Farewell to Blue Downstate

The second and final incarnation of Blue Downstate has now been archived, meaning that no new blog posts will be published on here ever again, but the site will remain online for archival purposes.

However, I’m not done writing about Illinois politics by any stretch of the imagination. With the exception of the occasional contribution to DailyKos and Prairie State Blue, my take on Illinois politics will now move to The Progressive Midwestern, which you can view here.

To those who have read my posts on here, thank you!

Kirk the Jerk is scared of Tammy Duckworth, and he’s being a sexist jerk about it

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), who recently gave birth to a baby girl, is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat here in Illinois that is currently held by Republican Mark Kirk two years from now, and Kirk is being a total jerk about it:

The Illinois Republican is running “come hell or high water” in Democratic-leaning Illinois as perhaps the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in next cycle. There are several Democrats who could line up to challenge the freshman senator, but in an interview Thursday with The Hill, he suggested that Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who had her first child this week, would be better served to wait for Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) term to end in 2020.

“She has a very bright future ahead of her. After only one term … you know, when you run for the Senate, you have to give up your congressional seat. If she gives up her congressional seat and loses against me, that’s a very sad ending to a bright career,” Kirk said about the congresswoman and potential rival.

“To fight and lose a Senate race against Kirk is a terrible start to a career,” the Illinois Republican said in a sit-down interview in his Senate office.

The only person who should be deciding what Tammy Duckworth should do about her political career is Tammy Duckworth. The fact that Kirk the Jerk thinks that he should tell Tammy Duckworth what she should do with her political future tells me that A) he’s a condescending, sexist jerk and B) he’s afraid that Tammy Duckworth might defeat him if she were to run against him.

Even if Tammy Duckworth doesn’t run for U.S. Senate here in Illinois, there’s plenty of other Democrats in this state who can defeat Kirk the Jerk in 2016.

UPDATE: “About a dozen” Democrats seeking appointment to replace Mike Frerichs in Illinois Senate; Don Gerard, Laurel Prussing, and George Gollin not interested

The (Champaign) News-Gazette’s Tom Kacich is reporting that, according to Vermilion County Democratic Party chairman Frank Wright, “about a dozen” Democrats are interested in seeking an appointment to replace Mike Frerichs, who has, more than likely, won the race for Illinois Treasurer after Republican candidate Tom Cross conceded earlier today, in the Illinois Senate. Wright did not name anybody who is interested in seeking an appointment to Frerichs’s state senate seat. Because there are individuals interested in seeking the appointment to Frerichs’s seat, I am no longer interested in seeking the appointment to Frerichs’s state senate seat.

Whoever Democratic precinct committeemen and committeewomen of the 52nd Legislative District select to replace Frerichs in the Illinois Senate will be the new state senator for the 52nd District, which I am a resident of and includes parts of Champaign and Vermilion Counties in the east central part of the state, for the next two years or so. Per Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Illinois Constitution, no special election will be held since Frerichs will be replaced with less than 28 months remaining in his current four-year term in the state senate. The next general election for the seat will be held in 2016.

Already, four individuals have publicly ruled out seeking an appointment to serve out the final two years of Frerichs’s term in the state senate: According to the article, Champaign Mayor Don Gerard, Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, and University of Illinois professor George Gollin are not interested in seeking theappointment to Frerichs’s seat. Although the article didn’t mention this, I was notified before the November elections that Vermilion County Clerk Lynn Foster, who lost re-election this year, is not interested in seeking the appointment to Frerichs’s seat.

I’m speculating that the dozen or so Democrats who are considering seeking the appointment to Frerichs’s seat are Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, Laura Frerichs (Mike Frerichs’s wife), a few Democratic city council members in Champaign, Urbana, and/or Danville, a few Democratic county board members in Champaign and/or Vermilion Counties, a few Democratic/progressive activists, and/or a few people who are generally not thought of as political figures. Again, this is just speculation on my part.

While this is purely speculation on my part, I suspect that Julia Rietz is the apparent frontrunner for the appointment to Frerichs’s state senate seat unless there’s a surprise or Rietz is not interested being appointed to Frerichs’s seat.

Should Mike Frerichs win treasurer’s race, who would replace him in the Illinois Senate?

It is now likely that Democratic candidate for Treasurer of Illinois Mike Frerichs is going to win election to the treasurer’s office. Frerichs currently holds a 9,439 vote lead over Republican candidate Tom Cross on the final day that late-arriving mail-in votes can be counted, according to Scott Kennedy of the Illinois Election Data blog.

Frerichs, who is currently my state senator, would have to resign his seat in the Illinois Senate should his lead in the treasurer’s race hold and he were to win election to the treasurer’s office. That means that, if I’m not mistaken, Democratic precinct committeemen and commiteewomen in the 52nd Legislative District, which is located in the east central part of the state and includes parts of Champaign and Vermilion Counties, would select someone to serve the last two years of Frerichs’s current term in the state senate.

