I missed JB Pritzker’s impromptu speech to a gathering of Republicans last week by a few minutes. But the fact that Pritzker even stopped by the event, hosted by Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, was notable in and of itself.

I attended two parties in one evening last month that seemed to complement each other.

We’ve seen a big push over the past few weeks for an Arizona-style pension “fix” here. That state’s voters have twice approved constitutional amendments to limit future benefits for public employees – once in 2016 and then again last month.

Governor-elect JB Pritzker was asked last week about the timeline for passage of a new minimum-wage law.

“That’s very important to me,” Pritzker said, “It’s probably something we’ll be able to get done in the first six months in office.”

The trouble with today's voters is that most have compartmentalized their civic responsibility into the narrow confines of support for one of two political parties: Democrats or Republicans. Sadly, such narrow-mindedness misses the otherwise glaringly obvious truth that there are no longer two ideologically distinct parties in American politics. The two-party stranglehold on politics today is a sophisticated, fantastical ruse that has people locked into an arena mentality of win or lose at all costs, no holds barred.

“Is that the guy from the Policy Institute?” House Speaker Michael Madigan asked his press secretary after an Illinois News Network reporter recently tried to ask Madigan a question at the Statehouse.

Saudi Arabia

"[W]e may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi," US president Donald Trump told the nation on November 20, but "[t]he United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region."

Many find the president's statement curious indeed given the seeming consensus among the Turkish and US intelligence communities that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But two simple numbers clarify just how much importance successive administrations,  including Trump's, have placed on the US-Saudi relationship.

I had the pleasure of meeting several Democratic women candidates from Lake County during the Illinois State Fair last summer. Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) was showing them around town and brought them to a reception I was attending. We chatted for a while before they went on their merry way.

“Merry” is actually an understatement. Those candidates were positively joyful. They seemed genuinely thrilled to be running for office. Only one had ever run for something before. The rest felt compelled to get involved after the 2016 election.

Governor-elect JB Pritzker has taken the prospect of an immediate income-tax hike off the table, telling the Sun-Times that he won’t pursue an “artificial” progressive income tax during the coming spring legislative session.

The last column I write before an election day is always the toughest because some papers will publish this before election day and others will publish it after. So today you get a yard-sign story.

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