Quick Hits – How Illinois Republicans Can Bounce Back!

For reference purposes, my long-time readers know that I’m a moderate Independent. I tend to vote Republican in local races and Democratic in state and federal contests. I’m also a fiscal hawk, but a social liberal. And those same readers understand I consistently hold both liberal and conservative feet to the fire.

As I’m about to embark upon providing a blueprint for how Illinois and Collar County Republicans can recover from Tuesday night’s almost bloodbath, please understand that no partisan bent is involved here. This is simply an analysis that I’d do for the Democratic Party after a hard day, too.

GOP Dead

So, let’s get started:

1. Ditch the social issues

That battle is long over in Illinois and most of the country. Our sons and daughters don’t give a rat’s patootie about their peers’ sexuality. Roe v. Wade will never be overturned, especially in Illinois. Because of the vast revenue it provides, marijuana will become legal in Illinois and every state. It’s time to stop the utterly ineffective War on Drugs and embrace minorities.

The irony is, the GOP is supposed to be the party of less government, but trying to dictate morality is the worst of big government.


2. Stop the candidate purity tests

This is really an extension of the social issue point. Jeanne Ives may passed the “are you a RINO” test, but had she beaten Rauner in the primary, Pritzker would’ve trounced her by 30 points, and not just 15.

When Republican’s hang their hats on candidates who can’t win a general election, year in and year out, it does nothing more than weakens the party, especially in the eyes of young voters. The Illinois and Collar County GOP apparatus has got to start recruiting candidates based on their capacity to win, not their appeal to those true believers.


3. Stop governing by temper tantrum

I’ll say it again! It took 30 years for Speaker Madigan to accrue this kind of power and it’s going to take a lot more than one scant four-year gubernatorial term to loosen his grip. Holding the entire state hostage through an absurdly manufactured budget crisis sealed Governor Rauner’s 2018 fate.

Michael Madigan will be a Springfield reality until they wheel him out of the House on a gurney with that gavel still firmly clutched in his right hand. And even if he wasn’t the 500-pound gorilla in the room, Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day. The only way government ever moves forward is through a series of compromises that eventually lead to a specific goal.

Temper tantrums may elate that rabid base, but they damage the Party in the long run.


4. Stop bitching about him and build a Madigan-esque ground game

This is the most important point. While Democratic gerrymandering provides somewhat of an electoral advantage, it wouldn’t mean a thing without that incomparable Madigan ground game. I am officially retiring from campaign managing with an 85 percent track record, and the only thing that would’ve made me sweat would’ve been to go up against a Madigan backed opponent.

Illinois Republicans are certainly willing to pay lip service to Darth Madigan, but they aren’t willing to do the real work. Yes! Building a countywide candidate’s ground game was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, and it’s exponentially worse at the state level, but that’s the only way you beat the Speaker.

Madigan has approached the process like he’s running a baseball farm system. He brings campaign managers up through the ranks, starting with the easier races, and they’re expected to follow a very specific template. So, when he finally does leaves office, that ground game will still be knocking off Republicans.


5. Stop excoriating teachers

It certainly didn’t work out too well for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, now, did it?

For purposes of full disclosure, my wife is a teacher, but I’ve been baffled the consistent GOP/conservative attacks on educators long before my wife became one. Considering the amount of education required, most don’t make much money, Illinois teachers put more into their pension funds than any other union, and most of you wouldn’t last a week at that gig.

When discussing the Tuesday night debacle with a high-ranking Kane County Republican, he lamented that young voters, who showed up in droves, blindly followed in the footsteps of their liberal teachers.

My lightning fast response was, “Are you surprised?” If I had to face years of Republican animosity you better believe I’d convince my young charges to vote Democratic. It’s like what I say to my 40 lb. Australian cattle dog when she tries to take on a 110-pound German Shepherd, “You need to choose your battles a lot more wisely.”

It’s having a deleterious effect on the profession, too. When my wife was hired by the East Aurora School District in 2013, there was stiff competition for each job. Now D131 can’t hire enough teachers because there aren’t enough of them out there.


6. Stop worrying about old white men and start worrying about young voters

Considering those mid-term election results, I don’t think I need to make this point, but let’s cover it just to be safe.

