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Palin Endorses Kinzinger

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Blake D. Dvorak

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On her Facebook page (via Adam Kinzinger's web site), Sarah Palin has endorsed a handful of "Americans Heroes Ready and Willing to Serve in Congress":

America, if you love your freedom, thank a vet! And if you're looking for leaders who believe in integrity, service, and country first, look to our veterans.

Last week I campaigned for a true American hero, John McCain, and this week I'd ask you to join me in supporting a new generation of heroes who are heeding their country's call for leadership in Washington.

There are a number of great veteran candidates running for office this year, and there are some excellent organizations dedicated to helping them, including: Iraq Vets for Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress (please click on the links to visit their websites). ...

The second veteran is Captain Adam Kinzinger, a decorated special-operations pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adam is running for Illinois' 11th Congressional District against a freshman incumbent congresswoman who seemed to pull a bait and switch on voters to get elected. She sounded like a blue dog on the campaign trail, but didn't vote like one in Washington. Instead, she voted in lockstep with the Pelosi agenda - on Obamacare, the stimulus, cap-and-tax - and the list goes on. She's part of the reason for Congress' 11% approval rating. Adam is a strong fiscal conservative with a proven track record as a reformer from his years serving on his local county board. Adam started out in local office, and, like many of us, believes in making government more accountable to the people. When you serve in local office, your constituents truly are your neighbors. Adam understands this, and I know that he will listen to his constituents and work for us, not against us, in Washington.
We haven't talked much about the 11th on The Voting Booth (which the Cook Political Report now considers "Leaning Democrat"), but it's fast becoming a closely watched race. Some background: the district voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 (50-48, 53-46, respectively), before going over to Obama in 2008 (53-45). That right there accounts for the "Lean Dem" part, although the current incumbent, Debbie Halvorson, won her seat following a Republican retirement.

A political rookie, Kinzinger has conservatives excited, and Palin's endorsement certainly won't diminish that. A recent Public Opinion Strategies poll also found Kinzinger leading Halvorson by 6 points, which is not a good sign for any incumbent. But Palin is a double-edged sword, and her endorsement might work against Kinzinger among Indies. It helps that Obama has a 52% disapproval rating in the district, meaning that Halvorson won't be able to simply call in the White House for reinforcements.

(ht: Geraghty

Dold Scolds Administration Over Israel

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Blake D. Dvorak

From the Dold campaign (10th District):

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Today, Illinois 10th District Republican Congressional candidate Robert Dold continued to speak out in disappointment concerning the handling of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by President Obama.  This comes amid last week's visit by the Prime Minister to the White House.  The President failed to extend to Netanyahu the opportunity to make a public appearance afterwards or issue a joint statement regarding their meeting--a deviation from the standard White House reception provided to visiting heads of state from a friendly nation.

"I would expect that our Nation's greatest ally in the Middle East would be treated by this Administration with more dignity and respect," said Dold.  "This Administration's actions are unacceptable as they only serve to isolate and pressure our Israeli friends to make unilateral concessions."

Dold, who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington D.C. last week, believes that with Iran ignoring admonishment by the rest of the world to halt its nuclear program, there never has been a more important time for the U.S. and Israel to work in harmony.

"The fact that the Administration's rebuke of Israel has continued, even after Netanyahu's now three-week old apology over the announced building in Jerusalem, suggests a calculated and indefensible policy by this Administration to discredit Israel and its Prime Minister."
Also at the AIPAC conference was Dold's opponent, Dan Seals. The background to all this is the 10th's large Jewish population, which both campaigns are courting heavily. To wit, the Seals campaign last week also criticized the administration over its squabble with Israel:

Illinois Tenth Congressional District Candidate Dan Seals today called on the Obama Administration to defuse recent tensions between the United States and Israel in recognition of the special relationship between the two allies.

Citing the importance of maintaining America's strong relationship with Israel, Seals said that "disagreements between the governments in Jerusalem and Washington are bound to arise, as they would between two close friends, but it is critical that these disagreements are dealt with in private and not aired in public."

"Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East," said Seals.  "As we move down the path of peace," continued Seals, "it is crucial that the United States and Israel move in unison.  While the United States remains totally committed to Israel's security, I urge the Obama Administration to recognize the sacrifices that Israel is making to achieve  peace in such a difficult situation. This administration must bring an end to unhelpful rhetoric and work to forge a stronger, more productive future in the spirit of the special relationship between our two nations."

Seals noted that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and that we should respect Israel's right to manage its internal affairs.
It goes without saying that Seals is the one who's at odd with his party's base vis a vis Israel. At the same time, American Jews aren't known for their love of the GOP.

Giannoulias Web Ad: Really, Mark Kirk?

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Blake D. Dvorak

A new web ad from the Giannoulias campaign:


There are two issues here: The politics and the reality. On the former, the question is whether there will be still be enough anger out there (and there is anger) in November as there is in March. The Democrats gambled that pushing the bill through now would limit whatever political blowback might come six months from now. American memories being what they are (short), it's not such a bad bet as the GOP might think. But if elections are about getting your base out to vote, a bunch of pissed off Republicans is a better Get Out the Vote Effort than a bunch of marginally happy Democrats. (see Democrats in 2006 and 2008.) He just needs to counter all that talk about throwing the kids and granny to the insurance wolves with talk about how much this bill is really going to cost everyone.

The reality, however, is that this bill won't be repealed any time soon, even if the GOP captures Congress in November, and the party knows that -- and Rachel Maddow knows that. However many seats the GOP takes in Congress it will not have the 2/3rds majority to override the president's veto. This is all about November and electoral politics.

Oh, the Hypocrisy!

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Blake D. Dvorak

This "open letter to conservatives" from the liberal TPM Cafe site is making the rounds, because it apparently exposes Republican hypocrisy on a range of issues, from health care to the president's use of teleprompters. I certainly admire the writer's tenacity in tracking down all the links, but, as always with these things, his "evidence" relies a bit too much on one's perspective.

In any case, Eric Zorn posted it, asking if there's a corresponding "open letter to liberals" that does the same thing. I haven't seen one, but I did run across this post from NRO's Jim Geraghty, "The Complete List of Obama Statement Expiration Dates," which in a way does the same thing. A sample:

HEALTH CARE MANDATES

STATEMENT: "We've got a philosophical difference, which we've debated repeatedly, and that is that Senator Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it. And my belief is, the reason that people don't have it is not because they don't want it but because they can't afford it." Barack Obama, speaking at a Democratic presidential debate, February 21, 2008.

EXPIRATION DATE: On March 23, 2010, Obama signed the individual mandate into law.

HEALTH CARE NEGOTIATIONS ON C-SPAN

STATEMENT: "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN, and so the public will be part of the conversation and will see the decisions that are being made." January 20, 2008, and seven other times.

EXPIRATION DATE: Throughout the summer, fall, and winter of 2009 and 2010; when John McCain asked about it during the health care summit February 26, Obama dismissed the issue by declaring, "the campaign is over, John."
As Geraghty warns, it is a long post, but well worth it.

Stop Picking on Me!

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Blake D. Dvorak

I don't usually post the daily solicitation emails I get from the campaigns -- the ones asking for money -- because there's usually nothing useful in them. But this one from Mark Kirk's campaign was a good one:

Dear Friends,

Are you worried about this country in a way you haven't been before?

Has someone laughed at you because you are from Illinois? ...

Remember, we're up against ACORN/SEIU, the Trial Lawyers and MoveOn.org - they have millions to keep Congress approving more taxes and government spending ...
Wait, what? Has someone laughed at me? Of course I get what the campaign means -- Blago et al. -- but it was just, er, a funny way of putting it.

Is Sheila Simon the Right Choice?

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Sheila Simon

I confess, I'm not up to speed on the career and politics of Sheila Simon, other than being the daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon. (She doesn't even have a Wiki page!) But there's a lot of grumbling out there amongst Democrats, many of whom are upset at Quinn for overlooking Art Turner, the runner-up in the lt. gov. primary. It's hard to blame them or Turner for feeling cheated. After all, how many votes did Sheila Simon get in the primary?

