Tag Archives: Chicago

IL-2 Special on Schedule – Sort Of

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has set the special election to replace resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) for a Feb. 26 primary followed by a March 19 special general election, but the latter date will likely move. Illinois law requires a vacancy to be filled within 155 days of a vacancy occurring.

Quinn’s schedule falls within the current law’s parameters, but with local and municipal elections already scheduled for April 9, a move will be made to consolidate the two voting periods, per the request of local officials. Instead of asking a court to waive the legal requirements as first thought, Quinn will simply ask the legislature upon convening in January to change the special election law with an urgency clause. Such action will give him authority to move the special general election to April 9.

Since this is a heavily Democratic seat, the special general is irrelevant. What does matter is the Democratic primary, and that will stay on Feb. 26, since the municipal nominating contests are also that day.

Already, three candidates have announced their intentions to run. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who challenged Rep. Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary, officially joined the race over the weekend. Quickly following her public move was Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale along with state Senator-elect Napoleon Harris. All three are Democrats.

Many more candidates are expected to file before the end of December. Though the district is more than 62 percent African-American, Halvorson hopes a crowded field with no run-off election will allow her to coalesce the minority white vote around her and overtake the majority African-American vote, which will be fractured among multiple contenders. Halvorson scored just under 24 percent against Jackson in March of this year, meaning that she has at least a small base from which to begin this campaign.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Resignation is Official

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2)

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-IL-2) resignation from the House became official on Nov. 21, thus starting the special election clock. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will make an announcement today setting the election calendar, but local officials in the three-county region that comprises the 2nd District have already asked for a waiver from the scheduling law. Should Quinn agree to bypass the special election timing requirement, judicial approval will be required.

Illinois election law states that the governor has five days to call a special election in the event of a vacancy in Congress or for state office. The vacancy is supposed to be filled within 115 days after the date of resignation, but the county officials are asking that the election be postponed to coincide with their municipal and local elections already scheduled for April 9. The special election law would require that both the nominating and special general elections occur before March 16. Quinn has already indicated that his election calendar plan will be both “… fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers,” according to his original statement. It is expected that he will make the election concurrent with the regular municipal election date since the two dates are only three weeks apart.

The election officials have also requested that the governor place the nominating election on the same date as their regularly scheduled municipal and local primary, which is Feb. 26. Since the 2nd District is heavily Democratic, it is this party’s primary vote that will be determinative, as the general election will merely be pro forma. Therefore, it is the February date that becomes critical for this replacement process.

Jackson’s resignation is due to health reasons and an ongoing federal investigation into whether he illegally used campaign funds to cover personal expenses, as outlined in his official letter to Speaker John Boehner.

Expect a large Democratic field to compete in the special primary. Already, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), originally elected in the old 11th District but defeated in 2010 after one term, has officially announced her candidacy. She opposed Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary but secured only 23.6 percent of the vote.

Since Illinois has no run-off, Halvorson is hoping to unify the smaller white vote, which may be enough to secure victory if the African-Americans split among many candidates. IL-2 has a black population of 62.4 percent. Two other majority African-American districts, Tennessee’s 9th CD (Rep. Steve Cohen) and Michigan’s 14th (Rep. Gary Peters), currently send white males to Washington, winning under similar circumstances to what Halvorson hopes will occur in this upcoming special election.

Other individuals said to be considering running to replace Jackson are the former congressman’s brother Jonathan Jackson, prominent local Chicago pastor Corey Brooks, attorney Sam Adam Jr., state senators Toi Hutchison and Donne Trotter, Chicago Aldermen Anthony Beale and Will Burns, and former state Reps. David Miller and Robin Kelly. All are Democrats.

The 2nd District encompasses the south Chicago area in Cook County and includes part of Will County and all of Kankakee.

Rep. Joe Walsh Raising Eyebrows

Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL-8), whose suburban Chicago district was obliterated in the Democrats’ redistricting plan, has changed his re-election plans. His decision to switch campaign venues has surprised many political observers since his chances of winning in the new territory next November don’t appear too favorable.

Originally, Mr. Walsh decided to mount a campaign against fellow freshman Republican Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14) in the new 14th District, a seat where the GOP primary winner becomes the strong favorite for the general election, but now he is opting for an uphill general election battle in a new and heavily Democratic 8th District.

Though party leaders are pledging to raise big money for him to take on the eventual Democratic nominee, either former Assistant Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy Duckworth or former Deputy Illinois Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, it remains to be seen if they come through when polling will likely show Walsh considerably behind, and many other districts around the country will be in closer position.

The big winner in this scenario is Mr. Hultgren who avoids a difficult primary election and now becomes the prohibitive favorite for re-election. The Republican apparatus wins by avoiding an intra-party pairing of incumbents, but the same result is not as apparent for Mr. Walsh.

