Tag: Illinois Democrats

NEW POLL: Bruce Rauner is in deep trouble in re-election bid

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post is completely separate from any election judge duties that the author may have in Illinois during the 2018 midterm elections.


Anzalone Liszt Grove, a Democratic pollster, recently did a pre-election opinion poll for the American Heart Association, and they found Bruce Rauner trailing “Generic Democrat” by a large margin. The poll found that Rauner trails “Generic Democrat” by a 47-32 margin, with that margin being quite a ways outside of the poll’s margin of error.

You may be wondering why a group like the American Heart Association, which is a non-profit group that aims to promote cardiac care, hired a political opinion pollster. However, the reason why the American Heart Association had Anzalone Liszt Grove release the polling data in the first place is because they were primarily interested in opinion polling on a proposed sugary drink tax in Illinois, which is considerably more popular than Rauner is according to the poll.

As someone who served as a poll worker during the actual voting during the November 2016 elections in Illinois, I can tell you that “Generic Democrat” or its Republican counterpart, “Generic Republican”, never appear on ballots. That’s because “Generic Democrat” and “Generic Republican” are merely designations for an unnamed major-party nominee that are used by pre-election opinion pollsters, typically with one calendar year or more remaining until the election for the office in question. There are three Democrats currently running in a contested primary for Governor of Illinois with more candidates expected to enter, so that explains why you didn’t see declared candidates being polled against Rauner, such as Chris Kennedy or Ameya Pawar, or potential candidates being polled against Rauner, such as Daniel Biss or Andy Manar.

In Illinois, it is not that difficult for a Democratic nominee to outrun “Generic Democrat” in a statewide race. Although “Generic Democrat” in Illinois is not a real-life person, if it were, it would be someone with a ton of political connections to State House Speaker Mike Madigan and/or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, both of which are thoroughly despised by voters outside of the City of Chicago and are despised by strongly left-wing voters in Chicago.

However, Rauner does have one ace-in-the-hole that unpopular politicians running for governor in other states don’t have, and that is the redistricting process that Illinois uses (outlined by Article IV, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution). If the General Assembly (Illinois’s bicameral state legislature) cannot pass a congressional and state legislative redistricting plan prior to a certain deadline with either the governor’s support or by overriding a gubernatorial veto before June 30 of a year following a federal Census, an eight-member commission presumably consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans (per the state constitution, the State House Speaker, State House Minority Leader, State Senate President, and State Senate Minority Leader each appoint two members) would draw the maps, unless the commission can’t agree on a map by August 10 of the year in question; in that case, a ninth member, whose name is drawn at random and can be of either of the two major political parties, is added to the commission. The winner of the 2018 gubernatorial election in Illinois will, provided that he or she remains in office in 2021, have the power to approve or veto any maps that the General Assembly passes. If the redistricting process goes to commission, there is likely a 50-50 chance that the commission would approve a Republican gerrymander that Rauner would want.

Bruce Rauner is extremely unpopular in Illinois for a large number of reasons (mainly because his union-busting policies would destroy Illinois’s economy and his unwillingness to negotiate with anybody who doesn’t strongly agree with him), but the general election is a long ways away.

Illinois Democrats should hold an annual state Democratic convention

Unusually for a state-level Democratic Party organization, The Illinois Democratic Party does not hold an annual state Democratic convention. With Republicans controlling both the White House and the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, it’s clear that Illinois Democratic leaders should seriously consider holding state conventions on an annual basis.

Unlike many states, major political parties in Illinois are run by directly-elected state central committees, with elections for state central committee slots held during the spring primary elections in even-numbered years. For Democrats in Illinois, two state central committee members are elected from each congressional district.

While most or, if required by law, all party business can be conducted by the state central committee, an annual state Democratic convention would allow Democrats an opportunity to give prominent Democratic elected officials and activists an opportunity to get publicity that the local media, particularly the media in downstate Illinois, often will not give Democrats, as well as an event to rally the party faithful and encourage rank-and-file Democrats to organize political strategies to win over Illinois voters and advance progressive political ideas.

