GOP guv race is wide open despite multimillion-dollar infusions: Springfield Memo

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irvin bailey

The GOP race for governor appears to be wide open … a look at a couple of the livelier legislative contests on next month’s primary ballot … and a new report dings state finances but appears at a minimum to be premature in its conclusions.

Here’s today’s Springfield Juice …

A narrow gap in the GOP gubernatorial race: If the latest poll is to be believed, the race for GOP rights to take on incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is far too close to be called, though two contenders clearly are leading the pack.

According to the survey by WGN and Emerson College, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin leads but, despite all his millions in paid TV ads courtesy of Chicago hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin, only has 24.1% of the vote. That’s really just a hair ahead of downstate conservative state Sen. Darren Bailey, with 19.8%.

Trailing—in single digits—are businessman Gary Rabine and Jesse Sullivan, and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf. The numbers suggest they’re at best long shots, but with nearly 4 in 10 voters still undecided, they’ve got a chance on paper.

Bailey not surprisingly is all smiles over the results, and says he’s just beginning to rev up in the Chicago market. Team Irvin says their polls are better, but concedes the mayor may have been hurt by millions of dollars targeting from the Democratic Governor’s Association in a clear effort by Pritzker to select his general election foe.

The next big question in the race is whether Donald Trump will get involved. The Bailey folks have been wooing him hard, and the WGN poll found that a whopping 57.4% of those surveyed indicated they’d be more likely to vote for someone endorsed by Trump. The former president already has endorsed U.S. Rep, Mary Miller over another GOP incumbent, Rodney Davis, in a primary match in Central Illinois.

Expect this one to remain hot, all the way to the June 28 primary.

You can say the same about two legislative contests I’m keeping an eye on in the metropolitan area, one on the South Side of town the other northwest.

mike naser

The South Side contest pits Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago, the chairman of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, against progressive Abdelnasser Rashid, a former campaign aide to U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and former presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Zalewski should hold the upper hand in this one as a longtime incumbent who’s a top lieutenant to House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. He’s sponsored all sorts of key legislation through the years, is a known commodity on the Southwest Side and has built a sizable $400,000 campaign war chest.

But some insiders believes that Rashid, who earlier ran for Cook County Board and the Board of Review, could present a real threat as a young (27), Harvard-educated agent of change. He was endorsed the other day by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, and has argued he’s the better candidate on preserving abortion rights.

Except for County Commissioner John Daley, Zalewski, the son of a former Chicago alderman, is the only surviving incumbent from the legendary Daley, Hynes, Lipinski, Madigan and Burke clans that once ruled that part of town and much of the state. Stay tuned.

jones martwick

The second race is on the Northwest Side, where it’s the Fraternal Order of Police and its candidate, Chicago police detective Erin Jones, against Sen. Bob Martwick.

Martwick has defeated FOP champions in other races, but ordinarily in the general election, in which they backed the GOP nominee. This time the race is in the Democratic primary, with Martwick suggesting Jones is a not-so-closeted GOP plant and she and FOP dinging him for voting for the big criminal-justice reform bill last year that, among other things, generally ruled out cash bail.

Rumor is that charter school advocates may get involved in the race; Martwick sponsored the new law that will elect members of the Chicago Board of Education.

sf

As for that report on state finances, it comes from the Volcker Alliance, a New York public affairs group which, in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Springfield, took a look at how Illinois and other big states are spending their federal COVID relief funds.

The group concluded that Illinois is mostly spending $8.1 billion in such money on recurring items rather than one-time projects such as infrastructure. That means the state could fall off “a fiscal cliff” in a few years when the federal money dries up, it said, adding to underline the point that such an ill-thought move would be consistent with the D grade it gave the state for budget-making from 2015-19.

However, as the Alliance pointed out, the report is “preliminary,” covering only spending through June 30 of last year. That means it doesn’t include what Illinois did with other COVID money this year, including allotting $2.7 billion to pay down debt in the state’s unemployment trust fund, or hundreds of millions that went to pay off other debt. The report praised Texas for such debt-paying, but doesn’t cover the period in which Illinois made a similar move.

All three of the major debt ratings agencies have looked at more recent and more complete data. And all have said that, while Illinois is far from perfect, it’s finally starting to do some things right.

Bottom line: Take the report with a cup of salt.

via Chicago’s Complete Business News Resource | Crain’s Chicago Business

May 12, 2022 at 07:51AM

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