WBEZ | Alexi Giannoulias http://www.wbez.org/tags/alexi-giannoulias Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What happened? Quinn & Brady 2010 is over? No recount? I want a rematch! http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/what-happened-quinn-brady-2010-over-no-recount-i-want-rematch <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-November/2010-11-08/AP0704270124241[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Quinn/Brady 2010 was growing on me. This could have been the best recount in recount history. Bummer we won't be able to experience it. It would have been like watching the Bills/Bears go into overtime. Nail-biter.</p><p>Oh man, I&nbsp;had a whole blog post today about who should govern the state while we wait for a recount. But of course, Brady and Quinn had to mess that up for me. Would you like to read my joke anyway? Since we couldn't come to a consensus on a gubernatorial candidate, why not just compromise? If we can't have Brady or Quinn, how about the back-up QB for the Denver Broncos, Brady Quinn?&nbsp;Just until we figure out the votes.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="330" height="512" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-05/AP0704270124241.jpg" title="" alt="" /></p><p>I was going to make a joke that neither of these men should be starting. On any squad. Anywhere. They are back-up politicans who should avoid turning the ball over. Play it safe. So yeah, a back-up QB&nbsp;might be a good governor? That's essentially what we've had for the past 2 years anyway.</p><p>Okay, well, that was tepid.</p><p><strong>Other fun that I missed last week:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Rahm-Gets-Thumped-106763313.html">Gerry Chico had a campaign event at the Hollywood Grill</a>. Yeah, that skanky diner on North and Ashland Ave. I&nbsp;guess he was making some sort of pun since Rahm Emanuel is all Hollywood. Well, he's more D.C. (his brother is Hollywood) and by making that pun/point, you have to spend more than an hour in the Hollywood Grill. At first I&nbsp;thought it was a nod to Hollywood Hendon, but the next day...</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/e2010mayor/ricky-hendon-drops-out-mayoral-race">Hollywood Rickey&nbsp;Hendon is out</a>! He withdrew from the race because, well, he didn't have a shot. What was once a fun, exciting, colorful group of mayoral candidates has turned into a snooze fest. Rahm, Miguel De Valle and Rev. James Meeks. Maybe Meeks can say something offensive to gays, just so we can get some fireworks for this upcoming municipal election.</p><p>Rhymefest is already finding out why <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/rhymefest-doing-damage-control-over-arrests/">rappers with records are not a perfect fit for public office</a>. It has been revealed that the Grammy-award winning artist has a few skeletons, including domestic disputes and a gun charge. He explains the gun charge as a situation where he fired &quot;warning shots&quot; over a bad business deal. Seriously, who hasn't been in a dispute where you've had to fire warning shots?&nbsp;</p><p>Last week there was much ado about <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/511661-cam-newton-austin-collie-bcs-rankings-and-sundays-late-sports-news/entry/27987-derrick-rose-television-career-not-off-to-great-start">Bulls' superstar Derrick Rose blowing off a cameo appearance on the television drama</a>, The Good Wife. He was supposed to fly to New York City to tape a cameo on the show, but overslept and didn't answer his door when the car service showed up. This was the morning after a win against the Blazers. My guess is that the big Hollywood agents are probably getting him these gigs to expand his massive brand, but I'm with you Derrick: You blew it off because you don't care about doing a cameo on The Good Wife. I can live with that. Now if it were a cameo on Louie or Mad Men, I'd be angry. &nbsp;</p><p>So what did you do with your extra hour this weekend?&nbsp;I surveyed the morning team:&nbsp;Tony Arnold stayed out. Al&nbsp;Keefe slept. Sarah Smith worked. Scarlett Robertson worked. Me? I&nbsp;watched one hour of a Civil War documentary on channel 11.6 (because all the other channel 11s were showing Rick Steves in Spanish). Who knew General McClellan was such a huge douche?&nbsp;</p><p>Lastly, I feel bad for ripping on Alexi Giannoulias in my last post. My wife thought I was pretty harsh. I&nbsp;made fun of him and wrote up what I thought they <em>may</em> have been talking about at the beer summit at Billy Goat. That's not fair. He didn't want to go to this thing. This was all Senator-elect Mark Kirk's doing. So it's not fair to make fun of Alexi for looking like a meathead. So in an effort to be equal opportunity offender,&nbsp; I&nbsp;give you the same bit, but from a different point of view:</p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-08/AP101103027641.jpg" style="width: 485px; height: 314px;" alt="" title="" /></p><p>Kirk: I've never been in here before.</p><p>Alexi:&nbsp;I know, you said it was on Lower Wacker, not Lower Michigan.</p><p>Kirk: Eh, no one will know the difference. I don't like it down here anyway.&nbsp;Smells like pee.</p><p>Alexi: Sure.</p><p>Kirk: Do you still use MySpace? I can never tell when something has jumped the shark.</p><p>Alexi: I&nbsp;don't know.