Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

November 2012 Archives

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State Rep. Elaine Nakritz // Jerry Daliege for Pioneer Press


SPRINGFIELD - A key House Democrat involved in the expulsion of former state Rep. Derrick Smith said Friday she sees differences with Smith and the case of newly indicted state Rep. LaShawn Ford and would not spearhead an effort to drive Ford from his seat.

Ford, 40, was named Thursday in a 17-count federal indictment for allegedly fraudulently obtaining a $500,000 increase and a two-year extension on a line of credit from Chicago-based ShoreBank, which failed in 2010 and was taken over by federal banking regulators.

"I'm not saying we'd never take action if there are ethical lapses and it didn't involve someone's state office. But the fact this one [Ford's case] doesn't involve that and it's outside his official scope makes me think this would not be a place where I'd want to take the lead on any action," Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nekritz chaired a House investigative panel charged last spring with determining if enough evidence existed to warrant sanctions against Smith.

In announcing bank-fraud charges against Ford, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago made special mention that the allegations against him didn't pertain to his official duties as a House member representing part of the West Side and near west suburbs.

In the case of former Rep. Smith, federal authorities charged him with bribery last spring after he allegedly accepted a $7,000 cash bribe from an FBI undercover informant purportedly acting on behalf of a fictitious daycare operator seeking Smith's help in obtaining a $50,000 state grant.

Still awaiting trial, Smith was expelled from the House in August but won election in November so he'll be re-seated when the new General Assembly takes over in January.

A key Republican involved in Smith's expulsion, state Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst), said he needs to do more review of the government's case against Ford before saying conclusively disciplinary action should or should not be taken against him by the House.

But Reboletti, a former prosecutor and the ranking Republican on the House Special Investigating Committee Nekritz chaired, said he too believes Smith's case is different than Ford's.

"I would say this situation probably is not as clear-cut as Rep. Smith's issue," Reboletti told the Sun-Times. "Rep. Smith used his office for personal gain. Right now, I'm trying to read through the charging instrument to see if there was anything else in there that Rep. Ford may have used his office in that manner. But at first blush, that doesn't appear to be the case."

SPRINGFIELD-Even though his political plans aren't clear, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has the backing of more than half of Illinoisans and confident re-election prospects if he chooses to run again in 2014, a new poll showed Friday.

Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found that 51 percent of those surveyed in an automated poll of 500 Illinois voters approve of Durbin's job performance, while 34 percent disapprove.

Durbin, a three-term U.S. senator first elected in 1996 and who has risen to the rank of Senate majority whip, has not disclosed whether he intends to seek re-election.

In its Nov. 26-28 survey, which had a plus or minus 4.4-percentage point margin of error, the firm found that even Republicans liked Durbin. Twenty percent of GOP voters polled gave Durbin passing grades for his work in the Senate, and 13 percent went so far as to say they likely would cast votes for him in 2014.

The Republican with the most viable chance of taking on Durbin is ousted U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), but the Kenilworth Republican trails the incumbent senator by a 54- to 33-percent margin. Failed 2010 Tea Party contender Patrick Hughes lags behind Durbin by 22 percentage points (53 to 31 percent), and defeated U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh trails Durbin by 25 points at 54 to 29.

"It'll probably take either a really strong Republican figure or some sort of gaffe for Durbin to be defeated," said Dustin Ingalls, assistant to the firm's director, in a prepared statement. "Outside of that, don't expect Republicans to target this seat next time, with many other, riper opportunities on the landscape.


A breakdown of the firm's polling can be found at its website.



Fiscal Cliff Notes for Nov. 30, 2012
31 days to the fiscal cliff

OBAMA ON THE FISCAL CLIFF ROAD


Driving the fiscal cliff narrative on Friday.....

President Barack Obama is taking it to the people--visiting a toy factory in Hatfield, Pa. on Friday---in an obvious tie to the Christmas buying season--to put pressure on Republicans to extend tax breaks for the 98 percent of U.S. families with incomes below $250,000 due to expire on Dec. 31.

From the White House: "While in Hatfield, the President will continue making the case for action by visiting a business that depends on middle class consumers during the holiday season, and could be impacted if taxes go up on 98 percent of Americans at the end of the year. The President will tour and deliver remarks at The Rodon Group manufacturing facility, the sole American manufacturer for K'NEX Brands, a construction toy company whose products include Tinkertoy, K'NEX Building Sets and Angry Bird Building Sets. The Rodon Group and K'NEX Brands, both third-generation family businesses, employ over 150 people at their Hatfield facilities."

And more from the Obama team: " The Rodon Group and K'NEX Brands, both third-generation family businesses, employ over 150 people at their Hatfield facilities. The Rodon Group, committed to insourcing, brought back 95% of their packaging and production from China to Pennsylvania over the past few years. This move led to a 25% increase of their local workforce along with additional hires by local suppliers and businesses.

"As we move into the holiday season, Democrats and Republicans should come together to renew middle class tax cuts so families have more certainty at this critical time for our economy. If we act quickly, we can prevent a hit to consumer spending which is roughly 70% of the U.S. economy. That's good for middle class families and it's important for businesses like The Rodon Group.

"By extending middle class tax cuts, every American will get a tax break on their first $250,000 of income. And income taxes won't go up at all for 98% of American families and 97% of small businesses. If not, middle class families will see their income taxes go up by $2,200 in just a few short weeks. Everyone agrees that taxes shouldn't go up on middle class families. The Senate sent a bill to the House to extend middle class tax cuts. There's no reason to wait."

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE GIVE THUMBS DOWN TO OBAMA ROAD SHOW

Ouch...

From the RNC on Friday morning: "The Election Is Over, But Obama Is On The Campaign Trail In Pennsylvania Nearly A Month Before The Thelma And Louise Democrats Plunge Us Over The Cliff"

GEITHNER FAILS (SO FAR) TO WOO GOP CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner hit Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with the top GOP and Democratic leaders. His sales job fell short, Politico reports HERE.

WHAT GEITHNER OFFERED, ACCORDING TO A GOP SOURCE


STAGE ONE:

Taxes

· Immediate increase in both top marginal rates as well as capital gains and dividends (the Senate bill did not achieve this); $960 Billion
· Additional tax increases to equal $600 Billion
· 2009-level estate tax (the Senate bill did not achieve this)
· AMT and business tax extenders
· Payroll tax extension or new alternative policy
· Bonus Depreciation extension

Spending/Extras

· Unspecified savings from certain non-entitlement mandatory programs
· 1-year deferral of the sequester
· Extension of unemployment insurance
· Patch for SGR
· Multi-year stimulus package starting with at least $50 billion in FY 2013 alone
· White House proposal for refinancing underwater mortgages
· Permanent increase in the debt limit, sufficient to avoid affirmative action to raise it again

STAGE TWO:

· Tax reform consistent with the $1.6 trillion tax increase
· Medicare/entitlement policies from the President's budget that could total $400 billion in savings

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Beware the "fiscal cliff."

That's the warning that's been sounded by politicians, the media, and taxpayers since summer, gaining full force the moment President Barack Obama won re-election. While the term has only recently become part of the national vernacular, the build-up to this pivotal economic decision has been building for many years. The Democrats have refused to cut spending entitlements and Obama wants to raise taxes on the top income brackets. The Republicans, led by conservative super-lobbyist Grover Norquist, refuse to raise taxes and are opposed to losing currently implemented tax breaks. Also at stake is the defense budget that Dems want to scale back with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ending while Republicans are pushing back on any additional defense cuts.

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(Click to embiggen)

SPRINGFIELD-Two of organized labor's biggest guns in Illinois took aim at Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday, calling on him to rescind his decision to terminate the contract that applies to about 40,000 state employees.
"We cannot understand why our governor, who has stood with organized labor in the past, would be so eager to undermine our brothers and sisters," said Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Ramirez was joined in calling out Quinn by Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.
"State employees are on the frontlines every day preserving public safety, safeguarding children and assisting families, caring for aging veterans, responding to disasters, and protecting our environment," Carrigan said in a prepared statement.
"Gov. Quinn's effort to undermine their collective bargaining rights is unwarranted and virtually unprecedented in Illinois government," Carrigan said.
Quinn's administration refused last week to extend its contract with 40,000 state workers as talks with labor on a new contract seem to have run aground.
The maneuver by the governor, which didn't threaten an immediate interruption to state services, represents the latest sign of strain between the administration and AFSCME Council 31 as both sides negotiate a new state contract to replace the one whose term expired last June. Both sides had agreed to extend terms of that contract while talks continued.
The Illinois House on Wednesday entered the fray, passing a resolution sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) that urged Quinn's administration not to grant any raises to unionized state workers.
"This is simply a message to those engaged in bargaining," Madigan said of his resolution, which passed 84-29. "We're simply telling the negotiators, don't be sending us a bill for a significant increase or any increase when we're in the process of reducing every other aspect of state government."
An unresolved legal battle already exists between AFSCME and Quinn's administration over the last union deal in which the governor promised but reneged on pay increases, saying no money was appropriated by the Legislature to fund the raises.

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Sun-Times Photo


SPRINGFIELD-With only one in four Illinois voters approving his job performance, Gov. Pat Quinn is the least popular in the country and would lose in head-to-head pairings against two of three Republicans eying his job in 2014, a newly commissioned survey found Thursday.

The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm found that just 25 percent of voters in Illinois approved of the work Quinn is doing, while 64 percent disapprove of his job performance -- a level of support that the company said made him "the most unpopular governor [it] has polled on anywhere in the country this year."


If a general election were held today, Quinn would lose to state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) by a 44- to 37-percent margin and to state Treasurer Dan Rutherford by a 43- to 39-percent margin, the firm reported.

If matched up against U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), another Republican considering a run for governor, Quinn would win narrowly by a 40- to 39-percent spread.

"Quinn's unpopularity puts the Republicans in a position where they could win despite the fact that none of them are very well known," said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling.

An aide to Quinn defended his tenure and acknowledged his efforts at dealing with difficult subjects, like Medicaid reform, facility closures and tax increases, have not been popular -- even if they are in the best interests of state government.

"Gov. Quinn is doing what's right for Illinois and to make our state a better place," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. "After decades of fiscal mismanagement and two corrupt governors in a row, Illinois now has no-nonsense ethics laws, a shrinking unemployment rate and less discretionary spending than ever before because of Gov. Quinn.

"He's leading the state in its most difficult moment. What's required right now is a lot of hard decisions and bold leadership, and it's not easy and immediately popular but we're doing what's right," she said.

In a September poll released by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Quinn's approval rating stood at 42 percent, up a notch from a 35.5 percent approval rating recorded by the institute in October 2011.

Beyond measuring how Quinn might match up against potential Republican opponents, the Public Policy Polling survey also showed the governor is vulnerable in a primary, though no Democrat has stepped forward and openly declared he or she is planning to take on Quinn in 2014.

The firm found that Quinn would trail Bill Daley, the ex-U.S. Commerce Secretary and former Mayor Richard M. Daley's brother, by a 37- to 34-percent margin, and the spread would be even wider if Attorney General Lisa Madigan would take on Quinn, the firm said.

In a hypothetical matchup, Quinn would trailer her by a 64- to 20-percent deficit.

The firm also sized up the growing GOP field aiming to unseat Quinn.

Rutherford is on top of the pack with 19 percent of Republican respondents saying he is their first choice. Schock is second with 18 percent, and 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady pulled in 14 percent.

As the list goes on, Dillard has 12 percent; 8 percent favored departing U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and 7 percent chose businessman Bruce Rauner, an investor in Wrapports LLC, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times.

PPP Release IL 112912

SPRINGFIELD-A push to license undocumented immigrants so they can drive in Illinois advanced in the Illinois Senate Thursday as Republicans -- still smarting from Latino voters siding largely with Democrats in November's elections -- cast aside their hesitancy and got behind the measure.

The plan passed the Senate Executive Committee by a 12-2 vote and now is positioned for floor action when lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) were among those on the panel supporting the initiative, which is sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) also signaled his backing for the measure Thursday.

Both he and Radogno were noticeably absent from a press conference last week where Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and two well-known Republicans -- former Gov. Jim Edgar and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka -- were among supporters for the plan.

"He's always struggled with it. But he saw the election results, and we can't just give lip service" to Latino voters, one member of Cross' inner circle told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday.

In Senate committee, the only two "no" votes came from Sen. Dale Righter (R-Charleston) and Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville).

The plan would equip as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants with three-year temporary drivers licenses after they had undergone rules-of-the-road training and offered proof they had obtained auto insurance.

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From the White House Flickr stream

Mitt Romney made it to the White House - if only for about an hour.

After a bitter presidential campaign, Romney had lunch with President Obama on Thursday at the president's invitation to discuss some of Romney's ideas on job creation and economic recovery.

While the unprecedented meeting was closed to the press, Lynn Sweet will be blogging more on what the two men discussed as details are reported.

Politico reported that American leadership - and turkey chili and Southwest chicken salad - was on the menu:

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's lunch Thursday focused on a discussion of "America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future," the White House said. There was no mention of any formal collaboration, but they "pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future." Lunch was white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.

The Associated Press, quoting White House reports, said that Obama and Romney will try to maintain contact:

The White House says President Barack Obama's lunch with Republican Mitt Romney focused on America's leadership and the two presidential rivals pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together come up in the future.

Despite the bipartisan feel-good meetup and the possible promise of future discussions and cooperation, White House spokesman Jay Carney seemed to say there would be no official position made available for Mitt Romney:


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Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives for lunch at the White House on Thursday. Romney met with Obama after loosing election to him earlier this month to discuss job creation and other economic issues, according to Obama spokespeople. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

For his part, Romney arrived right on team and breezed in for his meeting with Obama. He then quickly and quietly slipped out.

SPRINGFIELD-The Illinois Senate voted unanimously to allow for an April 9 election to replace resigned U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., sending the measure to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he'll sign it.

The date coincides with local municipal elections, which supporters of the legislation said would save money in the selection of a new congressman or woman for the 2nd Congressional District.

Earlier this week, Quinn set March 19 as the date of a general election for that congressional seat but noted state law barred him from picking the April 9 date. It fell outside a 115-day legal window from when the governor set the special election.

Thursday's Senate vote was 53-0.

SPRINGFIELD-Without discussion, the Illinois Senate sent Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday legislation that would extend a deadline for Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to draw up a list of schools the district intends to close next fall.

The 51-0 vote will move the deadline to publish a list of schools that will be mothballed from Saturday to March 31 -- an extension the measure's top Senate supporter said is essential to give the school system more time "to get organized."

"Rushing decisions for a December 1 deadline could backfire on the school system and then ultimately harm the education of the children," said Sen. Iris Martinez, the bill's chief Senate sponsor, in a prepared statement.

"I still have concerns on how this affects the timeliness for parental notification and if the public will have ample time to voice its concerns," Martinez said. "This school year is off to a rough start for CPS, and the district needs an opportunity to get organized."

Quinn has not indicated a position on the legislation sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the governor's office saying only that Quinn intends to review it.

SPRINGFIELD-The full Illinois Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution that protests deep rate cuts imposed by state utility regulators that Commonwealth Edison says have hurt its efforts to modernize its electricity distribution grid.

The 47-4 vote, with two voting present, represents a shot at the Illinois Commerce Commission and gives the utility ammunition in its legal challenge to the commission's decisions on the smart-grid rate case.

The non-binding resolution "expresses the serious concern of the Senate over the Illinois Commerce Commission's orders implementing the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, commonly known as the smart-grid bill," said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the resolution's chief sponsor.

Action in May and October by the ICC lowered rates such that ComEd will be getting about $100 million per year less than it is seeking to reinvest in modernization of its distribution system in 2014 and thereafter. The utility has challenged the ICC orders at the Illinois Appellate Court.

"The ICC once again has arbitrarily used some powers they were not given to stop this bill from going forward. By passing this resolution, once again, it's telling the ICC, 'Stay with your job. Regulate. Don't try to legislate,'" said Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago).

Even though the Citizens Utility Board and AARP of Illinois opposed the resolution, no one stood in opposition during discussion of the resolution on the Senate floor.

The four "no" votes were Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Barrington Hills), Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga).

SPRINGFIELD-The downstate Republican who challenged Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno for her leadership slot sounded anything but conciliatory early Thursday, slamming her reign and questioned the fortitude of colleagues who backed her.

"Stepped up to lead & stood by my principles but not enough Rep senators had the courage to break from the Radogno failing status quo," McCarter (R-Lebanon) wrote in his Twitter feed several hours after the 19-member Senate GOP caucus voted in Radogno.

The vote broke 12-6 for Radogno over McCarter, with one member casting a single vote for state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who was not a candidate in the leadership fight and is eying a 2014 bid for governor.



Fiscal Cliff Notes for Nov. 29, 2012
32 days to the fiscal cliff

UPDATED

NEW FOR THURSDAY AND WILL BE HERE EVERY DAY: THE SUN-TIMES FISCAL CLIFF COUNTDOWN CLOCK.

BEHIND THE SCENES DEALMAKING


Politico has a behind-the-scenes look at some of the meetings that may result in a deal. Read the story
HERE.



TREASURY SECRETARY GEITHNER HITS CAPITOL HILL

Treasury secretary Tim Geithner--President Barack Obama's lead on his fiscal cliff negotiating team--with White House top congressional liasion Ron Nabors holds a series of meetings with congressional leaders on Thursday--a sort of shuttle diplomacy.

The Treasury Department describes the meetings this way: "Geithner will meet with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to continue discussions on the actions we need to take to keep our economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit.

"In the morning, Secretary Geithner will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Also in the morning, the Secretary will meet with Speaker of the House John Boehner. In the afternoon, Secretary Geithner will meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Also in the afternoon, the Secretary will meet with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi."

Sorry to report these meetings are closed press.

FISCAL CLIFF ILLINOIS IMPACT

The White House put together broad a over-view on what the Illinois impact will be if Congress does not extend a series of federal tax breaks by the Dec. 31 deadline. A central element of the negotiations over the fiscal cliff--a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts--is Obama's demand to first lock in tax breaks that cover 98 percent of earners with income below $250,000 for a couple.

From the White House:

"Illinois's economy can't afford that right now. New analysis by the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) finds that: .....This sharp rise in middle-class taxes and the resulting decline in consumption could slow the growth of real GDP by 1.3 percentage points in Illinois."

Click below for the complete fact sheet.

OBAMA TALKS FISCAL CLIFF WITH CABINET

At a Wednesday cabinet meeting Obama talked about the fiscal cliff: "And so I think it's very important that we get that resolved, and I am very open to a fair and balanced approach to reduce our deficit and provide the kind of certainty that businesses and consumers need so that we can keep this recovery going."

REP. TIM COLE -- A REPUBLICAN BREAKING RANKS FOR THE 98 PERCENTERS


Rep. Tom Cole (R-Ok.) is breaking ranks with House GOP leaders -making supportive statements about extending tax breaks for the 98 percenters before Dec. 31. He told CNN on Thursday morning the tactic "strengthens position" and retains "lots of leverage" for Republicans.

'FIX THE DEBT" COALITION -- THE REVIVED SIMPSON-BOWLES DRIVE

Wednesday "Fix the Debt" press conference

ILLINOIS CEO's on "Fix the Debt" include (NAMES IN BOLDFACE)

The Campaign to Fix the Debt
CEO Fiscal Leadership Council

  • Bill Ackman, Founder & CEO, Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P.
  • Samuel R. Allen, Chairman & CEO, Deere & Company
  • Richard Anderson, Chief Executive Office, Delta Air Lines, Inc.
  • Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft Corporation
  • David Barger, President & CEO, JetBlue Airways Corporation
  • Doug Bergeron, CEO, VeriFone Systems, Inc.
  • Mark Bertolini, Chairman, CEO & President, Aetna, Inc.
  • Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman & CEO, Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • Glenn Britt, Chairman & CEO, Time Warner Cable Inc.
  • Greg Brown, Chairman & CEO, Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Nicholas Calio, President & CEO, Airlines for America
  • Carl Camden, President & CEO, Kelly Services, Inc.
  • Russell Carson, Co-Founder & Gen. Partner, Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe
  • Marc Casper, President & CEO, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.
  • John Chambers, Chairman, President & CEO, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Michael Corbat, Chief Executive Officer, Citigroup, Inc.
  • David Cote, Chairman & CEO, Honeywell International, Inc.
  • Alexander Cutler, Chairman & CEO, Eaton Corporation
  • Richard Daly, CEO, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.
  • D. Scott Davis, Chairman & CEO, United Parcel Service, Inc.
  • Steven A. Denning, Chairman, General Atlantic, LLC
  • Barry Diller, Chairman & Senior Executive, IAC/InterActiveCorp
  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Scott Donnelly, Chairman, President & CEO, Textron, Inc.
  • Craig Duchossois, CEO, The Duchossois Group, Inc.
  • Brian Duperreault, President & CEO, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.
  • Joseph Echevarria, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte LLP
  • Michael Fertik, Founder & CEO, Reputation.com
  • Larry D. Fink, Chairman & CEO, BlackRock, Inc.
  • Martin L. Flanagan, President & CEO, Invesco Ltd.
  • James Frank, President & CEO, Wheels, Inc.
  • Kenneth Frazier, Chairman, President & CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.


SPRINGFIELD-Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) fended off a challenge to her leadership slot Wednesday, winning re-election as the top Senate Republican by a convincing margin.

The closed-door vote of 19 incoming Senate Republicans swung 12-6 in favor of Radogno, according to a source. One vote was cast for neither McCarter nor Radogno.

Radogno had faced a challenge from state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon), a conservative Republican who said November's loss of five Republican seats in the Senate warranted a change in the GOP leadership structure.

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M. Spencer Green // AP Photo


BY LISA DONOVAN
Cook County Reporter/ldonovan@suntimes.com

A panel of Cook County's top Democrats will gather Dec. 15th with the goal of slating a party candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. The beleaguered congressman resigned last week amid a federal investigation into his campaign spending and ongoing mental health problems that prompted him to take a leave of absence.

Roughly a dozen Democrats have either been mentioned or thrown their hats into the ring to represent the The 2nd Congressional District, which runs from Chicago's South Side to the suburbs, including small sections of Will and Kankakee counties.

Joe Berrios, the head of Cook County's Democratic Party, told the Sun-Times this week that if the party can agree on backing - or slating - a single candidate, it will be easier for him or her to raise money and get their name out there during what will be a short election season. Gov. Pat Quinn this week announced the primary date is Feb. 26th while the general election is March 19th.

If voter trends hold, a Democrat will likely win the seat.

Thornton Township Supervisor and Democratic Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli, a powerbroker whom Berrios tapped to serve as chairman of the slating committee, says the slating process will be pretty standard: candidates will be interviewed during the December session at the Thornton Township Hall in South Holland and the 11 ward and township comitteemen - party bosses - representing various parts of the 2nd Congressional District will take a vote.

While Zuccarelli is encouraging candidates to contact him to be part of the December slating session so they can make their pitch, he's not exactly walking in to this with an open mind. He said he already knows that if state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), who has expressed interest in the job, is running, that's who he's backing. Trotter's legislative district, which stretches from the South Side to the suburbs, covers some of the same territory as the 2nd Congressional District, helping him understand the issues facing residents there, Zuccarelli said.

"Even though some people who've been mentioned (as candidates) might do a decent job -- nobody comes close" to Trotter, Zuccarelli said. "I'm going to conduct inteviews and I'll listen to what people say -- but the only way my mind would change is if Donne dropped out."

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Rich Hein/Sun-Times


Mayor Rahm Emanuel raised eyebrows with a comment he made during a press conference on Monday when asked about the increase in 1-, 3-, 7-, and 30-day CTA pass prices. Below is his full quote:

"Basic fares stay the same, which you cannot say about gas prices. Basic fare stays at $2.25. That will be true this year, next year, the following year and the fourth year. You cannot say that about gas prices. Now, you as a commuter will pick. You can either drive to work or you can take public transportation. And the standard fare will stay the same. And that is not true about gas prices. Right now, they're dropping. [But], if you're willing to take a bet like that over the next four years, you'll see. ....Again, I remind you, the standard fare stays the same and energy prices at the pump do not. And that is a choice that the commuter will pick which way they want to get to work."


In the full context of the speech, the comment doesn't quite as bad as some have made it out to be, but it still strikes me as tone-deaf and flippant to the reality of those who don't have cars and those who are dependent upon the CTA. But the boiled-down concept of his comments was somehow translated to "if you don't like the higher prices, then drive" when the story started circulating on social media and that's when the rage of many Chicagoans exploded online. And matters only got worse yesterday when the Blue Line experienced major delays during Rush Hour, affecting the commute of a good chunk of Chicagoans who depended on the CTA.

Today, Emanuel insisted that he never said or implied what angry Chicagoans had claimed: "I did not say or imply that you could just drive. I said there's a choice. People choose public transportation because it's competitive against private transportation. That's a choice. And the service is getting better and improved -- and that's my intention." Of course, to many, his tone doesn't matter; the message is still the same.

Below is our Storify on the evolution of this still-unfolding argument about what the mayor said, what he meant, and how Chicagoans are reacting.

SPRINGFIELD-The push to license undocumented immigrants got a boost Wednesday from one of Illinois' top GOP leaders, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady.

In a statement, the Bloomington Republican said he would back a measure already supported by Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and other key leaders to allow as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants to gain temporary visitors drivers licenses.

Brady said he had convinced the measure's backers to include language in a bill so that the licenses can't be used to register to vote, board aircraft or buy a gun.

"I am pleased that the sponsors of the legislation and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights addressed my concerns and agreed that the temporary visitors licenses should include notification in bold type that they cannot be used for identification purposes," said Brady, an assistant Senate Republican leader.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) is under enough pressure and he's not about to pile on by demanding that she start fulfilling her aldermanic responsibilities.

Gutierrez gives Emanuel the shirt off his back

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U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Il.) earned his stripes as a national champion for immigration reform. But, he's also the kind of guy who'd give someone in need the shirt off his back. He's already done it--literally--for Rahm Emanuel.

Seventeen years ago, Jesse Jackson Jr. ran for Congress to replace a beleaguered rep who had been convicted in a federal scheme.

Jackson replaced Mel Reynolds, who ultimately resigned in disgrace.

On Wednesday, Jackson resigned in disgrace, the subject of a federal investigation.

Guess who now wants his job back? Mel Reynolds.

"So He Can Finish the Work," is the news release that Reynolds sent out today, announcing he would officially announce his intentions to run for Jackson's seat at noon.