Illinois Democrats are in a great position to capitalize on the unpopularity of Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner. However, a state Democratic convention is needed to effectively rally the resistance to Trump, Rauner, and their Republican allies.

We now have a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary to celebrate the Illinois bicentennial

Next year, Illinois will celebrate the 200th anniversary of our state gaining statehood, and, as a proud Illinois Democrat, there is no better way to celebrate our state’s bicentennial than a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Well, we’ve officially got one, and it’s in the Democratic primary for governor:

“I am running because we’ve gotten to a point in this country where wealth worship is the only qualifier for public office, trumping public policy. Chopping benefits or declaring strategic bankruptcy or selling companies off in pieces for profit is somehow seen as the secret ingredient for an Illinois utopia,” said (Ameya) Pawar.

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar is officially running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois, joining businessman and former University of Illinois Board Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy, who intends to formally launch a gubernatorial bid later this month. CGK and Ameya are probably not going to be alone:

Does Pawar have the wherewithal to go up against the potential primary election cash of Democratic billionaires (Chris Kennedy & JB Pritzker)? Or to take on, maybe, a couple of state senators (Kwame Raoul & Andy Manar), a pair of congresswomen (Robin Kelly & Cheri Bustos) or an Attorney General named Madigan?

A note to gubernatorial candidates and potential gubernatorial candidates: don’t ask me if I want to be your lieutenant-gubernatorial running mate, because the answer is going to be no, and I’m currently serving a two-year term, which includes the spring 2018 primary, as an election judge in Vermilion County.

GOP-led Danville (IL) Election Commission tries to deprive Democrats of their vote

To give you a general idea of how Republicans here in my home county of Vermilion County, Illinois have a total disdain of Democrats, the Danville Election Commission, which is responsible for administering elections in the city of Danville, refused to send more Democratic primary ballots to a precinct that ran out of Democratic ballots:

Frank Wright, the Democrat Party Chairman in Vermilion County, Illinois has reported that an election judge at the Danville Boys and Girls Club called the Danville Election Commission earlier today to let them know she was running out of Democrat Ballots.

She called twice without any action to deliver more ballots.

The third time, the Election Commission hung up on her, refusing to talk.

The election judge at the polling place named was not named in the report, although she was forced to photocopy ballots so that Democrats who voted later in the day could cast a ballot of their preferred political party.

What happened at the Danville Boys and Girls Club polling place last night is absolutely unacceptable. Election officials in every corner of this country should always prepare for every kind of imaginable high turnout scenario they can think of, as well as high turnout scenarios they can’t think of.

The Danville Boys and Girls Club is the polling location for City of Danville precincts 10 and 13, which are located in the eastern part of my home county’s largest city. I’m guessing that precinct 13 was the one that was short on ballots, as 96 total votes were cast in the Democratic presidential race there, compared to 63 total votes cast in the Democratic presidential race in precinct 10, although that’s just a guess based on election results, so I could be wrong about that.

Also, in case you’re wondering who Danville’s election commissioners are, the current director of the commission is Will Nesbitt, someone who I attended community college with and was formerly either an intern for, or an employee of, Illinois State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin), and the members of the commission are Barb Bailey, Charles Bostic, and Leora Clark. It’s also worth noting that, where I voted (Illinois, Vermilion County, Georgetown Township Precinct 7), I had absolutely zero issues voting, and the elections in Vermilion County outside of Danville are run by a Republican county clerk.

This is the second major controversy involving the Danville Election Commission in less than two years (in the 2014 general election, Danville election officials ran some absentee ballots through a tabulator over a week before Election Day that year). I think that it is once again time to take a serious look at either replacing Danville Election Commission officials or putting the Vermilion County Clerk’s office in charge of elections for the entire county. Elections should be run as smoothly as possible, regardless of the party affiliation of those who are responsible for running elections.

Tammy Duckworth wins MoveOn email straw poll for Illinois U.S. Senate race

With a whopping 91% of the vote, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) has won the MoveOn Illinois U.S. Senate email straw poll. That means that Duckworth has been endorsed by MoveOn, a progressive political organization.