</p><p>Kirk:&nbsp;Well, let's stay in touch on it. I&nbsp;put up some Nora Jones songs on my profile. Say, do you like my part? I went left today. Tomorrow, maybe I'll go right.</p><p>Alexi: I&nbsp;gotta jet.</p><p>Kirk: Yeah, cool. Good talk. Good talk, Russ.</p></p> Mon, 08 Nov 2010 16:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/what-happened-quinn-brady-2010-over-no-recount-i-want-rematch Winners & Losers: Illinois election fallout http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/winners-losers-illinois-election-fallout <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/KIRK6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>By nearly every measure, the GOP&nbsp;had a big night on Tuesday.&nbsp; But what about things closer to home?&nbsp; Who were the big winners and losers in Illinois?</p><p>That's where things get much more interesting. &nbsp;In the Land of Lincoln, Obama, and Blagojevich, outcomes both confirmed and defied national trends.&nbsp; And even though votes are still being counted in two key races - Governor and the 8th U.S.&nbsp;Congressional District - a mixed picture of winners and losers is beginning to emerge.</p><p>Here's how it looks:</p><p><u><strong>The Winners</strong></u></p><p><strong>Cook County Democratic Party:</strong>&nbsp; Lost amidst all the attention paid to Republican successes locally and nationally was the fact that the Cook&nbsp;County Democratic Party &quot;got it done&quot; when it counted last night.&nbsp; Despite the bruised egos that came with the loss of the U.S. Senate seat and a few key House races, the local Machine took care of business at home in key power positions - including Cook County Assessor, the Illinois General Assembly, and if current trends hold, the Governorship.&nbsp; That means they'll continue to control all 3 branches of state government, the redistricting process, and Cook County patronage armies.&nbsp; Any way you figure it, that adds up to a win - especially in an historic Republican year nationally.</p><p><strong>Illinois Republican Party:</strong>&nbsp; This is the only entry to show up in both lists (more on that below), but the case for declaring the Illinois GOP a winner on&nbsp;Tuesday is about context.&nbsp; Just two years ago, an Obama landslide raised questions about the future relevance of the Illinois Republican Party.&nbsp; And that doesn't even take into account the conviction of former Gov. George Ryan, the Jack Ryan scandal, the Alan Keyes debacle, and a decade of infighting and disfunction.&nbsp; Things were so bad for the party that they couldn't even defeat a scandal plagued Rod Blagojevich in 2006.&nbsp; But last night the GOP&nbsp;racked up big wins in races for the U.S. Senate (Kirk), U.S. Congress (Dold, Kinzinger, Hultgren,&nbsp;Schilling, &amp; maybe Walsh), and State Treasurer and State Comptroller.&nbsp; Thanks to newfound party unity and a big push from Tea Party enthusiasts, the IL&nbsp;GOP&nbsp;had it's best night in a decade.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Joe Berrios:</strong>&nbsp; Investigative exposes and a slew of attack ads accused Berrios of improper dealings and clout-heavy preferential treatment during his tenure on the Cook County Board of Review.&nbsp; Even so, those allegations and an independent challenge from fellow Democrat Forrest Claypool weren't enough to take down Berrios, the Chair of the Cook County&nbsp;Democratic Party.&nbsp; In the end, party regulars came out for their guy - and their boss - and put him comfortably in the Cook County Assessor's seat.</p><p><strong>Michael Madigan</strong>: At the beginning of the year, the idea that Michael Madigan would no longer be the Speaker of the Illinois House in 2011 was considered far fetched.&nbsp; But in the closing weeks of the campaign, it became a distinct possibilty.&nbsp; In fact, some predicted growing Republican momentum would be enough to blow Republicans back into control of the General Assembly for the first time since 1996.&nbsp; If so, that would've taken the speaker's gavel out of Madigan's hand and would've left significant redistricting and legislative power in the hands of the GOP.&nbsp; But it was not to be. &nbsp;In the end, the Republicans came close, but the Democrats held on - and so did Madigan, who remains the most powerful individual in Illinois state politics.</p><p><strong>Dick Durbin:</strong>&nbsp; Is Durbin really a winner?&nbsp; Well, the argument against this goes like this:&nbsp; 1) He failed to keep in&nbsp;Democratic hands the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Barack Obama (big symbollic blow), and 2) Had the Dems lost control of the Senate and/or Harry Reid lost his relection bid in Nevada, Durbin could've risen a spot to become the leading Democrat in the senior chamber.&nbsp; So on that basis, you could argue it was a rough night for Durbin.&nbsp; But Durbin also could've been outdone by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a power struggle to become the Dems leader.&nbsp; And had the Dems lost the Senate, Durbin's influence would've been diminished still.&nbsp; So, under the belief that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, Durbin's a winner.&nbsp; With the Dems holding on to the Senate, the party's power and Durbin's own clout remain as strong as ever.&nbsp; In fact, with Congress now in Republican hands, he'll become an even more important power broker on Capitol Hill.