I’m going to provide a run down of possible Democratic replacement state senators in the 52nd Legislative District, all but two of which are from either Champaign or Urbana:

  • Champaign Mayor Don Gerard – Not sure if he’s interested in a state senate appointment, although he’s currently running for re-election for Champaign Mayor, so I doubt that he’d be interested
  • Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing – Not sure if she’s interested, Urbana Mayor is up for election in spring of 2017. Prussing has run for legislative offices in the past (specifically, lost a congressional election in the 1998 15th Congressional District race to Republican incumbent Tom Ewing).
  • State Rep.-elect Carol Ammons – Was recently elected to the state house, and she doesn’t seem like an office jumper-type of person, so I doubt that she’d be interested.
  • Retiring State Rep. Naomi Jakobbson – Highly doubt that she’d be interested, if she is, she probably wouldn’t run for a full term in 2016.
  • Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz – Frequently floated as a possible candidate for higher office, not sure if she’s interested.
  • Attorney Sam Rosenberg – Ran against Ammons in 103rd Representative District Democratic primary, may be interested, but I’m not sure.
  • University of Illinois Professor George Gollin – Ran against Ann Callis in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary. Gollin may be interested, although I highly doubt that he’d be selected unless there was no other palatable option.
  • WICD-TV Weather Anchor Doug Quick – Only Vermilion County-based name on here. Not sure if he’s interested (or, for that matter, if he’s a Democrat), although he appears to be politically progressive (his Central Illinois TV history website featured an ad for Ed Schultz’s progressive talk radio program until recently), and he’s well-known in the district as a longtime TV and radio personality. Me floating his name as a possible successor to Frerichs is pure speculation on my part.
  • Aaron Camp, the author of this blog – You know, if I was approached by Democratic Party officials about seeking Mike Frerichs’s state senate seat, I’d consider it. I highly doubt they’d consider me, because I don’t play nice with the Democratic establishment, the Republicans, or the corporate media.

Additionally, other Democratic county-wide officials in Champaign County and various Democratic county board members and city council members out of Champaign, Urbana, and/or Danville are possible successors to Frerichs.

I’d be shocked if Mike Frerichs’s appointed successor came from the Vermilion County portion of the district, since most of the district’s population is in the Champaign County portion of the district, and the Vermilion County Democratic Party has completely collapsed (including losing the county clerk’s office in this year’s elections).

It will be interesting to see who Democrats select to replace Mike Frerichs in the Illinois Senate.

Jane Byrne, only woman to ever be elected Chicago Mayor, dead at 81

Former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, the only woman to ever serve as mayor of our state’s largest city, died today at the age of 81.

Byrne, one of the most colorful characters to have ever held public office in our state’s history, took on the incompetent, machine-supported incumbent Michael Bilandic in the 1979 Democratic primary for Mayor of Chicago. In large part due to the City of Chicago’s horrid response to the January 1979 blizzard that severely impacted the Chicago metro area, Byrne defeated Bilandic in the Democratic primary (this was before Chicago mayoral elections became officially non-partisan) and went on to win the general election. Upon winning the primary, Byrne exclaimed, “I beat the whole goddamn machine single-handed!”

During her only four-year term as Chicago Mayor, Byrne put Chicago’s finances on solid ground by balancing the city’s budget. However, there was constant turnover in top offices in Byrne’s administration, and progressives began to despise her over, among other things, a lack of contracts and jobs for minorities at Chicagofest, a music festival that was held annually in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s on Chicago’s lakefront, which prompted numerous performers to boycott the 1982 edition of Chicagofest. In 1983, Harold Washington defeated Byrne in the Democratic mayoral primary and, after winning the general election, Washington became the first black mayor in Chicago’s history.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that Byrne did as Chicago Mayor was overruling the Chicago Fire Department and allowing Dan Goodwin to climb the John Hancock Center, then Chicago’s third-tallest building and now Chicago’s fourth-tallest building, although Goodwin was later found guilty of contempt. Had Byrne not stepped in, Goodwin would have probably been killed by the fire department.

Even though Jane Byrne is no longer with us, she will forever be remembered for being one of the few people to take on the powerful Chicago machine and win.

Bruce Rauner fishing buddy Rahm Emanuel accepted campaign cash from firms managing Chicago pension money

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Republican Governor-elect Bruce Rauner’s fishing buddy, appears to have violated federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and one of his own executive orders by accepting campaign contributions from firms that manage Chicago public employee pension money. Additionally, pro-Rahm PACs have also accepted contributions from firms that manage Chicago pension money.

