Last Chance for Wednesday

People for the American Way Midwest are having a welcome reception for the Yearly Kos Convention.  You don’t have to be registered for the convention and it is only $25 for a 2 hour open bar reception so you don’t have to be part of the elite donors to attend.  I’ll be there as will many, if not, most of the local Congressional candidates in competitive races as well as a slew of progressive officeholders.  Just go up to the right and click on the ad for it.

Busy at work so a slow day posting otherwise.

The Race to Replace Luis IL-4

May well include Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) himself. In March, Gutierrez confirmed he would retire from Congress at the end of this term touching off a scramble for the seat. One of the biggest questions is will he really retire. His initial desire to retire seemed to revolve around an interest in challenging Richard Daley for Mayor of Chicago. He chose not to run and he still seemed content to retire, but Laura Washington expresses many people’s opinions that he might not be ready to go, especially with immigration reform not completed.

While he would have faced no serious opposition if he had run again, deciding to get back in the race would be difficult. Already candidates have amassed fairly large war chests to take him on and he’s always been an anemic fundraiser to say the least. He also was delinquent in DCCC dues for some time during the 2006 cycle. He blamed poor fundraising on the nature of his district, but his would be successors are proving him wrong. He also has had some scandals pop up that raise several questions.

Already three announced candidates have raised nearly $1 million for the primary. Leading the pack is 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores with $478,029 raised in the last quarter alone. Right behind him is 22nd Ward Alderman Rick Munoz with $310,706. And third is Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado with $192,857.

Other likely candidates include 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, State Representative Susana Mendoza, and 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas.

The question of electability isn’t a issue since the District is safely Democrat. In both 2000 and 2004 the District provided 79 percent of the votes for Gore and Kerry with a Cook Partisan Index of +31 D. No, that’s not a typo. The percentage of Hispanic origin is just under 75 percent though the voting population is a significantly lower percentage.
It’s safe to say the candidates are generally close on national political issues with the key differences residing along how close to Richard Daley and the Chicago Democratic Machine. Even including those who are Daley allies there are degrees of difference that provide an important understanding of how the race may play out.

Munoz and Flores have strong reputations as reformers having both defeated candidates backed by the Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO). HDO is strongly aligned with Mayor Richard Daley and two leaders of the organization have been indicted by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald for participating in patronage schemes throughout Chicago city government.

Of the two, Munoz is considered less likely to back large developments as an Alderman and less likely to compromise, while Flores has worked to provide several large developments in his Ward and willing to compromise and work with anyone to achieve legislation. Mostly, they are aligned with each other on most major issues including reform.

Close to having the same kind of anti-HDO credibility is Susana Mendoza, a State Representative who has fought with HDO every campaign. Her primary disadvantage is being a State Representative does not provide nearly the same base of support as being an Alderman.

Maldonado has run an independent course not being close to HDO, but also not having had to go to war with them. He’s been close to Gutierrez over the years and though he had some questions raised about patronage hires, he’s largely seen as clean if not as dynamic as the younger Munoz and Flores.

Solis has been considered Daley’s strongest Hispanic ally and was long backed by HDO, to have them switch their support in the 2007 election. Solis won and Daley supported him, but his ties to HDO were severed. He was one of the Alderman who defected from Daley and voted for the Big Box ordinance which required a higher wage to be paid by Big Box stores such as Walmart. After Daley vetoed the legislation, Solis switched his vote and helped Daley sustain the veto.

Four of the five candidates discussed have a reform pedigree with Munoz and Flores perceived as standouts for their progressive politics and grassroots campaigning. Maldonado has a lot of deep community ties and while he is more low key and has some ties to the regular machine, he’s respected by most everyone.

Solis is a machine candidate. Then there is George Cardenas who isn’t just a machine candidate, but a machine hack. He might not qualify as the worst hack tied to HDO, he is a perfect example of the typical hack. He also switched his vote on the Big Box bill after Daley’s veto and was challenged by the Chicago Federation of Labor for doing so.

Cardenas’ reelection campaign was not only strongly backed by HDO, but Cardenas employed Al Sanchez, who was indicted in March on corruption charges related to his leadership role in HDO.

Others may yet enter the race, but the danger is that with four decent to great candidates, the vote will be split providing Cardenas a victory, the worst possible outcome. The difficulty is for progressives and independents there are four decent candidates to choose from.

Of the four, the intangibles are hard to gauge. Mendoza is probably the weakest in terms of long term prospects of being a leader in Congress. Maldonado is quieter than Munoz or Flores, but also deeply tied to his community and a hard working representative. Maldonado is the type of candidate who gets ignored by those on the outside looking in, but has many of the traits the community may appreciate.

