Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

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On New Year’s Eve 2014, after winning election but prior to taking office, then Governor-elect Rauner replenished his nearly depleted candidate committee, Citizens for Rauner, with $20 million. The Governor put in $10 million of his own money and also received contributions of $8 million from Ken Griffin and $2 million from Richard Uihlein. Here is what one Rauner advisor told Crain’s Greg Hinz at the time:

“There are a lot of legislators who he is going to be asking to make a lot of tough decisions,” said one Rauner insider who asked not to be named. “The intent is to build a large and effective political operation in order to pursue his agenda.” Some of the money may be donated directly to legislators’ campaign committees and other funds spent on their behalf. TV ads, polling and other activity on behalf of Rauner policies also is expected, the insider said. And the war chest only is “the first in a series,” part of a “multipronged effort” in which other funding vehicles will be formed, the source said. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”

Since that time the Governor has personally contributed another $2.75 million to his campaign fund and with an expected contested re-election campaign looming many wondered just how much of that money he would spend on General Assembly races versus how much he would save for 2018. It’s only August but the answer is already clear, the Governor will spend most or possibly all of that money to help elect fellow Republicans.

Because of campaign finance limits the Governor’s campaign committee cannot transfer unlimited sums to Republican General Assembly candidates directly, however during a general election candidate committees, such as Citizens for Rauner, are allowed to make unlimited transfers to party committees, such as the Illinois Republican Party, and Rauner has done just that. Yesterday Citizens for Rauner transferred another $5 million to the Illinois Republican Party bringing the total to just over $16 million for the 2016 cycle. Rauner’s campaign committee, which started 2015 with about $20 million in the bank is now down to just around $5 million remaining. It’s probably a sign of the times and the record amounts of money involved that we can casually use the phrase “just around $5 million remaining”.

And while the Illinois Republican Party has spent some of that money directly, for example they’ve had about a half million in in-kinds and about $1.4 million in independent expenditures for Republican candidates this cycle, most of the money is being transferred to the two General Assembly Republican leadership committees: the House Republican Organization (HRO) and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee (RSSCC). Already HRO has received a little over $9 million from the Illinois Republican Party and just this morning the RSSCC received another $500K bringing their cycle total to about $1.7 million. So between in-kinds, independent expenditures and transfers to the two leadership committees the state party has already moved or spent $12.6 million of the $16 million they’ve received from Rauner, and remember the most recent transfer of $5 million from the Governor to the state party happened just yesterday.

Campaign funds are not the Governor’s only contribution to this effort. The Governor has promised the “biggest ground game ever” for legislative races this fall. Back in May the Governor personally paid $200K to Crowdskout, LLC, a data management and marketing platform. This expenditure was likely for a data enhancement on the Republican voterfile to allow for greater voter demographic targeting, something the Democrats and the Obama campaign in particular had received extensive attention for in the past.

On a number of occasions the Governor has promised to transform the party and make Illinois Republicans competitive again but oddly enough the other day when asked about his significant contributions this cycle and his involvement in winning more seats for Republicans in the General Assembly he told reporters “I’m not too involved in local races.” The Governor’s occasional odd comment notwithstanding, he promised to contribute significant resources for party building and so far he’s kept that commitment.

 

McHenry and St. Clair County Board Chairman Races

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I don’t have the bandwidth to provide resources for all local races but I do want to highlight two current county board chairman races in two of the state’s bigger counties which have had a number of interesting developments, each in some way connected to a local state rep race.

 

McHenry County

Let’s start with McHenry County. This year will be the first time that the county board chairman in McHenry County is popularly elected, in the past the chairman was selected by the county board, a change that had been advocated by State Rep. Jack Franks.

In the Republican primary Michael Walkup defeated incumbent board chairman Joseph Gottemoller by 3 points, 51.5% to 48.5%. No Democratic candidates filed to run for county board chairman in the primary so it was thought that Walkup would be unopposed in the fall for the general election. However veteran State Rep. Jack Franks decided to give up his state house seat and run for the post so the local county party appointed him to the empty slot.