</p><p><strong>Governor Pat Quinn:</strong>&nbsp; OK, so this may be premature, especially since State Sen. Bill&nbsp;Brady (R-IL) is still contesting the outcome of the election. &nbsp;But for the sake of argument, let's say that the current results hold and Quinn wins a full four year term as Governor.&nbsp; If true, that would mean Quinn overcame a mountain of obstacles in the process.&nbsp; Consider this:&nbsp; If you would've told someone that an incumbent Democrat would've won re-election this year with dismal approval ratings, high unemployment and the corruption conviction of his Democratic predecessor and former running made, they would've said you're nuts.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Mark Kirk:&nbsp;</strong> Sure, national trends favored Republicans this year. &nbsp;Sure, the Democrats nominated a young candidate with a thin and tarnished resume (Alexi Giannoulias). &nbsp;And sure, Kirk had big time cash and support from outside the state. &nbsp;But Illinoisians have sent exactly one Republican to the U.S. Senate in the last quarter of a century - and the Democrats pulled out all the stops to keep it that way on&nbsp;Tuesday.&nbsp; Kirk overcame his own major missteps and a major push from the Obama White House to secure the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>The Losers</strong></u></p><p><strong>President Barack Obama:</strong>&nbsp; Much already has been said about both the real and symbollic setbacks posed by these midterm results.&nbsp; The signs of what-could-be first emerged in the special election of Massachussetts Senator Scott Brown earlier this year.&nbsp; As many have predicted, the President's job just got a lot harder.&nbsp; Period.&nbsp; The silver lining for him?&nbsp; He now has a tangible foil to position against:&nbsp; The Republican Congress.</p><p><strong>Illinois Republican Party:&nbsp; </strong>So &quot;the winners&quot; case was made above, but what about the case for &quot;the losers&quot; list?&nbsp;&nbsp;Item:&nbsp;It's an historic Republican wave year; 2) Approval ratings for Obama, Quinn, Madigan, Daley, et al are all dangerously low; 3) Tea Party activists are firing up the base; AND 4) A jury just convicted former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich of corruption.&nbsp; With such a &quot;perfect storm&quot; of conditions, the GOP should run the table, right?&nbsp; Well, not so much.&nbsp; Yes, the IL GOP racked up some impressive victories on Tuesday. &nbsp; But assuming current trends hold in the Governor's race, the Dems will continue to control all 3 branches of state government.&nbsp; As KISS' Gene Simmons once said, &quot;Close, but no guitars&quot;.&nbsp; And in this midterm year, that's not victory.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Alexi Giannoulias</strong>:&nbsp; The 34-year-old State Treasurer and friend-of-Obama ran a spirited campaign in the midst of a Republican hurricane - and the final outcome hardly could have been closer.&nbsp; But a loss is a loss, especially one in the President's home state, in his home seat, and with big help from the home team. &nbsp;The big question now:&nbsp; What's next for Alexi?</p><p><strong>Dan Seals</strong>:&nbsp; Especially if you're a supporter, but even if you're not, it's hard not sympathize with Dan Seals today.&nbsp; Six years ago, Seals was billed as a rising young star and was being compared to Barack Obama.&nbsp; He lost two close races for Illinois' 10th Congressional District, but with incumbent Mark Kirk electing to run for the U.S. Senate this year, many people thought Seals' time had finally come. &nbsp;Alas, he lost another close one - this time to Republican Robert Dold.&nbsp; That makes him 0-for-3, just like Republican Jim Oberweis.</p><p><strong>Forrest Claypool</strong> <strong>&amp; Tony Peraica:&nbsp;</strong> Four years ago, these two men - one Democrat and one Republican - came close to defeating the Strogers in&nbsp; two races for Cook County Board President.&nbsp; At the time, Claypool and Peraica were part of a small, but effective block of votes pushing for reform on the County Board.&nbsp; Many expected one or both would be back to run for the Cook County Board Presidency this year.&nbsp; Instead, they made other choices and now, four years later, the two are out of county government - and out of elected office altogether.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Updated 11/3/2010 @ 9:55a</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 18:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/winners-losers-illinois-election-fallout Wrapup: Dems lose big in Senate, House elections http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/wrapup-dems-lose-big-senate-house-elections <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/KIRK2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was a huge election night for Republicans across the country. And in Illinois, it was a rebirth of sorts for a state GOP that practically fell into a shallow grave eight years ago.</p><p>Republicans in this state scored big wins in federal contests - especially - and made gains in state government. The race for that top office though, governor, remains unsettled.&nbsp;Incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn all but claimed victory. But Republican state Senator Bill Brady is not ready to give up.</p><p>Bill Brady got this far in the 2010 election thanks to 193 votes - 193 votes that separated him from his closest competitor in the Republican primary for governor way back in February. And after watching election results for hours Tuesday night showing yet another tight race, Brady came out to chat with his supporters just after midnight.