Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

**NEW SUNDAY COMMENT POSTINGS**FRIDAY COMMENT POSTINGS***NEW WEDNESDAY UPDATE**Grassroots, Netroots vs the Dem establishment: Duckworth, Cegelis, Scott 6th CD district battle

| 15 Comments

Tuesday column: Democratic congressional contender Tammy Duckworth's campaign would rather the national aspect of her fund-raising strategy not be the subject of stories.

Wednesday, Cegelis campaign reacts -- See posting

For more on Duckworth's campaign fundraising and her powerful patrons--information her campaign would rather keep under wraps--click here for my latest column.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/sweet/cst-edt-sweet021.html

Big Dems take sides in House race

March 2, 2006

BY LYNN SWEET SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST


With the Illinois primary less than three weeks away, some of the nation's biggest Democratic names are raising money for wounded Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth, taking sides in a suburban congressional contest.

Duckworth travels to New York on March 12 for a fund-raiser hosted by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is the Democrats' star draw. Wednesday night marked the deadline for the latest federal reporting period, and by all indications, Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, will swamp her rivals, Christine Cegelis, of Rolling Meadows, who was the 2004 nominee, and college professor Lindy Scott, who lives in Wheaton.

Duckworth's big-name strategy is twofold:

First, to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to keep her television spots on the air.

Second, to demonstrate a sense that she alone has the powerful patrons who can help level the financial playing field in what is certain to be a multimillion-dollar November showdown with state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

Roskam will be the Republican nominee because he has no opponent in the March 21 primary. With the retirement of Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), national Democrats led by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the chairman of the House Democratic political operation, see a chance to turn a rarely open red seat blue. "She is making sure she has the resources to communicate,'' Emanuel told me Wednesday, bringing up Vice President Dick Cheney's impending visit to the suburbs.

The money chase is a big part of the Duckworth and Roskam campaigns and Roskam is showing more of his fund-raising hand. On March 13 Cheney will travel to a banquet hall in Addison to headline a fund-raiser for Roskam. And on Monday night, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) hosts a big-ticket reception for Roskam at a club in downtown Chicago. Last fall, Hastert, the rest of the GOP House leadership team and the GOP House members from Illinois raised money for Roskam at a Washington fund-raiser.

The Cegelis campaign caught a few breaks in recent weeks.

She won the endorsement of the grass-roots-oriented Democracy for America, chaired by Jim Dean, brother of Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman. So far the DFA Internet appeal, up for a few days, showed $7,715.18 from 272 contributors.

On Wednesday morning, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent out an e-mail appeal for Duckworth and other Iraq war vets running for Congress. By the afternoon, Duckworth spokesman Billy Weinberg told me the Kerry letter in just six hours raised tens of thousands of dollars for Duckworth. Kerry "also raised some money for us today,'' Cegelis told me. After Kerry's e-mail hit, "they went to our site and made a contribution in unfavorable reaction to what he did.''

Duckworth got in the race at the urging of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and the packaged campaign Durbin, Emanuel and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) created for her has spawned resentment in segments of the grass-roots activist Democratic community.

Duckworth's campaign seed money was provided by political action committees and donors connected to Durbin, Emanuel, Obama, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Professional fund-raisers working for the four Illinois lawmakers -- all with golden Rolodexes full of national contacts -- are helping Duckworth. And Pelosi and Emanuel also joined in another e-mail plea for money, setting a goal of raising $250,000 by Feb. 24 in order to bankroll Duckworth's TV spots. Retired Gen. Wes Clark also sent a letter to benefit Duckworth.

On Sunday, Duckworth's Finance Committee chairman, bankruptcy turnaround specialist William Brandt, and his wife, Patrice, hosted a big-dollar event at their Winnetka home, with special guests Schakowsky, Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) and former Ambassador Joe Wilson, whose wife, Valerie Plame, was the CIA agent whose outing became the basis for a leak probe led by Chicago-based U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Wilson was in the Chicago area also appearing at a Schakowsky fund-raiser to benefit her political action committee.

Duckworth's campaign would rather the national aspect of her candidacy and fund-raising not get special attention. In the questionnaire Duckworth filled out for the Sun-Times editorial board, she did not respond to a series of questions about fund-raising. Weinberg said the omission was accidental and sent the requested information.

