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.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Topinka in Trouble?

It looks like GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Judy Baar Topinka may be in trouble. A new poll shows Topinka at 29%, followed by Oberweis with 17%, Brady with 13%, Gidwitz at 11%, and 30% undecided. Why is this a sign of trouble?

Topinka is already very well known among the GOP electorate. The 29% she's at now is pretty close to the moderate base in the party. The 30% undecided will likely break towards one of the conservatives (likely Brady).

Topinka didn't help the situation with her poor performance in the CBS-2 debate. She seems to think she can pull this off with a Dan Hynes/frontrunner/Rose Garden type campaign, which I strongly disagree wtih.

The outcome of this race will hinge on the amount that Brady is willing/able to spend on TV in Metro Chicago, his margins downstate, and the quality of his TV ads. Thoughts?

A Daily Kos guide to unprobable victory in 2006-2008.

In order to win in 2006 and 2008 we need to select some issues to attack the Republicans on, as well as reframing how certain issues are discussed. Here are my thoughts on what Democrats need to do, if you agree please contact your representatives and ask them to:

1. Attack Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

I'm sure everyone here recognizes what a stupid policy this is, but more importantly, so does a large majority of Americans. We should frame the
Radical Rights' opposition to overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as a risk to national security: they are weakening our military because of their discriminatory beliefs. If we're going to lose votes over gay-rights issues, we should try to gain some while we're at it.

2. Demand Federal Voting Standards:

It is ridiculous that predominantly urban areas in
Ohio and Florida had such long lines to vote. We cannot expect Americans to be able to wait for more than an hour in line to vote: we have lives. The voters in these districts are most likely Democrat leaning. Republicans don't allow their voters to be treated this way, and neither should we. Many people died and suffered so that everyone could vote, we cannot take that for granted.

After the Florida debacle I think many Americans will realize why there needs to be federal election standards, plus it is scary to think that the President's own brother can influence how votes are counted in Florida. One of the founding principles of America was eliminating family-based political dynasties, and now they're happening all over again.

3. Stop Living in Fear:

Let's be honest, we're all scared right now. No one wants a nuclear bomb to go off, whether it's smuggled through Iraq or imported from Kazakhstan. No one wants all the tigers and sea turtles to die. And no one wants to turn away a birthing mother from a hospital whether they're "illegal" or not. So the next time someone tells you your opinion doesn't matter because you didn't serve in the
military or didn't graduate from Yale, ask them to politely go fuck themselves because there are people who served in the military and graduated Yale who will listen.

Obviously winning isn't a new idea, but as I read how many Democrats are planning to win in
2006 and 2008, whether in the newspaper or the Daily Kos diaries, I think many of us are going about winning the wrong way. It seems 90% of the conversations revolve around words like liberal/moderate, the south/north/west, black/white/latino, poor/rich, gay/straight, Republican/Democrat, man/woman (politically). We need to stop thinking like this, we're wasting too much time talking about these things.

Why do I think they're a waste of time? Because the more and more I really get to know blacks, women, gays, whatever, the more and more I realize that these things just don't matter. To constantly be reducing the complexity of people and their beliefs, their hopes, and their lives into a few words is not only absurd, but

What we need to be talking about are the things Republicans have been talking about. They talk about a culture of life, we talk about choice. They talk about the protecting families (with guns or war), we talk about "standards of living." They talk about redemption (Bush Jr./Jesus) and good and evil, while we scoff at the idea of "evil" while
Dick Cheney supports legislation that discriminates against his own daughter.

We need to talk about being beaten by your father after being informed by the school you'd had an abortion.

We need to talk about how the
war on drugs is tearing families apart and perpetuating a cycle of savage poverty. All families, all Americans, and all the world loses something every time a father is jailed or a mother dies of aids.

We need to talk about not being able to go fishing with your family anymore because of

We need to talk about our neighbors not coming back from Iraq and why oil or even a "free"
Iraq is not worth it. And we need to talk about our brothers and sons who do come back but can't begin families because of depleted uranium.

2000-2004 we made the mistake of putting the wrong people in charge of our party. Al Gore (in 2000), Tom Daschle, and John Kerry are all incredible people and assets to the Democratic Party, their families, and our country. But they just don't know how to talk about things like patriotism, families, and evil. Although judging by Gore, it's never too late too learn.

But now, after a devastating loss to a
Republican leadership that is incredibly corrupt and destructive, I think we're finally starting to get it. Reid gets it. Obama gets it. Durbin gets it. Boxer gets it. Dean gets it. Conyers gets it. Jesse Jackson Jr. gets it. Feingold gets it. Sheila Jackson-Lee gets it.

