UIUC College Dems

This blog is published by the UIUC College Democrats. We focus on state and local politics, but are willing to discuss pretty much anything.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Rod's New Running Mate

To show that I'm bipartisan, I've included a funny Rod pic too.

More Judy

I have to admit, I stole the "funny Topinka pics" idea from Rich Miller, but I couldn't resist after finding this one.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Happy Holidays" from Judy

At least she likes the right baseball team :)

Wanted: Democratic Candidates

Why the picture of Mark "Illini Pundit" Shelden? To chastise my fellow Champaign County Democrats for our less than adequate 2006 local candidate recruitment. The county clerk race is the best, or should I say worst, example of this failure.

Shelden narrowly retained his election duties last year, barely surviving an election commission referendum by 4% margin. This is hardly the sign of an entrenched incumbent. The least we could do is field an opponent.

Other recruiting failures: No candidates for open county board seats in Districts 2 and 3. No candidates for treasurer or sheriff.

This is a call to action. There are many well-qualified Dems in this county; I hope some well step up and run for these offices next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Clarence Page had a great column in the Tribune today about the budget-slashing bill passed by Congress last week. So what did we get for Christmas. Well, there's a little bit for everyone. For old folks: $6.4 billion in Medicare cuts. For the poor: $4.8 billion in Medicaid cuts. Who gets the biggest shaft? You guessed it, the people who never vote: college students! What do we get? $12.7 billion slashed from federal student loans.

Doesn't anyone make out on top in this holiday season? Of course: rich people get another $70 billion in capitol gains tax cuts! Ba-humbug indeed.

Edwin Eisen-who?

So it looks like the guv will have a primary opponent afterall. Former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath filed his petitions last week and the IL Dem Party announced today that they will not challenge their validity. Another candidate, the unknown Philip Sitkowski, is likely to be removed from the ballot.

Eisendrath will have no support from elected officials or other Dem establishment types, but he has indicated he will target the progressive university crowd (people who read this blog). In his announcement speech he attacked the now infamous pension reform legislation. How will Eisendrath's message play out in Champaign-Urbana? Will he attack legislators who voted for the pension bill (Naomi Jakobsson)?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Predictions for 2006

Since we already copied all of the other bloggers with our year end awards, I figured we might as well go all the way and make some predictions for 2006. Here goes:

* Governor Blagojevich will defeat Eisendrath by a closer than expected 66% to 34%

* An underfunded Bill Brady will stun Judy Baar Topinka in the GOP Primary. Results: Brady 37%, Topinka 36%, Oberweis 18%, Gidwitz 9%.

* Alexi G will defeat Paul Mangieri by a larger than expected 54% to 46% in the Dem Treasurer Primary.

* Results of Dem District 9 Showdown:
Bob Kirchner-27%
Lisa Bell- 26%
Steve Beckett- 24%
Barbara Wysocki- 23%

* Democrats will lose a seat to a Green, but will retain the County Board with a 14-12-1 majority.

* Mark Shelden will be easily re-elected against a slated Democrat.

* Mike Frerichs will defeat Judy Myers 51% to 49%.

* Naomi Jakobsson will be reelected 71% to 29%

* Statewide results:
Blago 51%, Brady 46%
White 55%, Rutherford 45%
Madigan 60%, Umholtz 39%
Hynes 61%, Pankau 38%
Radogno 51%, Giannulias 49%

* Fighting Illini stun Michigan State and repeat as Big Ten champs, eliminated in Round of 8 in tournament.

* White Sox defeat Yankees 4 to 3 in ALCS, return to World Series.

* Dems gain 4 seats in U.S. Senate, but fail to take majority

* Dems gain 7 seats in U.S. House, but fail to take majority

College Demmy Awards

I know that everyone does this, but we're gonna take a crack at it and hand out year end awards. So here we go, the 1st Annual College Demmy Awards. And the winners are:

Worst performance in a starring role- Our dear leader, President George W. Bush. I must admit that even I, a proud Democratic hack, did not expect Dubya to screw up this bad: botched Social Security privatization, incompetent Hurricane Katrina response, Harriet Miers debacle, failure to renew Patriot Act, we could go on and on. My favorite statistic: 3% approval rating among African-Americans.