Fiscal Cliff Notes for Nov. 28, 2012
33 days to the fiscal cliff

President Barack Obama and his team is running a campaign-style drive to bolster support from business in the looming fiscal cliff negotiations with Republicans. Getting business on board--or at least to tone down dissent--would be a plus as Obama looks for House Republicans to pick off in his first demand: Don't extend tax breaks expiring Dec. 31 for those who earn more than $250,000.

All of us will see federal income tax rates rise next year if Congress does nothing. Obama is making a priority of first getting Republicans to agree to extend the tax breaks for the 98 percent of people who make less than $250,000. To that end, Obama on Wednesday is gathering a small crowd of folks below the $250,000 threshold at a building next to the White House to make a small speech about the need for Congress to act right away.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his team and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are talking to some of the same folks who are lobbying Obama and congressional Democrats. House Republicans are resisting the Obama push to do the tax breaks for the 98 percenters first. House Democrats are looking to pick off 30 or so Republicans to get Democratic sanctioned legislation passed.

There are no "formal" negotiations going on today; Wednesday is really about more jockeying for public relations advantages and laying out arguments.

Lynn Sweet column on Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) speech to his fellow progressives on the fiscal cliff is HERE.


OBAMA, BIDEN MEETING WITH CORPORATE LEADERS

From the White House: Later in the afternoon, the President and the Vice President will attend a meeting with business leaders to discuss the actions we need to take to keep our economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit. The President and the Vice President will be joined by the following:

· Frank Blake, Chairman and CEO, The Home Depot

· Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs Group

· Joe Echeverria, CEO, Deloitte LLP

· Ken Frazier, President and CEO, Merck and Co.

· Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, Coca Cola

· Terry Lundgren, Chairman, President, and CEO, Macy's Inc.

· Marissa Mayer, CEO and President, Yahoo!

· Douglas Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar

· Ian Read, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer

· Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast

· Ed Rust, Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Co.

· Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott

· Randall Stephenson, Chairman and CEO, AT&T

BOEHNER MEETING WITH THE "FIX THE DEBT" COALITION

Brendan Buck, Boehner's spokesman, sent a memo Wednesday morning to reporters outlining some of the events of the day ahead--taking a few jabs at the Democrats and planting a few seeds for stories.

From Buck: "Happy Wednesday to you - This morning, Republican leaders will be meeting with the non-partisan Fix the Debt coalition, including founder Erskine Bowles. The President, as you know, has also tasked White House staff to meet with representatives from the group later today. (It's my understanding House Democrats will be holding a photo-op as well). So, with all the talk from Democrats about Medicare and Social Security being off limits and the supposed need for higher tax rates, please make sure you see the three principles for an agreement that this coalition is promoting. They might look familiar. (Familiar because they look just like what the Speaker has put forward). Those serious about reducing our deficit and debt understand that entitlement reform must be part of any agreement and that revenue can be generated with lower tax rates. It's math. If you get the chance, don't hesitate to ask the White House or Congressional Democrats if they agree with these three principles:

· Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health care system, and limit future cost growth;

· Strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future beneficiaries; and

· Include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues, and reduces the deficit."

PELOSI MEETING WITH "FIX THE DEBT" LEADERS

Pelosi and her leadership team is also meeting with the the "Fix the Debt" leaders and is offering up a photo op before they get together this morning.

McCONNELL COMPLAINING ABOUT OBAMA FISCAL CLIFF "CAMPAIGN"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is irked that Obama is hitting the road Friday to visit a toy factory (Christmas peg) to sell his fiscal cliff approach--and the need for Congress to pass the 98 percenter tax break first.


Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said, "It's hard to believe, really. I mean, every week he spends campaigning for his ideas is a week that we're not solving the problem. It's totally counterproductive. The election is over. We've got a hard deadline here, and he's still out on the campaign trail. This is a problem. If the President really wants to reach an agreement, he needs to be talking with the members of his own party, here in Washington, trying to broker an agreement, not out there firing up crowds and giving speeches.


"He's the only one who can do it, the only one who can bring folks together to broker a consensus solution that can pass a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican-led House."

Click below for full McConnell remarks.

Chicagoan Jitu Brown, education organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, testified Tuesday against a plan that would give Chicago Public Schools more time to draw up a list of school closures. In this video taken shortly after appearing before the House Executive Committee, Brown explains his opposition to SB547 to Sun-Times reporter Dave McKinney.

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Barbara Byrd-Bennett // Photo by Brian Jackson, Sun-Times


SPRINGFIELD-Despite an outcry from community activists, a plan to give Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett four more months to draw up a school-closing list unanimously passed House and Senate panels Tuesday.

The House Executive Committee's 11-0 vote now moves the legislation, sponsored by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), to the House floor for a vote. The Senate Education Committee voted 10-0 to move identical legislation to the Senate floor.

The measure would extend a deadline in state law for Chicago's public school system to submit a school-closing list from Saturday to March 31, which Byrd-Bennett said would give the district more time to gather community input.

"We'll have more opportunity for community participation at the front end of the conversation and not the back end," she told the panel.

"Based on the district's history as well as the district's past actions, we need to acknowledge the community simply does not trust what we say or we do. And if you know this, then we must be inclusive and open, and we need to engage multiple levels of the community," she said.

Tuesday's hearing was disrupted repeatedly by community activists and Chicago Teachers Union members, who demanded more time and more input in determining which schools could close next fall and expressed anger at the lack of specifics Byrd-Bennett provided.

"How can you take a vote when they haven't answered the basic questions of what they're going to do, which makes me angry," said Joseph McDermott, the CTU's high school member coordinator and municipal political coordinator.

"This is not right," McDermott said, pounding his fist on the committee hearing table from which he testified. "We're not going to write a blank check to our leader. You've gotta respect us and do it right."

Appearing at a separate Senate panel, Byrd-Bennett insisted that whatever schools are mothballed, the vacant buildings won't be made available to charter schools and reiterated she does not have any sense of how many buildings actually will wind up being closed.

"There is no number," she told the Senate Education Committee.


Sam Adam Jr., once an attorney to Rod Blagojevich, has said he'd be interested in running to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.
Reached this week, however, Adam said he had a little something he had to take care of first.
The defense lawyer is prepping for a federal criminal trial -- against Cook County Commissioner William Beavers.
That trial starts on Monday.
Adam also represents state Rep. Derrick Smith a West Side Democrat who was indicted for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe.
"I'm not going to decide anything right now," Adam said.

SPRINGFIELD-Two Democratic heavyweights put their clout behind a plan Tuesday to require publicly-traded companies in Illinois to disclose how much they're paying to the state in corporate income taxes.

In a move opposed by business groups, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) came together to push for the new disclosure requirement, which he said could be voted on later this week in the Senate.

"We've had corporations come to us and ask for tax breaks, and we've given them tax breaks. But we're doing so in a vacuum, not knowing what other companies are paying," Cullerton said at a Tuesday morning appearance to announce the push. "So that's why we're specifically addressing this concern in that bill."

Under the measure, publicly traded corporations that are headquartered in Illinois or do business here would have to disclose how much in corporate income taxes they pay to the state. That information would be turned over to the secretary of state, who would post it on the Internet two years after its disclosure.

Now, how much companies and individuals pay in Illinois income taxes is a closely held secret. State law bars the disclosure of such data.

"We're having the same discussion at the federal level. Is it a loophole? Is it a legitimate deduction? Is it an exemption that's going to help the economy? Is it going to make us stronger or weaker?" Currie said.

"I think when we get information about who is taking what exemptions, deductions and so forth and how it affects their bottom line, we'll be in a better position to make tax policy," she said.

But a top business leader voiced opposition to the plan and noted how the irony that Illinois lawmakers aren't willing to impose the same type of disclosure requirement on themselves. Tax records are not something state officials must disclose in their statements of economic interest.

"If transparency is a good idea, why don't legislators, for example, have to disclose. If it's such a great idea, maybe start with the General Assembly first," said Mark Denzler, chief operating officer for the Illinois Manufacturers' Association.

"This is confidential tax information we don't' think should be released publicly. These do have real-life applications for these companies that are making decisions in their tax policy. Other companies, when they look at it, will look and see what a company is doing, where they're spending resources, and it does have a competitive effect on them," he said.

Did federal judge dis' the 'hog'?

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He's best known for his unforgettable claim that he is "the hog with the big nuts."

But quotable Cook County Commissioner William Beavers isn't all that, according to the federal judge due to oversee Beavers' trial on tax evasion charges next week.

Most potential jurors likely haven't heard of the sharp-suited former alderman, Judge James Zagel said Tuesday.

"It's quite possible that the vast majority of jurors will not have heard of the defendant," Zagel told attorneys in the case.

That's significant because the judge has to decide whether to question potential jurors one at a time or in a group.

In cases involving public figures, potential jurors are typically questioned alone, so that they do not share any prejudices for or against the famous person in front of each other. But Zagel said it was a "borderline" case whether that was necessary with Beavers.

-- Federal Courts Reporter Kim Janssen


Fiscal cliff notes: Nov. 27, 2012

With Congress facing a Dec. 31 deadline to avoid the "fiscal cliff," --an automatic package of tax hikes and spending cuts--President Barack Obama, top congressional figures and special interest groups are spending the rest of this week laying groundwork for battles ahead:

DURBIN PITCHING PROGRESSIVES

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)--a key fiscal cliff negotiator--deeply involved in debt, deficit and long-term entitlement planning--delivers Tuesday a major address at the Center for American Progress in Washington. Some Democrats in the progressive wing have been resisting changes in Medicare and Medicaid. Durbin in his speech--according to excerpts provided to the Chicago Sun-Times--asks progressives to take a longer view:

"Putting the discussions off indefinitely makes our choices harder; our success less likely; and negative effects on current beneficiaries a near certainty."

From guidance from Durbin's office: Durbin "will discuss why deficit reduction can and should be a progressive cause and lay out a fair plan to shrink the deficit, grow the economy and protect the middle class and our nation's most vulnerable."

Excerpts from the Durbin speech:

"I have spent hundreds of hours over the last three years - on the Simpson Bowles Commission and as a charter member of the Gang of Eight - locked in rooms with Democrats and Republicans, poring over budget numbers and possible debt solutions."

...We Won't Do:

Number one: We will not repeal or gut the Affordable Care Act.
Number two: We will not allow special interests to use deficit reduction as an excuse to gut rules that protect America's workers, our economy and our environment.
Number three: we won't abandon entitlement programs in the name of reform.
We won't privatize Social Security and turn it over to Wall Street to run.
We won't turn Medicare into a voucher plan for the insurance companies to run.
And we won't block grant Medicaid. That's not reform; that's just shifting costs onto state taxpayers and families.

...Progressives Should Talk About Entitlements - But NOT as Part of a Plan to Avert the Cliff



OBAMA WOOING SMALL BUSINESS ON HIS FISCAL CLIFF APPROACH

President Barack Obama on Tuesday according to the White House "will meet with small business owners from across the country at the White House. A list of the small businesses is below...

"The President will be joined by the following small business owners from across the country on Tuesday at the White House, including business owners from the retail, health care IT, and construction sectors. The list is below:

· Nikhil Arora, Co-Founder, Back to the Roots, West Oakland, CA
· David Bolotsky, CEO, Uncommon Goods, New York, NY
· Mandy Cabot, Co-Founder, Dansko, West Grove, PA
· Deb Carey, Co-Founder, New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI
· Lisa Goodbee, CEO, Goodbee and Associates, Centennial, CO
· Andy Harold, Owner, A. Harold + Associates, Jacksonville, FL
· Julia Hu, Founder, Lark, Mountain View, CA
· David Ickert, Founder, Air Tractor, Inc., Olney, TX
· Samanta Joseph, Founder, Samanta Shoes, New York, NY
· Lewis Prince, Co-Founder, Vintage Vinyl, Inc., St. Louis, MO
· Andra Rush, Founder, Rush Trucking, Wayne, MI
· Keith Tillage, President and CEO, Tillage Construction, Baton Rouge, LO
· Arnulfo Ventura, Co-Founder and CEO, Coba, Los Angeles, CA
· Daniella Yacobovsky, Co-Founder, BaubleBar, New York, NY
· Chris Yura, Founder, SustainU, Morgantown, WV

THE GROVER NORQUIST ISSUE

A problem for many Republicans is dealing with Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform anti-tax pledge. Some Republicans are considering breaking the pledge they signed. On CNN Tuesday morning, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), discussing the fiscal cliff negotiations, said he would not go back on his pledge--but was open to some maneuvers.
Toomey told CNN, "The revenue side isn't where the problem lies in the first place. This is a side show to the real problem - the real problem that the President has refused to address. How are we going to put our entitlement programs on a sustainable path? How are we going to live within our means? Now if we're going to do something on the revenue side, then for Gosh sakes let's at least not damage the economy any more than we have to. And so let's do it by lowering marginal rates and generating revenue through reducing the value of deductions, write-offs and loopholes - the kinds of things that destroy economic activity."

From CNN: "When CNN's John Berman points out that closing loopholes and reducing deductions would violate Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Toomey answers, "I don't intend to violate any pledge. My pledge is not to support higher taxes. What we're faced with in just a few weeks is a massive tax increase. If I can help ensure that we don't have that tax increase, then I believe I've fulfilled my pledge to fight for the lowest possible taxes."


Don't look for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help narrow the crowded field of candidates angling to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO, Chicago Public Schools headlines a City Club of Chicago lunch Monday at Maggiano's on Grand.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel--former Obama chief of staff, former House Democratic leader-- brags on his Chicago programs in a Washington Post op-ed where he advises Democrats to take their cues from his initiatives in Chicago if they want to build on their 2012 election victories. Rahm brushes aside the Obama campaign success in using data to drive their turn-out or the demographic trends that contributed to President Barack Obama winning a second term. Read Rahm HERE.

Excerpt:

"Too much post-election analysis has focused on voter demographics and campaign mechanics, leaving Democrats in danger of drawing the wrong lessons from our electoral success.

"Demographics alone are not destiny. There is nothing in this year's election returns that guarantees Democrats a permanent majority in the years to come. President Obama and the Democratic Party earned the support of key groups -- young people, single women, Latinos, African Americans, auto workers in the Rust Belt and millions of other middle-class Americans -- because of our ideas."

Gov. Pat Quinn will be setting dates for a primary and general election to pick a new Second District of Illinois congressman. Until a new lawmaker is sworn-in, Jackson's Washington and district staffers stay on the House payroll to provide constituent casework assistance and other services.

They will be supervised by the clerk of the House; under House rules, the clerk manages offices when a seat is vacated, whether by -- and this is common -- resignation or death -- or the rare case of expulsion.

Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) is jumping in what is shaping up as a crowded primary to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). Read the Sun-Times story HERE.

As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we're sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don't forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.

What follows below is the complete six-part series Six Solemn Days which originally ran in the Sun-Times in December 1987.

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Chicago Sun-Times Library File Photo by Al Podgorski

Six Solemn Days
By: Sun-Times Staff
December 1987

Day 1: The Mayor Is Dead

Harold Washington, who became Chicago's first black mayor in 1983, died Wednesday after collapsing in his City Hall office.

He was declared dead at 1:36 p.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, after prolonged efforts to resuscitate him.

Washington, 65, died as a result of a large clot in the major artery to his heart, Cook County Medical Examiner Robert Stein said Wednesday night after an autopsy.

Also contributing to the mayor's death, Stein said, was the fact that he was seriously overweight at 284 pounds. Normal weight for a man his size - 5 feet 10 inches - would be about 180 pounds, Stein said.

The examination disclosed that the mayor's heart was three times normal size because of disease, Stein said. Other arteries leading to the heart were 90 percent to 95 percent blocked by fat, he said.

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A stream of mourners fill City Hall through the night to view Mayor Washington s casket. Lying In State (photo by Al Podgorski)


As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we're sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don't forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.


Washington's wisdom: It's a difficult farewell to a man and a city
By: Basil Talbott Jr.
November 29, 1987

Goodbye, Harold Washington. Goodbye, Chicago. These sad farewells are intertwined for me. The mayor, whose roundabout climb to and mastery of City Hall I wrote about for more than two decades, died at his desk two days after he wished me well at a party marking my move soon to the nation's capital.

"If you need any help, give me a call," the mayor offered as he finished a talk to the 400 partygoers Monday at the Zolla-Lieberman Gallery, 356 W. Huron. "I know all the haunts out there. I know all the places you should go and shouldn't go. I'll give you a book or two before you start. But I really came to wish you well, old buddy."

Like much of Chicago, I feel cheated. Gypped. The book, his help will never come. Nor will Chicago find out what his genius could have accomplished in the rest of his second, or a third or a fourth term. Mr. Washington ran City Hall for less than five years. But his death left an emptiness that can be likened only to the void left when Mayor Richard J. Daley died 11 years ago.

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President Obama issued his weekly address on Thanksgiving Day (embedded below), wishing all Americans a healthy, happy holiday. But beyond his typical glad tidings, it couldn't be ignored that the president either forgot to shave or maybe decided that, now that he's won re-election, he'd grow a mustache. That upper-lip shadow is hard to ignore, anyway. If he decides to go for facial hair, something the American people haven't seen on a president since the days of Howard Taft, here's hoping he goes full handlebar.

The full transcript is after the jump.

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A man holds a sign to express his feelings as the body of Mayor Harold Washington passes through the community following funeral services. (Sun-Times photo by John H. White)


As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we're sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don't forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.

Mourning my friend, Harold Washington
By: Vernon Jarrett
November 24, 1988


This year I shall deliberately alter my script for Thanksgiving Day.

Last Thanksgiving Day, I and most of my friends were practically consumed in reflections on Mayor Harold Washington. His name and face went through our minds without any outside provocation. The shocking news of his death had been flashed to us around the clock by television and radio.

News unbelievable. News unacceptable.

Yet throughout last Thanksgiving Day we had begun to accept the fact that Our Harold, that likable-though-tough political crusader, was actually dead. We had seen replays of his body being rushed to a hospital. Over and over we heard replays of that very specific statement from the hospital by the mayor's press secretary, Alton Miller. Over and over we heard the man say, "At 1:36 p.m. Mayor Harold. . . . " Spare me the completion of that sentence.

The stark truth: Harold Washington, first black mayor of Chicago, was dead - dead before he could enjoy just one full term of a City Council where he had a majority vote.

And our dinner-table discussions could not avoid those inevitable questions: "What's going to happen now?" "Who's going to take his place?" "Who do you think is going to be the next mayor?" "What are they (the politicians) going to do now that Harold's gone?" "What's going to happen to Harold's Movement?"

The big question was Mayor Washington's Movement. When that was the only power source that he left behind. In fact, it was the only power source he had when alive. Mayor Washington had not had enough time left from his struggles with the Vrdolyak 29 to establish a visible political machinery that spelled out various levels of command.

He was able to command respect from the established political parties and individual politicians only because he had a grassroots army that judged all officeholders - regardless of race - by their attitudes toward Our Harold . All black public officials, regardless of their private feelings about Mayor Washington, finally got the message and acted and spoke accordingly.

Yet, the first day after Mayor Washington's death was given to questions, the same questions repeated in different forms at thousands of dinner tables.

But while the general populace was asking questions, there were cagey politicians making plans. Harold Washington died on Nov. 25, 1987, lay in state for four days and nights and was buried on Nov. 30. Hardly more than 24 hours after his burial, a City Council conspiracy was ready to seek revenge against Harold's People, and before daylight on Dec. 2, it did that that. And they made it official.

That is one reason I was in no mood yesterday to attend all those "official city observances" of the first anniversary of my friend's death.

I prefer to be in that caravan of cars with lights on that at 11 a.m. Friday will begin a slow memorial drive from the Hayes Labor Center at 49th and Wabash to Oakwood Cemetery, where we'll lay a wreath at Our Harold's grave. And I'll return that night to the Hayes Center for a memorial with real feelings.

Just as on Thanksgiving, on the date of Harold's death, I prefer to be nobody else but his unquestionable friend.

Moreover, I intend to spend the next few days, through Dec. 1, attending various memorials throughout the South, West and Near North Sides and with many of Harold's Hispanic friends of old.

There are times when my tolerance for phony mourning of heroes cuts against my sensibilities. This week is one of those times.

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As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we're sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don't forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.

How 7 fateful days changed Chicago
by: Mark Brown
November 23, 1988

During his 1983 campaign, Harold Washington liked to reassure audiences jokingly that, if he was elected Chicago's first black mayor, Lake Michigan wouldn't suddenly dry up nor would Sears Tower come tumbling down.

As the one-year anniversary of his Nov. 25 death approaches, it can be observed with no disrespect that his passing hasn't brought such calamities either.

Nevertheless, Chicago's landscape, the political and social variety, has been changed immeasurably by those seven days last fall that shook the city's foundations.

Do you remember?

It was about 11 a.m. Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, that Washington collapsed while sitting behind his City Hall desk talking to press secretary Alton Miller.

His bodyguards began cardiopulmonary resuscitation almost immediately, and paramedics were on the scene within minutes. But it was painfully evident to those present what the outcome would be.

"While the mayor was still being operated on by the paramedics, the thought went through my mind: It's all over," Miller recalled last week from his home, where he is putting the finishing touches on a book about his three years with Washington.

"It's all over" was more than Miller's realization that the mayor was dead. It was a foreboding that the coalition Washington had forged would splinter without his strong, charismatic leadership.

The official death pronouncement came at 1:36 p.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. By then, the jockeying among aldermen to choose his replacement was well under way.

Though initial indications were that a special election would be held in 1989, others argued 1991 was proper, a controversy that wasn't settled until the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of 1989.

The next day, while much of the city began a period of mourning, the replacement battle raged full tilt behind the scenes with two black aldermen, Timothy C. Evans (4th) and Eugene Sawyer (6th), emerging as the favorites.

Ald. David D. Orr (49th), becoming a footnote in local history books, took the city's reins on an interim basis because of his post as vice mayor. The Washington administration, on automatic pilot, went about the business of planning funeral services.

A press conference to reveal those plans provided one of the week's most poignant moments when Ernest Barefield, the mayor's usually stoic chief of staff, struggled through tears and trembling sorrow to read an announcement.

"It was probably the hardest day in my entire life," Barefield said last week from Philadelphia, where he now is a top aide to Mayor Wilson Goode.

He is still struck, as he was in those initial hours, by the "lost opportunity," and still talks like somebody who wants to come back to Chicago.

"His untimely death just ushered in a tremendous lost opportunity to push a wide range of both existing and emerging agendas," Barefield said. "I just don't know how quickly we'll get back to that point again."

On Friday and Saturday, more than 125,000 mourners lined up outside City Hall, sometimes waiting in a cold drizzle, to view Washington's body, which was lying in an open casket in the rotunda.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson jetted back from the Persian Gulf and added more controversy to the replacement fray, exhorting black and Hispanic aldermen to reach consensus. Jackson didn't state his preference publicly, but his maneuverings, seen as intended to help Evans, provoked a backlash.

As blacks fought among themselves, white aldermen toyed with the idea of electing one of their own, possibly Terry M. Gabinski (32nd) or Richard F. Mell (33rd).

Sunday brought more of the parallel spectacles of church congregations grieving and politicians scheming.

One of the mourners passing through City Hall that day was Robert McClory, a free-lance writer who had been scheduled to meet with the mayor the day he died. McClory, a former Chicago Daily Defender editor who knew Washington from his days in the state Legislature, still doesn't know why the mayor requested the meeting.

McClory's initial reaction to Washington's death was like many others with ties to the mayor.

"It was sort of like the air went out of the balloon," McClory said. "The fear was that we were going to go back to business as
usual."

Many others closely associated with the mayor felt the same, and by Sunday night, they took it as confirmation when a biracial
coalition, composed primarily of white aldermen who had opposed Washington, delivered enough commitments to install Sawyer as the frontrunner to succeed him as mayor.

Monday was the funeral.

Political bigwigs composed the bulk of the 4,000 people who jammed the huge Christ Universal Temple at 11901 S. Ashland to offer songs and tributes, including Jackson's "We'll miss you, buddy."

At a city-sponsored memorial service that night, supporters of Evans used the opportunity to mount a last-ditch campaign to block Sawyer's expected election at a City Council meeting the next evening.

Jacky Grimshaw, a top political aide to Washington and now for Evans, denies she helped instigate the pro-Evans show.

"I was pretty much home, sedated. I was here under doctor's orders on Valium," said Grimshaw, who believes Washington's coalition will be united again.

Day Seven brought the Council meeting.

As demonstrators packed the Council galleries and adjoining hallways and blocked La Salle Street to demonstrate against his
selection, Sawyer waffled.

But Sawyer's resolve stiffened, and his election was completed at 4:01 a.m.

He took the oath of office at 4:12 a.m. and vowed that Washington's reforms "shall remain intact and go forward."

SPRINGFIELD -- On the eve of Thanksgiving, Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to 81 people seeking gubernatorial pardons and the expungement of their criminal records, including a woman convicted in 1982 of voluntary manslaughter.

"This action marks another step in a series of clemency decisions aimed at eliminating a backlog of more than 2,500 cases that built up during the previous administration," according to a statement released late Wednesday afternoon by the governor's office.

While Quinn officially forgave 81 people of their crimes and moved to wipe their slates clean, he rejected petitions from another 88 people seeking clemency, the governor's office said.

The woman convicted of voluntary manslaughter is Chicagoan Felicia Williams.

Beyond the prepared statement Gov. Pat Quinn offered Wednesday on U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson's resignation, the governor praised the South Shore Democrat for taking "accountability" for his mistakes.

But when asked to react to the "mistakes" Jackson cited in his resignation letter, Quinn
sidestepped entirely any direct mention of a federal investigation.

"There's no question that the Jackson family and Congressman Jackson,
in particular, made significant contributions to the state of
Illinois. And, if there were mistakes made by the congressman, he's
taken responsibility for those, and that's what accountability is all
about," the governor said after an appearance at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

"All of us have to be accountable, and we have to be folks who
serve the community," the governor said.

Gov. Pat Quinn, long hesitant to call for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson's resignation, extended sympathy toward the South Shore Democrat and promised a fair, prompt election to replace him.

Here is Quinn's statement on the congressman's resignation:

"Today I was informed of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation as congressman for the 2nd District of the state of Illinois.

"Within five days, I will set forth a schedule for a special election to allow the people of the 2nd District to choose a new member of Congress to represent them in Washington.

"This election will be carried out in a manner that is fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers.

"We know that Congressman Jackson is confronting health challenges, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time."