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Despite coming from an overwhelmingly Republican area Jack Franks has been quite successful for a Democrat. In 2014 he won his state rep district by 17 points even though Rauner beat Quinn in the district by 34 points. If Franks hopes to win the county board race he’s going to need the same level of significantly outperforming other Democrats on the ballot. In 2012 Romney beat Obama by 9 points in the county and Rauner won it in 2014 by 35 points. Democrats can win here, Obama beat McCain in 2008 by 5 points, it’s just uncommon.

The one advantage Franks does have is in the fundraising department. He finished June with almost $575K in cash and investments. He has since added another $45K but $35K of it appears to be just converting his investments to cash. Walkup, on the other hand, had less than $2K at the end of June and has only added about $12K since, leaving him at a significant cash disadvantage.

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St. Clair County

The St. Clair County Board chairman’s race is interesting because of a man whose name will not appear on the ballot, at least not for this race, Bob Romanik. Romanik is the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 114th district (map) which runs from East St. Louis west to Scott Air Force Base. Romanik is a local radio host who is known for being outspoken and colorful, to put it diplomatically.

Romanik is no fan of current Democratic county board chairman Mark Kern and he’s paid for a series of local billboards to demonstrate as such:

Lately, though, Romanik has gained the attention of local media with his billboards in the Belleville community, which comically lambast St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern.

His current billboard pictures Kern in a bikini with the caption “Mark ‘Sweetcakes’ Kern should have been a stripper. He’s already stripped us of our tax dollars!”

A previous Romanik billboard captured Kern alongside a clown and boldly asked: “Bozo and Mark ‘Sweetcakes’ Kern; who is the biggest clown in town?”

Yet another billboard during the Christmas season pictured Kern alongside an image of a Sasquatch (described as Kern’s wife, Erin) and declared, “We really don’t care if you have a happy holiday, because we’re rich idiots. We are really bottom feeders.”

Romanik was even charged but acquitted for trespassing at Kern’s home.

What makes Romanik interesting is not his rhetoric but his money. He put $2 million of his own money into his campaign fund and pledged to spend it not only on his own race but on other local races as well. Considering his confrontational past with Kern there is significant speculation that some of that money could be spent against Kern. Kern is apparently taking the possibility seriously, he just raised $100K from two family members, an action which lifted the contribution limits for this race.

Almost lost in all of this is Kern’s actual Republican opponent for county board chairman, Rodger Cook. Cook can now raise funds in unlimited amounts but so far he’s only raised about $2K for the entire 2016 cycle and he had less than $200 in the bank at the end of June.

While Cook’s fundraising has been anemic he likely won’t be the recipient of Romanik’s funds, at least not directly. In April the St. Clair County Republican Party voted to censure and rebuke Romanik using strong, clear language. Through a weird quirk in the SCCRCC website you can see their press release on the censure here. The party makes clear that they will not support Romanik and not accept his money, and that would presumably apply to Cook as well, even though he may be the beneficiary of whatever anti-Kern spending Romanik does undertake. St. Clair County politics will likely be interesting this fall, no matter what.

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Cook will have his work cut out for him, St. Clair County has been reliably Democratic and this is a presidential election year. Rauner, Topinka and Cross all managed to win the county in 2014 so it is possible for Republicans to have success here but Quinn won the county in 2010 and Obama won it by 22 and 14 points in 2008 and 2012, respectively. 2016 is not expected to be as favorable for the Republicans as 2014 was so Cook will need a lot to work in his favor if he’s going to be successful.