<br /><br />BRADY: As some of you may have realized by now I have a penchant for close elections.<br /><br />Out of the more than 3-and-a-half million that were cast in Illinois, Brady trails Quinn by less than 10,000 votes. But Tuesday night in his home town of Bloomington, Brady was talking like a winner.<br /><br />BRADY: We are excited and optimistic, but we want to make sure every voter in the state of Illinois has a right to have their vote counted. And we're going to make sure that happens. And we're going to make sure that this process is done right.<br /><br />QUINN: We know there are more votes to be counted, but we're 10,933 ahead...<br /><br />About 45 minutes after Brady's speech, Quinn jogged on stage at his campaign party in a downtown Chicago hotel.<br /><br />QUINN: And I'd rather be ahead, than 10,933 behind.<br /><br />That number has narrowed a bit since, but the Quinn campaign Tuesday night was all smiles.<br /><br />The governor who came into office after his infamous former running mate was removed, and then endured roughly 21 months of turbulence and controversy, had climbed back into this race. Just a few weeks ago he trailed by double digits in some polls, but he's leading when it counts, with a chance for a full term of his own.<br /><br />QUINN: I know that there are votes out here, in Cook County, in other counties across the state. And so we want to make sure they're counted, counted fairly. But I think when all is said, we'll end up on top with the most votes, and a majority.<br /><br />Well, not quite a majority. Whoever wins will still be well short of 50-percent, because of votes that went for third party and independent candidates.<br /><br />But a victory is a victory, and the next governor - even if it's the old governor - gets the privilege of dealing with what could be a $15-billion budget deficit. That governor must work with a Democratic-controlled state House and Senate. Despite some gains by Republicans, they fell well short of taking control of either chamber.<br /><br />The GOP did win in some statewide constitutional offices. They've held none for four years, but now they have two. Former Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka returned to the political scene to capture the comptroller's office, and state Senator Dan Rutherford will be the new treasurer, an office left vacant by Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who had U.S. Senate aspirations.<br /><br />GIANNOULIAS: Losing is not easy. Losing is not something you expect, which is probably why I didn't write a speech.<br /><br />Giannoulias lost to Republican Mark Kirk, a five-term member of the U.S. House.<br /><br />GIANNOULIAS: He made a promise to me that he will never forget who he's fighting for. I think he will make a good senator. I think he will make a strong senator. And - hang on, no, no, hey, no, no - he is our senator and he will help a lot of people.<br /><br />You can't blame Giannoulias' supporters for their strong opinions. This race was marked by nasty commercials - attacks - including labels like liar, and mob banker. But Kirk also got the post-election memo to be nice, generous even.<br /><br />KIRK: Alexi and I, during this campaign, we discussed having a beer when this is all over. And so I will give this invitation: Alexi, if you still want that beer, I'll see you tomorrow night at Lower Wacker Drive's Billy Goat Tavern and the first round's on me. <br /><br />Kirk last night pointed out the difficult recent history of this seat, from its alleged attempted sale by ex-Governor Blagojevich, to the back-and-forth over a special election, to the drama around current U.S. Senator Roland Burris.<br /><br />KIRK This Senate seat was just returned to its rightful owners, the people of Illinois.<br /><br />This race was one of those most closely watched in the country. President Obama, the seat's former occupant, campaigned and raised money for Giannoulias in Chicago. But Kirk won, and will hang out in that exclusive capitol club along with veteran U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat who chaired Giannoulias campaign, and offered these thoughts on the 34-year-old's defeat:<br /><br />DURBIN: If you notice one of the late ads that came out from Mark Kirk's campaign suggested this is a question of maturity. Was he ready? And I think that probably cost Alexi some votes in the end, the question about whether he was mature enough, ready enough for the United States Senate.<br /><br />But if the Senate race was about personalities and experience, races for the U.S. House in Illinois were about the national mood, the Obama administration and a rejection of Democratic Party rule. At least three Democrats - including Debbie Halvorson from the 11th District, Bill Foster from the 14th and the 17th District's Phil Hare - all lost to their Republican challengers. And each of those challengers won by attacking health care reform and the $787-billion dollar economic stimulus bill.<br /><br />Meanwhile, one of the few chances nationally Democrats had to pick up a Republican-held seat was Illinois' 10th Congressional District, the one vacated by Mark Kirk. But Dan Seals, a three-time Democratic candidate, still couldn't close the deal. He lost to his Republican opponent, Robert Dold.