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October 2010 Archives

Check out the e-Voter widget on my blog--right side, scroll down--to find out where you vote on Tuesday and a sample ballot customized for your home address.

President Obama and pals Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker dined at Topolobampo on Saturday night after Obama headlined a Democratic get-out-the-vote rally in Hyde Park. After the rally, Obama stopped off at White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett's folks house (her parents live down the street from the Obama Kenwood home) to wish her mom happy birthday. Then Obama and his pals head to the nouvelle cuisine Mexican restaurant founded by the tweetin' Chef Rick Bayless--who was the White House guest chef for the May State dinner honoring Mexico President Felipe Calderon.

Obamafoodorama, the website of record on food and the Obama White House takes a look at the Bayless tweets and pictures from the private dinner...and has some observations about the food and healthy safety procedures......

An excerpt from Obamafoodorama:

According to Bayless, who sent out eight Tweets last night to his 84,976 followers, including six photos about the evening's events, the President ordered Scallops/lobster with roasted tomatillo-corn sauce, and sweet corn tamales with ricotta and nettles. Bayless even paused in his cooking to take a shot of the President's plated dish...

Another excerpt:
Whitaker and Nesbitt last joined the president for dinner on his birthday this year in Chicago, when they held a small, private fête at graham elliot restaurant, with media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Chef Elliot not only didn't tweet the details of the President's birthday dinner, he's never gone on the record about what he cooked.

For more, go to Obamafoodorama

Bayless Obama Dinner Tweets:

Tweet #1: Surprise guest in Topolo tonight: President Obama! What an incredible honor tp cook for him and his team again (sic).

Tweet#2: began the photos: When the President arrived, they closed off our block on Clark Street. I counted 13 vehicles filling the 3 lanes.

Tweet #3: All of President's staff were incredibly nice, easy going, especially navy chef (in middle) who ensures quality.

Tweet #4 with the President's order: Scallops/lobster with rstd tomatillos-corn sauce, sweet corn tamales (w ricotta&nettles) for the President (the tweeted photo of the President's plated dish, above)

Tweet #5: President insisted on going into Frontera kitchen to get a pic w staff. He's in back in middle;his photog n front

Tweet #6: President stopped at practical every table on his way out of Topolo; when he got to Frontera, all were up & waiting (sic)

Tweet #7: Before he exited, he turned to the Frontera crowd & shook hands, greeted all.

Tweet #8: To all who (snidely) asked: no one was bumped from a reservation. One was made in another name; we didn't know it was for Obama. Geez people!

President Obama gave yet another plug to Democratic Senate contender Alexi Giannoulias and Gov. Quinn on Sunday, taking them to breakfast at Valois, the famous Hyde Park restaurant. Read the Sun-Times report from Abdon M. Pallasch and Dave McKinney here. This comes the day after Obama headlined a rally for Quinn and Giannoulias in Hyde Park. After breakfast, Obama flew to Cleveland for another get-out-the vote rally and jetted back to the White House to take part in Halloween festivities.

A few blocks from his Kenwood house, and down the street from the University of Chicago Law school where he taught, President Obama returned home Saturday for a nostalgic rally on the Midway Plaisance designed to push Gov. Quinn and U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias over the finish line on Tuesday.

Obama has done a series of get-out-the-vote rallies in past weeks -- Chicago was his third of the day and he hits Cleveland today for another one with Vice President Joe Biden -- but the Chicago one was special because it was home turf. If he can't convince Democrats in Illinois to turn out in big numbers, then he's got a problem -- that's what the Republicans will say, and what Democrats might be too polite to say out loud.

rally chicago1.jpegCrowd on The Midway waiting for President Obama. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

The Democratic National Committee on Saturday transfered money to a handful of state Democratic parties, with Illinois getting the largest chunk, $950,000, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. The DNC is making the transfer as President Obama headlines a big rally at the University of Chicago this evening.

The DNC is sending money to states where Democrats are scrambling to survive: $470,000 to Florida, $200,000 to New Hampshire, $50,000 to Nevada, $325,000 to Pennsylvania, $125,000 to Wisconsin, $100,000 to Colorado and Maine, $300,000 to Ohio, $50,000 to Nebraska and $5,000 to New Mexico.

Illinois Democrats are heading into the final weekend before the Tuesday election optimistic about the chances for Senate contender Alexi Giannoulias and Gov. Quinn based on an analysis of early voting turnout in Illinois by the Democratic National Committee. The early voting turnout is coming from Chicago and Cook County, according to the DNC, Democratic strongholds. With the Illinois governor and Senate contest a toss-up in most polls, turnout is the key. President Obama headlines a rally in Hyde Park on Saturday for the Democratic Illinois ticket.

Reply from a Republican Strategist to Democratic memo:

"DNC memo on Illinois early vote reads as nothing more than a CYA. The fact that they cooked up numbers on a Friday night right before POTUS arrives tells you everything you need to know. Won't be enough to explain loss of Obama's seat on Tuesday. Nice try though." END UPDATE

Below, analysis from the Democratic National Committee.....

Early voting is underway in Illinois and Democrats have a clear lead.

· So far, 298,113 Illinois voters have cast ballots including 174,739 Democrats (58.6% of those who have voted so far) and 83,166 Republicans (27.9%). (Note: Illinois does not have party registration, so Democrats are defined as those who have voted in a Democratic primary and Republicans are defined as those who have voted in a Republican primary.)

· Cook County is the most Democratic county in the state, and Cook County is voting at one of the highest rates of any county in the state. While only 38.5% of all registrants are from Cook County, 43.5% of all ballots cast so far are from Cook County.

· In fact, there are more Democratic primary voters from Cook County who have already voted than there are Republican primary voters who have already voted in the entire state of Illinois. This is despite the fact that Cook County makes up only 38.5% of registered voters and 43.5% of those who have voted so far.