I understand that being “primaried” is a real Republican concern right now, and primary voters tend to demand purity, but who’s fault is that? The GOP created that monster by embracing the Tea Party and now those chickens have come home to roost.

With their old white male base rapidly dying off, if Republicans don’t make some sort of shift towards younger voters, the Party will die off, too.

Some liberal ideas are worth embracing. Not all liberalism is bad. Not all Democrats are looking for a handout. Despite being a fiscal hawk, I’d gladly accept a tax increase to make junior college tuition free. It will pay off exponentially down the line. Again, drop the social issues. Jail doesn’t work. It’s nothing more than a ridiculously expensive means of creating better criminals. Embrace minorities. Legalizing marijuana is an inevitability, so why fight it?


7. Embrace Hispanic voters

That Republican icon, Ronald Reagan, said it back in 1980, “Latinos are really Republicans, they just don’t know it yet.” He received 37 percent of the Hispanic vote and George H. W. Bush got a record 44 percent. But today’s Republicans are all too willing to follow in President Trump’s “Mexicans are all rapists and murderers” footsteps.

Having run, or been a part of, six campaigns involving Aurora, I can tell you, without hesitation, that Hispanics are conservative. They go to church, they have two or three jobs, the legal ones don’t like the illegal ones, and they believe in family.

But if Republicans keep making brown-skinned folks their boogeyman, those voters will be lost forever. The fact that Hispanics will become the U.S. majority in 2044 should truly terrify the Party of Lincoln.


8. Reasonably repudiate Trumpism

Staying silent in the face of his raging bigotry, sexism and general bullying isn’t good enough. The proof in the Jello pudding is the number of millennials that turned out on Tuesday. And the only reason they voted was to send a message to the President.

Like I said on Wednesday, if Republicans don’t take back their party, and do it soon, Trump’s ridiculous rhetoric will continue to mortgage its future to the point where the GOP will go the way of the Whigs.


So, there you have it. My eight-point plan to restore the Republican Part to a reasonable facsimile of what it was when I was growing up. But before my liberal friends accuse me of being a traitor, please remember, they’ll never listen to the likes of me!


Quick Hits Supplemental – Now We’re Running Down Candidates?

Apparently unhappy with last night’s election results, Schaumburg Township Republican precinct committeeman, Mark Cramer, drove over to 44th District State Rep Fred Crespo’s victory party at Garsillo’s Italian Bar and Grill on Golf Road in Hoffman Estates, waited for him in the parking lot, and, when he appeared, purposely ran him down with his vehicle.


Fred Crespo

Thankfully, Crespo suffered only minor injuries, and after pressing charges, he continued on to enjoy the evening’s festivities.

Is this really what we’ve come to? Some of last night’s election results really flummoxed me, but I never once considered running someone over with my Ford Ranger because of them. And whatever charge Mr. Cramer will soon be facing certainly won’t be small potatoes.

And BTW, my source for this story was a staunch Republican elected official who’s bothered by this scenario as much or even more than I am.

C’mon people! Let’s all take a step back, a deep breath, and remember that the political pendulum never stays in one place for too long.


11/8/28 Update! Sources are now telling me that Cramer merely “bumped” Crespo while shouting “Fuck you Fred Crespo,” and this somehow happened right in front of the Hoffman Estates Police Department.

Also, I’ve learned that Mark Cramer hasn’t been a Schaumburg precinct committeeman since January of 2018. I appreciate the folks that corrected me.

I have passed the story along to the Daily Herald who are much more suited to cover this kind of simple story than I am.

Quick Hits – Mid-Term Election Wrap Up

It was, indeed, a bad day for Republicans. Millennials voted, and they voted Democratic. It wasn’t exactly a blue wave, it was more like a blue tornado that levels one house but leaves the neighbor’s intact. Donald Trump is clearly mortgaging the GOP future for his personal gain and if local Republicans can’t come up with a way to address that anger and take back their party, the Collar Counties may turn bright blue as soon as 2020.

Election Results

As I suspected, there were plenty of surprises. So, let’s review:

1. Governor

J. B. Pritzker didn’t beat the spread, but a 15-point margin of victory is nothing to sneeze at. He so handily trounced Bruce Rauner that the governor was the first candidate to concede yesterday evening. Given that he doesn’t need the gig, let’s hope Pritzker exerts the kind of Madigan independence that may just get Illinois back on track.