But how and where candidates go to raise money should be part of the public policy discussion under way before Congress, which is grappling with ethics and lobbying reform. Obama and Emanuel have been taking a lead on these issues. It's worth saying again, with another big money race at hand: Fund-raising -- where candidates go to raise money and who helps them -- should be done in the sunlight.


15 Comments

Dear Lynn:
I have been following the race betwwen Duckworth and Cegelis. Christine Cegelis won 44% of the vote last election against Henry Hyde with very little money. Rather than provide financial support and funding as they have for Tammy Duckworth, Sens. Durbin and Obama and Rep. Rahm Emanuel went and found another candidate.
I hope that for Democrats' sakes, this strategy is successful. What is at stake is the ability to turn a red seat blue, and with this stategy, we can only hope that the best candidate emerges victorious in the primary and can beat Roskam. If not, some powerful Illinois politicians will be second guessed on ow they played this one out.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel Cotter

Lynn,

Sunlight is always a good thing, and your article helps. I wish you had had a chance to mention some of the local (and locally broadcast) forums Duckworth has chosen to miss (often because she was attending big $ fundraisers arranged by her new Washington friends) including:

-Jeff Berkowitz show Jan 8 (did not return calls)

-Elk Grove Village Democratic Club Forum Jan 19

-IVI-IPO Endorsement session in Des Plaines Jan. 24 (did not answer questionnaire, did not send a representative)

-DuPage United Forum January 26

-League of Women Voters Forum February 7

-Indo-American Democratic Organization Feb 12

-Cable Access Candidates Forum Feb 16 (did not return calls)

-Glenbard West Young Democrats Club Feb 22 (did not return calls)

-Laura Flanders Show Feb 26 (did not return calls)

-Winfield Democrats Feb 27

Duckworth HAS been showing up on glossy mail pieces, however: at least 4 in the last 3 weeks. As one resident of the district put it: "Cegelis shows up everywhere; Duckworth shows up in my mailbox."


Your Republican leanings are coming out AGAIN--Impartial you are not--fairminded you are not--Bushie and Hastert lover YOU ARE BIG TIME-- I'm tired of your slanted "reporting"--will not waste my time on your prejuidiced rantings in print.

Jean G
Braidwood, IL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cegelis mobilizes campaign troops Saturday
‘People’ event contrasts with big name, big money opposition

LOMBARD (IL) – Democratic Congressional candidate Christine Cegelis will
launch a major new offensive in her grassroots “ground game��? to win the
March 21 Democratic primary when she rallies supporters on Saturday, March
4, at a union hall in Des Plaines.

The hotly contested race in Chicago’s western suburbs has drawn
unprecedented national media attention because national Democratic Party
leaders – including U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, and John
Kerry, and U.S. Reps. Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi – have aligned
themselves with one of Cegelis’ opponents, Tammy Duckworth. They are also
raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for her at fundraisers in
Chicago, Washington, and New York City.

“We’ll see whether big names and big money from outside this District will
decide this election or the local volunteers, local supporters, local
contributors and local voters will decide,��? said Cegelis in announcing
Saturday’s event.

Jean G,

Why do you think Lynn is a Republican shill for insisting that prominent Democrats hold themselves to the same standards that they are insisting Republicans adhere to? As a Democrat (and a DEAN Democrat), I would expect and tolerate nothing less. Which is why I am for Christine Cegels!

Tammy Duckworth is nothing more than a puppet for Durkin/Emanuel/Obama. The money they are putting in her pockets will come with strings attached if she wins Hyde's seat in November. This triumvirate is even defining for her what issues she should address. Important 6th district issues like school funding, illegal immigration, O'Hare expansion, highway construction, urban sprawl and others are being ignored by Duckworth on orders from the Dems.

Lynn is right in demanding that her campaign contributions should be in the sunshine. However, don't look for the Dems to be any different from the Republicans on this issue.

Ken,

If we elect the RIGHT Democrats they will be different. That's what primaries like Christine's are all about. But right now, even the most suspect Democrat is better than almost all the Republicans. That party has completely compromised itself at the altar of money.

Lynn,
Why don't you mention that Lindy Scott has over a hundred of endorsements from small business owners as well as over 500 individual endorsements? Perhaps the Duckworth camp is getting desperate because she doesn't have any local support. Ask the six DuPage Township Chairs who they are supporting and who has the best chances of beating Roskam? It's not Cegelis nor Duckworth.
Nancy Z

You'd think Duckworth helicoptered into the burbs from Nebraska.

