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Latino Voting Power Could Soon Translate Into Legislation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 December 2012 05:12

Five years ago, most Illinois House Republicans, including House GOP Leader Tom Cross, voted against a bill that would’ve allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses. The conservative rhetoric against the legislation was very harsh. Even so, it was approved by the House but never called for a floor vote in the state Senate.

Back then, the legislation was seen as political suicide by many Republicans fearful of a backlash within their own party. But because November’s election results showed that a heavy Latino turnout may have swayed several races in favor of the Democrats, Republicans have suddenly become far more interested. Cross, for instance, called the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (ICIRR) the day after the election, offering to work with the group. The ICIRR now considers that the driver’s license bill will be a “down payment” on whether the parties want to make a “good-faith effort” to work with it in the future. And Cross is supporting it.

Civic Committee Leader Pushes Himself Out of the Pension Debate PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 18 November 2012 05:46

For the past few years, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has been one of the most feared participants in the state’s pension-reform debate.

Ty Fahner, a former Illinois attorney general who heads the Civic Committee, managed to convince both parties to elbow each other for a position of favor with him and his group.

When Fahner ended up siding with the House Democrats back in May and endorsing their pension-reform plan, including shifting costs to school districts, the House Republicans were furious and disappointed. They had been assiduously courting Fahner, and figured that since the Civic Committee is composed of several top Chicago business leaders, they’d be the natural ally of choice.

Not to mention that Fahner also formed a political action committee (“We Mean Business”) to back up his word. Everybody wanted that money, so the PAC gave his position additional strength.

But those days appear to be behind us, at least for now. Fahner’s histrionics last week over what he claimed was an “unfixable” pension problem have all but cut him out of the Statehouse mix. “He’s made himself irrelevant,” said one top Democratic official who is intimately involved with pension reform.

Latinos Key to Several Election Upsets in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 11 November 2012 05:44

Back in 1992, Latinos made up about 8 percent of Illinois’ population, yet only 1 percent of that year’s total election-day voter pool was Latino. The trend continued for years. Latinos just didn’t vote.

Twenty years later, things have changed in a big way. According to exit polling, 12 percent of Illinois voters last week were Latino – compared to the 16 percent of Illinois residents who are Latino.

That high participation contributed to many of last week’s electoral surprises.

Feud Shows Madigan at His Ruthless Best PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 04 November 2012 05:12

There’s nothing quite like the spectacle of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan when he’s out to get somebody.

Just ask state Representative Skip Saviano (R-Elmwood Park).

The two men used to be allies, even friends. Saviano supported Madigan’s daughter when Lisa ran for state attorney general. But then Lisa turned against Saviano’s political mentor, the late Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens, blocking his dream of building a local casino because, she claimed, he was tied to the mob. Saviano vowed revenge.

Super-PACS Making Their Presence Felt in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 28 October 2012 10:31

Independent expenditures in state legislative races are closing in on the $2-million mark since July 1, with most of that spending coming in the month of October, Illinois State Board of Elections records show.

In March, a federal judge struck down Illinois’ law capping contributions to so-called state super-PACs. Since then, according to the State Board of Elections’ Web site, $1.8 million has been spent by groups on Illinois campaigns, and – as of late last week – $1.3 million of that has been spent in the month of October alone.

Super-PAC money is expected to increase exponentially in 2014, when the governorship and other statewide offices are up for election. So far, just 11 independent-expenditure committees have been formed, but more will surely come after this cycle ends.

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