Last year, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she would not seek reelection in 2018. With no obvious successor, the Democratic field was suddenly wide open. In all, eight candidates for a range of backgrounds began their quest for the nomination.
The Illinois Democratic County Chair’s Association brought all of the Democratic candidates to Springfield last night. Their forum, hosted in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, gave the candidate a chance to display both their political ideologies and personal qualifications for the office.
For most of the evening, the candidates took very similar stances to one another. They promised to stand up to President Trump on his immigration policies. They expressed support for the LGBTQ community, organized labor, and abortion. Flint, Michigan was the common example for ensuring environmental protections; and they saw open meetings as key for fighting public corruption. As Jesse Ruiz pointed out on several occasion, “we’re all Democrats up here.”
Candidate also lamented the under-funding of the Attorney General’s Office. They pointed out that the office is actually a revenue-generating office because of their successful lawsuits against white-collar criminals. After the forum, I asked Aaron Goldstein if the state could save money by allocating more resources to the courts and speeding up the legal process. He responded, “To ask that question is to answer it.” The costs of injustice, including wrongful conviction payouts, exceeds the costs of properly funding public defenders and courts from the outset.
Campaign finance was the one area where the candidates took different stances, and often attacked other candidates, initially subtly but increasingly directly as the evening went on. Mayor Rotering, Jesse Ruiz, and Governor Quinn stated that the donations they have accepted from energy companies and utilities would not impact their ability to advocate for the people. Rep. Drury, Aaron Goldstein, Sharon Fairley, and Renato Mariotti disagreed, saying the Attorney General should absolutely not take money from industries they know they will be overseeing in the future.
The weather was an issue for two of the candidates last night. Rep. Scott Drury arrived halfway through the forum. Kwame Raoul was unable to attend the forum at all, but did eventually arrive. You can watch his remarks here.
To learn more about the candidates for Attorney General, check out our Campaign Headquarters. The primary will be held March 20.
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 ILnews.org
Minority campaign staffers sue Pritzker, claiming discrimination
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 ILnews.org
Manar condemns negative ad featuring his children
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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