Rauner Adds $50 Million to Campaign Fund

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As we put the 2016 election behind us and look toward 2018 and the Governor’s race in particular the parlor game of trying to speculate how expensive the upcoming election will be has heated up. Today Governor Rauner contributed an eye-opening $50 million to his campaign fund.

In the 2014 cycle Rauner contributed almost $38 million to his own campaign fund, but $10 million of that came after the election and was actually used in the 2016 cycle to help the Republican legislative effort. This fall when it was reported that the Governor’s personal earnings had reached $188 million, up from a pauper-like $58 million the year before, there was speculation that the Governor would spend even more this cycle. This $50 million reported today is listed as a contribution, not a loan, and while he could always refund part or all of it at some point in the future it certainly sent a message.

But in addition to the political ramifications of an influx this size the timing is also relevant. You may recall that the Governor gave his campaign fund $2 million in February of this year and another $5 million in September, in fact $7,750,000 prior to today for this cycle, however the contribution limits have not been lifted for the upcoming Governor’s race even though these amounts are greater than the $250,000 in personal funds that would normally lift the caps. Here’s why from the relevant section of the law, relevant emphasis mine:

5/9-8.5 Limitations on campaign contributions.
(h) Self-funding candidates. If a public official, a candidate, or the public official’s or candidate’s immediate family contributes or loans to the public official’s or candidate’s political committee or to other political committees that transfer funds to the public official’s or candidate’s political committee or makes independent expenditures for the benefit of the public official’s or candidate’s campaign during the 12 months prior to an election in an aggregate amount of more than (i) $250,000 for statewide office or (ii) $100,000 for all other elective offices, then the public official or candidate shall file with the State Board of Elections, within one day, a Notification of Selffunding that shall detail each contribution or loan made by the public official, the candidate, or the public official’s or candidate’s immediate family. Within 2 business days after the filing of a Notification of Self-funding, the notification shall be posted on the Board’s website and the Board shall give official notice of the filing to each candidate for the same office as the public official or candidate making the filing, including the public official or candidate filing the Notification of Self-funding. Notice shall be sent via first class mail to the candidate and the treasurer of the candidate’s committee. Notice shall also be sent by e-mail to the candidate and the treasurer of the candidate’s committee if the candidate and the treasurer, as applicable, have provided the Board with an e-mail address. Upon posting of the notice on the Board’s website, all candidates for that office, including the public official or candidate who filed a Notification of Self-funding, shall be permitted to accept contributions in excess of any contribution limits imposed by subsection (b). If a public official or candidate filed a Notification of Self-Funding during an election cycle that includes a general primary election or consolidated primary election and that public official or candidate is nominated, all candidates for that office, including the nominee who filed the notification of self-funding, shall be permitted to accept contributions in excess of any contribution limit imposed by subsection (b) for the subsequent election cycle. For the purposes of this subsection, “immediate family” means the spouse, parent, or child of a public official or candidate.

We are still more than 12 months away from the next election, the 2018 primary, so this action will not remove the contribution limits. The Governor and any candidates who file against him still have to abide by contribution limits, even though the Governor has a $50 million head start and even though had this $50 million contribution come in April instead of today it would lift the contribution limits for all candidates of both parties.

Eventually there will be no contribution limits in the Governor’s race, we repeatedly saw the threshold achieved in so many state legislative races that it will certainly happen in the Governor’s race. But we’re in a bit of a loophole in the language of the contribution limit law allowing the wealthy self-funders to stockpile large amounts of campaign cash without triggering the fairness mechanism that would lift the caps for the other candidates while they attempt to even the playing field. On the Democratic side some wealthy potential candidates have been rumored to be interested in the race, it will be interesting to see if they stockpile early cash in the next few months to get ahead of their less wealthy potential rivals.

The other interesting question is whether or not the Governor would have an advantage if the caps were lifted? There are numerous potential Democratic candidates but so far no rumored Republican primary challengers. If at any point the Governor decides he wants an expensive bloodbath on the Democratic side he only has to add $250,000 more, assuming that none of the Democrats do what’s necessary to lift the caps first.

