The paranoia level is pretty much at an all-time high at the Illinois Statehouse. Walk past House Speaker Michael Madigan's office and there's a good chance you'll see him standing in the hallway talking on his cell phone.
I'm not sure how long it will last, but black voters in Cook County are united and fired up right now like they haven't been in a long time. It goes back to Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic primary victory, but it flamed back up in January, when Chicago's historic Pilgrim Baptist Church burned down.
Alexi Giannoulias has big trouble ahead. As I write this, the wealthy, young, telegenic Democratic candidate for treasurer was favored to win this week's primary. U.S. Senator Barack Obama appears in his TV ad, and the latest Chicago Tribune poll shows Giannoulias leading downstater Paul Mangieri by 14 points.
After reading Marty Kovarik's sworn statement for the Jim Oberweis campaign last week, I came to the conclusion that his story has more holes in it than Dick Cheney's hunting buddy. Kovarik was Judy Baar Topinka's deputy treasurer in 1995.
As I write this, Governor Rod Blagojevich has made a real mess of things at the Illinois Statehouse. Through his inept handling of a silly little matter, he has managed to pit black legislators against Jewish legislators and Jews against each other.
It would have been almost unthinkable several months ago that if Governor Rod Blagojevich had a primary challenger, he would emerge from the primary stronger than when he went in. The scandals are never-ending, his poll numbers suck, and the discontent with his tenure is wide and deep, even among many in his own party.
The Ron Gidwitz campaign had a stark warning for Judy Baar Topinka last week. "If you think this ad is tough, just wait." Gidwitz, who is running for governor as a Republican, aired the first negative ad of the campaign last week, then dismissed Topinka's rebuttals as mere whining and vowed he would ignore any attempt by the Illinois Republican Party to browbeat him into pulling the spot.
The latest Chicago Tribune poll appears to track closely with recent polls conducted by two Republican statewide contenders. The Tribune poll found Judy Baar Topinka leading the GOP governor's race with 38 percent, followed by Jim Oberweis at 17 percent, Ron Gidwitz finally breaking into double digits with 11 percent, and Bill Brady bringing up the rear at 8 percent.
For years, the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI) has been one of the most successful lobbies at the Illinois statehouse. The victory that comes immediately to mind was when ABDI teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to prevent direct sales of out-of-state wine to consumers.
There are plenty of ways to look at who won or lost last week's gubernatorial debate between the four Republican candidates. On pure style points, I think Jim Oberweis won big. His performance was positively Reagan-esque.