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The constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is not as strict as you might think.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Democrats say their party is strong and more energized than ever, thanks to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused them of holding up progress, hundreds of Democrats packed into a ballroom rose to their feet when Senate President John Cullerton said "We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner, okay?"

Democrats were in Springfield for their annual state fair gathering.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey/WUIS

With Bruce Rauner's win, Illinois Republicans have something to celebrate. But they failed to make gains in the General Assembly, which could have big repercussions for Rauner down the line.

Two years ago, Illinois Democrats gained historic super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

There were more than enough Democrats in the Senate, and just enough (71) Democratic members of the House, to override a governor's veto.

Then, the governor was also a Democrat -- Pat Quinn.

Next year, Illinois Democrats will once again hold veto-proof majorities.

Amanda Vinicky

Even as states like Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin are known as political battlegrounds and bellwethers, Illinois has the reputation for being a solid "blue" state. Illinois sends double as many Democrats to Washington as it does Congressional Republicans. The state legislature tips heavily in favor of Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities. And it has been more than a decade since a Republican last sat in Illinois' governor's seat.

The Illinois House will take the lead on whether Illinois keeps its 5 percent income tax. It's scheduled to roll back at the end of this year unless legislators take action.

It's happened in the past. The Illinois Senate will pass a controversial measure -- like a tax hike -- only for it to languish in the House.

Not this time.

Senate President John Cullerton says the Senate will vote on the tax question if and only if it first passes the House.


  Voters may still get the chance to decide if they want to limit how long legislators can serve ... but no thanks to legislators themselves.

Although elections have been compared to popularity contests, as a whole, "politicians" aren't all that popular.

Which may be way polls show voters find the idea of term limits so appealing.

Unless, of course, you're a legislator.

Senator Darin LaHood, a Republican from Peoria, nonetheless introduced a term limits plan.

Kent Redfield
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the final weeks of 2013, Illinois was among more than 20 states tripping over each other like eager suitors to woo a new Boeing production plant for its 777x airliner. The aerospace giant had put out word that it was abandoning its Washington state production plans over labor disputes and would consider the presentations of any states that wanted a shot at it. It said it would decide in January 2014 which state would get the estimated 8,500 jobs and other economic windfalls associated with the project.

Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois' leading Democrats will meet in Springfield on Sunday. They're supposed to decide endorse candidates for next year's primary election ... even though there are no longer any competitive races.

Democrats have rarely slated candidates in recent years.

But this time - with incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn facing a primary challenge from former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley - the state party was going to consider picking a favorite.

Not anymore. Daley's no longer in the running. He dropped out. Leaving Quinn without a serious challenge.

Daley: Didn't Realize 'Enormity' Of Being A Candidate

Sep 17, 2013
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley says his decision to drop out of the 2014 gubernatorial race doesn't mean he couldn't beat Gov. Pat Quinn.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley will not run for Illinois governor after all. His campaign spokesman says Daley will explain more at a press conference in Chicago Tuesday morning.

Daley has flirted with running for office before, only to back out.

This time, he insisted he was in it for keeps. In a campaign video about two months ago, Daley said "I'm committed to running for governor. There is no exploratory piece in this anymore."

But Daley's campaign confirmed Monday night that he's dropping out of the race.

Amanda Vinicky

  The state fair got its start Thursday night with the Twilight parade through the north end of the capital city.  It's an annual tradition.  But indications are that another tradition -- a Democratic party rally  -- will not continue this year.  

There were cheerleaders, bands, children scrambling for candy, and of course, a parade of politicians.

The Attorney General, Treasurer, Comptroller, Lieutenant Governor were all there.

First in that line: Governor Pat Quinn and an army of supporters and staffers, wearing his trademark kelly green campaign t-shirts.

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, chairs the Asian-American caucus.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Democrats' new super-majorities promise to enhance the power of individual caucuses.

In the frenzied final hours of the 2005 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly, the push to finalize a new state budget suddenly ground to a halt when a bloc of Democratic lawmakers announced they couldn't support the spending plan.

Without their votes, there was no way the Democratic majority could adopt a budget without Republican input, raising speculation that the session could go into overtime.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues


An often overused term, prone  to hyperbole, but a spot-on summary of last month's votes  for the 98th General Assembly, for never before in Illinois history has one political party captured veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers in the same general election.

Democrats did so, winning 40 Senate seats — the party's most ever — and 71 House seats, leaving shell-shocked Republicans to wonder if anyone caught the number of the bus that hit them.

St. Louis Tea Party co-founder Dana Loesch and commentators Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart appeared at the Midwest Tea Party Convention — TeaCon — in Schaumburg this fall.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

To many Tea Party leaders in Illinois, state government needs more people like Arie Friedman. 

A pediatrician from Highland Park, Friedman first entered politics just two years ago to protest the passage of President Barack Obama’s federal health care law. Friedman is a business owner, a Navy veteran, a conservative and a candidate for the Illinois Senate. He says he does not need a job as a career politician — joining the state Senate likely would mean a pay cut — and he has no plans to do it forever. Most of all, though, Friedman is fed up with how the state is being run.

Toni Preckwinkle
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Just before 4 p.m. on a midsummer afternoon, the entrance to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office is dark and silent, without a receptionist on hand.

Yet, unbeknownst to many who pass through the County Building’s marble halls at that hour, behind a door to the left, the Chicago Democrat is working, inside a personal space sparsely decorated with pieces of African-American art.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois voters gave state Democrats an unprecedented opportunity in last November’s election: the chance to draw new congressional and legislative districts as party mapmakers saw fit, presumably to guarantee party majorities for the next decade.

On the morning of Wednesday, November 3, it was still unclear whether Democrat Pat Quinn had held on to the governor’s office in the previous day’s election. What was already apparent, though, was that his party had utterly lost its once-encompassing grip on downstate Illinois. 

Democrats that day lost one U.S. Senate seat, two state-level constitutional offices and saw their commanding state House and Senate majorities pared back. Most of the bloodletting came in the southern half of the state. 

WUIS/Illinois Issues

After nearly seven years of total Democratic rule in Illinois, voters can easily tally the results — an indicted governor who allegedly sold out the state to the highest bidders, a big push for a major income tax hike and a budget so far in the red that contractors routinely get stiffed. 

That is why Republicans believe they can finally run a winning statewide race. 

But not so fast. 


Illinois will be a battleground in 2008 as Democrats fight to keep their newfound majority in the U.S. House, and Republicans fight to win it back.

Hot Property: The Democrats

Jan 1, 2002
Mike Cramer

There are seven major bids on the 
Executive Mansion this election season
This month, Illinois Issues provides information
on the race for governor.

In the rest of this issue, we examine the primary races for attorney general and the U.S. Senate. (This issue went to press before the December 24th deadline to challenge candidates’ petitions.)

Next month, we’ll look at the primary campaigns for the legislature and Congress.


The Democrats