Contribution limits in Illinois have done nothing to limit money in the political system, there is more money than ever, but the rules are so convoluted that they keep creating these odd situations. With divided government that isn’t likely to change any time soon.

Analysis: Precinct-level Vote Totals Now Available

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The State Board of Elections made the precinct-level vote totals available late last week for the 2016 General Election and as promised I’ve compiled them, cleaned them up, made them available for download and incorporated them into my database. The full menu of options can be found here.

Having this granular data allows us to compile vote totals for any two areas that overlap. For example we can determine how each statewide candidate did by congressional or legislative district.

Note: these totals may differ from similar analysis performed elsewhere. Surprisingly enough, many districts only include partial precincts. Different methods for dealing with partial precincts can result in different totals.

 

In 2014 the Republican statewide candidates ran strong across the state, Rauner won 70 House districts, Topinka 69 and Cross 64. This cycle at the top of the ticket the Democrats came storming back with Clinton winning 77 of them while Duckworth won 74. As discussed in the post-mortem in some parts of downstate Trump’s intensity of support was off the charts, it just wasn’t broad enough to be felt throughout the state.

The Comptroller’s race was a bit more even, Mendoza and Munger each bested the other in 59 House districts despite Mendoza winning statewide by 5 points. The House Republicans picked up a net of four seats and overcame the poor showing at the top of the ticket but still underperformed Munger, only winning 51 House seats compared to 67 for the Democrats.

House Districts Won By: # Districts
House Democrats 67
Hillary Clinton 77
Tammy Duckworth 74
Susana Mendoza 59
House Districts Won By: # Districts
House Republicans 51
Donald Trump 41
Mark Kirk 44
Leslie Munger 59

Districts That Changed Hands

 

Let’s take a look at some of the districts that flipped this cycle. In many cases the legislative incumbents outperformed the top of their ticket, unfortunately for this group it wasn’t enough to hold onto their seats. There was a lot of ticket splitting going on though and in some cases there were very large discrepancies between what happened in the legislative race and the top of the ticket suggesting that voters were paying close attention and the campaign messages were getting through the clutter.

 

Sen-59   (R) Dale Fowler vs. (D) Gary Forby (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 10.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 40.74% R+ 5.5% R+ 23.45%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
R+ 11.56% R+ 30.97% R+ 6.01% D+ 12.05% R+ 7.35% R+ 24.91%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 20.15% D+ 18.2%

Gary Forby was 10 points short of holding a district that Donald Trump won by 41 points, that’s quite a headwind. Forby’s district wasn’t on the ballot two years ago when Rauner won it by 31 points but he did manage a big win in 2012 even with Romney besting Obama by 20 points. Munger did quite well here winning by 23 while Kirk managed to win by just 5.5 points. Perhaps as many as 17% of the voters in this district were Trump/Forby voters but it wasn’t enough.

 


 

Rep-71   (R) Tony McCombie vs. (D) Mike Smiddy (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 25.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 5.81% R+ 1.96% R+ 5.66%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 1.68% R+ 14.05% D+ 3.71% D+ 22.4% R+ 15.72% R+ 8% D+ 0.9%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 15% D+ 4.2%

Challenger Tony McCombie outperformed every other candidate here by a notable amount in defeating Mike Smiddy. In a district that Obama won by 15 points four years ago and that Rauner won by 14 points two years ago she won by 26 points in a year when Trump and Munger could only manage 6 point wins and Kirk managed a narrow 2 point victory. The voters seemed to really key in on this race at a much greater intensity than the others on the ballot this time.

 


 

Rep-63   (R) Steven Reick vs. (D) John Bartman   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 13.0%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 12.28% R+ 9.62% R+ 22.57%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 20.2% R+ 34.02% D+ 2.49% D+ 20.31% R+ 19.82% R+ 25.77% D+ 17.08%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 7.67% D+ 99.2%

When Jack Franks withdrew from this race to run for McHenry County Board Chairman (a race he ultimately won) it was going to be difficult for the Democrats to hold this seat and appointed replacement John Bartman could not, losing by 13 points which roughly mirrored the presidential race. As mentioned in the post-mortem Munger did much better in the collars than either of her two fellow Republican statewide candidates, 10 points better than Trump here and 13 points better than Kirk. Four years ago Romney won this district by almost 8 points, two years ago Rauner won it by 34, the Dems were just sunk without Franks.

