Election 2014

Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner
Illinois Public Broadcasting

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican nominee Bruce Rauner met for the first formal debate of the general election season Thursday in Peoria. The panel included Illinois Public Radio/WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and Illinois Issues Executive Editor Jamey Dunn.

Watch or listen to the full debate:

Lawmakers are set to start a two-day hearing probing Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program.  

The Legislative Audit Commission subpoenaed seven former Quinn administration officials connected to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. They're due to start appearing before the bipartisan committee that oversees state audits Wednesday. Organizers say testimony could take all day.  

Daisy Ad screenshot

It was 50 years ago last month that a new type of campaign commercial aired -- one devised to make President Lyndon Johnson's opponent look bad, rather than to extol his own virtues. "Daisy" only aired once, it was so controversial: the scene of a girl pulling petals off a flower crossed into one of an exploding bomb.  That commercial changed the political landscape. Any inhibitions campaigns may have had in 1964 have long since vanished. Now, negative ads are the norm. It's gotten to the point that a candidate for State Representative this week filed a lawsuit over it.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

As election day nears, legislative races are hotly contested in some parts of the state. We preview those and look at the odds of a Republican take-over in the Illinois House or Senate. We spoke with the Daily Herald's Mike Riopell for this interview:

To read Riopell's story about legislative races, CLICK HERE.


Latino Policy Forum website

As candidates hustle for voters' support, interest groups are working to drum up numbers of their own, with voter registration drives. The deadline is tomorrow.

Martin Torres has been all over Chicago lately, holding voter registration events. It's the Latino Policy Forum's goal to sign up 5,000 voters.

He says Latinos make up 16-percent of the state's population, but the community's political influence hasn't kept up.

Macon County

Election officials say there are two days left for regular voter registration ahead of Nov. 4.  

Illinois residents who have a driver's license or state ID can register online through the State Board of Elections website through Tuesday.  

Starting Wednesday, voters have a chance to participate in ``grace period'' registration until Nov. 3.

The process will be a little different for those registering late. Residents must present two forms of identification to election officials in person. One of these forms must include a current address.  

Amanda Vinicky

First, the President held a $50,000 a head fundraiser for Pat Quinn.  This week, First Lady Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem are scheduled to be in Illinois to stump for him.  Over the weekend, it was actor Martin Sheen's turn to campaign alongside the Democratic governor.

According to the trade magazine "Variety," Martin Sheen made as much as $300,000 an episode for his role as Democratic Pres. Jeb Bartlet in the show "West Wing."

wttw Chicago Tonight

 Illinois Republicans are mounting what they say is an unprecedented and costly campaign to purge ineligible people from voter lists and recruit their own election judges before November. 

It's a sign of how close the contest is expected to be for control of President Barack Obama's home state.  
Republicans have allocated $1 million in Cook County alone to examine voter rolls and recruit 5,000 GOP election judges to watch over polling places in Democrat-heavy Chicago. Efforts to go through voter rolls are underway in two counties east of St. Louis.  


A watchdog group says whoever wins the race for governor is going to face difficult choices about Illinois’ prisons. The group on Wednesday is laying out what it’s calling a “roadmap” for overhauling crime and punishment — and wants to know where the candidates stand.

The non-partisan John Howard Association says decades of “tough on crime” policies have led Illinois to lock up 49,000 people in a system designed to hold 32,000.

Chicago Magazine

Though Gov. Pat Quinn remains largely private about his personal life, he has been in the public eye for decades -- there were unsuccessful bids for treasurer, Secretary of State and the U.S. Senate, as well as successful ones for Illinois Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and, most recently, for Governor.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois regulators are continuing to develop a plan to reduce the state's output of greenhouse gasses. Environmentalists say they have the Pat Quinn to thank. Or do they?

Illinois has had clean energy targets for years, but this latest effort isn't part of that. Rather, the state's Environmental Protection Agency and commerce commission are preparing for a proposed federal rule. It would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants.

State representative candidate Mel Thillens
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 Republican Mel Thillens is a first-time candidate for the Illinois House, but his name has been carried across the state on the sides of large trucks for years.

The third-generation owner of the armored truck company that bears his name, Thillens is one of dozens of GOP candidates trying to reverse the damage his party suffered two years ago.

Pollsters this spring predicted Bruce Rauner would have a 17-point lead over then-state Sen. Kirk Dillard, but Rauner’s victory was by less than three percentage points.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 In the final month of the 2010 campaign, the political career of Gov. Pat Quinn appeared to be nearing its end. Poll after poll showed him down by four, six or even eight percentage points. The mathematical models of stat-geek superstar Nate Silver — fresh off correctly predicting the outcome in 49 of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election — gave Quinn just an 18 percent chance of winning. You know how that turned out.

Brian Mackey
mattpenning.com 2011 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

   Twenty-fourteen was going to be a banner year for direct democracy in Illinois. At one point, it was possible voters would be asked to weigh in on as many as seven different ballot questions, including four constitutional amendments. But as the election draws near, two of those ideas are off the table: Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s push to impose legislative term limits failed to meet the requirements of the Constitution, and a separate attempt to change the way House and Senate districts are drawn failed to gather enough valid signatures.