Read Jackson's resignation letter here: JACKSON'S LETTER TO BOEHNER

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It has been a long journey for Jesse Jackson Jr.

It's one that began really in 2008 -- when Jackson first came under scrutiny for alleged activities involving Rod Blagojevich and the sale of Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Jackson was not charged then though Blagojevich's brother went to congress asking that the South Shore Democrat come under greater scrutiny for a scheme that sent the former governor to prison for 14 years.

Ultimately, it was other behavior that caught the attention of federal investigators years later and would lead to his downfall.

The Sun-Times first revealed the new probe on Oct. 12: Read the story here.

As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we're sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don't forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.

The 1983 mayoral race was a fierce one, incumbent mayor Jane Byrne facing challenges from Richard M. Daley, the son of the great Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, and Harold Washington, the U.S. Congressman from Illinois' first district. Below is a video put together by our own Lynn Sweet for the WTTW show Image Union. It's nearly a half-hour of ads from the 1983 Democratic primary followed by ads from the 1983 general election.

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn's administration refused to extend its contract late Tuesday with 40,000 state workers in a move that state government's largest employee union called "unprecedented," though it won't have any immediate impact on public services.

The maneuver by the governor represents the latest sign of strain between the administration and AFSCME Council 31 as both sides negotiate a new state contract to replace the one whose term expired last June. Both sides had agreed to extend terms of that contract while talks continued.

"During 11 months of bargaining, the state has extended the contract three times and made significant efforts to compromise. But the government employees union, which has not offered a single proposal to deal with retirement health care, continues to seek millions of dollars in pay hikes the taxpayers can't afford to give them," said Abdon M. Pallasch, assistant budget director in the Governor's Office of Management and Budget.

"It has refused to recognize the extraordinary financial crisis squeezing the state," he said.

But the union's top leader condemned Quinn for sending a bad message to the state workforce and for showing disrespect for the collective-bargaining process.

"In 40 years of collective bargaining, Pat Quinn is the first and only Illinois governor to terminate a union contract," AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer said in a prepared statement. "His action will lower employee morale, provoke instability in the workplace and make settling a contract more difficult."

Both sides had another negotiating session in Springfield Tuesday involving a federal mediator. During that session, Quinn's office refused to agree to another extension of the contract to buy more time to talk.

"While AFSCME is committed to reaching a fair agreement, Pat Quinn seems intent on heading in the wrong direction," Bayer said. "Our union wants constructive engagement, but the governor is choosing confrontation instead."

In its statement, AFSCME acknowledged no practical effect from the Quinn administration's move, noting that "all existing terms and conditions of employment remain in place under state law."

Quinn's administration has maintained that Illinois' unionized workforce makes about $10,000 more, on average, than public employees in "surrounding or comparable states," such as Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

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Mayor Harold Washington's victory speech at Navy Pier for a 2nd term as Chicago Mayor. Joining him on stage are Marty Oberman, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mary Ellen and City Treasurer Cecil Partee. Chicago Sun-Times Library File Photo


As the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death approaches this Sunday, November 25, 2012, we're sharing moments of remembrance all this week. All stories are from the Sun-Times archives. And don't forget to check out our Harold Washington timeline.


Mayor proves results worth singing about
By: Don Terry, Leon Pitt
April 8, 1987


In a warbling rendition of "My Kind of Town," Mayor Washington greeted his re-election party last night at Navy Pier with an off-key sing-a-long and a burst of bubbling hyperbole.

"I have a feeling it's a good thing I got your votes before I sang `Chicago, Chicago,' " Washington joked to more than 2,000 supporters in the Navy Pier rotunda.

"Harold, Harold" the throng chanted inside, ringing in the first incumbent mayor to be re-elected since Richard J. Daley. Outside, they danced wildly, delighted that for another four years their man is The Man on City Hall's Fifth Floor.

The luminaries were there on the podium - the Rev. Jesse Jackson on one side of the mayor and boxing promoter Don King on the other. But it was to the voters - the folks who worked the streets and passed the buttons and pressed the flesh - that the mayor blew kisses.

The grand old Navy Pier rotunda, where revelers in 1983 ushered in a new era in Chicago politics at Washington's inauguration, was less like a religious revival this time around, but the crowd heard the city's first black mayor ring a familiar refrain of "unity" and "new spirit" and "wiping the slate clean."

A sweat-beaded and beaming Washington was overjoyed at his re-election, telling the crowd that "the whole world is watching Chicago tonight," and that his tenure has quashed the city's reputation as the home of Al Capone and "rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat" machine gun fire and ugly race riots.

"Now anywhere you go in the world . . . you know what they say to you?" Washington asked. "They ask, `How's Harold?' "

Before his first election, Washington said, Chicago was a place "where everyone went who didn't want to be anybody."

Roland Espinoza, 32, of the 25th ward, agreed, saying that before Washington's 1983 election, "I didn't have any hope. Now I'm happy."

The Rev. George Clements, pastor of Holy Angels Church, brought his two adopted sons with him to Navy Pier "because I wanted them to see history in the making."

"Young people are the real winners because Harold Washington is going to make this a better city for everyone," Clements said.

The celebration capped a busy last-day of campaigning for "Harold," who among allies and enemies alike has reached that familiar single-name status like Ronnie and Reggie and Big Jim. The mayor reached back to his roots, visiting housing projects and streets on the Far South, South and Southwest sides to thank voters for sending him to the top post four years ago and he urging them to do it again.

"You always wind up your campaign on home turf," the mayor told reporters. "You always go home.

"Everybody votes today. Nobody stays home," he shouted through his well-worked bullhorn during a 45-minute walking tour of Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project at 131st and Ellis.

Washington, who began his hectic trek shortly after voting near his Hyde Park home at 7:45 a.m., used the horn repeatedly through his last day of campaigning, which ended at 6:30 p.m.

To "wake up" the voters, a sound truck preceded the mayor's arrival for the "thank you" campaign swing.

"The mayor promised you he would come (to your neighborhood) so come out and see Harold Washington," residents were urged.

Washington received his biggest reception as he meandered in and out of businesses along 51st and 47th streets in the 1st Congressional District, where he first won elective office to the House of Representatives.

He was accompanied during the afternoon stomp by "3rd Ward boss" Ald. Dorothy Tillman, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who Washington described as "the world traveler and presidential aspirant," tough-guy actor Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and Congressman Charles Hayes (D-Ill.).

"Do your civic responsibility. Can't nobody beat us, but us," Hayes shouted repeatedly as the crowds swelled during the promenade down 51st.

"Punch 10," Washington shouted, meaning a straight Democratic ticket, and the mayor's plea evoked numerous pledges of support and chants of "four more years." He also shook the hands of hundreds of supporters, referring to many of them by name, and poked his head in some businesses and shops to ask, "Have you voted in there?"

Another man shouted, "Hey, man. You won already. We cool."

Even a perspiration-soaked Washington would have agreed with that.

BY LISA DONOVAN AND RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Staff Reporters

Two years after her arrest and indictment on public corruption charges, Carla Oglesby -- a top deputy to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger -- is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 11th.

Cook County Judge James Linn set the trial date during a brief Tuesday morning hearing at the 26th and California criminal courts building. Oglesby was not present.

Arrested in October 2010, Oglesby remains free on bail pending the trial on charges that include theft of government property over $100,000, money laundering and official misconduct. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Authorities allege she was behind a scheme to steer no-bid, no-work contracts to friends and her own private public relations firm.

Oglesby had been running a small-time public relations firm in 2009 when she was tapped to be Stroger's message maker in the final months of his ill-fated re-election bid. He would lose the February 2010 primary, but Oglesby was rewarded nonetheless.

Days after the election, Stroger put Oglesby on the county payroll as his his $120,000-a-year deputy chief of staff.

Authorities allege that from mid-February 2010 when she was hired to the time of her fall arrest, Oglesby doled out more than a dozen public relations contracts -- totaling $300,000 in taxpayer money -- to get the word out about anything from flood grant money available to residents to environmental initiatives. Problem is, the work was never done, authorities say.

Each contract was just under the $25,000 threshold - at the time --that would require approval by Cook County commissioners. And prosecutors allege that was deliberate.

Authorities allege she got a piece of the pie by steering a $24,976 contract to her private public relations firm, using the money for personal expenses and moving money around bank accounts in an attempt to hide its source.
Days after her arrest, Stroger dismissed her.

SPRINGFIELD-Virtually every big-name politician in Illinois, with the exception of the two Republican legislative leaders, will gather Tuesday to support an upcoming push to license as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants to drive in Illinois.

In a nearly unprecedented show of support, Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar, GOP state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and state Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) plan to sign on to the immigrant-rights driving initiative and attend Tuesday's press conference in support of it.

The event, sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, aims to highlight legislation in the works that would equip undocumented immigrants with three-year temporary driver's licenses, said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer and executive director for the group.

The proposal that likely will be voted on sometime during the post-election legislative session that spans from later this month through early January will be a variation from 2007 legislation for undocumented immigrant drivers that narrowly passed the House but failed to get called for a vote in the Senate, he said.

"I don't think it's going to be as hard a sell [as 2007], but we're belts-and-suspenders people. We'll work until it gets signed into law," said Benito said. "I do think there will be strong bipartisan support for it based on who's showing up [Tuesday]."

The legislation now being drafted in the Senate would create a narrower window of time under which undocumented immigrants would be licensed - three years instead of five - and require that they carry auto insurance and have driver's education before being licensed, a Cullerton spokesman said.

"From the Senate president's point of view, you have 250,000 on the roads in Illinois who are uninsured and undocumented, which means they've taken no formal kind of drivers' training," Cullerton spokesman Ron Holmes said. "If they're going to be driving, we're trying to make sure they're insured and have gone through the proper methods to be trained on the roads."

Cullerton's office said that the 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois contribute toward $660 million in insurance claim costs and that 42 percent of all fatal crashes in the state involve unlicensed drivers.

Washington state and New Mexico now require undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses.

The 2007 proposal involved creating a five-year driver's certificate for motorists 18 and over who were in the country illegally. It required a passport, a valid tax identification number, proof of insurance and the submission of fingerprints, among other things.

While that plan narrowly passed the House on a 60-58 roll call, it never was called for a vote in the Senate and died amid opposition from Republicans and some suburban Democrats.

Benito said the growing clout that Latino voters possess should help muster support for the initiative this time and give Republicans a second chance to show "good faith" with the influential voting bloc that swung heavily Democratic earlier this month.

Not on Tuesday's lineup of political attendees is House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).

"This is the closest thing that Springfield sees to the immigration debate. If the Republican Party wants to show good faith in doing outreach to the Latino and immigrant community, this is a bill that would show good faith, that they weren't Johnny-come-latelys."

A Cross spokeswoman said she was not certain what Cross' posture on the legislation would be and noted that the House Republican caucus has not yet met to discuss the initiative.

"Basically, I know Tom and a representative of the group had planned to sit down, but it hasn't happened as of yet. Tom wants to sit down and learn more about it," Cross spokeswoman Vicki Crawford said. "Tom doesn't even know what's in the bill."

A spokeswoman for Radogno could not be reached.

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Chicago Sun-Times Library File Photo by Rich Hein


This Sunday, November 25th, marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Harold Washington, who served as Chicago's mayor from April 1983 until his death in 1987, just months after winning a second term. Washington was a larger-than-life man with a big smile to boot. But he was also a fighter as his battles against then-aldermen Ed Vrdolyak and the "Vrdolyak 29" proved during the infamous Council Wars. He was a polarizing figure but the city came together to mourn his tragic and sudden passing over Thanksgiving week in 1987.

Over the next few days, we'll look back on the last days of Washington's life by digging up stories from our archives and posting them here with photos from the Sun-Times' archive.

We've also created a timeline tracking some of Washington's major accomplishments as a politician and implementing photos and videos.

Finally, at the end of the week, some of the Sun-Times' writers will also share their memories of Harold for us.

So keep checking this space all week for more on Washington as we remember him 25 years after his passing.

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) met with five newly elected members of the Illinois congressional delegation--all Democrats-- in his Capitol Senate leadership office on Thursday morning. From left, Rep.-elect Bill Foster; Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth; Rep.-elect Brad Schneider; Rep.-elect Cheri Bustos and Rep.-elect William Enyart. Not at the session: GOP Rep.-elect Rodney Davis.
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON -- The incoming House members -- six from Illinois -- are here for orientation sessions, looking for places to live and sizing up new colleagues they will be working with after being sworn in on Jan. 3

"After 18 months of campaigning, I just want to get to work," Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) told me.

It's Thursday morning, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) just hosted a breakfast for five of the new members in an office that is part of his Capitol suite. None of them plans to sleep in his or her office -- which some members do to save time and money.

Afterward, Durbin brought up what I had been thinking when I was interviewing Duckworth -- that I met her for the first time in this very suite just weeks after she had been wounded in Iraq, and now she was returning as a newly elected member of Congress.

"Let me just remind you Lynn Sweet, that it was in January of 2005 ... when you and I met Tammy Duckworth for the first time in that office," he said as he pointed toward the room where the breakfast was held.

In 2005 -- as he has every year since -- Durbin invites two wounded soldiers from Illinois recovering in Washington to be his guests for the State of the Union address. I was one of the reporters who showed up to interview the soldiers -- and met Duckworth just weeks after she lost both legs and shattered an arm when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq.


Duckworth won her seat in her second House run -- defeating Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) -- and Durbin, the man who "discovered" her, said, "I can't tell you what it means to me that she finally made it."

Rep.-elect Bill Foster (D-Ill.) isn't like the other freshmen -- because he is not one -- beating Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) in a comeback bid. When he was in the House previously, he was a member of the House Financial Services and Government Oversight committees, and he is considering rejoining those panels.

Foster and Rep.-elect Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) both told me they plan to caucus with other centrist Democrats.

Rep.-elect Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) is no stranger to Congress; her father, Gene Callahan, was a longtime top adviser to former Illinois senators Paul Simon and Alan Dixon.

Rep.-elect William Enyart (D-Ill.) parachuted into the race last June, when he was tapped as a replacement candidate, quitting his post as Commander of the Illinois National Guard.

They all said they were braced to deal with fiscal cliff issues. Said Schneider, "Whatever happens in the current lame duck session, there will be issues that we will have to address when we get here in January."

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AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn will launch a long-promised "grassroots" pension-reform campaign Sunday, urging voters to turn to social media to pressure lawmakers into finally solving the state's $86 billion pension crisis.

The governor is expected to lay out details of his program during a Sunday press conference.

"This web-based initiative is designed to educate citizens about the 'squeeze' caused by skyrocketing pension costs, and then activate them to get involved using tech tools like Facebook, Twitter and email," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times late Saturday.

The governor, who promised last August to lead a grassroots effort after lawmakers failed to pass pension reform during a special session he convened then, expects also to meet with the CEO of Twitter in "the days ahead," she said.

Aides to the governor compare this digital push on pension reform to Quinn's move in the 1970s in which he gathered more than 635,000 signatures to ban advance payments to lawmakers and a follow-up petition drive that he led that cut the size of the Illinois House by two-thirds.

Quinn has tried to pressure legislators to reel in automatic 3-percent cost-of-living increases that are one of main drivers behind Illinois' ballooning pension tab. The governor has proposed giving retirees the choice of continuing to receive the COLA or state-subsidized health insurance but not both perks.

Democrats in the General Assembly also want to pass $20 billion in education-related pension costs the state now covers to the downstate and suburban school systems that set educators' salaries upon which pensions are based.

But Republicans have fought that idea, likening it to a de facto property tax increase on downstate and suburban taxpayers.

Legislators are scheduled to return to Springfield in late November to start a six-day veto session that will end in early December. But most believe any action on pension reform won't start until a week-long lame-duck session in January, when fewer votes would be needed to pass legislation.

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For Joe Berrios, the Cook County assessor who is also the county Democratic Party chairman, government is the family business. That got him in trouble with the county ethics board, which called for Berrios to fire three family members. But the Berrios family's presence on government payrolls extends beyond that, the Chicago Sun-Times found, with 13 family members now collecting a paycheck from the county or state, plus two more who recently retired and now get public pensions.

Dan Mihalopoulos has the whole report here.

Above, find the handy family tree created for the story by Sun-Times graphic guru Max Rust. Click the image to open the full-size version.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza // Click to embiggen


Yes, the image that spawned a world-conquering meme is getting new life thanks to a White House visit by the gold-winning U.S. women's gymnastic team. It's a fantastic, fun photo and one that now will surely spawn a new meme: "Obama is not impressed."

If you can come up with some great Obama-inspired "not impressed" images, let us know. Maybe we'll run one in this space.

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(White House Photo)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with President Barack Obama on Friday--and will be sitting down with Vice President Joe Biden. Emanuel is also huddling with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

FBI "is not yet finished digging" in Jesse Jackson Jr. probe

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Federal authorities investigating U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. continue to "peel back layers of the onion" in the case, according to a source close to the financial probe who described it as an ongoing investigation.

The source said Thursday that federal investigators are "going down every rat hole," and that the FBI crew investigating "is not yet finished digging."

The federal probe, which began before Jackson took medical leave from Congress on June 10, first looked at activity in the congressman's campaign fund. But it has since gone into other areas, said the source, who would not elaborate.

Broad, sweeping subpoenas were issued in the Jackson investigation, including on financial institutions that controlled Jackson accounts both in and out of Washington, D.C., the source said.

Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported last week that Jackson is in the midst of plea discussions. "No one has pled guilty, but plea discussions are ongoing," a source told Sneed.

Meanwhile, investigators are also examining what role the congressman's wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), played in the finances, but the source described the inquiry into her so far as a "normal" part of investigating a main target.

The Sun-Times first reported last month that the FBI in the Washington, D.C., field office had been investigating Jackson due to alleged "suspicious activity" in his finances.

The revelation came after Jackson checked into the Mayo Clinic, saying he suffered from bipolar depression. His 2nd District constituency, which includes some of the poorer areas of the city, has gone without representation since June.

Jackson has missed the first days of this week's lame-duck session in Congress and people close to him say they don't think he's ever returning.

Jackson was temporarily back in Washington last month when he was spotted at a nightclub drinking with other women. He returned to the Mayo Clinic but was again released, the facility said Tuesday.

People close to Jackson said he is still getting treated on an out-patient basis.

Jackson did not campaign for reelection and still coasted to victory on Nov. 6.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in Washington on Friday; he has a meeting at the White House and sessions set with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, his close friend, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

To business leaders who think Illinois' pension problems are so vast they now are "unfixable," Senate President John Cullerton has two words.

Not so.

The Chicago Democrat released a statement Thursday afternoon that was critical of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, which a day earlier took state lawmakers to task for lacking courage to fix the state's $86 billion pension crisis and laid out four proposals to ease the fiscal crunch.

"Democratic leaders were poised to pass Civic Committee-approved pension fixes in May," Cullerton said. "In fact, the Senate passed significant reforms to the State Employees' Retirement System and their own pensions. And while the Civic Committee endorsed reforms that included asking local school districts and universities to pay their fair share of pension costs, Republican leaders still haven't offered their support.

"The Civic Committee's post-election condemnation on political courage would be more appropriate if it were directed to those leaders," he said.

That provision Cullerton alluded to, commonly known as the cost shift, would enable the state to pass along pension costs for educators to downstate and suburban school systems, a Democratic idea that Republicans have belittled as a $20 billion property tax hike on their voters.

"Bipartisan pension reform is still my top priority. I invite the Civic Committee to work with me to encourage rather than discourage reform," Cullerton concluded.

Derrick Smith photo.jpg

Tip of the cap to Rich Miller, publisher of Capitol Fax and a Chicago Sun-Times columnist who sliced-and-diced the numbers in indicted, expelled state Rep.-elect Derrick Smith's impressive win over third-party rival Lance Tyson.

The 27th Ward put up the most votes on the board of any ward in the entire 10th House District.

It also happens to be the home ward for Secretary of State Jesse White, who got Smith appointed in the first place, is the 27th Ward Democratic committeeman and was on a crusade to dump Smith after he was indicted on a federal bribery charge.

But guess what.

White's political clout wound up looking anemic. Smith cleaned up in White's home turf, racking up a 62-38 percent winning margin over Tyson, a result that basically mirrored the district-wide outcome Nov. 6.

In fact, Smith won every ward in the district and, as Miller points out, every single precinct in White's ward.

Smith was expelled last August after being indicted last spring for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant purportedly acting on behalf of a fictitious daycare operator seeking Smith's help in obtaining a $50,000 state grant.

Last Thursday, Smith wouldn't answer whether he, in fact, took that cash bribe.

His trial is scheduled to start next October.


Mitt Romney, talking with his supporters and donors in a call Wednesday, went back to the 47 percent well.

In pointing to the reasons he lost - by a lot - to Obama in the race for president, Romney said that the president promised gifts to African Americans and Latinos in exchange for votes, the Los Angeles Times reported. Specifically, The Times report says Romney was referring to student loan forgiveness, immigration reform and Obamacare as promises made to low income, minority communities in order to salt away their votes.

Romney is quoted, from his donor call, in the report By Maeve Reston:

Romney argued that Obama's healthcare plan's promise of coverage "in perpetuity" was "highly motivational" to those voters making $25,000 to $35,000 who might not have been covered, as well as to African American and Hispanic voters. Pivoting to immigration, Romney said the Obama campaign's efforts to paint him as "anti-immigrant" had been effective and that the administration's promise to offer what he called "amnesty" to the children of illegal immigrants had helped turn out Hispanic voters in record numbers.

"The president's campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift -- so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars."

Speaking of the all-important Latino vote, Romney went into great detail on the "gifts" to that community that won Obama the White House, according to ABC News:

"What the president did is he gave them two things. One, he gave them a big gift on immigration with the DREAM Act amnesty program, which was obviously very very popular with Hispanic voters, and then number two was Obamacare ... For any lower-income Hispanic family, Obamacare was massive, I mean for--the average income for a household in America is fifty thousand dollars a year, that's the median, fifty K per year. For the Hispanic household, my guess is it's lower than that, maybe it's forty thousand a year. For a home earning let's say thirty thousand a year, free health care, which is worth about ten thousand dollars a year, I mean is massive, it's huge. So this--he did two very popular things for the Hispanic community."

"In order to get Hispanic voters, what the president did we would be very reluctant to do, which is one, provide amnesty for those that are here illegally, and number two put in place Obamacare which basically is ten thousand dollars a family. It's a proven political strategy, which is give a bunch of money to a group and, guess what, they'll vote for you.

"What I would do if I were a Democrat running four years from now, I'd say, you know what, dental care will be included in Obamcare . . . and Republicans will say, no, that's going to cost a trillion dollars, and the Democrats will say, that's fine, you know, we'll pay it. So this is a challenge we've got on how to deal with this is a real issue.

"Immigration we can solve, but the giving away free stuff is a hard thing to compete with."


This comes just a day after President Obama had mentioned Romney quite favorably in his first post-election press conference - going so far as to suggest that he may consult Romney on job creation and economic issues in the spirit of bipartisanship.

Judging by the speed with which Republicans are distancing themselves for their candidate for president, though, that Obama-Romney non-beer summit may be on indefinite hold.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, himself emerging as a contender for the top of the Republican ticket and the newly installed head of the Republican Governors Association, had perhaps the strongest words for Romney's mindset and the harm it does the party:

"We have got to stop dividing the American voters. If we're going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage, and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly. One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes. And second, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period."

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) met with five newly elected members of the Illinois congressional delegation--all Democrats-- in his Capitol Senate leadership office on Thursday morning. From left, Rep.-elect Bill Foster; Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth; Rep.-elect Brad Schneider; Rep.-elect Cheri Bustos and Rep.-elect William Enyart. Not at the session: GOP Rep.-elect Rodney Davis.

The new members are in Washington for orientation sessions. They will be sworn-in on Jan. 3, 2013.
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told me Thursday that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) needs to surface--no matter what his problems are.

"I think it is time for Congressman Jackson to speak, to come to the public and answer some basic questions," Durbin said. "There is so much speculation. I've given him--most people have--a long period of time to recuperate from some serious illness and I want to continue to give him that opportunity. But there are some really important questions about his service in office and his continued public service that need to be resolved."

Durbin did not speak to reports that Jackson is under a federal investigation for misuse of campaign funds--and is working on a plea deal. It is time, Durbin said, for Jackson to address the "rumors and allegations" though a meeting or a press conference. I talked to Durbin in his office in the Capitol, with Congress back at work for the lame duck session.

The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota said Jackson left in-patient treatment for bi-polar depression on Tuesday--his second stint at the facility. Jackson has been absent from Congress since June 10.

The latest Sun-Times coverage by Natasha Korecki is HERE.

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown calls for Jackson to stay in or get out by Dec. 12 and save costs of a special election to replace him; his column is HERE.

SPRINGFIELD-The top House Republican voiced support Wednesday for his Senate counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who is facing a potential challenge to her role as the Senate GOP head from a leading conservative within her caucus.

"I will say it this way, I've worked very well with her, and I think she does a very good job of articulating the views of a diverse caucus of upstaters, downstaters, conservatives, very conservatives, Tea Party. And I think she has been able to kind of be a voice for that caucus. That can be challenging at times," House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I have enjoyed working with her and would like to work with her again. I don't have a vote over there, and I've been very careful to stay out of her caucus," Cross said.

Radogno (R-Lemont) faces a push for her ouster as legislative leader from some conservatives, including Family PAC.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) has said he's interested in displacing Radogno as the leader based on last week's disappointing election results, where the Senate GOP lost five seats to Democrats. But so far, McCarter appears short of lining up the 10 votes necessary in the incoming 19-member Senate GOP caucus to make that happen.

Radogno said late Wednesday she was "very, very appreciative" of Cross' words of support for her as she pursues another term as legislative leader.

"I think Tom and the other leaders, as well, know what a very difficult job this is, and a lot of it is is trying to bring together people so everyone in the caucus has some voice. It's tough for Tom to do. It's tough for [Senate President] John [Cullerton]. It's tough for [House Speaker Michael] Madigan (D-Chicago)," Radogno told the Sun-Times.

"It's an easy position to take potshots at. There's no question about that. That comes with the territory. But having said that, I'm very grateful to have that endorsement. I think Cullerton said similar nice things about me. It is a tough job. I'm humbled by it, and I certainly think we have some soulsearching to do and I'd like to to be the one to lead that effort," she said.