· According to the latest DNC modeling analysis incorporating today's early vote returns, Giannoulias leads by more than 6 points among those who have already voted, and this lead has been growing since early voting began in Illinois two weeks ago.


chicago tonight.jpeg

"Chicago Tonight" host Joel Weisman talks about the Tuesday elections on the Friday show-7 p.m. cst on WTTW-Chicago, channel 11--with Lynn Sweet, Mary Ann Ahern, Mike Flannery and Jim Litke.

get-attachment.aspx.jpgSun-Times photo by Al Podorski

from left, First Lady Michelle Obama, Senior White White Advisor Valerie Jarrett, First Lady Chief of Staff Susan Sher, at funeral Friday for Bishop Arthur Brazier at the Apostolic Church of God

Sun-Times reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika covered the Brazier funeral where Jarrett and other spoke; her report is here.

Others speaking, besides Jarrett reports Iherjirika, "included Sen. Dick Durbin, Gov. Quinn, an emotional Mayor Daley, who was good friends with Brazier, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and Sen. Roland Burris."

On the "Ellen" show on Thursday, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, First Lady Michelle Obama tells bulled kids, "it does get better." My story is here.

With the Illinois Senate race heading into the final weekend as a toss-up--with an edge to GOP contender Rep. Mark Kirk, the Kirk campaign is highlighting claims from two Democrats--Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for saving the Illinois based Hartmarx clothing maker.

I talked to Joe Costigan, who is the treasurer of the the Chicago Midwest Region of Workers United, the union representing a lot of Hartmarx workers. Costigan was involved in all aspects of the Hartmarx rescue. "Anybody trying to suggest that Alexi was not critical in the effort to save jobs at Hartmarx is flat out wrong," Costigan said. Without Giannoulias throwing a spotlight on Hartmarx--by threatening not to do business with Wells Fargo, which wanted to liquadate Hartmarx instead of finding new buyers, "we would have been just another bankruptcy."

Schumer was also involved, in another part of the fight, Costigan said. "So both were critical players."

Check out a report on this from Maggie Haberman, Politico's New York specialist.

Alexi Giannoulias ad, featuring President Obama talking about Hartmarx.

Chuck Schumer spot, where he talks about saving Hickey Freeman; Hartmarx is the parent company of Hickey Freeman.

A Republican National Committee memo, crafted in advance of President Obama's big Chicago Democratic get-out-the-vote rally Saturday in Hyde Park argues that the visit may not be enough to carry Democrats Alexi Giannoulias and Gov. Pat Quinn over the line.

The memo compares Obama's Chicago rally on the final weekend of the 2010 mid-term campaign to his Massachusetts visit on the last weekend before election day where he stumped for Democratic nominee Martha Coakley for the seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. She was beat by Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) who hits Chicago on Sunday to stump for GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk.

Illinois Governor rivals Republican Bill Brady and Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn are sparring at a City Club of Chicago/WTTW channel 11 debate ably moderated by my Sun-Times colleague Carol Marin. Brady just gave a disingenuous explanation to Marin's question about his income tax disclosures.

Brady gave reporters three hours to dig through six years of returns--but would not let them make copies. He said that was plenty of time to digest all that information. He also defended running mate Plummer lack of disclosure, saying "it's a personal issue."

First Lady Michelle Obama and White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett will attend the funeral Friday of the legendary Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, pastor who built a 22,000-member South Side megachurch.

Bishop Brazier, 89, who had been battling prostate cancer for five years died last Friday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

President Obama and Mrs. Obama said in an Oct. 22 statement:

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, a stalwart of the city of Chicago, and one of our nation's leading moral lights, Bishop Arthur M. Brazier. Through his service as a pastor and his work on behalf of our communities, Bishop Brazier touched the lives of countless Americans.

"Bishop Brazier grew up during the Great Depression and never forgot how the sting of poverty can shape a community and a nation. A committed patriot, Bishop Brazier served as a staff sergeant in the United States Army in India and Burma at the height of World War II. He returned to Chicago where he promoted spiritual empowerment and economic development through his pastorate of Apostolic Church of God and leadership of numerous community organizations and charitable efforts.

"There is no way that we can replace the gentle heart and boundless determination that Bishop Brazier brought to some of the most pressing challenges facing Chicago and our nation. However, his spirit will live on through the parishioners, leaders and friends that he touched each day. Michelle and I join the Brazier family, the Apostolic Church of God, and all of Chicago in this moment of prayer and mourning, and in our commitment to ensure that Bishop Brazier's legacy lives on through our service to others."

Read Brazier's obit in the Chicago Sun-Times by Art Golab here.

Obama on Jon Stewart. See video here

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Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on Thursday is touting the endorsement from Planned Parenthood, the Illinois Education Association, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, NARAL, and Defenders of Wildlife--not a surprise that these groups are backing a Democrat. The point Giannoulias wants to make is that these organizations had backed Kirk--when he was running for re-election to his tenth congressional district House seat.

The groups say they don't trust Kirk anymore--he switched his vote on Cap and Trade legislation from a yes to a no. Asked about this, Kirk said the "left leaning groups" supported his opponent in his early House election, then backed him when he was established. "It is a standard thing they desert you in a tight election."

Kirk was asked about his Cap and Trade climate legislation flip flop at a town hall session on Thursday with Navistar at the Navistar World Headquarters in Warrenville, in the heavily GOP DuPage County.

"Can we count on you?" a Navistar employee--who opposed Cap and Trade--asked.

Kirk said--as he has in the past year--that he voted his district in the June, 2009 close House vote where the measure squeaked through on a 219-212 roll call.