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Race Profiles Available

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A few updates:

  • Race profiles are now available for every General Assembly district, not just the likely targeted races. Since it now loads 177 races give the page a minute to load.
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  • I’ve also created something similar for the Comptroller’s race. Aside from the preview there is also a financial profile plus all of the historical vote totals for statewide general elections since 1990.
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  • Using the new FEC API I was able to create profiles for all of the Illinois Congressional races as well.
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  • Last, using the FEC API I have created a profile page for the US Senate race. Aside from the preview there is also a financial profile plus all of the historical vote totals for statewide general elections since 1990.

     

Embed Your Own Election Profiles

For each of the above you can embed the code for these election profiles on your own site. Use the tool here to get the embed code.

 

A-1 Contributions and In-Kinds Now Separate

For the General Assembly elections in a lot of key races the candidates are receiving in-kind contributions of staff and other costs from leadership and these are showing up on A-1’s. These numbers are not cash and were skewing the estimated cash available line so I’ve separated the A-1 totals into two lines.

 

Embed Your Own Election Profile

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If you are familiar with our election profile pages (US Senate, Comptroller, Congress, General Assembly) you can now embed these profiles into your own page/site. For the statewide races you can embed the candidates’ financial position. For the congressional and general assembly races you can embed the whole profile or just the candidates’ financial position. Use the dropdowns below to select the race/type you want and get the embed code. If the size doesn’t look right on your site feel free to adjust the height/width values in the iframe.

 

The General Assembly and Comptroller financial data are downloaded each night from the State Board of Elections and are current as of 9pm last night. The US Senate and Congressional race financial data is taken from the FEC API. See the FAQ for further details about this financial data.

 

Statewide Races

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Congressional Races

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General Assembly Races

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A Campaign Finance Oddity

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A few weeks ago I was looking through A-1 filings and and noticed that State Senate candidate Seth Lewis was getting in-kinds from both HRO and the RSSCC, which I noted on Twitter.

Someone mentioned to me that the reason you rarely come across a situation where a candidate for the General Assembly is being financially supported by the caucus committee of both chambers is that it’s not allowed. I looked it up and this appears to be the case.

Here is the section on campaign contributions, the relevant section is highlighted:

5/9-8.5 Limitations on campaign contributions
(b) During an election cycle, a candidate political committee may not accept contributions with an aggregate value over the following: (i) $5,000 from any individual, (ii) $10,000 from any corporation, labor organization, or association, or (iii) $50,000 from a candidate political committee or political action committee. A candidate political committee may accept contributions in any amount from a political party committee except during an election cycle in which the candidate seeks nomination at a primary election. During an election cycle in which the candidate seeks nomination at a primary election, a candidate political committee may not accept contributions from political party committees with an aggregate value over the following: (i) $200,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to statewide office, (ii) $125,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to the Senate, the Supreme Court or Appellate Court in the First Judicial district, or an office elected by all voters in a county with 1,000,000 or more residents, (iii) $75,000 for a candidate political committee established to support a candidate seeking nomination to the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court or Appellate Court for a judicial district other than the First Judicial District, an office elected by all voters of a county of fewer than 1,000,000 residents, and municipal and county offices in Cook County other than those elected by all voters of Cook County, and (iv) $50,000 for a candidate political committee established to support the nomination of a candidate to any other office. A candidate political committee established to elect a candidate to the General Assembly may accept contributions from only one legislative caucus committee. A candidate political committee may not accept contributions from a ballot initiative committee or from an independent expenditure committee.

And here is the section on committee definitions, the relevant section is highlighted:

5/9-1.8. Political committees
(c) “Political party committee” means the State central committee of a political party, a county central committee of a political party, a legislative caucus committee, or a committee formed by a ward or township committeeman of a political party. For purposes of this Article, a “legislative caucus committee” means a committee established for the purpose of electing candidates to the General Assembly by the person elected President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, or a committee established by 5 or more members of the same caucus of the Senate or 10 or more members of the same caucus of the House of Representatives.