And it's starting to scare the Republicans. They're desperately looking for
another war to begin, because its looking more and more like they're going to need it in 2006/8. But something tells me they're aren't gonna get away with it this time because we have people like Dean and Reid heading our party.

So please when 2007 rolls around and the primaries are upon us, lets just, for a few seconds, forget about things like south/north and black/white. And lets talk about someone who gets it. Someone who gets that these aren't the things that matter. We have so much more important things to think about than

What the world needs now.

A common knee-jerk criticism of us "knee-jerk" Bush-haters is "Well maybe
Bush is wrong, but he has to try something, that's leadership and he's the President blah blah" But they do have a point: a significant proportion of the left is too stubborn and overeducated to accept leadership or even work with people who don't adhere to their beliefs. So here's what I'm looking for from a leader, and really, any politician:

Moderate but progressive
taxation. Heavy income and corporate taxation can weigh down the economy, scare away jobs. But there does have to be some acknowledgement that the rich are able to "earn" their money because of an infrastructure that supplies roads, security, and an educated, healthy, workforce. If there are to be cuts in taxes it should be to regressive forms of taxation that rich Republicans always try to pretend don't exist. Why can't Grover Norquist fight for ending sales tax on groceries that would help all Americans instead taxes that only affect his prosperous friends?

An economy based on math, science,
history, and humanity-not whoever your biggest campaign contributors are. There are absolutely no positive results from Bush's Presidency on the economy. Sure, specific sectors of the economy are thriving: energy, weapon's makers, predatory lenders, and pharmaceuticals (if you're a CEO). Basically anything Dick Cheney and his cronies make money from. While the tech bubble created under Bill Clinton was short lived it helped raise American's entire economy not just that of his friends. We also need to remember that happy workers make better work, so all this gutting of health-benefits, cutting overtime pay, massive layoffs to benefit stockholders, and destroying OSHA needs to be stopped.

Pro-enlisted troop. The lefts past general contempt for the Armed Services needs to stop...and thanks to people like John Kerry, Cindy Sheehan and Paul Hackett the days of lower real-wage pay for enlisted troops (which happened under Clinton) is over. We need to focus our attacks on sycophants like General Tommy Franks, and support a basic dignity for our enlisted troops so that scenarios like the Abu Gharib prisoner scandal never happen again.

Reparations through public education. Since
Katrina maybe now it will become obvious to the majority of Americans that there are still lingering affects of slavery and racism that need to be addressed. The public schools of poor communities are little more than daycare where kids have to worry more about getting mugged than their math homework. This will take, yes, lots of money, but money spent on education is an investment: the better educated someone is the longer they live and the more money they make.

Separation of
Church and State. What these right-wing lunatics don't realize is separation of Church and State is not only good for the State and society, but for churches and religion itself. Why do you think more people continue to go to church in America but not in Spain or France? Science, math, and logic should dominate the public sphere of life, personal beliefs should remain independent and private.

Environmentalism that promotes job creation and invention. We need to protect the
environment, but we cannot continue to pursue policies that negatively affect the working class. Gradual improvements in energy efficiency and pollution output are the way to go.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mangieri Launches Website

Paul Mangieri, one of two Democratic candidates for IL State Treasurer, has launched his campaign website. The content is still pretty sparse, but gives a good preview of Mangieri's campaign theme: "A Fighter Working for Us."

Mangieri is currently serving his third term as Knox County State's Attorney. He previously served in the U.S. Navy JAG corps.

How do you see this race shaping up? It seems that locally, most Dems are far more interested in the County Board District 9 primary than this race. Will Mangieri garner enough downstate support to overcome what should be a hefty margin for Giannoulias in Metro Chicago?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kirchner/Bell Launch Website

Bob Kirchner and Lisa Bell have launched their campaign website. Bob and Lisa have also released an impressive list of endorsements. The list includes 8 members of the County Board, Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, Urbana City Clerk Phyllis Clark, City of Champaign Township Supervisor Linda Abernathy, 3 members of the Urbana City Council, 3 members of the Champaign City Council, and 22 members of the UIUC College Democrats.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Champaign County Rising Stars

A few days ago, The Hotline, one of my favorite political websites, did a feature on rising stars in Illinois politics. Some of their past rising stars that eventually made it big include Senator Barack Obama and Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

So who are some rising stars in Champaign County politics? Here's my list:


Brandon Bowersox- Brandon, is serving his first term on the Urbana City Council and is also Secretary of the Champaign County Democratic Party. He's young and well spoken.