<br /><br />DOLD: The national groups from Washington spent literally millions of dollars running a vicious negative campaign on us in attacks. They tried to come into this district and instill fear on each and every one of you, and try to tell you how to vote. They failed.<br /><br />In fact, outside money was used against both parties' candidates in Illinois. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks this money, outside groups spent more than $11-million on U.S. House races in Illinois alone. And for Republicans, it was money well spent. The GOP now holds a majority in Illinois' congressional delegation.<br /><br />But in Cook County government, the Democratic Party still rules. As expected, Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle won big in her race for the county board presidency, as did Democratic incumbents running for county clerk, treasurer and sheriff.<br /><br />And in the one county-wide race where Democrats were expected to suffer, they didn't. Joe Berrios, the party chairman and tax board of review member, easily won the assessor's office, which sets property values that figure into taxes. That despite a fierce challenge from Democrat-turned-independent Forrest Claypool, a county commissioner. And Berrios didn't exactly get good press, called out for everything from his day job as a lobbyist to potentially shady conflicts of interest.<br /><br />BERRIOS: We were beat up, we were stomped on. You can take every newspaper - major newspaper, they call themselves - here in Chicago, that just tried to beat me up every which way but loose. But you know what, the voters and the taxpayers here in Cook County saw through all that.<br /><br />Berrios ran proudly as a Democrat, and in this county, that still counts for something.<br /><br />Also Tuesday, Illinois residents OK'ed an amendment to the state constitution, the 11th time they've done so since 1970. Voters will now be able to recall their governors; boot them from office before their terms are up. Something for our next governor - whoever he may be - to think about, when taking on all those big issues that lie ahead.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/wrapup-dems-lose-big-senate-house-elections Kirk wins U.S. Senate race over Giannoulias http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/kirk-wins-us-senate-race-over-giannoulias <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-02/AP101101027791.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Republican Mark Kirk has captured the Senate seat once held by the president, dealing an embarrassing blow to Democrats.</p><div>Kirk defeated Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in one of the nation's ugliest and most closely watched Senate races.</div><div>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>Giannoulias faced attacks over his family's failed bank, which gave loans to two men involved in organized crime. Meanwhile, Kirk was forced to apologize after the disclosure that he had made false claims about his military record.</div><div>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>The Illinois race got more attention than most Senate campaigns because this was the seat held by Barack Obama before his move to the White House.</div></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 04:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/kirk-wins-us-senate-race-over-giannoulias Libertarian candidate gets surprising freebie http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/libertarian-candidate-gets-surprising-freebie <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-01/labno web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on campaigns in Illinois this year. But one candidate didn't even have to pay for an advertisement he says gave his campaign a boost.</p><p>Libertarian Party U.S. Senate candidate Mike Labno said he was caught off-guard when ads started landing in mailboxes, describing how he was the most conservative candidate in the race.<br /> <br /> &quot;I started getting calls from people all around the state,&quot; Labno said. &quot;Facebook, emails, I mean, everything has been lifted up quite a bit.&quot;</p><p>Labno has run his campaign on a tiny budget, so he didn't pay or authorize the mailing. It was, in fact, funded by Democrats. On Sunday, Labno said he appreciates the help, even though he called it an attempt by one &quot;weak&quot; candidate, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, to peel off conservative votes from another &quot;weak&quot; candidate, Republican Mark Kirk.</p><p>Giannoulias last week denied the mailing was deceptive. &quot;It talks about me and it talks about other individuals in the race,&quot; he said.</p><p>For his part, Kirk said the mailing shows Democrats are increasingly desperate.</p> <p>The Green Party's LeAlan Jones is also on the ballot for U.S. Senate.</p></p> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 20:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/libertarian-candidate-gets-surprising-freebie Memo to pols: If you blanket my neighborhood with yard-signs, I'm not voting for you http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/memo-pols-if-you-blanket-my-neighborhood-yard-signs-im-not-voting-you <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-November/2010-11-01/madigan-signs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img title="" alt="" style="width: 484px; height: 322px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-01/madigan-signs.jpg" /><em><br /></em></p><p>It&rsquo;s a day before the election. It&rsquo;s pump up time. This is when politicians turn into emcees and supporters build up stamina for their various rally reactions:</p><p>&quot;How are we doing today Rock Island?