Election 2014

Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Legislative Races: GOP Aims to Eat Into Democratic Majorities in the General Assembly

State representative candidate Mel Thillens
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Polling Pains: Polling Blunders Happening Nationwide

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. Pictured above, from top to bottom, are GOP primary candidates: state Sen. Bill Brady, Dillard, Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

State of the State: Tinkering with the Constitution Demands Careful Consideration

Brian Mackey
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

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

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit 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.

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Politics
6:26 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Durbin, Oberweis Debate Background Checks for Guns

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.  

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Elexction 2014
8:40 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Retirement Plan At Center Of Dispute In Ill. Treasurer's Race

State Rep. and former House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, and Democratic Senator Mike Frerichs of Champaign
Credit 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’.

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Election 2014
7:34 am
Sat September 27, 2014

Mike Lawrence: The Compelling Challenge Of Rehabbing Illinois

Mike Lawrence
Credit IGPA

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.

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Election 2014
8:34 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Quinn, Rauner Share Hazy Stance On Decriminalizing Pot

Credit Thinkprogress.org

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."

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Election 2014
9:54 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Group Wants More Information For Voters When Selecting Judges

Credit istockphoto.com

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.  

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Election 2014
2:14 am
Tue September 23, 2014

A Redo On Redistricting

Credit 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.

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Election 2014
3:39 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Polls Showing Illinois Governor's Race A Draw

Bruce Rauner; Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit WUIS

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.

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Op-Ed
3:47 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Chris Mooney: More Evidence-Based Policymaking Needed

Chris Mooney
Credit IGPA

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.

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Election 2014
3:02 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Can A Governor Really Create Jobs?

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Quinn campaign

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

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Election 2014
1:18 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Governor's Race Has A Third Contender; Judge Keeps Libertarians On Ballot

The Libertarian slate faced several obstacles to make it on the ballot; here, candidates hold a press conference to show how many more signatures they had to turn in to the state elections board, compared with Democrats and Republicans. The party's candidate for governor, Chad Grimm, is just to the left of the podium.
Credit 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.

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Statehouse
6:17 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Court Ruling Could Impact Governor's Race

Credit 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

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Website Debuts (In Time For The Election)
11:53 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Cullerton: I LIKE Illinois!

The new logo for Senate Democrats' "I Like Illinois" website and project.

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. 

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Election 2014
1:44 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

AFSCME Puts Aside Differences, Endorses Quinn

There was once a time, such as during a protest at the Illinois State Fair in 2012, that union members were comparing Gov. Pat Quinn to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; labor's wrath has turned to Bruce Rauner since he became Republican's nominee for governor.
Credit 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."

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Illinois Issues - Past Due
6:26 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Treasurer Candidate Tom Cross Says He Would Sue The Legislature To Force A Balanced Budget

Tom Cross
Credit 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.

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Election 2014
4:11 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Quinn Defends Public Education, Though He's A Product of Private Schools

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

Who Illinois voters choose to be their next governor could make a big difference in how Illinois funds schools, and even where students can go to get an education.

Quinn's agenda seems to leave things basically as-is; taxpayer dollars flow to public schools:

"I believe that the public system of education is the best way to go," Quinn told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board last week.

Not that he has much personal experience in the system.

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Election 2014
10:16 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Rauner Trying To Soften Image On Pensions

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is seen in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate Bruce Rauner continues trying to soften his image when it comes to government employees. This comes after he won the nomination in part by relentlessly attacking public employee unions.

Rauner has called for all current state employees to have their pensions frozen and be put into 401(k)-style retirement plans. Many consider that even more harsh than the pension reductions Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last year.

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Election 2014
8:47 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

N.J. Gov. Christie Stumps For Rauner In Springfield

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center, and Illinois gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner attended two closed-door fundraisers in Springfield Wednesday.

Republicans across America have high hopes for Bruce Rauner's campaign to be the next governor of Illinois. Appearing with him Wednesday in Springfield was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  

Christie is head of the Republican Governors Association, which last week gave Rauner another $2 million. That brings its total support for the wealthy candidate to $6 million.