But McCarter minimized the impact of Cross' words of support for Radogno and warned that backing her could wind up costing Cross support within his own caucus for another term as House GOP leader.

"It is kind of like endorsing someone in a primary when you have a race of your own," McCarter said in a statement to the Sun-Times. "You don't know how many votes it will cost you."

Senate Republicans are likely to choose their new leader when lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall session, which begins Nov. 27 and could extend through Jan. 9.

Who knew Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn and House Minority Leader Tom Cross had such an affinity for a restaurant where you can buy old Andy Griffith programs, eat turnip greens and play checkers on oversized burlap boards?

Well, it's true. The two political rivals, who have clashed over finding ways to dig the state out of its $86 billion pension crisis, had a powwow Monday.

And it wasn't at the Executive Mansion, where a pretty respectable kitchen staff serves at the governor's beck and call. Nor was it at a more upscale place like the Four Seasons' four-star Allium on North Michigan Avenue.

Instead, they chose to conduct the affairs of state at the bastion of highway travelers everywhere: a Cracker Barrel.

"We definitely like to have lunch together. We were at Cracker Barrel not too long ago," the governor told reporters Wednesday. "I ate carrots, lots of carrots, green beans. And we were eating healthy."

The same was true for Cross (R-Oswego), as they chatted about pensions, gambling and capital spending at the Cracker Barrel off Weber Road in Bolingbrook off Interstate 55, a location Cross said he chose and the governor readily complied.

"I had turnip greens, pinto beans, fried okra, and I must've had green beans. I did have one of their nice biscuits. This was my idea," Cross told the Sun-Times.

"The governor sat down at the table and said, 'Excellent. I don't need a menu,'" Cross said. "We're just a couple of Cracker Barrel guys."


(video by Lynn Sweet)

for transcript of Obama press conference on Nov. 14, 2012, click HERE


Jesse Jackson Jr's dwindling campaign fund didn't make many disbursements last month -- but it did manage to spend several thousand dollars on a consultant who specializes in campaign fund compliance.

His disclosures show that $3,000 was paid to Whitney Burns, an FEC consultant.
"The work I do is confidential."

"I just generally don't discuss my work with reporters unless my client asks me to discuss (something)," Burns told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I have a policy going back 30 years not to discuss my clients."

Asked if she could say how long she's worked for the congressman, she said: "No. Which congressman? No."


Jesse Jackson Jr's dwindling campaign fund didn't make many disbursements last month -- but it did manage to spend several thousand dollars on a consultant who specializes in campaign fund compliance.

His disclosures show that $3,000 was paid to Whitney Burns, an FEC consultant.

"I just generally don't discuss my work with reporters unless my client asks me to discuss (something)," Burns told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I have a policy going back 30 years not to discuss my clients."

Asked if she could say how long she's worked for the congressman, she said: "No. Which congressman? No."

Watch the full video below and check out the full transcript on Lynn Sweet's blog.

SPRINGFIELD-Illinois' $86 billion unfunded pension burden is so paralyzing, it has reached a point now where the problem can't be fully repaired by state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn, a leading business group said Wednesday.

Quinn and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), meanwhile, struck a conciliatory tone on pensions Wednesday, expressing support for reeling in annual retiree cost-of-living increases.

But the two still showed no signs of coming together on a plan to pass off state pension costs for teachers to downstate and suburban school systems, a Democratic push that Republicans have compared to a $20 billion property tax hike.

In a memo to its members, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago said last week's elections didn't bring in an influx of lawmakers willing to deal with the pension crisis but instead leaves taxpayers with "more legislators who aren't prepared, or willing, to make the tough decisions necessary to save our state."

"We are writing today to let you know that the pension crisis has grown so severe that it is now, unfixable," said the letter co-signed by Miles White, chairman of the Commercial Club; Jim Farrell, chairman of the Civic Committee; and Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee and Commercial Club.

White is an investor in Wrapports Inc., owner of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Civic Committee warned that the state no longer has the capacity to "preserve all state pension benefits as currently structured." But it identified four steps that it said must occur when state lawmakers return to Springfield in November, December and January for their lame-duck session "to minimize the long-term damage" to state employees, retirees and taxpayers.

The group said: All cost-of-living increases need to be eliminated for retirees, who now get annual 3 percent pension boosts; a cap on salaries must be imposed upon which pensions can be based; the retirement age for full pension benefits needs to be raised to 67; and downstate and suburban school systems must be forced to take on pension payments from the state for educators over a 12-year phase-in.

"Unless each is addressed," the group wrote, "nothing else legislators say or do will matter."

The union representing the largest bloc of state government employees, AFSCME Council 31, condemned the new push by the business leaders.

"Millionaire CEOs want to slash the modest retirement savings earned by middle-class public servants like teachers, police, nurses and caregivers. Regrettably, that's not news," said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall in a prepared statement.

Lindall called The Civic Committee's position "disappinting" and "alarmingly fact-free." There was "no mention that the pension debt was mostly caused by politicians who skipped required payments even as public employees always paid their share. No mention that retirees rely on an average pension of just $32,000 a year, with nearly 80% not eligible for Social Security," he said.

In Chicago jointly to promote Diabetes Awareness Day, Quinn and Cross voiced optimism a pension deal can be struck before the current Legislature concludes its business in early January.

"I feel if we put our best efforts together in a bipartisan way between now and the 9th of January, which is the end of the legislative session, we can accomplish this important mission," the governor said.

Cross said he and the governor are in general agreement about ending the automatic 3-percent cost-of-living increases all state retirees get.

"I think we would agree the COLA is an area where we can save some significant amounts of money. That's probably one of the big, big areas where you can do that," Cross said. "You can impact when people retire, you can impact it through the amount of COLA, you can impact when people get it. So I think that's one of the areas to begin with.

"Actually for all the politics, just going through an election, I do think the governor and I have a lot of common interest on this and some areas where we agree. I think he and I probably could get it done if it was just the two of us, but it's not," Cross said.

As for what is commonly called the cost-shift, Quinn gave no sign that any agreement with Republicans was near.

"I don't think you should emphasize just one part of it," the governor told reporters when asked about the prospects of shifting education-related pension costs from the state to suburban and downstate school systems.

Though Jesse Jackson Jr.'s absence was noted in Congress, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said it hasn't reached the point where members are calling on Jackson to step down. Jackson has been absent since June.

"I think we will get to that point. I don't think, it's pretty obvious we haven't necessarily gotten to that point. Nobody can demand that the congressman do something. And there's no such thing as recall in the state of Illinois. I think we have to wait. But I also think we have to give enough time..." Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times today. Davis is a Jackson friend and spoke on his behalf shortly before the election. Davis said members are trying to sift through news reports about Jackson.
The Sun-Times has reported that the congressman is under federal investigation for alleged improprieties in his campaign fund. As part of the investigation, federal investigators are scrutinizing what role, if any, that Jackson's wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) has played with the fund.
"It's gotten to the point with congressman Jackson that you really don't know what to believe. There's so many pieces of information swirling around, you don't know what is fact and what is rumor. Until you almost have to say, hey wait and see. Or the congressman will say something soon that will tell people where things are in his analysis. I think the congressman is probably just trying to make up his mind."

Jesse Jackson Jr. a no-show in congress' lame-duck session

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Jackson Leave of Absence.jpgCongress met today in a lame-duck session, but despite winning reelection with 62 percent of the vote, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was not present.

Jackson has been absent from congress since June 10.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. on Tuesday announced he was no longer being housed at the facility. However, he remains in Minnesota receiving treatment on an outpatient basis.

On Tuesday, Jackson and his father and mother were visiting with the congressman, but his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson, was in Chicago and appeared surprised by the news that her husband was released from the clinic. He had been treated for bipolar depression.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday he was not with his son.

"No, no, no I'm in New York. I'm in New York in a meeting," he said before hanging up.

The Sun-Times first reported that Jackson is under federal scrutiny for activity in his campaign fund.

President Obama concluded his first post-election press conference at the White House Wednesday afternoon.

He took questions - and some followup - from 10 reporters and addressed the fiscal cliff, working with Congress, Iran, climate change, Benghazi, Amb. Susan Rice and tax reform. Following is a live blog and tweets from Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet, who will have full coverage shortly on her blog.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) a key figure in negotiations to avoid the looming Dec. 31 "fiscal cliff" deadline, said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that "the election was a pretty straight up question as to whether or not we were going to raise taxes on the wealthiest people." With President Barack Obama's decisive win, in the Senate, "many Republicans believe that now is the time to sit down and talk about revenue."

The Democratic-controlled Senate will be able to cut a deal--maybe with as many as 20 Republicans, Durbin said--as the problem remains getting something through the GOP run House.

WASHINGTON--Three Illinois Democrats elected to the House last Tuesday--Brad Schneider, Bill Foster and Tammy Duckworth--are here for orientation sessions and to take part in picking leaders for the next Congress. They will be sworn-in next January. Foster is a former member, so he is familiar with House procedures.

WASHINGTON--Following the re-election of President Barack Obama, petitions for states to secede from the United States--including Illinois--are on the White House "We the People" website. If a petition reaches 25,000 on-line signatures within 30 days of posting, the Obama administration is supposed to "review" the petition.

There are two Illinois secession petitions on the site: as of Wednesday morning, one has 2,223 signatures; the other 3,047. Running the two petition has clearly diluted the Illinois impact. Each faces a Dec. 11 deadline to get 25,000 signatures to trigger the review.

Also in the running: A petition to "peacefully" get the University of Illinois to get "Chief Illiniwek back as the school mascot." So far, that one has 2,296 signatures. For a history of the controversy of the chief, click HERE.

The Daily Caller in an analysis posted Wednesday morning found seven states already met the 25,000-signature threshold, with Texas in the lead with 92,400 signers.

From the Daily Caller: "By 6:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states, according to a Daily Caller analysis of requests lodged with the White House's "We the People" online petition system."

What is the "We the People" petition program? From the White House: "We the People is a new, easy way for Americans to make their voice heard in our government. It is a platform on the White House website where individuals can create and sign petitions that call for action by the federal government on a range of issues facing our nation. If a petition gathers enough signatures, it will be reviewed by White House staff and receive an official response. We the People helps the White House understand the views of the American people and have a focused and civil conversation with them."

romney.jpgAP Photo/Charles Dharapak

One of the storylines of the 2012 Presidential campaigns that will linger throughout history will be the Mitt Romney "47 Percent" video. Though Romney overcame the momentum that gave President Obama and made a tight contest of the race for a while, the video was one of several items that just gave Romney too high a mountain to overcome. And now it looks like the phrase "47 percent" may be forever etched next to Romney's name in an entirely different manner. As of earlier today, with vote reports - primarily absentee ballots - still trickling in, Romney stands at 47.84 percent of the popular vote. Some media outlets are still rounding up to 48 percent but as votes continue to trickle in and be tallied, there's a very good chance that Romney will remain in the 47 percent range and ensure that he will forever be linked to the phrase.

ceasefire.JPGPhoto: Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

The scoop in Tuesday's Chicago Sun-Times by police reporter Frank Main about the effectiveness of CeaseFire isn't the first time such questions have been raised about the group.

Five years ago, Illinois' top auditor questioned what exactly taxpayers were getting in return for millions of dollars in state funds that were invested with CeaseFire.

A 2007 report by Auditor General William Holland scrutinized $13 million in state spending on CeaseFIre and concluded no state standards existed to measure the group's anti-violence work.

On Tuesday, Main reported that after more than three months into a $1 million contract with the city, a ranking police source said the anti-violence group has "no significant success stories." The group disputed that claim, insisting it had made a dent in crime in the areas covered by the city's new anti-violence pilot program.

"To me, they've never proven their worth," said state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), who was behind the original Senate resolution that got Holland moving on his CeaseFire audit of five years ago.

Jesse Jackson Jr. no longer at Mayo Clinic

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U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.is no longer a patient at the Mayo Clinic, according to a spokesperson there. The revelation comes as reports persist about a federal investigation into the congressman and it possibly expanding to his wife, Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson.

"As of today he is no longer at the Mayo Clinic," Nick Hanson said through an assistant.

Natasha Korecki reports the details here.

romney_app.jpg

By Andy Ihnatko

The software development community had never been entertained by its own equivalent of a "Fail" video before. And then, the Romney campaign commissioned ORCA, an ambitious software platform that was supposed to collect onsite voting information from tens of thousands of volunteers nationwide on election day, and send it to strategists at campaign HQ.

You know what I mean by a Fail video? I'm talking about those viral clips that usually begin with someone saying "Here, hold my beer and watch me do this" and ends with the camera rushing over to the spot on the side of the road where this guy is now rocking back and forth, clutching his groin in agony next to broken bits of his skateboard . . . as well as the railing that he apparently believed was made of a soft and spongy kind of iron.

These videos are entertaining because they document an absolutely unambiguous disaster that's being suffered by someone other than you. And they're genuinely fascinating, because . . . well, criminy, man! A higher lifeform wouldn't even consider making a jump from the bed of a moving flatbed truck onto a roadside trampoline. What the hell was this person even thinking?

There were so many fails about ORCA. The webapp was meant to connect tens of thousands of volunteers to a single central webserver This lone server was soon shut down by the campaign's ISP, because the sudden incoming flood of geographically-diverse hits appeared to be a denial-of-service attack. The server appeared to be inadequate for the flood of traffic anyway.

Romney campaign Digital Director Zac Moffatt talked to CNET about the traffic blast and amount of data being served:

"The primary issue was we beta-tested in a different environment than the Garden [Boston Garden, where the 800 campaign staffers were working]. There was so much data coming in -- 1200 records or more per minute -- it shut down the system for a time. Users were frustrated by lag, and some people dropped off and we experienced attrition as a result."

pet.jpg
Gen. Petraeus, left, and Broadwell, right, via Paula Broadwell's website

[UPDATE: 12 a.m., Nov. 13]
And now there's this. Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Jill Kelley, not only involved but enough to provide upwards of 30,000 pages of "inappropriate emails?" This couldn't be anymore ridiculous.

[UPDATE: 10:10 p.m., Nov. 12]
This scandal is four days in and new details, each a little more ridiculous than the last, keep emerging. First, on the not ridiculous front, a few more details have surfaced about the then-anonymous threatening emails Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell is alleged to have sent to Jill Kelley. Per NBC News:

What most alarmed Kelley and the FBI, the source said, were references to "the comings and goings" of high-level generals from the U.S. Central Command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and the U.S. Southern Command, as well as Petraeus -- including events that were not on any public schedule. This raised the question as to whether somebody had access to sensitive -- and classified -- information.

Moreover, the sender of the emails had "covered her tracks pretty well," the source said.


So there's that. Also, reports out of Charlotte tonight are that investigators are searching Broadwell's home there which she shares with her husband and two children. Several FBI agents were seen carrying boxes out of the home but according to an on-air report on MSNBC, the search was not considered a "raid." And one source told CBS that the search was "consensual." No, really, that's what they said because of course.

And now for this update's dosage of ridiculous in an already pretty outrageous as one of the highest ranking national security figures in the nation has seen his career unravel because of a tryst. And, lest we forget, we still don't know the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley. Regardless of that relationship, the news that an FBI agent was removed from the investigation because he sent photos of himself shirtless to Kelley is the latest example of why the made-for-TV movie of this saga is more likely to air on Lifetime or Comedy Central than CNN.

This is no longer an intelligence or cyber crime investigation, it's Melrose Place.

[UPDATE: 12:30 p.m., Nov. 12]
So we now have the logistics of this whole scandal down for the most part (see the updates below). But to recap: Petraeus had an affair with his biographer who was sending threatening emails to another woman and the threatened woman was so scared she went to the FBI and the FBI discovered the affair in their ensuing investigation. Simple enough, right?

Now we're getting to the heart of why it matters that Petraeus had an affair, especially one who had the access that Paula Broadwell, his biographer and mistress, did. At the center of the saga today is this speech Broadwell gave a few weeks ago where she made references to a theory that the CIA was holding prisoners and the Benghazi attacks were in retaliation for these prisoners. This was something that had previously been reported by Fox News, except as Gawker points out, the Fox report suggested it was after the attack while Broadwell seems to be suggesting it happened prior to the attack. (Gawker also notes that the affair allegedly was over when Broadwell gave this speech).

Now there's a whole new sticky wicket as allegations are coming down that the FBI and the Obama Administration knew about the affair and a potential security breach well before the election - as recently as late this summer - and kept it quiet. As the Wall Street Journal reports, a subsequent investigation of Broadwell revealed she was in possession of classified documents she shouldn't have but both her and Petraeus denied the general was the source of the documents. Still, the FBI is facing scrutiny over the investigation as well as its timing.

[UPDATE: 5:10 p.m., Nov. 11]
And now we know who the other other woman is: State Dept. liaison Jill Kelley. It was Kelley who received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' mistress and triggered the entire investigation that uncovered the affair. As of right now, the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley is unknown but what is known is that Broadwell perceived Kelley as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus.

mittfb.jpg

Poor Mitt Romney. You'd think losing last week's election would have been enough of a kick in the teeth. But as the GOP tries to collectively sort out its troubles and figure out where it all went wrong, Mitt is suffering a new injustice: losing Facebook friends by the boatload. As in, several every minute. While he started out with so many, it looks like those who supported Romney in the election are choosing to "unlike" the candidate rather than to, say, just forget they ever liked him, kind of like all those stupid likes you make of businesses just so you can get a coupon. That is to say: people are actively clicking the "unlike" button on Romney's page.

One site has taken up the task to tracking this trend and God bless you, Disappearing Romney, for keeping the candidates honest.

The Republican Party needs to soften its tone on immigration reform and be less threatening to Latino and Asian voters to regain its political footing, a leading GOP congressman from Illinois said Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who is mulling a 2014 bid for governor, said his party has to recalibrate its message on immigration reform and avoid using harsh anti-immigrant terms like "self-deportation" as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said during the campaign.

In his post-mortem election analysis, Schock also said his party needs to better target women and young voters, who swung en masse to President Barack Obama's presidential campaign and helped give him the cushion to defeat Romney.

"We've got to do a better job with young people. We've got to do a better job with women. But the group that we really have to zero in on, I believe, is the Latino community, a group that really should be voting for Republicans to the degree we take a leadership role on the issue of immigration," Schock said on ABC's "This Week."

"I think it makes sense for Republicans to get out front on immigration because it's a broke government program. And who better to fix a broken government program than the Republican Party? It shouldn't take eight years on the average to figure out whether or not you qualify to become an American citizen," he said.

"I think George W. Bush was trying to do that pre-September 11th. I think it's unfortunate that our party, when we controlled the entire process, didn't do more on the issue. I'm disappointed, the president, in his first four years, despite a pledge to do so, didn't put forward a comprehensive immigration proposal," Schock continued.

The Peoria Republican said the GOP needs to target Asian-American voters, too. The Republican Party's share of the Asian vote dropped from 42 percent in 2004, to 33 percent in 2008, to 26 percent this year, he said.

"They're getting a message," Schock said of that voting demographic. "They're getting a message that says you're really not welcome. I think part of that is the threshold question of immigration, and the Republicans need to address that."

Schock also slammed Obama's push to increase taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year as part of a plan to avert the country from falling off the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, when Bush-era tax cuts and 2011 spending cuts are due to expire.

"We've heard about, you know, the president's plan to raise taxes on wealthy individuals is a means to deal with our debt crisis. But the reality is the math doesn't add up. We can't tax our way out of debt. OK. That's the fact," Schock said.

The congressman said House Republicans in Congress haven't completely ruled out signing onto revenue increases to stave off the ticking financial time bomb but said Obama needs to back off the tax-increase on the wealthy because it is a pittance compared to the scope of the country's deficit.

"What we really need from the president is leadership. We need from the president the other side of the ledger," Schock said. "He talked throughout his campaign about a balanced approach. He's talked about raising taxes on filers over $250,000. But the fact is, even if he gets what he wants, which is a tax increase on people over $250,000, that's $80 billion a year when we're running a trillion-dollar deficit."

Obama, Romney aged

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obama_cover.jpeg

The above photo was created by Bloomberg Businessweek, in which the mag used a super-advanced space-age software program called "Photoshop" to create an image of what they think President Obama will look like four years. They're certainly counting on the second term to take its toll on him.

After the jump, the aged Mitt Romney cover that BB would have run had Romney won.

obamaonedirection.jpg(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In the final days of the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama called in favors from some of music's heaviest hitters, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen, to play some rallies for him. Whether these pop luminaries' presence alongside Obama had any direct effect on voting is unknown but it certainly didn't hurt. But the latest pop alignment for the president is the new hyperpopular boy-band One Direction. That's right: the president hasn't only eschewed good music, he's done it for a BRITISH boy band. Unamerican, indeed. As if the group hadn't done enough damage to our fragile nation by sullying the reputation of Drew Brees, now they'll return to the scene of one of Britain's greatest crimes against America (not including Madonna's accent) and sing for the President. To be fair, the President wants to invite the lads as a thank you to his daughters for their help on the campaign. But, still, I shudder. If Mitt Romney had won, he would have had the good sense to invite a true American patriot like Michael McDonald or, if he was feeling frisky, Toad The Wet Sprocket.

Like all of Facebook, I now weep for America.

More election trends

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If you're just catching up after the election - and who could blame you for taking a break? - we've been swarmed with maps as to how the election broke down. There was the electoral map, the margin of victory, and even the makeup of red state voters and blue state voters. Now we have the above chart, via the Associated Press, which helps break down the demographics of the voters: men vs women, by race, and by age. It's an interesting set of data that underscores why Romney lost (alienating women and growing minorities).

Weekly Address: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts to Grow the Economy (transcript)

Hello, everybody.

On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.

That's why I've invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together. I also intend to bring in business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington to get their ideas and input as well.

At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That's the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It's a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. It's a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it's a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit - decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future.

Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars' worth of spending, and I intend to work with both parties to do more. But as I said over and over again on the campaign trail, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue - and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That's how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that's the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing - all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.

Already, I've put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Now, I'm open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach - that includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

Now we need a majority in Congress to listen - and they should start by making sure taxes don't go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It's a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There's no reason to wait.

We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That's part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won't tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word. Not when so many of your families are still struggling.

Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That's what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

cullerton.jpgIllinois Senate John Cullerton (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

If there was ever doubt, Senate President John Cullerton Friday slammed the door on any chance that Democrats might try in the coming weeks to extend the temporary income tax increase set to expire in 2015.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) sounded the alarm in an online interview with the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think-tank.

Cullerton, however, told the Chicago Sun-Times that it's an issue best left for candidates in the 2014 governor's race to sort out rather than ramming it through later this month, early next month or in January. On Thursday, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) sent a memo encouraging lawmakers to be prepared for a six-day session in January, when passing legislation becomes easier.

"My thought would be timing," Cullerton said. "We'd have an election for governor, and that would be the best time to have a debate about what the proposal ought to be.

"I'd think the Republican running for governor and Gov. Quinn, if he's running, would have a proposal for what they want to do: Keep it at 3.75 percent, do other changes or make it higher than that.

"I just think it would be the best time," he said. "We'd have an election."

Now that the election is over, let's take a look at the different parts of the country where each candidate won. Based on these two "new Americas", if we examine the latest American Community Survey data from 2010, we can see slight differences in particular demographics, such as education level, race and occupation. One of the most interesting results from this exercise is that in both Americas, government workers make up the same share of the working population.

REDANDBLUEAMERICA.jpg

Christine_Radogno.jpegIL Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

A downstate Republican who got into a physical tussle last year with a Democratic senator over utility legislation touted himself Friday as a potential replacement for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno following Tuesday's big GOP losses in the Legislature.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) confirmed his interest in ousting Radogno from her leadership post after she failed to stave off a whopping five-seat loss for Republicans in the state Senate.

"If we were a competitive college sports team with a record like this, somebody would have been fired already," McCarter told the Chicago Sun-Times.

McCarter's criticism came the same day that a conservative political action committee, Family PAC, circulated a letter to each Republican state senator, urging Radogno's ouster.

m-mccarter.jpeg"Frankly, I think nearly anyone in that caucus could do a far better job than Christine Radogno," said Paul Caprio, director of Family PAC, who praised both McCarter (pictured right) and state Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington).

Caprio faulted Radogno for not appropriating proper financial "support" to anti-abortion candidates who lost and said her support of civil unions and abortion rights is "out of the mainstream of the Senate caucus."

Radogno, whose caucus will drop in size from 24 to 19 members in January, defended her backing of all Republican Senate campaigns and dismissed Caprio as an "outlier" in a party that she said must be recalibrated after Tuesday's outcome. She also took direct aim at McCarter.

"I'm not sure what we need now is an in-your-face, confrontational, white, downstate male. I love our downstate guys. I have a great relationship with them, and I'm not playing a gender card," she told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"What I'm saying, as a practical matter, is that we need to change our image. Fairly or not, we're perceived -- and these aren't my words, I've read it reported this way -- as being the party of angry white men, and that's not true by the way. The fact of the matter is perception is reality, and we need to deal with it," she said.

Caprio took issue with Radogno's implication that the party needs to rebrand itself so it again can carry appeal with moderate suburban women like herself.

"That's an insult to every woman voter who votes in this state. I'd like to find a woman who said the reason I voted for a Republican candidate is Christine Radogno," he said. "I wonder how many voters even know who the minority leadership is in Springfield, to tell you the truth. Playing this gender game is an excuse when you've lost every targeted Senate seat the Republicans had."

Radogno said it is unfair to hold her singularly accountable for what one top GOP strategist called a "bloodbath" that enabled Democrats to claim veto-proof majorities in the Legislature and win all of the contested congressional races in the suburbs.

"If everyone had done phenomenally well and this was just our result, that would be one thing. But our result was consistent with what happened across the state," she said.

McCarter, who took issue with Radogno's comments against "confrontational" downstate men, got into a shoving match on the Senate floor in 2011 with state Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline), who came at McCarter after he questioned Jacobs' sponsorship of Commonwealth Edison-backed smart-grid legislation. Jacobs' father, former state Sen. Denny Jacobs (D-East Moline), is a utility industry lobbyist.

"Did I stand up when I saw something that wasn't ethical with regards to the smart-grid bill with Mike Jacobs? Of course, I did. But I wasn't the one who came across the aisle to take a swing at a legislator. I sat in my seat where I was supposed to be," McCarter said.

He also took issue with Radogno's implication that the GOP would be best suited with a suburban woman, since Republicans across the board didn't badly with women voters, particularly in the suburbs.

"If it's all about doing better with women, having a woman in charge didn't fix things Tuesday," he said.

