Posts Tagged ‘illinois politics’

By John Ruberry

America’s worst big city mayor, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, finds herself in trouble again. 

Last week, Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, reported that Lightfoot’s deputy campaign manager, Megan Crane, sent an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers and City Colleges of Chicago instructors, telling them the campaign was seeking students to volunteer as “externs” for Lightfoot’s reelection effort. “Lightfoot for Chicago is seeking resumes from any volunteer interested in campaign politics and eager to gain experience in the field,” the email read. Later in that message comes a quasi-bribe, “Externs are expected to devote 12hrs/wk to the campaign. Students are eligible to earn class credit through our volunteer program.”

When the email became public, the campaign quickly defended its call for volunteers, avowing in a statement that the request was done “to provide young people with the opportunity to engage with our campaign, learn more about the importance of civic engagement and participate in the most American of processes.”

But in a second statement, the campaign said it would “cease contact with CPS employees” citing an “abundance of caution.”

Finally, a couple of hours later, in a third statement, they finally surrendered. “All campaign staff have been reminded about the solid wall that must exist between campaign and official activities and that contacts with any city of Chicago, or other sister agency employees, including CPS employees,” the campaign said, “even through publicly available sources is off limits. Period.”

Last summer, after Willie Wilson, a gadfly candidate who is running for mayor, gathered a lot of attention for gasoline and grocery giveaways, Lightfoot followed suit with her giveaways. But unlike Wilson’s generosity, the mayor’s handouts were paid for by taxpayers.

Laura Washington, a liberal Chicago Tribune columnist, had this to say back in August in a behind-the-paywall op-ed:

Thanks to an “avalanche” of federal stimulus funds, Lightfoot is “running for reelection armed with a seemingly bottomless gift bag of giveaways that includes everything from gas cards, Ventra cards, bicycles, locks and helmets to more than $1,000-per-household in rebates to defray the cost of security cameras, outdoor motion sensor lighting, cloud storage and GPS trackers to hunt down vehicles in the event of an auto theft or carjacking,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported in June. 

Lightfoot’s “Chicago Moves,” is the city’s $12 million transit response to skyrocketing fuel costs and inflation. It will distribute up to 50,000 prepaid $150 gas cards and 100,000 prepaid $50 transit cards to Chicago residents. 

Earlier this year, Lightfoot pushed through a controversial guaranteed income program for low-income families. The pilot program will provide no-strings-attached $500 payments to 5,000 Chicago families per month for a year. The recipients were chosen through a lottery system.

“By coincidence,” Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery sarcastically opined this morning on his Flannery Fired Up program, “each [gas and public transit] card had Mayor Lighfoot’s name emblazoned right on it.”

The ACLU of Illinois forcefully condemned the campaign’s call for student volunteers. “It is striking that Mayor Lightfoot presented herself four years ago as a candidate who would eschew the old corrupt patronage ways of Chicago politics,” the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement, “Now her campaign employs practices that harken back to the worst days of the Chicago political machine.”

And the ACLU of Illinois says the call-for-volunteers email may have violated federal law.

Crime has skyrocketed since Lightfoot took office. And it shouldn’t surprise you that Chicago’s population is declining. “The city is dying,” former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass has said at least a couple of times in his Chicago Way podcast.

Lightfoot faces eight opponents in next month’s first round of voting for mayor. In the likely scenario that no candidate achieves a majority in the initial round, the top two candidates face the voters again in April.

In the only opinion poll so far on this race, Lightfoot finished third.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Lori Lightfoot

 By John Ruberry

A poll with surprising findings was released on Thursday by Fox Chicago about Chicago’s mayoral election on Friday. Yeah, yeah, I know, many political polls about the recently concluded congressional elections were wrong, and there were serious polling errors in 2016 and 2018 as well. But stick with me here.

The mayoral poll, conducted by M3 Strategies, shows that US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is favored by 28 percent of respondents, followed by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas at 19 percent, incumbent Lori Lightfoot at 15 percent, and Willie Wilson, a businessman and philanthropist, at 13 percent. 