Mike Frerichs- This one is pretty obvious. If elected this fall, Mike will become East Central Illinois' first ever Democratic State Senator and the youngest member of the Illinois State Senate.

Gina Jackson- Gina is serving her first term on the Champaign City Council after knocking off a two decade incumbent. She is a military veteran and a good public speaker.

Ruth Wyman- Ruthie, a former President of the College Democrats, recently retired after two terms on the Urbana City Council, but she is still very active in local politics. She is managing the Kirchner/Bell for County Board campaign.

Tony Fabri- Tony, who is also a former President of the College Democrats, is a member of the County Board and Chair of the Champaign County Democratic Party. Look for Tony to be a contender for County Board Chair if the "real" Democrats take back control in March.

Brendan McGinty- He pissed off a lot of people with his role in the Tricia Avery coup, but McGinty is still Chair of the powerful County Board Finance Committee and openly ambitious about running for higher office. Look for him to seek appointment as County Auditor if/when Frerichs is elected State Senator.


Chapin Rose- Chapin, who is serving his 2nd term in the IL House, is a former UIUC Student Trustee and already in the House Republican Leadership. Look for him to eventually succeed Tom Cross as House Minority Leader or make a bid for Congress when Tim Johnson retires.

Mark Shelden- Shelden, a longtime College Democrats nemesis, is running for a third term as County Clerk, and is considered by many the de facto leader of the Champaign County Republicans. Shelden briefly considered a run for State Senate. Still only in his early 40's, Shelden will run for State Senate or Congress within the next decade.

Deb Feinen- We mocked her when the Tribune annointed her a rising star, but Feinen really does still have a future in local politics. Look for her to run for Champaign City Council next year and eventually make a bid to succeed Jerry Schweighart as Mayor.

J.J. Farney- Farney, who is in his late 20's, ran a surprisingly strong campaign against Phyllis Clark for Urbana City Clerk last year and is running for county board this year. Look for him to take more of a leadership role in the CC Republicans in the next few years.

Jason Barickman- The incoming Chair of the Champaign County Republicans is everything that the current chair is not: young, energetic, ambitious, and ruthless. Look for him to energize a sagging party org.

Monday, January 23, 2006

College Dems Meeting

Alexi Giannulias, candidate for Illinois State Treasurer, will be on campus to participate in the College Democrats Statewide Candidate Speaker Series. Alexi has been endorsed by Senator Barack Obama. The event takes place on Tuesday, January 24th, at 6:00pm, in 160 English Building. Free pizza and pop will be served!

Other speakers include
David Gill, Mike Frerichs, and Bob Kirchner.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bush and Blago

A lot of Republicans have claimed that Blago's dismal approval ratings will be a drag on the rest of the Democratic ticket, from Jesse White all the way down to county board races. According to the lastest Survey USA poll, Rod's rating is 42% approve, 53% disapprove.

But what about the effect of President Bush on the overall GOP ticket? Remember, off year elections are usually a referendum on the policies of the guy in the White House. According to Survey USA, the President's rating in Illinois is 35% approve, 62% disapprove.

Will Illinois Democrats, wishing to send the president a message, flock to the polls, driving high turnout in Congressional races? Will this high Dem turnout save Blago and help the rest of the Dem ticket?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Brady's Empty Pockets

Bill Brady appears to be emerging at the anti-Judy candidate in the GOP Primary, but he appears to be running low on money. According to a source in one of the other Republican guv campaigns, Brady recently had to cut two campaign staffers. That's a bad sign this close to the primary. We'll know more when campaigns file their financial reports later this month. Will Brady have enough money to beat Judy?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

State of the State Coverage

Governor Blagojevich delivered his fourth State of the State address this afternoon. You can get the full text and watch the full speech here. Some highlights:

*Blago gave a pretty good defense of his overall record (minimum wage increase, All Kids, etc.)
*The governor presented his $3.2 billion capital spending plan, but never used the word "keno"
*A proposed $1000 per student annual tax credit for freshmen and sophomores that maintain a B average
*A Veterans Care program to provide health care coverage for all Illinois veterans

I haven't watched the video yet, but I read through the text, and I thought it was pretty good. The governor's approval ratings may be stuck at 40%, but I would caution his critics not to count him out just yet.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cubs = Corruption

As a diehard White Sox fan, this made me very happy. Last week Chicago City Clerk Jim Laski, the second highest ranking elected official in Chicago, was indicted for bribery and obstruction of justice. According to secret recordings of Laski, the code phrase used by Laski signaling an associate to cover up the bribes was "Go Cubs," the ultimate heresy for a life long South Sider, especially during the White Sox playoff run.

