Thursday, February 28, 2008

Great Leaps

Tomorrow is February 29th, that rare occasion when the shortest month of the year gets a little bit longer. Most of the time, Leap Years coincide with presidential elections and the Summer Olympics. They don't come every four years, exactly; centuries are not Leap Years, unless they're also divisible by 400, as 2000 was.

Even more rare than the Leap Year is the Bill With 47 Sponsors But No Hearing. HB 1 has been sitting in the Senate Rules Committee since last April. All but a dozen of the 59 members of the Senate have signed on as sponsors. That's more than enough to pass the bill; more than enough to override a veto; even enough to suspend the rules and move the bill directly to the floor. And yet, the bill sits in Rules, unheard, unvoted upon.

The Daily Herald ran a story talking with "Leapsters" or "Leaplings" about what it's like to have February 29th as their birthday. We feel like the 47 sponsors of HB 1 deserve some sympathy, too, for their unusual circumstance. So tomorrow, why not call them up and say you feel for them. Sometimes, it's lonely trying to do the right thing.

Also, according to some, February 29th doubles as Sadie Hawkins Day. On behalf of HB 1, why not take the initiative and ask the Senate President to dance?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SENATE SUPPORT FOR HOUSE BILL 1 JUST KEEPS GROWING

The newest member of the Illinois Senate has become the newest co-sponsor of House Bill 1, which would limit pay-to-play state contracting opportunities.

Just days after being sworn-in to a vacancy in the Senate, Sen. Heather Steins, D-Chicago, became the 47th member of the 59-member Senate to sign on as a co-sponsor of HB 1.

HB 1 would prohibit business owners with more than $25,000 in state contracts from making campaign contributions to officeholders awarding the contracts.

“If state government contractors are banned from contributing campaign dollars, taxpayers will have some confidence that contracts are being awarded fairly, and business owners will be less likely to be squeezed for campaign contributions in exchange for doing business with state government,” said Cynthia Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

“Too many business executives believe that campaign contributions are the price that must be paid in order to win a state contract,” Canary said. “We need to turn that on its head and make campaign contributions the price of not getting state business.”

Last spring, the Illinois House approved HB 1 by a vote of 116 to 0. In the more than nine months since HB 1 passed the House, Senate President Emil Jones has not allowed HB 1 to be debated.

“Support for this legislation is overwhelming,” Canary said. “Senate President Jones should either permit the bill to come to a vote or tell the 47 sponsors and the public why he fears passage of this important government reform.”

For additional information about HB 1, please visit www.ilcampaign.org.

MDN STATEMENT CALLING ON ALL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO CLARIFY PUBLIC FINANCING AND OTHER REFORM POSITIONS

The Midwest Democracy Network, a coalition of over 20 Midwestern civic groups working in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, today issued the following statement:

“This past week, several media reports referenced a Midwest Democracy Network (MDN) federal political reform questionnaire that was issued in September 2007. While the focus of the questionnaire has centered on answers submitted by Senator Barack Obama’s campaign, it should be noted that the campaigns of Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, Governor Mike Huckabee and Congressman Ron Paul have yet to answer a single question from the questionnaire.

“The MDN respectfully calls on Senators Clinton and McCain, Governor Huckabee and Congressman Paul to join Senator Obama in responding to the MDN federal political reform questionnaire by Tuesday, February 26, 2008.

“As voters in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont prepare to go to the polls on March 4, it is critical that voters know where the remaining candidates stand on a raft of key issues including public financing of presidential campaigns, government ethics, lobbying, media policy, election laws, and redistricting.

“This questionnaire offers the candidates a nonpartisan forum for laying out their positions on these important issues prior to the ultimate nomination of candidates for the general election. And as a result, a number of other organizations-most notably, Common Cause, Public Campaign, and several state League of Women Voters and PIRG organizations-have joined in the call for candidates to respond.

“The President of the United States has a special responsibility to defend and preserve the values, institutions and practices that are so essential to a well-functioning democracy. At a time when young Americans are once again putting everything on the line to make the world safe for democracy in far away and dangerous places, it is not unreasonable to expect presidential candidates to tell the American people how they plan to move us all closer to the more perfect union our nation's founders envisioned.”
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The full questionnaire, background papers, and Senator Barack Obama’s and former candidate Senator John Edwards’ response to the questionnaire can be found at www.midwestdemocracynetwork.org.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Semi-Final Fundraising Totals

The most expensive race in the state looks to be the contest for the Democratic nomination for Cook County State's Attorney. There are six candidates vying for the nomination for this open seat; the winner will face Republican Tony Peraica in the fall.