After he started running for the Senate, and traveled around Illinois, he said he realized that he needed to "represent the entire Illinois economy" and so changed his position.

"We make a lot of errors in Congress," Kirk said. "...Not out of malice or corruption." As a senator, he said, "I would oppose" Cap and Trade.

Illinois GOP Senate hopeful Mark Kirk said Thursday morning that Democratic rival Alexi Giannoulias announcement at Wednesday's debate that he would only run positive ads in the last week of the campaign was a "cynical" ploy because the Senate Democratic campaign operation is "doing his dirty work."

"This move is very cynical," Kirk said to reporters after a town hall session with Navistar employees at the Navistar World headquarters in Warrenville, in DuPage County, a mother lode of GOP votes.

"It's just a few days to go. He is letting the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee do his dirty work. ...I think his move is very cynical knowing that Sen. (Bob) Menendez and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is doing his dirty work," Kirk said. Menendez is the New Jersey senator who is the chair of the DSCC, which is pouring millions into ads--many negative against Kirk--to bolster Giannoulias.

The Republican Senate political shop, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is not spending as much as the DSCC is in Illinois because Kirk is being helped by outside groups allied with the GOP, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and groups linked to GOP political guru Karl Rove.

"...We only have a couple days to go and to try to grandstand on this issue having waged an almost entirely negative campaign's seen as cynical knowing that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign is going to do his dirty work," Kirk said.

7:54 It's over. "That is our show," Ponce said.

7:50 Kirk calling himself a centrist...talking about debt...
Giannolias said "he shifts to the right when he runs for the Senate," citing Kirk vote against equal pay for women...the Lily Ledbetter act.

Kirk said he voted against Ledbetter because "I read the bill" because some trial lawyers may have an upper hand (Kirk has in past debates rallied against trial lawyers.)

7:47 Kirk hits Giannoulias for wanting to form progressive caucus in the Senate. And start "class warfare" Not true, never said it, said Giannoulias. Kirk tells him, let me finish. Ok, Giannoulias said. Kirk touts himself as moderate.

Not for "class warfare," said Giannoulias.

Kirk attacks on taxes....for line item veto proposal

Kirk "He is our leader for four years..have to respect the office.
Giannoulias said such talk is "disgusting" Brings up again he is going positive (in ads) for the rest of the campaign...should not be talking about why Obama is "scooping dogs poop" a reference to Obama telling a group recently he had to go home to deal with Bo, the dog.

7:42 Most proud achievements
Giannoulias: saving Hartmarx
Kirk most of all, being a thoughtful moderate. and North Chicago VA hospital, among other.

7:35 Kirk who backed Iraq war with "moral certitude" said he was lied to by CIA official--as were Democrats.
Giannoulias "this is a big problem." from someone who touts his intelligence experience and asked Congress to trust him --Kirk made that moral certitude comment from the floor of the House and the Giannoulias campaign has been highlighting this for weeks.

Giannoulias hits Kirk for not voting for the surge in Iraq.

Kirk brings up Iran...he said he does not rely on CIA for intel on Iran but the United Nations...."this may be the issue next year" the next senator will have to work on


Giannoulias...we should step back and let parties decide...(Obama called for a settlement freeze, an extension of the ten-month freeze Israeli PM Netanyahu gave Obama.

All options should be on the table, Giannoulias said.

Kirk said best option is through the "cut off of foreign gasoline supplies to Iran," something that Kirk has been working on...."Cut off Iran's gas"..empowered diplomacy...

Kirk on settlements: Obama more concerned about "zoning issues in Jerusalem" than Iran nuclear threat. How can Palestinians deliver peace.

7:31 Dont Ask Dont Tell
Kirk...better to let the Joint Chiefs of Staff decide. Kirk said he does not know anyone in the military who is gay.
Giannolias is for the repeal.

AFGHANISTAN: Difference Approaches
Giannolias...we need to draw down and downsize our troops as quickly as possible.
Kirk...i served in Afghanistan twice. "I was at West Point when he delivered that famous speech," a reference to President Obama speech announcing Afghanistan policy.
Kirk says an extension of deadline will probably be recommended and he hopes Obama does that.

7:24 KIRK holding up a paper chart on national debt...not a great visual...since the paper is shaking in his hand....back and forth on tax cuts for the wealthy..Kirk for retaining Bush era tax cuts, Giannoulias for cuts for those below $250,000.

Ponce asks, did the stimulus package avoid a Depression. Kirk said no. Stimulus success claims "overstated," Kirk said. Most people credit TARP legislation for stopping the emergency---which Kirk supported. Kirk said Giannoulias said would have voted for TARP and Giannoulias said no he did not....THEN Giannoulias said he did....

SHOWDOWN...Kirk said this shows Giannoulias is "immature" and this was a flip flop. They go back and forth and Kirk shoots to Ponce, "You want to moderate this?

7:29 Neither candidate has personal Facebook pages, we learn.

7:17 back and forth on Giannoulias running the Bright Star college plan...a major Kirk issue...Kirk at one time--before, he said, he had all the documents--that Giannoulias was not at fault--Giannoulias said did best he could

STRATEGY WATCH: GIANNOULIAS bringing up Karl Rove name at least twice--people dont like, his campaign figures, GOP political guru...ALSO..STRESSING that he has pulled down his negative ads only running positive ad and Kirk is only running negative ads. In the press filing room: for Giannolias, Pete Giangreco, for Kirk, Lance Trover.

7:13 Ponce asks why Kirk exagerrated, what with his record. So far Kirk same answer, apologized to the "people of the state of Illinois."

Ponce follows...boating accident, award, subject to ground fire.."why a pattern," he says trying again. But Kirk has been to this movie before and hits Giannoulias for "he hasn't served a day in uniform in his life....did I make mistakes and learn a painful lesson? I did" All this Kirk has said before. What is different here is that more people may be listening--this is the first live debate in prime time. Meet the Press was Sunday morning and debate two on ABC was at 10:35 p.m.