Comeback player of the year-New Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing. After a loss for state rep., three losses for Congress, and another loss for state rep., Prussing got back in the winning column with a narrow upset victory over three term incumbent Mayor Tod Satterthwaite.

Rookie of the year- Senator Barack Obama for actually living up to expectations. The numbers: 39 town hall meetings, $1 billion in Illinois transportation projects, E85 tax credit, 69% approval rating.

Worst candidate name- Tie between Rex Bradfield and Edwin Eisendrath.

Best supporting actor- Lt. Governor Pat Quinn for actually doing good things with his office: new law to protect military veterans, legislation to tackle rising college textbook prices, wind power at the U of I.

Worst supporting actor- Steve Rauschenberger. In a few short months, Rauschy went from a rising star in the Illinois GOP to Ron Gidwitz's sidekick.

Biggest disappointment- Fighting Illini come up just short in National Title game after a spectacular regular season and March Madness tournament.

Local Democrat who got the shaft- Tricia Avery. The former County Board Chair is ousted in a coup orchestrated by fellow "Democrats" conspiring with County Board Republicans.

Local Republican who got the shaft- Mark Shelden. The County Clerk and longtime College Dems nemesis is set to run for State Senate, but is shoved aside by geriatric George Ryan crony Judy Myers.

Biggest winner- Illini Pundit will love this one: State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson. Naomi is bashed all year by local Republicans, the News-Gazette, and some unions, but emerges at the end of the year with a 62% approval rating and a fringe opponent for re-election.

Biggest loser- Tie between Deb Feinen and Rick Winkel. Only a year after being dubbed "a rising star" by the Chicago Tribune, Feinen is now a failed state rep candidate, failed City Council member, and lameduck member of the County Board. Winkel opted to not run for a second term and now looks unlikely to get appointed U.S. Attorney.

Democrat to watch in 2006- Mike Frerichs, who is the Dem candidate in the marquee local race next year. Frerichs could become East Central Illinois's first ever Democratic State Senator.

Republican to watch in 2006- Jason Barickman. The incoming County GOP chair is everything his predecessor isn't: young, energetic, ambitious, and well-organized.

Best overall performance- World Champion Chicago White Sox, who ended the curse of Shoeless Joe with a masterful 11-1 playoff run.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The War on Christmas?

This liberal has decided to take a break from celebrating Christmas to discuss the war that I, along with my fellow liberals, have been waging on Christmas. Nothing fuels my politically correct indignation more than nativity scenes, fruitcake, egg nog, Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer, Jack Forst, and Santa. You better enjoy this Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. America, because next year, after we've won our War on Christmas, all of you will be singing Al-Qaeda carols and celebrating Ramadan. Next up: our War on Apple Pie and Baseball!

Happy Holidays,

UIUC College Democrats

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Reformer vs. The Machine

Most of you probably have never heard of John Stroger, but he is a participant in what may be the most important Democratic primary contest in the state this March.

Stroger, President of the Cook County Board, is running for a third term. Stroger is the epitome of the old school machine politician. He uses his control over the $3.1 billion county budget to disperse thousands of jobs to unqualified political cronies. Rather than cut bloated bureaucracy, Stroger has chosen to annually raise taxes.

Stroger's opponent is Forrest Claypool, a former CEO of the Chicago Park District and a leader of the reform anti-Stroger faction on the County Board. He also served as a campaign consultant for Senator Barack Obama last year.

