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March 2, 2018: At Democratic Candidates Forum, The Price Is Wrong Sometimes

The March 20 primary is less than three weeks away, and the daily news cycle is bursting with election-related news. But don’t worry: WBEZ’s Government & Politics desk has your back:

  • The six Democrats running for Illinois governor shared the same stage Thursday night at a forum sponsored by WBEZ, Politico, and the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. WBEZ’s Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney were two of the event’s panelists and they share their takeaways.

  • During the forum, the candidates played The Price is Right, sorta. Each candidate got quizzed on the price of everyday goods and services. Some answers were spot-on. Others? Not so much. WBEZ’s Dave McKinney shares the answers for listeners who were playing at home.

  • Somehow, some way, the Democratic primary race for Cook County assessor has taken another surprising turn: If you vote early next week and cast a ballot for Andrea Raila, “very simply, that vote will not count,” says WBEZ’s Becky Vevea. She explains why.

  • WBEZ obtained 1,400 internal emails involving Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration regarding the 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a state-run veterans home. Some of the emails discuss how to spin the deadly outbreak to the public. We take a look at campaigns’ reaction to the report.

WBEZ’s politics team broke all of that down during our weekly Illinois Elections 2018 podcast. You can get the podcast delivered to you every week by subscribing here. Below are highlights.

Kennedy and Biss push Pritzker on Blagojevich tapes

WBEZ reporter Tony Arnold: Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy have been hovering right around second and third place in the polls. They really needed to make some moves to eat into that lead that J.B. Pritzker has had. I’m not sure if either one of them really did that last night. Perhaps the closest that they got was in the question about J.B. Pritzker’s wiretapped conversation with Rod Blagojevich, in which Pritzker told Blagojevich that appointing Jesse White to the U.S. Senate would “cover him on the African-American thing.”

Arnold: I think the takeaway here is that if Pritzker does represent the Democrats in the general election, then voters had better be prepared to see these phone tapes and commercials from here on all through the spring, summer, and the fall.

The price is wrong sometimes: Dave McKinney asks candidates to guess the cost of everyday goods and services

One week of childcare for one child?

J.B. Pritzker: About $150 at the low end. High end, probably $400.

Economic Policy Institute: $270 for an average week of childcare in Illinois.


Chris Kennedy: This good? I pay $40 for my haircut.

Basic cut at Floyd’s barbershop: $26

Monthly CTA pass?

State Sen. Daniel Biss: My Metra pass comes pretty close to $50 a month. So a monthly CTA pass, I would guess, is probably around $35.

Chicago Transit Authority: $105

Peanut butter (28 oz.)?

Bob Daiber: $2.65

Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics: $4.46 in January 2017

Oil change?

Tio Hardiman: $39

Pep Boys: $31.99

One gallon of gasoline?

Robert Marshall: $2.75

AAA: $2.92 is the current monthly average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Chicago. Statewide, the current monthly average is $2.63.

Democrat Andrea Raila’s name is on the ballot for Cook County assessor. If you vote for her, it won’t count.

WBEZ reporter Becky Vevea: It’s kind of confusing. It basically has to do with the timeline here. There was a ballot challenge to Andrea Raila’s signatures, and that fight was still playing its way through the courts when the information had to get sent to the printers — to print these ballots, mail the early ballots, and get things ready for early voting.

Melba Lara: So bottom line, to be clear, if you’re going to the voting booth, you’re picking your candidate for the Cook County Assessor, if you vote for Andrea Raila for Cook County assessor in the Democratic primary?

Vevea: It won’t count.

Candidates react to released Legionnaires’ emails that Rauner is fighting to keep secret

Arnold: Dave and I are still trying to get more emails. We can only report on the emails we’ve seen, which we got from the Adams County Health Department.

But based on what we’ve reported so far, as far as how it’s playing out in this campaign, Daniel Biss says these emails are “irresponsible and immoral,” “entirely disqualifying” of Rauner. J.B. Pritzker said these emails make it look like Rauner is trying to “cover his own butt.”

Also, Rauner is being attacked on this issue by his own Republican primary opponent, state Rep. Jeanne Ives. She asked the question last week, “What the hell is wrong with this governor?” This week she gave an answer after reading our story. She said, “I’m afraid we know.”

I should also add that Rauner said an announcement is coming about what he plans to do with the home. And a legislative hearing into this matter will occur Monday.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.

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