7:06 Giannoulias getting grilled on what he knew about crime figures getting loans from family owned Broadway Bank...sticking to "if we knew then what we know now" would have not done business with these people. Ponce brings up two in particular were facing prison.

Kirk brings out list he used at second debate, with crime figure names doing business with Broadwat Bankin yellow...saying almost word for word what he said

Giannoulias..."guilt by association. I've brought my own list...Stuart Levine, other GOP donors...lets elevate this campaign...

Giannoulias talks about TV ads: He's pulled all his positive ads and is only running negative.

Kirk said he refunded money from Levine and others...brings up Rezko....Giannoulias breaks in and notes that Kirk got donations from Rezko too..

So far, this third and final debate most intense yet.

"What I did not do is loan money to Tony Rezko

7:05 Outside money ....Both agree need more disclosure. Disagree how

7:00 Host Phil Ponce asks what in the negative Illinois Senate campaign they can say that is nice. Republican Mark Kirk said Democratic Alexi Giannoulias called when his father died and Giannoulias offered a compliment too

The third and final Illinois Senate debate is starting now at WTTW-channel 11 Chicago

The departure of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart from the Chicago mayoral race on Wednesday changes the dynamics of the race, said former White House chief of staff and mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel.

"The dynamics obviously when somebody with Tom Dart's quality and capacity gets out, that has an impact," Emanuel said. "I'm going to leave that interpretation to others."

Video courtesy of NBC5

The Democrats once again are promoting Libertarian Mike Labno, in an effort to drain votes from Republican Illinois Senate nominee Mark Kirk, Abdon Pallasch reports.

from the latest Rasmussen poll....

With less than a week to go before Election Day, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk and Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias remain in a close battle for Illinois' open U.S. Senate seat.
The latest statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters in Illinois shows Kirk picking up 46% of the vote, while Giannoulias draws support from 42%. Five percent (5%) like Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones, and another five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel in this pre mid-term election week was keeping a low profile. His campaign was not sending out daily schedules. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's surprise announcement on Wednesday that he was not going to get in the mayors race has prompted Emanuel's campaign to put out a schedule of where the press can catch up with him on Wednesday.

Three powerhouse GOP governors--Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Bob McDonnell of Virginia--stump for Illinois Senate Republican candidate Bill Brady in the Will County southern suburb of Homer Glen on Wednesday--in the mother lode of GOP votes.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Gery Chico shares with rival Rahm Emanuel fire-in-the-belly in their desire to replace Mayor Richard Daley. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday--was never seen as having the drive of Emanuel and Chico. With Dart out, Chico on Wednesday afternoon holds a conference call to discuss the state of the race. He will not give any ground to Emanuel--who with Dart was at the top of most polls taken for the race.

Chico said in a statement, "I decided to run for Mayor because I have the best story to tell Chicagoans about my record of improving life for children and parents in every neighborhood across this city. Regardless of who gets in or out of this race, I am running to be the next Mayor because I have the vision to move Chicago forward and the track record that proves I will deliver."

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced on Wednesday he would not run for Chicago mayor, clearing the way for former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to be the front-runner for now. Polls taken by other candidates showed Emanuel and Dart to be at the top. Dart dropping out of the race he never got in was not a surprise at this point; while Dart dithered about running, Emanuel got his organization up and running, as did Gery Chico and Carol Moseley Braun and other contenders.

Dart, at a morning press conference in Chicago said a reason he would not run was "the amount of time and energy it would take" and that time, the father of five said, "would mean i would be less of a father." Dart is up for election as sheriff on Nov. 2, facing only nominal opposition.

Sun-Times on-the-scene report from the Dart press conference is here.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Obama voted absentee today--for Democrats Alexi Giannoulias for senator and Pat Quinn for governor. Gibbs did not say what Obama did on the Cook County judicial retention ballot. First Lady Michelle Obama voted in person on Oct. 14 at a City of Chicago early voting station on the South Side.

below, exchange from the briefing.....

Q Can you tell us what the President's plans are for voting?

MR. GIBBS: He just voted absentee in the West Wing.

Q Who did he vote for?

MR. GIBBS: I did not ask. I assume that's a private decision.

Q Because we know now he's not necessarily a straight Democratic ticket guy, right? (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: I don't know whether he voted independent or not. No, I can assure you, I know who he voted for governor and Senate in Illinois -- the two Democratic candidates who I believe will win.

President Obama's Saturday rally to get-out-the Democratic vote in Illinois is on Chicago's South Side--near his home--on the Midway--near the University of Chicago. This makes strategic sense--Democrats need a big African American and youth turnout. What makes this very interesting is that this is not only the first free and public rally since Obama became president--but the neighborhood is rich in Obama history. Obama taught at the U of Chicago law school; first Lady Michelle Obama worked at the U of Chicago; the Obama girls Sasha and Malia attended the U of Chicago lab school and many of his early supporters--Valerie Jarrett, for example--also have strong ties to the U of Chicago. Before moving to Kenwood, the Obama's lived in Hyde Park.

South Sider hip hop artist Common will perform.

My column about this big rally is here.

CHICAGO--Former President Bill Clinton is headlining an Illinois Democratic get-out-the-vote rally here in the Palmer House hotel--a very important place in his family and political history. Clinton gave a shout out to his Chicago friends: Kevin O'Keefe, Valerie Alexander, J.B. Pritzker and Fred Eychaner--folks who were also backers of Hillary's presidential bid.

As Clinton related:

*his parents honeymooned at the Palmer House....Clinton's father died before he was born.
"The only picture I have of them together is at the Palmer House. ...I love this place."

