TGIF, Illinois. Kyrsten Sinema is a household name for saying no to a reconciliation bill. Now she’s a yes, via POLITICO.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, just elected chair of the Illinois Democratic Party, has asked the current staff to stay on board as she tries to ramp up operations before the General Election in November.
The lingering question is whether the 10 staffers who worked under her predecessor, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, will choose to stay.
“I want to move forward in a unified fashion. It’s all about really building that ticket up and down. We have to make sure that Illinois remains blue, so that’s the ultimate goal. We’ve got to do well in November,” Hernandez told Playbook in her first interview since the contentious race for party leader was resolved last week.
The Cicero Democrat talked to Playbook by phone while she was in Denver with her legislative colleagues for the meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I’m a little overwhelmed, but it’s OK. It’s very exciting,” Hernandez said about taking on the additional duties of party leader.
Hernandez said she spent her first few days in the non-paying party job scheduling appointments to talk to each of the 33 other Democratic State Central Committee members about their needs. Three members of the committee told Playbook they haven’t heard from Hernandez. “Not a peep,” said one person, signaling Hernandez still has fences to mend.
Bill Houlihan, a committeeman who worked on state fundraising for Kelly, said he talked to Hernandez the day she was elected and says her team has “reached out” to talk more. “I want to be there in any way, shape or form,” he told Playbook. “I’m looking forward to moving the party forward the way we have for the past 17 months.”
Party history: Before Hernandez won the chair, Kelly spent the past year-and-a-half trying to modernize the party after decades of leadership under the thumb of former House Speaker Michael Madigan. But Kelly wasn’t Gov. JB Pritzker’s choice for the top Dem job, so he led an effort to get Hernandez elected instead.
In an email to supporters, Kelly wrote: “The powers that be did not support me. Fighting lies, threats and backroom deals is painful and often scarring. But I am not demoralized; I am not discouraged.”
Now it’s Hernandez’s turn: “My vision is to try to bring back into the party what hasn’t been done in the past. That’s my focus,” she said, adding she’s “ready to move on” from the disagreements that led to her being elected chair.
She’s brought in consultants to examine the books and is working on a “persuasion mail program” for state House candidates. Also in the works: a digital program focusing on Black and brown communities, and naming a vice chair and other officers. Hernandez says she’s spoken to Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, some members of the congressional delegation, and has “reached out” to judicial candidates on how the party can provide support.
Along with keeping the current staff in place, at least through November, Hernandez wants to hire a finance director, voter registration director, voter protection director and government director.
It’s the kind of broad operation seen in other states. Hernandez said she’s been studying what other party organizations do and admires, for example, how California’s Democratic Party is run.
“This is an opportunity to build and strengthen our party in a way that hasn’t been done before,” she said.
All those programs and new hires cost money. “The kind of funding that I’ll be able to raise is going to be essential,” she acknowledged, not mentioning that Pritzker is expected to lead the fundraising efforts. “It’s about putting all the resources necessary to make our party successful” and making sure “candidates are feeling they’re supported.”
SOFT HANDS AD WAR: Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker is out with an ad criticizing downstate farmer Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee for governor, for accepting government subsidies (as most farmers do). “Darren Bailey’s taken over $2 million in government money. The same Darren Bailey who acts like he’s against government support. And Bailey got caught taking a fortune in PPP money just weeks before giving $150,000 to his campaign,” the announcer says in Pritzker’s ad.
Bailey pushed back: “You sit around with your soft hands, laughing with your snooty friends at the downstate farmer who thinks that he can make a difference,” Bailey says in his ad, addressing Pritzker. “Well, you got one thing wrong. I don’t think I can make a difference. I know I can make a difference because I know what it takes to work hard and build something, and you don’t have a clue.”
Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]
No official public events.
At Eugene Field Elementary School at 3:30 p.m. for a back-to-school bash.
No official public events.
— IRVIN ENDORSEMENT: In his first big move since losing the GOP primary for governor, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Kathy Salvi: “Illinois needs a senator who will prioritize families and businesses every day. Kathy Salvi has been an advocate for women and children in the greater Chicago area for more than three decades, and she will be a champion for all Illinoisans.”
