IL-13: Scott Harper Organizes Labor Support

Scott Harper Speaks to Labor
a year ago, i am told, harper sat in a room full of illinois bloggers at yearlykos and started thinking about what he could do to help defeat bush republicans.  thursday, scott harper, democratic candidate for il-13, met with a room full of labor leaders to talk about his campaign to defeat judy biggert.  it was clear that not only scott, but dreams for throwing out a dupage gop congress, had come a long, long way.

labor leaders representing iam, the carpenters, unite-here, the building trades, ibew and others came to hear scott speak about his race and his take on various labor issues.  before the meeting began, scott worked the room vigorously, introducing himself to those he did not know, saying hello to those he did, and engaging everyone in conversation.  people talked about the war, biggert’s support of check card legislation, recent democratic and labor meetings, how scott’s fund-raising is going.

scott was given a lengthy introduction by his host from iam.  he talked about the importance of grassroots activity and fundraising to winning campaigns.  “that’s how we win,” he said simply in his remarks.  he talked about judy’s distance from union issues, that she has a 13% support rating on union issues and that “she won’t even talk to us, even local union members.”  unions are basically shut out in the biggert office.

Congressional Candidate Scott Harper Meets with Labor activists
scott’s remarks were rather short in comparison.  he covered the basics, where he comes from, what he’s done to put together a competitive campaign, how well he did in the february primary, how his fundraising is going, and his recent poll showing that judy is below the all-important 50% re-elect rate.  

harper’s campaign plan has some ambitious goals:

* reach 105,000 voters in the 13th

* activate more grassroots volunteers than ever in the 13th

Introducing Scott Harper
his poll by respected illinois pollster fako and associates found that democrats win the generic ballot test in the district.  they found some favorable news after reading scott’s biography/message to respondents, as well.  presumably, though, this was a benchmark poll, one designed to help assist in the plan to defeat one’s opponent.  obviously, the meat of such a poll would never be disclosed, even to one’s closest supporters.

what seemed to interest the labor leaders, though, was what their locals could do to support scott.  that’s why both the introduction and scott’s remarks focused on their grassroots plan to reach out to voters in il-13.  one of the questions asked of scott was whether biggert had any visibility in the district among the grassroots.  scott replied, no.

Meeting & Greeting
scott harper has already been endorsed by:

illinois afl-cio

international association of machinists (iam)

painters union

plumbers and pipefitters


operating engineers

senator dick durbin

congresswoman jan schakowsky

secretary of state jesse white

lt gov pat quinn

state treasurer alexi giannoulias

tomorrow, we were told, the harper campaign will be host to democratic candidate’s kickoff meeting for volunteers and democratic activists in dupage and will counties.  the will county event will meet at Rancho Santa Fe in Bolingbrook at 11 am and the dupage county meeting will be at the Downer’s Grove Public Library at 2:30 pm.

as always, it’s the end of the quarter (i know, because we’ve gotten calls from dan seals, al franken, the dscc and two presidential campaigns), so if you are inclined, i’m sure the harper campaign would love your contribution!

IL-14: Why Bill Foster Won

first of all, congratulations to bill foster, our newest member of congress.  it will be kind of weird calling him congressman.  and congratulations to his staff and all the volunteers who helped elect foster.  what a tremendous achievement!

foster’s election is vindication of all those who believed that a serious democratic candidate with a great campaign organization could turn il-14 blue.  and now we have!  it is also vindication for the plan that bill and tom put together, and especially the networking they did to create a solid pool of campaign workers who went out and delivered the vote for foster.  this should serve as both proof of what a good campaign can do and an example for the local democratic parties and their future candidates.

it’s probably too early to really dissect how bill foster won denny hastert’s open seat but we can put some things into context.

there’s no way to overstate the level of preparation that bill foster did before running for this seat.  while there have been some who sought to minimize foster’s work with patrick murphy, foster set for himself the goal of understanding how congressional campaigns work, what a good congressional campaign looks and feels like, and how it unfolds.  it should be clear by now that bill foster returned to illinois with the firmest grasp of how to run for congress by any democrat in the il-14.  make no mistake, this level of preparation was a huge advantage for foster — he knew what it would take, he was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win, and he stuck with it.  foster now gets to enjoy the fruits (or, more appropriately, the responsibilities) of his sacrifices.

let’s go back, though, to the framework i’ve used before.  winners of elections are the one who put together the best effort in this five areas:

1. candidate.  all the major candidates in this race have had flaws.  but the one thing that foster did, which gave him an advantage — if ever so slight — was to try to minimize those flaws.  as carl pointed out, foster “needs to improve his communication skills.”  unable to take advantage of the long tail of a presidential campaign (this criticism has been made of barack obama, as well, about his debating skills), the foster campaign choose to place him sparingly in large group functions where he didn’t perform as well, and focus on his appeal one on one (and through the use of surrogates), where he performed better.

foster’s luck has been to run against other seriously flawed candidates.  it didn’t hurt at all to be seen as a practical candidate amongst other candidates viewed as extreme, or wouldn’t raise money, or had loose ties to the area.  foster benefited from not running against a “perfect candidate.”  in this context, it didn’t matter that he was flawed, because of the flaws of those he ran against.  what did matter is that his campaign didn’t deny or ignore his flaws, but sought to minimize them.  this gave him a slight advantage here.

2. money.  bill foster lost the money race ($2,121,908 to $2,884,492).  independent expenditures appear to have been a wash.  but what foster and the democrats spent was sufficient to raise his name recognition AND his favorability ratings.  about the only thing we can say here to foster’s advantage is that at least he had $2.1M.  the alternatives would have resulted in democrats being significantly out-spent, probably at least by 10 to one, and perhaps even greater.  there is simply no question that foster alone was prepared to compete at this level.  the proof here is that foster raised $805,908 from other individuals while oberweis only raised $604,492 from other individuals.

3. political environment.  the dominant environmental aspects for this special election were the fact that it was a special election held in the last year of george bush’s administration with the retiring of the former speaker of the house.  bush looked to be unpopular while hastert remained popular in his old district.

special elections are all about turnout.  pushing turnout requires organization, which is the fifth factor.  but foster was able to unite democrats around his candidacy (89% of self-identified democrats polled said they had or would vote for him while only 76% of self-identified republicans said the same for oberweis) AND he had much broader appeal among independents (47%-25%).  foster himself made every effort to reach out to the supporters of his former democratic opponents.

but special elections always have national significance — especially for republicans.  cqpolitics says:

First: the district carries great symbolic significance because it was the bailiwick of Republican J. Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the U.S. House for most of the dozen years that Republicans were in the majority from 1995 through 2006. Hastert’s resignation last November prompted this unusual Saturday balloting.

Second: The race is a close one. Party strategists and political analysts will be closely monitoring the returns for what the outcome might portend for November elections that are less than eight months away. Democratic scientist Bill Foster and Republican businessman Jim Oberweis appear neck-and-neck in the 14th, which takes in suburbs and rural territory west of Chicago.

Special elections always provide grist for the national party committees – in particular the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which is the political arm of the majority Democrats in the U.S. House, and its partisan counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

dccc chair chris van hollen said “Bill Foster’s victory in the seat that was held by Speaker Hastert sends a political shock wave across America this election year,” “a rebuke of the bush administration” and john mccain (who raised money for oberweis).  bloomberg notes, “Analysts said the election is a sign that Republican losses are likely to continue this year, after the party lost control of the House and Senate in 2006. ‘I don’t think it means the end of the Republican party like some might say, but it means the worst is not over,’ said Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report in Washington.”

otoh, it was a clear victory for barack obama, who’s coattails proved effective in a red district.  he also gained a superdelegate for his presidential nomination.

4. local climate.  what we found in 2006 and now, in 2008, is that the electorate in il-14 was highly disposed towards electing a democrat.  the generic ballot poll in 2006 showed a one point difference between the generic democrat and republican, and that result held through this special election.  instead of the 11 point spread between the presidential candidates that national punditry focused on, local observers recognized that barack obama won this district in 2004, and the generic ballot test demonstrated that voters were more than willing to consider voting for a democrat.  but they needed to know who they were and at least something about them.

the chicago tribune noted, “That Foster is even in contention in the 14th Congressional District is further proof of the changing suburban political landscape. The heart of the district is made up of fast-growing communities in Kane and Kendall Counties, where farmland has given way to subdivisions and new residents don’t necessarily have a lot of familiarity with local politics. The territory is just the latest suburban Chicago district that’s gone from reliably Republican to a potential toss-up.”

the willingness of voters to vote for a democrat in what has been considered the reddest congressional district in the state seems to stem from three dominant factors: the economy, iraq and the issues surrounding the immigration debate.  this wasn’t a single issue election, and they couldn’t be tied together with some broad, dramatic theme.  foster dealt with them singularly with pragmatic proposals that placed him squarely in the moderate range inside il-14.  his opponent hurled dramatic accusations at him instead of offering substantial plans for the future.  while these accusations did find their way into the minds of some voters, others dismissed them as desperate campaign tactics.  in the words of another candidate, they attacked him because he was winning.

