Illinois Dems’ new chief has a plan
TGIF, Illinois. Our headline a year ago sadly still stands: The “unfathomable” price of war.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The Illinois Democratic Party has named Ben Hardin as its new executive director.
The native Michigander has been in the position on an interim basis since last year’s leadership upheaval saw the exit of former Executive Director Abby Witt.
Like his predecessor, Hardin has ties to progressive politics, having served as chief of staff to former Congresswoman Marie Newman. He also was a finance director for Congressman Sean Casten and worked on Democratic campaigns in central Illinois and Kentucky.
Trial by fire: Hardin came on board just as the 2022 political campaigns were ramping up. “We were under immense pressure trying to build and maintain a state operation and coordinated campaign in the final throes of a pretty large midterm cycle,” he said, referring to Illinois Democratic Party Chair Lisa Hernandez. “We were able to piece together a successful operation.”
Next steps: Hardin and Hernandez now want to make the operation year-round. “We don’t want to just pack up when an election ends and put things in storage until the next election,” he told Playbook.
More hires: Marina Faz-Huppert is now deputy executive director. She worked with the Illinois Department of Labor. And Kiera Ellis will stay as a senior adviser.
Hardin says in the coming year, the party will hire directors of data, finance and communications. And there are plans to add two regional political organizers to the four already on the ground. The goal is to have organizers work year-round on voter and volunteer recruitment.
Policy plans: The state party is pushing to get more Democratic candidates on down-ballot school and library boards in an effort to push back at Republicans who are recruiting “extremist candidates” for those positions, Hardin said. “We aren’t going to let these extremist groups get away with pushing their agendas.”
Also on the party’s radar: Hernandez has had numerous conversations with the Democratic National Convention Selection Committee and folks in the President Joe Biden’s “orbit” about Chicago hosting the 2024 convention.
How Hardin was hired: He was among three finalists chosen through a selection committee that included Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris, chair; Carol Ronen; Michael Cudzik; Congresswoman Delia Ramirez; Glenn Poshard and Omar Aquino. Hernandez hired Hardin after conducting final interviews.
RELATED: Boosters of Chicago’s bid for the 2024 Democratic Convention are raising questions about Georgia’s lenient concealed-carry laws, by New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman and Maya King
VOLLEYS AT VALLAS: Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is taking hits from all sides ahead of Tuesday’s municipal election. He has front-runner status, so it comes with the territory. Vallas is being criticized for his remarks on critical race theory, his social media actions and his latest TV ad.
About CRT: State Sen. Ram Villivalam called Vallas’ comments “the same racist talking points echoed by right-wing demagogues.” And state Rep. Theresa Mah says Vallas is “unfit” to be mayor and owes Chicagoans an apology.
What he said: In 2021, Vallas said, “For white parents, I mean, how are you going to discipline your child when your child comes home and your child has basically been told, you know, that their generation, their race, their parents, their grandparents they have discriminated against others and they have somehow victimized another person’s race.” via Wirepoints
Their bonafides: Villivalam is the Asian American Caucus chair, a Democratic committee person and the first Asian American elected to the Illinois Senate. Mah was the first Asian American elected to the Illinois General Assembly and co-chairs the Asian American Legislative Caucus. They’re both supporting Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor.
Vallas’s campaign responded, telling Playbook, “Desperate opponents are choosing to mischaracterize, distort and politicize Paul Vallas’ record of improving public schools.”
About his tweets: “A Tribune review of his social media found Vallas Twitter account @paulvallas liked a series of tweets that used racist language, supported controversial police tactics like ‘stop-and-frisk’ or insulted the mayor in personal terms,” report Gregory Pratt, Alice Yin and A.D. Quig.
He’s shocked: Vallas said he does not “personally manage” the account and was “shocked when this was brought to my attention.”
About his new ad: It touts Vallas’ support for the LGBTQ community. But Equality Illinois, LGBTQ Victory Fund and LPAC called the ad offensive, saying it is “a desperate attempt to cover up his anti-equality track record.” They want the ad taken down. Here’s the ad.
Four days to Election Day.
If you are managing Paul Vallas’ twitter account, Playbook would like to talk to you. Email [email protected].
At the Lexington Elementary Building in Maywood at 11 a.m. to announce recommendations from the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative.
At the Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church at 6:30 p.m. to attend the one-year anniversary of the Russian War against Ukraine Rally and Remembrance.
Ukrainian Catholic Church at 6:30 p.m. for the remembrance.
Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]
— Pritzker will do what it takes to keep both DeSantis and Trump out of the White House: “Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said he’s willing to spend what it takes in the next election to help President Joe Biden keep his job — and keep Republicans like Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump out of the White House. ‘It’s very important to me that we elect a Democratic president and that we make sure to keep DeSantis, Trump and the retrograde views that they carry out of the White House,’ Pritzker, a longtime Democratic donor, said in an interview Thursday with Bloomberg News in Chicago. ‘I’ll continue to support Democrats in the best way I can to help them get elected,’” Bloomberg’s Laura Davison and Shruti Singh report.
— State Board of Elections probing potential collusion between Dan Proft PAC and Darren Bailey campaign: “Proft’s PAC, People Who Play By The Rules, spent more than $14.5 million in the last half of 2022 to help Bailey and/or hurt [Gov. JB] Pritzker, according to campaign disclosure reports filed with the board. Under law, such independent expenditure groups are supposed to make all decisions regarding messaging on their own, with no direct or indirect coordination or consultation with the political campaigns involved,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— When Washington realized Russia was actually invading Ukraine: “A first-ever oral history of how Washington insiders saw the warning signs of a European land war, their frantic attempts to stop it — and the moment Putin actually crossed the border,” by POLITICO’s Erin Banco, Garrett M. Graff, Lara Seligman, Nahal Toosi and Alexander Ward.
— Chicago Ukrainians and supporters decry Russia’s continued aggression as war marks one year, by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos
— Yearning for home a year after war began: Ukrainian refugees make a new life in the suburbs, by Daily Herald’s Alicia Fabbre
— COMMENTARY: Hold Russia accountable for the crime of aggression in Ukraine, write Kerry Kennedy and Dick Durbin in the Tribune
— Illinois earns 7th credit upgrade in less than two years: “S&P Global Ratings announced Thursday that it had raised Illinois’ long-term credit rating to A-, up from BBB+. The rating applies to roughly $27.7 billion in outstanding general obligation, or GO, bonds,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— Pritzker’s plan targets kids’ mental health crisis: “A report examining the capacity and condition of Illinois’ response to behavioral health in young people has been in the works for nearly a year,” rewrites Associated Press’ John O’Connor, who obtained the report.
— GOP lawmakers make proposals for Choate while decrying Pritzker’s handling of troubled downstate mental health center, by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner
— Springfield firefighters push for municipal ambulance service, by Illinois Times’ Dean Olsen
— Political Prize: Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is launching a democracy prize: $5,000 award to three college students with the best projects to strengthen democracy in their communities. Details here
— The Illinois State Fair has set its theme days.
— SPRINGFIELD MAYOR’s RACE: Incumbent Jim Langfelder hopes to win a third term, “something that eluded his father.” And challenger Misty Buscher, a two-term city treasurer, is “putting my money where my mouth is” in run for mayor. Both items are by the State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie.
— Naperville mayoral candidates are prioritizing public safety, but in different ways, by Daily Herald’s Kevin Schmit
— Axe’s take: Brandon Johnson’s got momentum, but don’t write ‘the epitaph’ of incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, political consultant David Axelrod tells Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman
— Can the neighbors we elect to Police District Councils redefine public safety? “These brand new elected officials are key to Chicago’s police reform legislation — but it remains unclear how they’ll operate once in office,” India Daniels writes for City Bureau.
— Kam Buckner is endorsed by the Chronicle of Columbia College Chicago in his bid for mayor.
— Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is endorsed by Bruce Heyman, the former ambassador to Canada who lives in Chicago.
— Brandon Johnson is endorsed by Ald. Maria Hadden in the mayor’s race, by Block Club’s Joe Ward
— Burke ‘cloud’ hangs over 14th Ward, as Madigan casts shadow in 13th and 23rd, by Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles
— 11th Ward: Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi are endorsing Ald. Nicole Lee in this competitive aldermanic race.
— 48th Ward: Former Gov. Pat Quinn endorsed Joe Dunne for alderman.
— Loop sees its population continue to grow during the pandemic, report finds: “The area outpaces other areas of downtown in attracting new residents, but affordable housing is in short supply, and there’s a need for open space and outdoor dining,” by Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo.
— Fullerton Avenue face-lift in Belmont Cragin to begin in spring, by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek
— Little Village activists demand action after publication of confidential report on botched Hilco smokestack demolition, by Tribune’s Karina Atkins
— Police urge Jewish, other religious communities to be vigilant this weekend as neo-Nazi group declares ‘day of hate,’ by Sun-Times’ Kade Heather
— ‘Embarrassed to have a D next to my name’: Kane sheriff faults fellow Democrats over weapons ban, by Daily Herald’s James Fuller
— Evanston cops slash traffic stops, and so far crashes and injuries haven’t soared, by Evanston Now’s Bill Smith
— Aurora City Council to vote on hike in marijuana tax, by Aurora Beacon News’ Steve Lord
— R. Kelly to serve 1 additional year in prison for Chicago sex crimes convictions: “The singer was sentenced to 20 years but will serve 19 concurrently in New York,” by ABC News’ Nadine El-Bawab.
We asked what you did after school as a kid.
Mark Heffington: “Played basketball or picked or pruned peach and apple trees for the local orchardist.”
Mark Michaels: “Trombone and bar mitzvah lessons.”
Brian Bernardoni, Mark McCombs and John Straus watched the Chicago Cubs.
Ed Mazur was a messenger for his uncle’s jewelry store in Humboldt Park.
Marilynn Miller: Raced with her siblings to get home first to turn on the radio. “Before TV.”
Gail Purkey would go home and “read for fun.”
What is the one phone call you make every day? Email [email protected]
— The GOP field descends on Iowa, readying to eat some humble pie, by POLITICO’s Natalie Allison
— New indictment details Bankman-Fried’s illegal campaign contributions, by POLITICO’s Declan Harty and Sam Sutton
— ‘Enough with the politics’: Derailment investigator takes aim at partisan sniping, misinfo, by POLITICO’s Tanya Snyder
— Sarah Wetmore has been named acting president of the Civic Federation. She’s the group’s VP and research director. Wetmore will hold the acting president position until a permanent replacement for the late president, Laurence Msall, is selected later this year.
THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to former Brian Cross and Mike Kreloff for correctly answering that the late state lawmaker Grace Mary Stern used a baseball card as her campaign literature that included the tag line: “Not one of the boys!”
TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the statewide elected official who once appeared in a sci-fi movie about bowler hat wearing aliens? Email [email protected]
Today: Former Gov. George Ryan, former state Rep. Mark Batinick, sheriff’s adviser and Police District Council candidate David Feller, Ravinia Festival CFO Peggy Papaioannou and Skillman Foundation CEO Angelique Williams-Power.
Saturday: State Sen. Cristina Castro, state Sen. Napoleon Harris III, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Iris Martinez, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Governor’s Office of Constituent Affairs Director Stacie Barton Hackler, Dover Strategy Group’s Abby Lerner and broadcaster Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix.
Sunday: Ald. Daniel La Spata, former state Rep. Suzanne Bassi, Aurora aldermanic chief of staff Rich Jacobs, Decennial Group partner Malcolm Weems, Newberg Group’s Suzy Brown and McDonald’s brand trust comms manager Ximena N. Beltran Quan Kiu.
Belated birthday greetings to Connie Damico, who turned 87 on Wednesday and was greeted with a call from Ald. Nicole Lee. “In her many years of living in the Gage Park, Wrightwood and now Bridgeport neighborhoods she has never received a birthday call from any alderman,” said daughter Michelle Damico.
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February 24, 2023 at 09:22AM