State’s Attorney Democratic - $4,681,300
Allen, Tom - $1,311,500
Alvarez, Anita - $718,800
Brookins Jr, Howard - $665,000
Suffredin, Larry - $1,113,500
Milan, Robert- $836,600
Brewer, Tommy - $35,900

Next most expensive looks to the race for the Democratic nomination to the Cook County Board of Review in the 2nd District. This is a districted contest, covering one third of Cook County, mostly on the north side of Chicago and the northern suburbs. No candidates have filed for the nomination of other parties.

Board of Review, 2nd District (D) - $2,658,000
Berrios, Joseph (I) - $1,869,400
Deratany, Jay Paul - $788,600

Third most expensive is for the Democratic nomination to the Fifth District Appellate Cout. This race covers souothernmost 37 couonties in the state, reaching almost to Springfield, but not quite.

Fifth District Appellate Democratic - $1,400,600
Wexstten, James - $638,000
Cates, Judy $762,600

Rankings in the legislative races are largely unchanged from Friday; the 28th District moved up, but there are no new races here. The revised totals:

26th District Democratic - $692,800
Jeffries, Elga (I)- $31,300
Chadha, Paul - $87,000
Jackson, Philip - $60,300
Burns, William - $299,700
Johnson, Kenny - $214,500

25th District Democratic - $333,300
Currie, Barbara Flynn (I)- $336,300
Latiker, Sharon - $0

28th District Democratic - $262,800
Rita, Robert (I) - $164,600
Mayden, Michael - $1,300
Rayburn, Earick - $96,900
Caston, Pamela - $0
Taylor, James - $0

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

9th District Democratic - $258,100
Walton, Dorothy - $12,400
Turner, Art (I) - $245,700

There was a similar shake up in the rankings in Senate races, but no new races broke in to the top. Appointed Incumbent Willie Delgado reported significant receipts over the weekend, moving the 2nd District race into 3rd place. The revised totals, counting cash on hand January 1, 2007 and all reported fundraising since:

Top Five Senate Contests

20th District Democratic - $774,200
Martinez, Iris (I)- $472,500
Bradley, Richard - $269,700
Guevara, Carlos - $31,900

5th District Democratic - $545,000
Hendon, Rickey (I)- $305,500
Bedi, Jonathan- $187,300
Mertens, Amy Sue - $52,200

2nd District Democratic - $372,200
Moreno, Proco "Joe" - $150,700
Delgado, William (A-I) -$221,500

36th District Democratic - $323,000
Rumler, Paul - $29,800
Jacobs, Mike(I)- $293,200

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

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, as well as information on where candidates stand on reform issues and who signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

We'll take another look at fundraising totals after the elections, but check back in July for the "final final" expenditure numbers.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Updated Fundraising Totals (Including Judicial)

Illinois’ only Supreme Court race, in the First District, is uncontested, but the three races for nomination to the Appellate Court are all seeing active campaigns. The Fifth District race for the Democratic nomination is clearly the hottest. Judy Cates is challenging appointed incumbent James Wexstten. Cates is largely self-financed, while Wexstten has received support from both local Democratic politicians and medical interests. In the First District, there are two seats, only one of which has seen closely contested fundraising.

Fifth District Appellate Democratic - $1,360,900
Wexstten, James - $600,800
Cates, Judy $760,100

First District Appellate Democratic (Burke Vacancy) - $306,900
O’Neal, William $0
Coleman, Sharon $176,300
Greiman, Alan $130,600

First District Appellate Democratic (Campbell Vacancy) - $63,500
Steele, John $49,600
Gardner, Frank $0
Walsh, Richard $13,900

There are a few changes to note in House races. Most significant, there was an error of sorts in 26th District candidate Kenny Johnson’s totals. Despite the footnote that his figures included only cash on hand on July 1 and all fundraising since, his total was actually based on the same formula as the other candidates’. As a result, his total included the $208K that he spent on his aldermanic campaign. Having determined that that money was not available for the legislative primary, I should have excluded it. Here are revised totals.

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

This error does not change the rankings of the House races, nor the likelihood that this race may set a record, nor the identity of the top two fundraisers. But it was a mistake, and I’m sorry for that.

The other change in House races is that the 28th District is now in 5th place for fundraising.

28th District Democratic - $252,800
Rita, Robert (I) - $154,600
Mayden, Michael - $1,300
Rayburn, Earick - $96,900
Caston, Pamela - $0
Taylor, James - $0

There were no changes in the rankings in Senate races, but one of the candidates in the top race, Richard Bradley, reported significant new receipts. The revised totals:

20th District Democratic - $723,900
Martinez, Iris (I)- $469,500
Bradley, Richard - $222,500
Guevara, Carlos - $31,900

There were also significant changes in the race for Cook County Board of Review, 2nd District. Challenger Jay Paul Deratany reported six figures late yesterday. The revised totals:

Board of Review, 2nd District Democratic - $2,658,000
Berrios, Joseph (I) - $1,869,400
Deratany, Jay Paul - $788,600

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, as well as information on where candidates stand on reform issues and who signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.