If I’m not mistaken, one must have been from Illinois and have been on MoveOn’s email list in order to get a ballot (for the record, I received an email ballot and voted for Duckworth). Although Wikipedia lists three candidates (Duckworth, former Chicago School Board member Andrea Zopp, and radiologist Robert Marshall) as running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, only Duckworth and Zopp appeared on MoveOn’s straw poll ballot.

The email in which MoveOn announced the straw poll results emphasized Duckworth’s military service (she lost both of her legs after a Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was shot down) and support for the nuclear deal with Iran and attacked Republican incumbent Mark Kirk for being one of the most vocal opponents of the Iran deal:

The results are in, and MoveOn members in Illinois have voted overwhelmingly to endorse Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate!
Rep. Duckworth knows the costs of war more than most, having served in Iraq as a helicopter pilot before losing both of her legs in combat…
[…]
In contrast, current Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is one of the biggest war hawks in all of Congress. In addition to voting to invade Iraq, he railed against President Obama for pursuing diplomacy with Iran, even claiming that the President’s goal was to “get nukes to Iran.”
Make no mistake about it, Mark Kirk is dead wrong when it comes to his absurd claim that the Iran deal would result in President Obama giving nuclear weapons to Iran. In fact, the Iran deal would keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands and prevent another war that would cost thousands of American lives and billions of American taxpayer dollars. MoveOn members in Illinois have made it clear that Tammy Duckworth would be a better Democratic challenger to Kirk than Andrea Zopp, who voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago public schools, mostly in predominantly-black neighborhoods, would be.

PRE-ENDORSEMENT: Daniel Biss for Comptroller of Illinois

Daniel Biss, a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate from Evanston, is currently planning to run in next year’s special election for Comptroller of Illinois. I proudly pre-endorse Biss for the Democratic nomination in the comptroller’s race.

Biss is a mathematician, not a politician. Prior to being elected to the Illinois Senate, Biss was a mathematics professor at the University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the entire country. Given that the Illinois Comptroller’s office is responsible for maintaining the state’s financial accounts, this means that Biss has a skills set that fit very well with the duties of the comptroller’s office, which is something we haven’t seen out of a major-party candidate for comptroller here in Illinois in a very long time, if ever.

Biss has at least one primary opponent, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, and it’s possible that others may run for the Democratic nomination. Mendoza is a political crony of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; in fact, Mendoza was a campaign co-chair for Rahm’s most recent mayoral campaign, which was supported by far-right Republicans like Mark Kirk and Ken Griffin. Illinois cannot afford more of Rahm’s corrupt, corporate, privatization-supporting, and progressive-bashing cronies in office. Regarding Mendoza herself, she has a habit of claiming endorsements that she hasn’t actually received, which is what I consider to be a form of blatant dishonesty.

I encourage Illinois voters to vote in the Democratic primary for Daniel Biss for comptroller.

ENDORSEMENT: Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate in Illinois

With U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois declining to run for U.S. Senate, I am now endorsing Tammy Duckworth for the U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by right-wing Republican Mark Kirk.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. House, Duckworth served our country in the Illinois Army National Guard, losing both of her legs when a Black Hawk helicopter that she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and shot down. Duckworth has served the people of the 8th Congressional District of our state, located in the western Chicago suburbs, with honor, having supported background checks on gun sales, supported reproductive rights, supported raising the minimum wage, and, best of all, sharply criticized a federal contractor for falsely claiming that he was a service-disabled veteran.

Duckworth currently has one primary opponent that I know of, Andrea Zopp. While Duckworth isn’t exactly an Illinois progressive’s dream candidate, Zopp represents most of what is wrong with Illinois politics. First off, Zopp has the backing of Bill Daley, who was a member of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s transition team prior to Rauner being sworn into office. As an appointed member of the Chicago school board, Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago’s public schools. That means that Zopp is aligned with three of the most odious people in Illinois politics: Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Bruce Rauner. Additionally, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmor) is considering running against Duckworth and Zopp. However, Harris refused to vote for the Illinois marriage equality bill, meaning that LGBT Illinoisans can’t trust Harris to fight for and protect their rights.

