For well over two years, John Daley's 11th Ward organization has carried state Representative Patricia Bailey (D-Chicago) on its back. Daley is Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's brother.

Bailey's mother was one of a very small handful of influential African Americans who endorsed Rich Daley during his first successful mayoral race in 1989.

Last fall, Governor Rod Blagojevich took a brief but nasty beating in the Chicago media.

Thick smoke from a super-hot fire killed nine people in a Loop office high-rise. One of the building's managers, Elzie Higginbottom, was a Blagojevich campaign contributor, and when the city and the county dragged their collective investigatory feet, the media demanded that the governor step in.

Illinois Bell, Ameritech, SBC. Whatever you call it, the phone company's name appears to be mud with at least some Illinois voters.

Last year, you might remember, Texas-based mega-corporation SBC muscled a bill through both the Illinois House and Senate that opponents claimed would double some local phone bills.

During the 2002 campaign, gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich traveled to Vandalia, in southern Illinois, and spoke to a large crowd of union members. Most of those union members worked at the local state prison.

I'm going to talk about Blair Hull, but I have to tell you a story first. Nobody thought Terry Link had a chance back in 1996. Link was running for an Illinois Senate seat in a Republican-leaning, Lake County district.

Governor Rod Blagojevich won a lot of legislative victories last year.

He rammed through a $10-billion pension-funding plan, increased taxes and fees, enacted several bills that protected workers, and killed an attempt to expand gambling.

Illinois Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) was the biggest surprise winner of the 2002 election. Political observers are still scratching their heads at how the Democrat defeated popular Republican Senator Laura Kent Donahue in a Republican-leaning district.

So far, the ugliest state-legislative primary race is in suburban McHenry County. Two Republicans are battling to challenge state Representative Jack Franks (D-Crystal Lake) in the general election.

Perry Moy (R-Woodstock) is the anointed candidate, a popular restaurant owner and county-board member who has widespread support among the local GOP organization.

Last year was one of transition for Illinois' political leadership.

The year began with Republican Governor George Ryan leaving office after just four years in office - a term constantly overshadowed by allegations of corruption while he was secretary of state.

"A prosecutor once described political corruption as a 'time-honored tradition' in Illinois, but the scandal outlined in a 91-page indictment against former Governor George Ryan might be the worst yet," claimed the Associated Press last week.

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