Thursday, January 31, 2008

Top Fundraising Races in the 2008 Primary

With just a few days to go before Tuesday’s state primary election, the largest fundraising totals are being racked up by candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination in General Assembly districts where the party nomination is tantamount to a general election victory.

According to an Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) analysis of contribution reports, the five Democratic candidates in Chicago’s 26th House District could amass enough money to break the state record of $479,000 spent in a House primary election.

Top Five House Contests (Cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since)

26th District Democratic - $674,000
Jeffries, Elga (I)- $31,300
Chadha, Paul - $81,600
Jackson, Philip - $60,300
Burns, William - $293,300
Johnson, Kenny (a) - $207,500

25th District Democratic - $333,300
Currie, Barbara Flynn (I)- $333,300
Latiker, Sharon - $0

49th District Republican - $261,500
Schmitz, Timothy (I) - $178,300
Krenz, James - $83,200

9th District Democratic - $248,300
Walton, Dorothy - $10,400
Turner, Art (I) - $227,900

92nd District Democratic - $225,500
Mayer, G. Allen - $128,200
Gordon, Jehan - $97,300

(a) Since candidate Kenny Johnson ran for alderman in the Spring, 2007 elections, his totals reflect only cash on hand on July 1 and all reported fundraising since.

The five candidates in the 26th District (see chart above) have received at least $861,300 to date. Rep. Elga Jeffries, the incumbent, has reported only $31,300 in contributions, the lowest total of the five candidates. The $399,000 in contributions to the campaign of Kenny Johnson is the highest of the five candidates in the 26th District, as well as the highest of any House candidate in a contested primary so far this year. Will Burns, who has reported $291,300 in contributions, is the second highest in the 26th District.

For more information about contributions to all of these campaigns, visit ICPR’s website (www.ilcampaign.org) and the Sunshine Database, a powerful search tool and the only database that has standardized the names of all donors to Illinois candidates. The webiste also is home to the Illinois Voters’ Guide, a non-partisan guide to candidates running for seats on the Illinois supreme, appellate and circuit courts.

In addition to campaigns poised to break fundraising records, ICPR’s analysis also found a few candidates in House races reporting no income or expenditures, and at least one may have misrepresented receipts and expenditures on disclosure reports.

Sharon Latiker, running a second time against incumbent Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie in the 25th District, has not formed or activated a political committee, a step required by any candidate raising or spending more than $3,000.

In the 10th District, Rep. Annazette Collins reported raising and spending no funds at all for the past 13 months. Other political committees, however, reported giving her campaign $20,000. It appears that she is severely under–reporting her campaign resources. If she were to report receipts and expenditures, it is likely that the 10th District Race would crack the Top Five. Her challenger, Eddie Winters, reports $155,700.

In both House and Senate primaries, many of the contests are in areas of the City of Chicago that saw turnover in last year’s aldermanic races.

Top Five Senate Contests
(Cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since)

20th District Democratic - $609,800
Martinez, Iris (I)- $469,500
Bradley, Richard - $117,800
Guevara, Carlos - $22,400

5th District Democratic - $500,600
Hendon, Rickey (I)- $273,000
Bedi, Jonathan- $181,800
Mertens, Amy Sue - $45,800

36th District Democratic - $319,900
Rumler, Paul - $29,800
Jacobs, Mike(I)- $290,100

2nd District Democratic - $282,900
Moreno, Proco "Joe" - $142,600
Delgado, William (A-I) -$140,400

41st District Republican - $269,100
Radogno, Christine (I)- $246,400
Abbott, Greg - $11,000
Bartoz, Brian- $11,800

In Cook County races, two stand out for fundraising. The announcement by incumbent State’s Attorney Dick Devine that he will retire after 12 years in office has prompted a free-for-all among factions of Chicago politics. Five of the six candidates in the Democratic primary have raised more than $500,000, and total fundraising among the Democrats has reached $4.3 million (Republican Tony Peraica is unopposed in his primary, but reports $251,700 in fundraising).