I encourage my fellow Illinois Democrats to cast a Democratic primary ballot for Tammy Duckworth next year.

ENDORSEMENT: Nancy Rotering for 10th Congressional District of Illinois

While I live in a different Illinois congressional district, I’m proud to endorse Nancy Rotering in the U.S. House race in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois, which includes much of Lake County and parts of northern Cook County.

Prior to entering electoral politics, Rotering earned college degrees from three of the most well-respected universities in the country, two of which are located in Illinois, and worked as a finance executive for General Motors. As Mayor of Highland Park, Illinois, Rotering helped establish a legal aid clinic to, among other things, help apartment renters take on bad landlords who wronged them. Rotering has long been committed to empowering voters and protecting the environment, as she is an active member of the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club. Rotering is also a strong supporter of common-sense gun safety measures.

Rotering’s Democratic primary challenger, Brad Schneider, is a D.C. insider who has the backing of his fellow political insiders, including failed Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schneider is part of the same failed Democratic establishment that wants to implement a corporate, pro-Wall Street agenda in this country. Schneider has used dirty tricks to win Democratic primaries before, and that’s because he and his insider buddies don’t care about the people of the 10th District of Illinois.

I strongly encourage voters in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois to vote in the Democratic primary for Nancy Rotering. You can view Rotering’s website here, and her campaign also maintains Facebook and Twitter pages.

PRE-ENDORSEMENT: Oren Jacobson for 3rd Congressional District of Illinois

Oren Jacobson, a tech entrepreneur, has formed an exploratory committee to look at a possible run for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, which is currently held by conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski.

You can watch a video of Jacobson’s exploratory committee announcement here:

Jacobson would be a significant improvement over Lipinski, who is one of the worst Democrats to hold any kind of elected office in the entire country. When it comes to health care, Jacobson supports increasing federal funding for research in search of cures for the most devastating illnesses and diseases that affect Americans. While Jacobson hasn’t formally entered the race in the 3rd District, which includes parts of Chicago and numerous suburban communities between Chicago and Joliet, at this time, his campaign has already been endorsed by Blue America, a political action committee that supports progressive-minded Democrats for public office.

In the current Congress, Lipinski has voted more often with John Boehner’s Republicans than his own party, and, when it comes to women’s rights, Lipinski has stood with right-wing extremists who want to control women’s bodies and deny them the reproductive health care services they need or want. Lipinski is such an staunch opponent of women’s rights, he voted against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because he thinks that politicians like himself and his far-right Republican allies should control women’s bodies.

While I live in a different region of Illinois, I believe that Oren Jacobson would make a great representative of the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, and I encourage Democrats and progressives in that part of our state to strongly support his candidacy.

Bruce Rauner gets ZERO support in the Illinois House for his wage theft agenda

Democratic Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan scheduled a vote in the state house on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s wage theft agenda, and not a single member of the Illinois House of Representatives voted for the legislation, although most of the Republicans voted “present” instead of actually voting against it, presumably because they’re too scared of actually taking a stance on whether or not they support driving down wages and busting unions or not.

Here’s the official roll call on the legislation. The final tally was 0 Yeas, 72 Nays, 37 voting present, 7 not voting, and 2 excused absences. Democrats have 71 members in the 118-member house, the remaining 47 members are Republicans, and all of those who did not vote at all or had excused absences are Republicans, indicating a nearly party-line vote in which all or nearly all Democrats voted against it and the vast majority of the Republicans voted present.

To put it mildly, this is a massive victory for Illinois workers and a massive defeat for Rauner and his agenda to drive down wages, bust unions, and leave Illinois worse off than when he was sworn into office as governor. I hope the General Assembly remains a strong opponent of the Rauner agenda, as the Rauner agenda is something Illinoisans simply can’t afford.