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Illinois Govt

Daniel Biss holds Town Hall at Illinois College

Thomas Clatterbuck



Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss began his tour of college at Illinois College in Jacksonville last night. Speaking to a crowd of more than 100 students and community members, Sen. Biss spoke on both his personal journey in politics as well as his platform. He shared his path from mathematics professor to community organizer to state senator, and the hardships that came along the way.

Campaign finance was one of the primary topics of the night. Biss spoke repeatedly about not being a billionaire. Instead, he joked that he was probably only barely a “thousandaire.” Two of his opponents in the primary, Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker, have contributed vast amounts of their own money to their respective campaigns, as has Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Biss warned that a Pritzker victory would likely doom the Democratic Party to view personal wealth as a prerequisite for governor, even if Pritzker proved to be an effective leader. This is not to say that Biss is at an impossible fundraising disadvantage. Biss told his supporters they have actually raised more cash than Kennedy.

During the Q&A session, Biss explained his support for a “ranked choice” voting system. Ranked choice allows voters to rank the choices on the ballot instead of casting a single vote, which supporters argue gives voters a better voice in elections. He also discussed how strengthening the funding for publicly funded elections would lessen the importance of big donations. A bill he passed in the Senate would provide candidates a publicly funded option with a 6:1 state match for small donations. After the event, Biss told me that his plan had a statewide cap of $50 million, and so did not represent an uncapped liability for the state.

You can watch the full town hall below:

The Democratic primary for governor will be held March 20. To learn more about Daniel Biss or the other candidates running for governor, check out our Campaign Headquarters.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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Illinois Govt

Anti-abortion group rescinds endorsement in Illinois governor race



A state senator is defending using money from pro-union groups to go after House Republicans, a move that cost him an endorsement from an anti-abortion group.

Just last week, Conservative Party gubernatorial candidate Sam McCann, who is a Republican state senator from Plainview, picked up the endorsement of Illinois Family Action for his anti-abortion position.

“With early voting for the November general election underway, we want to remind you how important it is to exercise your civic duty to vote and be good stewards of God’s amazing gift of self-government,” IFA Executive Director David Smith said in a video posted online Oct. 12. “McCann … share[s] our conservative Christian values and we urge you to support [him] when you cast your ballot.”

Then this week, McCann sent out mailers against an anti-abortion Republican calling him a “Rauner RINO,” or Republican in name only.

Smith said that triggered his board to decide to take back its endorsement, a first for the group.

“What Sam McCann is doing with this mailer is actually enabling a pro-abortion Democrat to get an upper hand on a pro-life incumbent state lawmaker,” Smith said.

With McCann getting big dollars from union interests, Smith said it’s clear to him McCann is more interested in fighting “right to work” candidates than supporting anti-abortion candidates.

“That’s what it really is about,” Smith said. “So we were misled. We were lied to. We were deceived.”

McCann dismissed Smith’s criticism, saying he’s 110 percent anti-abortion. He said it’s the House Republicans that are falling in line with incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who McCann has called the state’s most liberal Democratic governor in history.

“Is it really about being conservative and leading or is it about being sheep and getting re-elected,” McCann said.

McCann this month alone has gotten $1.2 million from a group called Fight Back Fund that supports union politics. He said that’s money from a mix of people in unions who support his campaign.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said what McCann is doing with that union support is effectively working to give more power to Democrats, and, by extension, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

McCann said that’s not true.

“To use the governor’s term, that’s baloney,” McCann said. “What we’re doing is we’re calling people out.”

One of McCann’s targets, Palatine state Rep. Tom Morrison, said it’s imperative Republicans maintain and gain seats in the House to stop Madigan’s use of a supermajority. He said a supermajority would allow Democrats to push an agenda that’s wrong for Illinois.

McCann said Republicans and Smith are doing Rauner’s bidding.

Smith said IFA is now telling voters to support none of the above in the gubernatorial race.

Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit 

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2018 Election

Minority campaign staffers sue Pritzker, claiming discrimination



Photo from J.B. Pritzker's Facebook page

A group of African-American and Latino campaign staffers have filed federal discrimination charges against billionaire J.B. Pritzker, Democratic hopeful for Illinois governor.

The suit alleges Pritzker’s campaign routinely marginalizes minority workers.

“Although they hire African Americans and Latinos as campaign workers, the vast majority are herded into race-specific positions where they are expected to interact with the public, offered no meaningful chance for advancement, and receive less favorable treatment than their white counterparts who engage with, as the campaign sees it, a more desirable constituency,” the complaint says.

The lawsuit comes just weeks before Pritzker will face Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner in one of the most expensive state elections in national history.

The complaint also alleges that the campaign placed minority staffers in “unsafe locations,” placing them in danger.

The lawsuit says that the campaign workers asked when Pritzker would visit their office. They say the campaign responded, “He’ll visit when they stop shooting.”

Pritzker’s campaign was not immediately available for comment, but Pritzker’s Lt. Gov. candidate, Juliana Stratton, said in a statement that “we had a letter delivered to us asking for $7.5 million dollars in 24 hours or they threatened legal action and to go to press. That’s not a good faith effort.”

Shay Allen, a Chicago-based civil rights attorney who represents the plaintiffs, says Stratton’s statement is false, adding that Stratton has never reached out to any of his clients despite their complaints to the campaign.

“I have no idea how the person who made that statement could make those claims,” he said. “I’m positive that she’s never spoken to my plaintiffs.”

Allen said his clients were treated poorly.

“There were instances where they were spoken to very unprofessionally,” he said. “There were instances of physical intimidation.”

Allen said his clients are asking for more effort on behalf of Pritzker’s campaign to include minorities in positions of consequence, something he claims has almost exclusively gone to white staffers.

“Almost all of them have prior [campaign] experience,” he said. “A couple have come from other states to help with the campaign.”

Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Travis Sterling said Pritzker must answer for his actions.

“Here, we have his own staffers – seasoned political operatives – alleging racial discrimination and harassment,” Sterling said. “We have heard from Pritzker’s own mouth referring to black elected officials as ‘offensive’ on an FBI wiretap with Rod Blagojevich. It’s finally time for J.B. Pritzker to answer for his actions.”

The suit was filed Tuesday in the northern federal district of Illinois. The plaintiffs, Maxwell Little, Jason Benton, Jelani Coleman, Celia Colon, Kasmine Calhoun, Erica Kimble, Nathaniel Madison, Tiffany Madison, James Tinsley, and Mark Walker, are represented by Shay T. Walker. The Chicago defense attorney’s firm represented one of the three officers that were fired for beating a man in 2015.

Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit

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2018 Election

Manar condemns negative ad featuring his children

Thomas Clatterbuck



Attack ads are an unfortunate element of modern politics. There is a certain level of name calling and criticism that is expected in these ads, and generally candidates take these attacks in stride. But there are still some lines that both candidates and the public think should not be crossed. One such line is using a candidate’s family or children in an attack ad.

Yesterday, the Rodney Davis campaign responded to an EMILY’s List ad that featured his children. Davis, who has championed civility in politics, called the ad “a new low,” and said that, “kids are off limits in politics.”  So it was particularly poor timing for fellow Republican Seth McMillan to drop an ad with State Senator Andy Manar’s children in it. The ad, which pulled footage from a pro-Manar ad, shows several seconds of Manar’s children while discussing the senator’s record on taxes.

In a statement on Facebook, Manar said, “My opponent is at it again. This week he’s using images of my children in an attack ad.  So let’s review the McMillan campaign: first he got caught lying on Facebook about my vote on the Coffeen Power Plant, then the State Journal-Register caught him lying on Facebook about my position on term limits, then he issued a “challenge” to me to debate him even though we have had four and he chose to skip one, he has over a dozen open ethics violations and he’s served on the Christian County Ethics Commission, and now he’s using images of my children in a negative ad as if there aren’t enough pictures out there on the internet of me to use.” 

Manar went on to call on voters to “reject” this type of politics.

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