Radogno, who has been legislative leader since 2009, said she is confident she has lined up the 10 votes necessary to hold onto her job.

McCarter, a small business owner who has been in the Senate for four years, said he doesn't know yet how many votes he might have.

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LLUIS GENELLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Sure, it was a bruising election with plenty of smear campaign dirtiness. But this is too much.

Ceramic figurines of President Obama called "caganers" are pictured during their presentation in Gerona on Wednesday. Statuettes of well-known people defecating are a strong Christmas tradition in Catalonia, dating back to the 18th century as Catalonians hide caganers in Christmas Nativity scenes and invite friends to find them. The figures symbolize fertilization, hope and prosperity for the coming year.

This begs the question of what would have happened had he lost.

The tradition dates back to the 18th century and no public figure - from Pope to president - is safe from the treatment.

When Illinois lawmakers last were in session in a January, they voted to abolish the death penalty, increase the income tax and legalize civil unions.

Now, at least one of the two legislative chambers has told its members to be prepared to be at the Capitol for up to six days for another January session, this one possibly beginning Jan. 3.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) notified his chamber that he's prepared to be in session from that starting point all the way through Jan. 8, which includes possibly working through a weekend. Those days would be on top of six already-scheduled days spread over two weeks, beginning Nov. 27.

The Senate has not followed suit with a schedule of its own, but it is likely to be similar if not identical.

During the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Madigan signaled to reporters that a lame-duck January session might be the time to move a big pension-reform package that never could get off the ground this year.

It's also possible lawmakers could take action on measures legalizing medical marijuana and gay marriages and extending the temporary income tax passed in 2011 beyond its 2015 expiration, though Senate President John Cullerton has been adamant against doing that.

Odd-year Januarys are when things often get done in Springfield when they can't get done otherwise. That's because of a proliferation of lame-duck lawmakers, who can vote their consciences without fear of reprisal at the ballot box. This year, there about three dozen of them.

Also, the state Constitution lowers the threshold from a three-fifths majority to pass legislation with an immediate effective date to a simple majority, meaning fewer House and Senate votes are needed to get something to the governor's desk.


Nate Silver hit The Daily Show on Wednesday to discuss his uncanny use of math in regard to predicting the 2012 election.

But on Friday he's all ours. Or, at least he'll be a guest of the Humanities Festival - sorry, sold out.

Neil Steinberg, yet another sad scribe who couldn't gain one-on-one access to the, as Stewart called him, Lord God of the Algorithim, did manage to find out how the Festival scored the get of gets:

So hats off to the Chicago Humanities Festival, for scoring one of the better "gets" of the year, when the elusive Silver returns here Friday for a lecture at the University of Chicago, "Nate Silver on Baseball and Politics: The Numbers Don't Lie." A happy coincidence?

"It's not a coincidence," said Matti Bunzl, the festival artistic director. "We have been following him for years. The way the election was shaping up, it was so clear it would be very close, so much of the discourse would turn on polling, all issues. The fact that he has completely exploded, that we could not foresee But we assumed that he would play a pivotal role in the election, and it played out exactly as we anticipated. We assumed that by now he would be a household name." Bingo.

Silver did stop by to talk to Charlie Rose on October 30, though, and discuss his math, his politics - he claims not to vote - and all the hubbub surrounding the mild-mannered statistician as the election headed toward the boiling point:

The emotional week continues for President Obama.

At his final campaign stop, returning to where he got his start in 2008 in Des Moines, he seemed to tear up talking to a crowd of supporters. This time, his emotions came out as he talked to the staffers in his Chicago campaign office as he reminisced about his early days in Chicago as a community organizer and looked forward to future of his young staffers.

Then again, maybe he was just thinking of the impending ugliness facing him as the fiscal cliff looms.

It's not the first time Obama has become emotional on the public stage. In 2008, on the eve of election day, his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, passed away at 86. Obama teared up talking about his "quiet hero" to a campaign rally in North Carolina:

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Sun-Times files

Disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has the president on his mind.

No, not necessarily the one who just got re-elected and whose vacated Senate seat he tried to sell.

Think back 150 years or so, his lawyer Sam Adam Jr. said Thursday.

"My father sends him two or three books a month, and it's always on the presidents," Adam said, updating reporters about his notorious client's activities these days.

"They've studied the presidents up to U.S. Grant. They're on Grant now, and so they're into Reconstruction."

Adam said his defense attorney father talks to Blagojevich up to two or three times a week while he serves his 14-year prison sentence in Colorado for corruption.

"Blago is the son my father always wanted. I'm the son he got," Adam said.

Adam said Blagojevich is doing "okay."

"He's staying strong" and he's "upbeat," he said.

-Rummana Hussain

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Matt Rourke/AP Photo

The campaign trail is a long, tough slog over the course of many months. There's a lot of flying back and forth between Washington, D.C., where Joe Biden serves as Vice President, and every swing state in the union. And over those trips, like anyone on a road trip, the VP built up a hefty list of food consumed. To his credit, he still looks as slim as ever. But thanks to press pool reports, there's great opportunity to keep track of these sorts of thing. Which is what the Washington Examiner did by compiling a list of foods that Biden consumed on the trail, a list that showed the VP has a weakness for ice cream.

June 26, Dubuque, Iowa: Three quarts of ice cream and several dozen cookies at Hy-Vee grocery (note: Biden did not eat all of this himself)

June 26, Manchester, Iowa: Strawberry ice cream on a sugar cone at Widner Drug and Gift Shop

Aug. 14, Stuart, Va.: Hot dog and Coke at The Coffee Break Cafe

Aug. 14, Floyd, Va.: Vanilla milkshake at Floyd Country Store


Here's to four more years of milkshakes and trucker lap sits for Biden.

Jackson's opponent: "The voters have been cheated"

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Write-in candidate Anthony W. Williams said Jesse Jackson Jr. was unfit to serve the 2nd Congressional District. | Natasha Korecki photo

One day after U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. won a commanding reelection, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed revealed that he is in plea negotiations with federal authorities. The story was first reported on the Sun-Times Web site Wednesday.

"The voters of the 2nd District have been cheated once again," said Anthony W. Williams, a chief critic of Jackson's who also attempted a write-in campaign against him. "It is important that we call for a special election."

If Jackson was to step down, by law, a special election would have to be held to fill the vacancy.

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

While the ongoing saga of Jesse Jackson Jr. - now working on a plea deal according to reporting by Michael Sneed - will cause tongues to wag about the continuing questionable state of Illinois political malfeasance, we are far from alone.

The feds, according to Sneed's report, are targeting Rep. Jackson's use of campaign funds. And we have our share of governors either in prison or who know their way around a cellblock. We have politicians fond of hiring relatives and blowing off ethics inquiries. We even have judges who's, well, state of mind is in question.

But at least they're all still alive.

The same cannot be said for Earl K. Wood, Charles Beasley and Mario Gallegos.

Sun-Times graphics guru Max Rust has put together some tremendous images that give us a great visual breakdown of yesterday's presidential vote (Florida excepted). Below, the Electoral College votes broken down by states and number of votes.

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And below here is the breakdown of the candidates' respective margins of victories in 3,000 different counties across the nation, punctuating Obama's dominance in urban areas while Romney took a big chunk of the suburban and rural vote. [A full, high-res PDF version of the below map can be viewed here.]

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Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / Original image by Alexander Gardner / Library of Congress

Abraham Lincoln is enjoying a renaissance these days. While he was often cited as an inspiration for President Barack Obama during his first campaign, specifically Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals, he's now getting even more interest as that book has been adapted into a movie. Starring Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis, the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln opens nationwide next week. So it goes to follow there are a lot of think pieces out there on the former president, including one in TIME. But there's something else fascinating going on with TIME's piece: specifically, Abe Lincoln in full color.

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Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway / Original image from the Library of Congress

The magazine commissioned Sanna Dullaway to work some digital magic on photos of Lincoln for their feature, giving them vibrant color as if they were taken yesterday and not 150 years ago. Dullaway's done this before and TIME gave us a peek behind the process.

In each of these renderings, Dullaway's use of color is subtle and sophisticated--yielding images that maintain the photographic integrity of their originals, while presenting a look at how these photographs may have come out had color photography existed at the time. That nuanced ability to handle color runs in the family; Dullaway's father is painter.

The images take anywhere from 40 minutes to three hours to produce, and for the young artist, it's a way of bringing a contemporary perspective to older works. "History has always been black and white to me, from the World War I soldiers to the 1800s, when ladies wore grand but colorless dresses," Dullaway says. "By colorizing, I watch the photos come alive, and suddenly the people feel more real and history becomes more tangible."


This kind of approach isn't new, though, as another project by Bryan Eaton whose Color of Lincoln project has done similar colorizing of Lincoln photos over the last several years.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Wednesday he did not regret crossing party lines to endorse the failed re-election bid of state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, instead criticizing Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan for supporting Saviano's challenger.

Saviano, an Elmwood Park Republican, succumbed to a well-funded onslaught orchestrated by Madigan. Asked if his stand on behalf of Saviano would hurt his relationship with Madigan, Gutierrez replied by criticizing the speaker and state Democratic boss for running Kathleen Willis against Saviano.

Willis had voted Republican in the past and did not grant media interviews during her campaign, while Madigan spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get her elected.

"I would hope in the future they don't pick a Republican in a Democratic slot," Gutierrez told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Nobody knows who she is today, and I don't think we will learn much about her soon. She wouldn't even talk to you."

But Gutierrez chafed at the suggestion that Saviano's loss could mean his own influence was diminished. The congressman said he had spent most of the final weeks of the campaign working for President Obama's re-election effort in Colorado, Ohio and Florida, doing relatively little for Saviano.

Gutierrez surprised many local political observers by appearing with Saviano to endorse him just days before the election. On Wednesday, Gutierrez said he did so purely because Saviano has backed immigration reform measures, adding that he had not expected his endorsement to sway the outcome of the race in the 77th Illinois House district.

Gutierrez said: "Did I take a few minutes to endorse a friend of our immigrant communities? Yes, but this is a heavily Democratic district. This wasn't a fair contest. Droves of Democrats came out for Barack Obama. You don't change events a week before an election, but you do stand for principle, and not enough people do that in politics."

The Gutierrez endorsement of Saviano was just one of several dramatic twists in the final weeks of the campaign--including the spectacle of a state senator being escorted from a candidate forum by a police officer.

Will Tuesday's results revive D.C. bipartisanship?

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CONGRESS_CHART.jpegBarack Obama's fellow Democrats in the Illinois congressional delegation expressed optimism Wednesday that the newly re-elected president can be more effective winning legislative support for his agenda, even though Republicans continued to be in the majority in the U.S. House.

Mike Quigley, who represents Mayor Rahm Emanuel's old North Side district in the House, said bipartisan cooperation could result from the defeats of Republican colleague Joe Walsh and other Tea Party stalwarts.

"It's not how many Republicans won--it's which Republicans won or lost," Quigley told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nate Silver's mic drop

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Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight (Randy Stewart / Wikipedia)

The below images are electoral forecast maps, the first one posted this past weekend by Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight and, following that, posted by Unskewed Polls on October 28, 2012. Unskewed is, essentially, a conservative-bias imitator (and a pale one, at that) of Silver's blog.

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Unskewed Polls

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Bit of a difference, no? Unskewed's Dean Chambers gained notoriety for not only criticizing Silver a few days before he posted the above forecast, but for stooping to homophobia to do so.

Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the "Mr. New Castrati" voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound.


But here we are, the day after the presidential election and, according to the most recent returns, Silver not only correctly predicted the 50%-48% popular vote split for Obama, but correctly picked all 51 Electoral College votes (all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.), including the ultra-close Florida vote. So, yeah, he's good at what he does. And he's $2,000 richer - or at least the Red Cross is - after a bet with political loudmouth pundit Joe Scarborough over who would be right about the election (a bet that caused much hand-wringing only because people have to worry about something). Chambers, meanwhile, picked Romney to take 51% of the popular vote and 275 Electoral College votes. The only discrepancy in Silver's predictions are his total Electoral votes projections which don't match his "chances of winning a state" math, but something that relates to the way Silver weighs different polls and those outcomes are weighed differently.

In the harsh light of a new day, even Chambers is having to admit: Silver was right, I was wrong. And he's not alone. Politico posted a list of which polls were most accurate in projecting the outcome and oft-cited polls like Rasmussen and Gallup were at the bottom while PPP was at the top.

But none were perfect like Silver was. It's unfair to call this Silver's Redemption because the backlash that hit Silver in the final days weeks so wrong-headed and born out of a conservative distaste that he had Obama in the lead. If anything, it was a victory lap for someone who understands the math and models necessary to make accurate prediction. In the last two presidential elections, Silver has accurately predicted 101 out of 102 Electoral votes (99 states and D.C. twice) and twice nailed the popular vote split. His work speaks for itself and the vitriol directed towards him is simply the voice of denial from the right, the same right that wouldn't hesitate to back him if he had correctly picked a Romney win (and one has to assume that, while not based in homophobia, dems would have similarly dismissed Silver's numbers the way they dismissed Chambers).

Silver has earned our respect and earned the right to gloat. But it's best that he didn't; towards the end of the campaign, Silver did let his cool demeanor slip just a bit in defending himself against criticism. Instead, in a tweet that went out shortly after multiple media outlets had called the election for Obama, Silver simply posted a tongue-in-cheek tweet (posted below), perhaps the best mic-drop moment he could have hoped for and one he deserved.

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Mitt Romney talks with secret service agents as he boards his campaign plane in Bedford, Mass., on election day. Hopefully "goodbye" was somewhere in the discussion. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND

As a contender for President of the United States, Mitt Romney has been living with one trapping the office offers: Secret Service protection.

From the time he accepted his party's nomination, he became Javelin - the Secret Service's code name for the Republican contender. He was afforded 'round-the-clock agents to keep him safe on the campaign trail.

But now he's simply Citizen Romney again. No campaign. No speeches. No town halls. So when does the Secret Service toss the Javelin? How soon after an election is over does the also-ran lose his right to the men in black suits?

Slate's Explainer blog says not long - maybe a week. While a former president can expect 10 years of protection after leaving office, a losing candidate really doesn't warrant anything by law. Security details will stay with them for a few days as the campaign winds down, but it's at the discretion of the Service.

In case you're curious, the Obamas, Bidens and Ryans have their own Secret Service code names - they can chose their own, as Paul Ryan did, or have them assigned - as well:

  • Paul Ryan: Bowhunter
  • Janna Ryan: Buttercup

  • Mitt Romney: Javelin
  • Ann Romney: [not reported]

  • Joe Biden: Celtic
  • Jill Biden: Capri

  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

From the Slate post:

For a few days. The Secret Service is authorized by law to protect major party presidential candidates beginning 120 days before the general election, but the statute doesn't say when that protection should cease. It appears that the service makes this decision on case-by-case basis. Historically, agents have stuck with a defeated challenger for about a week after the election, not waiting for the Electoral College vote or inauguration. If the incumbent loses, he is entitled to protection for 10 years as a former president. (Presidents who served before 1997 are guarded for life.)

The Secret Service is charged with protection details for presidents, vice presidents, political candidates, foreign dignitaries and other high level officials. And that all-encompassing coverage comes at a cost - estimated at $40,000 daily for a presidential candidate, according to Salon.

The Secret Service breaks down it's protective mission - and the techniques and philosophy behind its job - on its site:

In general, permanent protectees, such as the president and first lady, have details of special agents permanently assigned to them. Temporary protectees, such as candidates and foreign dignitaries, are staffed with special agents on temporary assignment from Secret Service field offices. All current former presidents are entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection. However, as a result of legislation enacted in 1997, President George W. Bush will be the first president to have his protection limited to 10 years after he leaves office.

Protection for Presidential Candidates

In regard to presidential campaign, the Secret Service is authorized by law (18 United States Code § 3056) to protect:

Major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election. As defined in statute, the term "major presidential and vice presidential candidates" means those individuals identified as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee.
The Secret Service provides protection for major candidates, unless declined. The Secret Service has no role in determining who is to be considered a major candidate. The Secretary of the Homeland Security determines who qualifies as a major candidate and when such protection should commence under the authority of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3056. This determination is made in consultation with an advisory committee comprised of the following individuals:

  • Speaker of the House
  • House Minority Whip
  • Senate Majority Leader
  • Senate Minority Leader
  • One additional member chosen by the committee

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Tammy Duckworth celebrates with husband Bryan Bowlsbey after defeating Rep. Joe Walsh in Elk Grove Village on Tuesday in the 8th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

In the waning days of the campaign, Freedom Works dumped more than $1 million into the 8th congressional race to stave off a challenge to Joe Walsh from Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

In all, the SuperPAC plowed nearly $3 million into the campaign.

Ultimately, it didn't pay off. Duckworth beat Walsh by 10 percentage points.

Elsewhere, Freedomworks has a "low batting average," according to opensecrets.org, which ranked it the sixth top-spending super PAC this election by plowing $19 million into campaigns.

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(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)


If it was a 'war on women' - guess who won the battle?

"Binders full of women," got out to vote on Tuesday and 55 percent of them went for President Obama.

New Hampshire made history on Tuesday by electing an all-female delegation.

Wisconsin made history on Tuesday by electing Tammy Baldwin, the first openly-gay female to the U.S. Senate.

Todd Akin, the U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri and Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Senate candidate, both made explosive comments about rape and abortion during the campaign.

Both were defeated on Tuesday.

Closer to home, Tea Party bomb-thrower Joe Walsh who insisted that there was no instance when an abortion was necessary to save the life of a woman lost by 10 percentage points.

Presidential Campaign Surro.jpgWalsh had proudly told Sandra Fluke to "go get a job" instead of asking the government to pay for women's contraception.

It was Fluke's testimony before congress earlier this year that launched the narrative of the Republicans so-called 'war on women.' After Fluke testified, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut."

Democrats turned that around at their convention this summer, inviting Fluke to talk. "Sluts vote," was among the most popular buttons sold in Charlotte, N.C.


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A young boy waits to catch a glimpse of President Obama's motorcade near his house in Kenwood on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad

A small crowd is growing on 50th Street near President Obama's Kenwood home.

The president spent the night at home in Kenwood. The White House announced Tuesday night that he was to fly to Washington D.C. today.

Already, there's talk about Obama returning to gridlock and Wall Street reacted to his reelection this morning with stocks plunging.

It's back to work for the president.

Obama's Twitter record

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President Barack Obama's "Four more years" tweet is the most retreated tweet in history, being retreated more than 455,000 times.

More than 31 million Tweets were sent Election Day, hitting a peak of 327,452 tweets per minute, Twitter said.

Congressional Dems win five out of six hot Illinois races

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With the help of a congressional remap and a boost from President Obama's reelection turnout, Democrats won five out of six targeted races that were bitterly contested in Illinois.

Each side poured millions of dollars into the races, including money from outside groups.

One SuperPAC, CREDO, went on a mission to "Take down Joe Walsh," and succeeded.

"Illinois voters sent a clear message to the Tea Party by voting out Joe Walsh, one of their loudest mouthpieces in Congress," said Eric Ming, New Media Director of CREDO SuperPAC. "We couldn't be happier with the voters of Illinois for kicking out the most offensive Congressman in the country."

The House Majority PAC, which spent $3.7 million in Illinois to try to pick up Democratic seats, said out of the three states it targeted in the country, Illinois was most successful in reeling in Democrats.

A congressional remap "obviously played a significant role," said Andy Stone, House Majority PAC spokesman. "I think the takeaway from Illinois, was a total rejection of the divisive, right wing Tea Party mentality."

Stone's PAC was behind the ad that attacked the three Chicago-area Republicans by using explosive images from Joe Walsh.

Here's how it played out:

8th District: Democrat Tammy Duckworth ushers out Tea Party Republican favorite Joe Walsh.

10th District: Democrat Brad Schneider, in perhaps the biggest upset of the night, ousts freshman Republican Bob Dold.

11th District: Longtime Republican incumbent Judy Biggert loses to Democrat Bill Foster

Downstate:
Bill Enyart claimed victory in the state's 12th district.

Cheri Bustos beats first-term Republican Bobby Schilling in the 17th District.

Republican Rodney Davis however, beat out a challenge by Democrat David Gill.

Video: Highlights of Obama's acceptance speech

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From this video you can really hear how deafening the crowd's roar was as thousands cheered for President Obama on the night of his reelection in Chicago.


An energized President Barack Obama spoke to a thunderous crowd on Tuesday night, vowing to work with Republicans and to move the country forward.

"A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you and you have made me a better president," Obama said.
"I return to the White House more determined than ever about the work there is to do and the work that still lies ahead."

We will post the full transcript later...

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Supporters of President Obama cheer as they wait for Obama to appear on stage for his victory speech at McCormick Place. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Obama campaign sent this letter to his mailing list as his motorcade made the way to the re-election celebration party at McCormick Place early Wednesday morning:

I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.

I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen.

You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.

I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.

But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.

Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.

There's a lot more work to do.

But for right now: Thank you.

Barack

Thousands packed into the cavernous hall at McCormick Place and some have grown weary, even collapsing.

Several seen being carried out of the building in stretchers.

Reports from the arena say those inside are really packed in, making it difficult to even breathe for some. Some of those treated by paramedics appeared to be older in age, reported Chicago Sun-Times reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika.

Supporters grew frustrated at having to remain standing for so long as they awaited Obama amid a sweaty, hot crowd.

Tuesday's election results represented what one GOP strategist late Tuesday soberly called "a bloodbath for Illinois Republicans" at the Statehouse.

With the defeat of four House Republican incumbents and a net gain of seven seats, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) secured a 71-47 veto-proof majority in the Illinois House.

The results were similar -- and more historic -- in the Senate for Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), who picked up a net gain of five seats, giving him a 40-19 veto-proof majority.

Those stunning gains also figure to weaken Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who no longer will have the capability of singlehandedly blocking legislation with his veto pen.

"The map the Democrats drew performed as they designed," said Patty Schuh, a spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).

The effect of the Democratic-friendly legislative maps coupled with President Barack Obama's huge numbers mean DuPage County will be represented by a Democrat in the state Senate for the first time in Illinois history.

That person is Villa Park Village President Tom Cullerton, who also happens to be a third cousin of the Senate president.

The other historic footnote from Tuesday's election is that no party has ever had a 40-vote majority in the Illinois Senate, the Senate president told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"It was a perfect combination of the president of the United States being from Illinois and winning so big, the redrawing of boundaries to reflect a shift of population that attracted Democrats and really good candidates," Senate President Cullerton said.

The lone incumbent Senate Republican to lose Tuesday was state Sen. Carole Pankau (R-Carol Stream), who has been a state lawmaker since 1993 and a senator since 2005. She lost to Tom Cullerton.

The other four seats were in open districts, including in the northern suburbs where Melinda Bush defeated Joe Neal. Bush, of Grayslake, won the Republican seat now held by state Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa), who did not seek re-election after becoming embroiled in controversy over the release of embarrassing 911 tapes that recorded fights with her estranged husband.

A question that won't become clear until later this year or early next year is how secure of a hold either Radogno or House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) may have on their legislative leader slots given the scale of Tuesday's losses within their caucuses.

Asked about whether he thinks Radogno might face a challenge from within her caucus, the Senate president said that's "totally up to them" but he'd be disappointed if she were ousted.

"Of course," Cullerton said. "She's a very nice person and very smart. She's well intended. She cares about policy. I work with her on many things. We've accomplished a lot together."

In the House, incumbent Republicans who lost included state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Buffalo Grove), Rep. Sandy Cole (R-Grayslake) and Rep. Richard Morthland (R-Cordova).

Saviano, a top member in House Minority Leader Tom Cross' inner circle, was targeted by Madigan for defeat after he slurred Attorney General Lisa Madigan and publicly criticized the speaker for blocking Saviano-backed McCormick Place legislation that would have authorized refinancing McPier debt.

Saviano, who has been in the House since 1993, lost to a virtually invisible Madigan-backed candidate, Republican-turned-Democrat Kathleen Willis. She received more than $458,000 from political funds controlled by the speaker since July 1, state campaign records show.

Mathias, who has been in the House since 1999, lost to state Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) in the only legislative election that pitted two incumbents against one another. Since July 1, state records show, Sente got even more than Willis from Madigan's funds: more than $591,000.

With both chambers now having veto-proof majorities, Quinn's veto authority becomes nearly meaningless after the new General Assembly is seated in January, though Cullerton said he doesn't share that belief since there have only been two overrides so far of Quinn vetoes.

"The main thing is there's no overtime to worry about anymore," Cullerton said.

Photo: President Obama's reaction when he learns he's won

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Official White House photo by Pete Souza

From the White House:

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Joe and Jill Biden embrace moments after hearing that networks called the election for Obama.

One tweet to his followers, retweeted more than 350,000 times.

As his supporters cheered MITT! MITT!" GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney conceded loss in his bid for the presidency in a gracious speech early Wednesday.

It was a long road for Romney that began last year in a difficult, populated primary.

"I believe in America," Romney said. "I believe in the people of America."

Romney called on politicians to work together.

"We look at Democrats and Republicans on all levels to put the people before politics on all levels," Romney said.
"I believe in America. I believe in the people of America."

"Paul and I have left everything on the field," Romney said. "We have given our all to this campaign."



On his way into President Barack Obama's Election Day headquarters at McCormick Place, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Obama stole away voters that Mitt Romney believed were to be his stronghold.

"People keep saying his main coalition are minorities and women but they're going to have to take a closer look at that," Emanuel said of Obama's steamrolling the critical states of Iowa and likely Florida and Ohio. "He won Iowa and Iowa is heavily white, heavily old. He won Florida. Florida is heavily old. It's because the president is more trusted on Medicare."

Early exit polls showed that 60 percent of Hispanic voters in Florida went for Obama.

Moving forward, in this next term, Emanuel said immediate challenges to be tackled include tax and immigration reform, strengthening education and Medicare.



He hasn't addressed supporters yet at McCormick Place, but President Barack Obama
personally sent out this Tweet tonight after major networks were declaring he won reelection.
"We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. -bo."

Word from Mitt Romney's campaign was he wanted to see firm numbers from Ohio, which was still tallying some precincts late Tuesday. Numbers in Florida were also still out.

Still, pundits were adamant that it was too much for Romney to overcome.

Some experts were already pointing to the women's vote, saying that 55 percent of female voters went for Obama.