Christie headlined a pair of fundraisers with Rauner in Springfield, then stopped at Brickhouse, a downtown restaurant and bar, to pose for pictures with supporters.

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Election 2014
5:00 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Attacks Get Personal Between Quinn, Rauner

  They no longer had to do it through campaign commercials. Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner faced one another in a joint interview before the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board Tuesday. So far, Quinn, a Democrat, and businessman Rauner, Republican's nominee, have contested one another from a distance. At this appearance, though, they were seated side-by-side.

At times, that led to heated discussions; often the candidates talked over one another.

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Education Desk
6:27 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Rauner Releases Education Plan

Credit brucerauner.com

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner outlined an education reform plan Monday that touched on teacher merit pay, overhauling
tenure and changing the state's school funding formal, but the proposal didn't contain specifics on what exactly he would change or how he would accomplish
them.
 
 The venture capitalist said his ideas would help create ``world class schools''
and he vowed to increase school funding in the first year if he wins office
without raising the income tax or property taxes. He said he wanted to change

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Politics
7:43 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Political Dark Arts - The Pollsters

Credit triolastats.com

If political campaigns are horse races—then consider public opinion polls one way to set the odds.But campaigns create and use polls for much more than the neck-and-neck numbers you hear on the news. As part of our series on the ‘dark arts’ of politics,  Alex Keefe explains:

AMBI: (phone rings)

Maybe you’ve already gotten one of these calls this election season.

TAPE: Hello, this is a short political poll...(fade under)...

It’s your chance to weigh in.

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Election 2014
6:28 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Property Tax Freeze Idea Gives Local Government The Chills

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even though your property taxes pay for local services -- not state ones -- they've become an issue in Illinois' race for governor.

Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner don't agree on much, but both clearly see a winning strategy in promising lower property taxes.

Quinn earlier this year proposed offsetting a higher income tax rate by sending homeowners (not renters) a $500 property tax rebate (though his plan didn't materialize).

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Politics
6:53 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Political Dark Arts - The Voices Behind The Messages

Credit checkoutmyink.com

Deep and ominous voices sound the attack …sugary and optimistic voices signal support.  

As part of our series on the “dark arts” of the campaign business….we meet the people behind the voices trained to influence the democratic process.

As  Alex Keefe found, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.

WOODEL: So, when I do voices for political campaigns, or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house.

KEEFE: This is literally a closet.

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Election 2014
8:13 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Opposition Research Key Part Of Political Dark Arts

Credit flickr/Sean MacEntee

Brace yourself, citizens.  September is the unofficial start of campaign season.  You are about to be spun by dueling poll numbers, attack ads and negative messages.   To help decipher it all, we're taking you behind the scenes this week to meet the practitioners of politics' dark arts.

We begin with Reporter Alex Keefe tracking down opposition researchers - the folks whose job it is to dig up dirt on politicians:

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Election 2014
2:55 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Libertarian Party Files Criminal Complaints Against GOP, Rauner Campaign

Credit wikimedia

  The Illinois Libertarian Party is settling into campaign mode after winning its battle to get on the November ballot. But the Libertarians have filed criminal complaints against the Republican Party for the trouble it took to get them there.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2014

State of the State: Can a Governor Really Create Jobs?

Brian Mackey
Credit mattpenning.com 2011 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

An outsider to Illinois politics could be forgiven for thinking Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner are running for the position of job creator in chief. Quinn can’t say enough about “jobs” and how his policies are creating more of them. Rauner, the GOP challenger, naturally contends that Quinn is Illinois’ greatest impediment to job creation — and that his platform is more likely to breathe new life into the state’s ailing economy.

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Election 2014
7:49 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Vallas: Rauner's Budget Plan "Insulting To Voters"

Lt. Gov. candidate Paul Vallas at the Illinois Education Association on Wednesday. Vallas says Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's budget plan is "insulting to voters."
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn's candidate for lieutenant governor says Republican Bruce Rauner's budget plan would mean bad news for schools in Illinois. Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Vallas says Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax to three percent would create a $4 billion hole in Illinois' education budget. Vallas says that translates to nearly 28,000 in teacher layoffs.

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