— Bankruptcy filing emerges in North Shore congressional race: “Joe Severino, the GOP candidate seeking to unseat Congressman Brad Schneider, contends the filing was prompted by a legal system gone awry,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— Greg Hart, the Republican nominee for DuPage County Board chair, has been endorsed by the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.
— David Axelrod has done 500 episodes of ‘The Axe Files’ and talked with every stripe of politician — here’s what he thinks of the mess we’re in now: “My fifth (episode) was with Mitt Romney. I ran the campaign that defeated him in 2012. But the conversation was good. I was interested in things others were not. I remembered his dad, who was a renegade in the Republican Party (and governor of Michigan), and really one of my political heroes because he stood up for civil rights and things hard to stand up for in the Republican Party. The lesson that Mitt got from his dad was caution. Because his dad was incautious in his advocacy, and that cost him his political career. Which is interesting because Romney is channeling his dad now. He is the figure in the Republican Party his dad was in the 1960s,” he tells Tribune’s Christopher Borrelli
— Former President Barack Obama announced that the Water Garden at the Obama Presidential Center will be named in honor of his mother, Ann Dunham. The garden will be anchored by a commissioned art installation from renowned artist Maya Lin.
— Keanu Reeves set to play Daniel H. Burnham in ‘Devil in the White City, by The Associated Press
— Sir Elton Johnwas spotted in Chicago the other day to see his production of “The Devil Wears Prada” before it heads to New York. The singer is in town for a performance at Soldier Field tonight.
— Abortion, Covid-19, monkeypox all on new state health chief’s rounds: “Gov. JB Pritzker called Dr. Sameer Vohra ‘laser-focused on our most vulnerable populations, especially our youth. … To say he is a committed public servant would be an understatement,’” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.
— Sales tax holiday begins today on many back-to-school supplies, by ABC 7’s Diane Pathieu
— Batinick says pension legislation was the highlight of statehouse career, via WSPYNews.com
— Danville zoning commission to act on gambling locations, by Commercial News’ Jennifer Bailey
— WOULD BE HUGE | City Council ‘not a good place to work these days,’ Tunney says of mass exodus: “Five-term Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), chairman of the Zoning Committee, told the Sun-Times he plans to take some time during the council’s August recess before deciding whether to call it quits — or even run for mayor,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— In the heart of gay Chicago, worry that monkeypox is creeping ‘closer’, by Lou Foglia for WBEZ.
— 10 more neighborhood plazas to feature art space, walking trails — even an ice-skating rink, by Sun-Times’ Mariah Rush
— Investor buys another affordable housing property, this time next to Obama Center, by Tribune’s Brian J. Rogal
— Column: Chicago theater has a crisis of leadership, by Tribune’s Chris Jones
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Timmy Knudsen, chair of the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals, applied Thursday to fill the candidacy for the 43rd Ward aldermanic appointment. Today is the deadline to apply for the seat now held by Ald. Michele Smith, who is stepping down. Knudsen has been endorsed by former 43rd Ward candidate Caroline Vickrey, RXBAR cofounder Jared Smith, Equality Illinois board chair Justin DeJong, and Art Johnston, co-founder of Equality Illinois and co-owner of Sidetrack.
— NOT RUNNING: Maggie O’Keefe, the 40th Ward committeewoman in Chicago, won’t run for City Council next year. O’Keefe ran in 2019, losing out to Ald. Andre Vasquez and was expected to challenge him in 2023. In a statement, she said, “I ran in 2019 because we needed to break up the old boy’s club, and together, we not only broke it up, we built anew.” She plans to seek reelection as committeewoman in 2024.
More CTA riders are getting attacked, like Dan Beam, who fought off six robbers: “A Sun-Times analysis finds the number of violent crimes on L and subway trains and buses has risen to a level not seen in more than a decade,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba, Manny Ramos and Jesse Howe
CTA boss say employee shortage an issue in service troubles, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman
— Ex-Cook County assessor worker admits he helped lower taxes by $1M in exchange for home improvements: “Lavdim Memisovski also agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to conduct that occurred between 2016 and July 2018, under then-Assessor Joe Berrios, a previous subject of interest by the feds. In his plea agreement, Memisovski admitted that his scheme involved ‘other’ employees of the Cook County Assessor’s Office,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.