&quot; (Cheer, scream)</p><p>&quot;I can&rsquo;t hear you!!!!&rdquo; (Cheer, scream)</p><p>&quot;Are we going to win tomorrow or what?&quot; (Cheer, scream)</p><p>&quot;Wait, what? Channel 5 had a camera problem. Can we start over? Sure.&quot;</p><p>&quot;How are we doing Rock Island??&quot;</p><p>I love the day before an election. This is when I collect all my fliers, yard signs, web sites and robo-calls and make an overnight trip to the desert, put on my 'Best of Cream' on my iPod, take some peyote and come to a decision. I will just repeat for hours: Who will be the state&rsquo;s new comptroller? Who will be the state&rsquo;s new comptroller...</p><p>Either that, or just vote for whoever hands me literature last.</p><p>Today is also the last day we can talk freely about who we think will win. Tomorrow, media gets really touchy (or at least we do) about reporting on candidates because we don&rsquo;t want to poison the well for potential undecided voters. So here are my endorsements:</p><p>Governor: Pass.</p><p>Senate: Pass.</p><p>Congress: Pass.</p><p>Comptroller: Judy Baar Topinka.</p><p>Cook Cty President: Pass.</p><p>Who knows who will win? If there&rsquo;s one thing I know more than anything in the whole wide world, it&rsquo;s this:&nbsp; don&rsquo;t trust the media. The media is like Hollywood. Somewhere, one media outlet talked about the &ldquo;anger&rdquo; of the country and then everyone picked up the story because they want the ratings. It&rsquo;s like vampire shows. One works, order 15 more.</p><p>This election cycle feels like the media is paying back the right for the left love fest in 2008. In 2008, we went crazy pver Obama and the Dems. Now, almost like payback we&rsquo;ve told one-sided stories the other way, talking about tea-partiers and the rage/anger of the country. Everyone has gone on record (including us) that this is a republican year and they are going to win the house and major offices state-wide. See, the media is equal-opportunity&hellip;in broad, yearly strokes.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s not just the media. &nbsp; Election cycles have become more and more intrusive. If you're going to spend three years campaigning for president, I&rsquo;ll accept intrusive campaigning if we see some change - like ending wars and writing historic social legislation. I&rsquo;m down with that. At least it shakes it up a bit.</p><p>But when two-year congressmen and state-wide constitutional officers start campaigning months and months out from the election and paper the whole city in their crappy on-line printed red &amp; white yard signs, that's when I have a problem.</p><p>Memo to wannabe elected politicians: Don&rsquo;t try to get my attention by LITTERING the medians of this fine city. I will not vote for Scott Lee Cohen and Dan Rutherford because of their over-zealous volunteers who put 50 signs back-to-back-to-back-to-back on Ashland Ave. Same with the open green space in parks or off of Lake Shore Drive. You don&rsquo;t understand the city or the people who live here when you take away our only green spaces to try and deliver YOUR NAME to our sub-consciousness. You know who else does that? Fast food, telemarketers (want a job quick?) and shady mortgage companies. Congrats, you are in respectable company.</p><p>Elections in this town should mean something, but they shouldn&rsquo;t be on my answering machine, on my windshield or in my parks. We have a serious budget problem in our state. Regardless of who wins, there will be cuts. And those decisions will have to be made by a manager who not only shows discipline to cut, but but pressure on the wound to help us heal quickly. He will have to carry a knife, but also Neosporin. But if this state sees too much blood, we&rsquo;ll freak out and probably pass out. You put a tax on parking lots AND cut social services? I&rsquo;m woozy.</p><p>This is why turnout is expected to be low. Not because candidates don&rsquo;t inspire, but Illinois voters are acting like you do when you know you have to pay a delinquent bill - by hiding it under a pile of unopened mail. Nobody wants to see it, nobody wants to think about it. We all know it&rsquo;s coming, but it&rsquo;s not our problem to fix, it&rsquo;s a paid politician&rsquo;s job. And we don&rsquo;t want to be responsible for our choice messing it up.</p><p>So on this final day before we go to the polls, let&rsquo;s try to put out of our minds the apocalypse that awaits us in 2011. Let&rsquo;s go to the polls and pay that bill! If it all works out, those cuts probably won&rsquo;t leave a scar. Probably.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 14:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/memo-pols-if-you-blanket-my-neighborhood-yard-signs-im-not-voting-you Illinois pols make final pitch after a busy campaign weekend http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/illinois-pols-make-final-pitch-after-busy-campaign-weekend <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-31/web signs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Candidates for office in Illinois and around the country Monday are making their final pitches to voters ahead of Tuesday's election, and they spent all weekend campaigning, too.