Eisendrath the Real Deal?

Disclaimer: I support Governor Blagojevich for re-election. That being said, I have been fairly impressed by primary challenger Edwin Eisendrath's campaign so far. For someone who has never run for anything higher than Alderman, Eisendrath is running a pretty good operation.

Eisendrath has been getting great free publicity in the mainstream media. Just today the Tribune ran another article on EE, this time focusing on his education funding proposal. Last week he got good press with his ethics proposal. This week EE will be doing a downstate swing, including a speech to the College Democrats (Wednesday, January 18th, @7pm in 160 English Building).

I still think the Governor will win pretty substantially, but I'm sticking with my earlier prediction that EE will do better than many pundits think (between 35% and 40%) if he is willing to spend $3 million of his family's money. But as a Blago supporter, I hope he wakes up and starts to take EE more seriously.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Illini Pundit = Mark Shelden

There's been some discussion about this topic in the previous thread, so I thought I'd do a whole post on it. One anonymous commenter suggested that Shelden, whom many local political junkies have long speculated is Illini Pundit, will slowly out himself. Why? Because Illini Pundit may soon be subpoeaned in relation to a lawsuit involving a fired MTD employee, who claims she was terminated for posting on IP.

Let's say that Shelden admits he is IP. Then what? Running a political blog on a county computer is clearly illegal, but then again, so is sending political ad buys from a county fax machine, and look what happened with that, absolutely nothing.

Will a scandal involving Shelden and IP entice a strong Democrat into the county clerk race? Will such a Democrat be able to gain any traction with this issue? I still have my doubts. 1. Incumbent County Clerks don't lose reelection bids. 2. The average voter doesn't even know what a blog is. 3. Recruiting a strong candidate for this race is still a longshot. Your thoughts?

Friday, January 13, 2006

The "New" Illini Pundit

Illini Pundit, one of the more popular/controversial local bloggers, has decided to discontinue his blog. Sort of. He claims that he will be actively involved in a number of local campaigns and doesn't want to tie his blog to any of his candidates.

Coincidentally, however, a number of local Republicans have stepped up to take over the blog. Among these selfless GOP'ers is the man many suspect IS Illini Pundit, our glorious county clerk, Mr. Mark "Marky-Mark" Shelden. And what is our old friend's first post? A lame post bashing Mike Frerichs yet again. Yes that blog has changed a lot :)

Politicians and Hats

This is a little follow up on my previous post. Here is an example of when its okay for a politician to wear a sports cap. Mayor Daley is a hardcore Chicago White Sox fan. He's not just wearing the cap to get attention on C-SPAN.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Senator Grandstand

I'm usually a pretty big Joe Biden fan, but sometimes (like Pat Robertson) he's a caricature of himself. Biden wore the Princeton hat during his questioning in order to emphasize his criticism of Samuel Alito's membership in a group that opposed admission of women and minorities at Princeton. By looking ridiculous, Biden detracted from a very valid point.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Robertson Rants Again

Doesn't it seem like Pat Robertson is just becoming a caricature of himself? On his television show, Robertson recently declared that Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was punishment from God for pulling out of Gaza. This comes only a few months after Robertson said we should assasinate Hugo Chavez. If my pastor was this wacko maybe I'd go to mass more often.

You Want Cheese With That?

According to a recently published report, Chicago is the fattest city in the United States. The report lists the 25 fattest cities in the country. In recent years Chicago has hovered near the top five, this the first year it has topped the list.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

College Dems Event

This is for those of you who will be in central Illinois next week:

Who: All College Democrats free admission
What: Reception for Democratic State Legislators hosted by Illinois College Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson
Where: Floyd's Thirst Parlor, 210 S. Fifth, downtown Springfield
When: Wednesday, January 11th, 5p-7p
Why: Great chance to meet Democratic legislators and fellow College Dems


Big game tonight against Michigan State. I'm hoping for a big Wake Forest type win so we can shut up the Indiana/Michigan State/Ohio State/Wisconsin adoring national media.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

State Treasurer Showdown

The IL Democratic Primary will feature a two candidate showdown for State Treasurer between Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri and Chicago banker Alexi Giannoulias.

Giannoulias is a former college basketball star and scion of a Chicago banking family. He has been endorsed by Senator Barack Obama and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Mangieri, who is from downstate Galesburg, has been endorsed by the Illinois Democratic Party.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, has filed a challenge to Giannoulias' petitions in an attempt to get him kicked off the ballot. Look for this race to get nasty, with Mangieri attacking Giannoulias for his wealth/youth and Giannoulias for his conservative positions on abortion and gun control.