So far Republican Senate candidates Seth Lewis, Paul Schimpf and Dale Fowler are getting paid staff from both the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee (RSSCC) and the House Republican Organization (HRO). Now the House Republican Organization is running an ad against Democratic incumbent Senator Gary Forby, which would presumably be an in-kind contribution to the Fowler campaign, it even lists HRO in the paid-for-by at the end of the ad.

This part of the campaign finance law seems rather odd to me. Then again it also seems kind of odd to be paying for Senate campaigns out of the House caucus funds, if for no other reason than you’ll have to explain to angry House caucus members why your’re spending caucus funds on the Senate instead of their races. Either way under the current letter of the law I’m not sure this is permitted.

General Assembly In-Kind Contributions

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The various caucus committees have started spending money on staff and paid communications for various supported candidates via in-kind contributions. I thought you might be interested to see which candidates they are already favoring with this support. Below is a sum of in-kinds reported on A-1’s since May 1st by candidate, donor and purpose. This list shows all in-kinds but the most prevalent ones are the ones from the caucus committees. This list is generated dynamically from the State Board data so whatever day you’re looking at it it is current as of 9pm last night.

 

The Money Race for the State House (07/18/2016)

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With the latest filing deadline just passed here is the latest update on the state of the money race for the Illinois General Assembly. If you read either of our previous State of the Money Race posts back in either April or January you’ll find that the narrative hasn’t changed much. With a few notable exceptions there wasn’t a lot of fundraising done in Q2 compared to previous quarters. The only General Assembly candidate committees to raise over $100,000 in the quarter were the four legislative leaders plus Bertino-Tarrant ($136K), Forby ($109K), Hoffman ($133K), Romanik ($1 million) and Phelps ($136K). Compare that to the 4th quarter of 2015 when aside from the legislative leaders one Republican and 19 other Democratic campaign committees raised more than $100K including 11 House committees over $247K and 3 over $500K.

The big new money in the quarter came from Bob Romanik, the Republican House candidate in the Metro East’s 114th district (currently held by Eddie Lee Jackson) who loaned himself another $1 million in Q2, on top of the previous million he loaned his campaign the quarter before.

Also on the Republican side money that was already in the system moved around a bit. Governor Rauner’s campaign committee transferred $5 million to the Illinois Republican Party and then the party transferred $2 million to the House Republican Organization (the state party also transferred another $1 million to HRO on July 1st). So far there haven’t been any similar transfers to the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee.

Let’s take a look at the data starting with the current estimated cash available, here is the current cash position of all the committees involved combining the 3/30 cash on hand, plus the 3/30 investment total plus any reported A-1 amounts so far this quarter.

Current Cash Position

Candidate Q2 Cash on Hand Q2 Investments Q3 A-1s Est Funds Available
Democratic Party of Illinois $2,459,508.04 $0.00 $30,000.00 $2,489,508.04
Friends of Michael J. Madigan $1,299,318.51 $0.00 $18,309.75 $1,317,628.26
Democratic Majority $2,742,990.67 $0.00 $31,600.00 $2,774,590.67
13th Ward Democratic Org $1,239,445.41 $0.00 $1,000.00 $1,240,445.41
Citizens for John Cullerton for State Senate $1,637,026.79 $300,488.79 $0.00 $1,937,515.58
Senate Democratic Victory Fund $2,468,521.98 $412,074.69 $0.00 $2,880,596.67
Committee to Support John Cullerton for State Central Committeeman $887,778.93 $0.00 $0.00 $887,778.93
Dem Senators Not On Ballot This Cycle $3,391,413.48 $42.36 $41,300.00 $3,432,755.84
Dem Senate Candidates $5,233,462.77 $250,007.00 $112,373.53 $5,595,843.30
Dem House Candidates $13,253,508.33 $285,941.27 $304,332.64 $13,424,572.00
Total $34,612,974.91 $1,248,554.11 $538,915.92 $35,981,234.70
Candidate Q2 Cash on Hand Q2 Investments Q3 A-1s Est Funds Available
Citizens for Rauner, Inc $15,280,774.95 $0.00 $0.00 $15,280,774.95
Turnaround Illinois $2,208,676.44 $0.00 $0.00 $2,208,676.44
Illinois Republican Party $3,052,327.80 $0.00 $10,000.00 $3,062,327.80
Citizens for Durkin $859,562.13 $0.00 $13,000.00 $872,562.13
House Republican Organization $669,355.36 $0.00 $1,023,820.05 $1,693,175.41
House Republican Leadership Committee $63,527.40 $0.00 $0.00 $63,527.40
Citizens for Christine Radogno $716,955.96 $0.00 $32,000.00 $748,955.96
Republican State Senate Campaign Committee $448,015.28 $0.00 $6,421.00 $454,436.28
Rep Senators Not On Ballot This Cycle $956,674.76 $0.00 $3,000.00 $959,674.76
Rep Senate Candidates $1,578,309.02 $45,300.00 $44,361.18 $1,667,970.20
Rep House Candidates $5,462,830.51 $25.00 $165,776.92 $5,628,632.43
Total $31,297,009.61 $45,325.00 $1,298,379.15 $32,640,713.76

