The Friday Political Roundup: January 3rd-7th

January 7, 2011

Mayoral money, tax talk, and a new Congress commences.

Missed anything this week in Chicago politics? We’re back after a holiday hiatus with your weekly digest of the best game in town.

Money on the mind
This was the first full week of a 2011 mayor’s race sans Danny Davis, with Carol Moseley Braun as the anointed African-American “consensus candidate.” That leaves Chicago with four frontrunners, based on polling data (check out the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard for the latest data): Braun, Gery Chico, Miguel Del Valle, and Rahm Emanuel. And the focus this week has been on money, in the bank and on the issues.

In the horse race for cash, Gery Chico announced that he’s raised over $2.5 million. Braun’s not revealing her numbers yet; Del Valle wants voters to know he is and will be the “poorest candidate” with roundabouts $150,000 in the campaign coffers. Meanwhile, assumptions are that Emanuel’s squarely in the lead, with speculation that he may have raised as much as $10 million – a guess with evidence on your television screen. The Chicago News Cooperative has some great analysis of the costs involved. But Emanuel’s not the only one with a TV ad. Long shot candidate Patricia Van Pelt Watkins is generating some buzz with a cable spot. NBC Chicago’s Ward Room has an interview with the candidate.

Taxing talk
Personal finances have also been an issue this week, with Braun the latest to release her tax returns—we’ve got the details now for each of the four major candidates. The release has caused a little bit of trouble for Braun, with some bristly reaction to media questions about the losses she reported. The Chicago Tribune also reported that she’s had some difficulty paying property taxes on time. But, as the Sun-Times reports, Braun’s money woes aren’t fazing some of her biggest supporters.

Speaking of taxes, Braun says she won’t raise any in a plan to rid Chicago of the much maligned meter lease deal. Gery Chico agreed that it was a raw deal, but said that the billion-dollar transaction couldn’t be undone, certainly not without raising taxes. Greg Hinz has some analysis on the likelihood of ditching the lease: don’t hold your breath.

But if it’s revenue we’re looking for, Emanuel has an idea: put ads on city stickers. Maybe you didn’t notice the announcement, but city clerk candidate Susana Mendoza did —she says she had the idea first. When it comes to raising money for his campaign, Emanuel’s opened an online store to sell “Chicago for Rahm” swag. But if you’re more concerned about the money in your own pocket, Chico is out this week with a jobs plan: he says he’ll create a deputy mayor position to focus on cultivating business and jobs. Del Valle and Braun also have job creation platforms.

More on the mayor’s race
This week, we also learned that all four major candidates have a crime platform that includes firing police superintendent Jody Weis. He’s fighting back, with an unusually high media availability: he spoke at length with both the AP and the Huffington Post.

Also not going quietly is attorney Burt Odelson, who’s still leading the charge to get Emanuel knocked off the ballot. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled that Emanuel could stay in the race, but Odelson said he’ll appeal. Provided Emanuel stays on the ballot, he’ll be on camera on January 27th for the first mayoral debate, along with Braun, Chico, and Del Valle.

And don’t forget about the aldermanic candidates—you can check out their websites on the new supersite Aldermanic Websites.

It’s called Taste of Food!
Finally, we’d be remiss to let Friday go by without the Mayor Daley quote of the week. Responding to a suggestion that the Taste of Chicago might end up with a $20 admittance fee, he said “It’s called Taste of Food. We’re not in it for the music.” Well, that, of course, depends on who you ask.

Veto session gets busy
Leading Illinois state political news is the apparent deal among Democratic leadership to hike corporate and individual state taxes by 75%. Keeping in mind that they’re SEIU-funded, you may want to check out Progress Illinois’s detailed breakdown of the plan. And keep an eye out early next week to see how it all comes out.

Keep an eye out, also, to see how the Senate votes on a plan to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. The House voted “yay” earlier this week.

Chicago in the capital
And the big story nationally: Mayor Daley’s brother Bill Daley is headed to the White House to serve as President Obama’s Chief of Staff. The buzz on that news is that it may signal a shift to the right/center for Obama. Fortune reports that finance types are jazzed about the appointment, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk is, too.

As the 112th Congress got underway this week, the right was in the spotlight: Illinois’ 5 new GOP congressmen were sworn in. And Kirk was also sworn in for his first full term. The Ward Room has his 15-point anti-spending plan, while Greg Hinz teases out a possible caveat. 

That’s the Friday political roundup—let me know if you think I missed anything, and have a great weekend.