“I’m tired of this”: Illinois Dems’ leadership feud takes another turn

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Robin Kelly credit Bloomberg

Just days after finally reaching a deal on financing a joint coordinated campaign committee this fall, Illinois Democrats are feuding again over who should lead the party in the upcoming battle.

The latest signs of a mostly behind-the-scenes but intense civil war of sorts came when an ally of state Democratic Chair Robin Kelly publicly released a letter to a close associate of Gov. J.B. Pritzker urging him to abandon the “destructive path” of trying to dump Kelly.

The letter was from Carol Ronen, the Democratic committeewoman from the 9th Congressional District, to Dan Hynes, a former top aide to Pritzker who still is involved with the governor’s political operation.

EARLIER: Battle for control of Illinois Democratic Party ramps up

In the letter, Ronen took Hynes to task for allegedly working this spring to elect Democratic Central Committee members who will vote to replace Kelly when the chairmanship comes up for election after the June 28 primary. Pritzker aides have not confirmed that Hynes is working as the governor’s agent, but do concede that the governor now is involved in more than six committee races that are on the ballot.

“By every measure, Robin Kelly’s short tenure as DPI Chair has been a success,” Ronen wrote. “Why would we want to create division and strife among Illinois Democrats through an unwarranted effort to replace her just months before the November election?”

“I hope you will refrain from organizing and promoting a campaign to unseat Chair Kelly and divide our party in the process,” she added. “Instead, let’s join together in the months ahead and offer Illinois voters clear choices on critical issues such as reproductive rights, sane gun laws and an economy that works for working people rather than a handful of right-wing billionaires.”

In a brief phone interview, Ronen said Hynes attempted—and failed—to find a candidate against her. “They’re mucking around intending to knock off state central committee members with the goal of knocking out Robin Kelly,” Ronen said. “I don’t have a (government) job, so I can speak out. . . .I’m tired of this.”

Hynes, now an investment banker, failed to return a phone call seeking comment.

A Pritzker spokesperson did have some comments.

“The governor’s chief objective is, and always has been, to elect Democrats up and down the ticket at every level of government. To do so, he helped to establish a coordinated campaign, chaired by Jesse White, to support Democrats running for federal, state, and local offices,” the spokesperson said.

“As the sitting governor at the top of the ticket, the governor has made endorsements in state House, state Senate, and state central committee races. Neither he, nor his team, have said a negative word about those that were not endorsed. The governor is singularly focused on defeating Republicans.”

That’s unlikely to be the end of it. The issue of whether Kelly, as a member of Congress, is conflicted from being an active fundraiser for the state party certainly remains a legitimate area of concern. We’ll see what happens after the new central committee is elected.

lori lightfoot crain's

Speaking of internal fights: Mayor Lori Lightfoot got a few aldermanic endorsements yesterday, when she hit the neighborhoods for a series of events the day after declaring for a new term. But only a few.

But my count just seven of the 50 aldermen—Walter Burnett, 27th; George Cardenas, 12th; Derrick Curtis, 18th; Jason Ervin, 28th; Michele Harris 8th; Emma Mitts, 37th; and Scott Waguespack, 32nd—showed up or sent statements of support. Among notable absences were Zoning Committee Chair Tom Tunney, 44th, and Budget Committee Chair Pat Dowell, 3rd.

There’s still time for Lightfoot to rally more support. But, still . . .

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Irvin’s ad strategy: Finally, all sorts of political chatter Wednesday centered on why gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin has pulled down his Downstate TV ads with just two and a half weeks to go before the primary election.

He’s still up in Chicago. And candidates always shuffle their ad mix. But with the Irvin people loudly complaining that he’s been outspent by his opponents, Pritzker and the Democratic Governors’ Association—despite tens of millions of dollars in help from hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin—the move does suggest that whatever Irvin’s doing isn’t working and that he indeed may be trailing state Sen. Darren Bailey, as one recent poll suggested.

Bottom line: The GOP gubernatorial race is far from over.

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

June 9, 2022 at 06:56AM

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