It’s somewhat remarkable that even with the Governor’s personal wealth and his allied wealthy donors the Democrats have been able to keep pace in the money race. They currently have about $3.4 million more than the Republicans but that advantage can be quickly wiped out if or when the Governor and his allies start writing big checks again. Also the Independent Expenditure committee Liberty Principles PAC has just over $4 million and they have been closely allied with the Governor this cycle so it’s basically a wash.

Now let’s look at the same info while adding in the amounts that have already been spent so far this cycle (including in-kinds as spending):

Cycle Spending Ability

Candidate Already Spent Q2 Cash on Hand Q2 Investments Q3 A-1s Cycle Spending Ability
Democratic Party of Illinois $605,891.63 $2,459,508.04 $0.00 $30,000.00 $3,095,399.67
Friends of Michael J. Madigan $1,929,553.60 $1,299,318.51 $0.00 $18,309.75 $3,247,181.86
Democratic Majority $934,771.61 $2,742,990.67 $0.00 $31,600.00 $3,709,362.28
13th Ward Democratic Org $329,614.62 $1,239,445.41 $0.00 $1,000.00 $1,570,060.03
Citizens for John Cullerton for State Senate $794,210.49 $1,637,026.79 $300,488.79 $0.00 $2,731,726.07
Senate Democratic Victory Fund $1,927,734.85 $2,468,521.98 $412,074.69 $0.00 $4,808,331.52
Committee to Support John Cullerton for State Central Committeeman $96,100.57 $887,778.93 $0.00 $0.00 $983,879.50
Dem Senators Not On Ballot This Cycle $2,067,590.58 $3,391,413.48 $42.36 $41,300.00 $5,500,346.42
Dem Senate Candidates $5,092,818.51 $5,233,462.77 $250,007.00 $112,373.53 $10,688,661.81
Dem House Candidates $12,553,717.80 $13,253,508.33 $285,941.27 $304,332.64 $26,397,500.04
Total $26,332,004.26 $34,612,974.91 $1,248,554.11 $538,915.92 $62,732,449.20
Candidate Already Spent Q2 Cash on Hand Q2 Investments Q3 A-1s Cycle Spending Ability
Citizens for Rauner, Inc $7,861,569.64 $15,280,774.95 $0.00 $0.00 $23,142,344.59
Turnaround Illinois $4,048,696.21 $2,208,676.44 $0.00 $0.00 $6,257,372.65
Illinois Republican Party $4,421,430.97 $3,052,327.80 $0.00 $10,000.00 $7,483,758.77
Citizens for Durkin $646,240.22 $859,562.13 $0.00 $13,000.00 $1,518,802.35
House Republican Organization $2,444,183.13 $669,355.36 $0.00 $1,023,820.05 $4,137,358.54
House Republican Leadership Committee $5,036.25 $63,527.40 $0.00 $0.00 $68,563.65
Citizens for Christine Radogno $217,658.58 $716,955.96 $0.00 $32,000.00 $966,614.54
Republican State Senate Campaign Committee $901,413.56 $448,015.28 $0.00 $6,421.00 $1,355,849.84
Rep Senators Not On Ballot This Cycle $626,464.56 $956,674.76 $0.00 $3,000.00 $1,586,139.32
Rep Senate Candidates $2,781,646.46 $1,578,309.02 $45,300.00 $44,361.18 $4,449,616.66
Rep House Candidates $4,527,111.13 $5,462,830.51 $25.00 $165,776.92 $10,155,743.56
Total $28,481,450.71 $31,297,009.61 $45,325.00 $1,298,379.15 $61,122,164.47
Committee Already Spent
Primary Independent Expenditure Spending (B-1’s) $11,168,207.97
Candidate Already Spent Q1 Cash on Hand Q1 Investments Q2 A-1s Cycle Spending Ability
Democratic Primary Losing Candidates $3,495,619.55 $200,191.71 $0.00 $0.00 $3,695,811.26
Republican Primary Losing Candidates $1,689,475.32 $21,288.66 $0.00 $0.00 $1,710,763.98