Why should anyone outside of Cook County care about this race? Because the outcome will be a test of the strength of the reform faction in the Illinois Democratic Party, an organization badly in need of reform. Stroger is backed by the Democratic establishment (Daleys, Madigan, Lipiniski, etc) and is likely to play the race card to drive up his margins. I'm predicting that Claypool's fundraising ability will give him the resources to convey his reform message to the voters, a message that will resonate. Early line: Claypool 51%, Stroger 49%.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Senate Blocks ANWR Drilling

Yesterday powerful Senate President Pro Tem Ted Stevens of Alaska wore his good luck "fighting" necktie, which features a cartoon Incredible Hulk. Why? Because the Senate was voting on a defense spending bill that included a provision for drilling in ANWR that had been slipped in at the last minute by Stevens, a longtime proponent of Arctic drilling.

The reason for Stevens' sneaky maneuver? A straight up vote on ANWR would have failed by a wide margin. To get around that, Stevens held the defense bill, which includes Hurricane Katrina relief and funding for Iraq/Afghanistan operations, hostage to the ANWR provision.

Stevens' trick failed. The Senate voted 56 to 44, four votes short of the 60 needed to cut off a fillibuster. It's only a matter of time before Republicans use this vote to claim Democrats "voted against the troops." The truth: Republicans chose to endanger funding for the troops by slipping in this ANWR provision at the last minute. Republican hypocrisy? Get out of here........

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Democratic Primary in District 9

We've been doing a lot of posts on the gubernatorial race, so I thought I'd mix it up a little and do a post about local politics.

In County Board District 9, Democratic (I use the term loosely) County Board Chair Barb Wysocki and Vice Chair Steve Beckett will face primary challenges from former attorney/former County Board member Bob Kirchner and rural dental health advocate Lisa Bell.

Why the primary challenge? To put a long story short, last year Wysocki and Beckett plotted with county board Republicans to stage a coup against then-Democratic County Board Chair Tricia Avery. Wysocki and Beckett, along with fellow District 9 "Democrat" Brendan McGinty voted with all 12 Republicans against the 12 loyal Democrats, and installed themselves in the leadership.

Once in power, the Traitorous Trio rolled over and let the Republicans call the shots. The first casualty was a long planned study on racial disparities in county hiring. The Traitorous Trio voted with all 12 GOP members to kill the study.

What will happen in this race? Kirchner and Bell are well regarded among the progressive Dems most likely to vote in this primary. This factor, plus lingering resentment, should be enough to overcome the Wysocki/Beckett name recognition advantage. At the very least Krichner should be able to snag one of the nomination spots. I predict that Kirchner/Bell will win with a solid 55% combined vote. Thoughts?

Update: Tom Kacich has a post on this at his blog. His analysis is pretty good, but I think he grossly underestimates the level of resentment towards Beckett/Wysocki over the Avery debacle. A lot has changed since 2002.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Filing Day!

Today is the first day to file petitions to get on the ballot for the March 21, 2006 Primary Election. Although filing continues until December 19th, most candidates traditionally file at 8am on the first day. Why? The first candidate to file appears first on the ballot. Why does that matter? It's sort of a political urban legend. Candidates believe that many voters will simply vote for the first name on the ballot (I give voters a little more credit than that).

You can keep track of who has filed at the Board of Elections website. Every announced candidate for governor has filed except for Ron Gidwitz.
Edwin Eisendrath (not really announced yet) has said he will file later this week to run again Blago for the Democratic nomination. At the local level, Mike Frerichs and Naomi Jakobsson have filed. Their expected opponents, Judy Myers and Rex Bradfield, have yet to file. Will there be any surprise filings this week?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Big Race for Second Banana

The race is on for the GOP nomination to be Illinois Second Banana (Lt. Governor). Following last week's announcement that Steve Rauschenberger will run for Lt. Governor as Ron Gidwitz's running mate, front runner Judy Baar Topinka is set announce this week that her running mate will be 2002 Attorney General loser/DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett. That's right, the same Birkett well known for his role in almost executing the innocent Rolando Cruz for murder.

Kathy Salvi, wife of Al Salvi (lost to Durbin in '96 and Jesse White in '98), will soon announce that she will be Jim "Go back to your own damn country" Oberweis' running mate. Salvi is currently running for the GOP nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Barrington), but she has also started circulating Lt. Governor petitions.