Flores and Munoz are the most dynamic and most likely to take on a leadership role for progressive causes in Congress. And there is the key difference–how will they do that? Munoz is far more likely to take strong stands and less likely to compromise. Flores is probably the best at reaching across diverse groups and finding compromises while still remaining progressive.

The Illinois Races

IL-3 Two challengers taking on Dan Lipinski in the Democratic Primary. No serious Republican 59 D 40 R (2004 Presidential vote in District)

IL-4 A multiway primary to replace Luis Gutierrez–more later. 79 D

IL-6 Roskam is a freshman and thus a likely target, but there aren’t any candidates right now since Duckworth announced she wouldn’t run in a rematch. 53 R 47 D

IL-8 Millionaire taking on Bean. Little reason to think he’ll be any stronger than McSweeney. 56 R 44 D

IL-10 Democratic Primary between two prolific fundraisers in Dan Seals and Jay Footlik. Winner takes on Kirk in a Democratic leaning District. 53 D 47 R

IL-11 No announced challenges to Weller in a fairly close district 53 R 46 D. This would be a shame to leave uncontested or undercontested.

IL-14 Three Dems seeking to run in what is likely to be an open seat. John Laesch ran last time. Bill Foster is a physicist who has promised to spend $1 million of his own and a third candidate. For the Republicans, Chris Lauzen, CPA has Jack Roeser’s backing, Uberweis is in and presumably garnering the Minutemen for battle, while Schmitz and Stokke are out. 55 R 45 D

IL-18 Open seat, more Republican than the other vulnerable Republican seats, but also a strong labor presence in the District. Two Republican State Reps including party favorite Aaron Schock are looking at the race. 58 R 42 D

LaHood Out

Meaning another seat to defend in Illinois for the GOP:

LaHood, a 30-year political veteran and seven-term congressman, plans to officially announce the decision Friday in his hometown of Peoria, as well as in Jacksonville and Springfield. He said in a telephone interview that he was leaving “at the top of my career” and ready to spend more quality time with his grandchildren.

“I’m going back to a normal life with my family,” he saidLaHood, 61, was a state legislator and later an aide to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.) before winning his House seat in 1994. He forged a reputation for working with Democrats and for speaking his mind. In May, for example, he trekked to the White House with other House Republicans to express concerns about the progress of the war in Iraq.

Early speculation includes State Reps. Schock and  Leitch.

From the Almanac of American Politics

2004 Presidential Vote
Bush (R) 181,058 (58%)
Kerry (D) 130,669 (42%)
2000 Presidential Vote
Bush (R) 159,475 (54%)
Gore (D) 128,411 (43%)

Cook Partisan Voting Index: R + 5

It’s a fairly heavy Republican District only surpassed in 2004 by IL-15 and IL-19 in terms of Republican performance in 2004, but none of the Illinois Districts are out of reach in what looks to be another horrible cycle for Republicans.

Didn’t Get In To Yearly Kos?

That’s right–it sold out.  So let’s sell out the Welcome Event on Wednesday, August 1st put on by People for the American Way.

Just go over to the right hand corner and click on the ad. That will take you to the RSVP page where you can simply RSVP and pay a low $25 for an event of fun, progressive folks and an open bar for 2 hours.  You can pay with a credit card or pay on arrival.  You absolutely have to RSVP though since the guest list will be set a couple days early due to said open bar.

The sponsors are a great bunch of folks including many elected progressives, WCPT 850, In These Times and Northside DFA.  The host committee includes a lot of the bloggers and online-presence of the area so it should be fun, cheap, and sure to sell out so register now.  A bunch of candidates will be there as well from what I’m hearing so it should be a great place to get to know some of the candidates and office holders in a low pressure environment.
Posting will be slow for Wednesday, I’m helping to organize one event at the Convention and I’m swamped with little details and then I’m going to the Cubs game down here.

Proudly Attending Yearly Kos

Bill Foster

A few days ago, a right-wing talking head known for his tendency to misrepresent, distort and outright mangle the truth for his own personal gain attacked a group of people who are organizing for a cause. They are discussing how to grow a progressive movement that is trying desperately to put this country back on track. Extremists and demagogues across the country will join him in trying to shout down anyone attending this movement-driven convention.

I am proud to say that I will be attending the Yearly Kos Convention, listening to their ideas, sharing some of my own and talking about how progressives can change this country.

I’m Bill Foster, a businessman, scientist and Democrat running for Congress to change Washington. I’m proud to attend Yearly Kos and I’d be proud to have you join me in showing your pride.