Here’s some details about the latest scandal implicating Rahm:

Executives at investment firms that manage Chicago pension funds have since 2011 poured more than $600,000 in contributions into Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign operation and political action committees (PACs) that support him, according to documents reviewed by International Business Times. These contributions appear to flout federal rules banning companies that manage pension funds from financing the campaigns of officials with authority over pension systems, say legal experts.

The contributions also potentially conflict with an executive order Emanuel himself signed in 2011 prohibiting city contractors and subcontractors from making campaign donations to city officials.

A former chief of staff to President Obama, Emanuel, a Democrat, was elected Chicago mayor three years ago with a substantial boost from financial services executives. Since 2011, at least 31 executives at firms that harvest fees by managing city pension funds have contributed to his campaign and associated PACs. That list of donors includes Kelly Welsh, a Northern Trust executive who was recently appointed by President Obama to the top legal position in the U.S. Commerce Department. […]

Former prosecutors, corporate compliance attorneys and erstwhile officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission describe the donations as a clear breach of the spirit — and perhaps the letter — of the SEC’s so-called pay-to-play rule, which seeks to prevent pension investments from being doled out as a form of patronage to those who contribute to campaigns.

“The management of municipal pensions should be totally transparent and free of political influence,” former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt told IBTimes after the Chicago contributions were described to him. “The acceptance of contributions by city officials from advisers managing city funds, in my book, smells like bribery.”

The reason why the SEC has rule prohibiting elected officials from accepting campaign cash is because it would be a brazen conflict of interest, if not outright bribery, for a public official who, either directly or indirectly, has authority over pension funds. Although I highly doubt that he will do so, Mayor Emanuel should resign the office of Mayor of Chicago and end his re-election campaign immediately. Chicagoans can’t afford four more years of the Rahm Emanuel-Bruce Rauner corporate agenda that has divided Chicagoans against each other, left Chicago’s public school system much weaker, has left Chicago’s streets more dangerous, and has allowed Big Business interests to gain a stranglehold on Chicago politics.

Why I’m pulling my endorsement of Bob Fioretti and endorsing Jesus Garcia for Chicago Mayor

After I endorsed Bob Fioretti for Mayor of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times ran this article about Fioretti donating money to Republican candidates and committees prior to being elected to the Chicago City Council, both personally and through law firms that Fioretti was formerly a partner of.

Among other donations:

  • Fioretti personally donated to Steve Rauschenberger, who was a Republican U.S. Senate candidate here in Illinois in 2004 before dropping out before the Republican primary.
  • Fioretti personally donated $250 to 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.
  • Fioretti personally donated to one of the Republicans who ran against progressive Democrat Russ Feingold in the 2004 Wisconsin U.S. Senate race (the article did not state which specific Republican Fioretti donated to; there was a four-way Republican primary in the race in question).
  • Fioretti personally donated $500 to the Republican Central Committee of Cook County.
  • Fioretti and one of Fioretti’s law firms donated nearly $62,000 to former Republican Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan.
  • Fioretti’s law firms donated to Illinois Republicans Joe Birkett, Judy Baar Topinka, Dan Rutherford, and Bob Kustra.
  • One of Fioretti’s law firms donated $2,300 to former Republican Illinois Governor George Ryan, who was convicted of flagrant political corruption and spent time in federal prison.

I don’t know what is worse…Fioretti and his law firms donating to Republicans, or Fioretti’s bizarre response to being questioned about it:

“I’m a Democrat through and through, my God,” Fioretti said. “I’m in absolute shock. I was at the Democratic convention in 1996 here. There’s no way, absolutely no way, this person gave to Bob Dole in ’96. Period.”

He wanted to know where the information came from about his Dole contribution. The answer — that it’s on the Federal Election Commission’s website — didn’t convince him.

I’m not buying Fioretti’s denial of the fact that he, directly and indirectly, donated tons of money to Republican candidates, including crooks like George “Licenses for Bribes” Ryan. In fact, I’m pulling my endorsement of Fioretti and endorsing Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Chicago Mayor.

Chicago already has a phony in the mayor’s office in Rahm Emanuel, who claims to be a Democrat but acts like a Republican. Chicago doesn’t need another phony in the mayor’s office.

Garcia is no phony. He understands the problems that affect Chicagoans, such as income inequality, high crime rates, and a crumbling public education system:

“The trickle-down economics he espouses is tilted in favor of the well-to-do and the center city,” Garcia said, echoing a frequent knock on Emanuel.

Garcia said crime rates remain “unconscionable,” and he said he disagreed vehemently with Emanuel’s move to close dozens of schools last year.

“The school closures made Chicago a leader, I think, in the wrong way,” he said. “It was a terrible blunder that snuffed the life out of many communities.”

Jesus Garcia will make a far better Chicago Mayor than Rahm Emanuel or Bob Fioretti.