5. organization.  organization was where the foster campaign reigned supreme.  despite the fact that republicans unleashed their vaunted 72-hour project, foster’s campaign was ably prepared to compete in the special election environment.  tom bowen, foster’s campaign manager, spoke about his preparations for the special after the live blogging event held for foster.  by networking extensively, the foster campaign built up the best campaign organization that democrats have ever seen in this congressional district.  foster’s appeal brought in democratic activists from pennsylvania and dc, from chicago, the northshore, from dan seals’ campaign, melissa bean’s campaign, jan schakowsky’s campaign and scott harper’s campaign (who brought in 120 volunteers to help out on election day).  the effectiveness of foster’s campaign organization promises future success in a congressional district that — like melissa bean’s — will be competitive for years, perhaps even decades (depending on redistricting).

the influence of money in this race and the profound effectiveness of foster’s campaign organization may be depressing to some progressives inside and outside the il-14.  to those who feel this way inside the district i repeat what i’ve said all along: talk to bill foster.  i may not know the man that well, but i understand perfectly his approach, and he will listen to all points of view from a respectful, perhaps even probing, perspective.  do not expect other people to represent your point of view before him.  and if he doesn’t hear it, he probably won’t consider it.

some local progressives have been mobilized by the quixotic appeal of john laesch.  but the reality is, bill foster is your new DEMOCRATIC congressman.  it’s very unlikely that another democratic congressman (or woman) will emerge in the near future.  he’s it.  foster’s election offers democrats the unique opportunity to build and strengthen the local democratic party where you live.  it’s always easier to organize with someone from the party in power.  foster’s election should fulfill a dream we all share.  but personal feelings can sometimes interfer in what should be our self-interests…

Il-14: The Recount Dilemma

richard k. means, the best progressive election lawyer in the state of illinois, explains that the procedure for obtaining a recount is quite clear:

A discovery recount is only available in Illinois to a candidate who is within 95% of the winner.  Even then you get to recount only 25% of the precincts in every election jusridiction in the district for a pidling $10 per precinct.  In order to change the result, you have to go to court and prove that, had certain very specificly described errors not been made, that your candidate would have won.

means is one of the authors of the 2002 handbook on illinois election law published by the illinois institute for continuing legal education and wrote the chapter on recounts in the state.

laesch would clearly be within his right to call for a discovery recount (in the regular primary), since he’s within the margin allowed by law.  but, as the hill points out,

Split Illinois results could muddle Dems’ plans to take Hastert seat

By Aaron Blake

Posted: 02/06/08 07:12 PM [ET]

A close race in the Democratic contest to succeed former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) could hurt the party’s chances to win Hastert’s seat in a March special election to fill out the term, and in a general election in November.

Bill Foster led John Laesch by six points and declared victory in the Democratic primary for the special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Hastert’s term. He will now face Republican Jim Oberweis, who won his party’s special election.

But in the contest to be the Democratic nominee in November, Foster led Laesch by just 323 votes out of 75,000 cast.

Laesch, the Democratic nominee against Hastert in 2006, has yet to concede, but also has yet to ask for a recount.

If the result changed and Laesch became the Democratic nominee in the general primary, Democrats would have different candidates in the March special election to fill out Hastert’s term, and in the general election to elect a candidate to the 111th Congress.

In effect, Foster could potentially win the seat next month but not be his party’s nominee in November.

A challenge to the result could also cause Foster additional headaches during the short five-week period before the special election, which will be held March 8. The regular primary result will not be certified until March 7. This could make his chances of defeating Oberweis in a district that favored President Bush in the 2004 election even more difficult.

there are many misperceptions about recounts, and some wishful thinking, but there’s considerable pressure for the laesch campaign to go through an expensive and tedious recount — just because.  laesch himself hasn’t ruled out a recount request.  but the claim that they are waiting for the absentee ballots to come in before conceding is worrisome:

Outstanding Ballots:

Kendall County – 10 Outstanding Democratic Absentee Ballots

Kane County – 82 Outstanding Democratic Ballots, there are additional military and student ballots out but according to the Clerk’s office an extremely small number of those will be returned.

City of Aurora – There are a total of 100-130 absentee and provisional ballots. They would not indicate the exact number and these include Republican and Non-Partisan ballots.

Dekalb – 31 Total outstanding Democratic ballots.

Dupage is going to take a while.

even if laesch won every single one of the outstanding ballots, there aren’t enough that will be returned to overturn this election.  an early comment about “counting provisional ballots” was misinformed, as provisional ballots are counted in the initial returns, and removed after 48 hours if cause is provided.

the confusion we see coming out of the laesch camp seems to be based on progressive resentments about elections built up over this decade, the lack of professional campaign management and a misunderstanding of election law by laesch’s supporters.  i can’t clear all that up, but i can explain some of what laesch would face if he did decide he wanted a recount.

first of all, it’s important to acknowledge that recounts can change election outcomes.  one need only look at the gubernatorial race in washington state for that.  closer to home — and under the same laws that would apply if laesch were to request a recount — we find:

The Mayoral Election in Calument City was overturned 3 or 4 years ago for absentee ballot fraud.  I [rich means] reversed a Palatine Rural Fire District tax increase referendum about 5 or 6 years ago because the election judges gave voters the wrong ballot.  There are probably 4 election contests filed every year in Illinois and 20-25% win.

given the laesch campaign’s paucity of resources, i asked specifically, “how much can a campaign achieve for free or with relatively little in way of funds?”  means’ answer was pretty clear:

Nothing.  The half dozen of lawyers in Illinois experienced in this kind of case charge, like I do, about $250 per hour.  A congressional district discovery recount could cost upwards of  $25,000 and a full-blown election contest in court could cost ballpark $100,000 if hard fought on both sides.

btw (and please, folks, don’t interpret this as anymore than what it is), if i wanted to go forward with a recount, i would certainly be hiring means, given that he’s successfully overturned elections in the past, wrote the book (as it were) on the subject, and has been taking on the machine for years with much success.  i’m not advising anyone, i’m just sayin’.

the time frame for all this — a time frame made more dramatic, given the approach of the special election — is compact:

Within 5 days after the official proclamation of results, you have to file petitions in each election board and each county clerk in the district.  Investigation and other preparations should begin right after the polls close and the discovery recount petition must be filed within 5 days after the proclamation which will ocurr about February 26.

another election law attorney i consulted concurs with rich’s investigation advise.  remember,

In order to change the result, you have to go to court and prove that, had certain very specificly described errors not been made, that your candidate would have won.

ballot fraud — and this typically means absentee ballot fraud — is the primary justification used in recounts that lead to the successful reversal of an election result.  and ballot fraud is the tool of the local party establishment, not the “outsider” candidate or campaign.  much has been made about how laesch was the preferred candidate of the local political establishment (which i initially rejected because i understood the tensions between a local democratic official and laesch — but my extrapolation turned out to be wrong).  it would have been laesch, not foster, who would have had the opportunity to commit ballot fraud — and i don’t think anyone would argue that laesch or his campaign would have done so.  the point is that there is little that laesch could hope to achieve by a recount, given his status as the local party establishment candidate.

not to mention how expensive it would be.  given the import of any such recount and followup procedures, one could expect foster to aggressively defend his victory in the general primary.  means tells us that “Both the winner and the petitioning loser and credentialled press” can oversee recount procedures.  the process is completely transparent.  the magic, as it were, had to take place before a recount was requested.

clout street, the chicago tribune’s local politics blog, notes that “Foster has declared victory, but Laesch has not yet conceded.”  contrast that with the very similar situation tuesday night where the local democratic establishment candidate tom allen conceded the race to outsider candidate anita alvarez before even 70% of the ballots were counted.  less than 1% of the vote separated those two, as well.  but allen knew, because he had the advice of professional management, that nothing would change.  so allen looks gracious by conceding before any media outlet was ready to call the race.  i don’t think anyone would suggest that laesch looks gracious here:

Democrat to wait for all ballots to be counted in special race to succeed Hastert

Posted by James Kimberly at 12:00 p.m.

Democrat John Laesch said Friday that he won’t concede the Democratic primary election in the 14th Congressional District until all provisional and absentee ballots are counted.

the reality is that modern media effects people’s perceptions of elections.  in this case, people think that after the polls are closed, the elections are over.  laesch is technically correct when he notes that all the votes have not been counted (even though outstanding votes could not alter the outcome).  but his decision to wait does look like sour grapes.  it only serves to divide local democrats.  after all that work that laesch and his supporters put into building up the party, it’s curious that he would now take steps to divide it.  the ball is, most definitely, in john laesch’s court…

IL-14 Roundup #5

in a race like this one, after the financial disclosure reports are put up, there’s still things to watch for.  first, there’s the personal funds contributions reports like this one (PDF), this one (PDF), this one (PDF), this one (PDF) and this one (PDF) from bill foster.  these are paired with reports of opposition to personal funds like this one and this one from john laesch along with this one, this one and this one from jotham stein.  these are great fun for people running against a self-funder — well, when the fec has a working majority.  right now, there’s not a thing that the fec can do.  you can blame bush, if you want, for that, too.

then there’s the 48 hour notice for contributions in excess of $1,000 or more for the 20 days before an election.  these tell us who’s still aggressively raising money — which is more important, since the millionaire’s amendment has been tripped in this election (allowing laesch and stein to raise considerably more than $2300 from each contributor).  foster has raised at least $18,900 in new monies that required 48 hour notices.  laesch has raised at least $5,500 in new monies that required 48 hour notices.  and stein has raised at least $4,100 in new monies that required 48 hour notices.

foster racked up four more local newspaper endorsements this week: the aurora beacon news, the daily herald, the elgin courier news and the oswego ledger-sentinel.  it seems that foster received all the newspaper endorsements in the district.  laesch did, however, pick up the endorsement of the niu student newspaper.

there were several accounts of the cbs debate: the daily herald, cbs’ own version and the beacon news, another debate sponsor.  the daily herald also covered a recent foster mailing, where he called himself a “paul simon democrat.”  