Durbin Engages the Blogosphere on Broadband Policy

Over at OpenLeft, Senator Durbin is engaging the on-line community on national broadband policy:

Today I’m writing to invite you to participate in an experiment — an interactive approach to drafting legislation on one of the most significant public policy questions today: What should be America’s national broadband strategy?Starting this Tuesday, July 24 at 7pm EST on, I will be engaging in a series of four nightly broadband policy discussions with the online community.  During those four nights, I am looking for the best and brightest ideas on what Congress should do to promote and foster broadband.

I will begin each night’s discussion with a conversation about some of the core principles I think are important, and then I’ll ask for you to contribute your ideas that will help me craft legislation.

Dick Durbin :: What should be America’s national broadband strategy?
There are two reasons I’m asking for your help and participation.  The first is because I think we need more public participation and transparency in the way Congress crafts significant legislation.  This is an approach to legislation that has never been tried before.  If it’s successful — as I believe it will be — it may become the way lawmakers approach drafting bills on other issues like education, health care, and foreign policy.The second reason I’m doing this is because broadband policy is one of the most important public policy issues today.  Frankly, America does not have a national broadband strategy, and we are falling behind.  That means our families don’t have access to the best medical technologies, our students don’t have access to the best educational opportunities, and our entrepreneurs are limited in the markets they can access.

As we work together to draft a bill to solve these problems, the three principles I want to begin with are:

  • Broadband access must be universal and affordable;
  • We need to preserve an online environment for innovation; and
  • We need to ensure that broadband technology enables more voices to be heard.

As I said at the outset — this is not the traditional way legislation is written in Washington.  Some people think that by giving people other than policy experts and special interest groups a seat at the table, this process will never work.  I believe differently, and I have a feeling that this week, we’ll prove them wrong.

I look forward to talking with you about America’s national broadband strategy, starting this Tuesday night.

— Dick Durbin

Someone Has To Win the Republican Nomination, but They All Seem To Be Finding Ways To Screw It Up

“No to Obama, Osama and Chelsea’s Moma.”

So he finds some woman who not only is terribly offensive, but cannot even spell. Unless there is some reference to modern art I’m not getting.

TPM got the Romney campaign on record:

This obviously invited the question: Was it appropriate for Mitt Romney to hold up a sign likening Barack Obama to the leader of an international terrorist network, responsible for bloody attacks upon the United States, apparently all based on his name? After all, what would the media reaction be if Barack Obama posed with a supporter who had a sign comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler? The press would go nuts over it, surely, and rightly so.

Election Central contacted Romney spokesman Kevin Madden for comment, asking if it was appropriate for the candidate to hold the sign up with the woman. “The governor stopped briefly for a picture with a supporter who just happened to be holding their own sign with an alliterative play on words,” Madden said, via e-mail. “I don’t think it was equating or comparing anyone.”

IOW, the campaign staffers aren’t much brighter than Flipper.

Congressman “Dogged” by Constituents Who Want Him to Bring Troops Home and End War in Iraq

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq

Glenview – Eight fully-uniformed officers from the Glenview police department were on hand to protect Congressman Mark Kirk today when he visited a Humane Society event in the town’s Gateway Park. The officers joined multiple members of Kirk’s staff at “Pet Protection Day,” where local pet owners learned about local services, pet care issues and animal protection legislation.

Also at the event were seven local supporters of the Iraq Summer campaign, which has been calling on Congressman Kirk to take a stand against President Bush’s reckless Iraq war policies. The supporters – all residents of Kirk’s 10th District – were on hand to present Kirk with a “Report Card” on his Iraq voting record.

Congressman Kirk spoke to the group about current efforts in Congress to protect animals, and was honored for his legislative efforts on behalf of animal rights. After he finished speaking and posing for pictures with pets, the Congressman avoided questions about his votes on the war from constituents as he hurried to his car.

Members of the Glenview Police present at the park – including Chief William Fitzpatrick – refused to answer questions about why so many were needed for an event attended by about 50 people. Village President Kerry Cummings, who was also on hand, said that everyone was welcome at the event and highlighted the park’s key role in the Glenview community.

Today marks the second time in two weeks that Congressman Kirk has been pressed in person by his constituents to answer questions about his position on the Iraq war. Despite signs that he may break step with the President, Kirk again voted with Bush on a July 12th bill that would withdraw nearly all American troops from Iraq by next April.

“Why is Congressman Kirk willing to talk about protecting pet food but not our soldiers?” said Sharon Sanders of Northbrook. “We were a peaceful group that wanted nothing more than a straight answer from our Congressman. I was shocked that he called in that many police to a Humane Society event,” said Sanders.

More after the jump

Continue reading “Congressman “Dogged” by Constituents Who Want Him to Bring Troops Home and End War in Iraq”