End And Means: Term Limits Wouldn't Shake Up Springfield

Oct 1, 2014
Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues


To hear the bluster of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and his lackeys among the state’s editorial writers and punditry class, the court decisions tossing his proposed initiative to impose term limits on lawmakers was a shocking slap in the face of Illinois citizens and a huge victory for the Dark Lord of Illinois politics, House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis have staked out opposing positions on whether to require universal background checks for firearms purchases.  

Oberweis is trying to unseat Durbin in November. They met Monday before the Chicago Tribune editorial board.  

Durbin says mandatory background checks would help keep convicted felons and mentally unstable people from getting guns. He says a federal law would reduce violence in places like Chicago, where police say felons get weapons from other states with weaker laws.  

campaign photos

Last month, Champaign Senator and Illinois treasurer candidate Mike Frerichs found himself on the defensive after opponent Tom Cross blamed him for costing Champaign County millions of dollars more than a decade ago, when he served as county auditor.  He and the Republican challenger are at odds over an early retirement program.

Cross (R-Oswego) contends the plan, passed more than a decade ago by the Champaign County Board, backfired, while Frerichs calls those allegations ‘lies’.


The following is an op-ed written by Mike Lawrence for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  Lawrence was a longtime journalist, Press Secretary for Gov. Jim Edgar and later directed the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner are having a brawl -- trash-talk and all. So, it's less likely with every gouge and grunt, that either will focus on rescuing Illinois until after the election -- if then.


It's hard to find common ground between Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, but when it comes to decriminalizing marijuana, they're on the same page. Both have a stance that's well, hazy.

"It's worthy of looking at," Quinn said about the idea of reducing penalties for people caught with small amounts of pot."It's basically something I think the legislature should have hearings on. I think a lot of people should have input on. I do think that it's worthy of consideration."


One Illinois group wants voters to be better informed about judges, who will be among the lesser known candidates on the November ballot.  

The Illinois Civil Justice League on Tuesday is unveiling an initiative to provide biographies, ratings and other background on 158 sitting judges in the state seeking retention and another 69 candidates in contested races for seats on the bench.  

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Advocates seeking to change how Illinois draws its legislative districts are following through on a promise to keep trying, even after getting knocked off of this year's ballot.

Members of the "Yes for Independent Maps" effort cheered when they turned in half million signatures to state elections authorities in May.


Illinois' race for governor is shaping up as one of the most competitive in the nation. And it's impossible to tell who's winning.

For a while, Bruce Rauner was ahead. The Republican private equity investor kept besting Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in every poll.


Chris Mooney is Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  The following is an article he authored:

Prisons vastly are overcrowded. College tuition is rising fast. Roads and bridges are crumbling. Public pensions are on the verge of disaster.

Why is Illinois state government so inept? While public problems are inherently difficult to solve, Illinois seems to be particularly adrift these days.

Quinn campaign

This story first appeared as Illinois Issues' State of the State column in the September 2014 edition of the magazine.

Amanda Vinicky

Democrats succeeded in getting a slate of Green Party candidates wiped from the November ballot. But the Libertarian Party had enough signatures to withstand a Republican challenge before the State Board of Elections. And now the Libertarians have withstood a court challenge as well.

Sometimes you can actually hear the smile in someone's voice. I didn't actually see Chad Grimm's face upon hearing the news that he'll remain on the ballot as the Libertarian nominee for governor. But, he sure sounded happy.

Courtesy of lpillinois.org

A Sangamon County judge is expected to rule today (Thursday 9/18)
on an appeal by Republican attorneys to remove a Libertarian candidate for
Illinois governor from the November ballot.
Sangamon County Circuit Judge Patrick Kelley heard arguments in which the GOP
attorneys questioned the validity of signatures Libertarian candidates gathered
to get on the ballot.
Political analysts say Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm could
draw votes that otherwise would go to Republican candidate Bruce Rauner

Did you know that Betty White was born in Illinois? This, and other tidbits about Illinois' successes, are the subject of a new website. It's intended to counteract some of the negativity that has swirled this election cycle ... and to defend lawmakers' policies. 

No, it's not a project born by the state's tourism department. 

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' largest public employees union has made an about-face in its attitude toward Governor Pat Quinn. Over the weekend, AFSCME leaders endorsed him during a meeting in Peoria. It's a classic case of going with "the devil you know."

Tom Cross for Treasurer campaign

Tom Cross of Oswego has spent more than 20 years as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.  A former prosecutor, for over a decade he was the House Republican Leader.  

Now Cross, 56, wants to be state Treasurer.  He won the GOP nomination and faces Democratic state Senator  Mike Frerichs of Champaign.  The position is responsible for investing state dollars.

Cross said he feels current Treasurer Dan Rutherford has done "a nice job" streamlining the office and it's budget.  But he said he can take the office in a different direction.