Mass euphoria washed over McCormick Place Tuesday night as it was predicted that President Barack Obama will be elected to another four years as president of the United States.

The result came surprisingly early in what was expected to be a nail-biter of an Election Night, probable to go into overtime. Supporters waved flags, sang and danced as the results of the night rolled in.

The excitement over Obama's reelection was quickly tempered by the realization that he again is likely to face a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Pundits have long said Obama would have to find a way to work with Republicans.

However, it was also predicted that Democrats would again take the U.S. Senate.

Google search terms and the election

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Data collected by Google on search terms in critical swing states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia on Election Day gives us a glimpse into the mind of the undecided voter -- or at least into the mind of someone just inundated with rallies, ads and campaigning. Below are some graphics Google created for the top search terms in those states:

Google Terms in Ohio

Google Search Florida

Google Search Virginia

The Illinois Constitution would seemingly give indicted former state Rep. Derrick Smith protection from being expelled from the Illinois House a second time.

But one of the five House Republicans who started the expulsion ball rolling against Smith said he thinks that the West Side lawmaker, who has defeated third-party rival Lance Tyson, will face another move to oust him.

"I cannot help but believe that we will absolutely make every effort possible legally to expel him a second time. This is just a sham," said state Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica). "This just taints Illinois politics in the exact color the nation holds us in. And it's shameful, just absolutely shameful. We should be so far above this."

The state Constitution bars lawmakers from being expelled from either legislative chamber a second time for the "same offense."

Smith was indicted last spring after allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant. He is awaiting trial.

With 78 percent of precincts reporting as of 9:25 p.m. Tuesday, Smith led Tyson by a 62-38 percent margin.

State Republican Party chairman Pat Brady called Smith's election Tuesday a "national disgrace."


Just an hour ago, there was just a smattering of people in McCormick Place.

At 8:45, the entire hall was wall-to-wall people -- reports Sun-Times Reporter Maudlyne Iheirika

The great hall inside McCormick Place was divided into two sections, the general hall, and a smaller "Special Guest" section requiring a second credential to get in.

Three generations were represented in thee Brantley-Tate family who proudly entered the Special Guest section. The South Holland family, grandmother Johnnie Tate, 73, daughter Rhonda Brantley, 51, and granddaughter Kiara Brantley Jones, 18, had driven to Racine to knock on doors, and to Milwaukee to support an Obama rally.

"I am here because of his being genuine, from the heart, for real and not a flip-flopper," said Johnnie Tate. "I supported him where ever I was needed."

Obama singing Al Green has McCormick Place crowd in chuckles

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From Sun-Times Reporter Maudlyne Iheirika:

In between election results, the huge screens ran montage videos of Obama on the campaign trail. Laughter erupted at the snippet of the President singing Al Green.

At a public event earlier in the campaign, Obama sang a snippet of "Let's Stay Together."

In a Saturday Obama rally in Milwaukee, rock superstar Katy Perry opened her short set with a cover of the song.

Here's the Obama video.

There was a huge roar at President Obama's McCormick Place rally when supporters saw that Pennsylvania is now projected to go to Obama.
A similar roar went up 20 minutes earlier when coverage showed the president leading in Wisconsin.


From our reporter Maudlyne Iheirika who is on the ground in McCormick Place -- President Obama's Election Day headquarters.

At 7 pm, the metal detectors weren't working. The giant hall started filling up around 7:45. A very diverse crowd streamed in in waves. The media pen held media from every country, and various languages, from French to German to Chinese, could be heard from in front of the cameras on the huge riser.

At 8:15,
a huge roar filled the hall as the crowd shouted at a TV report that the President was projected to be winning Ohio.

Contemporary rock and r&b blared from the loud speaker. At various points, the crowd appeared a sea of heads all craned upwards toward the two large screens relaying election results on opposite ends of the hall, suspended over the victory stage and media pen.


(video by Lynn Sweet)


Early voting tallies show U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. with 75 percent of the vote in the Second Congressional District.

Jackson is under federal scrutiny for activity involving his campaign account. Since the Chicago Sun-Times first reported Jackson's mounting troubles Jackson returned to the Mayo Clinic for treatment.

Jackson has been absent from his congressional post since June 10 and essentially MIA on the campaign trail.

Initially, aides said Jackson was hospitalized because of "exhaustion." He was eventually transferred to the Mayo Clinic, where his family said he was being treated for bipolar depression. He returned to his Washington home in September and was seen drinking at a bar with different women. He did not return to his congressional job before returning to Mayo Clinic.

Jackson's challengers are virtually unknown rivals: independent Marcus Lewis; Republican Brian Woodworth, and write-in candidate Anthony W. Williams.


CHICAGO--The Obama election night event at McCormick Place will include grass roots supporters, big donors, staffers--and celebrities. I've obtained a list of who is expected to be here tonight; here is the Who's Who:


Aisha Tyler

Melanie Griffith

Ben McKenzie

Stevie Wonder

Ledisi

Vivica Fox

Star Jones

Adewale Ogunleye

Wade Davis

Chris Walla

BD Wong

Mary J Blige

Zach Quinto

Ashley Judd

Alfre Woodard

Lynn Whitfield

Justin Long

Will.i.Am

Four of the five most expensive Illinois House races were in the northwest and western suburbs with eight statewide exceeding the $1 million fundraising mark, a government watchdog group reported Tuesday.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform found the open, far northwestern 52nd House District pitting Republican David McSweeney against Independent Dee Beaubien stood as the most expensive race among all House contests, totaling $1.6 million.

Next on the group's list was the open, northwest suburban 55th House District, where Democratic Des Plaines Mayor Martin Moylan and Republican Susan Sweeney collectively raised $1.4 million.

Third was the 77th House race between incumbent Republican state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and Addison school board Kathleen Willis. Together, their campaigns took in $1.39 million.

The other suburban contest to round out the top five most expensive House contests pitted incumbent Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Buffalo Grove) and Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) against one another in the 59th House District. They raised $1.34 million.

The complete rundown of the Campaign for Political Reform's analysis can be found here.

By Richard Roeper

It's 2012, and my ballot looks like the menu at a breakfast diner in Greektown. An oversized, unwieldy thing filled with an overwhelming number of selections and options.
I know: some folks were lucky enough to have the modern, electronic option. Not me. I had the big giant menu and the ballpoint pen, and the instructions to connect the dots and make my selections, from my choice for president to retaining people I've never heard of until the very moment I was asked if I should retain them.
Meanwhile, I'm still recovering from an election judge telling me, "It's early, and my hearing isn't so good this early." Wait, what? Your hearing improve when the sun comes out?
I also witnessed the amazing sight of a half-dozen voters being told their filled-out ballots were invalid, so they'd have to start all over again.
That's right: they were literally voting early and often. Long before the polls closed, we were getting the obligatory stories about Election Day shenanigans.
A mural of the president in a polling place? Check.
Voter in a Big Bird costume? Check.
Video of a man in a gorilla suit allowed to vote? Check.
Story out of a Florida about a woman in an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) T-shirt stopped because election judge thought it was a "MITT" shirt? Check.
Charges of confusion and incompetence at some polling places? Check-check.
Our system! It ain't perfect, but it's better than just about any electoral process across the globe. And what a wondrous sight it was to see Americans lining up in the dark of the pre-dawn, the sunshine and rain of midday and the November gloom of evening to cast their ballots.

As polls closed in President Obama's hometown of Chicago, he and Mitt Romney remained in a tight contest for the White House in the final day of a marathon campaign.
Illinois was expected to handily go to Obama.
But exit polls were showing the two candidates remained in a deadlock in some key battleground states. That included Virginia, where early exit polls showed the two were at 49 percent a piece.
With about one-third of the vote counted in Florida, Obama was leading by 52 percent, according to CNN. Romney held an early lead in Indiana.
Each campaign just concluded a flurry of last-minute rallying in key battleground states. That included a last-minute change by Romney, who made visits to Pennsylvania and Ohio Tuesday. Obama finished his journey where it began for him -- in Iowa. He then flew to Chicago where he played hoops to give in to a superstition and had dinner with his family at his Kenwood home. He then will head to McCormick Place by the end of the night.
A CBS early exit poll showed that 60 percent of those voting in the presidential election today named the economy as their chief concern.
The newly released data indicated that 55 percent of voters said the way President Barack Obama handled Hurricane Sandy had little to no impact on their vote. Four out of 10 voters said it was a factor. The early poll showed 17 percent of voters revealed that health care was their top issue, however there was a split on the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- 45 percent wanted to repeal some or all of it and 47 percent wanted to keep it intact. The poll showed 15 percent of voters cited the deficit as their top issue, and 4 percent cited foreign policy.

As polls closed in President Obama's hometown of Chicago, he and Mitt Romney remained in a tight contest for the White House in the final day of a marathon campaign.
Illinois was expected to handily go to Obama.
But exit polls were showing the two candidates remained in a deadlock in some key battleground states. That included Virginia, where early exit polls showed the two were at 49 percent a piece.
With about one-third of the vote counted in Florida, Obama was leading by 52 percent, according to CNN. Romney held an early lead in Indiana.
Each campaign just concluded a flurry of last-minute rallying in key battleground states. That included a last-minute change by Romney, who made visits to Pennsylvania and Ohio Tuesday. Obama finished his journey where it began for him -- in Iowa. He then flew to Chicago where he played hoops to give in to a superstition and had dinner with his family at his Kenwood home. He then will head to McCormick Place by the end of the night.
A CBS early exit poll showed that 60 percent of those voting in the presidential election today named the economy as their chief concern.
The newly released data indicated that 55 percent of voters said the way President Barack Obama handled Hurricane Sandy had little to no impact on their vote. Four out of 10 voters said it was a factor. The early poll showed 17 percent of voters revealed that health care was their top issue, however there was a split on the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- 45 percent wanted to repeal some or all of it and 47 percent wanted to keep it intact. The poll showed 15 percent of voters cited the deficit as their top issue, and 4 percent cited foreign policy.

Here's what markets Obama hit today -- Election Day.


WOIO Cleveland, OH; this was a live interview
KDVR Denver, CO; this was ataped interview
WKOW Madison, WI; this was a live interview
KCNC Denver, CO; this was ataped interview
WCPO Cincinnati, OH; this was a taped interview
WISN Milwaukee, WI; this was a taped interview

Early exit polling: "razor thin" in Virginia

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A CBS News poll shows the presidential race is neck and neck in the key battleground state of Virginia.

Polls have closed in Virginia as well as five other states.


Early vote tallies show President Obama with roughly 32,000 more votes than Mitt Romney.

Polls just closed out East though and there's much counting still to go.

David Gergen says on CNN that Virginia -- a must-win state for Romney -- was too tight. Gergen called it a bad sign for Romney.

He may be settled in Chicago for the remainder of the day, but Vice President Joe Biden still reaching out to states that were considered in play. Biden did a series of radio interviews -- not surprisingly, for radio stations in swing states. Here's the stations he hit today. KBUR/Davenport, IA WXMG/Columbus, OH WKRQ/Cincinnati, OH WKBN/Youngstown, OH KDKA/Pittsburgh, PA Rock 107 FM/Wilkes Barre-Scranton WBTJ/Richmond, VA KLUC/Las Vegas, NV

A CBS early exit poll showed that 60 percent of those voting in the presidential election today named the economy as their chief concern.

The newly released data indicated that 55 percent of voters said the way President Barack Obama handled Hurricane Sandy had little to no impact on their vote. Four out of 10 voters said it was a factor. The early poll showed 17 percent of voters revealed that health care was their top issue, however there was a split on the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- 45 percent wanted to repeal some or all of it and 47 percent wanted to keep it intact. The poll showed 15 percent of voters cited the deficit as their top issue, and 4 percent cited foreign policy.

Mitt Romney and Obama remain in a tight contest in the final day of a marathon campaign. Each campaign just concluded a flurry of last-minute rallying in key battleground states. That included a last-minute change by Romney, who made visits to Pennsylvania and Ohio Tuesday. Obama finished his journey where it began for him -- in Iowa. He then flew to Chicago where he will remain tonight until after the results are in.


Washington Post: Electorate slightly more Republican

i_voted1.jpgBy Mitch Dudek

Upset that you didn't get a "I Voted" sticker at your Chicago polling place.

Blame past voters.

"We discontinued handing out "I Voted" stickers in the city two decades ago," said Chicago Board of Election spokesman Jim Allen. "You know why? Because fewer and fewer proprietors wanted to let us use their facilities as polling places because people would walk away and stick the sticker on the wall."

Stickers are, however handed out at some suburban polling places, Allen said.

In Chicago, all you get is this boring, black and white piece of paper:

ballot1.jpg

Obama daughters flying to Chicago tonight after school

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from the local pool report President Obama is in interviews at Fairmont hotel, said a campaign spokesman at 4:48 p.m. From campaign: The Obama's girls are flying in after school with their grandmother Marian tonight. Tonight the First Family will have dinner together along with the First Lady's brother Craig Robinson, his family and the President's sister Maya and get family. There will other nephews and nieces present as well. Update *** Joining the First Family, will be the First Lady's brother, Craig and his family along with the President's sister, Maya and her family. They will be joined by a host of nieces and nephews.

Among the players in President Barack Obama's basketball Election Day game:

White House Chef Sam Kass

Brother-in-law Craig Robinson

Former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias

Former Bulls Star Scottie Pippen,

plus Jeff Sanders, Randy Brown

Who else was on the court with President Obama

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Helping the president blow off steam today by playing some ball besides Scottie Pippen was
Sam Kass, White House assistant chef

Former Illinois State treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Craig Robinson, Jeff Sanders and Randy Brown.

Here's more on why the president has got game today: Obama hits Chicago hoops

Sun-Times Election Guide

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elex-previewlong-cst-110612.jpg

RealClearPolitics' analysis of the race, based on state level polling, suggests that all eyes will be on what happens in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin and other toss up states. In national polling, which RealClearPolitics bases on an index of polls from multiple sources (essentially a poll of polls), Romney and Obama were statistically even as of Monday afternoon.

At the Congressional level, the 33 House seats the websites has designated as "toss ups" include several in Illinois.

APTOPIX Kenya Obama.jpg
Milka Chepkoech Chepngabit poses with her hours-old baby boy Brayan Obama Chepkoech in a post-delivery ward of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hospital in Kisumu, western Kenya on United States' Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Chepngabit decided to name him after President Barack Obama before the child was born, after she had been discussing the U.S. elections with her family and friends and was frequently using the president's name. Brayan is one of four boys with the name Obama born in the hospital on Tuesday, in addition to a girl named after the President's wife Michelle. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

jessejr-STS-110712-1.jpg
With U.S, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. dealing with health issues at the Mayo Clinic his congressional office in Homewood showed no activity typical of a an election day. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

CHICAGO--President Barack Obama is playing basketball on Tuesday afternoon--right now as I am posting this-- at Attack Athletics, 2641 W. Harrison St.

Obama played at this gym--a place where the pros go to train--on election day in 2008.


Bruce Springsteen at Columbus, Ohio rally for President Barack Obama at Nationwide Arena performs "Land of Hope and Dreams" before Obama speaks.
(video by Lynn Sweet)

CHICAGO--Election Day and soon the maps in media outlets will show states red or blue. Who picked the colors? And when did it get nailed down--red for Republican and blue for Democratic? Find out in a story by Jodi Enda in Smithsonian Magazine. Read it HERE.

Excerpt: "Here's something else we know: All the maps--on TV stations and Web sites election night and in newspapers the next morning--will look alike. We won't have to switch our thinking as we switch channels, wondering which candidate is blue and which is red. Before the epic election of 2000, there was no uniformity in the maps that television stations, newspapers or magazines used to illustrate presidential elections. Pretty much everyone embraced red and blue, but which color represented which party varied, sometimes by organization, sometimes by election cycle."

Alan Goldsher in the Jewish Daily Forward writes about being beat up by Rahm Emanuel and his brother Ari as a kid--when he would go to their Wilmette home to get an allergy shot from their physician father. Read the account HERE.

Hat tip to Carol Felsenthal who spotted this story and highlighted in in her Chicago Magazine blog which is HERE.

2012_Electoral_College_Map_Poster_Large.jpeg
The Electoral College breakdown map, courtesy of C-SPAN.
Click to embiggen


By Neil Steinberg

If you thought Tuesday you were voting for the presidential candidate of your choice, think again. Due to a historic quirk in the creation of the United States -- some old operating code, as it were -- American voters do not chose the president directly, but rather select electors to the Electoral College who do the actual selecting of the president.

It's a cumbersome system. Each state has the same number of electors as it has representatives in Congress --the House of Representatives and Senate combined. Illinois, for example, has 20 - down one after the last census. They can't be the elected officials themselves, however. In 48 of the states, whoever wins the popular vote also wins all the electors -- only Nebraska and Maine have a proportional system where electoral votes are divided up between the winner and loser.

The system is a relic of an age when travel was difficult and counting ballots even more problematic than it is today. The Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that numerous regional contenders didn't divide the nation.

Thus whoever wins 270 of the 538 available electoral votes will be inaugurated president on Jan. 20, 2013. But every four years there is talk of scrapping the Electoral College system, though it does have its defenders. Here are the main arguments, pro and con.

Reasons to get rid of it

  1. 1. A discrepancy between the number of voters and the number of electoral votes creates the possibility of losing the popular vote while winning the Electoral College. Three presidents have been elected on electoral votes while failing to win a majority of voters -- Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000 -- an outcome that undermines the faith Americans have in the legitimacy of the executive branch of government.
  2. 2. The Electoral College is inherently undemocratic, skewing significance toward smaller, more sparsely populated states. Delaware, with 900,000 residents, has three electoral votes, while Texas, with more than 25 million residents, has 34, which means from an electoral point of view, a vote in Delaware is more than twice as significant -- representing 1/300,000th of an electoral vote -- than a vote in Texas, representing 1/750,000 of an electoral vote.
  3. 3. By focusing on assembling 270 electoral votes, candidates ignore "safe" states such as Illinois, where there is no point in fighting for more votes once a majority is reached, since all the electoral votes are already assured. Thus the majority of states, nearly certain to fall one way or another, tend to get ignored in favor of a handful of "swing" states.
  4. 4. Even if the Electoral College works perfectly, it still introduces unnecessary delay into the system. Give the likelihood of immediate electronic voting in the foreseeable future, having to wait for some mysterious conclave to put its seal of approval on the will of the American people is unnecessary, not only wasting time, but wasting the money required to run the system.
  5. 5. There is the remote but real possibility of fraudulent electors -- members of the Electoral College who refuse to vote the way the results require that they vote. This has happened, and while it has never affected the outcome of a race, it could, and there is no reason to allow the possibility that one individual could perversely negate the will of hundreds of thousands of voters.

Reasons to keep it

  1. 1. America is change averse and would rather cling to an arcane system than switch to a new one, which might have flaws of its own. If we can't get rid of the penny, we can't scrap the Electoral College so why try? To do so, would involve a change in the constitution -- Article II, Section I lays out the details of the Electoral College -- and whatever benefit isn't worth the trouble of doing that.
  2. 2. Without the Electoral College, candidates would be encouraged to treat the country as a whole, and campaign through the national media, or in urban centers where the most people are concentrated. They would never spend time in a place like Ohio, where an evenly divided population means its electoral votes are up for grabs.
  3. 3. The Electoral College can soften the sting of tight races, which we often see. Thus a candidate who only wins by a tiny percentage of the popular vote can still have a considerable victory in the Electoral College, leading to a greater impression of consensus, which is good for subsequent governing.
  4. 4. The Electoral College helps direct power toward the states -- without it, authority would be even more centralized than it already is.
  5. 5. If the Electoral College wasn't scrapped after the debacle of the 2000 elections -- which saw one of those fraudulent electors -- it's never going to be.

CHICAGO--President Barack Obama is spending Election Day morning at the Fairmont Hotel doing satellite television interviews with outlets in battleground states, but before arriving, he stopped by a Hyde Park campaign field office to make calls to get-out-the-vote--and say the campaign with Mitt Romney was "hard fought."

In a contest that may end up a photo finish, both Obama and Romney were working to turnout their vote: After voting in Belmont, Mass., Romney was flying to Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on election day, before returning to Boston. Paul Ryan voted in Janesville, Wisc. before heading to Cleveland and Richmond, Virginia.

Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill vote in Wilmington, Delaware are making a stop in Cleveland--it was not on their public schedule--and then head to Chicago--where they also will be doing a series of battleground state interviews.

Obama spent Monday night at his Kenwood home where he will also stay on Tuesday. After electioneering chores--or between--he will play his traditional election day basketball game with buddies--eat dinner at home--and then at some point motorcade downtown. He will end the night at McCormick Place, where he will make a victory or concession speech--or something in-between if the results are not known.

Obama joined the phone bank at the Hyde Park field office--at Harper Ave. and Hyde Park Blvd.--to make six calls and then tipped his hat to Romney for running a "spirited campaign" and a "hard-fought race" as he predicted he would have "the votes to win."

Talking to the press pool, Obama said, "The great thing about these campaigns is after all the TV ads and all the fundraising and all the debates and all the electioneering, it comes down to this. One day and these incredible folks who are working so hard, making phone calls, making sure that people go out to vote. So I just want to say thank you to the American people.

"It's a source of great optimism for me whenever I come to Election Day because I end up having so much confidence in the decency and goodness and wisdom of the very folks who are working so hard trying to move their own small piece of this country forward."

Turning to the contest with Romney, Obama said, "I also want to say to Governor Romney, congratulations on a spirited campaign. I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today. We feel confident we've got the votes to win that it's going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out. And so I would encourage everybody on all sides just to make sure that you exercise this precious right that you have that people fought so hard for, for us to have," Obama said.

"I'm looking forward to the results. And I expect that we'll have a good night. But no matter what happens, I just want to say how much I appreciate everybody who has supported me, everybody who has worked so hard on my behalf. And again, I want to congratulate Gov. Romney and his team for a hard-fought race as well. OK?"


Obama is doing interviews today with--and this is a partial list--stations in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Miami, Tampa, Washington D.C. (covers the northern Virginia market), Denver and Las Vegas.

CHICAGO--President Barack Obama is now at the Fairmont Hotel here, but before arriving his motorcade stopped at an Obama for America field office at Harper Ave and Hyde Park Blvd at 8:56 am, not far from his Kenwood home where he spent the night. Obama joined the phone bank and made six calls.


After that, he congratulated Mitt Romney on running a "spirited campaign."

For the complete pool report with Obama's statement and more from Hyde Park--reported by pool reporters Reid Epstein of Politico with Michael Scherer of Time--click below.....

Mom-to-be stops to vote on way to hospital

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Illinois Election Pregnant .jpg
Galicia Malone pauses for a photo outside New Life Celebration Church in Dolton on election day (Cook County Clerk)

Mom-to-be Galicia Malone wasn't about to let childbirth stop her from voting in her first presidential election.

Her water broke and contractions were about five minutes apart for the 21-year-old woman, but she stopped at Precinct 88 at New Life Celebration Church in south suburban Dolton to vote about 8:30 this morning, according to the Cook County Board of Elections.

"I never voted before so this made a major difference in my life," she told Southtown reporter Donna Vickroy. "And I wanted this to be a stepping-stone for my daughter. I was just trying to read and breathe, read and breathe," she said. "That's what I kept telling myself, 'Read and breathe, read and breathe."


"If only all voters showed such determination to vote," Cook County Clerk David Orr said in a statement. "My hat goes off to Galicia for not letting anything get in the way of voting. What a terrific example she is showing for the next generation, especially her new son or daughter."

ballot2.jpg

ballot.jpg

halle.jpegNear west suburban Riverside saw steady turnout traffic this morning, with a short wait around 8:20 a.m. for voters wanting to use the electronic voting booths (though there was no wait to use the old-fashioned paper ballots.)

A sample sheet used an example of how to use the paper ballots featured a couple unusual names. The handout, which a poll worker said came from the county, featured ex-Cub Carlos Zambrano up against ex-White Sox closer Bobby Jenks battling for "Favorite Pitcher." Meryl Streep was pitted against "Halle Barry," pictured, for "Favorite Actress." The
latter actress actually spells her name b - E- r- r-y.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talked to ESPN's Chris Berman at halftime of the Monday night game. Obama predicts the Chicago Bears can win the Superbowl.

Obama is ready for a Bears Super Bowl. And while both men have had their share of fumbles with political football in this election, he knows who the real commander in chief is when it comes to getting the ball on the ground:

"Best defense in the league right now," Obama said at halftime during the New Orleans Saints win over the Philadelphia Eagles. "You saw (Sunday's) game. (Charles) Tillman may be defensive player of the year the way he's playing."


Tillman forced four fumbles Sunday in the Bears 51-20 dismantling of the Tennessee Titans and has already been defensive player of the month once this season.


CHICAGO--Mitt Romney flies to Cleveland and Pittsburgh on Tuesday for election day campaigning in battleground states before heading back to Boston--where his campaign is headquartered--for an election night appearance at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

CHICAGO--President Barack Obama--who early voted last month--will spend election day in Chicago, jolting turnout with a series of satellite television and radio interviews aimed at battleground states. He will be playing basketball with staff and buddies and having dinner with his family at their home on 5046 S. Greenwood before heading over to McCormick Place for either a victory celebration or a concession speech or something in-between if the result is not clear. Obama arrived at his South Side home near 1 a.m. from Des Moines.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who voted by absentee ballot, will also be doing get-out-the-vote interviews. Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill fly to Chicago after voting in Wilmington, Delaware; they will also be doing GOTV interviews.

APTOPIX Obama 2012_Newm.jpg
President Barack Obama speaks, as a tear streams down his face, at his final campaign stop on the evening before the 2012 presidential election Monday in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama returned to where it all started in 2008 when he was fired up and ready to go. On this cold night, as he addressed a crowd in Des Moines on the final stop of his final national campaign, the air was thick with emotion.

Or maybe it was just that cold. Or the stress and strain of a non-stop, historically tight presidential election. Either way, the president was caught with a single tear rolling down his cheek. From the Associated Press report:

"I've come back to Iowa one more time to ask for your vote," Obama told 20,000 supporters at an outdoor rally in Des Moines, the last of his campaign. "This is where our movement for change began."

A single tear ran down Obama's face as he spoke. Whether it was the product of emotion or the bitter cold was hard to tell.

Natasha Korecki has the full story on the final day of the election.

It didn't take long for James Glasgow's campaign for Will County state's attorney to respond to dozens of signs that mysteriously went up in Will County, making it seem as if the scandal-tainted U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and he were coordinating their campaigns.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, Glasgow's campaign responded late Monday.