I asked Simon’s daughter, Sheila Simon, if she’d seen the ad. She hadn’t. But the former member of the Carbondale City Council certainly didn’t take offense.

“Certainly lots of Democrats around that state have annual Paul Simon dinners,” she said. “Anyone who wants to pursue Dad’s line of thinking and associate with him that way, we’re always happy to say yes … It would give him a big kick.”

the beacon news published this article on the candidates:

“I’m not a politician” has been the well-intended, but now common, refrain offered by Democrats in the campaign to replace Rep. Dennis Hastert in the 14th Congressional District.

Meant as a way to distance themselves from party politics and business as usual in Washington, the phrase has provided another common thread linking candidates Bill Foster, John Laesch, Joe Serra and Jotham Stein.

From a policy-making standpoint, the quartet’s overall philosophies align fundamentally and closely when it comes to, among others, withdrawing troops from Iraq, border security and reducing the middle class tax burden.

Agree as they might, the candidates often are the only ones able to point out what makes them different

then there’s the attention given to how much money in the race — especially on the republican side.  the beacon news wrote about the $1.6 million jim oberweis dropped into the race.  the chicago tribune also had a story on the money angle.

The race to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert in Congress is turning into one of the most expensive, most bitter and, possibly, most confusing primaries in Illinois this year.

Most expensive because Republican candidates Jim Oberweis, 61, of Sugar Grove, state Sen. Chris Lauzen, 55, of Aurora and Democrat Bill Foster, 52, of Geneva are combining to spend millions.

Most vicious because Oberweis and Lauzen are regularly ripping each other.

And possibly most confusing because the candidates are running not only to replace Hastert next year, but also in a separate primary to complete his unexpired term this year. That means 14th Congressional District voters will cast ballots Feb. 5 in both the regular primary election and the special primary. Once that dust settles, the special general election to finish Hastert’s term will be held March 8.

“Many observers view this district as kind of a bellwether. If the Democrats win on March 8 that’s going to signal a big year for Dems in November,” said Matthew Streb, a Northern Illinois University political science professor.

A Democratic victory would be considered an upset in the solidly Republican district, where President Bush won 55 percent of the vote in the 2004 election and Hastert got 60 percent in 2006.

air america had laesch on the air.  laesch’s blog efforts continued.  they asked for votes for laesch to be the dfa grassroots all star (he didn’t move on).  daddy4mak wonders why laesch hasn’t been front paged at daily kos (donna edwards has been).  downtowner is looking for help in her precincts.  the laesch campaign held a health care forum.  richard bluestein is asking his readers to contribute to laesch (the same post appeared elsewhere, i don’t know how started it).  jassietay2 asks do you believe in miracles?  and rick flosi thinks that ron paul supporters will find something they like in laesch.

in addition, bill foster gave an interview.  his closing television ad is available here.  yinn wrote about foster’s endorsement by the daily herald.  foster also had a new web ad out.

democrats report that the while the laesch campaign has yet to mail, the california nurses association sent a targeted mailer calling laesch the right person on healthcare.  and quentin young recorded a robocall for laesch in the same vein.

the foster campaign reports that:

Obviously, the campaign is getting hectic as we close in on primary Election Day.  Bill was out in the snow this morning greeting commuters at train stations and reminding them to vote, and he’ll be contacting voters door-to-door, on the phone, and in public places every day through the election — except for Super Bowl Sunday.

We’re getting a lot of positive response from NIU students, and we’re opening up another field office in Sycamore, near DeKalb.

i asked all the campaigns what was their final message to voters.  the foster campaign replied:

Well, of course, get out there and vote twice on Tuesday, February 5!

Bill Foster is not a professional politician, and he’s never going to be the loudest voice in the room.  But as a scientist, businessman, and someone who’s lived the 14th District for over two decades, he’ll work hard to represent his constituents, act as an agent of change in Washington, and find solutions to the problems facing this country and this district.

they also noted:

The candidates on the Democratic side have, on balance, run a positive campaign talking about the issues.  The voters, not just in the primary but also in the special election in March, will notice and respect that.  People are sick and tired of the relentless personal attacks and politics-as-usual that we’ve seen among the Republican candidates in this race.

We appreciate all the support we’ve received in the community so far, from the grassroots on up, and look forward to building even more support in the coming weeks.

while all the campaigns are focused on their various gotv, i did want to report the victory parties, as they were lined up.  the laesch campaign is having their victory party at their campaign headquarters (46 W. Downer Place, Aurora).

Parking is available free after 5pm in LOT C. This is on River St, West of the office.

the victory party for the foster campaign is at:

Tavern on the Fox, near our field office in Aurora.  We wanted to provide a space for our volunteers and supporters to have a good time and watch the returns — not only for our race, but also for Super Tuesday.


i read with interest how all three democrats were confident in their (own) victory.  perhaps foster (personally) less so than the others.  strangely, he’s probably the one who should be the most confident.

laesch told one reporter that he had the highest name recognition of the three, which may have been true — before the campaign started.  but after hundreds, maybe thousands, of gross ratings points, at least 8 mailers and the rest of the effort by just one opponent, laesch has no reason to think that’s true now.

a number of laesch supporters have been aghast that i put so much stock in communicated message.  in my experience, message decides elections and you have to put the money in to get the message out.  foster has certainly done that, taking every opportunity to get his message out there.  this will be doubly important as barack obama drives turnout in the democratic race here and in the rest of illinois.

green and gerber’s authoritative book on mobilizing votes (“Get Out the Vote”) has some interesting statistics that really puts this in perspective.  on page 94 (table 8-1: Cost Effectiveness of Get-Out-the-Vote Tactics), the yale professors note that (from their research) direct mail wins one vote per 177 recipients (in partisan households).  door to door, with a persuasion script, garners one vote for every 14 CONTACTS with voters.  leafletting, which downtowner describes here gets you one vote for every 66 registered voters who see it before election day.

these percentages really sets the stage for what we will see next.  foster has dropped 8 mail pieces.  there are approximately 50,000 democrats in il-14 (nice round number), but professional campaigns don’t mail to voters, they mail to households.  and smart campaigns incorporate new information, so that the first round of mail is always a bigger drop than the last round.  doing some rough calculations, i figured that the foster campaign has dropped 265,000 pieces of mail.  what does that mean?  well, for the laesch campaign to have equaled the votes mobilized just from the foster mail drop, they would have had to make actual contact with 21,008 voters in the district.  doing so would have required 1750 hours canvassing (according to the gerber-green statistics) or 218 8 hour days canvassing.

that’s not even taking into consideration the reported 70 field staff that the foster campaign has out, or the likelihood that the foster campaign has knocked on as many, if not more, doors than the laesch campaign.  nor does it consider the fact that one report says that the laesch campaign was leafletting, not canvassing, which has a much higher contact to won vote ratio.

campaigns have advanced considerably from the “mr. smith goes to washington” days.  in the end, laesch didn’t get his message out.  they have been resting on their 2006 laurels, hoping that voters will remember laesch without much reminding and reward them for their grassroots enthusiasm.  i still believe that progressives can win elections virtually anywhere, including in il-14, but not unless they are willing to make the sacrifices needed to win (like raise money, hire an experienced staff, communicate their message to voters on a mass scale, etc).  only one candidate will have the funds and the resources required to win this seat starting on wednesday.  it’s highly unlikely that voters will turn their backs on this fact and choose a lesser known candidate…

IL-03 Roundup #5

early voting ends tomorrow, january 31st.  if you intended to vote early, time is quickly running out.

the financial disclosure reports are out.  here’s a summary of how much the four democrats in this race raised and spent:

Candidate Name Net Receipts Net Distributed Cash on Hand Debt
Mark Pera $612,932 $538,918 $74,014 $261,404
Dan Lipinski $464,812 $191,014 $377,675 $0
Jerry Bennett $183,737 $153,389 $30,343 $49,523
Jim Capparelli $12,865 $8,467 $4,397 $0

the last of the newspaper endorsements are out.  jerry bennett won the biggest remaining prize, that of the sun-times, who it calls:

a broad-thinking, action-oriented mayor who knows the district well. He has been mayor since 1981 and also has taken on several regional leadership roles.

lipinski received the endorsement of the southwest news-herald.

in other news, cbs2 and wbbm-am have put together a voter’s guide.  chicago public radio has put up an interactive map on competitive races in northeast illinois, including the 3rd.  the npr station also covered the race in this story.

the ap has a story on the race, which can be found here:

A Capitol Hill newspaper last year listed Lipinski as the most endangered House Democrat because of a possible defeat in the primary. Although the congressman says he takes the challenge seriously, he brushes aside opponents’ criticism of such things as his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights and their claims that he hasn’t done enough to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

He acknowledges that he’s more conservative than some Democrats, but says his views reflect his district, which covers Chicago’s southwest side and nearby suburbs.


