November 29, 2023

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Illinois Dems getting in the mud- POLITICO

Welcome to Monday, Illinois. Buckle up because this is not a lazy summer news day.

Gov. JB Pritzker and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch have been making calls to back state Rep. Lisa Hernandez for party chairman, which is setting up a battle royal for Saturday’s election of the leader of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly currently holds the position, and has the backing of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the powerful leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What’s their beef: Pritzker and Welch are concerned that Kelly’s position as a federal office holder as limiting statewide fundraising. A separate committee within the Democratic Party of Illinois has been created to do that, but Pritzker and Welch don’t think it’s doing the job.

It should be noted that federal funds raised by the party can also be spent on state races, but now we’re getting into the weeds of how the party functions.

A top aide to Pritzker’s campaign says more should have been done during the primary to promote vote-by-mail and get-out-the-vote efforts, and political “persuasion” tactics given it’s a competitive election year.

And a spokeswoman for Welch said the speaker believes a “leadership change” is “critical” for fundraising across the board.

What the rules say: Democrats close to party leaders say party bylaws prevent Democrats from getting involved in primaries. “We have an obligation to stay neutral when Democrats are running against each other,” according to one person.

What it comes down to: Pritzker’s team says Illinois Democrats don’t run the party the way other states do, and the current team says Illinois has always approached campaign spending this way.

Dollars and cents: The state party has $2.8 million in the bank for federal candidates and $1.4 million in the bank for statewide candidates. It spent $1.6 million on mailers in the primary for Pritzker and Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Pritzker had donated $1.5 million before the primary to help with that. Money from the federal side also was spent on some get-out-the-vote efforts in the Metro East area.

Pritzker’s aides, including chief of staff Anne Caprara and campaign manager Mike Ollen, want to see those numbers higher, and they see Hernandez as someone who can do that.

Hernandez told the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet she launched her run for party leader after Caprara and Ollen contacted her.

Hernandez, who’s on Welch’s leadership team, has an uphill battle convincing the 33 other State Central Committee members that she should lead the organization, given she was only just elected to the committee last month.

Bill Houlihan, a Kelly ally who helps oversee the statewide fundraising, says he’s on the phone nonstop getting donations. “I think Robin Kelly has earned a four-year term,” he told Playbook. “Politics is a game of addition. The more things we can do together is the best way we can elect more Democrats in the state.”

What Pritzker wants: His team wants Kelly to take on an emeritus or cochair role that would free up the Democratic Party account, which now operates under a separate committee. It’s the same pitch Pritzker’s team gave when Kelly was first named party chair last year after former House Speaker Michael Madigan stepped down after running the party for years.

All this drama comes as Democratic National Committee zeroes in on Illinois. DNC Chair Jaime Harrison arrives in Chicago today for a fundraiser with Kelly to benefit the state party. DNC officials will be in Chicago this week scoping out the United Center and other venues in the city’s bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention. And Illinois is in the running to be considered a state for an early primary in 2024.


JB Pritzker’s polite power struggle to control Illinois’ Democratic Party: Derrick Blakley for the Center for Illinois Politics talks to Central Committee members who were supported, or not, by the governor in last month’s primary.

RAILING ON RAILS: A $31 billion rail merger that would transform trade between Canada and Mexico could fall apart without the support of a cluster of suburban Chicago communities that say the increased train traffic threatens residents’ quality of life.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, whose 8th Congressional District includes communities that will see freight train traffic increase, is sending a letter today to Martin Oberman, chairman of the Surface Transportation Board, saying he and Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and Congresswoman Marie Newman “oppose the merger as currently proposed.” They want members of the STB “to come to Illinois to hear directly from impacted communities” before considering the merger.

What’s at stake: Canadian Pacific Railway plans to purchase Kansas City Southern in a deal that would create the largest freight company running from Mexico to Canada via the United States, allowing the three countries to rely less on goods from China. The combined rail line would span 20,000 miles and generate a reported $8.7 billion in annual revenue.

How many trains: Trains would increase from 8 to nearly 15 per day and the length of trains will increase to 2 miles long.

Why Illinois residents care: The freight trains would run through Chicago-area communities, prompting concerns. Itasca, for example, worries the increased freight line would jeopardize safety. Fire and police agencies are all located on the south side of the train line while residents are on the north.

Elgin says aging infrastructure could be jeopardized by the constant rattling of increased train traffic.

Bensenville, where trucks are used to transport cargo from the trains, would see truck traffic go up from 383 trucks per day to 695.

Other communities worry about the environmental impact, including on the Fox River, and on noise pollution. And increased gridlock is a universal worry.

Quality of life: “People have moved toward train lines for the ease of commuting to Chicago. A lot of money has been put into transit development, and now there’s a great concern because quality of life will be affected,” said Judy Pardonnet, who is representing the coalition of communities affected.

Canadian Pacific Railway has acknowledged the concerns to some extent and offered $10 million to mitigate, but the communities say that’s “a drop in the bucket,” according to Pardonnet.

One solution is to build roads that go over or under the train lines to allow traffic to continue unimpeded, but one road alone would cost as much as $100 million.

It’s something the communities hope the STB will take into consideration before approving the rail deal.

Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]

No official public events.

At Museum Campus at 2 p.m. for an announcement along with other city leaders. Look for the mayor to pitch three possible scenarios for the future of Soldier Field, according to Crain’s Greg Hinz.

No official public events.

— PELOSI’s POP-IN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi headlined a fundraiser Sunday at Ivy Room at Tree Studios to support Reps. Bill Foster (IL-11) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14) in their reelection bids and candidates, Nikki Budzinski  running in IL-13 and Eric Sorensen in IL-17. According to Dave Wasserman and the Cook Political Report, Foster and Underwood will likely win their seats, Budzinski’s race leans Democrat, and Sorensen’s race is a toss-up that leans D.

Also spotted: Reps. Danny Davis and Jan Schakowsky, Democratic donor Fred Eychaner, 43rd Ward Committeewoman Lucy Moog, Office of Medicaid Innovation adviser Julie Hamos, Ariel Investments’ John Rogers Jr., JAC executive director Marcia Balonick, attorney Tony Romanucci, Democratic supporters Vicki Hood and Bill Hood, College of Optometry consultant Vince Brandys, marketing exec Carol Franczek and Mary Smith, the incoming president of the American Bar Association.

— KUMBAYA IN THE GOP: After Thursday’s GOP fundraiser, governor candidate Darren Bailey, and his wife, Cindy, House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, Senate GOP Leader Dan McConchie and Republican Party Chair Don Tracy had dinner together “during which we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and vowed to work closely together” to elect Bailey and other statewide candidates, Tracy told subscribers to his weekly email.

Pritzker highlights Normal in campaign ad: The ad for the Democratic governor features Normal Mayor Chris Koos and highlights Rivian, the electric vehicle automaker that has added thousands of jobs to the region. “Though the nearly $50 million in state tax credits that helped attract Rivian to Normal was signed off on during the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Pritzker has since built off that initial investment,” reports Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore. See the ad here

Illinois Democrats at risk of losing majority on state Supreme Court, by Fox 32’s Mike Flannery

Pritzker ‘feeling better,’ tests negative after contracting Covid-19: “Looking forward to getting back to work in person this week,” the governor said in the tweet, via ABC 7.

Union operating engineers reject new contract after weeks-long strike and road construction delays, by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos and Mary Norkol.

Illinois jobless rate falls to lowest point since start of pandemic, by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

Car insurers’ pandemic windfalls prompt a response in Springfield, with consumer-minded reforms planned, by Sun-Times’ Stephanie Zimmermann.

Illinois State Fairgrounds renovations underway, by WICS’ Andre Thomas

Illinois Commerce Commission orders cost/benefit analysis of Ameren’s membership in MISO or another RTO, via Effingham Daily News

Chicago Ald. Michele Smith’s decision to retire leaves a huge hole in the City Council that wannabes are already hoping to fill. As many as eight men and two women have indicated an interest in Smith’s job representing the 43rd Ward, known for council members with a huge voice. They need to represent the Lincoln Park area with its demanding residents who work as top executives and attorneys in Chicago.

Speaking from experience: “I hope the person who’s appointed maintains the strong, independent roots that the ward is known for,” attorney Bill Singer, who represented the ward in the 1970s, told Playbook.

Names popping up to apply: Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Timothy Knudsen, Sheffield Neighborhood Association President Brian Comer, Howe Orchard Burling Neighborhood Association board member Brad Kessler, and restaurant group owner Steve McClellan.

Lori Lightfoot’s showdown with the feds: What’s at stake for people in Chicago:The mayor calls HUD’s accusations that City Hall has engaged in environmental racism ‘preposterous.’ The funding that’s threatened by the dispute includes money that keeps 650 people with HIV or AIDS from living on the street,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.

Downtown is awash in summer tourists. But a key driver of retail activity is missing —  office workers, by Tribune’s Brian J. Rogal

As Chicago’s guaranteed income pilot launches, leaders hope to see work replicated, by WTTW’s Brandis Friedman and Erica Gunderson

With opioid deaths at record levels, users now have a safe space on West Side, by Sun-Times’ Michael Loria

City crossing guards are now under CPS management. The district says it’s improved the program, yet there are dozens of vacant corners, by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz

Lollapalooza’s future in Chicago is uncertain: “As producers negotiate with city officials on a pact to keep Lollapalooza in town, some residents, aldermen and parks advocates wonder if they’ll have any say in the decision — especially after the Chicago Park District quietly executed a one-year contract extension for this year’s festival without any public discussion or vote,” by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz and A.D. Quig.

Welcome to Chicago, Hot Dog Town, U.S.A.: “The Chicago dog has a special place in the city’s heart: a humble, affordable food that anyone can enjoy, across cultures, creeds and proclivities. With French fries, it’s lunch; on its own, a snack. A source of civic pride, the Chicago-style hot dog is a nexus for many people’s relationship to a city they so adore,” via The New York Times.

Her office hit by the pandemic and morale issues, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx struggles to keep up with prosecutor exits: She told officials “at a county board committee hearing last week that 235 people including attorneys had resigned from her office just since July of last year. The year before the pandemic began, that figure was 130,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau.

8-year-old paralyzed after Highland Park shooting goes outside for first time since July 4, by Tribune’s Laura Rodríguez Presa.

Jury awards CPD whistleblower more than $4M in suit against city:Former Chicago police detective Beth Svec sued the department in 2017 for retaliating against her after she brought forward evidence contradicting officers’ narrative of an arrest,” by Sun-Times’ Mary Norkol.

Man charged with hate crime over vandalism of cafe; planned drag show canceled, by Daily Herald’s Susan Sarkauskas

— Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton became chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association at Friday’s annual meeting, making history as the first Black woman to hold this position.

The unique dual life of ‘brainiac’ pitcher Wilson Cunningham — a Cubs minor leaguer and full-time University of Chicago student, by Tribune’s John Keilman

Illinois finally awards pot shop licenses:Recipients now have 180 days to get their stores open and get final state approval, although they can seek an extension,” by Crain’s John Pletz.

We asked whether you share the same political views as your significant other:

Kristopher  Anderson, a VP for the Chicago Association of Realtors, says he and his wife, Ebony Scott Anderson, of the U. of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab, couldn’t be more different. They’re both Dems but she leans to the left and he’s to the right. Don’t get them talking about universal basic income.

Timothy Thomas Jr. says he and his wife, retired Judge Latasha Thomas “are slightly different branches from the same Democratic Party political tree. I am slightly right of center and she is slightly left.”

And attorney Brent Pruim says he and his significant other are “about 80 percent in alignment. We’re certainly no James Carville and Mary Matalin.”

What do you do to get motivated? Email [email protected]

Illinois abortion providers see demand, wait times rise a month after Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade: “That’s as surrounding states restrict abortion rights ‘So we have waves of people then trying to find out: Where can I go?’ says Melissa Grant of Carafem, whose Skokie clinic has seen in-person visits rise by 130 percent over 2021,” by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón.

The logistics of abortion: “There are so many changes to the laws that trying to keep up with all of that has been a logistical nightmare in and of itself,” Chicago Abortion Fund Executive Director Megan Jeyifo told POLITICO’s Women Rule.

— Why Trump will be in D.C.: These former Trump advisers are trying to do the impossible: Make Trumpism about the future, by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw

The Midwestern pioneer lobbying Republicans on same-sex marriage, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett

Cheney says Jan. 6 panel prepared to consider subpoena for Ginni Thomas, by POLITICO’s Jesse Naranjo

Want to know how much your colleagues make? California might crack open companies’ books, by POLITICO’s Alexander Nieves

Average U.S. gasoline price falls 32 cents, by The Associated Press

U.N. health agency chief declares monkeypox a global emergency, by The Associated Press

United CEO apologizes to Buttigieg after FAA criticism, via Bloomberg

FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Jenner & Block’s Gail Morse for correctly answering that butter used to create the 500-pound butter cow at the Illinois State Fair is scraped off and stored for next year.

TODAY’s QUESTION: What future Illinois politico gained national attention when he testified  before the Kefauver Committee? Email [email protected]

Rep. Anthony DeLuca, Rep. Chuy Garcia’s district outreach manager María Velázquez, Schwalb Realty Group’s Joyce Wippman and Aspen Dental VP of Government Affairs Jeff Troupe.