2. Attorney General

Erika Harold did a little better than I thought she would, but her political career is over. Kwame Raoul won by 11 points and he will be our Attorney General as long as he wants to be.

3. Secretary of State

To absolutely no one’s surprise, it was Jesse White by a landslide.

4. Comptroller

As predicted, Susana Mendoza won by 22 points. The question is, will she parlay that success into a Chicago mayoral run.

5. Treasurer

While not quite the 20-point margin I predicted, Michael Frerichs did win a second term by 18 points. My guess is he will aim for something greater in 2022, but with Pritzker in that Springfield mansion, it won’t be governor as I once suspected.

6. 6th Congressional District

Sean Casten beat Peter Roskam by 5 points, so I was pretty much dead on on that one.

7. 8th Congressional District

As expected, Raja Krishnamoorthi destroyed his opponent by 31 points.

8. 11th Congressional District

Bill Foster didn’t do as well as I thought he would, but a 17-point victory is nothing to sneeze at, either.

9. 14th Congressional District

I adjusted my prediction on this race and Lauren Underwood did, indeed, win by 4 points. She also adjusted her messaging in the end, but make no mistake, she didn’t win this one, Randy Hultgren lost it by running one of the worst campaigns I’ve ever seen.

10. State Senate District 33

Don DeWitte won, but not by the 15 points I forecasted. And the fact that he prevailed by a scant 3 points in a district drawn for Republicans should have the Kane County GOP shaking in their shoes.

11. State Rep District 43

Anna Moeller destroyed Andrew Cuming by 40 points. Like I said, ain’t no Republican ever gonna win the 43rd.

12. State Rep District 49

For me, this was the biggest surprise of the night. Not only did Karina Villa win, but she beat Tonia Khouri by 7 points! Millennials clearly put Villa over the top. This is the first race I got wrong!

13. State Rep 50

Incumbent Keith Wheeler was one of the few candidates who seemed immune to the blue tornado. He didn’t quite win by 15 points, but, all things considered, his 11-point midterm victory certainly says something. Jim Leslie’s consistently negative campaign didn’t help him at all.

14. State Rep 65

Again, Dan Ugaste won, but by a mere 5 points in a district drawn for Republicans. This is another race that does not bode well for the Illinois GOP’s 2020 hopes.

15. 16th Circuit Judge

This is the second race I erred on and it’s a complete and utter travesty. Mike Noland beat Tom Hartwell by just 2 points and he will be a complete nightmare on the bench. My only solace is he will inevitably do something that will catch the eye of the Judicial Inquiry Board.

16. County Clerk

Jack Cunningham did beat Nico Jimenez, but only by 3 points. It certainly looks like the next County Clerk will be a Democrat.

17. Sheriff

I said Ron Hain would win if young voters voted and that’s exactly what happened. He beat Don Kramer by 6 points, too! Ron will be a great Sheriff.

18. County Treasurer

Though he didn’t campaign in his typical balls to the wall style, Dave Rickert did pull it off by 6 points. But the fact that his opponent didn’t noticeably campaign means our next treasurer will probably be a Democrat.


And now for the Kane County Board Races:

District 2 – Anita Lewis destroyed her Independent opponent by 2 to 1

District 5 – Bill Lenert sailed to an expected 12-point victory

District 11 – John Martin won quite handily, but not by the landslide I predicted

District 13 – Steve Weber squeaked by Lark Cowart by a scant 1.5 points.

District 15 – Barb Wojnicki trounced Lucas Strom

District 19 – Kurt Kojzarek lost to Mo Iqbal. This was another big surprise, but, in the end, he could beat those changing 19th  district demographics.

District 21 – Cliff Surges by 1.5 points

District 23 – Jim Patrician did not win! It was Christopher Kious by 1.5 points


I suppose I really can’t complain about going 22 and 4 because it means my 85 percent prediction track record is still intact. But it’s really to depressing to see Kurt Kojzarek be replaced by a terrible candidate and Mike Noland in the black robe completely sucks.

Beyond that, I gotta tell ya, if I’m a Collar County Republican regular or candidate, unless they make a real effort to denounce Donald Trump and appeal to younger voters, 2020 is gonna make these midterms look like a walk in the park.