Despite Lipinski’s support from party bosses and an easy re-election in 2006, some Democrats still are upset about the initial help he received from his father, a 22-year House veteran, which allowed little room for anyone else to compete.

The younger Lipinski makes no apologies for his unusual leap to Capitol Hill.

“I don’t think this is really an issue for people back home in the district … It’s very clear the voters have had an opportunity to choose me and they have done that,” he said.

Lipinski, a former professor at the University of Tennessee and former aide to five congressmen, landed a seat on the House Transportation Committee, and has sought the same role his father had as the point man for funding Chicago projects.

But Lipinski’s opponents scoff when he brags about bringing tens of millions of dollars to the district for rail, road and bridge work, and say it’s no more than any House member could do in his place.

congressional quarterly continues it’s coverage:

The multi-candidate primary challenge faced by two-term Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, one of the more moderate House Democrats, will provide an early test of the organizing strength of the Web-based network of liberal activists known as the “netroots.”

It is, in fact, a very early test. Illinois’ Feb. 5 primaries, timed to coincide with the state’s presidential contests on this campaign year’s “Super Tuesday,” are the earliest congressional nominating elections ever held in any state.

Lipinski – who gained his seat in 2004 after the retirement of his father, 11-term Democratic Rep. William O. Lipinski – has three opponents for the primary in the Chicago-based 3rd District. The candidate drawing “netroots” support is Mark Pera, an assistant state’s attorney for Cook County. Also in the running are Jerry Bennett, the mayor of suburban Palos Hills, and local attorney Jim Capparelli.

Although the incumbent retains the edge over his rivals in funding and endorsements, Pera’s candidacy has benefited from the attention and support of liberal Democrats frustrated with the performance of the 110th Congress and the unwillingness they see among moderate Democrats to strongly confront President Bush on the war in Iraq, energy policy and social issues.

While Lipinski sided with most House Democrats on 93 percent of House votes that broke mainly along party lines in 2007, that score in Congressional Quarterly’s “party unity” study was the second-lowest among the 10 Democrats in Illinois’ U.S. House delegation.

Pera argues that Lipinski’s record puts him out of step with the district. He said the long-stated stereotype of the 3rd – located in and near Chicago’s Southwest Side and heavily populated by ethnic Eastern and Southern Europeans – as a stronghold of social conservatives is a myth.

“The ‘Reagan Democrat’ image of the district is just folklore at this point,” says Pera. He claims that the district, which supported Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry over Bush in 2004 by 59 percent to 41 percent, is a “mainstream Democratic” district.

the hill writes about the netroots targeting lipinski:

“We’re not arguing over nuance,” said Pera, a former assistant county attorney. “We’re arguing over core issues that are important to Democrats.”

sun-times coverage returns to the ethical problems that lipinski faces

“A congressional seat is a matter of trust, not a family heirloom to be passed down,” Pera said. “The only job my dad ever got me was a job at the steel mills that I used to help pay my way through college and law school.”

Dan Lipinski has also caught heat for paying his father, now a registered lobbyist, to work as a consultant on his re-election campaign.

the riverside/brookfield landmark wrote about lipinski’s absence:

The three challengers appeared together Monday night on WTTW Channel 11 “Chicago Tonight” program for a debate that lasted approximately 10 minutes. Lipinski did not participate, flying back to Washington on Monday afternoon to attend the State of the Union address by President George Bush.

Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce said on the air that the show had offered to tape the program on Friday when informed that Lipinski would not be available Monday, but was told that Lipinski was not available then either.

On Sunday about 40 or so members of Democracy for America (DFA), a grass roots left of center group headquartered in Burlington, Vt. that grew out of the unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont governor Howard Dean, gathered to canvass for Pera in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.

Jim Dean, Howard Dean’s brother and the head of DFA, flew in to knock on doors with Pera, who was also accompanied by his wife Leslie and two of their four children.

“I’ll vote for you because you came to my door,” Jim McArdle of south Union Avenue told Pera on Sunday after the candidate knocked on his door and spoke with him briefly. McArdle said that he had never before had a candidate knock on his door.

Dean characterized Pera’s race with Lipinski as a battle between citizen activists and the status quo.

“The politics in this country is about a culture of activism versus a culture of incumbency,” said Dean.

Members from DFA chapters in Chicago and Oak Park have been helping Pera in the campaign.

Sandra Verthein, the chair of the North Side DFA chapter said her group had knocked on 4,609 doors for Pera.

it also gave more coverage to the mostly invisible campaign of jim capparelli.

A self-described “neighborhood guy” from Chicago’s Southwest Side, Capparelli said he ran for Congress because folks in the neighborhood asked him to.

“I value their values,” he said. “I’m for things that are best for working class men and women.”

the chicagoist has an interesting discussion with mark pera.  this follows a short item last week.  the windy city times also talked to pera in this piece.  gaper’s block questions why the chicago tribune endorsed lipinski.

the progressive democrat newsletter endorsed pera.  the pera campaign launched their third television ad, special interests.

archpundit has been touting pera in the run-up to february 5th, saying there’s Nothing More Important this week, attacking lipinski for defending a french immigrant, but not his hispanic constituents, and posting the “great mailers” from naral on behalf of pera.

markos is doing his part.  he pleads for one more to make it an even 4000 online contributors and the pitch post to make that happen.  miss laura touts pera’s new ad and the dfa rally last sunday.

howie klein talks about an alliance between icirr and progressives in the 3rd.

the bennett campaign said that their “last mailer just went out as well, a contrast piece between Jerry and Lipinski.”  the pera campaign just sent out a mailer that coincides with their tv ad.  pera’s mailers can be found here.

the last scheduled joint candidate appearance is tonight at Moraine Valley Community College at 5:30PM.  

the bennett campaign told us about the last week:

Jerry received the endorsement of the Chicago Sun Times, which called him an “action oriented” candidate with a vision for the district.  There’s also a political cartoon for the race; it’s ripe for parody.

The candidates — minus Lipinski — appeared on Chicago Tonight on Monday.  Lipinski was a no-show, claiming that he had to be in Washington both on Friday and Monday.  Curiously enough, we know that he was in Chicago on Monday morning.  Jerry distinguished himself from the other candidates by talking about his experience and belief that the federal government should invest in metro areas to achieve long term economic growth.

Chicago Tonight also interviewed the Republican candidates, I presume for comic relief.  One of the best moments was when Phil Ponce asked Art Jones if we supported keeping neighborhoods white and segregation; after a quick pause, Jones said, “Sure, why not?”  Then he went into full crazy mode.

the pera campaign emphasized their grassroots efforts:

Our volunteer efforts continue to snowball. We had over 100 people canvassing on our behalf throughout the district over the weekend. We expect to have more volunteers canvassing on the final weekend before the Feb. 5 election. We’re very, very optimistic about Tuesday.

they also noted with pride their fund-raising advantage:

Our campaign out-raised Dan Lipinski once again in 4Q, according to the FEC. To out-raise a sitting member of Congress during a three month stretch is a rare feat, to out-raise a sitting member of Congress six months running is an astounding feat, especially when you consider that our average contribution is $70. For comparison, Dan Lipinski’s average contribution is $1,033. We have received hundreds and hundreds of contributions from inside the district. Dan Lipinski has received just nine. As of Wednesday, we have received over 4,000 individual contributions via ActBlue. That goes to show how much support their is out there for our truly people-powered campaign.

they add:

The voters who haven’t already made up their minds are focused squarely on Feb. 5 and the issue that they are talking about most is the economy. We have received an amazing response from our last two mail pieces, both of which deal with the current state of the economy. Voters here in the district are coping with the healthcare crisis and a mortgage crisis and sky-high gas prices. They know that these issues and the ones that matter most to them are not even on the agenda in Congress. They know that Congress is broken and they want someone like Mark Pera in Washington D.C. who will stand up for their interests, not special interests.

It’s remarkable how many voters we have contacted during our canvassing efforts who have said, “We already voted for Mark.”

You’ve heard our campaign’s message loud and clear via mail, TV and the Internet. Our campaign offers the promise of not just reform, but also better representation on your behalf on the issues that you care about most. We hope we have your vote. If you have any questions, please call (708) 579-2834. Mark has been talking to voters for months at train stations, CTA stops and over the phone and he would be happy to talk with you before Election Day.