There are eleven candidates for mayor of America’s third-largest–for now–city, although petition challenges might winnow the field. The first round of voting, along with races for alderpersons in each of Chicago’s 50 wards, as well as for city clerk and treasurer, will be held on February 28, if no candidates achieve a majority in their races, the top two candidates are matched in an April runoff. 

So, if the poll is correct, that means that Lori Lightfoot, who in my opinion is America’s worst big city mayor, she won’t make it to the second round. Lightfoot’s term in mayor has been disastrous on many levels–too many to list here.

On the latest episode Fox Chicago Flannery Fired Up show, host Mike Flannery said about crime, “nearly three-fourths of Chicago voters now say is their number one issue.” Lightfoot, as a candidate said that the crime levels of 2019 were “unacceptable.” Flannery then fact checked Lightfoot’s recent statement that “we are down 15 percent in homicides, 20 percent in shootings.” But those are numbers looking back to last year. Flannery did the right thing, scolding Lightfoot.

“When she took office in 2019,” Flannery said, “she inherited a dramatically declining rate of bloody street violence, but the medical examiner reports that homicides this year are 41 percent higher than in 2019.”

It’s easy to understand why Lightfoot is polling so terribly. M3 Strategy’s Matt Podgorski was a guest on that Flannery Fired Up installment, of the incumbent he said, “You’re looking at a situation where [there is] a negative view of 74 percent of likely voters and about 70 percent of them think she does not deserve another term. Only two percent of Chicago voters haven’t formed an opinion of Mayor Lightfoot.”

“Those are unprecedently bad numbers,” Podgorski concluded.

I can’t see a way out for Lightfoot. Apparently, Chicago voters, up to a point, aren’t completely stupid. 

Besides her inability to stem Chicago’s rise in violence–which her apologists point out is part of a national increase in mayhem while failing to mention that Los Angeles and New York, which are more populous, have lower murder totals–Lightfoot’s petulant and overbearing COVID-19 lockdown policy produced a tragic irony. After she spotted a large group of males congregating on a beach, the next day she ordered Chicago police officers to enforce the closure of that beach. Later that day, cops did next to nothing as rioters tore up and looted Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue shopping district. 

Lightfoot has acted bizarrely, once allegedly told an Italian-American group who supports the return of Chicago’s Christopher Columbus statues to public view, “I have the biggest d*ck in Chicago.” She once went full-Jack Nicholson in The Shining in a repetitive email rant. 

Chicago voters, as I alluded earlier, still have much room for improvement. Chuy Garcia, then a Cook County commissioner, surprisingly forced incumbent Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in the 2015 mayoral race, running to the left of Emanuel. In 2016 Garcia endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. Last year the leftist magazine In These Times, in a collaboration with the Chicago Reader, gushingly wrote of Garcia’s working with the Squad in Washington, “It’s not surprising that García has taken up with Congress’ left rebels.” 

Garcia enjoys a sizeable lead in the Fox Chicago poll. Garcia collected $2,900 from indicted FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Worse, the Protect our Futures PAC spent over $150,000 on glossy mailers to introduce Garcia to new voters in his redrawn congressional district, even though Chuy was running unopposed in the November election.

Buying something, SBF?

What about the other two top contenders to replace Lightfoot? Willie Wilson, a gadfly candidate who somehow has convinced some Chicago conservatives he is one of them, can arguably–because of his regular grocery and gasoline giveaways--be called a vote buyer. Paul Vallas, another perennial candidate, is the only mayoral candidate talking real sense about crime. Unless I missed something, he’s the only mayoral candidate who is explicitly critical of Cook County’s catch-and-release prosecutor, Kim Foxx. 

Whoever is Chicago’s next mayor, the, ahem, winner faces a monumental series of challenges. Besides crime, the mayor will have to cope with a declining tax base, as businesses are fleeing. And Chicago’s pension bomb looms–eventually it will explode. Chicago is the most corrupt city in America. And what about the lead in Chicago’s water pipes?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

On the evening of November 8, a woman from Skokie, Illinois, which is the town just east of where I live, was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Interstate 55 just south of Springfield, Illinois. 

