunity in youth development-based sports initiatives (HB4602/SB3994). Also on the panel: Olympic champion Michael Johnson, former Chicago Bull Luol Deng, and America SCORES Chicago execs Merary Flores and Amy Mummery. Register here

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Thomas D. Nash defended the "Murder Twins," Albert Anselmi and John Scalise, who killed two police officers on Western Avenue in 1925. He was 19th Ward committeeman from 1932 to his death in 1955. Side note: He also represented three of the Black Sox and Belva Gaertner, one of the femme fatales portrayed in the musical Chicago.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Which of Chicago’s private clubs hosted Presidents Coolidge, Hoover and Eisenhower, and Amelia Earhart and Will Rogers Jr.? Email [email protected]

Today: State Sen. Melinda Bush, Illinois Education Association VP Al Llorens, Duckworth staff assistant Genie Melamed, Anna Valencia SOS Political Director Allison Schraub, Google comms exec Ofelia Casillas, and Finn Partners VP Ameet Sachdev, Playbooker Nathan Elleson, and Myrna Mazur, the retired vice chancellor for Health Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations at U. of Illinois.

Saturday:  Niles Township Supervisor Bonnie Kahn Ognisanti, former Ald. Joe Moreno, attorney and former congressional candidate Kristine Schanbacher, United Way chief partnerships officer Jose Rico, PR pro Michelle Mekky, and Block Club co-founder and managing editor Stephanie Lulay.

Sunday: State Rep. Tim Butler, Lincolnshire Mayor Elizabeth Brandt, former state Sen. Terry Link, and World Business Chicago exec Abin Kuriakose.

And belated birthday candles to comms director to the lieutenant governor, Yolanda Joe, who’s just back from Dubai where she rode a camel celebrating her birthday.



March 18, 2022 at 08:06AM

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