<br /><br />On Saturday night, President Barack Obama tried to fire up Democratic voters in a rally on the University of Chicago campus. And on Sunday morning, he breakfasted at nearby Valois Restaurant with his party's Senate candidate, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and Gov. Pat Quinn.<br /><br />According to Quinn, the president paid. &quot;Scrambled eggs, and we had hash browns and then I had sausage, too,&quot; Quinn said.<br /><br />The governor also made stops at a half-dozen or so churches. Quinn says he wanted to talk scripture, and &quot;make sure that folks understand that voting on Tuesday is really part of our biblical mission. If we're going to be God's people, we got to make sure that 'we the people' get heard.&quot;<br /><br />Recent polls show a close race for both Illinois governor and the state's U.S. Senate seat, now held by Roland Burris, who is retiring. <br /><br />Asked yesterday if Democratic losses here would be embarrassing, given the president's last-minute visit, Quinn replied, &quot;My father told me never take an aspirin 'til you get a headache. We don't plan to lose.&quot;<br /><br />In Chicago last night, the GOP candidate for governor, state Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington, joined other Illinois Republicans for a get-out-the-vote rally at Joe's bar on the city's North Side.<br /><br />&quot;We have to make sure that the Democrats don't steal this election away from us,&quot;&nbsp;Brady told the crowd.<br /><br />U.S. Sen. Scott Brown also attended the event. Brown pulled off an unexpected win for Republicans in Massachusetts earlier this year.<br /><br />&quot;If it can happen in Massachusetts, it's definitely going to happen in Illinois,&quot; said Congressman Mark Kirk of Highland Park, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois.<br /><br />It was a Republican rally, but non-partisan independence was the main talking point when Brown praised Kirk.<br /><br />&quot;Knowing this guy right here, he's not going to be in lockstep with Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, or any particular party. He's going to be an independent voter and thinker,&quot; Brown said.<br /><br />Kirk and Brady plan to attend at least five events together around the state on Monday. Giannoulias and Quinn both have busy schedules as well, though they are campaigning separately.</p></p> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/illinois-pols-make-final-pitch-after-busy-campaign-weekend President Obama rallies supporters in Hyde Park http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/president-obama-rallies-supporters-hyde-park <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-30/AP101030152652.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama is telling supporters to go to the polls themselves and get others there as well. He's firing up thousands of people gathered in Chicago on Saturday night just a few blocks from his home in the city for a get-out-the-vote rally.</p><p>He asked the cheering crowd if they were fired up. He says people have to go to the polls so Democrats can finish what they started in 2008. He said at the rally people need to get others out to the polls too. And he said if everyone who fought for change to elect him comes out to the polls on Tuesday, then Democrats will win.</p><p>School teacher Jamie Worsek was heading to President Barack Obama's get-out-the-vote rally, in Chicago, but it wasn't because she's enthusiastic to cast a ballot on Election Day. The 24-year-old Worsek says she's never been &quot;less excited&quot; to vote. But she says she'll do it because it's her patriotic duty.</p><p>Chicago was to be Obama's last stop in a day that included appearances in Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Conn. Before his arrival, other Chicago politicians, including Mayor Richard Daley and U.S. Sen. Dick Dubrin, encouraged voters to go to the poll.</p><p>Like the Democrats, Republicans are busy as well on this final weekend before Election Day. Kirk and GOP candidate for governor Bill Brady have been making stops around the state.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 31 Oct 2010 02:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/president-obama-rallies-supporters-hyde-park Obama, Brown to campaign in Illinois this weekend http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/obama-brown-campaign-illinois-weekend <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-29/848_20100913a_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama heads home to Chicago Saturday to rally Democratic voters ahead of next Tuesday's elections.</p><p>The president has been appearing in campaign ads for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, and he recorded robo-calls encouraging Democrats to vote. On Saturday, he's making that last-minute pitch in person, as his party tries to hold on to the Senate seat that Mister Obama himself won six years ago next week. Giannoulias will be there, as will Illinois' Democratic Governor, Pat Quinn.</p><p>It's happening tonight on the Midway - a narrow park on the University of Chicago campus - not far from his family's house in the Kenwood neighborhood. The president is expected to spend the night here, and then take off Sunday morning.