"For the record, the state's attorney has never even met Congressman Jackson.The fake political signs started appearing Sunday night on the front lawns of people who had official Glasgow campaign signs," Glasgow campaign spokesman Chuck Pelkie told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"We've taken down more than 100 over the past 24 hours. There is no union bug to trace them, although one of our opposition's campaign managers ... runs Union Signs in Joliet," Pelkie continued. "This is the lowest form of political campaigning, but we've come to expect it from these guys."

A call to Glasgow's GOP opponent, Dave Carlson, was not immediately returned Monday night.

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Signs like this one that popped up Sunday in Lockport pairing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. with Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow have the scent of a political dirty trick, a top Will County Democrat says.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been MIA from Congress and the campaign trail this fall ostensibly because of mental health issues, and he faces a federal corruption probe into the possible misuse of campaign funds on a home renovation.

Add to all of that he has been at loggerheads for years with Will County over who should control a future Peotone airport, and the congressman is a bit toxic these days in the collar county southwest of Chicago.

So it's with a little surprise that dozens of campaign signs would start popping up late Sunday across Will County, pairing up the congressman's name along with that of Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, who's facing re-election.

The red-white-and-blue yard signs have Jackson's name on top and Glasgow's on bottom with the heading: "Your Will County TEAM...Working Together for YOU!"

Jackson's campaign has been dormant. And Glasgow's campaign didn't authorize the use of his name on the signs and actually has been scooping up any of them they find.

That all makes party leaders suspicious that someone is trying to muddy up Glasgow, who is running against Republican Dave Carlson, of Plainfield.

"Based on circumstantial facts that seem to have been collected, it would appear that these signs are not from a Democratic candidate or the Democratic Party but instead opponents of Jim Glasgow," Will County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Pyles told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"'Triple J,' they're not doing anything. Glasgow didn't authorize it. So somebody put out the money for a bunch of signs and put them out two days before the election. Who do you think would do that?" Pyles said.

Late Monday, Carlson's campaign denied involvement in the signs, saying they didn't learn of them until early Monday morning.

"We were like, 'OK, that works.' It's an additional plus for us, but we didn't have anything to do with it," said a Carlson campaign aide, who declined to give his full name.

Four years ago, President Barack Obama's name was as good as gold in the northwest suburban 8th Congressional District, where he trounced Republican John McCain.

Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth is hoping to ride those Obama coattails through a recorded phone call he made on her behalf that began going out Monday evening.

Paid for by Duckworth's campaign committee, the robocall represents Obama's first foray into an Illinois political contest this fall, and the recording doesn't make mention of her Tea Party-backed GOP opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh.

Here's the script:

"Hi this is President Barack Obama and I'm calling to ask you to vote for my friend Tammy Duckworth on Tuesday, November 6th. Tammy served our country with valor. She was a tireless advocate for Veterans as a member of my administration and she will be a powerful voice for the middle class.

"Now we need her in Congress to fight for good jobs, to improve public education and to strengthen the middle class. I know Tammy. I know her commitment and dedication to the people of Illinois is unwavering. When you go to vote on Tuesday I hope I can count on you to support Tammy Duckworth for Congress."

Walsh's campaign belittled the president's involvement in one of the nation's most closely watched congressional contests.

"For a candidate who had a district drawn just for her, this shows the level she's going to go to get elected, it's not surprising," said Justin Roth, Walsh's campaign chief of staff. "The fact she needs to call in all the heavyweights, the big Democrats, shows she's against the ropes and she's scared."

In 2008, Obama got 62 percent of the vote in the 8th Congressional District, making it one of the most heavily concentrated Obama strongholds in the country now represented by a Republican congressman.

Obama's work on behalf of Duckworth comes after she appeared with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) at a fundraiser last Thursday at Harry Caray's downtown to benefit Democratic congressional candidates here.

Two other Democratic hopefuls, former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and 10th Congressional District candidate Brad Schneider, each have had recorded phone calls piped into their districts in the past day by former President Bill Clinton.

Walsh, meanwhile, spent the day campaigning, starting the day off at an Itasca train station with U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.).


President Obama ended an intense day of campaigning on the eve of the election in the place where it all started for him -- Iowa.

"As you know, we end the day in Iowa. I know you all know this, but it was worth repeating -- this is where the journey began for President Obama," said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. "The state has always had a special place for him and for the First Lady in their hearts. The location where we will be tonight -- his hold room is actually our old Iowa campaign headquarters."

Chris Christie: Call from The Boss made me weep

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From the Associated Press:

KEANSBURG, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey's famously tough-talking governor finally got a hug from his longest-running unrequited love.
Speaking Monday at a briefing on storm recovery. Gov. Chris Christie revealed he unexpectedly spoke with Bruce Springsteen earlier in the day. Christie had been discussing storm-related matters with President Barack Obama when Obama handed the phone to Springsteen, who was traveling with him as part of a campaign trip.
Christie also said he got a hug from Springsteen at Friday's benefit concert for storm victims.
The famously liberal Springsteen had never previously acknowledged the Republican governor. Christie considers himself among The Boss' biggest fans and has attended more than 100 of his concerts.
Christie has praised Obama's handling of the storm, while continuing to back Mitt Romney.
Christie says he wept at home after meeting his idol, calling it a major highlight during a tough week.

Video: Paul Ryan stumps in Mansfield, Ohio

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(AP/Seth Perlman)
Former state Rep. Derrick Smith may be under indictment and expelled from the House, but U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) is among those staying neutral in Smith's race against third-party rival Lance Tyson.


Just about everybody has an opinion about former state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) after his federal bribery indictment and historic expulsion from the Illinois House.

But in Smith's bid to regain his House seat, several big movers and shakers have stayed on the sidelines in his race against third-party rival, Lance Tyson, including U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).

Smith is a creature of Secretary of State Jesse White's political organization, yet White now is pushing for his defeat and siding with Tyson. So is Gov. Pat Quinn.

But Davis is neutral on Smith's candidacy, and here's why.

"I mean, he's not been convicted of anything yet. And who knows: He may not get convicted," Davis said of Smith, who faces a federal bribery charge for allegedly accepting $7,000 from an undercover FBI informant.

"Now, if a person is tried, does not get convicted, then his reputation has been ruined. His life has been ruined. And I just decided, well, I'm going to let the voters make that decision," Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times after a campaign swing in Will County to help tout Democrat Bill Foster's congressional bid.

"He hasn't been convicted of anything. I mean, what's the point of us talking about this, 'you're innocent until you're proven guilty,' if we don't act like it?" Davis continued. "So, we have to wait until a court of law determines his innocence or guilt."

"It's in my congressional district, but I don't vote in that election," Davis said. "So I decided, you know, whatever the people decided, that's what I will work with and who I will work with."

Beyond Davis, others who have remained neutral or opted not to endorse Tyson include Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said Smith shouldn't be elected but wouldn't endorse Tyson; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

As a candidate, Smith has been nearly invisible, showing up for some selectively-targeted radio programs and WLS-TV but avoiding contact with most of the media.

For almost two weeks, the Chicago Sun-Times has sought to interview Smith, but that request was ignored, with one high-level Smith representative initially telling the newspaper that if it was "nice," access would be granted. No interview opportunity arose.

The House voted overwhelmingly to expel Smith last August, but that move didn't preclude him from being on Tuesday's ballot. Under the state Constitution, he can't be expelled again on the same charge if he defeats Tyson.

State Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Buffalo Grove) introduced a constitutional amendment earlier this fall that would undo that constitutional provision, but the legislation won't be acted on before this session of the General Assembly expires.

COLUMBUS, Ohio--President Barack Obama will continue his election day tradition on Tuesday--and play a basketball with buddies in Chicago, Obama for America spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday. Obama has no plans to leave Illinois during Tuesday, she said.

Romney adds election day stops: Ohio and Pennsylvania

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MADISON, WISC. -- In a showing of just how close this election is, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced today he won't stop campaigning until the bitter end.

He will make stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday. It has long been surmised that the race would come down to Ohio, however, the Republicans have believed that Pennsylvania is in play. President Obama meanwhile was in Madison, Wisconsin with Bruce Springsteen rallying thousands to get out the vote on Tuesday. He then headed to Iowa.

On Monday Romney was in Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire, while Obama was trying to protect Wisconsin from a late-breaking GOP challenge before heading to Iowa.

"This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow," Romney said.

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Kerry Enger of Madison said he would never have been able to get his cancer under control if not for Obama's policies on health care.
Photo by Natasha Korecki

MADISON, WISC. -- Some 18,000 people filled the center of downtown Madison on Monday to listen to President Obama on the eve of a deadlocked election.

Though Madison leans hard left, there was mixed response to the president's presence in the swing state capital.

One irritated woman poked at a reporter's notebook after leaving Obama's remarks, apparently disappointed.
"Not one word about climate change!" she said and stormed off.
To Kerry Enger, seeing Obama in person meant something deeply personal to the 33 year old.
"His Affordable Care Act saved my life," said Enger, who said he has endured two bone marrow transplants and 26 months of chemotherapy. "I couldn't even walk a few months ago."
Enger, who has Multiple Myeloma, said he lost his job because of his severe health issues and was soon paying $873 a month for health care. He said he lost his house, lost his 401 (k) and his life savings to pay his medical costs.
He said the health care act allowed him to get insurance regardless of his having a preexisting condition.
Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans have blasted so-called "Obamacare," vowed to repeal it and said that the president carelessly drove up the deficit because he was more concerned with his legacy than with boosting the economy.

photo-7.JPG William Schuth, a vet, said he won't vote for Obama because of his drone strikes. Schuth will cast a vote for the Green Party.

Some carried some frustration with Obama for not visiting Madison when it was in the midst of an acrimonious union battle versus the governor, something that eventually led to a bitter recall election that Gov. Scott Walker survived.
"I know he wants us to have his back. He didn't have ours," said William Schuth, 30. "He was silent on it."
Schuth and his wife, Joanna, both 30, said they do back some of Obama's plans.
"I'm voting defensively because Mitt Romney as president could be devastation for me and my family."


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MADISON, WISC. -- Bruce Springsteen spoke to reporters on the tarmac after he alighted Air Force One, with his wife, Patti.

Asked if this was his first trip on Air Force one, he said yes, then started grinning.
"It was pretty cool," he said, according to the pool report.

Springsteen had just played to an estimated 18,000 in a rally for President Obama in Madison.

Obama talked about allowing Springsteen to travel with him on the eve of the 2012 election.

"I get to fly around with him on the last day that I ever campaign," Obama said.

Election Day deals, freebies

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fries.jpg

Want something more than the satisfaction of democracy when you vote tomorrow? Of course you do - this is America, after all. Here are some additional deals and freebies to warm your patriotic hearts:

Transcript: President Obama's remarks in Madison

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REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AT CAMPAIGN EVENT

Martin Luther King Boulevard

Madison, Wisconsin

10:55 A.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Wisconsin! (Applause.) Are you fired up?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

THE PRESIDENT: Are you ready to go?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot imagine not being fired up after listening to Bruce Springsteen. (Applause.) I can't thank him enough for everything that he's done for this campaign. He is an American treasure. He gets embarrassed when you talk about him that way. But he tells the story of what our country is, and what it should be, and what it can be. And I get to fly around with him on the last day that I will ever campaign -- so that's not a bad way to end things. (Applause.)

This is an incredible crowd, and it's good to be back. (Applause.) The weather is cooperating. (Applause.) It sort of feels like Chicago -- nice and brisk.

There are a couple other people I want to thank before we get started. Your next senator from the great state of Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin, is here. (Applause.) She'll follow in the footsteps of two other outstanding Wisconsin senators -- Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, who are here. (Applause.) Your next congressman, Marc Pocan, is here. (Applause.) And let's give it up for the Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin -- Paul Soglin. (Applause.)

Now, for the past week, even in the midst of all this campaigning and electioneering and way too many TV commercials, all of us -- including Bruce -- have been focused on one of the worst storms of our lifetime. And I had a chance to visit New Jersey, and every day I've been talking to mayors and governors and local officials and families. And we mourn those lives that have been lost.

And whenever I talk to folks in the region, I tell them the same thing that I say whenever a tragedy besets the American family, and that is the American people come together and make a commitment that we will walk with these folks whose lives have been upended every step on the hard road ahead and the hard road to recovery. We'll carry on. No matter how bad the storm is, we will be there together. (Applause.) No matter how bad the storm is, we recover together. We're all in this together. We rise or fall as one nation, and as one people. (Applause.)

And, you know, Madison, that spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries. It's carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.

In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs. (Applause.) The American auto industry is back on top. Home values are on the rise. We're less dependent on foreign oil than any time in 20 years, and we've doubled the production of clean energy across America. (Applause.)

Because of the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is coming to a close. Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat. Osama bin Laden is dead. We've made progress these last four years. (Applause.)

We've made progress these last four years. But the reason we're all gathered here -- in addition to listening to Bruce -- (laughter) -- is because we know we've got more work to do. We've got more work to do. As long as there's a single American who wants a job but can't find one, our work is not yet done. As long as there are families working harder and harder but still falling behind, we've got more work to do. As long as there is a child anywhere in Madison, in Wisconsin, in America, who's languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our work is not yet done. The fight goes on. (Applause.)

Our fight goes on because this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class and sturdy, strong ladders for everybody who's willing to work to get into the middle class. Our fight goes on because we know America has always done best, we've always prospered when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same rules. That's what we believe. That's why you elected me in 2008 and that is why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Wisconsin, tomorrow you have a choice to make. And it's not just a choice between two candidates or two parties. It is a choice between two different visions for America. It's a choice between returning to the top-down policies that crashed our economy, or a future that's built on providing opportunity to everybody and growing a strong middle class. (Applause.)

Understand, Wisconsin, as Americans we honor the strivers, the dreamers, the small businesspeople, the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs who've been the driving force behind our free enterprise system. And that free market is the greatest engine of prosperity and growth the world has ever known. But we also believe that in this country, like no other, our market works, our system works only when everybody has got a shot -- when everybody is participating, when everybody has a chance to get a decent education, when every worker has the chance to get the skills they need, when we support research into medical breakthroughs and new technologies. (Applause.)

We believe that America is stronger -- not weaker, stronger -- when everybody can count on affordable health insurance. (Applause.) We believe our country is better when people can count on Medicare and Social Security in their golden years. (Applause.) We think the market functions more effective when there are rules in place to make sure our kids are protected from toxic dumping; to make sure consumers aren't being taken advantage of by unscrupulous credit card companies or mortgage lenders. (Applause.)

We believe that there's a place for rules and regulations that make sure our people are safe. And we also believe there are some things politicians should stay out of. For example, we think that folks in Washington, especially men, should not try to control health care choices that women are perfectly capable of making themselves. (Applause.)

Now, Madison, here's the thing. For eight years, we had a President who shared these beliefs -- his name was Bill Clinton. (Applause.) And when he first came into office, his economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we could reduce our deficit and still invest in the skills and ideas of our people. And at the time, the Republican Congress -- and a certain Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney -- said Bill Clinton's plan would hurt the economy, would kill jobs, would hurt the job creators. Does this sound familiar? (Laughter.)

Turns out his math back then was just as bad as it is now. (Laughter.) Because by the end of President Clinton's second term, America had created 23 million new jobs. Incomes were up; poverty was down. Our deficit had turned into a surplus. (Applause.)

So, Wisconsin, our ideas have been tested. We've tried them; they worked. (Applause.) The other side's ideas have also been tested -- they didn't work so well. (Applause.) After Bill Clinton left office, during most of the last decade, we tried giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We tried giving insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street free rein to do whatever they pleased. And what did we get? Falling incomes, record deficits, the slowest job growth in half a century, an economic crisis that we've been cleaning up after ever since.

So this should not be that complicated. We tried our ideas; they worked. The economy grew. We created jobs. Deficits went down. We tried their ideas; they didn't work. The economy didn't grow, not as many jobs, and the deficit went up.

But here's the thing. Governor Romney is a very talented salesman. And in this campaign, he's tried as hard as he can to repackage the same old bad ideas and make them out to be new ideas -- and try to convince you that he's all about change. He's trying to convince you that these bad, old ideas are change.

Listen, we know what change looks like, Madison, and what he's selling ain't it. (Applause.) Giving more power back to the biggest banks -- that's not change.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy is not change.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: Refusing to answer questions about your policies until after the election -- that's definitely not change. (Laughter.) That's the oldest game in the book.

Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber-stamp the tea party's agenda in Congress -- that's not change.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: Changing the facts when they're inconvenient to your campaign -- not change.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: Which raises something else about this presidential campaign -- t's not just about policies, it's also about trust. It's also about trust.

Wisconsin, you know me by now. (Applause.) You may not agree with every decision I've made -- Michelle doesn't either. (Laughter.) You may be frustrated at the pace of change. I promise you, so am I sometimes. But you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. (Applause.)

I said I'd end the war in Iraq -- and I ended it. (Applause.) I said I'd pass health care reform -- I passed it. (Applause.) I said I'd repeal "don't ask, don't tell" -- we repealed it. (Applause.) I said we'd crack down on reckless practices on Wall Street -- and we did. (Applause.)

So you know where I stand. You know what I believe. You know I tell the truth. And you know that I'll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. You know that about me. (Applause.)

So when I say, Wisconsin, that I know what real change looks like, you've got cause to believe me because you've seen me fight for it, and you've seen me deliver it. You've seen the scars on me to prove it. (Applause.) You've seen the gray hair on my head -- (laughter) -- to show you what it means to fight for change. And you've been there with me. And after all we've been through together, we can't give up now.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: Because we've got more change to do. (Applause.) We've got more change to make.

Think about the next four years. Change is a country where every American has a shot at a great education. (Applause.) And government can't do it alone -- parents have to parent, students have to study. But don't tell me that hiring more outstanding teachers won't help this economy grow. Of course it will. (Applause.)

Don't tell me that students who can't afford to go to college should just borrow money from their parents. That wasn't an option for me, Madison. I'll bet it wasn't an option for a lot of the students who are here today. (Applause.) And so that's why I want to cut the growth in tuition in half by the next 10 years. (Applause.) I want to recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers so we don't fall behind the rest of the world. (Applause.) Train 2 million Americans at our community colleges with the skills that businesses are looking for right now.

That's what change is. (Applause.) That's what we're fighting for in this election.

Change comes when we live up to this country's legacy of innovation. I could not be prouder that I bet on American workers and the American auto industry. (Applause.) But what makes me really proud is we're not just building cars again, we're building better cars -- cars that by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas, which will save you money, help our national security, help our environment.

And that kind of innovation, that kind of ingenuity isn't restricted to the auto industry. We've got thousands of workers building long-lasting batteries and wind turbines all across the country. And I don't want to subsidize oil company profits; I want to support the energy jobs of tomorrow, the new technologies that will cut our oil imports in half, take some of the carbon out of the atmosphere. (Applause.) I don't want a tax code that rewards companies for creating jobs overseas; I want to reward companies that are investing right here in Wisconsin -- (applause) -- in the next generation of manufacturing in America. That's my plan for jobs and growth. And that's what we're fighting for in this election.

Change is turning the page on a decade of war so we can do some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) As long as I'm Commander-in-Chief, we will always pursue our enemies with the strongest military the world has ever known. But it's time to use the savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our debt and rebuild America -- (applause) -- putting some hardhats back to work repairing roads and bridges; making our schools state of the art all across this country; hiring our veterans -- because if you fought for our freedom, you shouldn't have to fight for a job, or a roof over your head, or the services you've earned when you come home. (Applause.)

And that's what will keep us strong. That's my commitment to you, and that's what's at stake in this election.

And, yes, change is a future where we reduce our deficit, but we do it in a balanced, responsible way. I've signed a trillion dollars' worth of spending cuts, gotten rid of programs that aren't working. I intend to do more. But if we're serious about the deficit, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. We've also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was in office. (Applause.) And, by the way, we can afford it. I haven't talked to Bruce, but I know he can afford it. (Laughter.) I can afford it. Mr. Romney, he can afford it. (Laughter.)

Because our budget reflects our values. It's a reflection of our priorities. And as long as I'm President, I'm not going to kick some poor kids off of Head Start to give me a tax cut. (Applause.) I'm not going to turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire's tax cut. (Applause.)

So, Wisconsin, we know what change is. We know what the future requires. But we also know it's not going to be easy. Back in 2008, we talked about it. I know everybody sometimes romanticizes the last campaign -- and the posters and all the good feeling. But I said back then, when I talk about change, I'm not just talking about changing presidents or political parties. I'm talking about changing how our politics works.

I ran because the voices of the American people -- your voices -- had been shut out of our democracy for way too long by lobbyists and special interests and politicians who will say and do anything just to keep things the way they are, to protect the status quo. And the status quo in Washington is fierce. And over the last four years, that status quo has fought us every step of the way. They spent millions trying to stop us from reforming the health care system; spent millions trying to prevent us from reforming Wall Street. They engineered a strategy of gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans had agreed to in the past.

And what they're counting on now is that you're going to be so worn down, so fed up, so tired of all the squabbling, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you're just going to give up and walk away, and leave them --

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: -- leave them right where they are -- pulling the strings, pulling the levers, and you locked out of the decisions that impact your lives. In other words, their bet is on cynicism.

But, Wisconsin, my bet is on you. (Applause.) My bet is on you.

And understand, I'm not making a partisan point here. When the other party has been willing to work with me to cut middle-class taxes for families and small businesses, or some courageous Republican senators crossing the aisle to support the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," I'm thrilled -- because we're not Democrats or Republicans first. We're Americans first. (Applause.)

As long as I'm President, I'll work with anybody of any party to move this country forward. And if you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you'll vote for leaders like Tammy Baldwin -- (applause) -- whether they're Democrats or Republicans or independents -- who feel the same way, who put you first, not the next election first.

But you know what, sometimes you got to fight. Sometimes you got to stand on principle. If the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals to cut students off of financial aid, or get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood, or let insurance companies discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, or eliminate health care for millions of folks who are on Medicaid who are poor or elderly or disabled, I won't pay that price. That's not a deal I'll take. (Applause.) That's not bipartisanship. That's not change. That's surrender. That's surrender to the same status quo that's been squeezing middle-class families for way too long.

That's not why I ran for President, to leave things the way they are. I'm not ready to give up on that fight. (Applause.) I'm not ready to give up on that fight, Wisconsin. And I hope you aren't either.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: Now, the folks at the very top in this country, they don't need another champion in Washington. They'll always have a seat at the table. They'll have access. They'll always have influence. That's the nature of things. The people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night after a long day in the office; the men and women I meet on the campaign trail every day.

The laid-off worker who's going back to community college to retrain at the age of 55 for a new career -- she needs a champion. The restaurant owner who's got great food, but needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down -- he needs a champion. (Applause.) The cooks and the waiters and the cleaning staff at a Madison hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kid to college -- they need a champion. (Applause.)

The autoworker who never thought he'd see the line again and now is back on the job, filled with pride and dignity, because it's not just building a great car, it's not just about a paycheck, it's about taking pride in what you do -- he needs a champion. (Applause.) A teacher in an overcrowded classroom with old, outdated textbooks, digging into her own pocket to buy school supplies, frustrated sometimes, not getting the support she needs, but knowing every single day she might make a difference in that one child's life, and that makes it all worth it -- she needs a champion. (Applause.)

All those kids in inner cities and small farm towns, in the valleys of Ohio, the rolling Virginia hills, or in the streets of Madison -- kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, or engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats, maybe even a President -- they need a champion. (Applause.) They don't have lobbyists. The future never has as many lobbyists as the status quo. But it is the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace. (Applause.) That's what will propel us forward. That's what will make America continue to be this shining light on a hill.

And that's why I need you, Wisconsin. To make sure the voices of those children are heard. To make sure your voices are heard. We have come too far to turn back now. (Applause.) We've come too far to let our hearts grow faint. Now is the time to keep pushing forward -- to educate all our kids and train all our workers, create new jobs, bring our troops home, care for our veterans, broaden opportunity, grow our middle class, restore our democracy -- and make sure that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter how you started out, no matter what your last name is, you can make it here in America if you try. (Applause.)

And, Wisconsin, that's why I need your vote. And if you're willing to work with me again, and knock on some doors with me, make some phone calls for me, turn out for me, we'll win Wisconsin. (Applause.) We'll win this election. We'll finish what we started. We'll renew the bonds that bind us together. We'll reaffirm the spirit that makes the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

END 11:19 A.M. CST

twobosses.JPG President Barack Obama thanks Bruce Springsteen after The Boss played a set before the masses in Madison, Wisconsin.
Photo by Natasha Korecki

***Updated with Springsteen remarks ***

MADISON, WISC. -Thousands of people filled the streets around Wisconsin's Capitol Monday morning to hear one boss sing - and another stump for his reelection.
With the aide of his guitar and harmonica, Bruce Springsteen's legendary voice echoed through downtown Madison as he offered a spirited boost to President Barack Obama in this must-win swing state.
On the eve of his attempt at reelection, Obama began his race to the finish line in Madison, having arrived here at 3 a.m. It was his first of many stops in swing states on Monday. Obama will spend election day in Chicago.
"It will be great to feel the power of your voices and your votes tomorrow. I'm here today for Wisconsin, America and for President Obama," Springsteen said to cheers.
Springsteen played a short set, opening with "No Surrender" and spent some time imploring the crowd to vote tomorrow.
"I'm a husband and a dad, my lovely wife Patti is here with me," Springsteen told the crowd. "We've got three kids growing up and on their way out into the world, I'm 63 (Patti is much younger)... but we have both lived through some galvanizing moments in American history: the Civil Rights struggle, the Peace Movement, the Woman's Movement, we played in East Berlin one year before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and we were with Amnesty International a year before the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid. These were days when you could feel the winds of change moving and the world shifting beneath your feet.
And... we both remember another galvanizing moment, the night that President Obama was elected."
Obama was greeted to a sea of blue waving signs that read "Forward," on them.
In thanking Springsteen before his remarks, Obama said: "I get to fly around with him on the last day that I ever campaign."
Obama highlighted his record but acknowledged that some of his promises have been slow to come into reality.
"Wisconsin...you may be frustrated by the pace of change...trust me, so am I sometimes," Obama told the crowd.
He won cheers when he talked about what he would salvage if he were reelected.
"As long as I'm president, I'm not going to kick some kid off of Head Start, so I can give another millionaire a tax cut."