Not to mention that the quick dismissal of Sen. Susan Garrett (Lake Forest) for apparently opposing Quinn's tax hike was a bit odd. Clearly, Quinn is hoping to fill some gaps on the ticket and picking a woman tops his list. (Recall the governor's courting of Tammy Duckworth earlier this year.) Garrett, however, is from the North Shore and Quinn probably figured that would work against him downstate.

Which brings me to Eric Zorn's post today:

The only reason she became the third woman to jump to the top of Quinn's list of potential running mates -- after U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs official Tammy Duckworth and state Sen. Susan Garrett -- is that she's the daughter of the late  Sen. Paul Simon,  a downstate icon whom even his Republican foes recognized as pillar of integrity.
Of course if this was a presidential race no one would be criticizing Quinn for taking politics into account in his choice of running mates. It wouldn't even be an issue. That's what running mates are for. But Zorn makes a good point here:

The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor is Jason Plummer, an inexperienced downstater who's an ideological clone of their candidate for governor, Bill Brady.  When the candidacy of Democratic nominee Scott Lee Cohen imploded,  Quinn and party leaders had a chance to choose a No. 2 that contrasted with Plummer and with Quinn in ways that would appeal to independent and undecided voters -- someone whose resume actually suggests a readiness to become governor if the necessity arose.

Instead Quinn has chosen an inexperienced downstater who's his ideological clone. She contrasts with him only in her gender and brings little more to the ticket than a famous last name.
Ouch.

The biggest obstacle for Simon in the near future is honing her political skills. She had served in the Carbondale City Council, but that probably isn't the most intense school of hard politics. Plummer might be inexperienced, but he did manage to win a statewide primary.

Stealing Brady's Thunder

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Blake D. Dvorak

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In response to the state Senate's passage of a school choice program championed by Sen. James Meeks, this comment over at CapFax makes a good point:

Looks like Madigan and Cullerton are attempting to clear the field of traditional hot GOP issues to campaign on. It appears they are trying to put up a damn [sic] to slow the pending anti dem flood of discontent.
Add in the pension reform bill that just passed -- a significant step also -- and suddenly the Democrat-controlled General Assembly is stealing all the GOP's best talking points: An unsustainable pension system and a public school system dead-set against reform.

Now, Meeks has been fighting for vouchers for a while now, so we shouldn't sully his victory by implying political opportunism. Similarly, something had to happen with the pension system, because at north of $80 billion, Illinois has the largest unfunded pension system in the country. Any steps toward balancing the budget and restoring the state's fiscal health has to take pensions into account.

But that leaves two fewer issues for Brady and the Republicans to campaign on this year. And they're both big issues that were hurting the Democrats in the public's eye. Brady still has the tax increase issue to attack, and one might argue that the pension reform bill doesn't go far enough, but the Dems have managed to steal a bit of his thunder.

UPDATE: I should also probably include Pat Quinn's choice of Sheila Simon as somewhat directed at Brady. Simon is a "downstater" and the CW out there is that Quinn wanted to minimize Brady's downstate support.

Health Care Wars -- Senate Edition

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Blake D. Dvorak

The health care debate seems to have bumped Alexi Giannoulias' other woes off the front page for the moment (despite Laura Washington's incendiary column this week) and given the Democrat something with which to knock Kirk. Exhibit A is the campaign's new web video:


Which is not to say that Kirk is sitting back and taking it. His campaign has kept up the pressure on Giannoulias and his ties to Nick Giannis, posting a "Giannis Watch" to track "how long it takes Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias to answer questions regarding a $1.2 million loan made by Broadway Bank to Nick Giannis when Giannoulias was the bank's Chief Loan Officer." It's up to 14 days.

