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GOP Rivals Looking Up at Rauner PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 23 February 2014 05:17

Illinois state Senator Kirk Dillard told Chicago radio station WLS last week that Republican county chairs ought to try to get Bill Brady and/or Dan Rutherford out of the governor’s race so he could have a clear shot at wealthy front-runner Bruce Rauner. Dillard claims he is building strong momentum with recent endorsements, including the powerful Illinois Education Association (IEA).

But two polls taken last week showed that Dillard isn’t even winning the DuPage County state Senate district that he has represented for more than 20 years.

A Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll taken February 20 had Rauner leading in the district with 36 percent; Dillard had 30 percent. Brady polled 10 percent, and Rutherford was at 2 percent. Another 22 percent were undecided. The poll of 614 likely Republican voters had a margin of error of 3.95 percent. Twelve percent of the calling universe was cell phones.

I didn’t commission the poll to be a jerk, but because somebody slipped me results of a Strive Strategies tracking poll taken February 18, which had Rauner at 33 percent and Dillard at 26 percent in Dillard’s own district. The margins between the two men are almost exactly the same in both polls, so this is pretty solid evidence that Dillard is, indeed, losing his own Senate district, which he has represented since 1993.

What the heck is going on? Well, millions of dollars in campaign ads on Chicago TV by Rauner and pretty much nothing by Dillard is the simplest answer.

 
Treasurer’s Investigation Smells Like a Cover-Up PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 16 February 2014 11:19

Treasurer Dan Rutherford delivered a forceful, even believable defense of himself last week during a suburban press conference hours after he was hit with a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and coerced campaign work.

Gubernatorial candidate Rutherford made a strong case that at least some of the accusations are untrue. There were some holes in his argument – some bigger than others – but it seems obvious that some of the charges are overblown.

For instance, accuser Ed Michalowski claims in his lawsuit that all the campaign and sexual pressure from Rutherford directly resulted in “leakage of cerebral spinal fluid in the brain,” which seems more than a bit of a stretch. Michalowski also takes a joking text message between himself and Rutherford’s campaign manager completely out of context. And Rutherford laid out Michalowski’s numerous financial troubles in an attempt to demonstrate that the plaintiff’s need for money was driving much of the lawsuit.

That said, I’ve had some real worries about Rutherford’s so-called “independent” internal investigation of these allegations. Rutherford announced the investigation weeks ago when he let the media know about the potential lawsuit.

 
Allegations Against Treasurer Might Be the Tip of the Iceberg PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 09 February 2014 05:41

One of the reasons people near Treasurer Dan Rutherford are so nervous these days is because of the possibility that other employees might come out of the woodwork with even more allegations.

As I write this, the publicly revealed facts are still quite thin. A now-former employee of Rutherford has claimed, without producing any hard evidence as of this writing, that he was sexually harassed and told to do political fundraising work. Rutherford has flatly denied the allegations, claiming they are politically motivated and part of a shakedown attempt that’s being pushed by Bruce Rauner, his Republican-gubernatorial-primary opponent. The former employee, Rutherford claims, demanded $300,000 through his attorney to remain quiet. Rauner has denied any involvement.

The treasurer’s office has negotiated two previous severance agreements, a fact that the accuser’s lawyer alluded to last week when she told WLS Radio’s Dan Proft: “Their standard MO is to work out standard severance agreements. That’s what they do, and they’ve been doing that the last two or three years with employees.”

 
TV Assault Takes a Toll on Quinn PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 February 2014 15:12

Without a doubt, the most overlooked aspect of Bruce Rauner’s multi-million-dollar TV-ad buy has been his advertising campaign’s repeated attacks on Governor Pat Quinn.

“Career politicians are running our state into the ground, and Pat Quinn, he’s at the top of the heap,” Rauner says in one of his ads that have permeated the airwaves since November. “Pat Quinn, a career politician who failed to deliver term limits,” a Rauner TV announcer declares in another spot.

The millions of dollars worth of ads are supposedly aimed at Republican-primary voters, but obviously everybody else in the state is seeing them, as well. And Quinn, who doesn’t have a well-funded primary opponent, hasn’t bothered to rebut any of Rauner’s multiple attacks. Considering Illinois’ persistently high unemployment rates, the hostile national climate, the never-ending negative stories about the state’s finances, and Quinn’s four-year history of low job-performance scores, the governor’s silence seems like a big mistake.

And if a new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll is accurate, Rauner’s months-long, unrebutted attacks have indeed helped knock Quinn into a shockingly deep hole.

 
Topinka Works Hard for Union Endorsement PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 January 2014 18:04

I don’t think I’ve seen a Republican – or a candidate of any stripe – work as hard for an AFL-CIO endorsement than Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka did.

She assiduously courted the unions who represent workers in her office, worked to help the Teamsters pass a bill important to the union that jabbed at a non-union cemetery owner (the comptroller’s office regulates some cemeteries), built strong relationships with some labor-union leaders and attended tons of their events, and even endorsed the union-backed pension reform bill.

In other words, she went above and beyond her Democratic rival Sheila Simon (presently the lieutenant governor) on pretty much all counts. The Simon family has long enjoyed union support. Except for his successful U.S. Senate primary bid in 1984, union leaders and members almost always backed her father Paul.

 
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