 


 

Rep-79   (R) Lindsay Parkhurst vs. (D) Katherine Cloonen (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 7.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 12.84% R+ 3.14% R+ 14.31%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 6.72% R+ 22.2% D+ 13.3% D+ 26.36% R+ 14.1% R+ 8.82% D+ 0.38%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 1.03% D+ 0.2%

Cloonen won each of the last two cycles in what were essentially coin flips, races that were so close she won by about 100 votes each time. Two years ago Rauner won this district by 22 points suggesting that with enough investment it could be picked up, and it was Parkhurst won by 7. Four years ago Obama held Romney to a narrow 1 point victory here but in 2016 Trump won the district by 13 and Munger won it by 14. Cloonen was able to halve Munger’s margin but it wasn’t enough.

 


 

Rep-117   (R) David Severin vs. (D) John Bradley (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 5.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 42.9% R+ 6.04% R+ 24.72%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 14.48% R+ 32.09% R+ 6.69% D+ 11.93% R+ 5.32% R+ 25.51% D+ 99.38%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 22.07% D+ 33.3%

They share the same voters so just like Gary Forby mentioned above John Bradley ran into a massive headwind that he just couldn’t overcome. Four years ago Romney won this district by 22 points, two years ago Rauner won it by 32 suggesting that it was fertile ground for a pickup. Bradley lost by just 6 in a district that Trump won by 43 points and Munger won by 25. Perhaps as many as 21% of the voters here were Trump/Bradley voters but it wasn’t enough.

 


 

Rep-76   (R) Jerry Long vs. (D) Andy Skoog (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 1.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 9.49% D+ 2.43% R+ 5.18%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 3.89% R+ 9.5% D+ 10.71% D+ 30.66% R+ 5.25% R+ 6.46% D+ 0.98%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 6.08% D+ 26.2%

This area of the state appears to have settled into swing territory. Two years ago Jerry Long made a spirited challenge against long time incumbent Frank Mautino coming up just short. Mautino left the legislature to become Auditor General but the local papers were still regularly following the investigation into irregularities in his campaign fund. This time around Long was able to best Andy Skoog, Mautino’s appointed replacement, by just shy of 2 points in a year when Trump won it by 9 and Munger by 5 while Duckworth enjoyed a 2 point win for the Democrats. Obama won it four years ago by 6 while Rauner won by almost 10 two years ago. We’ll likely be keeping an eye on this area for the next few cycles.

 


 

Rep-112   (D) Katie Stuart vs. (R) Dwight Kay (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 3.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 5.53% D+ 9.4% R+ 0.75%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 4.48% R+ 20.63% R+ 2.02% D+ 11.68% R+ 15.98% R+ 12.2% R+ 17.48%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 0.1% R+ 0.6%

Two years ago Rauner won this district by over 20 points but in presidential election years this looks to be a swing district. Four years ago Dwight Kay was re-elected in a narrow victory in a year when the presidential race here was essentially a tie. This time around Katie Stuart picked up the district for the Democrats by 3 points while the three statewide races were kind of all over the place, Trump won by almost 6, Munger won by less than a point and Duckworth won by more than 9. Even aside from the three statewide races the Republicans still did well here, the Republicans picked up the County Board Chairman’s race from the incumbent Democrat and Mike Bost, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus all won the precincts they had in common with this district (Shimkus was unopposed). This area will almost certainly be heavily contested next cycle.

 

 

Targeted Districts Won by Incumbents

 

Here is a rundown of some of the Senate and House districts that were the focus of heavy spending where the incumbent retained the seat.

 

Sen-23   (R) Seth Lewis vs. (D) Thomas Cullerton (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 1.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 11.94% D+ 8.87% R+ 4.43%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
R+ 1.99% R+ 19.19% D+ 11.71% D+ 25.21% R+ 15.4% R+ 15.06%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 7.14% D+ 2.4%

Four years ago I was surprised when the Democrats won this mostly DuPage County senate district and now four years later Tom Cullerton has retained the seat. Seth Lewis outperformed the top of his ticket, losing by only a little over a point in a district where Clinton won by 12 and Duckworth by 9. It wasn’t all bad for the Republicans here, Munger won by over 4 but as we discussed in the post-mortem the power base of the Illinois Republican Party is moving from the collar counties to downstate so we’re going to be seeing race outcomes like this one in the suburbs for the next few cycles.