We need your help on Election Day. We are going to be running phonebanks at several locations across the district. If you can work for two, four, six, eight hours or more, we have important tasks that you can do. Please call our field director, Jacob Dusseau, at (708) 579-2834 for more information.

jerry bennett’s campaign tells us:

Jerry’s scheduled to do events all over the district in the last few days.  We’re going back to our core supporters to make final plans for election day activities.  A week to go, and Jerry’s campaign is picking up steam!


dan lipinski seems pretty confident, spending monday night in washington at the state of the union speech.  somehow, this seems appropriate.  lipinski’s closer to president bush than he is to people in his district.  much of lipinski’s confidence undoubtedly grows out of the fact that the 3rd is the heart of the machine.  here you have the doms of chicago politics, each of which are tasked to turn out their voters.  john daley runs the 11th ward, which has traditionally accounted for about 9% of the primary vote in the district.  michael madigan runs the 13th ward, which has traditionally accounted for about 14% of the primary vote.  add to that the 19th ward, traditionally the home of the hynes family, which has traditionally accounted for about 17% of the primary vote.  and finally, you have the 23rd, which has been the lipinski homefront, traditionally accounting for about 14% of the primary vote.  that’s 54% of the democratic vote in a traditional primary.

the big question is turnout.  with obama at the top of the ticket, we can expect an increase in turnout.  in 2006, more than 80,000 democrats voted in the contested 3rd congressional race.  two years before, more than 74,000 democrats voted in the uncontested race (for bill lipinski).  yet, in 2002, when there was an open gubernatorial seat and a contested democratic race, more than 90,000 democrats voted in the uncontested 3rd.  i expect 2008 to exceed that, adding at least another couple of thousand voters because it is more highly contested.  lipinski will be happy to repeat his 44,401 votes from 2006, as that total, more than likely, will return him to washington.

more importantly will be whether the increase in turnout comes in the city (iow, in these traditional machine wards) or whether it comes from the suburban parts of the district.  in 2002, 62.5% of the vote came from chicago precincts.  in 2004, only 55% of votes in this race came from chicago precincts.  there has been growth in the suburban part of the district, but this is not an area that has seen a big decrease in population in the city, like some part of chicago.

both bennett and pera have been campaigning in the city as well as their own bases in the suburbs.  lipinski won 55% of the vote in chicago precincts in 2006, but resentment about the passing of the seat from father to son exists here, as well.  this is probably more true, given how much attention came to a similar passing of the cook county presidency from john stroger to todd stroger that year.  there’s one other intangible out there that will effect this race: madigan is involved in some very competitive races among his illinois house democrats, where the governor is trying to make gains at the speaker’s expense.  madigan’s troops have been seen in other places, far outside the 3rd congressional district.  and the shakman decree has taken the umph out of patronage workers as campaign help.

what i will be watching for on tuesday is how the 19th ward returns come in.  there has been steady erosion in the machine vote in the 19th in the past couple of election years.  in 2006, lipinski came in second with  36.58% to his plant candidate (john kelly).  it was the only machine ward he lost.  in fact, lipinski won all of the suburban townships, but lost four wards total in 2006 (15, 16 and 20).  and there’s the secret: beating lipinski in the suburbs — something that’s completely doable — and winning at least 5 wards (including the 19th) should suffice.  who wins?  there’s a week to go.  we’ll know then…

IL-10 Roundup #3

again, the most important news is that early voting has begun.  for those who live in illinois’ 10th congressional district, the ballot positions for the primary election are:

Daniel J. Seals

Jay K. Footlik

only dan seals completed the voter guide question.  his response notes:

After a short 11-month campaign and a lot of hard work, Dan shocked the pundits and incumbent Mark Kirk by winning 47 percent in the election. Dan is vying for the seat again in 2008, and this time with even more support.

the financial disclosure reports are out.  seals reports a healthy “quarter:”

Total Contributions

Qtr: $329,731.01

Tot: $904,762.27

Total Operating Expenditures

Qtr: $199,646.21

Tot: $383,183.77

CoH: $627167.58

footlik’s report confirms what people are seeing on the ground:

Total Contributions

Qtr: $133,433.08

Tot: $422,308.08

Total Operating Expenditures

Qtr: $414,415.88

Tot: $480,341.28

CoH: $133,351.09

the saddest thing is, despite footlik’s considerable drop-off in donations, he still managed to raise in the 4th quarter pretty much what john laesch raised in an entire year.

being newspaper endorsement season, endorsements lead the news in this race, too.  seals has swept these: he got the pioneer press endorsement, the daily herald endorsement as well as the chicago tribune’s:

Seals gets the edge, based on a better grasp of local issues and concerns. He is endorsed.

the sun-times endorsement was more expansive:

Seals our choice in the 10th District

Democratic voters in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District on Chicago’s North Shore should consider themselves lucky.

Two strong candidates are running in the Feb. 5 primary, vying for the chance to take on Republican incumbent Rep. Mark Kirk, who is running unopposed.


But the endorsement goes to Seals, who has significantly more local support than Footlik. We like his well-rounded background, including an international economics master’s degree, fluency in Japanese and a stint working for the federal government in Washington.

He also has an MBA and worked as director of marketing at GE Capital, experiences we hope prove helpful in national economic matters. He is the son of former Chicago Bears guard George Seals and a social worker.

Several of Seals’ policy ideas are more fleshed out than Footlik’s, particularly on the economy and immigration reform, including a push for Mexico to do more to control the flow of immigrants and boost its own economy.

Seals also has the best chance to defeat Kirk.

jay did get another endorsement that went last time to dan seals, that of the jewish political alliance of illinois.  dan, otoh, got dick durbin’s endorsement again.  durbin noted, as reported by the sun-times:

“If Dan Seals were not the candidate, Jay would be a very interesting choice,” Durbin said. “But Dan has been battle-tested. He knows the district inside and out. His opponent does not have that kind of experience.”

the chicago tribune used this quote:

“I think he’s one of our strongest congressional candidates in the country, and he proved it last time,” Durbin said. “He came very close, and I think he deserves another chance at it. I think he’s battle-tested and I’m happy to support his candidacy.”

the journal also covered durbin’s endorsement of seals.

chicago public radio covered the race.  the chicago tribune noted that the difference in name recognition may be the biggest difference between footlik and seals.  the ap story observes that our economic difficulties is of great concern even in illinois’ wealthiest congressional district.

the debates between footlik and seals got more attention.  the 10th dems convention got coverage, as well, with a seals’ slant here and here.  seals got 180 votes in the straw poll while footlik received 44 votes.  this margin, you might remember, reflects the same margin found in seals’ internal poll.  and these are democratic activists — all of whom were likely to be aware, at least, of footlik’s candidacy.

if you noticed, these roundups have a specific format.  the first section is basically the news reported by the mainstream media.  the second section i call, what’s new.  this is the segment were i talk about the blogs and websites, etc.  skokie talk, a website for jay’s hometown of skokie (in the 9th CD represented by jan schakowsky) notes this good news for jay:

Footlik currently lives in Buffalo Grove with his wife and daughter. He’s expecting another daughter in February.

congratulations, jay.  i’m sure i speak for many people when i say that.

jta, a jewish news service, has increased it’s coverage of this race dramatically.  it now has a reporter on the ground (jacob berkman).  it reports footlik’s charges about dan’s position at northwestern, about footlik’s “jewish credentials,” how some were offended by footlik’s humor and about how much the footlik-seals matchup mirrors obama and hillary.  the latter write-up was called by archpundit a good overview:

My read is that Jay is a great guy and a good candidate, but given Seals is well liked by Democrats in the District and most understand you need to run twice to win, most of the reasons for supporting Jay aren’t catching with people. Jay’s campaign would argue he’s stronger in a general, but I’m not sure that the greater burden of building up name recognition wouldn’t make it just as difficult. Last time, it was a seven point difference with virtually no national help for Dan.

I like Jay and would like to see him run for something another time, but I don’t see a compelling case as to why Seals shouldn’t get a second shot given how well he did without national support last time.

it’s obvious that footlik made a valiant effort, and he clearly has tremendous political talent.  i’m pretty critical of “policy wonks,” just because i’ve had to deal with the frustrations that voters have trying to understand them.

ellen’s 10th CD blog continues to be the leader in coverage of this race.  she live blogged the lwv debate in arlington heights, covered a meet and greet for seals the next day, attended the durbin endorsement, live blogged the 10th dems convention, reported the straw poll results, noted the cpr story and broke the 21st century dems’ endorsement of seals.

these two campaigns are revving up towards election day.  the seals campaign reports that:

Voters are responding enthusiastically to Dan’s message of bringing wholesale change to Washington. On issues like the war, healthcare, and the economy, they are ready for a new direction.