Candidate filing deadline of Dec. 27 is fast approaching. The Illinois primary is March 20th.

Illinois Rep. Halvorson to Challenge Jesse Jackson Jr.

A rather surprising announcement came from the Chicago suburbs at the end of last week. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who lost her congressional seat 43-57 percent to Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) after just one term in office, says she will challenge Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) in the 2012 March Democratic primary for his 2nd District seat. Prior to her serving in Congress, Ms. Halvorson was the state Senate majority leader.

This is a curious move and appears to be a long-shot political effort. While the new 2nd district does contain part of the territory Halvorson previously represented, it is overwhelmingly comprised of Jackson’s constituents. In fact, 78.1 percent of the new 2nd’s inhabitants remain from Rep. Jackson’s current district, versus just 21.8 percent of residents from Halvorson’s former 11th CD who are now placed in IL-2. The racial composition is another factor that cuts dramatically in Mr. Jackson’s favor. As many as 55.8 percent of the district population is African-American versus just 29.6 percent who are non-Hispanic White. Hispanics account for 12.8 percent of the population mix, while Asians number less than 1 percent of the voting base.

Favor Jesse Jackson, Jr. to win the Democratic nomination here, but Debbie Halvorson’s entry into the race certainly brings a new twist to this political story.
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Disabled Veteran Tammy Duckworth Seeks Office

In the Chicago suburbs, former 2006 congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth (D), who lost to Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL-6) 49-51 percent in their open seat contest of that year, is again entering elective politics. She will now run in the newly created 8th district in Illinois, which should elect a Democrat in the general election.

Already in the race is former Deputy state Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) who is set to report more than $400,000 raised for this campaign. Duckworth was one of the strongest Democratic fundraisers in the nation during the ’06 cycle, attracting more than $4.65 million in her losing House campaign. The new candidate, a disabled Iraq War veteran, recently resigned her position as Assistant Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to return to Chicago to run for office.
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Former Illinois Rep. Foster Coming Back

The “send” button had been barely pushed releasing the new Illinois congressional district map, and former Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-14), defeated in 2010 for re-election by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R), 45-51 percent, says he will run again next year in the newly created 11th district. No present incumbent currently resides in the proposed IL-11 and the inclusion of the city of Aurora gives Foster a base in the new territory. The seat is designed as a Democratic gain.

From Aurora, a western Chicago suburb, the new district meanders eastward to pick up the city of Naperville and then darts even further east, closer to south Chicago. It then juts south all the way to annex the city of Joliet. The current 11th, represented by freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger, is spilt into no less than eight districts.

Mr. Foster, however, will not likely win the new 11th without a fight. Wealthy insurance executive John Atkinson (D), who had already signaled his intention to challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL-3) because he believes the Congressman does not work closely enough with President Obama, now finds his home in the new open seat. Atkinson did not give a firm indication of where he might run, but clearly the Democratic legislative leaders want to avoid the intra-party challenge.

The current Illinois delegation count stands at 11R-8D. In losing a seat in reapportionment, early analyses show that Democrats could come away with a maximum 13-5 split under the new lines, as most of the Republican incumbents find themselves placed in districts with a GOP colleague or more. The map is expected to sail through the legislature and be signed by Gov. Patrick Quinn (D).
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Emanuel Tossed Off Ballot

Rahm Emanuel


An Illinois state Appellate Court, in a surprising 2-1 vote yesterday, removed former White House Chief of Staff and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D) from the Chicago mayoral ballot. Recent polling (WGN/Chicago Tribune; Jan. 16-19; 708 self-described likely voters) gave President Obama’s top staff member a comfortable 44-21% lead over ex-US Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, so the court action is causing major reverberations for all associated campaigns. The joint media survey placed Board of Education President Gery Chico third at 16% while City Clerk Miguel de Valle lags behind in single-digits (7%).

Earlier, US Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL-7) and state Sen. James Meeks dropped out of the race in an effort to coalesce the African-American community solely behind Moseley Braun, with the hope of forcing a two-person run-off between Emanuel and her. If no candidate receives 50% plus one vote in the February 22nd election, a run-off contest between the top two finishers is scheduled for April.

The court reasoned that Emanuel, despite winning unanimously in a related administrative ruling before the state Board of Elections, does not meet Chicago’s electoral residency requirement. The judicial panel maintained that he did not reside in the city during the past year. The former chief of staff will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which must rule quickly. Early voting already begins January 31st.

The Supreme Court, an elected body that features four Democrats and three Republicans, has the power to reinstate Emanuel and is expected to do so. But, how much will this distraction take away from his potential to win the race outright in February? The answer will soon be forthcoming.