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Big Money Pushes GOP Hopefuls Away from Pension Reform PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 08 December 2013 11:23

By now, it should be self-evident that Bruce Rauner has locked up pretty much all the big money in the Republican-primary race for governor. Last week’s pension-reform vote provides even more evidence.

Rauner has built an impenetrable fortress of high-dollar campaign contributors. Ron Gidwitz, long known in GOP circles for being the gateway to big-time cash from the wealthy, has fully joined in, as has Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois.

Gidwitz was with Senator Kirk Dillard in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, but Gidwitz and Rauner have sucked up so many dollars – including more than $250,000 from campaign fundraising committee member Griffin and lots more from Griffin’s friends – that Dillard hasn’t been able to raise any cash from rich people he’s known for years, even decades. Dillard’s financial predicament has become so desperate that he voted against last week’s pension-reform bill in the obvious hope that he can now raise some dough from public-employee unions.

Dillard’s vote is even more bizarre when you realize that he voted against a union-negotiated pension bill back in May and twice voted in favor of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s pension-reform bill in May and June.

But he really had no choice last week; it was sink-or-swim time.

 
Why Quinn Needs the Pension-Reform Deal to Pass PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 02 December 2013 10:16

Last week, the four Illinois legislative leaders announced a deal on a long-awaited and much-anticipated pension-reform bill.

Other than the obvious fact that pension payments are diverting billions of dollars from other state programs such as education and human services, Governor Pat Quinn really wants this proposal passed before the end of the year for a couple of reasons – both political. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the proposal this week.

 
Unions Face Difficult Choice in GOP Primary PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 24 November 2013 13:17

Illinois union leaders are reportedly mulling several options about what to do in the governor’s race. But the only thing the leaders appear to agree on so far is that anti-union Republican gazillionaire Bruce Rauner cannot be allowed to win.

Some union honchos are looking at endorsing a candidate in the Republican primary. State Senator Kirk Dillard, for instance, already has strong support from the Operating Engineers, a union that is now even more opposed to Rauner since the candidate’s endorsement by the strongly anti-union Associated Builders & Contractors group. Other unions have also taken keen notice of that endorsement.

 
Polling Shows Little Change in GOP Gubernatorial Race PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 17 November 2013 05:22

In mid-August, near the end of his summertime TV-advertising blitz, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner scored 14 percent in a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of likely GOP-primary voters. That was up a tick from the 12 percent he got in a June 20 poll by the same firm. His campaign has run some radio ads since then and sent out some direct mail, but Rauner has been mostly absent from TV for a few months.

The absence doesn’t appear to have hurt him much. According to a poll taken November 14, Rauner is at 11 percent. So while he did slide back a bit, he’s still within the same polling range that he’s been trading in for months. That’s not to say this is good news; it isn’t.

 
Gay-Marriage Bill Clears Path for GOP Candidates PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 10 November 2013 11:00

Perhaps the biggest loser in November 5’s historic passage of a gay-marriage bill in Springfield was the National Organization for Marriage.

The group, based in Washington, DC, has been at the forefront of attempts to stop gay marriage in states throughout the country. A Maine investigation uncovered what it claimed were internal NOM documents about the group’s strategy, including this passage: “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize, and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay-marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and -women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.”

The organization tried all that in Illinois, spending tens of thousands of dollars on politically connected consultants and robo-calls into black districts in the spring, summer, and right up until the day of the vote, and holding media-friendly events in the black community. The bill wasn’t called for a vote last spring mainly because black House members were overwhelmed by fervent local opposition.

 
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