The race for the Democratic nomination to the Board of Review in the 2nd District could have significant spending . The election is between incumbent (and Cook County Democratic Party Chair) Joseph Berrios and challenger Jay Paul Deratany. However, predictions are complicated by Berrios’ holding of $1.3 million in investments in one of his funds. While it seems unlikely he would spend that much, his challenger reports $672,600 in funds raised, and this race could easily surpass $1 million.

Top Contested Cook County Contests
(Cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since)

State’s Attorney Democratic - $4,289,100
Allen, Tom(b) - $1,161,500
Alvarez, Anita - $711,800
Brookins Jr, Howard(b) - $577,700
Suffredin, Larry - $996,600
Milan, Robert- $804,700
Brewer, Tommy - $35,900

Board of Review, 2nd District (D) - $2,542,000
Berrios, Joseph (I) - $1,869,400
Deratany, Jay Paul - $672,600

Recorder of Deeds Democratic - $767,600
Moore, Eugene (I)- $494,500
Smith, Ed(b)- $273,100

(b) Since candidates Tom Allen, Howard Brookins, and Ed Smith ran for alderman in the Spring, 2007 elections, their totals reflect only cash on hand on July 1 and all reported fundraising since.

ICPR will have updates of these numbers, and judicial races, between now and next Tuesday's election.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Sunshine

The due date for filing campaign disclosure reports with the State Board of Elections was one week ago. One week from today, voters to the polls. And today, ICPR and the Sunshine Project are proud to announce a series of updates to ilcampaign.org, your front-door portal for information on campaign finance and reform.

The Sunshine Database has been updated through December 31, 2007. If you want to see which how much candidates in your area are raising, and from whom, go here.

If you want to know about campaign receipts and expenditures by candidates for Supreme our Appellate Court, go here.

If you want to know which candidates have signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices, go here.

If you want to know where the candidates stand on a range of reform issues, from campaign finance reform to ethics laws to judicial elections, go here.

If you want to know which of the legislative leaders received $15,000 from Exelon in 2007, go here (hint: It wasn’t Emil Jones; he got $21K from Com Ed, and another $20K from Ameren, not to mention receipts in the Senate Democratic Fund).

If you want biographical and other information on judicial candidates, go here.

In the final days before the 2008 Primary, check back to ilcampaign.org for up-to-the-minute updates on the hottest legislative and judicial contests.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

D2 Day

Today is D2 Day, the deadline for political committees for state and local office to file their semi-annual disclosure statements for the second half of 2007. The day comes a little early, by traditional standards, for the same reason that the primary comes early: the same law that moved the primary earlier also reset the disclosure calendar. But if you're counting, it's actually late by statutory standards. By law, reports are due by the 20th, but this year, that fell on a Sunday, and Monday was a state holiday; Tuesday the 22nd is the first day of business after the deadline, so today is when reports are due.

If you want to watch the reports come in, click here. The State Board of Elections website instantly updates when new reports are filed; it's all there for your perusal the instant the report is submitted. If you're not quite sure of what you're looking for, however, our Sunshine Database will be updated and posted to our site in about a week. We hope to have the data for legislative incumbents and challengers, judicial candidates, and most Cook County offices standardized and coded so that we can post it one week from today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

ILLINOIS JUDICIAL ELECTION GUIDE NOW ON-LINE

A non-partisan guide to candidates running for seats on Illinois supreme, appellate and circuit courts is available at www.ilcampaign.org.

“Most voters say they have too little information about candidates for judicial office, and many voters are surprised to see any judicial candidates on their Election Day ballots,” said Cynthia Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).

“This on-line voters guide will give voters a chance to find out who is running, consider their qualifications and find out why these candidates say they merit support,” Canary said. “The guide also reports the evaluations of the bar associations and provide links for voters to find out more information about the candidates.”

This is the fourth election cycle that ICPR has produced the Illinois Voters’ Guide, which can be accessed from the main ICPR website (www.ilcampaign.org) and is available at www.illinoisvotersguide.org.

