Last Saturday, the Illinois Constitution Party met in northwest Chicago for their annual state convention. The main order of business was to pick nominees for governor and lieutenant governor. William J. Kelly was nominated for governor and Chad Koppie was nominated for lieutenant governor.
Kelly previously announced his intent to run as a Republican, but ultimately decided not to. Kelly ran for Comptroller in the 2010 Republican primary. He finished second, behind Judy Baar Topinka and ahead of Jim Dodge (this year’s sole Republican treasurer candidate).
Chad Koppie has also sought political office. In 2016, he ran as the Constitution Party’s write-in candidate for U.S. Senate.
Kelly’s announcement to run for governor came as a shock to some people following the Constitution Party. Prior to his announcement, it was assumed that Randy Stufflebeam was going to be the nominee. He announced his intent to run in late 2016, but changed his mind due to unforeseen circumstances. Stufflebeam ran as a write-in candidate for governor in 2006.
Kelly’s nomination was peculiar not just because of Stufflebeam’s decision to not run, but also because he was neither a member of the Illinois Constitution Party nor physically present at the convention. Despite the circumstances, he was nominated with a set of conditions.
- He must become a member.
- He must sign an affirmation or oath stating that he understands and will uphold the party’s platform.
- He must give confirmation within 7 days of the convention.
On Thursday, the Illinois Constitution Party’s Facebook page put out the following statement.
THE CONSTITUTION PARTY OF ILLINOIS HAS NOMINATED WILLIAM J. KELLY TO BE ITS GOVERNOR CANDIDATE.
Chicago, Illinois – March 15, 2018 – Randy Stufflebeam, Chairman of the Constitution Party of Illinois, has issued the following statement regarding the race for Illinois Governor:
“Based on the latest polls, it looks like two billionaires – one Democrat and one Republican – are likely to win their parties’ nominations on March 20th. Are either of these candidates committed to a constitutional government or are they committed to corrupt government?” asked Stufflebeam. “The time is right for a candidate who is committed to the three pillars of Integrity, Liberty, & Prosperity and a constitutionally correct government and that candidate is William J. Kelly. He was born and raised in Illinois. William Kelly has demonstrated his passion for truth and has stood up over and over again against the corruption in both parties – Democrat and Republican. He is a proven fighter who has fought for Illinois taxpayers and their families for twenty years and he will continue to fight for all of us at the ballot box in November. The Constitution Party of Illinois is proud to nominate William J. Kelly as our candidate for Governor.”
“I am very proud and honored to be part of the Constitution Party of Illinois’ effort to rebuild Illinois and our country, state by state,” said William J. Kelly. “This year marks Illinois’ bicentennial and after 200 years, the two major parties have all but destroyed our State, but not our hopes and dreams. At a Chicago meeting in 1860, a little known third party nominated Abraham Lincoln to be its candidate for President. That third party was the Republican Party. Today, it’s time for a new third party and I am proud to be following in the footsteps of Illinois’ favorite son, President Abraham Lincoln.”
Chad Koppie has also been nominated to be Kelly’s running mate for Lt. Governor.
The Constitution Party is the fifth largest political party in the United States. It is a socially and fiscally conservative party that makes frequent mention of the Founding Fathers throughout its platform. Read more about the Constitution Party’s platform here.
The Illinois Constitution Party will need to collect 25,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Democrats and Republicans require just 5,000.
Congressional Candidate Junius Rodriguez w/ Thomas Clatterbuck
In this episode of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show, we had congressional candidate Junius Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the Democratic challenger in the 18th Congressional District.
Rodriguez has held numerous town hall events this season. The feedback from these events drove much of our discussion. One of the major themes from these events was access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. In addition to costs, just keeping hospitals open in smaller communities is a serious concern. Rodriguez talked about how rollbacks in Medicare and Medicaid funding have restricted access to healthcare in the district.
Rodriguez is a college professor at Eureka College, and we spoke about the student loan crisis. He explained how easy access to loans from the government allowed colleges to expand “creature comforts” and other expenses. To help remedy the situation, he proposed various loan forgiveness programs based on public service.
Finally, we discussed the unpleasant issue of human trafficking. Rodriguez’s area of study is slavery, both historical and contemporary. He was able to explain the factors that drive trafficking, and some of what can be done to stop it.
