Today's column, plus...
Another tax filing deadline day news hook press conference: GOP congressional nominee state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) talks tax policy on Monday.
Roskam is running against Dem candidate Tammy Duckworth whose press secretary, Billy Weinberg went after Roskam in a Friday statement (see below) for not doing more on issues.
SATURDAY BLOG UPDATE: When I wrote the column below on Friday, I overlooked the Thursday announcement from the Roskam campaign that on Monday, Roskam will hold a press conference ``outlining his vision on the issue of taxes'' in Arlington Heights.
regular blog readers can skip a few items below
Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) starts the November general election campaign with $1.6 million more than her GOP rival, David McSweeney, whose expensive primary battle left him with a low balance.
The 8th District Bean-McSweeney race is one of a handful in the nation that could determine which party controls Congress, as is the contest in the neighboring 8th District pitting Democrat Tammy Duckworth against state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).
First-quarter fund-raising reports are being filed this week with the Federal Election Commission and reflect the receipts and expenditures for primary campaigns fought by McSweeney and Duckworth.
With the help of powerful political patrons, Duckworth has raised more than $1 million since she got in the race Dec. 16. That's an impressive total, since federal money is raised in increments of $2,100 from an individual and $5,000 from political action committees.
Duckworth is also pressing Roskam -- who faced no primary opponent -- to start coming up with positions on federal issues. Roskam has a long Illinois General Assembly record but has not yet started dealing significantly with matters before Congress. His Web site's "issues" section is empty. When I talked to Roskam after the primary, he said he would put out information on his own timetable -- not Duckworth's.
When it came to pending ethics legislation before Congress, Roskam did say he would back whatever proposals House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) wanted.
Duckworth spokesman Billy Weinberg seized on that Friday, saying in a release, "In a Chicago Sun-Times column about the race, he gave his proxy on ethics reform to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
"Tammy is showing that she will compete head-to-head with Pete Roskam on generating the resources needed for this campaign -- while Roskam's position on key issues is still 'under construction.'"
As I write this, calls and e-mails to the Roskam campaign have not yet been answered.
SATURDAY BLOG UPDATE: I overlooked this announcement I got Thursday from the Roskam campaign when I wrote the column on Friday. On Monday, Roskam will hold a press conference ``outlining his vision on the issue of taxes'' in Arlington Heights.
On the money
Bean's strong money showing reflects months and months of constant fund-raising, though she was able to save her bankroll because she did not have a primary challenge. The wealthy McSweeney was able to self-finance most of his campaign, and he has not ruled out spending a lot more of his own money.
Here's the summary from first-quarter (Jan. 1-March 31) reports:
8th Congressional District
Raised this cycle to date: $2.27 million
Raised first quarter of 2006: $536,000
Cash on hand: $1.75 million
Loaned own money to campaign: $1,901,500
Raised first quarter: $619,201
Cash on hand: $146,953
6th Congressional District
Duckworth (numbers approximate)
Raised this cycle to date: $1.038 million
Raised first quarter: $917,000
Cash on hand: $331,000
Numbers not yet available.
Tax hook day
Monday's deadline for filing income tax returns or extensions is an irresistible news hook.
Duckworth pushed again this week for Congress to revise the alternative minimum tax, which was devised originally to make sure upper-income taxpayers pay their share of taxes but since has ensnared more middle-class earners.
With that tax deadline news peg in mind, Sen. Barack Obama and Bean will hold a press conference Monday morning to promote legislation they authored to curb the ability of the IRS to sell personal information gleaned from tax returns to marketers.
(For complete details of Obama's bill, introduced last month, check out my March 31 blog entry at blogs.suntimes.com/sweet)
Obama's presence means the press conference will likely get coverage -- besides, it's downtown at the Metcalfe Federal Building and more convenient than in Bean's north suburban 8th District.
Fact of life: Bean alone touting a bill filing would not attract main Chicago press. With Obama, downtown, on tax day, the coverage prospects are much better. While the joint appearance is officially "official" business, there are political implications, since the popular Obama will be able to draw free media attention to Bean.
Obama may also do another event for Bean next Friday. He was the draw at a February funder for Bean.
Obama hits the road Tuesday for Austin, Texas, for two funders to benefit his HOPEFUND political action committee.
Wednesday is a HOPEFUND funder breakfast in Houston, and then he's on to Orlando for another HOPEFUND funder.
Thursday, Obama keynotes a funder in Fort Lauderdale for the Ron Klein congressional campaign, and then he's on to Miami for an event to raise money for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for re-election in November, and the DSCC, the Dem Senate campaign operation.
Catching up: On April 8, Obama landed in Minnesota, where he fronted a rally for Senate hopeful Amy Klobuchar and then headlined the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's Hubert Humphrey Day Dinner.
Obama futures: He will be the speaker at Northwestern University's 148th commencement June 16. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.