Good Thursday morning, Illinois. The special House Jan. 6 committee will make its likely final case to the American public today on live TV, describing the lingering threat of Donald Trump.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Sen. Dick Durbin, who heads the powerful Senate Judiciary in Washington, D.C., and presided over confirmation hearings for the first African-American woman nominated to the U.S Supreme Court, is getting involved in Illinois judicial politics.
D.C. delivery: The Senate Democratic whip is endorsing Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford for Illinois Supreme Court in the 2nd District.
It’s not random: Rochford faces Mark Curran, a former Lake County sheriff who ran against Durbin in 2020, losing by 16 points.
On camera:Durbin has cut an ad that promotes Rochford’s experience but also takes shots at Curran. “He’s anti-choice, believes the 2020 election was stolen and his mind is bubbling over with screwball conspiracies,” Durban says in the ad.
Zeroing in on experience: Durbin also points to rankings by the Illinois State Bar Association, which “highly recommended” Rochford and didn’t recommend Curran, who has not served as a judge.
Curran’s team is holding off commenting until it sees the ad. The 2nd District race is one of two open contests to fill seats on the state Supreme Court. Republican Michael Burke, who’s already a justice, and Democrat Mary Kay O’Brien, an appellate court judge, are facing each other in the 3rd District.
Why he’s getting in the mud: That Durbin would get involved in a state race is an indication of how important Democrats view the contest.
With two open seats on the state’s highest court — in districts that are predominantly suburban — Republicans have an opportunity to gain a majority. That concerns Democrats who see abortion rights at risk if the state’s high court veers right.
WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky has a good explainer on the race and why in the world judges campaign under political parties but serve as nonpartisan once they’re elected.
More air time: The independent expenditure committee All for Justice is out with another ad, this one titled “Oath.” It features a doctor talking about abortion rights being at stake in the Supreme Court races. A voice-over also says Curran and Burke want to “criminalize abortion.” Responding, the Illinois GOP called the ad “false and defamatory.”
Speaking of Durbin: He’ll be in Chicago tonight for the Illinois Women in Leadership Training Academy fundraiser. The organization, which for 20 years has trained women political candidates, was started by Durbin and his wife, Loretta Durbin. The two will be honored at the event. Details here
The governor’s latest big idea |Gov. JB Pritzker floats $1B jobs ‘closing fund’ as he touts re-election credentials: “In an interview with Crain’s, the governor offered few details on SAFE-T Act tweaks or even his abortion agenda — but he did take time to mention an economic development tool he’d like to have in a potential second term,” explains Crain’s Greg Hinz.
Illinois could use a big deal-closing fund, Pritzker said — essentially a pot of money the governor is empowered to dip into to sweeten economic development deals when the competition with other states is tight. “Michigan has, I believe, a $1 billion fund. They can just write a check,” the governor told Crain’s. “It would be great if we had a closing fund in Illinois.”
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No official public events.
At AMC River East 21 at 5:30 p.m. for the screening of ART AND PEP at the Chicago International Film Festival.
At Union League Club at noon for a community forum.
— Jesse White off statewide ballot for first time in nearly a quarter century | Voters faced with fresh choices for Illinois secretary of state, report Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner and Jake Sheridan.
— Abortion, inflation among key issues as challenger Catalina Lauf takes on incumbent Bill Foster in newly drawn suburban IL-11: “Republican challenger Catalina Lauf thinks Democrat Bill Foster is out of touch with his newly drawn district in the west and northwest suburbs and beyond, and that voters are shocked by the far left’s ‘wokeness.’ But Foster identified one key issue that he says is driving many women, in particular, to his side: abortion,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.
— The election for Illinois’ attorney general comes at a dramatic legal moment: “The winner will have a lot of discretion responding to a legal landscape being dramatically changed by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court,” by WBEZ’s Shannon Heffernan.
— Complaint accuses Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau of using mayoral campaign funds for congressional bid, reports Daily Southtown’s Ted Slowik
— More endorsements: The National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) is out with endorsements that are based on questionnaire responses from the candidates, personal interactions, “and/or additional factors like policy positions and viability,” according to the organization. On the list, three social workers: state Reps. Karina Villa (D), Lindsey LaPointe (D) and Jackie Hass (R). And Gov. JB Pritzker was endorsed, too. Full list here
— Some good news | Students rebounded in academic growth on 2022 Illinois Report Card: “Although student academic growth slowed significantly during the pandemic, the 2022 baseline student growth percentile on this year’s state report card shows that academic growth appears to be heading in the right direction, Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Violence prevention activists are kicking off a new campaign called “Halt the Assault” that they hope brings about a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. The Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee wants to see renewed legislation in Springfield. A measure to ban assault weapons failed to make it through the General Assembly earlier this year, so activists hope the ad campaign nudges lawmakers to try again. This time, activists are fueled by community support in wake of the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park.
— In a pilot program, select Illinois residents may use SNAP benefits in restaurants, by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.
— There’s a magic stump in central Illinois, and it’ll change the way you look at farmland, by WTTW’s Patty Wetli
— WELCOME: Chicago saw 125 new migrants arrive Tuesday, according to the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. The city has now welcomed 2,991 asylum-seekers bused from the Texas border since Aug. 31.
— Treasury Department IG probing DeSantis’ migrant flights, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout and Lisa Kashinsky
— City’s Black contractor numbers still too low, Council’s Black Caucus says: “Chicago paid $763 million to prime contractors through July 31, but only 11 percent — $82 million — went to firms owned by African Americans. Hispanics fared better, at $109 million, or 14 percent. Asian Americans, Chicago’s fastest-growing ethnic group, got a 7 percent piece of the contracting pie,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— INVESTIGATION | Deaths linked to neglect, error raise concerns about quality of care at this safety net hospital: “Roseland Community Hospital promises the “best quality care” for Chicago’s South Side, but a whistleblower complaint and a rash of fatalities, lawsuits and negative federal inspection reports suggest the situation had become dire during Covid-19,” by ProPublica’s Vernal Coleman and WTTW’s Nick Blumberg.