We also touched on a number of other issues, including net neutrality, climate change, and tariffs. You can watch the full interview in the player.
To learn more about Junius Rodriguez, and the other candidates in the 18th, check out our Campaign Headquarters page.
You can see all the past episodes of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show on the Springfield Daily Radio page.
Campaign contribution typo leads to online rumors around the 48th Senate District
A local Republican candidate got an important reminder this week that the internet is fast, and the internet is forever. State Senate candidate Seth McMillan found this out the hard way after a typo in his A-1 campaign contribution filings. Shelly Grigoroff was reportedly paid $1,207,325 for work she had done. In reality, she was paid just $1,207.25. Once identified, this typo was quickly corrected by the McMilan team.
Not quickly, enough, however. The error was pointed out both by the Macoupin County Democrats, and by the news site Capitol Fax. Despite the fact that it was obviously a typo, commentators were able to both make an issue out of the erroneous filing. Given the comical level of pay the typo reported, it proved impossible to resist.
McMillan took the issue in stride. When asked for a statement, he said, “It’s amazing that this is all the opposition has to talk about!”
Illinois Republicans voice opposition to mileage tax
It is no secret that Illinois needs to improve its roads and bridges. Both Republicans and Democrats can agree that we need to invest in infrastructure development. But how we should pay for it is another matter. Most road projects are supported by the gas tax. While this tax worked well for many years, in recent years it has not generated sufficient revenue. Competing government objectives are partly to blame for the shortfalls. Government mandates for better fuel efficiency have reduced the amount of gas people need to buy. Now, the same amount of driving generates less gas tax revenue.
One idea to generate new revenue is a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) tax, or just a mileage tax. Conceptually, it is very simple: drivers pay a fee based on the number of miles they travel. In practice, there are significant issues in implementing such a tax. Mileage taxes have a unique infrastructure issue in addition to all of the normal political issues regarding new taxes.
The technology problem
Mileage taxes do not enjoy the same bureaucratic infrastructure that helps with normal taxation. There is already a record of every transaction for the gas tax or other sales tax. Property taxes have the assessment system to know how much a property is worth. But even though every car has an odometer, there is no centralized tracking of how many miles any particular vehicle has traveled.
Relying on individuals to report their mileage would likely prove unreliable and inconvenient. Without some independent reading of the odometer, people might misreport how many miles they traveled, just as online sales tax long went under-reported. It would also be a huge pain for taxpayers. Annual or quarterly reporting would stick drivers with huge bills. More frequent reporting would result in smaller bills, but higher compliance costs.
Some technical solution would thus be necessary to ensure compliance. Only tracking the change in mileage could be done in a relatively nonintrusive way. But such a simple measure would not be sufficient. It is doubtful Illinois could levy a tax on miles driven in other states, or miles driven on privately owned roads. More sophisticated tracking would thus be necessary to tell when a vehicle traveled taxable miles. GPS tracking would be highly reliable for this, but raises major privacy concerns.
The political problems
Any mileage tax system would necessarily introduce some degree of increased government surveillance. The systems that would be legal to implement require high levels of GPS tracking. That alone would make a mileage tax politically toxic.
But there are other issues that make a mileage tax unpopular. Rural areas would be hit hardest due to the longer distances residents travel. Farmers would be hit particularly hard. And of course, any new tax is a tax increase, which historically is not popular. A VMT would raise the general tax burden in the state, which is already much higher than our neighbors.
Although Republicans from other states have expressed interest in the idea of a mileage tax, Illinois Republicans have come out strongly against the idea. Governor Bruce Rauner has repeatedly spoken out against the idea. He highlighted the technical necessity of a tracking device for any such scheme to work. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-95) also noted that the privacy was “another reason” to oppose a mileage tax. Congressman Rodney Davis (R13) said that he was “not as big a proponent of the VMT” as other revenue options. Davis said that the tracking issue would “impact” the ability to pass a mileage tax at the federal level.
Rauner and other Republicans have used the mileage tax issue in their attacks on the Democrats as well. Rauner has repeatedly claimed that JB Pritzker wants to implement a mileage tax. Although Pritzker has said the idea is “worth exploring,” Pritzker has denied having a plan to implement such a tax. Democrats have pushed mileage taxes in the past, but the effort was withdrawn in the face of stiff opposition. That plan had options for both GPS tracking and flat-fee options.
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