<br /> <br /> Then, a Republican celebrity of-sorts will campaign in Chicago for his party's candidates. U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) will headline a get out the vote rally at Joe's Bar in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Both U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park), who's running against Giannoulias for the Senate seat, and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the GOP nominee for governor, plan to attend.</p></p> Sat, 30 Oct 2010 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alexi-giannoulias/obama-brown-campaign-illinois-weekend Undocumented youths try to derail Senate hopeful Mark Kirk http://www.wbez.org/story/19th-ward/undocumented-youths-try-derail-senate-hopeful-mark-kirk <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-29/Rogelio_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A requirement to vote in the United States is citizenship. But voting isn&rsquo;t the only way to affect a race&rsquo;s outcome. Some undocumented young people in the Chicago area are going all out against the Republican in Illinois&rsquo;s U.S. Senate election Tuesday.<br /><br />Their motivation is a federal bill called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act, as it&rsquo;s known, would provide legal status to many college students and service members who&rsquo;ve grown up in the United States.<br /><br />The undocumented youths are upset that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) isn&rsquo;t supporting the legislation. They&rsquo;re trying to derail his U.S. Senate campaign and get in his face.<br /><br />Ambi: DREAM Act? Yeah, yeah, yeah! Mark Kirk? No, no, no!<br /><br />About a dozen undocumented students have donned graduation gowns and caps outside a Republican office on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. Three others are staging a sit-in inside. They include this 23-year-old.<br /><br />UNZUETA: My name is Irere Unzueta.<br /><br />Unzueta says her parents brought her to Chicago from Mexico at age 6. She&rsquo;s graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Now she wants a master&rsquo;s in engineering. But she&rsquo;s not a legal resident so doesn&rsquo;t qualify for most financial aid.<br /><br />Unzueta says she and the others aren&rsquo;t leaving the Republican office until Kirk agrees to meet with them.<br /><br />UNZUETA: Him saying that he is going to want to push for a lot more border security -- border enforcement -- before anything positive is really passed, I just think, is a really bad idea.<br /><br />Unzueta says her group isn&rsquo;t endorsing the race&rsquo;s Democrat, Alexi Giannoulias. She says they just want Kirk defeated.<br /><br />After four hours inside the office, police show up and the students leave. But about 10 miles away, some other undocumented youths keep at it.<br /><br />Ambi: Walking through fallen leaves.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I&rsquo;m going door to door through a Latino neighborhood of west-suburban Melrose Park. A 22-year-old named Rogelio is leading a crew of volunteer canvassers that&rsquo;s reminding folks to vote on Tuesday.<br />Ambi: Knocking.<br />ROGELIO: Here we come. (Door opens.) Hola buenas noches. Cómo estás? Se encuentra el señor... <br />MITCHELL: He asked us not to broadcast his last name because he&rsquo;s undocumented. Rogelio says he&rsquo;s lived in the area since his parents brought him from Mexico City at age 6. After graduating from a high school in Northlake, he says he fell into a depression as he realized how hard it would be to go to college or find a decent job without papers.<br />ROGELIO: This is crazy because I&rsquo;m undocumented and I&rsquo;m doing this. And people are thanking me. Even though I can&rsquo;t vote, the people are thanking us for doing this.<br />MITCHELL: Rogelio&rsquo;s not telling anyone how to vote. But he is handing out some yellow fliers comparing the immigration stands of the U.S. Senate candidates. That flier suggests a big difference between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias on the DREAM Act.<br />ROGELIO: I really enjoy doing this. It gets me out of my depression. It gets me out from where I was at two years ago, just there home doing nothing, like a loser. And I&rsquo;m not a loser. We&rsquo;re not losers, we&rsquo;re winners. And I feel like a winner right now, doing this, just getting out there and just informing the community.<br /><br />We left messages this morning to see what the Kirk campaign and the Illinois Republican Party think about undocumented youths working against the Senate candidate. They didn&rsquo;t get back to us.<br /><br />But a local Tea Party activist says the young people are hurting their own cause.<br /><br />WOJTOWICZ: They&rsquo;re helping Mark Kirk with this.<br /><br />Catherina Wojtowicz lives on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side.<br /><br />WOJTOWICZ: They&rsquo;re strategy is completely skewed. Mark Kirk&rsquo;s weak base is with the conservative movement. If they want to come to the Southwest Side, I&rsquo;ll give them a donation.<br />MITCHELL: Why?<br />WOJTOWICZ: It&rsquo;ll help me. And Worth Township and the 19th Ward are Democratic bastions.<br /><br />The undocumented youths may not have a good shot at winning over Wojtowicz&rsquo;s part of town. But they still think can defeat Kirk.</p></p> Fri, 29 Oct 2010 22:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/19th-ward/undocumented-youths-try-derail-senate-hopeful-mark-kirk