 


 

Sen-49   (R) Michelle Smith vs. (D) Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 5.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 10.29% D+ 10.26% R+ 0.03%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
D+ 0.59% R+ 13.73% D+ 14.6% D+ 26.88% R+ 11.12% R+ 22.19%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 7.3% D+ 6.4%

Four years ago Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant won this district by a little over 6 points and this year despite all the spending it didn’t change all that much, she won by a little over 5. Clinton and Duckworth won by more than 10, compared to just 7 points for Obama four years ago, while the Mendoza/Munger race was essentially a tie here. Rauner won this district by almost 14 two years ago but it isn’t on the ballot next cycle so the Republicans will have to wait for the year of Trump’s re-elect to make another attempt.

 


 

Sen-28   (R) Mel Thillens vs. (D) Laura Murphy (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 7.00%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 19.83% D+ 12.9% R+ 2.22%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
D+ 6.49% R+ 14.82% D+ 21.65% D+ 38.13% R+ 12.81% R+ 10.08%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 12.62% D+ 14.6%

Two years ago the Republicans did very well in this district, Rauner won by 15, Topinka by 13 and Cross by 10. However in presidential years this northwestern suburban district trends pretty Democratic. Laura Murphy, who was appointed to the seat when Dan Kotowski left, won her first chance at re-election by 7 points in a district Clinton won by 20, Duckworth won by 13 and Obama had won by 13. The lone bright spot for the Republicans was Munger edging Mendoza by 2.

 


 

Sen-31   (R) Mike Amrozowicz vs. (D) Melinda Bush (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 8.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 12.8% D+ 5.95% R+ 3.76%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
R+ 2.8% R+ 18.68% D+ 14.64% D+ 26.42% R+ 13.26% R+ 13.34%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 6.86% D+ 2.8%

Four years ago Melinda Bush won a relatively narrow 3 point victory, this time around she won by a more comfortable 8. Clinton won this far north Lake County district by 13 while Duckworth won by just 6 and Munger won by almost 4. Two years ago Rauner won this district by almost 19 points but it is not on the ballot next cycle so the Republicans will have to wait four years for another shot at it.

 


 

Rep-20   (D) Merry Marwig vs. (R) Michael McAuliffe (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 12.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 8.3% D+ 5.76% R+ 5.3%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 7.85% R+ 5.89% D+ 22.95% D+ 40.45% R+ 15.71% R+ 6.21% R+ 24.9%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 7.1% R+ 21.2%

This was the most expensive race this cycle, much of it coming from the Republicans and much of that coming early as McAuliffe was up on Chicago broadcast TV in August during the Olympics, something completely unheard of for a legislative race. In the end McAuliffe overperformed all of the other Republicans winning by 12 in a district Trump lost by 8, Kirk lost by 6 and Munger only won by 5. Even in the wave Republican election year of two years ago Rauner only won this district by 6, although Topinka did win it by 16. It’s a district that favors moderate Republicans.

 


 

Rep-45   (D) Cynthia Borbas vs. (R) Christine Winger (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 6.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 2.46% R+ 1.21% R+ 14.89%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 9.63% R+ 28.01% D+ 4.21% D+ 18.83% R+ 21.95% R+ 23.23% R+ 8.88%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 2.12% R+ 10.8%

As the collars have been trending toward the Democrats this east-central DuPage district was one they hoped to put in play, but it’s not quite there. Two years ago Rauner won this district by 28 points but Romney won it by just 2 in 2012 and Clinton won it by 2 this time. Christine Winger won it by a comfortable 7 and Munger won by 15 so it’s still a Republican district for competitively contested elections. This may not be a district to keep an eye on two years from now but it seems likely it will be worth paying attention to in four years.