When you look at what’s already been spent on legislative races so far plus what is still available to spend the amount is already over $140 million which is an eye popping number, but there is a catch. Some of those spending amounts are really just transfers of money already inside the system. So for example when the Gov’s campaign committee transferred $5 million to the Illinois Republican Party back in May, who then transferred $2 million to the House Republican Organization that looks like $7 million in spending when no new money entered or left the system, it just got moved around a bit. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to filter these amounts out, I’ll see what I can do in the future.

Edited to add:
I pulled up all of the expenditures of $30,000 or more and tried to figure out which ones to subtract to address this double counting issue. I came up with $12,477,100.00, you can download my list to review my work here. That means that we believe that roughly $128 million either already has been spent or is in the bank available to be spent for the 2016 General Assembly elections.

Finally, here are the other top 25 committees that have notable funds and could impact the fall elections if they so choose.

Name COH INV A-1 Est Funds Avail
Friends of Edward M Burke $2,090,259.42 $6,257,127.37 $0.00 $8,347,386.79
Liberty Principles PAC $4,047,466.15 $0.00 $0.00 $4,047,466.15
Laborers’ Political Action and Education League $2,229,666.33 $0.00 $0.00 $2,229,666.33
Citizens for Lisa Madigan $2,194,850.80 $0.00 $0.00 $2,194,850.80
Laborers’ Political League – Great Lakes Region $1,759,912.79 $0.00 $0.00 $1,759,912.79
Illinois PAC for Education (IPACE) $1,753,013.79 $0.00 $0.00 $1,753,013.79
Illinois State Medical Society PAC $374,778.67 $1,261,198.00 $0.00 $1,635,976.67
Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC $1,565,230.36 $0.00 $0.00 $1,565,230.36
Carpenters Helping in the Political Process (CHIPP) $1,533,859.02 $0.00 $0.00 $1,533,859.02
The Burnham Committee $1,400,263.49 $0.00 $0.00 $1,400,263.49
Biss for Illinois $1,374,174.71 $0.00 $24,300.00 $1,398,474.71
Friends for Susana Mendoza $1,332,604.13 $0.00 $30,500.00 $1,363,104.13
Stand for Children IL PAC $1,092,582.40 $0.00 $0.00 $1,092,582.40
Support Independent Maps $1,017,355.40 $0.00 $32,000.00 $1,049,355.40
Citizens for Alderman Reilly $1,039,888.10 $0.00 $0.00 $1,039,888.10
REALTORS Political Action Committee $988,921.20 $0.00 $9,000.00 $997,921.20
Roofers’ Political Educational and Legislative Fund $196,615.49 $749,380.67 $0.00 $945,996.16
Dan Rutherford Campaign Committee $11,216.37 $899,648.00 $0.00 $910,864.37
Committee to Elect Joseph Berrios Assessor $832,194.22 $0.00 $0.00 $832,194.22
Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka $830,415.98 $0.00 $0.00 $830,415.98
Citizens for Giannoulias $780,209.84 $0.00 $0.00 $780,209.84
Friends of Suarez $15,732.32 $750,000.00 $0.00 $765,732.32
Illinois Federation of Teachers COPE $741,932.05 $0.00 $0.00 $741,932.05
Cook County Democratic Party $728,276.43 $0.00 $0.00 $728,276.43
Citizens for Claar $148,489.37 $507,574.31 $0.00 $656,063.68