Dan’s message is (and has always been) that it’s time for a change in the course of our country and the way business is done in Washington.

it’s difficult for me to see how footlik pulls this out, but what i will be looking at when the election returns come in is whether footlik is able to win the dominant jewish areas in the district (highland park, glencoe, buffalo grove).  what i want to test is whether jay’s message that he would do much better against kirk resonates in that community.  if jay wins these areas, it would signal that dan has some work to do to strengthen his position among jewish voters.

this race hasn’t turned out to be as heated as i feared or as competitive as i thought possible.  in the end, democrats in the 10th seem satisfied with the leader they recruited in 2006 to beat mark kirk.  this will be the final IL-10th roundup, not because there won’t be more news, but because it’s increasingly apparent this one has been decided…

IL-14 Roundup #4

the most important news at this point is that early voting has begun.  for those who live in illinois’ 14th congressional district, the ballot positions for the special primary election are:

Bill Foster

John Laesch

Jotham Stein

ballot positions for the regular primary election are:

John Laesch

Jotham Stein

Bill Foster

Joe Serra

the winner of the special primary election should expect lots of support.  the dccc put il-14 on it’s first round of red-to-blue races:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the campaign arm of the Democratic Party majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, has announced its initial roster of candidates in a program that will provide them with enhanced fundraising and strategic assistance – most of them for efforts to take over Republican-held seats in this year’s elections.

Candidate to be determined, Illinois’ 14th (North central – Aurora, Elgin, DeKalb). The special election to replace Hastert has been scheduled for March 8, and the parties will select their nominees in primary elections on Feb. 5 – the same day that district voters will cast ballots in the regularly scheduled primary election. The Democratic winner in both contests almost certainly will be Bill Foster, a scientist and businessman who has support from the Democratic hierarchy. Foster is personally wealthy and had early success raising campaign money from other sources, but the Democrats will give him plenty of extra help in the hopes of stealing a generally Republican-leaning district. The Republican field includes state Sen. Chris Lauzen and dairy executive Jim Oberweis, who is Hastert’s preferred candidate.

2004 vote for president: Bush 55 percent, Kerry 44 percent

the dccc won’t be the only democrats rushing in to help foster.

the lawsuit filed by the local election boards has been decided.  “A federal judge has approved an abbreviated calendar for a special March general election to fill a vacancy in the 14th Congressional District…. Judge Ruben Castillo set new deadlines for the tasks to be completed to take into account the time between the two elections.”  one thing i’m going to be paying attention to is how much differentiation there is between turnout in these two separate elections.

this is endorsement season and bill foster has wrapped up most of the newspaper endorsements.  foster got the major chicago paper’s endorsements.  the chicago tribune wrote:

Local Democratic leaders, though, seem to be coalescing around Bill Foster of Geneva, a particle physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Here’s a first for an Illinois campaign: Foster is endorsed by 22 Nobel Prize winners. Foster is a strong candidate, and he has our support.

the sun-times advised:

Among Democrats, we endorse retired Fermilab physicist and successful businessman Bill Foster of Geneva. His moderate views fit best with the 14th.

Foster’s physics background would be handy in addressing atomic energy and weapons issues and in defending continued funding of Fermilab and Argonne.

We are wary, though, of Foster’s support of a potentially Big Brother type of national employee verification card. He also favors putting up a real or virtual border wall.

His personal hero — and a man whose commitment he tries to emulate — is his late father, Bill, a law professor who helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

foster also won the endorsements from the kane county chonicle and the dekalb daily chronicle.

the aurora beacon news and the ledger sentinel wrote about john laesch’s endorsement by his hometown mayor, valerie burd.  

there’s been plenty of stories about the candidate debates.  the telegraph and daily gazette had this write up, and the beacon news had this one, about the debate two weeks ago.  more recently, the beacon news (here and here) and the daily herald wrote about this weekend’s debate.  in other coverage, the courier news wrote about the candidate’s different approaches to health care, while the daily herald looks at their views on iraq.  chicago’s abc station had this piece about the race (although i never got it to play on my computer).

in more candidate-specific articles, the beacon news and the courier news covered jotham stein’s announcement of his economic plan.  the daily herald covered bill foster’s reaction to president bush’s visit to chicago while the beacon news covered foster’s increasing concentration on his forthcoming republican opponent.  the beacon news also took a tour around the world wide web, looking at the candidate’s websites.

the laesch campaign continues to conduct much of its efforts online.  there were campaign updates herehere, here, here, here and here.  downtowner adds her perspective here and here.  daddy4mak gets excited about pat quinn’s endorsement as does howie klein.  he also hails the endorsement from noam chomsky while calling this race the most “important race in the entire country on February 5.”  archpundit wonders why laesch wants to get rid of the alternative minimum tax (i guess if the leading candidate supports fiscal responsibility, you may as well come out against it).

live leak had this video of the quinn endorsement.  the national pda joined the il-14 and chicago branches in endorsing laesch.

foster has gained more support.  bill baar has been faithful in posting mailers from the candidates, including foster’s: here, here and here.  foster also has a new television commercial, which can be seen here.  

jotham stein has put up a series of youtube videos, on fermilab, buying a seat in congress, and food and health care for every child.

there are still a number of opportunities to hear the candidates.  on thursday night, they will participate in the aurora beacon news/cbs 2 debate (which will also be webcast).  sunday morning WBBM-AM will air a candidate forum on the “at issue” program.  both of these forums provide people numerous chances to compare the candidates on the issues.

the foster campaign reports:

We’re talking to a lot of voters these days, especially with our Aurora field office up and running.

Iraq, of course, is a big issue in the minds of voters, as is frustration with politics-as-usual and squabbling in Washington.  However, we’re also seeing an increase in concerns over jobs, the mortgage crisis, and the general state of the economy.

The message remains that Bill Foster’s background as a scientist and a businessman will enable him to confront the challenges facing this district and this country, and change the bickering ways in Washington that prevent anything from getting done.

it adds:

We’re continuing to run a campaign that’s focused on the issues and telling voters about Bill Foster.  That stands in stark contrast to the Republican candidates in this race, who seem to be more focused on attacking each other than on talking about issues that matter to voters.

Bill is receiving a lot of organic support from the scientific community, which is excited by the prospect of sending an accomplished physicist to Congress.  They recognize how critical that background will be to tackling the tough technological problems – energy independence and health care, for example – America faces.

early voting has begun, and jotham stein and bill foster both have votes.  given the popularity of early voting this time, it seems that this race could see a record primary turnout — for both elections.  vote twice.  it’s your right…

IL-03 Roundup #4

the most important news at this point is that early voting has begun.  for those who live in illinois’ 3rd congressional district, the ballot positions are:

Mark N. Pera   #9

Jim Capparelli #10

Daniel William Lipinski #11

Jerry Bennett #12

all the democrats in this race have filed their voter guide questions.  lipinski’s response states “I have also been a leader in the battle to responsibly bring our troops home from Iraq.”  pera’s response argues that “More than anything else, voters are tired of politicians in Washington D.C. who are beholden to special interests and they are fed up with the nepotism and corruption that we see from the Lipinskis and the Strogers of Cook County.”  bennett’s response observes:

During those 27 years [as mayor], I’ve worked with my fellow mayors and other public officials to transform the town and our region. We’ve come up with innovative solutions for building infrastructure, improving law enforcement and securing a safer environment.

capparelli says: “I’m determined to reignite the patriotism we all felt in the months following the attacks of 2001.”

it’s also endorsement season for the local newspapers.  the chicago tribune endorsed lipinski.  given that he didn’t even show up for the trib’s endorsement session, it’s hard to see why.  one might assume it has something to do with it’s closeness to the chicago machine.  the suntimes has yet to endorse in this race, even though early voting has begun.  the local pioneer paper endorsed mark pera as “the best choice to unseat incumbent Daniel Lipinski.”

lipinski got raves for one of his earmarks.  otoh, carol marin returns to lipinski’s ethics issues:

It was 3½ years ago that Bill ran and won in the spring primary, and only that summer when he felt the sudden urge to retire. Ward committeemen friends, familiar dynastic names like Daley, Hynes and Madigan, quickly marshaled the best man for the job.

Boom, there came Dan Lipinski, a college political science professor who had been working out of state for years, anointed to replace his dad on the November Democratic ballot. The opponent on the Republican side, a 25-year-old bar owner from Cicero, posed no threat. He was a plant previously recruited by the Lipinski forces to guarantee the general election was a gentle ride for Dan. And indeed it was.

the western springs doings talks about the race here.  the southwest news herald covered a recent debate where lipinski showed up late.  and the nearwest gazette had a story on several blogs’ support for mark pera.

lipinski has two new union endorsements: the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and Sprinkler Fitters Local 281.  pera has been racking up other endorsements: Blue America, Blue Majority, Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, Oak Park DFA, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and United Citizens for a Better America.

carl nyberg wrote a great writeup of the league of women voters debate, including a summary of the positions taken at the debate.  yoda noted that rahm emanual’s leadership pac contributed $2,500 to lipinski’s re-election.

vasyl markus, the communications director from the bennett campaign, observes:

The biggest news is that Dan Lipinski is finally emerging from his bunker.  There have been joint appearances with all four candidates at the Sun Times editorial board, the League of Women Voters debate, and at an event in Berwyn.

Jerry emphasized his experience and leadership at these events.  He is the only candidate in the race with a track record of balancing budgets, keeping property taxes low, doubling the size of the police force, and working with the region’s local officials to build infrastructure and plan for the future.  At both the League of Women Voters and the Berwyn event, audience members came up to Jerry to let him know that they support him.