 


 

Rep-81   (D) Greg Hose vs. (R) David Olsen   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 6.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 15.97% D+ 3.68% R+ 12.21%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 2.92% R+ 22.9% D+ 8.68% D+ 24.18% R+ 19.88% R+ 20.1% R+ 19.98%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 1.67% R+ 100%

This is another one of those DuPage districts that could potentially be a swing district in four years but wasn’t there this cycle. Four years ago Obama won it by less than two points while this cycle Clinton won it by 16 and Duckworth by 4 while Munger still prevailed by 12. David Olsen, appointed to the seat when Ron Sandack stepped down, managed a comfortable 7 point win.

 


 

Rep-118   (R) Jason Kasiar vs. (D) Brandon Phelps (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 16.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 38.56% R+ 4.91% R+ 22.17%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 8.58% R+ 30.01% R+ 5.31% D+ 12.33% R+ 9.27% R+ 24.34% D+ 99.74%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 18.17% D+ 100%

Brandon Phelps hasn’t has a Republican opponent in either of the two previous cycles under this map but during that time Republican statewide candidates have been running up big numbers in this district. Romney won it by 18, Rauner by 30 and Cross by 24. However Phelps, the nephew of popular former congressman David Phelps, maintains a similar local popularity winning this district by 17 points even though Trump won it by 39 and Munger by 22. Perhaps as many as 30% of the voters in this district were Trump/Phelps voters. This district is adjacent to the district John Bradley just lost and those two House districts make up the Senate district that Gary Forby just lost, this area is trending Republican rather rapidly but so far Phelps has been able to weather the storm. This area will likely be a focal point in 2018.

 


 

Rep-46   (R) Heidi Holan vs. (D) Deborah Conroy (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 18.00%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 23.44% D+ 21.11% D+ 8.3%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 7.99% R+ 7.66% D+ 21.56% D+ 33.59% R+ 6.79% R+ 4.42% D+ 5.06%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 18.75% D+ 15.4%

This DuPage County district makes up half of Tom Cullerton’s senate district and just as Cullerton did Deb Conroy was able to retain the seat. Two years ago Conroy defeated Heidi Holan by 5 points even while Rauner won it by 8, Topinka by 7 and Cross by 4. This time around in a rematch against Holan Conroy won it by 18, which was somewhat similar to her 15 point margin in 2012. This district has been reliably Democratic in presidential years, Obama won it by 19, Clinton by 23, Duckworth by 21 and Mendoza by 8. The Democrats appear to have a beachhead in this part of DuPage County.

 


 

Rep-111   (R) Mike Babcock vs. (D) Daniel Beiser (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 5.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 16.26% D+ 10.96% D+ 0.94%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 1.14% R+ 16.52% D+ 2.85% D+ 19.11% R+ 9.83% R+ 5.06% D+ 100%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 5.18% D+ 17%

This district is adjacent to the district that Katie Stuart picked up for the Democrats from Dwight Kay and those two districts combine to form the senate district held by Bill Haine who was surprisingly unopposed this cycle. The Republicans put a surprising amount of money in this race, perhaps for good reason, Rauner won it by 17, Topinka by 10, Cross by 5 and this cycle Trump won it by 16. Despite all of that Dan Beiser won a rather comfortable 5 point race while Duckworth won by 11 and Mendoza narrowly edged Munger by a point. This looks like one of those areas where Trump was a strength but he didn’t have much coattails, we’ll see what happens in this district in 2018.

 


 

Rep-62   (R) Rod Drobinski vs. (D) Sam Yingling (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 4.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 16.23% D+ 8.89% R+ 2.44%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 0.79% R+ 15.94% D+ 16.75% D+ 29.9% R+ 11.98% R+ 11.23% D+ 4.2%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 11.18% D+ 10.6%

Despite all of the heavy spending in this race the final margin wasn’t much different from two years ago when these two candidates faced off, 4.8 points this year vs. 4.2 points in 2014. Two years ago Yingling won despite a strong showing from the Republicans, Rauner won it by 16, Topinka by 12 and Cross by 11 but in presidential election years the Democrats have done well here, Obama won it by 12, Clinton by 16 and Duckworth by 9. Munger did manage to win it by 2 and it seems likely that the Republicans will be back again in 2018 for another try.