The victim, Lauren Wegner, 35, by all accounts a wonderful woman, was fatally injured when a GMC Sierra, according to police officials driven by Shane Woods, 44 of Auburn, Illinois, drove the wrong way on the interstate.

The Chicago media and other sources in the Prairie State have been repeatedly reporting on this story. And a primary reason for its deep interest in it appears to be because Woods, also known as Shane Castleman, pleaded guilty in September to assaulting a Capitol Police officer and a media photographer during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in January. Woods faces up to eight years in prison for those crimes. Woods of course faces much more serious prison time if he is found guilty of killing Wegner–from 20 to 60 years. He has been charged with first degree murder, eluding a police officer, aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, and aggravated fleeing. Woods is being held in the Sangamon County Jail, bail has been denied.

Once again, and probably not for the last time, I feel it is important that I unequivocally denounce the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Those people who stormed the Capitol on that sad day, including Woods, who destroyed property and attacked people deserve to be punished.

But just like MSNBC, the Illinois media can’t let go of obsessing over January 6. In regard to the Wegner death, the worst example of that obsession in regard to the Woods story is a State Journal-Register article from November 16 that was as much about the Capitol riot and Donald Trump as it was about the victim. The piece even mentions two men from Springfield who also allegedly participated in the riot–both of whom have no connection to the accident that killed Wegner. Was that necessary?

Absolutely, the January 6 angle is a valid part of the story of the fatal accident, as it appears Woods may have been trying to commit suicide when he started his SUV on the evening of November 8.

Here are some of the Illinois media headlines of stories that I found about the deadly car accident after a Google News search. Yes, some national outlets picked up the story too.

Also, Shia Kapos’ Politico Illinois Playbook newsletter linked to January 6/Woods stories on November 14, 16, 17, and 23.

Media obsession over January 6? I believe so. But I expect the drumbeat to continue. As for Woods, he is a despicable person.

Memorial contributions in the name of Lauren Wegner can be made to Community Animal Rescue Effort of Skokie (carenorthshore.org).

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

I was around for the 1994 and the 2010 Red Wave elections. And for the most part, they were pretty awesome, particularly the first one, when the Republican Party bulldozed the Democrats and captured the Senate after eight years of Democrat control, as well as the House of Representatives, after a record 52-year reign by the Dems. And while the GOP didn’t win the Senate in 2010, the Republicans gained an astounding 63 House seats in what is now known as the Tea Party election. 

After both midterms, conservatives salivated at the prospect of the next presidential election. In 1992, Bill Clinton was victorious, it was believed, because George H.W. Bush ran a lackluster campaign–that was true–and votes for third-party candidate Ross Perot siphoned enough support from the GOP conservative base to elect the Democrat. In 2008, the feeling was that John McCain never had a chance against Barack Obama after the Great Recession market crash two months before Election Day. But McCain ran a lackluster campaign too. 

Overconfidence, bordering on hubris, kicked in for the GOP after those Red Waves.

As of this writing there will be a Democrat majority in the Senate in the next Congress, and maybe, a razor-thin Republican majority in the House. 

Bubba had a come-to-Jesus moment–having Dick Morris in his camp helped–and Clinton after the ’94 midterms pivoted to the center by declaring, “The era of big government is over.” The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, widely-known as the Welfare Reform Bill, offered tangible proof.

After what Obama deemed “a shellacking” in 2010, Obama, as he does best, talked a good game–but he didn’t pivot. With no hope of getting unpopular legislation, such as cap-and-trade passed by the new GOP House, he channeled his charisma to win in 2012–as conservatives seethed. And ObamaCare didn’t go into effect until 2013.

Besides over-confidence hindering their White House chances, Republicans nominated country club-flavor Republicans, Bob Dole and Mitt Romney, for president in 1996 and 2012, respectively. In essence, their campaign was, “I’m not the other guy.” Yawn.

As of this writing there will be a Democrat majority in the Senate in the next Congress, and maybe, a razor-thin Republican majority in the House. 

Election denial.

It’s time for the GOP to look at what went wrong this year, starting with election-denial. As I wrote in March, Joe Biden versus Donald Trump was not a free and fair election. Big Tech and media meddling in regard to suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story, in my opinion, was the foremost reason. Richard M. Nixon was the victim of a suspicious presidential election tally in 1960. I was a child in 1968 and 1972, but I don’t recall reading about Nixon mentioning the 1960 race at all during his ’68 or ’72 successful presidential runs.

Deal with it. The Dems won in 2020 and we lost. Move on. If Trump runs in 2024, that needs to be his message. Most of the candidates in close races who said that Biden stole the election from Trump in 2020 were defeated. Election denial is toxic for Republicans.

The big winner in the midterms was Florida governor Ron DeSantis. He’s not an election denier and he has a solid list of accomplishments to point to after four years in office.

The new election playing field.

I loathe mail-in voting, “election season” instead of Election Day, and ballot drop-boxes. But these things aren’t going away. To prevail, Republicans have to adapt and find ways to perform better on the new playing field. Mail-in voting is a good place to start. Increasingly, the GOP is the party of private sector jobholders. Let’s say you’re a construction worker raising a family who is told by his boss, “Hey, I need you at this worksite tomorrow in Nebraska–it pays well.” But that worker hasn’t voted yet and Election Day is two days away. Meanwhile, in Blue Illinois, Election Day is a holiday for government workers.

What if it snows on Election Day? That happened in a Republican area in Nevada last Tuesday.

Shortly before Election Day in 2016, my mother was hospitalized. She had voted in every presidential election since 1956, but mom wasn’t able to vote for Trump, much to her disappointment. We need to reach out to seniors and, gently of course, convince them to utilize mail-in or early voting. 

Republicans need to build on its increasing support among Hispanics and reach out to Asians. The GOP is the party of law and order. However, the media wing of the Democratic Party labels the phrase “law and order” as racist. So Republicans need to rebrand and become, let’s say, the “safety and security” party. Safety and security is an appeal that will resonate among all racial groups.

Tribalism.

If the increasingly frail and mentally feeble Joe Biden runs for reelection and wins renomination–the Democrats won’t have a strong campaigner like Clinton or Obama on the top of the ticket in ’24. And Biden has already said that he won’t pivot, as Bill Clinton did, to the center now that the midterms have passed.

Woo-hoo! We’re gonna win!

Slow down there, cowboy.

Republicans face disaster if they underestimate the support Biden will enjoy from the tribalist base of the Democrats. That tribe will vote every candidate who has a “D” next to their name. In the Chicago area, I live among millions of these people. They might wise up one day. Maybe they won’t. But as Dan Bongino said numerous times in the last week, “Things are just not bad enough yet for a lot of people to wake up from the Kool-Aid slumber.”

And it’s not just Illinois that is afflicted by Dem tribalism. Pennsylvanians chose a cognitively challenged far-left US Senate candidate, John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke this spring, over a mentally nimble Republican candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz. True, Oz could have run a better campaign. 

Ronald Reagan, in his 1984 landslide win over Walter Mondale, won 49 states. But in the popular vote–yeah, I know, the Electoral College declares the victor–Mondale still collected more than 40 percent. In 2024, even if Biden is in worse physical and mental shape than Fetterman is, he’ll do much better, courtesy of tribalism, than Mondale did, in both the Electoral College and the popular vote.

Fetterman, if by some other-worldly convergence ends up as the Democrat nominee for president in 2024, could match Mondale’s popular vote percentage. I am dead serious about that. Tribalism is a tough nut to crack.

There is much to think about and much to do for the Republican Party. But at least the GOP won’t be overconfident in 2024. That might be the best news out of this Red Ripple election.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.