Jim Dey | Budzinski not on GOP’s 2024 target list – news-gazette.com


It’s time once again to dive in to another round of quick takes on the people, places and events that were being talked about over the past week:

Preemptive surrender

The 2024 election — if you can believe it — is already heating up. That’s why — in a move that surprised no one — the fundraising group Emily’s List recently endorsed new U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-Springfield, for re-election.

Who, after all, would the liberal group endorse but the liberal 13th District rep, who was elected to her first term in November?

The bigger news came last week when the National Republican Congressional Committee issued a non-endorsement endorsement of Budzinski.

The non-endorsement endorsement came in the form of the GOP’s 2024 target list of Democratic U.S. House members they’ll focus on defeating next year.

The GOP list included only one Democrat — 17th District U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen — from Illinois. The absence of Budzinski’s name from the list spoke volumes.

It means that Budzinski will effectively run unopposed in 2024, the only likely opponent being an underfunded GOP candidate willing to take a sound beating for the team.

House Democrats have yet to release their target list of Republican House members. But it’s unlikely they’ll target any of the three GOP representatives from Illinois.

That’s because Illinois U.S. House maps have been thoroughly gerrymandered to elect 14 Democrats by locking state Republicans into the three districts they hold.

Indeed, Budzinski’s Democratic 13th District — which is shaped like a snake and runs from Champaign-Urbana to the Missouri border — was described by The Washington Post as the most-gerrymandered U.S. House district in the nation.

Doper wars

What Wisconsin giveth, Missouri threatens to taketh away.

What’s this about? Marijuana.

Last week’s column referenced the apoplexy of Wisconsin legislators enraged by their citizens driving across the border to Illinois to buy legal marijuana.

Cheeseheads reportedly contributed $36 million in marijuana-related revenue to Illinois tax coffers. Now Illinois tax officials are concerned that Illinoisans are crossing over into the Show-Me State to buy marijuana.

Missouri recently legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. News reports indicate that its first month of legal sales totaled $103 million.

At the same time, Illinois’ sales to out-of-state shoppers dropped by 15 percent.

Illinois’ marijuana business is still booming — $120 million in February alone. But for how long after Missourians decide to stay home to toke up and Illinoisans learn how much less expensive marijuana is in Missouri?

A recent Chicago Tribune story reported that “Illinois products often cost roughly twice as much, often running $40 or more for an eighth of an ounce of flower, the part of the plant that smokers use.”

One reason for the price discrepancy is that “Missouri taxes retail marijuana sales at a flat 6 percent” while Illinois’ taxes have a “scale that goes up to a hefty 35 percent.”

The frugal doper, obviously, would prefer Missouri prices to those in Illinois.

Illinois’ high taxes also mean that the illegal marijuana market also continues to thrive.

That’s not all that’s less expensive in Missouri and therefore appealing to those relatively close to the border.

One Missouri dealer noted that “they come over to buy gas and cigarettes, so why not weed?”

Legal war averted

The civil trial of a man wrongly convicted of murder won’t be held in Douglas County and may be moving to McLean County, where the legal controversy began in 1993.

Alan Beaman, then a student at Illinois Wesleyan, was convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend, Jennifer Lockmiller, a student at Illinois State University.

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison, serving 13 years before the Illinois Supreme Court overturned his conviction because the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.

The state opted not to re-try Beaman. Several years later, scientific testing revealed that Beaman was not the source of DNA material recovered from the crime scene. Two unidentified males were the source, and they are the leading suspects in the reopened murder investigation.

Beaman filed a civil lawsuit seeking compensation from the city of Normal and the police officers who investigated the case.

It was scheduled to be heard in Douglas County by Circuit Judge Richard Broch, who dismissed Beaman’s civil case before the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated it.

Beaman’s lawyers didn’t want Broch to preside and unsuccessfully sought his voluntary recusal. Broch refused, meaning to get rid of him, Beaman’s lawyers would have had to file a motion to substitute for cause — alleged bias against Beaman — to be heard in front of another judge.

What would have been a nasty removal business was avoided recently when Broch announced that he’s decided to retire. WGLT-FM news veteran Edith Brady-Lunny reports that Beaman’s lawyers have filed a motion asking that 11th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Casey Costigan assign a judge from McLean County to preside over Beaman’s civil trial.

Beaman has alleged that three members of the Normal Police Department conspired to frame him for the Lockmiller murder, and he’ll be seeking substantial damages for the years he spent behind bars.

Beaman now lives in the Rockford area and is married with children. When and if the case goes to trial, it will make big news. So far, there have been no serious out-of-court settlement talks, but that could change when the case gets closer to being presented to a jury.

Cornucopia of quotes

The ongoing Commonwealth Edison bribery conspiracy trial is providing more juicy revelations than the news media can handle.

They come in the form of FBI-recorded conversations between the conspirators on trial and former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the individual authorities allege orchestrated the conspiracy. Madigan will be tried next year.

Some of the recorded conversations are fascinating because they put the state’s sleazy politics on display for all to see.

They record the Machiavellian Madigan coolly listening and commenting about how to proceed — whether it’s ordering an underling to resign from the Illinois House (former state Rep. Lou Lang) or contemplating retaliation (former Senate President John Cullerton) against a colleague for countenancing criticism of Madigan during an election campaign.

Never rash, always calm, ever ruthless, Madigan’s behind-the-scenes persona is exactly what those who’ve been watching him for years expected. Still, it’s eye-opening to hear the master conduct business in a way only he could.

New member

On Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., they’re known as “The Squad” — a small group of legislative leftists led by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

The other original members are U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had nothing but disdain for these fellow Democrats.

Now they’ve added another, this one from Illinois. New U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez of Chicago has joined up.

Illinois Playbook reported that her left-wing politics made it seem “inevitable that Ramirez would join the group,” and now she has.

“Where I land on the issues often aligns with these particular colleagues of mine,” she told Playbook.

It’s not just politics, but personal ties, that makes members of the group simpatico.

Ramirez said she and her new posse “often hang out” together in D.C.

Ino Saves New

via rk2’s favorite articles on Inoreader https://ift.tt/K3Ztlgs

March 25, 2023 at 11:59AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s