— An Oak Parker, former City Colleges official sentenced for fraud, by Wednesday Journal’s Stacey Sheridan
— Joliet has plan to force convicted sex offenders to move from their home: Build a park nearby, by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley
— Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison has introduced a resolution calling for a public hearing Monday to address the Monkeypox outbreak.
— Instead of selling White Pines, Bensenville Park District might seek $20M tax hike for new clubhouse, by Daily Herald’s Katlyn Smith
— Kane County will probably move new sales tax ballot question to April, by Daily Herald’s James Fuller
We asked when watching baseball interrupted your work life:
Gail Morse of Jenner & Block: “I remember 1984 when the Cubs faced the Padres for the NL pennant. I was working in Washington, D.C., and schlepped my dad’s radio into the office so I could listen. Luckily, I shared the office with another Cubs fan.”
Timothy Thomas Jr: “As deputy director of Homeland Security for Cook County, we were on alert for game 7 of the 2015 World Series (Cubs v. Cleveland) in case of destructive celebratory activities if the Cubs won. One eye on the game on TV, the other on command center monitors.”
Vincent Brandys, consultant: “White Sox baseball interrupted our seeing patients at the Illinois College of Optometry (which is six blocks from Sox park) in 2005 when the Sox were in the World Series. We canceled the clinic early and walked to a bar to watch the games.”
Tent vacation vs. hotel? Email [email protected]
— Police change account of crash killing Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski and two staffers, by The Associated Press
— Summers warns of `economic distress’ as Fed’s Powell holds out hope, by POLITICO’s Kate Davidson
— Dems hurtle toward critical Saturday vote on clinching domestic agenda, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
— DeSantis suspends state attorney who vowed not to enforce Florida’s new abortion law, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon
— Biden: Griner’s nine-year sentence ‘unacceptable’, by POLITICO’s Olivia Olander
— How the newest megadonor wants to change Washington, by POLITICO’s Elena Schneider
— San Francisco’s ousted district attorney, Chesa Boudin, won’t run again, by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White
Saturday at 11 a.m.: Hiroshima Day Vigil in Evanston
Nick Mathiowdis, press secretary for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Roberta Neuhausler, who works for the Consulate General of Switzerland in Chicago, welcomed Magnolia Neuhausler-Mathiowdis at 8 pounds-2-ounces and 20.5 inches. Says dad: “We love what the Magnolia Tree symbolizes. It has a hard wood, a beautiful flower and represents the strength, perseverance, and dignity we hope to instill in our daughter.” Pic!
THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Loren Wassell and Charles Roth for correctly answering Thomas Keane led the Chicago City Council Finance Committee before his federal conviction on mail-fraud and conspiracy charges.
Longtime City Hall reporter Bill Cameron recalls: “He once told us in his gravelly voice, ‘They’ll never get ole Tom Keane. I’m cleaner than clean, whiter than white!’”
TODAY’s QUESTION: What French painter and sculptor has prominent sculptures in Illinois, Texas and California? Email [email protected]
Today: State Sen. Melinda Bush, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jeanne Wrenn, former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride, senior legislative counsel in Chicago mayor’s office Maria Virginia Martinez, YMCA donor relations manager Mariam Pera, Tipsy Cake founder Naomi Levine, journalist Jim O’Shea, comms consultant Stephan Benzkofer and PR pro Chip Bouchard Vassil.
Saturday: State Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin, former state Rep. Kathy Ryg, McGuireWoods government relations VP Arielle Maffei, Business Leadership Council chief engagement officer Cory Thames, architecture writer Blair Kamin and Mike Milstein, deputy director of community policing at the Chicago Police Department.
Sunday: Congresswoman Mary Miller, Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino, Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer, Ald. Ariel Reboyras, deputy chief of staff to Chicago’s mayor Kelsey Nulph, former Senate candidate Alan Keyes, Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s downstate coordinator Chad Phillips, Rush Medical Center comms manager Polly Tita and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
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August 5, 2022 at 09:50AM