*The Palmer House was the Clinton headquarter hotel in March, 1992 when Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination after winning the Illinois primary. The celebration was in the same ballroom where Clinton is now plugging the Illinois Democratic ticket.

*The Illinois Democratic establishment started moving to Clinton following an event during the primary at the Palmer House.

President Obama returns to Chicago on Saturday for a Democratic get-out-the-vote rally, his biggest event in the city since Election Night 2008 in Grant Park and his first free and public event here since moving into the White House. Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Common -- a South Side native -- will perform as Illinois Democrats search for votes in the final weekend of the campaign.

Former President Bill Clinton headlines a rally at the Palmer House this morning where people will be urged to walk over to City Hall and the County Building to cast an early vote after the rally is over.

Sen. Scott Brown--the Massachusetts Republican who won the seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy--and a hero to Republicans in Democratic blue states--headlines a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday for Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk. The event is 6 p.m. at Joe's Bar, 940 W. Weed St. in Chicago. There will be multiple GOP GOTV rallies around the state on Sunday. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is the draw at a Kirk upcoming fund-raiser.

In the Illinois Senate contest, the Chicago Tribune puts Republican Mark Kirk slightly ahead of Democrat Alexi Giannouias in a poll out on Monday. The Tribune has the number of undecided voters at under 10 percent.

But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee....which on Monday released some head to head figures from a poll...has the number of undecided voters at 19 percent, up from 16 percent in the last survey they did. I did not see the DSCC poll....just a few questions were shared.

Both polls show the race essentially deadlocked, as it has been for months. The Tribune numbers suggest the undecided and independent voters are breaking for Kirk.

from the DSCC....margin of error, 4 percent.


Anzalone Liszt Research, Inc.

October 20-24, 2010

MoE +/-4.0%

Q2 ...Tell me whether you have a very favorable opinion, a somewhat favorable opinion, a somewhat unfavorable opinion, or a very unfavorable opinion of the following...

Barack Obama: 58/39

Q3 If the election for U.S. Senate were held today, for whom would you vote -- Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat, Mark Kirk, a Republican, Michael Labno, a Libertarian, or LeAlan Jones, of the Green Party?

Oct 20-24

Total Giannoulias ............................................................... 38%

Total Kirk ............................................................................ 36%

Total Labno ......................................................................... 4%

Total Jones .......................................................................... 7%

Undecided ............................................................................ 16%

Q4 And what if the election for U.S. Senate were held today, and the candidates were Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Republican, for whom would you vote?

Oct 20-24

Total Giannoulias ............................................................... 41%

Total Kirk ............................................................................ 39%

Undecided ............................................................................ 19%

Kirk stumping in Maywood

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Illinois and Colorado have two of the closest Senate races heading into the Nov. 2 mid-term elections. The irony is Obama himself put those seats in play. Obama quitting his Illinois Senate seat was a given when he was elected president, but the Obama team had a choice when they picked then Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as his Interior Secretary--leaving Colorado Democrats a big battle to keep the seat. Obama took two other senators with him: Delaware's Sen. Joe Biden and New York's Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Democrats caught a break in New York in that the GOP never fielded a strong candidate. The Democrats got real lucky in Delaware where the strongest Republican was beat by Tea Party backed Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell. Read my column on Obama unwittingly creating big Senate contests here.

Illinois Senate candidates Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk biographies at-a-glance. Read them here.

In his overview piece on the Illinois Senate campaign, Sun-Times political writer Abdom M. Pallasch writes about how Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias are worthy competitors--more capable than the blizzard of negative ads suggests. Read his article here.

President Obama's Oct. 25 week ahead

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will stump for Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff; she lands in the city after the Nov. 2 mid-term elections. The Emanuel team hopes the Solis visit--and her close relations with unions, especially the influential SEIU---will help Emanuel shore up support in Chicago's labor community. The SEIU could be an influential player in the Chicago mayoral contest and Emanuel knows he has work to do in winning the backing of Chicago labor leaders--especially the SEIU. The Solis visit is designed to help.

Solis will be the first member of the Obama cabinet to campaign for Emanuel.

The Justice Department on Friday announced an agreement with State of Illinois election officials allowing more time for ballots from military and overseas voters to be counted in six counties where ballots were sent out late.

The agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge, comes in the wake of 35 of the 110 election jurisdictions in Illinois not meeting the Sept. 18 deadline for sending out ballots. A survey by the Illinois Board of Elections--cited by the Justice Department--found 29 jurisdictions sent out ballots between two and 12 days late; three 16 days late; two 17 days late and one was tardy by 20 days.

The agreement covers the six election jurisdictions sending out ballots more than 16 days late. While other ballots in Illinois have to be counted by Nov. 16, authorities in Boone, Jersey and St. Clair Counties have until Nov. 18 and officials in Hancock, Schuyler and Massac Counties have until Nov. 19.

Ballots from those counties get an extra day to be postmarked --from Nov. 1 to Nov. 2.

Republicans at the top of the Illinois ticket--Senate candidate Mark Kirk and governor nominee Bill Brady--seized on the issue last week, calling for an investigation into why ballots were sent out late.

The agreement to be presented to a judge calls for state officials to "take steps to investigate the cause of the late mailing of ballots and failure to transmit ballots electronically and to ensure compliance in future federal elections and provide a report to the Department of Justice on those efforts."

Kirsten Kukowski, Kirk spokesperson said in a statement, "protecting the voting rights of the men and women serving in the armed services is a nonpartisan issue. We will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that the deal reached today between the state and federal authorities affords military voters a meaningful opportunity to participate in this year's elections. The men and women protecting our freedoms deserve no less."

From Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman:

Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun has given her mayoral bid a big but potentially controversial boost -- by signing a pair of seasoned campaign architects with winning track records and close ties to Mayor Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The surprise hiring of Victor Reyes -- Daley's onetime political enforcer and Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain -- and Mike Noonan, a former Madigan political aide, could allow Braun to climb into the top tier of mayoral candidates.

Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) commissioned a poll to test his viability as a Chicago mayoral candidiate, taken before Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said last week he would not jump in the race. The Davis team shared a memo about the poll with me; I did not see the entire poll. Activists in Chicago's African American community are working through a process to find a consensus candidate. The Davis poll memo looks closely at Davis and former Sen. and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. The poll found Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart overall in the "favorability" lead followed by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, the poll memo noted, did well among African American voters.

Click below for poll memo...


White House Chief of Staff David Axelrod headlines a fund-raiser Friday for Gov. Pat Quinn and Shelia Simon, his lieutenant governor runningmate. Simon is the daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon--who recruited Axelrod from the Chicago Tribune to work in his first Senate campaign. The chair of the event is Martin Simon--Sheila's brother, a photographer. Target audience: Simon alumni. Tickets range from $4,800 to $150 for the event at O'Brien's, 1528 N. Wells.

The Democratic National Committee made it official Thursday what I reported yesterday--President Obama is returning home to Chicago on Saturday--the final weekend before the election--in a get-out-the-vote rally to help Gov. Quinn and Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

Hat tip to Nikki Finke at for this Rahm Emanuel fundraising scoop: Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel hits Hollywood for a Nov. 4 fund-raiser where hosts include his superagent brother Ari and four other longtime major Democratic donors and fund-raisers, David Geffen, Bob Iger, Peter Chernin and Haim Saban. The event will be in Saban's Beverly Hills home.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Former President George W. Bush is in Chicago on Thursday, to deliver a keynote speech to the Commercial Finance Association annual convention, meeting at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. The speech is paid; Bush is not allowing press to cover.

Watch live streaming video from chicagosuntimeslive at


Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to hit Chicago on Tuesday to rally Democrats for Gov. Pat Quinn and Senate contender Alexi Giannoulias, with big Democratic turnout from Chicago and Cook County the key in the deadlocked Illinois Senate contest against Republican Mark Kirk. It is looking very likely that President Obama returns to Chicago in the last weekend before the election, on Saturday, to turn out the Democratic vote. Chicago has always been friendly territory for Bill Clinton. With time running out, Clinton and Obama in the closing days are being dispatched to states where they can tip the outcome of a race or races. In Illinois, Giannoulias and Gov. Quinn could squeak through if the Democratic base turns out.

Hat tip to Rich Miller over at Capitol Fax Blog for his scoop about Illinois Senate GOP candidate Mark Kirk's local and national fund-raising efforts. Miller has a copy of an internal Kirk memo---detailing all of Kirk's national travels, donors and potential donors, goals and what internet play yielded the most campaign cash.

Since the start of the Senate campaign, the Kirk campaign has been reluctant to make public information about where Kirk goes to raise money--even what cities he was visiting for fund-raisers. It's not been for my lack of asking. Now and then I would get information, but not on any consistent basis. Democrat Alexi Giannoulias campaign was better in sharing information about his fund-raising travels and local events but could have been more forthcoming.

Capitol Fax: Kirk campaign held "Beijing fundraiser" day before tax loophole vote


Excerpt from: The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Kirk picking up 44% of the vote, while Giannoulias, the current state treasurer, draws 40% support. Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones earns the vote from four percent (4%) of voters, and eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate. Five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
The race is still a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings. The survey was taken the night before their second head-to-head debate.

The bottom line on the Illinois Senate Alexi Giannoulias, Mark Kirk debate: Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallasch take is here. Both contenders dodged tough questions in the ABC News/League of Women Voters of Illinois debate. Lynn Sweet's conclusion: no knockout punch, Kirk and Giannoulias made no mistakes, no obvious gamechanger.

Giannoulias mentioned Karl Rove's name at least nine times. Why?

excerpt from Sweet...

The Giannoulias campaign believes that voters, at least the Democratic-leaning persuadeables in Illinois, find Rove unpopular, and the use of his name is an effective shorthand for everything voters may not like about Washington.

excerpt from Pallasch.....

Rep. Mark Kirk would not say whether he made up his story about being shot at while serving overseas in the military. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias could not name a single government program he would cut.

sweet1.jpgMark Kirk, Alexi Giannoulias just before the second Illinois Senate debate. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

7:55 CLOSING STATEMENTS is about real people, real problems. for people who want a shot for the American dream.

Kirk...reminds folks that there are two elections for senators on Nov. 2 (one to fill unexpired term of President Obama...for a few weeks..

7:51 pm George asking about Supreme Court nominees. Ginny Thomas....wife of Clarence Thomas...called Anita Hill and said she should consider an apology...should she, Kirk and Giannioulias...Kirk said too far in the past....going forward I would hope, Kirk said, we would have conservative judges."

would you have voted for Justice Thomas, Kirk asked. "I'm looking forward," Kirk said. Obama goofed with Sotomayor, ok with Kagen.

Giannoulias asked about Anita Hill, agrees with Kirk "that's past." Cities Citizens United decision on campaign finance. Giannoulias can't think of any GOP appointed Supreme Court justice he would have backed

7:50 pm Giannoulias mentions Rove again.

7:48 pm. Asked if American Crossroads should reveal donors..Kirk said yes Giannoulias brings up Karl Rove....again...."he is bought and paid for by Wall Street firms...this is typical Washington D.C. politics."

7:46 pm Gay Marriage
Kirk: Opposes Gay marriage
Giannoulias: "for marriage equality."

7:44 pm Dont Ask Don Tell..a clear crisp difference.
Giannoulias is for the immediate repeal.
Kirk said he voted to continue the current policy.

7:41 pm BGA's Andy Shaw on cleaning up corruption
Kirk ...led fight to cancel pension for any member of Congress convicted of a felony...end the earmark system, which has become horribly corrupt...need more transparency on campaign side. disclose contributions within 24 hours on the internet...have all of the donors disclosed..." a preemptive strike on what is coming and that is ....

Giannoulias mentions Karl Rove again, a reference to American Crossroads, a Rove linked group which is running millions of dollars in ads--with donors unknown. "Kark Rove coming to town and stealing the elections."

7:40 pm Asked about budget cuts Kirk "I turned against earmarks..." need a line item veto
Giannoulias "enact 'paygo" legislation.....let tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire

7:31 pm Big back and forth over alleged voter suppression comment from Kirk. Giannoulias accused Kirk, "You are trying to suppress the African American vote.
Kirk come back: He is shocked that Giannoulias believes--Kirk said--"there is no corruption in the state of Illinois."

7:23 pm Question about Dream Act. Will Kirk answer? For weeks Kirk has dodged an answer. Giannoulias is for it. "I am the Spanish speaking candidate," Kirk says, he "very much" cares about Mexico. So is he for the immigration legislation or not....First secure the border..."then open up the space for the rest of the debate. Pressed how are you going to vote "this is not the time to do this." Kirk finally gives a position. There is a need to "establish trust" Democratic leaders are not interested, Kirk said in "border control and trust" Will he vote no? Kirk just won't say no, though that's the signal he is sending.

Giannoulias reply, "Just give" an answer, at least you 'll know where I stand. (that's the third time Giannoulias has made that argument.)

7:21 pm Kirk first mention of former Gov. Blagojevich, "convicted felon" in question about federal bailouts. Giannoulias earlier mentioned Karl Rove's name twice. Giannoulias slams Kirk for voting for Wall Street bailouts. Giannoulias said "biggest problem" with Obama Recovery Act....local governments did not have to make budget adjustments.

No direct answer from each, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, the moderator notes.

7:18 To Kirk, a reference to Palin, what did Sarah Palin and the Tea Party get wrong. So far, no direct answer...Republicans should support line item veto from the president...

7:16 pm As a friend of the president, Giannoulias is asked what mid-course corrections would you suggest...Giannoulias said 1. create a clean energy future....2. make a better business environment. "Need to grease the wheels on the private sector."

7:14 pm Talking about stimulus bill. Kirk says "tragedy" limited to shovel ready projects, not longer term projects needed in Illinois such as O'Hare expansion and improving the locks and dam system on the Mississippi River.

7:11 pm Giannoulias presses Kirk about whether he was shot at in Iraq. Kirk's strong reply.."your entire campaign" is about a military record...where he served...and Giannoulias did not....brings up Broadway Bank loans to "felons and mobsters."

CHICAGO--The second Illinois Senate debate started at 7 p.m. Chicago time with one minute opening statements from Democrat Alexi Giannolias and Republican Mark Kirk

The opening minutes have focused on the negative campaigning: still the same narrative, mob banker vs. serial embellisher.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, President Obama is stepping up a drive to turn out African-American votes in areas with big potential for Democrats--Chicago being one of them. Obama recorded a spot running in Chicago on WGCI-FM, WGRB-AM, WVAZ-FM, three stations with a big African-American audience.

Illinois Senate candidates Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk debate for the second time on Tuesday, sponsored by the League of Women Voters' and WLS-ABC Chicago 7. The moderator is ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

The debate is live at 7 p.m. Chicago time at the channel 7 State Street studio in Chicago. The debate can be seen live on ABC 7's 7.2 Channel, or on Comcast channel 217 or at 10:35 pm on WLS-ABC Chicago 7.


Sen. John Kerry is in Chicago on Tuesday to stump and fund-raise for Democratic Illinois Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias. Expect Kerry at a morning press conference to discuss clean energy proposals from Giannoulias--but the political punch will probably be Kerry going after a now controversial GOP allied, Karl Rove linked group called American Crossroads--dumping millions of dollars into Illinois ads excoriating Giannoulias. He will note, I am told, that some American Crossroads backers are the same people who bankrolled the "Swiftboat" attacks against him when he was running for president in 2004.

From the Giannoulias release to be distributed at the press conference later....

Rove's group is funded by many of the same fat-cat donors who financed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and its dishonest smear attacks against Kerry's record during his presidential bid in 2004.

"Once again, Karl Rove and his wealthy corporate thugs are funneling millions of dollars, using dirty tricks and telling lies to sway an election," Giannoulias said. "Illinois voters cannot let the outcome of this race be determined by fat-cat billionaires and outside corporate interests."

Texas billionaire and Rove pal Harold Simmons, a major Swift Boat funder in 2004, gave $2 million to American Crossroads. [Politico, 9/24/10; LA Times, 8/23/08]. Paul Singer, one of Kirk's biggest donors and a Swift Boat funder, has reportedly written a "seven-figure check" to American Crossroads. [Center for Responsive Politics; New York Times, 8/27/10; Center for Public Integrity, 10/04/10]

Kerry will headline the Giannoulias fund-raiser over at the Baker and McKenzie offices after the press conference. Hosts are from the environmental community: Jack Darin, Howard Learner, Sheila and Bob Berner, Nancy J. Rich and Rick Saines.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been leading Democratic mid-term election efforts in Illinois--and stumping coast to coast for Democrats.

Durbin has been designated a prime spokesman for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Durbin has been doing extensive fund-raising for Illinois candidates and Democrats in other states. Between now and election day, Durbin will host or headline events in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Nevada, California, Washington and Missouri--plus some others. Many of his fund-raising visits to other cities also include other election speaking events.