That makes three big names running for the lowly position of Lt. Governor, quite possibly the most useless political office in the state. Gidwitz, Topinka, and Milkman have all named running mates in order to consolidate their support for the primary. As our president would say, this is bad strategery. Nobody has ever cast a vote for governor based on who their running mate is. Quick, who was Jim Ryan's running mate in 2002? That's right, you don't know, because nobody cares.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Showdown with Georgetown

Big game tonight against Georgetown. Illinois is now the only undefeated ranked team in the Big Ten with Iowa losing to Northern Iowa and Indiana losing to Indiana State last night. Will rookie Jamar Smith have another big game tonight? We'll see........GO ILLINI!!!!!


Yeah I know that title was lame. Anyway, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Steve Rauschenberger announced yesterday that he would drop out of the race and instead run for Lt. Governor as Ron Gidwitz's running mate. Why? Rauschenberger has been lagging in both the polls and fundraising. His lame attempt to get press by denouncing Abercrombie shirts fizzled. He's vacating his senate seat, so I guess this is a desperate attempt to hang on to public office as Second-Banana in Chief.

Will this help Gidwitz? Unlikely. He's already dropped a big chunk of his cosmetics/fur fortune (that's right) into awful tv ads that haven't lifted him out of the single digits in the polls. Who benefits the most from this? Believe it or not, Billy Brady. The guy who isn't even the best legislator named Brady in his own hometown (that would be Dan Brady) is now seen by many as the most viable conservative alternative to Topinka.

Opponent for Naomi?

Here's what Champaign County GOP Chair Steve Hartman had to say in Sunday's News-Gazette about a potential GOP opponent for State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana): "The smart thing to do is not to run a candidate at this time." Jakobsson announced her bid for a third term on Tuesday.

This seems remarkable considering that local Republicans, including
Illini Pundit, are always carping about how "dumb" and "incompetent" Naomi is. The reason for Hartman's pessimism? A recent GOP commissioned poll showing Naomi with a 60% approval rating overall and 48% approval rating among Republicans!

Today a new Kacich column reported that Naomi may have an opponent after all. Rex Bradfield (yes people are actually named Rex), a 59 year old Urbana engineer with no political experience, has been collecting signatures to run against Naomi. Bradfield, however, has only 350 (I actually doubt he even has that many), and the deadline to turn in the minimum 500 is December 19th. Another problem for Bradfield: Hartman doesn't even want him to run. The GOP would rather run nobody than have some fool lose to Naomi by a 70% to 30% margin.

New College Dems Officers

This is the new College Democrats regime for Spring 2006:

President- Justin Cajindos (
Vice President- Craig Colbrook (
Secretary- Caitlin McDonald (
Treasurer- Annie Creswell (
Communications Director- Sky Andrecheck (
Outreach Director- Allison Lale (
Legislative Director- Jenny Coco (
Political Director- Allison Getty (
Policy Director- Lara Jensen (
Recruitment Director- Aurelija Juska (
Publicity Director- Julien Baburka (
Voter Registration Chair- Andy Munemoto (
Voter Registration Chair- Katie Dawson (
Fundraising Director- Sharad Kumar (
"Nick Dolce" Social Chair- Jake Smallhorn (
Sergeant At Arms- Mark Briseno (
Press Secretary- Jon Monteith (
Technology Director- Francisco Melli-Huber (

Too Much Drinking?

So it looks like someone has been posting on here hating on our blog and accusing us of drinking too much. Guilty as charged. I'll admit that I enjoy the spirits and have been a little lazy posting on here. But since the anonymous hater also accused us of doing nothing, here's a little reminder of the College Dems track record:

* Registered more than 10,000 student voters for 2004 election
* More than 1500 students on e-mail list
* Raised over $3000 with fall fundraiser
* Helped re-elect Rep. Naomi Jakobsson with more than 62% of the vote in 2004
* 75% student voter turnout on campus in 2004 (more than 7500 voters)