With Stan Leach choosing not to run for re-election this year after 12 years in office, a pair of city-council members are seeking to replace him.

Although the election is nonpartisan, there's a clear choice among the candidates politically.

She'd give him a real run for his money.

Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has a new poll that shows her trailing Governor Rod Blagojevich by just three points in a head-to-head matchup.

Using just about any test, the numbers are real.

Dan Hynes is slowly working his way back to the top.

Hynes was once the brightest of Illinois' young political stars. After winning his first statewide race for Illinois comptroller in 1998, the then-30-year-old Democrat's future looked limitless.

Almost half of the entire Illinois House has signed up to sponsor a pro-life bill this year.

The proposal is an exact replica of a federal law that ostensibly protects infants who are "born alive" during botched abortion procedures.

Senate President Emil Jones was not treated too well during his 10 years as Senate minority leader.

The majority Republicans locked him out of the room and killed most of his members' bills. His fellow Democrat, House Speaker Michael Madigan, treated Jones like a junior associate, occasionally helping him out, but not doing all that much to backstop him in the process.

One of the problems with applying "appearance of impropriety" rules to Illinois and Chicago politics is that most of the players are swimming in a very small political pond.

We're constantly treated to stories about how this or that political insider connected with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is representing a company that just landed a sweet city contract.

You could physically feel the political ground shifting last week as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he would no longer accept campaign contributions from city contractors and members of their immediate families.

The reaction by the Religious Right to the passage of a gay-rights law in Illinois has been predictably loud and aggrieved. But the law's critics have universally zeroed in on one key argument - a claim that churches and religious institutions will now be forced by the government to hire gays and lesbians.

Red Burchyett is getting his wheelchair and his job back.

That's good news for Mr. Burchyett, who was laid off several weeks ago from his mechanic's job at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Politics is a numbers game. And votes, dollars, and favors are the only numbers that matter.

The boys who play politics at the street level never forget their numbers. They can tell you how many votes they pulled out of Precinct 22 three elections ago, or how much money they raised for some nobody judge in '96, or the name of their neighbor's mother's cousin that they helped out of that jam that one time.

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