6th District voters aren't fools.... they'll judge candidates by their character and their positions.

Wise oppontents would disucss those; unless they felt character and positions of Cegelis and Scott wouldn't fly with 6th district voters.

That Kerry out ran Cegelis last go around suggest that's the case.

Christine Cegelis is not the answer either. One of the truly important issues facing the 6th district is illegal immigration. It is the cause of increased crime, school overcrowding, school dollars being diverted for bi-lingual education and the loss of jobs.

Cegelis states on her website that we need illegals to do the jobs that Americans won't do. Americans won't do these jobs because employers are offering under the table dollars at low wages to illegals. There's a construction boom going on yet there's 17% unemployment in the housing trades. Why? Illegals are replacing skilled union workers at lower wages.

Cegelis also supports Bush's guest worker program. Does she really believe that the illegals will pack up and go home after their entrance visa expires? Someone this naive shouldn't be in congress.

It is blatantly dishonest to portray Christine Cegelis as the candidate of the grassroots and Duckworth as one supported by big money and the party machine. There are MANY of us "little people" who admire Tammy Duckworth, contributing to her campaign and ringing our share of doorbells.

Let's not forget that Duckworth has been endorsed by Wes Clark. His '04 campaign was second only to Dean's in energizing the grassroots base, and he is probably the only one of the potential '08 candidates for whom that base is alive and well. We're there for Duckworth too, as well as all of the IAVA PAC endorsed congressional candidates.

There is so much misinformation articulated in this thread. Duckworth is out of touch with the district. Indeed, she never had any real connection to it, until Rahm Emanuel rented her campaign office in Lombard. And Lindy Scott frankly lacks the organization to launch a campaign for the general election against Roskam. Cegelis, however, resides in the district, has mobilized the Democratic party in the district, and she is acutely aware of the various problems voters in the district are facing. Because I am one to measure candidates based on the facts, I now want to discuss their respective characters. Duckworth is arrogant, and she seems to think that voters are so many drones who will vote for anything that may have once worn a uniform. She articulates different positions depending on the audience, and she is more concerned with military issues than with the issues voters in District 6 are facing. Lindy Scott is much more honorable in this respect. He is genuinely committed to immigration reform, and he desires to represent the Evangelical wing of the Democratic party. Unfortunately, that group does not comprise a large number of the Democrats in District 6. Lindy is also not an effective public speaker. Cegelis, on the other hand, is an orator, and she energizes any audience with which she engages. She is also compassionate, empathetic and very pragmatic. Duckworth is an opportunist, and Scott is somewhat idealistic. Cegelis is the clear choice for this district, and I thank Lynn Sweet for shedding a bit of light onto Duckworth's campaign of smoke and mirrors. I wish Cegelis and Scott the best of luck. I hope both of them beat Duckworth in the primary. But I hope Cegelis emerges as the winner of the primary. She earned it; she deserves it; and the voters of the sixth district need it.

"It is blatantly dishonest to portray Christine Cegelis as the candidate of the grassroots and Duckworth as one supported by big money and the party machine"

This is comical. Duckworth certainly has some supporters in the district. But let's look at the facts:

97% of her itemized donations came from outside the district. 97%!

Only 3 of her petition passers were from the district. They only raised less than 300 signatures out of her nearly 4,000.

Less than $5,000 of Duckworth's $120,000 in contributions were less than $200.

I'm sure there are some "little people" supporting her in the district, but to portray Duckworth as having the support of the residents is blatently dishonest.

Dear Concerned voter:
I take issue with your claim that Cegelis inspires an audience. She comes across as whining and boring. On the other hand, Scott's idealism is backed up by his hard nose realism. He has begun a book publishing house, he has been the dean of a university, he has authored several books, he is a very inspiring speaker, and he has mobilized a huge group of volunteers. For example, this weekend 120 Latino and union worker volunteers will be combing the precincts, plus 25 St. Patrick Battalion members will be joining him in the Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Nancy Z
PS Remember on March 22 that you first heard the prediction of a Scott victory here.

"She comes across as whining and boring"

Classy, Nancy, real classy.

Are things in the Scott campaign so desperate that you must stoop to such baseless personal attacks?

So sad.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 2, 2006 7:57 AM.

Surprise stop long quietly planned: Bush touches down in Afghanistan was the previous entry in this blog.

From India, White House Plays Defense on Katrina teleconference tape is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.