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Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. strikes the "Heisman" pose while holding Earl Campbell's Heisman trophy, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


There's something about presidential candidates and football, the throw of the pigskin - often on the tarmac to a jet to another campaign stop - that seems like a prerequisite to earning a trip to the Oval Office. It is the most popular sport in America, after all, so enjoy this gallery of candidates and footballs.

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AP Photo

We've still yet to elect a President in this election cycle, but last week's superstorm seems to have shone a spotlight on two potential candidates for 2016.

No sooner had the winds from the Hurricane Sandy Superstorm died than New Jersey residents experienced another round of gale-force gusts: the bluster from the state's pugnacious governor Chris Christie. An outspoken conservative, Christie has had no shortage of previous barbs targeted at President Obama. Yet those jabs turned to praise as Christie lauded Obama's swift action in the wake of the storm's landfall along the Jersey coast.

For Christie, it's a shrewd move that sets himself up for a run in 2016 as a moderate, someone willing to work with both sides of the aisle. Or to at least be nice to someone from the other side of the aisle when disaster relief is at stake. In a way, it's the kind of move to the middle that Romney pulled during the first presidential debate which helped reverse the momentum of the campaign. At this summer's Republican National Convention, Christie's keynote speech was largely self-referential, focusing more on himself than Romney, and certainly felt like a speech from someone working his ways up the party ranks. His time in the spotlight during the Hurricane Sandy disaster struck a more positive public figure than his RNC appearance: a man determined to protect his constituents and willing to put politics aside for the betterment of those constituents.

Of course, the candidacy is far from Christie's to have if Romney loses. VP candidate Paul Ryan is a younger, more charismatic man whose libertarian stances appeal far more to the further right/Tea Party electorate. And there is, of course, a Bush: Jeb Bush, to be exact. But Christie's leadership during the post-Sandy crisis will stick in a lot of peoples' minds, especially coming in the final days of the 2012 campaign. If Christie hopes to run in 2016, he'll have a sturdy example to fall back on that will be a bit more difficult for Democrats to assail.

bookerap.jpegMeanwhile, a rising star of the Democratic party was building on an already sterling reputation with his own hyperlocal disaster response. Newark mayor Cory Booker, a renowned Obama acolyte, was hyper- active on Twitter, responding to questions and requests for help from citizens and doling out piles of informaiton. Booker's response was far from the typical politician or community leader. Instead of simply repeating generic information, Booker directly responded to residents, giving the correct phone numbers, passing along personal requests, and even invited residents without power over to his house and feeding them.

While Booker hasn't been as prominent a candidate to take over his party's leadership in the near-future, he is considered a rising star of the Democratic party. And one that's not afraid to occasionally butt up against party leadership: while his brief disagreement with Obama earlier this year seemed testy for Dems, it certainly made Booker more attractive to moderates who are seeking a bipartisan leader. In a way, Booker seems to be appealing as Obama was to voters in 2004 when he delivered his famous DNC keynote.

Regardless of who wins this election, the Democrats will be in need of a new candidate in 2016 and attempting to hold on to the presidency for more than two terms, the first time they would have done that since FDR/Truman.* For starters, VP Joe Biden isn't ruling out a run in 2016, having run for the highest office twice before. One big strike against him, though, will be his age. Experienced Democrats less likely to face the same scrutiny include Maryland Gov. Mike O'Malley, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But Booker is a realistic wild card as a younger candidate as is San Antonio mayor Julian Castro.

Of course, this is all assuming we won't see a run from Hillary Clinton who, serving as secretary of state, has evolved into something of a beloved stateswoman, experiencing a complete image rebound from the aftermath of the bruising 2008 Democratic primary race she lost to Obama. While it's not a smooth path for Clinton, if she decides to enter the race in 2016, she would seem to have a leg up on the competition.

But, in 2006, no one might have guessed the younger candidate, a first-term senator from Illinois, would be *this close* to re-election to the presidency now. Booker's energy and openness - his Twitter binging is hardly unique to just Sandy response - have helped raise his profile nationally. If there's one thing holding him back, it's a need for more experience in a higher-level office: a run for Senator in 2014 can't be ruled out.

And this leads to the most interesting aspect of all of this. Yes, there's a chance the 2016 presidential could be the Battle of Jersey. But there's also just a good a chance that Christie and Booker could be squaring off much sooner: New Jersey's gubernatorial election is a year away and this seems to be on Booker's mind just as much as any presidential run.

Regardless of what position they're in three years from now, when the next round of presidential politicking will be going in earnest, their unique responses to Sandy have placed Christie and Booker in a bigger spotlight in the national consciousness and has provided a springboard for both a bigger future.

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President Barack Obama leaves Fort Lauderdale, Fla. after making a campaign appearance, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

You can read all of columnist Richard Roeper's column breaking down his prediction on the race for the White House here. But Roeper, the consumate gambler, has been studying the odds and thinks he knows who will be dancing to Hail to the Chief come Wednesday: Barack Obama.

Speaking of odds, this has been the most heavily bet upon U.S. presidential race in history for at least one bookie, according to The Sporting News' The Linesmakers.

"The signs are that up to $16 million U.S. will be riding on the outcome of the U.S. Election," British oddsmaker William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said in a release Saturday.

With just days to go before Tuesday's election, Barack Obama was a heavy -400 (1/4) favorite on Saturday. William Hill listed Republican candidate Mitt Romney as a +300 (3/1) underdog.

Meanwhile, here's Roeper's breakdown on how the state's will fall and what the final count will be:

Ne Jersey Gov. Chris Christie presides over a state that has suffered the bulk of the damage and destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. The Jersey shore alone has accounted for scores of dead, millions of dollars in damage and miles of homes razed.

While federal relief pours in and private donations and efforts mount, Christie has reached out to a higher authority: Justin Bieber. He tweeted to his nearly 280,000 followers that he needs Bieber, of whom Christie's kids are "huge fans, to push people to the help line to get donations rolling for relief:

The Biebs, just shy of 30 million followers on Twitter, is working the donation angle. But no word from him yet on whether he'll join forces with Gov. Christie. It would certainly be bigger news that some simple words of appreciation for President Obama.

UPDATE: Bieber to the rescue. The Canadian Prince of All Media retweeted Christie's plea, garnering at least 1,441 retweets and 734 favorites. It will be interesting to see if that leads to an outpouring of assistance though.

Comedian Chris Rock adds to the odder celebrity endorsements rolling our of late with his choice of a president white America can believe in - Barack Obama. Or Barry, if that helps.

Rock offered his take on race relations in this piece for Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Were he alive, Lewis Carroll might be proud of the mysterious Alliance for Illinois Taxpayers political action committee.

The group is trying to upend the race for the west-suburban 77th House District into something from "Alice in Wonderland."

The organization aligned with Democrat Kathleen Willis, of Addison, has already footed the bill for two mailers that portray incumbent state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) as a tool of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

Saviano and Madigan once were close, but no more. In fact, the powerful House speaker is funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign of his virtually invisible Democratic House candidate to help defeat Saviano.

Now comes yet another anti-Saviano mail piece from the group, this one implying somehow that U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Willis are politically aligned and "will stand up for our families." The mailer shows side-by-side headshots of Gutierrez and Willis.

The only problem is that Gutierrez endorsed Saviano last week in a blow to Willis, praising the 10-term incumbent's "wonderful" record on immigration issues.

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Former President Bill Clinton addresses a crowd at Patrick Henry High School on Saturday in Roanoke, Va. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Jeanna Duerscherl)

It's the White House full-court press.

Just days after securing an endorsement from President Barack Obama, Democratic congressional candidate Bill Foster is getting a lift from someone else who knows 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. pretty well.

Former President Bill Clinton has recorded a robocall that will begin going out Monday to voters in the west-suburban 11th Congressional District, where Foster is facing U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.).

Here's the script of the call:

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President Obama and Gov. Pat Quinn had less trouble coming together in 2010. Sun-times file photo

Gov. Pat Quinn got a prime speaking role at September's Democratic National Convention, but since then he's been mostly missing in action as a front-and-center surrogate for President Barack Obama.

That may change between now and Tuesday, but the governor has pretty much stayed home as other top Illinois politicians crisscrossed the country to sing Obama's praises - and two states vital to the president's re-election, Iowa and Wisconsin, are neighbors.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, talking up Obama, after doing live local television interviews as a surrogate for the president in five battleground states. Emanuel traveled to Florida last month to campaign for Obama.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), meanwhile, committed to visits in Colorado and Nevada to boost Obama and other Democrats with Hispanic voters between now and Tuesday.

And Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stumped in Ohio for Obama last week during a visit aimed at targeting fellow Catholics in that battleground state. It marked Durbin's second campaign visit to Ohio in two weeks.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson defended her boss, saying he has done his share to help promote Obama for a second term.

"Over the past two weeks, the governor sent bus loads of Quinn volunteers to Wisconsin. He has also served as an Obama surrogate on national television programs," she said. "As you know, he has contributed the maximum to the president's re-election campaign."

Anderson said Quinn has appeared twice in the past two weeks on CNBC with business anchor Maria Bartiromo and did "many more" programs around the Democratic convention.

"The governor of Illinois balances his state responsibilities with supporting the president's re-election effort as much as possible," she said.

But a potential 2014 GOP gubernatorial rival offered a different take on Quinn's absence from the presidential campaign trail.

"I think a part of it is reflective of the state he's governor of," said state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, chairman of Mitt Romney's Illinois presidential campaign effort.

"When he has the lowest bond rating in the nation, the highest unemployment rates in the nation and [more than an $80 billion] unfunded liability in pensions, I'm not sure that's the profile the president wants to have on the national stage about his home state."

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[Photo by Dave McKinney]
U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) hoists the baby son of a top staffer to make the point America shouldn't be passing on more national debt to future generations.

When U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh started his weekend by revving up campaign volunteers, he turned to his chief of staff, Justin Roth, for the superlative political prop: a baby.

Not just any baby, either. Roth and his wife have a new son, Brayden, and he became the perfect messenger for Walsh to use to drive home his campaign theme about not wanting to pass on more national debt to future generations.

"We are delivering to Brayden an America less free and less prosperous. You are walking today for Brayden," Walsh shouted, as he hoisted the little boy above his head in front of about 125 supporters at Walsh's Schaumburg headquarters.

After making his point, Walsh sent his backers on their way by taking a sniff of the baby's posterior and deadpanning: "When was Brayden last changed?"

For the record, Roth said Sunday his four-month-old son did not have a dirty diaper at Saturday's event.

"My wife would track you down and kill you if you wrote that," he quipped.

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Tammy Duckworth and Joe Walsh continue to lock horns as they battle for the 8th congressional seat in the closing days of the election.

On Saturday, GOP candidate Walsh ridiculed Democrat Duckworth as a vessel of "mean people named Axelrod, Emanuel and Durbin," while she hit back at him for telling voters nothing but "lies" in the suburbs' hottest congressional fight.

Both candidates in the 8th Congressional District entered the final weekend before Tuesday's election, continuing to hurl verbal spitballs at one another and bearing down on their all-important, get-out-the-vote ground games.

Walsh began the day at his Schaumburg headquarters revving up 120 or so supporters, some of whom signed their names with felt-tip pens on his campaign's 1984 Winnebago before spending Saturday going door to door on his behalf.

"You are walking for a candidate today who's running against a candidate who had a district drawn for her, a district drawn for her by powerful mean people named Axelrod, and Emanuel and Durbin," Walsh shouted, eliciting a chorus of boos at his reference to presidential advisor David Axelrod, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Dave McKinney reports in today's Chicago Sun-Times: 8th congressional race

Condoleeza Rice and Jeb Bush push Florida for Romney

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are working to get out the vote for Mitt Romney in the swing state of Florida on Monday even as Republicans are trying to put Pennsylvania in play.

From Romney shop:
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Governor Jeb Bush Attend Event In Florida On Monday

Boston, MA - On Monday, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Governor Jeb Bush will attend a Get-Out-The-Vote Event at Broward College in Davie, Florida. The following event is open to the press.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Event: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Governor Jeb Bush Attend Davie Get-Out-The-Vote Event

BEACHWOOD, Ohio--President Barack Obama Chicago pal and Obama campaign treasurer Martin Nesbitt is on the stump with the president as Air Force One hits the battleground states.

Nesbitt was with Obama on the campaign plane for the closing chapter in 2008. Nesbitt is also a basketball playing buddy. Obama played basketball on every primary election day (but one) and went to a Chicago gym on general election day in 2008. Will there be a game Tuesday?

Obama ground game memo

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BEACHWOOD, Ohio--Bill Clinton is being deployed to Pennsylvania on Monday---with four stops the day before the election-- to snuff out the Romney campaign last minute bid to put Pennsylvania in play.

The Romney team is pumping in ads and candidate stops: Mitt Romney is in Pennsylvania on Sunday and Paul Ryan stumped in Harrisburg Saturday. That Clinton has to spend time in Pennsylvania on a day when he would otherwise be used to boost turnout in another battleground state-shows the impact of the Romney move.

Clinton on Monday will be in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, Pittsburgh and Scranton, Pennsylvania. From the Obama campaign: "During this final push over the past week, he has held grassroots events in Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin."


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA DELIVERS REMARKS

IN DUBUQUE, IOWA,

AS RELEASED BY THE WHITE HOUSE

NOVEMBER 3, 2012

SPEAKER: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

OBAMA: Hello, Iowa! (Applause.) It is good to be back in Dubuque! (Applause.) It is good to be back close to home. (Applause.)

I was just talking backstage -- you know, you get close to the Midwest and suddenly everybody is just nice. (Laughter.) Feels good. (Applause.)

Can everybody please give Sandy a big round of applause for the great introduction. (Applause.) And give Sandy's son a big round of applause for serving our country. (Applause.) Give it up for John Mellencamp! (Applause.)

It is wonderful to be here. For the last several days, all of us have been focused on one of the worst storms in our lifetime, what's been happening on the East Coast. And I know I speak for the country when I say our thoughts and prayers are with those who've lost loved ones, people whose lives have been upended. Folks here in Iowa know something about flooding -- you remember what happened just a few years ago. And the recovery process is tough.

But when I visited New Jersey, I told folks there that everybody all across the country feels the same way -- we are going to be with people every step of the way, down the long, hard road of recovery. We're going to help them rebuild. We're going to do it together. That's what Americans do. (Applause.)

As endorsements go, Ron Burgundy's moustache - and the man behind it - says something. Stay classy, American presidential political system.

Not sure if this trumps Joss Whedon's Romney Zombie tale, but it at least adds some levity to the end of a long campaign season.

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MILWAUKEE - With help from pop sensation Katy Perry, President Barack Obama drew 20,000 people in and around the downtown Delta Arena on Saturday as he trumpeted his accomplishments in office and urged people to not only vote, but to volunteer in the closing days before the election.

"It's good to be so close to home!" he shouted to roars inside the energized downtown Milwaukee venue.

"Wisconsin, after four years as president, you know me," Obama said. "Wisconsin, you know what I believe. You know I mean what I say and I say what I mean."

He told the group that he came through on his promises, including to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in the military, to pull troops out of Iraq and to kill Osama bin Laden.

It was one of four campaign stops for the president on Saturday and he and Mitt Romney crisscrossed into swing states in the final days before the election.

For Obama, Milwaukee is the closest the president will get to his hometown of Chicago before Election Day on Tuesday, where he will end the night at McCormick Place. He plans to return to Madison on Monday morning, where Bruce Springsteen will lend a hand drawing a crowd with a street concert.

Earlier in the day Saturday, electricity was palpable as thousands of people wound around Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee awaiting Obama's arrival and hoping to get into a free Katy Perry concert.
Perry didn't disappoint, performing her hits "Firework" and "Teenage Dream."

She first wore a red, white and blue ruffled gown that was stripped off to reveal a skin-tight blue dress with the word "Forward" running down it. That matched the sea of blue rallying signs held by the crowd when Obama arrived.

Perry urged the crowd to vote and promised if fans Tweeted her a photo of them in an interesting outfit on Election Day that she would re-Tweet it.

Kamila Krupiarz and Mariyum Abba, both 19 and from the Chicago suburbs, were asked why they traveled to Milwaukee Saturday.

"Katy Perry!" Krupiarz exclaimed about the pop sensation. "And Obama," she added, laughing.

The two best friends scored tickets to the arena. They said this is the first year they're able to vote and were blown away when they were able to get free tickets to get in to see both Obama and Perry.

Also lucky enough to get a ticket was Kerstin Mendel, 35, of Milwaukee who is originally from Germany.
Mendel, who has lived in several different European countries, said Mitt Romney "scares me."

She said if Obama were campaigning in Europe he would be considered at least a moderate.

"The liberals in Europe are way left to where Obama is," Mendel said.

Anthony Jones, 37, said this was his first chance to see Obama. He supports Obama because he considers him strong on education, Jones said. Obama established "Race to the Top" to boost performance in schools and has pushed for Pell Grants to help lower income go to college.

Jones said he was laid off from his job in 2008 but was hired back because of having college experience.
"We've hired 150 more employees at my company," he said, since Obama took office.

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Supporters await the arrival of singer Katy Perry and President Barack Obama
Photo by Natasha Korecki

MILWAUKEE, WISC -- The electricity is palpable here 90 miles north of Chicago as thousands of people wound around Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee awaiting the arrival of President Obama and hoping to get into a free Katy Perry concert.

Kamila Krupiarz and Mariyum Abba, both 19 and from the Chicago suburbs, were asked why they were here today.

"Katy Perry!" Krupiarz exclaimed about the pop sensation. "And Obama," she added, laughing.

The two best friends said this is the first year they're able to vote and were blown away when they were able to get free tickets to get into Milwaukee's Delta Center to see both Obama and Perry.

Also lucky enough to get a ticket was Kerstin Mendel, 35, of Milwaukee who is originally from Germany.

Mendel, who has lived in several different European countries, said Mitt Romney "scares me."

She said if Obama were campaigning in Europe he would be considered at least a moderate.

"The liberals in Europe are way left to where Obama is," Mendel said.

Anthony Jones, 37, said this was his first chance to see Obama. He supports Obama because he considers him strong on education, Jones said. Obama established "Race to the Top" to boost performance in schools and has pushed for Pell Grants to help lower income go to college.

Jones said he was laid off from his job in 2008 but was hired back because of having college experience.

"We've hired 150 more employees at my company," he said, since Obama took office.

More photos after the jump.

MARIETTA, Ohio--Before heading out to campaign in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, President Barack Obama on Saturday visited FEMA headquarters to be briefed on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. He deployed almost the entire cabinet and other top officials to the task of helping the stricken East Coast and sent several top aides to the devastated area:

from the White House...

Secretary Donovan will visit public housing developments in the Rockaways and tour Breezy Point, New York,
to hear from state and local officials and see first-hand the damage and recovery efforts there.

Secretary Sebelius will visit with hospital workers, residents impacted by the storm, and local officials in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York.

Administrator Mills will join Governor Malloy and other state and local officials in Norwalk and Bridgeport, Connecticut, to meet with small business owners and other residents affected by the storm.

Secretary Napolitano will travel to West Virginia and Long Island, New York to see response and recovery efforts underway.

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan will join officials from FEMA, the Department of Transportation, and the Army Corps of Engineers to view impacted areas in Hoboken, Newark, and Jersey City, New Jersey, as well as Staten Island, New York.


for more on Obama administration response click below...

MARIETTA, Ohio--Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a headliner on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday.


View Presidential candidate stops for November 3, 2012 in a larger map

Mitt Romney has rallies in


  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire

  • Dubuque, Iowa

  • Colorado Springs

  • Englewood, Colorado

Paul Ryan campaigns in


  • Ohio

  • Pennsylvania

  • Virginia

President Barack Obama


  • Prince William County, Virginia

  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Dubuque, Iowa

  • Mentor, Ohio

Vice President Joe Biden


  • Arvada, Colorado.

  • Pueblo, Colorado

  • travels to Cleveland, Ohio, where he will remain overnight.


View November 2, 2012 campaign stops in a larger map

Obama has events


  • in Hilliard, Ohio, at 10:20 a.m.,

  • in Springfield, Ohio, at 12:55 p.m.,

  • in Lima, Ohio, at 3:20 p.m.

Romney has events


  • in West Allis, Wis., at 10:55 a.m.,

  • in West Chester, Ohio, at 7:30p.m.

Biden has events


  • in Beloit, Wis., at 12:15 p.m.,

  • in Superior, Wis., at 5 p.m.;

Ryan has events


  • in Montrose, Colo., at 12:30 p.m.,

  • in West Chester, Ohio, at 7:30 p.m.

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Click to enlarge chart and download for voting reference. Or use this handy mobile guide.

One was documented, in a local television report, running errands and even sunbathing next to her backyard pool on separate weekday afternoons. 

Another has been suspended indefinitely this year after exhibiting erratic behavior on the job and an arrest for shoving a sheriff's deputy in a downtown courthouse complex.

Both are Cook County Circuit Court judges and while they are up for re-election or "retention" on the Nov. 6 ballot, nearly a dozen state and local bar groups are recommending voters give Cynthia Brim and Gloria Chevere the boot.

If history is any judge, voters will give the two jurists another six-year term, despite their public troubles and low marks from most of the bar associations.

The sheer number of judges -- 57 circuit court judges in all this time around -- and their dead-last spot on the ballot often stops voters cold.

In fact, 30 percent to 50 percent of voters skip that portion of the ballot, said Malcolm Rich, executive director of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, one of a dozen bar associations that evaluate the judges ahead of the election.

"They get to that part of the ballot and they're baffled," Rich said.

Still, the public should care about who is sitting on the bench, considering they have the power to take away people's driving privileges, their homes, even their children.

Sun-Times staff


It'll be a star-studded swing through the Midwest during the president's final days before Tuesday's election.

Katy Perry on Saturday. Bruce Springsteen and Jay Z on Monday.

He and the First Lady return to Chicago where they'll remain through the election.

From the campaign:

CHICAGO - Obama for America announced today that President Obama will spend the final day of the 2012 campaign in Madison, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; and Des Moines, Iowa, ending his 2012 campaign in the state where his 2008 campaign began. The President will kick off the day in Madison, where he will be joined by Bruce Springsteen, who will perform and introduce the President. The President and Springsteen will then travel to Columbus, where they will be joined by JAY Z, who will follow Springsteen on stage and introduce the President after his performance. The President will end his final day of campaigning in Des Moines, where he will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama following a third performance by Bruce Springsteen. The President and First Lady will end their last 2012 campaign swing in the state that launched the President's successful campaign four years ago before returning home to Chicago.


*** Updated with Obama endorsement ***

Wearing a bomber jacket and looking a bit more gray, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January, appears in a video with U.S. Rep. Bob Dold. Dold, a Republican, is trying to hang on to his seat as he faces Deerfield Democrat Brad Schneider. They're competing for the 10th congressional seat -- Kirk's old seat -- a district that covers the North Shore and northeastern suburbs.

There's music playing over the video, so you can't hear what the two men are discussing.

The Dold campaign says the congressman met with Senator Mark Kirk at the Senator's home in Fort Sheridan as part of Dold's "Working Together" Bus Tour.

Meanwhile, Dold opponent Brad Schneider was using mail pieces to tout an endorsement from President Obama.
Obama says on the mail piece: "America's middle class needs Brad Schneider in Congress to stand up and fight for them. Brad will create jobs here at home by building from the middle out, not the top down."

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NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

It's been a big day for presidential endorsements as the 2012 campaign hits the homestretch. First, in the world of reality, New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg officially endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election. Having last endorsed a candidate in 2004 (Bush), Bloomberg cited climate change and, more specifically, Hurricane Sandy as his main reason for endorsing Obama. Of course, just yesterday, Bloomberg politely turned down the offer of a visit from Obama on his tour of the Sandy-ravaged East Coast. Still, said Bloomberg in his endorsement:

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week's devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.


Finally, Obama will get the leg up he needs in the swing state of New York.

For his part, Obama said in a statement:

"I'm honored to have Mayor Bloomberg's endorsement. I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he's doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days. "While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time - that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it. Just as importantly, we agree that whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or independents, there is only one way to solve these challenges and move forward as a nation - together. I look forward to thanking him in person - but for now, he has my continued commitment that this country will stand by New York in its time of need. And New Yorkers have my word that we will recover, we will rebuild, and we will come back stronger."


Meanwhile, GOP challenger Mitt Romney also picked up a key endorsement from the land of fiction: elderly Springfield business magnate Montgomery Burns who released the below video in support of the Romney campaign.

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Katy Perry performs in Las Vegas dressed as a pro-Obama ballot // AP Photo

President Obama is hitting Wisconsin hard in the next few days, including a planned Saturday concert Katy Perry and there's talk about a Bruce Springsteen appearance with Obama on Monday in Madison.

Springsteen famously held a concert in downtown Madison for John Kerry in 2004, drawing tens of thousands of people.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed the state's 10 electoral votes still a toss-up at 49 percent for each candidate.

Bill Clinton has been through the state this week as well as Joe Biden.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is planning a Friday visit and Paul Ryan has had a more consistent presence in his home state.

COLUMBUS, OHIO--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is headed to battlegrounds Colorado and Nevada to help boost President Barack Obama and other Democrats with Hispanic voters and on Monday will do a media blitz with Spanish language outlets to spur turnout the day before the election.


Gutierrez, is headed to Colorado Friday and Nevada on Saturday for campaign swings to talk to Latino voters and others. He will be in the Denver area doing events around that region for Obama and House candidates Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) and Diana DeGette (CO-1).

I'm told he will be "meeting with Latino small business owners and doing a ton of Spanish language radio, TV and print interviews. Then he will be in Reno for Obama and Senate candidate Shelley Berkley talking to Spanish language media and campaign canvassers and supporters. Gutierrez has traveled to Nevada several times this year for Obama and Berkley, but this is his first trip to Colorado. He will be back in Chicago Monday and will be doing media hits for Obama, especially in Spanish language media, in the last minute GOTV phase."

Joe Biden will read Top 10 list tonight for Letterman

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During a stop today, Vice President Joe Biden pre-recorded his reading of the Top 10 list for "The Late Show with David Letterman."

Biden taped the segment while he was on a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa this morning.

The timing is good.

Not only is it just a few days before the election, but Letterman again has a studio audience.
After superstorm Sandy hit the Eastern seaboard, the late-night funny man worked with no audience.

Here's a clip of Letterman's audience-free monologue

Here's last night's Halloween top 10.