Also, Kirk released his first TV ad when the Voting Booth was on hiatus, so wanted to post it:


Health Care Thoughts

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Before The Voting Booth gets back to its regular focus on Illinois politics -- and as I continue to catch up after a week off -- first a few thoughts on the health care bill just passed:

1. Beware the first rule of politics. As I've mentioned repeatedly, the first rule of politics is that things are never as good, or as bad, as they first appear. Remember when Scott Brown miraculously won Ted Kennedy's old seat? Republicans and many pundits (and this blog) saw Brown's victory as a the Gettysburg of the Democratic majority: Obama, Reid and Pelosi had reached the extent of their domination of Washington and what was to follow was a slow but steady readjustment of the administration's and congressional Democrats' goals, all in an attempt to stave off mass defeats come November. Supposedly first on the chopping block: health care. Today, the president's health care bill is the law of the land.

This is not to say that those November defeats still won't happen for Democrats; it's that majorities matter; the power of the president matters; and in the end, one election is only one election. Two months ago, Democrats were in the dumps and Republicans were flying high. Yup, beware the first rule of politics...

2. GOP: Repeal It? Regardless of the Democrats' victory, it is not at all clear -- as the administration and Reid and Pelosi argued -- that the American public won't punish the Democrats in November over this bill. The Democrats' thinking goes something like this: Once Americans come to appreciate all the goodies in this bill, they'll embrace it as fervently as Medicare and Social Security. Maybe, maybe not. But that supposes a pretty dim view of the American public.

It's as if the virtue of a particular bill is based on its popularity. By that logic, giving out free cars to every American is good public policy because, well, Americans love free cars -- and woe to the politician who threatens taking away your free car. Similarly, there are a lot of goodies in this health care bill that Americans will no doubt love, but at what cost? To pay for this health care bill, spending will rise, as will taxes. All that nonsense about this bill cutting the deficit at no cost to the public is the very definition of selling snake oil.

Most Americans understand this, which is why public opinion of this bill is so low. Still, Democrats hope that once things kick in, it'll all be puppy dogs and ice cream. Get real. Most of the bill's goodies don't begin until 2014. The ones that do -- the pre-existing conditions mandate and the ability for children under 26 to stay on their parents' insurance -- start in six months. That is a very short amount of time for the public to embrace this bill and Republicans will be able to campaign on the "Repeal It!" platform successfully. In other words, the overall electoral outlook for Democrats come November remains very poor.

3. The paradigm shift. However, whatever happens in November, Democrats have scored a long-term victory. That's because the federal government is now intimately involved in health care, and once in, it's next to impossible to dislodge. Over time, this will be as accepted as Social Security. You don't hear any serious politician talking about repealing Social Security. They talk about reforming it; they talk about making it solvent; but never repealing it. Meaning, the debate is about how to manage government's involvement, not how to remove it. The same thing will happen to health care. 

And this was a primary objective of Democrats all along: To move the debate to their turf; to shift the paradigm from "should government manage health care?" to "how should government manage health care?". Which is why both sides fought so hard over something the president himself claimed wouldn't do a thing to 85% of Americans' health insurance. It was about getting government in the door, if only by an inch.

4. Taxes, taxes, taxes. Still, it's impossible to say when that acceptance will happen. Could be in a few years. Could be in 10 years. And until it does, Democrats could take multiple beatings at the polls. Because, unlike Social Security in the 1930s, this bill comes during a time of major budget shortfalls. The federal government, and the states, simply cannot pay for all the entitlements out there without a major increase in revenue. What form this will take or when it will happen is not clear. But it will have to happen.

Last night on Special Report w/Brett Baier, Charles Krauthammer made the prediction that the cost-cutting board, which is supposed to find out ways to make health care cheaper, will suggest a national sales tax to pay for all this. Krauthammer believes the board won't make this suggestion until after the November elections, but that it will likely dominate the 2012 presidential race. Conservative or liberal, one ignores Krauthammer to his peril, which means the president has asked his fellow Democrats to make a deal with the devil: Pass the bill, make history, shift the paradigm, but accept that fact that we will have to raise taxes on everyone. 

Kirk: Giannoulias' Association w/Criminals Continues

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Blake D. Dvorak

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The Kirk campaign is continuing its assault on Giannoulias following yesterday's arrest of the owners of Boston Blackies for check-kiting allegations, which involved Broadway Bank. The owner, Nick Giannis, has also contributed around $115,000 to Giannoulias over the years. Turns out, however, as the Kirk campaign is circulating, that Giannis already had a felony conviction back in 1996 for firearm possession.

The Giannoulias campaign has said that it will donate the Giannis money to charity, which the Kirk campaign had called for yesterday. Smelling blood, the Kirk campaign isn't giving up, and released a list of questions this morning for Giannoulias:

Questions for Alexi Giannoulias:

1)      Did you and your family know about Nick Giannis' felony conviction when Broadway Bank approved $6 million in loans for him?

2)      When was the last time you spoke to Nick or Chris Giannis before their arrests?

3)      Were you ever made aware by the Giannis family or others that a federal investigation was underway?

4)      Will you agree to donate the Giannis family campaign contributions to Bright Start families who lost their college savings under your risky investment strategy?

Hits Keep Coming for Giannoulias

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Blake D. Dvorak

Not good news for the Giannoulias folks:

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The owner of the Boston Blackie's restaurant chain -- a man with strong political ties to U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias -- was charged today with bank fraud, along with the owner's son and an employee.

Boston Blackie's owner Nick Giannis, 62, his son, Chris Giannis, 38, and Boston Blackie's manager Andy Bakopoulos, 38, allegedly defrauded Charter One and Washington Mutual banks of nearly $2 million, Cook County prosecutors said.

Giannoulias' family owns Broadway Bank, one of the banks named in the court documents. The bank was not a victim of the alleged scheme, officials said.

Nick Giannis was caught at the Canadian border with his Greek passport this morning.

He and the younger men used other Chicago area banks -- including Giannoulias' family's Broadway Bank -- to carry out their "sophisticated, complex" check-kiting scheme, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said.

When pressed about whether Broadway Bank officials knew about the alleged scheme, Alvarez simply said, "These are the three we feel are responsible for this particular case."

Giannis contributed $115,000 to Citizens for Giannoulias between 2005 and 2008 alone and secured millions of dollars in mortgages with Broadway Bank, records show.
On cue, Kirk responds:

"The check-kiting scheme conducted by a top Giannoulias contributor and Broadway Bank client appears to be part of a disturbing pattern of reckless business relationships, questionable banking practices and potentially illegal activity," Congressman Kirk said.  "Alexi Giannoulias should return the massive $119,800 in Giannis campaign contributions given Giannis was caught attempting to leave U.S. jurisdiction."
I don't think there's any doubt that Giannoulias won't return the money. But those, um, reservations circulating around Democratic circles are only going to grow louder. Still on the horizon is the actual shutdown of Broadway Bank, which will be national news.

The question must be asked: Is the clock ticking on Giannoulias for Senate?

Giannoulias Goes On the Offensive

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Blake D. Dvorak

At a press conference today Alexi Giannoulias, who's taken his hits recently from all sides, went on the attack against Mark Kirk. From the AP:

At a news conference Thursday, Giannoulias criticized Kirk's legislative record on banking regulation. He says Kirk voted to bail out Wall Street firms but opposed attempts at reform.

A Kirk campaign spokesman hasn't returned messages seeking comment.

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Well, the Kirk campaign has responded with that ol' campaign stand-by, "The Fact Check." Here's a portion of what the campaign sent out:

FACT: Congressman Kirk was among the first members of Congress to support financial reforms.  In 2005, while Alexi Giannoulias was making risky loans at Broadway Bank, Mark Kirk was one of only 73 members of Congress - Republican or Democrat - who voted to tighten regulations at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  (Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HZ00600:)

FACT: Congressman Kirk also remains a leading proponent of cracking down on Wall Street criminals.  In 2008, Congressman Kirk joined Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA) in calling on the FBI to increase funding dedicated to White Collar Crime investigations.  (New York Times, "F.B.I. Struggles to Handle Financial Fraud Cases," 10/18/2008)

FACT: With regard to legislation giving more control over the private sector to the Treasury Department, here is what Congressman Kirk told the Chicago Tribune: "We quickly forget that it was our government-run financial institutions - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - that caused this crisis.  With huge taxpayer losses in General Motors, AIG and Citibank, we should not put our trust in the management of the U.S. Treasury Department.  Instead of putting the power in the hands of the Treasury Secretary, we should use the independent Risk Authority Board to alert us when large institutions enter crisis and provide specific authorities to Federal judges to intervene." (Congressman Kirk, Chicago Tribune Questionnaire, 2010 Primary)
Kirk needs to be a bit careful here. The whole anti-banker stuff is mostly coming from the left and Democrats. Although the Tea Partiers and others on the right are very upset at bailing out these banks, their issue has much more to do with spending than with anti-Wall Street/banker sentiment.

Now Kirk certainly wants to pick off as many Independents and Democrats as he can, so at one level attacking Giannoulias the Banker is not bad politics. But if he starts harping too much on all the ways he attempted to rein in Wall Street, he'll start alienating supporters on the right -- the very folks who think Kirk should be grateful he has their support at all.

Which is why Kirk needs to keep his line of attack on Giannoulias the Incompetent; Giannoulias the Big Spender; Giannoulias the Inside-Deal-Maker. You get the point. Otherwise, conservatives might start thinking that their concerns about Kirk -- that he'll shift according to political necessity -- were more than idle.

Quinn Calls for 33% Tax Hike

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Addressing the General Assembly today, Gov. Pat Quinn called for a 33% hike in the state income tax to raise $2.8 billion a year and help close the budget deficit. From the Trib:

Quinn wants to increase the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 4 percent --- a 33 percent increase --- with the corporate tax rate rising from 4.8 percent to 5.8 percent. The tax hike would bring in $2.8 billion a year.

"I believe this 1 percent for education makes sense, and I think the people of Illinois will understand. We must invest in the future, even in these tough economic times," Quinn said. This is urgent. We don't have six months. We don't have six weeks. I challenge the General Assembly to take immediate action to enact the 1 percent for education initiative."

Last year, Quinn unsuccessfully tried to raise the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent and provide some tax relief.
Bill Brady, talking to reporters after the address, said, "This budget doesn't do anything to bring back the 250,000 jobs we've lost in just this last twelve months." Here's a video, courtesy of Cap Fax:


It's a bold move to call for a tax increase as you're running for reelection. But that's part of Quinn's calculation: He wants to be credited with doing the people's business regardless of political consequences. And many in the media and on the left will say as much.

But it's still a tax increase and voters still generally despise them.

It might seem that Brady's job is easier: Call Quinn a tax-and-spender and promise no new taxes in a Brady Administration. But not so fast. Unless Brady can convince voters that all hell won't break lose without a tax hike, he'll be in danger of appearing unserious -- and, as Jim Edgar said, "naive." That requires a detailed budget blueprint -- not a campaign slogan like "10% cut across the board."

It also requires a bit of economics. Brady need to explain to voters that his opposition to tax increases is about the economy, not the budget. He needs to make the case that his primary concern as governor is to improve the state's economy and put Illinoisans back to work. Which means the budget crisis is almost secondary.

Journalists, politicos, policy wonks, etc. hate hearing that. For many of them, the state's fiscal health is the economy, and for Brady to focus on one at the expense of the other is incomprehensible. And that's why there's going to be a lot more backlash against Brady for opposing tax hikes than Quinn for proposing them: All the schools that will close; all the inmates who will be released; all the social services that won't be delivered -- these stories will dominate coverage of Brady's economic agenda. 

New Bob Dold Web Video

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Blake D. Dvorak

Republican Bob Dold is the first-time politician looking to hang on to Mark Kirk's 10th congressional seat. The seat has been in GOP hands for the better part of the last century. With that kind of historical background, one would think Dold is a shoo-in come November. But the district has been voting Democratic for several years now at the presidential level, and Mark Kirk had to fight off Dan Seals in two tough campaigns.

Some Democrats questioned whether it was wise to give Seals a third shot, when he couldn't beat Kirk in two thoroughly Democratic years ('06 and '08). The other way to look at it is that it was the moderate Kirk who won those campaigns, not the GOP, and with him gone, Seals has a much higher name recognition than the newbie Dold.

Whatever the case, Dold needs to get his name out there quickly, and that's where web videos come in:



Another wrinkle in this race is the attention the parties' congressional committees are giving it. The DCCC just announced that Seals is part of the "Red to Blue" program, which highlights just 13 races throughout the country worthy of special notice to donors. Meanwhile, the NRCC has Dold as one of its Young Guns, which basically does the same thing. (Also on the NRCC's Young Gun program are Adam Kinzinger (11th) and Randy Hultgren (14th).

Marin: Alexi Facing Heat to Withdraw

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Blake D. Dvorak

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I won't say that Carol Marin's prediction today is the first I've heard or thought about it, but since Marin's sources are a bit better than mine it's probably more than idle musings. From her Sun-Times column:

Prediction: Pressure on Giannoulias to get out

...

Giannoulias has tried to get out in front of the seemingly imminent failure of his family's Broadway Bank, but there's no way to put that story behind him as long as the FDIC could move in at any time and take it over.

Giannoulias met with David Axelrod at the White House on Tuesday. At the same time, Republicans were sending out dispatches with a reminder of President Obama's recent denunciation of "fat cats who are getting rewarded for their failure . . . bankers don't need another vote in the U.S. Senate."

Expect heat on Alexi to exit the kitchen.
First, about that White House pow-wow, the speculation in the media is that the administration will support Giannoulias, but not go out of its way (see here, here and here). This is Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs' formal (a wee bit too formal?) statement on that matter:

Alexi Giannoulias is the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate and has the support and the backing of the White House.
Second, instead of trying to read the tea leaves from press secretaries who are paid to be vague, why not just look at the polling? From TPM Poll Tracker:



FoxChicago reported this morning on a new Rasmussen poll, not yet released on Rasmussen's site, showing Giannoulias +3 (44-41). And as First Read reported, the Giannoulias campaign is pushing back at the idea of withdrawing:

The Giannoulias camp pushes back, noting that at least two polls show him leading Republican Mark Kirk, and that the campaign just signed up a major Obama fundraiser.
For the interested, that fundraiser is Jordan Kaplan, who worked on both Obama's 2004 Senate and 2008 presidential campaigns. Yet Fox's Scott Brown notes that this is a return engagement for Kaplan, who previously worked for Giannoulias back in the exploratory committee days early on. I guess the point is that it's not like the Obama White House "gave" Kaplan to Giannoulias.

Still, the polls are what they are, and they don't (yet) show much reason for Giannoulias to withdraw. Yes, they're closer than Team Giannoulias would like right now when it looks like it's going to be a GOP year. But it's not as if Giannoulias is foundering at the moment.

Getting back to Marin's prediction, much depends on the political fallout from Broadway Bank's imminent collapse. If the heat intensifies, then Giannoulias might have to admit that he's carrying a bit too much baggage in a year that portends huge Democratic losses.
 

Rasmussen: Brady +10 (wait ... what?)

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Yup, that's what the latest Rasmussen Report poll shows, strangely enough:

Brady: 47
Quinn: 37
Undecided: 9

More from the poll:

The new survey finds Brady leading by 17 points among women but just three points among men. Voters not affiliated with either party favor Brady 59% to 18%.
Brady is viewed very favorably by 17% of Illinois voters, while only 11% view the Republican very unfavorably. Nineteen percent (19%) have no opinion of him.
Just 12% in Illinois view their governor very favorably, while 24% view Quinn very unfavorably. Only five percent (5%) have no opinion of Quinn.
Rasmussen suspects that the surge for Brady is likely the result of his recent victory, officially, over Dillard. Still, a DailyKos/Research2000 poll from late last month showed Quinn ahead 15 points (47-32), and because this is Illinois, no one really questioned its veracity.

Taking both both polls together, I'd say this race is much tighter than the Quinn team would prefer at this point, so Brady and Republicans should be excited.

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