There are 185 candidates seeking election to 62 vacancies at all levels of the judiciary. There are 34 contested Democratic primaries and 13 contested Republican primaries.

The Democratic primary race for a 5th District Appellate Court seat has received the most news media attention and likely will attract the most campaign contributions of any judicial primary contest in Illinois this year. The two competing candidates are Judy Cates, an attorney who lives in Swansea, and James M. Wexstten, a circuit court judge residing in Mt. Vernon who was appointed to a vacancy on the 5th District Appellate Court last year. The 5th District includes 37 counties in the southern one-third of Illinois. There are also contested Appellate Court primaries for two seats in the 1st District, which is Cook County, and an uncontested primary for a Supreme Court seat in the 1st District.

All judicial candidates on the primary ballot were invited to participate in the on-line guide. In addition to biographical information, the candidates were asked to respond to two general questions about the administration of justice in Illinois, and their unedited responses are in the guide.

Visitors to the Illinois Voter’s Guide site also will find links to the websites of several bar associations in Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Elections, the official site of the Illinois Courts and reform organizations.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Call to Action from America's Heartland

If you accept Tip O'Neil's maxim that all politics is local, then a new book on reform efforts in five Midwestern states is must-reading. Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America's Heartland outlines how reformers in very different political cultures are trying to address threats to democracy.

Edited by UIS Professor of Political Studies and Public Policy Kent Redfield, Democratic Renewal looks at how political cultures diverge within the Midwest and how those cultures affect efforts to enhance voters' role in the political process.

Reformers are at work in a range of areas, including campaign finance, redistricting, judicial elections, ethics and corruption, broadcast coverage of politics and elections, and election administration, and Democratic Renewal localizes each of these efforts in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The Illinois story not only recounts the state’s recent history of political corruption, but also addresses weak lobbying laws, uncompetitive elections, restrictive ballot access and the concentration of power in the hands of legislative leadership. Despite the many problems Illinois faces, the book also highlights recent victories in the cause of reform, including adoption of the 1998 Gift Ban Act and the 2003 State Ethics law.

The book is released under the aegis of the Midwest Democracy Network., an alliance of reform groups in all five states, including ICPR. Copies of the book are available through MDN.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Judicial Elections in the News

Judicial elections have become a controversial topic. Not only are the elections themselves full of attacks and counter jabs, but many question whether judges even should be elected. Two recent accounts, and one forthcoming, are worth noting.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch had an editorial yesterday on efforts in Missouri to get rid of the current system of appointing judges and adopt an "Illinois model" of elections. The PD is not happy with this effort to elect. From their perch on the western shore of the Mississippi River, they got to watch the 2004 Illinois Supreme Court race that smashed national spending records, and in 2006 they got to watch Appellate and Circuit Court races that drew national interest by featuring polarizing TV attack ads funded by large contributions from special interest groups. Not surprisingly, they don't want *that* kind of judicial election to cross the water. Check out the editorial.

And to our north, Wisconsin voters resoundingly support a plan to offer public financing for judicial candidates who eschew special interest funding. A poll, conducted by American Viewpoint on behalf of Justice at Stake, found that nearly 2/3 of Wisconsinites support the plan, while just one in four oppose it. The results echo the findings of a survey we conducted among Illinois voters shortly after that 2004 Supreme Court race that found that voters of both parties wanted to give judicial candidates an opportunity to opt out of the special interest funding rat race.

No one disputes that the judiciary plays a unique role in Illinois government: not administrator, not advocate, but impartial decider of disputes. The third branch has been struggling in recent years with elections that look more and more like elections for the other two branches, with opposition research, position papers, and attach ads. That's why, rather than adopting our broken model of judicial elections, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois all ought to be looking to North Carolina and their system of publicly funded judicial races as a better fix for judicial elections.

A new book, Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America's Heartland, is to be released next week by the Midwest Democracy Network with perspectives on judicial elections across the region. Go to the MDN site next week for more information.