If you’d like to check my math or investigate and calculate further the data I used to create the tables above can be found here.

 

Note: these figures are our best estimates and include some double counting of funds, which cannot be avoided. For example not all funds listed in “Transfers In” come from political committees that are already registered with the State Board but for those that do these transfers aren’t new money coming into the system, they’re simply transfers from one fund to another. If those transfers are from funds that are involved in legislative elections to funds involved in legislative elections (such as when Governor Rauner transferred funds to the state party) then we are double counting those funds. The same goes for in-kinds, not all in-kinds are double counted but when a committee that is involved in legislative elections provides and in-kind to another committee involved in legislative elections (such as when the Speaker’s leadership committee, Democratic Majority, spent money on mailings on behalf of incumbent House Dems who then reported those transactions as in-kind donations received) we’re just seeing the same numbers twice. The only way to control for this double counting would involve manually going through and coding tens of thousands of transactions to determine if each transaction a) involved two committees that were both registered with the State Board and b) both funds were involved with this cycle’s legislative elections. That’s just not a realistic option so we’re left with our best estimates above.

 

 

Automatic Voter Registration

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In late May Senate Bill 250 passed both chambers and will soon be sent to the Governor for signature.

The key feature of the bill is to allow for the automatic registration of eligible voters (or updating the registration for voters who have moved) after interacting with one of the five state agencies that currently participate in the “motor voter” program: the Secretary of State, Department of Aging, Department of Employment Security, Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. These new provisions are to be implemented no later than January 1, 2018. The bill allows for the State Board of Elections to allow other agencies to participate as well, for example the Department of Revenue.

After interacting with one of the participating agencies the agency will electronically send all of the relevant information to the State Board of Elections who will review the information and then send it to the local election authority who will make the final determination for properly registering the voter. The bill lays out the procedures for validating eligibility, notification when a participant is not eligible and there are explicit protections in place so that a previously registered voter may still vote a full ballot in the event that an automatic change in that voter’s registration causes an error in their registration.

Here are a few of the bill’s other features:

  • The State Board of Elections and participating government agencies must implement policies and procedures to protect the privacy and security of the data being transmitted between agencies.
  • The agencies are directed to adopt practices to protect the information of individuals, such as domestic violence survivors, who have order of protection or otherwise need to keep their personal information off of a publicly available voter list.
  • The State Board will submit an annual report specifying the number of various types of transmittals and registrations specified by the bill.
  • State agency and election authority websites will be updated to include information about the new registration procedures.
  • The State Board of Elections is required to hold at least one public hearing by January 1, 2017.
  • If an ineligible voter is accidentally registered automatically through no fault of their own they are not deemed to have committed a crime.

 

Thank you to Abe Scarr of Illinois PIRG for sharing your bill analysis with me.

General Election Filing Roundup

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Most candidates qualify for the general election ballot by winning the primary but in races where no candidate filed and won a primary the party chairmen can appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy. Those appointed candidates still have to go get petition signatures so it’s not a labor free process, established party candidates for the House need 500 signatures and 1,000 for the Senate, but it’s a far cry from the almost 600,000 signatures the Independent Maps group just turned in so it’s not overly difficult either. The deadline for established political parties (Democrat, Republican) to appoint candidates and file their candidate paperwork was yesterday May 31st.