The Illinois voters’ November 6, 2018 message was abundantly clear.

Quick Hits – The First Ward Midterm Predictions – Mild Revisions

I’m generally standing by last week’s electoral prognostications and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing scurrilous Kane County Auditor Terry Hunt’s gleaming visage adorned in a White Sox cap after I prove to be dead on in the governor, attorney general and 6th district congressional races.

But as I like to say, “When the evidence changes, my mind changes,” and a late Sienna College /New York Times poll has Lauren Underwood pulling away from 14th congressional district incumbent Randy Hultgren. And the Sienna/Times polls are always among the most accurate.

Hultgren Underwood

Not only that, but Hultgren’s last-minute attack ad questioning Underwood’s nursing credentials is beyond absurd and it’s bound to backfire with the swing voters that could cost Hultgren the race.

Since Mr. Hultgren brought up the whole morality thing, has anyone noticed his wife follows him everywhere he goes and she never looks very happy about it? Trust me! Her ubiquitous presence has nothing to do with love and devotion or the fact she can’t live without him.

Meanwhile, I believe that Underwood’s more positive recent mailers are the reason she’s pulling away. She’s finally appealing to swing voters.

The bottom line? Despite running a horrific campaign with horrific signs, I’m now forecasting Underwood will win by 5 points.

It would also appear that young and new voters are, indeed, casting mid-term ballots which means I’m leaning towards my previous “if young and new voters vote” qualifications in those original prophecies.

Put more simply, I think this is gonna be a really bad night for statewide and federal Republicans.

Quick Hits – November 5, 2018

Judge Dalton can’t even be ethical on a mailer!

Between his miserable Illinois State Bar Association ratings and a small, but determined, group intent on removing him from the bench, Kane County Judge John Dalton suddenly seems to be getting a bit nervous.

It’s still somewhat of a longshot to get 41 percent of the electorate to vote no on his retention question, but the Judge has managed to bully and torment so many of the folks who’ve come before him that the anti-retention effort has really started gathered steam.

To stem that rising tide, his Elgin cabal are posting pro-retention Facebook memes, and in an unprecedented move, Dalton sent out mailer with a similar message. Most judges consider retention votes to be a mere formality.

The front of his mail piece boasts a glowing endorsement from one Marzenia Vandeburgt, who describes herself as a “Kane County Attorney.” While that certainly is the case, it’s hardly the whole story.

Bad Judges

You see, Ms. Vandeburgt is not just any “Kane County Attorney,” what she strategically left out is that she’s a prosecutor in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office. And as she indicated on the mailer, she’s regularly appeared in Dalton’s courtroom for the last three years.

I’m sure I don’t need to lecture you on the pitfalls of an assistant state’s attorney currying political favor with a sitting judge who regularly rules on her cases. All I can say is, I certainly wouldn’t want to see her to sitting across the aisle from me in courtroom 101.

Put more simply, she just won herself an ADRC complaint.

The endorsement continues with Vandeburgt waxing poetically about how Dalton is “fair to all the litigants who appear before him.”

First, that kind of fiction makes Trump’s mendacious mentality appear tame by comparison. And second, Vandeburgt generally deals with settlements to which both parties have already signed on, so there is no litigation. So, how would she know he’s fair to litigants?

She wouldn’t.

Though it’s only semi-immaterial to my point, Vandeburgt and Dalton have been friends for the better part of two decades. That means that Dalton couldn’t get any private Kane County attorney to say just one good thing about him. He had to resort to a friend who tried to hide the fact that she’s really a prosecutor who plies his courtroom.

For this, and all the other reasons we’ve already discussed, if you haven’t already, please vote “No” to send this miserable excuse for a judge packing.


Why are you running?

That’s the very first question in my impeding book, “So You Want to Win a Local Election?” If you can’t respond to that basic inquiry directly, effectively, and with an appropriate amount of passion, then please put the nominating papers down and walk away.


Carol Rauschenberger

And that’s the very first question that popped into my head mind when I heard that Elgin City Councilperson Carol Rauschenberger would challenge Dave Kaptain in the 2019 mayoral race.

Why are you running?

There’s virtually no difference between the two candidates, right down to management style, political leanings, and their perception of the city they both serve. Rauschenberger admitted they agree on most things, she expects the race will be “a friendly one,” and she told the Courier-News, “Overall, this is a pretty well-run city.”

I guess the simple answer is Carol wants to be mayor! It’s not the best reason to run, but it’s not the worst, either.

Her problem is, without some sort of wedge issue like the formerly proposed rain tax, there’s really no good reason to vote for her. And with the City in the Suburbs humming along quite nicely, I’m not sure what kind of messaging could possibly differentiate her from Dave.

So, why run?

This may well turn out to be the most boring mayoral race in Elgin’s long history, which, after these fascinating mid-terms, won’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Quick Hits – Sealing the deal!

As we head into the final mid-term stretch, I’m getting a bit tired of those folks who cynically claim that all of our public servants come from the same self-serving stock. I know it takes some effort to ferret them out, but there truly are some stellar elected officials in Illinois who do bear noting.

Election 2018 b

So, before that election day bell rings, let’s take a final shot at considering the good guys on the ballot!

1. Kane County Treasurer Dave Rickert

Dave does such a great job that one of my bevy of attorneys specifically called to extol his vast political virtue. Apparently, the property tax lines were out the door that day and my attorney was quite impressed that Dave came out to help his team make short work of the payment process.

You’ve never read about any problems in the Treasurer’s office because there haven’t been any.  And the staff is always friendly and helpful despite the daunting task of collecting property taxes from people who’d rather be going to the dentist.

Normally, I’d be hesitant to support a candidate who’s seeking his fifth term, but Dave refuses to give in to any sort of entitlement mentality and if it ain’t broke…


2. Kane County Board Member John Martin

John is smart, he’s politically savvy, he doesn’t fall for partisan BS, he doesn’t take the gig personally, and he gets along with every other board member. He’s willing to put the required time and effort into a part-time job really isn’t, too! His district is lucky to have him.


3. Kane County Board Member Kurt Kojzarek

My occasional former radio show co-host has done such a great job he clearly deserves a third term. All of the adjectives attached to John Martin also apply to Kurt, who’s successfully chaired the all-important development committee and, as his campaign slogan goes, he truly has been “A Voice of Reason” on a frequently fractious board.

You know you’re doing well when your opponent co-opts your platform plank for plank. Some savvy folks say Kurt would be the logical choice to succeed Chairman Chris Lauzen and I would tend to agree with them.


4. Judge John Barsanti

You know my disdain for many 16th Circuit judges, but I have absolutely no problem voting “yes” to retain John. We discussed many difficult issues during his tenure as Kane County State’s Attorney and I was always impressed by his thoughtful approach to a very difficult job.

It’s also important to note his Illinois State Bar Association’s 100 “legal ability” rating. That means 148 of his Kane County peers gave him a perfect score.


5. Judges Clint Hull and Rene Cruz

They may be running unopposed, but that doesn’t mean I won’t check off those boxes when voting later today. Their ISBA ratings are excellent, they understand exactly what wearing the black robe means, and they never forget that, in the end, they serve the people.

They’re also very active in the community, which includes speaking to middle and high school students about the dangers of texting the wrong kind of photographs and all the other pitfalls of modern technology.


6. Don DeWitte

Don and I share a keen perception of the obvious which has led to quite a fascinating friendship. Some GOP folks say he’s not pure enough to be sent to Springfield, but my fervent belief is that we need more general assembly Republicans who understand that stomping your feet and holding your breath never accomplishes anything.

Don will be exactly the kind of guy who can work with the Democratic supermajority to actually get things done.


7. Ron Hain

Ron has more Sheriffing capacity in the tip of his left little finger than Don Kramer has in his entire body. And he would’ve showed up at Delnor, too!

Ron has concrete plans and programs to bring the kind of respectability back to the office that was the norm under former Sheriff Pat Perez. I particularly like his anti-recidivism rehab and jobs for felons efforts because jailing folks is utterly ineffective and incredibly costly.

Too often we have to choose between the lesser of two candidate evils. This is not one of those cases. Hain is the exponentially better choice.


8. Treasurer Michael Frerichs

He’s a good guy who runs an efficient office while always looking out for the people of Illinois. He’s certainly earned a second term.


I’ll see you at the polling place!