Lipinski got grilled about his connections with his father by Carol Marin at the ed board meeting.  Marin wrote a column criticizing Lipinski’s responses.  Lipinski also tried to claim credit for funding certain transportation projects in the districts, but Jerry pointed out that each of those projects had been initiated by Bill Lipinski, and that Dan Lipinski has not initiated any new infrastructure capital projects for the region.

miss laura, wegerje and rob nesvacil covered the trib’s endorsement of lipinski while markos and michael in chicago covered the doings’ endorsement of pera.  lots of blogs picked up the carol marin editorial.  illinois informant has a post, as does reading on walden.  miss laura at dailykos got in on the act.  charlotte lynn continues the long line of questions about lipinski’s ethical problems; which was picked up by others.

aaron krager continues to cover this race.  ray hanania interviewed pera on his radio show.  yoda and frank swap canvassing tales.  the pera campaign has put up a new video on health care, which also got covered by miss laura.

the biggest thing in the blogs from pera’s perspective is the blog-raisers going on.  kos started it by challenging the blogs to raise money for him.  miss laura picks up the banner and runs with it.  kbal11 writes about his thank you phone call from mark pera while mark pera thanks the blogs.  others got involved, locally as well as not-so-local, including leftword, mydd (direct democracy) america blog and wurfwhile.  there are probably others i missed (though not intentionally).

the pera campaign notes:

We are in the midst of a fundraising effort sponsored by a number of national Netroots and progressive Democratic leaders. The goal of this fundraising drive – which is called “5,000 for Pera” – is to boost our total number of online contributors on ActBlue to 5,000. Since it began on Jan. 14, we have raised more than $40,000.

second life is also holding an online fundraiser for pera.

the bennett mailer i mentioned last roundup is up on their site (downloaded as a pdf).  they have a second mailer is filling mail boxes this week.  lipinski has sent out “just three mail pieces.”  the pera campaign has their “Tired of being squeezed?” mailer up as well as their current walk piece (which is also available in spanish).  you can expect everyone’s mail to start hitting now.

the pera campaign announced:

We have opened a third campaign office – which we’re calling our suburban office – at 9734 S. Roberts Road in Palos Hills. It is staffed by deputy field director Ahlam Jbaba, an Arabic speaker. Ahlam is responsible for coordinating our Muslim and Arab American outreach. Our other offices are located at 7061 Willow Springs Road, Countryside (Pera for Congress Headquarters), and 6158 S. Pulaski, Chicago (Chicago office).

the bennett campaign reports that they have initiated a series of robocalls in the district.  it observes:

The Bennett campaign’s message from now until election day is twofold: First, Dan Lipinski has consistently supported George W Bush and conservative Republicans on issues such as abortion rights, stem cell research, the war in Iraq, and health care reform.  Second, of all the candidates in the race, Jerry has the most experience dealing with the bread and butter issues that the next Congressman from the 3rd District will face.

the pera campaign’s message is:

Dan Lipinski has voted consistently with President Bush and the Republicans on the issues that matter most to Democrats. He has yet to acknowledge, much less remedy, the ethical challenges plaguing his re-election bid. People in the 3rd District are tired of politics as usual, nepotism and cronyism. If you want real change in Chicago, Cook County and Washington D.C., you should vote for Mark Pera, a real mainstream Democratic reformer.

they feel like this message is resonating with voters:

Mark, our campaign staff and scores of volunteers have called through literally hundreds of precincts throughout the the 3rd District and Democrats are telling us that they want change and that they are going to vote for Mark Pera when they go to the polls on Feb. 5.

Since Jan. 14, the start of early voting in Chicago and Cook County, voters on the phones and in person have said that they already have voted for Mark.

they still are looking for volunteer help:

We want you to be part of our campaign.

Your choice is simple: Mark is a principled Democrat and he feels strongly about the issues that voters care about most – the Iraq war, energy and the environment, health care, embryonic stem cell research, choice and privacy. Dan Lipinski votes with President Bush and the Republicans on each and every one of these issues.

As of Monday, we are just 15 days out from Feb. 5. We are continuing to gain momentum and we need you to help put us over the top by walking precincts, making phone calls, putting up yard signs and spreading the word about our campaign.

To get involved, call our field director, Jacob Dusseau, at (708) 579-2834.

the bennett campaign has two fundraisers in the next two days, including one with democratic pollster, celinda lake.

financial disclosure reports are still not available, but since the last roundup, the pera campaign has raised another $41,623 across actblue, the bennett campaign has raised another $2,175 (and doubled their number of online contributors) and the capparelli campaign has raised an additional $100 across actblue.

finally, it’s been frigid in the chicagoland area — something that has traditionally been called precinct captain’s weather.  the idea behind that phrase was to suggest that only those who benefited from patronage jobs from the machine would be so bold as to go out and campaign when it was in the single digits.  only now — after early voting has begun — are traditional precinct captains getting out and telling “their” voters who to vote for (ie, lipinski).  the hold of the chicago democratic machine has been fading of late, but this congressional seat is at the heart of the machine.  if they can’t win it for lipinski, they can’t win it for anyone.  for the next two weeks, we’re going to find out how powerful the chicago machine is now.  this is clearly the most viable threat that has been posed to the machine on the southwest side of chicagoland…

IL-10 Roundup #2

this race isn’t generating as much coverage as the others, simply because it is turning out to be not much of a race.  the endorsement interview at the chicago tribune can be found here:

if you watch this video, which was ended abruptly where others were extended, the interviewer asks jay footlik the question that is on everyone’s mind: why are you running, and “risk the possibility of perhaps splitting sensibilities among democrats when he (seals) came so close last time?”  it’s the question on many democrat’s minds in the tenth.

mark kirk’s supporters would like this to be more of a race.  i suspect footlik’s supporters would, too.  but we’re just not hearing it on the ground.  footlik’s name recognition still seems to be problematic, and it doesn’t appear that dan seals will have to spend as much money to beat footlik as i’d wager they planned to spend.

the tribune covered the session of the video above, noting:

The two Democrats seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) from his North Shore seat clashed on the Middle East and where they live Tuesday in their first meeting of the campaign season.

Former White House adviser Jay Footlik criticized Democratic primary opponent Dan Seals for saying during his previous congressional run that he would support “peace” in a conflict between Iran and Israel.


Footlik, who runs a homeland security consulting business, said he currently resides in Buffalo Grove.

Seals then got Footlik to admit he’s only renting a house in the district.

footlik, who likes to tell his audience that he started his career as “the cute kid,” played it cute about the residency issue:

Jay Footlik, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the North Suburban 10th District, sent out a map this week showing four houses for sale in the district under $400,000 in case his opponent in the Democratic primary, Dan Seals, wants to buy one.

this stunt would have been more cute if footlik’s wife hadn’t told people they were planning on buying a house in the 10th congressional district.  it makes you wonder if the kirk campaign has an office pool for when footlik returns to his home within the beltway.

the daily herald also wrote about their endorsement session:

Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals says lobbyists can’t change Washington, but opponent Jay Footlik says that neither can neophytes.

“I’ve already delivered real results,” Footlik argued, referring to his work as a security consultant, Middle East policy adviser and lobbyist for foreign interests. “I have been involved in trying to find solutions.”

But business consultant Seals argues Footlik doesn’t have the kind of experience voters want.

“If you are going to deliver change, I don’t think you can do that as a lobbyist,” said the Wilmette resident.

this has been a busy week for the two campaigns in the 10th.  three debates were scheduled, one remaining for tomorrow night (lwv forum at the arlington heights library).  several papers covered last night’s exchange.  in a spirited exchange of the two candidates, they went deep into local issues.  on transportation issues, seals wants to utilize the lake to its fullest extent as a transportation system while footlik supports expanding o’hare and getting the municipalities to cooperate on roads.  on the environment, seals thinks the lake is our greatest resource and must be protected.  he used the recent bp amoco fiasco as just one example.  footlik agrees that while kirk makes a appearance about bp, he’s done nothing.  seals also noted that he would be willing to sign on for more punitive action against those companies that discriminate.  

both candidates were asked what 2 committees and what 2 pieces of legislation would you like.  seals said he wants to sit on the education and armed forces committees and would sponsor troops returning in a year.  footlik said he wants to sit on the transportation and foreign affairs committees.  press coverage of the debate had one write:

Seals, a business consultant at Northwestern University said he is running to change Washington, D.C.

“We need to change healthcare, the war in Iraq, the deficit and business overall in Washington,” said Seals.

Seals said he believes the government is putting freedom at odds with security when it comes to electronic surveillance and other methods used by Homeland Security.

“Wire tapping, the eavesdropping, and the torture our troops are putting on some of the prisoners are just some examples that are having an opposite effect on security,” Seals said. “We need to focus on police work and good intelligence by addressing border issues and reading security checks.”

Footlik said the country needs to reach out to the Muslim world and communicate in a more effective way.

“There are great solutions for anti-terrorism laws, but it starts with first responders like police and fire back home,” said Footlik.