While budget and end of session news dominated the day, and rightfully so, the most surprising development of filing day was just how few new candidates filed. Only one new Senate Republican candidate filed and that was in the 22nd for the open seat to replace Mike Noland. The House Republicans had two new candidates file, one in the 111th to take on Dan Beiser and one in the 43rd to take on Anna Moeller. Surprisingly no Republicans filed in the 116th to take on Jerry Costello despite the fact that his district is the most mathematically favorable Republican district currently held by a Democrat based on the 2014 vote totals.

The Senate Democrats had two new candidates file, one in the 32nd to take on Pam Althoff and one in the 26th to take on Dan McConchie. The House Democrats led the day having three new candidates file, one in the 48th to take on Peter Breen, another in the 50th to take on Keith Wheeler and one in the 110th to take on Reggie Phillips.

The most significant development of the day is that the Republicans do not have enough candidates on the ballot in the Illinois Senate to win control of the chamber. There are currently 20 Republicans in the Senate and they would need to win 10 more seats to have a majority in the chamber but of the 29 Democratic Senators up for re-election this fall only 9 will face a Republican opponent. Governor Rauner has struggled to pass his agenda through the General Assembly controlled by Democrats resulting in a multi-year stalemate and despite committing millions of dollars of his own money to electing more Republicans this fall he is guaranteed to have to find a way forward with an Illinois Senate that will be controlled by the Democrats for the remainder of his current term. The Republicans do have enough candidates on the ballot in the House to attempt to win control of that chamber.

Our tracker for General Assembly races that could or will be targeted races is up to date with all of yesterday’s new filings.

 

A Few New House Polls

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Courtesy of Politico this morning we have new polls of five House districts that are currently held by Republicans and could be potential Democratic targets in the fall. Each of these districts is listed in our tracker of potential target General Assembly races.

The polling was done by Public Policy Polling on behalf of SEIU Healthcare. The service union wanted to test some messages related to possible upcoming votes that would affect the union’s members. The polls also included numbers on the Governor’s approval rating in the district and the district’s preference on whether or not to re-elect the incumbent.

 

First, the Governor’s approval rating in each district:

Rauner Approval Good Bad Neutral Not Sure
20th House (McAuliffe) 34% 48% 16% 2%
61st House (Jesiel) 40% 37% 21% 2%
95th House (Bourne) 30% 46% 21% 2%
99th House (Wojicki-Jimenez) 32% 51% 16% 1%
115th House (Bryant) 27% 50% 21% 2%

The Governor’s approval rating is upside down in all but one district, the 61st.

 

Next, the generic re-elect numbers for each incumbent:

Incumbent Re-Elect Someone New Not Sure
Mike McAuliffe (20th) 45% 40% 15%
Sheri Jesiel (61st) 36% 43% 21%
Avery Bourne (95th) 42% 47% 11%
Sara Wojcicki-Jimenez (99th) 33% 49% 19%
Terri Bryant (115th) 45% 44% 11%

McAuliffe has his head above water despite the Governor’s numbers, Jesiel is behind in the generic re-elect by 7 points despite the Gov’s +3 approval rating, Bourne and Wojcicki-Jimenez (both of whom were appointed to their seats via the Governor) are well under water in their districts along with the Governor and Bryant is just holding about even despite the Governor’s dismal numbers.

These numbers are just a limited snapshot but interesting nonetheless. The Governor’s team has telegraphed that they intend to tie Democratic House candidates to the Speaker so it would have been interesting to see those numbers in each of these districts, also while generic re-elect numbers are interesting it would have been more interesting to see actual head to head matchups with the Democratic candidates that will appear on the ballot this fall.

Here are the links to the full poll results and crosstabs: