More Statewide Campaign News
According to the Peoria Journal Star, Tazewell County State's Attorney Stuart Umholtz has filed papers to run against Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Umholtz, who was first elected in 1996, has already been endorsed by 2002 candidate Joe Birkett, who announced today that he will not run against Madigan. It appears that this guy has agreed to be the sacrificial lamb to set himself up for another race in 2010.
Also in the news today, State Senator Carole Pankau (R-Itasca) of West Suburban DuPage County has announced that she will run against two-term incumbent Democratic Comptroller Dan Hynes. At her press conference, Pankau said Hynes was a "very nice guy" and couldn't come up with any criticisms of his performance. When asked what she would do if elected, Pankau said she hadn't really thought about it yet. Look for Hynes to roll up the biggest victory margin next year out of the statewide races (Pankau can't even decide what office she wants: she just got elected to the State Senate last year, ran for Congress for a few months, and now is in for Comptroller).
Governor's Race Update
Rich Miller reported today that DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, the 2002 GOP nominee for Attorney General, will not run for Governor next year. In his release, Birkett also indicated that he will not run again for Attorney General. I was never convinced that Birkett would be a serious candidate. He still has hundreds of thousands of $ in campaign debt from last time and Oberweis/Rauschy/Brady are already positioned as the conservative candidates.
On the Dem side, it looks like Blago will have a primary challenge after all. According to CBS-2, former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath, currently an administrator at Kendall College, is set to announce within the next two weeks that he will run for Governor. Eisendrath, who was on the Chicago City Council from 1987-1993, has been circulating petitions throughout the state. This seems pointless to me. While Eisendrath comes of as somewhat credible, he has no chance of winning. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was the last serious potential challenger, and he has since endorsed the Governor. I predict Eisendrath will end up with 30% to 35% if he actually ends up running.
State Treasurer Update
With the recent decision of incumbent Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka to enter the governor's race, the now open campaign for Treasurer is soon set to become a free-for-all. So far the only announced candidate from either party is three-term Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri, who lost a State Senate race in 2002.
In a trib article yesterday, Mangieri seemed to dare other candidates to enter the race. This prompted an angry response from State Rep. John Fritchey, who had earlier decided to to run but is reconsidering. Also considering a run is former College Basketball star/Chicago banking family scion/frequent Dem donor Alexi Giannoulias, who is reportedly already circulating petitions.
What's my take on this race? I've seen both Mangieri and Fritchey speak and they would both be strong general election candidates. There's some strength to Mangieri's arguement that there should be at least one downstate candidate on the statewide ticket. Fritchey, however, with 5 terms in the Illinois House, is much better prepared to assume this office.
Frerichs Facebook Group
The next time you're mindlessly killing time on Facebook (I'm guilty too), check out the new Mike Frerichs for State Senate Facebook group.
LaHood's Son for U.S. Attorney?
Well, here's an interesting new twist in the U.S. Attorney fiasco. Tom Kacich had a link to this story in his blog today. Apparently another applicant for the vacant U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois post is Darin LaHood, son of U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Peoria). The younger LaHood, 37, is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for Las Vegas. While he certainly is much more qualified than Rick Winkel (Cook County State's Attorney's office, Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office), he has the same political conflict of interest problem. Who is Speaker Hastert more likely to listen to? He is much closer to LaHood than he is to Tim Johnson (who just bucked the leadership on two big budget votes). Who's gonna jump into the ring next? Jerry Weller's gardener?
More on Winkel for U.S. Attorney
On Friday, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial opposing the choice of lame duck State Senator Rick Winkel (R-Urbana) to be the new U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois. The piece makes two important points:
1. The new U.S. Attorney should have extensive prosecutorial experience.
2. The new U.S. Attorney should be be independent enough to impartially prosecute corruption in BOTH political parties.
EXPERIENCE: Compare Winkel with the three current U.S. Attorneys in Illinois. Patrick Fitzgerald (Northern district) was an assistant U.S. Attorney for 13 years before his appointment, working primarily on anti-terrorism ('93 World Trade Center bombers, Al Qaeda). Ronald Tenpas (Southern district) worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 6 years, most notably on the prosecution of John Allen Muhammed and Lee Malvo, the infamous DC Snipers. Jan Paul Miller (Central district), the man Winkel wants to replace, was an assistant U.S. Attorney for 13 years, prosecuting child pornagrophers, drug dealers, and corrupt politicians. Winkel has ZERO prosecutorial experience. His legal work dealt mostly with civil litigation, most notably defending shady campus landlords against lawsuits filed by student tenants.
POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE: Fitzgerald is able to effectively take on politicians in both parties (Mayor Daley, George Ryan) because he has a reputation for being politically impartial. Rick Winkel is a rabidly partisan Republican politician that took more campaign money from George Ryan than any other state legislator. The U.S. Attorney's office should not be treated as a retirement home for well-connected washed up political hacks.
Winkel new U.S. Attorney?
This shouldn't surprise us at all. According to Tom Kacich, Congressman Tim Johnson will recommend to Speaker Hastert that President Bush appoint retiring State Senator Rick Winkel (R-Urbana) as the new U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois. The recommendation is also supported by Congressmen Jerry Weller (R-Morris) and John Shimkus (R-Collinsville). Winkel's appointment, which must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will pay $140,000, which is more than double his current salary. If confirmed, Winkel will have to step down before his senate term expires, meaning that former State Senator Judy Myers, the only announced Republican candidate to succeed Winkel, will likely be appointed to the seat. This whole situation reaks of shady dealing, something even State Rep. Bill Black acknowledges. U.S. Attorneys should not be political hacks. Myers also gets to pad her state pention even if she doesn't win the full term in November of 2006.
Topinka to run for Governor
This surprises me a little bit. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the only Republican statewide office holder in Illinois, will announce soon that she is running for governor. Topinka has delayed her decision for weeks (like her mentor Jimmy Edgar). Expect the milkman to tee off on her soon. Judy now seems to be the frontrunner simply because she starts off with a 27% base vote (Corinne Wood voters). I predict a bloody ideological primary, with Judy narrowly emerging battered and out of money for Rod in November. Thoughts?