Back home, Seals believes Congress should pass the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act, because children “deserve our care,” he said.

there were other stories about the endorsements the two are getting.  the news sun notes that footlik got the endorsement of the lake county federation of teachers while seals won the endorsement of the IFT’s northwest suburban teachers union.  the tribune wrote about the switch to footlik, while the pioneer press said that “Jay Footlik believes his campaign is gaining momentum with the endorsement of two major teachers’ unions.”

otoh, one of footlik’s mailers got a different reaction than his campaign probably wanted.  Footlik mailing draws fire was a headline in the winnetka talk:

The Footlik campaign says the ad was meant to talk about his faith in a humorous way, and the work he has done on issues important to the Jewish community and in promoting Middle East peace.

But others did not find the mailing so funny.

“I was just offended by the fact that whole piece had nothing to do with the issues,” said Buffalo Grove resident Jon Altenberg, who is Jewish. “The whole piece is based on the fact he’s Jewish. I’m Jewish, and I don’t think the fact that someone’s Jewish should have any relevance on whether he gets my vote or not.”

In a Letter to the Editor, Altenberg said the mailing “uses Jewish stereotypes and slang to try to insinuate that Jay Footlik is the only candidate to vote for simply because he has a Jewish surname.”

“If anybody who was not Jewish used the same terms, I think it would be seen as offensive,” he said.

Altenberg said he’s talked to neighbors who are not Jewish and they indicated they had not received the mailing.

sun times columnist neil steinberg called the mailer pandering to the northshore’s jewish voters.  it appears, though, that reaction to the mailer broke on generational lines, with older jewish voters finding it as humorous as it was intended.

in the ‘what’s new’ department, the seals campaign reports:

A recent poll by Garin-Hart-Yang Research showed Dan leading his primary opponent 58-10

the campaign also notes that “Dan was endorsed by the Pioneer Press on Thursday, January 10.”  seals has won the “endorsement race,” posting new endorsements by


* Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago

* Communications Workers of America

* International Association of Machinists

* International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

* Illinois Federation of Teachers- Northwest Suburban Teachers Union Local 1211

* Independent Voters of Illinois-IPO

* International Longshoreman’s Association

* Sheet Metal Workers International Association

* United Auto Workers

* United Food and Commercial Workers

* United Transportation Union

footlik got some good blog support from the teacher’s union endorsement.  his home town bulletin board had a nice appeal:

Niles North alumnus Jay Footlik is running for Congress. Those of us who are Skokie residents, including Jay’s mom, can’t vote for him, because we living in the 9th congressional district. This doesn’t mean we can’t help.

a volunteer from miami university had a really sweet post about her experience helping on footlik’s campaign and what it means.  otoh, local blogstar, ellen gill asked fellow voters if they had received on the calls talked about in that volunteer’s post.

supporters of dan seals put up a considerable amount of video in the last month.  one of these week’s debate had two questions posted, one on alternative energy and another on who’s his political role model.  seals’ wilmette coffee in december was also posted, part one is here, part two is here and the final segment is here.  the seals campaign has this video, Get to Know Dan!  and video from the yearlykos future leader’s forum, where seals was a panelist, is now online.  

there’s a lot of stuff coming up.  jay footlik now has an events section on his website, although the calendar doesn’t seem to be for the general public (there’s no address listed for each item).  the seals campaign continues to update it’s calendar page.  and the league of women voters debate is tomorrow at the arlington heights library.

seals’ financial picture continues to get brighter.  his actblue page shows he’s raised $258,784 from 1,093 donors across actblue.  footlik still hasn’t raised a dime on actblue.  full fund-raising numbers aren’t due in illinois until after the 16th.

footlik’s prospects don’t look that good.  it’s not just the poll numbers; voters still don’t know who footlik is, and when they do, they wonder — just like the tribune interviewer — why he’s running.  otoh, footlik’s challenge has forced the seals’ campaign to organize earlier, and knock on more doors than they probably would have otherwise.  as seals turns his attention to unifying democrats in the 10th around his candidacy, and then a more potent challenge against mark kirk, he continues to be a down to earth, charismatic agent for change.

IL-14 Roundup #3

the two primaries in illinois’ 14th congressional district are fast approaching.  the biggest piece of news in this race is that the endorsement session for the chicago tribune is available online:

but given the importance of this particular race — voters will not only be choosing their nominees for the general election in november, but also their nominees for the special election in march to fill the term of retiring dennis hastert — there’s plenty of other news.

we can file the recent articles into three categories: news about the special election, coverage of the numerous debates in this race and news about the candidates themselves.  the authoritative illinois issues online has comprehensive coverage in this month’s issue.  congressional quarterly, as usual, had two articles about the race, starting with a setup piece that mentions how important it is for democrats to win this seat:

The next special House election – the sixth of the 2007-08 cycle – will occur March 8 in Illinois’ 14th District, a mostly suburban district west of Chicago where the winner will succeed former Republican House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who resigned Nov. 26. That contest may turn out to be the most competitive special election this cycle: While Illinois’ 14th gave Bush 55 percent of the vote in the 2004 election, it is the most politically competitive in presidential vote performance of the seven districts that have held special elections this election cycle or soon will.

The chief contestants – Democratic scientist Bill Foster and Republicans Chris Lauzen, a state senator, and Jim Oberweis, a dairy executive – are well-funded and are preparing to run in a Feb. 5 special primary election that will coincide with the state’s regularly scheduled primary election.

another article notes the potential confusion of asking voters to cast two different ballots.

the ongoing debates between the three democrats (and, sometimes, two republicans — joe serra seems to be MIA) have generated plenty of coverage.  the chambers of commerce breakfast in st. charles continued to receive coverage, here and here

both chicago public radio and wgn radio covered last night’s (january 8) debate; i don’t know why their aren’t streaming versions of their coverage.  the kane county chronicle also covered the debate.  there was also this coverage of the endorsement session at the aurora beacon news.

john laesch woke up to good news this morning: state senator mike noland has endorsed him.  last week, bill foster was in the news for receiving endorsements by elected officials of both parties.

jotham stein won among democrats in eric zorn’s year end reader poll (1,375 total responses)  biil baar wonders if that doesn’t make stein our huckabee?  stein started a new youtube page that includes the introductory video on his website, as well as two new videos: Global Warming and Immigration Reform v. Scientist’s National ID Card.  

booman tribune has an old interview of john laesch that now comes up on google search.  his campaign continues its periodic campaign updates here and here.  laesch’s former blogger also talks about Podunk,IL vs. the New Chicago Machine.  the laesch youtube page covers his simmons appearance (broken into multiple videos and quentin young’s endorsement.

support for bill foster has been growing on the blogs.  this post notes that foster is being called the front runner in the race.  i also overlooked the bill foster interview epluribus media conducted at yearlykos.  another post looks at foster’s energy proposals.

foster has benefitted both from his status as a scientist and the recent cutbacks at fermilab (a major employer in the district).  his science credentials are finding posts on political and non-political blogs, including Physics and Physicists: Politics & Science, and Open Science Thread: Politics & Science and another Open Science Thread.  finally, Nuclear Mangos covered foster.  one blogger wants you to know that he contributed to foster because of this.  the cutbacks at fermilab have gotten foster mentions in the local press, Fermilab under threat due to federal budget and Federal budget so far not good for Fermilab.

it’s become apparent to everyone that all three campaigns have active efforts in contacting voters at their door or phone.  the foster campaign has begun it’s mail effort and is more frequently advertising on television.  i expect the stein campaign to begin to mail to voters shortly; no one knows if laesch will have the money to mail.

perhaps the biggest development is the effort at the regional level to organize democrats to participate in the special election in march.  a loose coalition of party organizations and grassroots activists are beginning to focus on this race after the super duper tuesday.  the most recent development in this area is the interest in taking the lessons learned in iowa by midwestern democrats and apply them to this special election.

the foster campaign reports:

Bill Foster has been picking up the endorsements of local leaders in the district, including former Newark Mayor Roger Ness, DeKalb County Board member Robert Rosemier, Kane County Board members Gerald Jones, Bonnie Lee Kunkel, and Rudy Neuberger, and Aldermen Chuck Brown (Geneva), Mike Saville (Aurora), and Jim Volk (Batavia).  His message that, as a scientist and businessman, he’s an experienced problem solver ready to address the issues facing our community and our nation and ready to change the ways thinsg are done in Washington, is gaining traction and resonating with voters.

they have numerous events coming up in the next week including activities in winfield township, west dundee and elgin.

the other campaigns did not report anything new for the next week or so.

as for outlook, it will be interesting to see how the different campaign’s messages resonate with voters.  while laesch has a certain emotional appeal to the area’s progressives, foster apparently has an equally emotional appeal to those effected by the fermilab job losses.  other residents fearing for their jobs may coalesce around foster, as well.  stein has reacted strongly to some of foster’s proposals, and this may provide another emotional base for support.  but you have to reach people through all the noise and connect with them to secure an emotional base.  the debates scheduled with the republican candidates doesn’t really help the three differentiate themselves from one another…