— Pulse of the Heartland (er, city) | Belmont Cragin voters wish pols would occasionally show their faces: “It should be a neighborhood with more clout considering its size and its being home to the largest Hispanic population in Chicago. Belmont Cragin is divided among multiple wards and state representative districts,” reports Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— Chicago Animal Care and Control testifies before City Council: “From poop pick-up to wandering deer – aldermen raised a slew of animal-related complaints,” by WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel.
— 3 Chicagoans honored as MacArthur fellows: “A University of Chicago professor, a cellist and an artist/architect are among the latest recipients of the MacArthur Foundation ‘genius grants,’” by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito.
— Check fraud: Chicago sees jump in checks stolen from mailboxes, ‘washed’ and cashed for thousands of dollars, by Sun-Times’ David Struett.
— Al Capone’s letters, pistol, to be auctioned next month, by Sun-Times’ Kade Heather.
— Tenant who received eviction notice charged with murder after landlord’s remains found in freezer, cops say, by Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol and Shanzeh Ahmad
— What can convince Chicagoans to rely less on cars? City aims to make ‘transit-oriented development’ the answer, by Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat and Alice Yin
— But expressway expansion draws criticism, reports Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos
— Metra proposes ending flat-rate monthly and daily pass pilot program, but board members push back, by Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat
— Kim Foxx faces criticism amid high staff turnover at State’s Attorney’s Office: “According to city data, more than 235 have left in the past 15 months alone, and the State’s Attorney Office has had to ask for volunteers so that courtrooms will be staffed,” reports NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern.
— Olive Harvey College to offer associate degree in ‘Applied Cannabis Studies’: “A campus greenhouse will help 140 students learn how to grow and maintain hemp plants as a part of a certificate program that next year, will become the first such associate degree program at any community college in the state of Illinois,” by WGN’s Dana Rebik and Eli Ong.
— Joe Walsh, the former congressman and presidential candidate, and Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, joined the advisory board of the bipartisan gun safety organization 97Percent, which Washington Post Magazine recently profiled as an organization that “promotes pragmatic gun-policy reforms — with a twist." The group is made up of gun owners who support safety.
We asked which political race you’re watching:
Bernard Schoenburg, former political reporter: State Senate race between Doris Turner and Sandy Hamilton. “It’s a battle royale.”
Randy Bukas, the city manager of Freeport: “The referendum question that the City of Freeport has on the November ballot to remain a Home Rule unit of government. With the recent drop in our population, we have to ask the voters if we can remain a home rule city.”
Tim Mellman: “Evanston’s ballot referendum on ranked choice voting. I volunteered with FairVote Illinois, an organization that is devoted to bringing RCV to Illinois until I moved to St. Louis for university at WashU. I’m hoping Oak Park will follow in Evanston’s footsteps and add a referendum to their April election ballot. And, there’s already a bill proposed in the state legislature to bring RCV statewide.”
Bill Singer: Nevada Senate race "as I think it will be key to control of the Senate. Also Georgia and Pennsylvania.”
Janice Anderson: “The Supremes.”
Kevin Conlon: Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania Senate races.
John Fritchey: “The Warnock/Walker race is going to be a good test of just how hard Republicans are willing to hold their noses and check their integrity at the door in order to make gains in the Senate.”
Fred Lebed: The race between Democrat Sean Casten and Republican Keith Pekau.
Joseph Monack: The 6th and 13th Congressional Districts.
Rey Nonato: Illinois governor and U.S. Senate races.
Michael Penicnak: Nevada and North Carolina U.S. Senate races.
Jonathan Perman: “South Dakota governor’s race. Surprisingly, Kristi Noem is only four points ahead (within the margin of error) of Jamie Smith.”
JuanPablo Prieto: Secretary of State race "because of the vital services the office provides.”
David Ruskin: “The close race for governor of Wisconsin.”
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— Why Jan. 6 is mostly absent from the midterms, by POLITICO’s Jordain Carney, Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick
— Trump will have to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit filed by a writer who says he raped her in the 1990s, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein
— LA City Council president resigns following leaked racist remarks, by POLITICO’s Lara Korte
— Alex Jones ordered to pay $965M for Sandy Hook lies, via The Associated Press
— Oct. 18: Bob Fioretti is holding a fundraiser at the Red Lion Pub in his bid for Cook County Board president. Host list includes Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy. Details here
— Ted Cox, a policy adviser in the Illinois Comptroller’s Office, and editor Kate Schmidt married over the weekend in a small family ceremony in Bloomington. Pic!
— Harold Smith, heir of Northern Trust and ITW founders, dies: “Smith, who was also state GOP chief, used his fundraising and executive suite connections to help Republicans execute in a rare sweep of statewide offices in 1994,” by Crain’s Steven R. Strahler.
— Walter E. Smithe Jr., founder of the furniture and design company, dies at 86, by Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo
WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Elizabeth Grisanzio, fundraiser for DuPage candidate Greg Hart, for correctly answering that Calvin Sutker had a long career, serving as a Democratic committeeman, state representative, Cook County commissioner and chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.
TODAY’s QUESTION: What’s the healthiest county in Illinois? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Matteson Village trustee Adam Shorter, City Club of Chicago chair emeritus Ed Mazur and Revv’s Gerrit Lansing.
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October 13, 2022 at 07:11AM