In Chicago this year, Durbin has hosted about a dozen events for the DSCC and candidate this year--and two Chicago fund-raisers for Senate Leader Harry Reid's campaign.

Durbin has also transfered money from his political warchests to party committees to help elect Democrats: the DSCC received $430,000 from Friends of Dick Durbin; $30,000 (which is the max) from Durbin's Leadership PAC (Prairie PAC), to total $460,000. Prairie PAC also sent $15,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Illinois Senate candidates Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk debate for the second time on Tuesday. The two meet at 7 p.m. Chicago, at ABC's WLS channel studios; the debate will be televised at 10:35 p.m.

Obama Oct. 18 week ahead

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Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel discusses Blagojevich, whether he thwarted immigration reform and declines to give his views on whether Midway Airport should be sold to private investors--all in a Chicago Sun-Times Fran Spielman exclusive interview. Emanuel's weakest answer is on what he knew about Mayor Daley's patronage army helping him in his first election for the House.

WASHINGTON--Contrary to assertions by Illinois Republicans, there is no major problem in shipping out ballots to military personnel serving overseas, according to an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch.

Lynn Sweet and Pallasch story about how the Illinois State Board of Elections is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department to make sure all overseas ballots sent out late by local election jurisdictions area counted is here.

Pallasch's key findings:

*Figures Illinois election officials sent to the Justice Department on Friday show no evidence of an effort by Democratic local election officials to hold back ballots from Republican-leaning soldiers serving overseas:

• Of the 16,575 absentee ballots requested in Illinois, only 1,832 -- 11 percent -- have been requested by servicemen and women serving overseas.

• The vast majority of absentee ballots are going to non-military citizens living overseas or who will be out-of-town on Election Day, college students studying abroad, etc. -- voters who have no automatic tendency toward either party. And, actually, under the new no-excuse-necessary absentee voting laws, voters need not even be out of town to vote absentee.

WASHINGTON--Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, is kicking off his petition drive on Saturday. An e-mail appeal he sent out to volunteers on Friday asks folks to start passing is petitions this weekend. Candidates for Chicago's Feb. 5, 2011 non-partisan primary need to file at least 12,500 signatures of registered voters by Nov. 22. Petitions can be filed as early as Nov. 15.

Here is the main link to the Chicago Sun-Times 2010 editorial board candidate questionnaires, a treasure of information about the contenders in federal, state, county and local races.

That main link will take you to questionnaires from:

U.S. Senate

Dr. Will Boyd
Alexi Giannoulias
LeAlan Jones
Mark Steven Kirk
Mike Labno

U.S. House

Dist. 1
Bobby L. Rush
Dist. 2
Isaac Hayes
Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr.
Dist. 3
Michael Bendas
Daniel W. Lipinski
Dist. 4
Robert Burns
Dist. 5
Mike Quigley
David Ratowitz
Dist. 6
Benjamin Lowe
Peter J. Roskam
Dist. 7
Danny K. Davis
Dist. 8
Melissa L. Bean
Bill Scheurer
Joe Walsh
Dist. 9
Simon Riberio
Joel B. Pollak
Jan Schakowsky
Dist. 10
Robert Dold
Dan Seals
Dist. 11
Debbie Halvorson
Adam Kinzinger
Dist. 13
Judy Biggert
Scott Harper
Dist. 14
Bill Foster
Randy Hultgren
Dan Kairis
Doug Marks


Bill Brady
Lex Green
Pat Quinn
Michael White
Rich Whitney

Attorney General

David F. Black
Steve Kim
Lisa Madigan
Bill Malan


Judy Baar Topinka
Timothy Becker
Julie Fox
David E. Miller

Secretary of State

Robert Enriquez
Josh Hanson
Jesse White


Robin Kelly
James Pauly
Dan Rutherford
Scott K. Summers

Illinois House
Dist. 7
Princess Cynthia Dempsey
Dist. 11
Scott Tucker
Ann M. Williams
Dist. 12
Sara Feigenholtz
David Lenkowski
Dist. 17
Daniel Biss
Hamilton Chang
Dist. 18
Steve Funk
Dist. 19
David Anderson
Joseph M Lyons
Dist. 26
William D. "Will" Burns
Dist. 29
Kenneth Williams
Dist. 35
Bill Cunningham
Dist. 36
Kelly Burke
Richard L. Grabowski
Dist. 37
Jeffrey L. Junkas
Kevin A. McCarthy
Dist. 39
Maria A. Berrios
Jeremy Karpen
Dist. 43
Keith Farnham
Ruth Munson
Dist. 44
Fred Crespo
Billie D. Roth
Dist. 56
Ryan Higgins
Michelle Mussman
Dist. 57
Richard G Hamen
Elaine Nekritz
Dist. 58
Karen May
Lauren G. Turelli
Dist. 59
Carol Sente
Dan Sugrue
Dist. 66
David Harris
Mark Walker
Dist. 85
Emily McAsey
Maripat Oliver
Illinois Senate
Dist. 7
Adam Robinson
Heather A. Steans
Dist. 10
Brian G. Doherty
John G. Mulroe
Dist. 19
M. Maggie Crotty
Adam Wojcik
Dist. 22
Michael Noland
Steve Rauschenberger
Dist. 31
Michael Bond
Suzi Schmidt
Dist. 40
Adam Baumgartner
Toi Hutchinson
Dist. 43
Cedra Crenshaw
AJ Wilhelmi
Cook County Board
Roger A. Keats
Toni Preckwinkle
Tom Tresser
Dist. 1
Ronald Lawless
Dist. 2
Michael Smith
Robert Steele
Dist. 3
Jenny Wohadlo
Dist. 5
Miriam Shabo
Dist. 6
Sandra K Czyznikiewicz
Joan Patricia Murphy
Dist. 7
Jesus Garcia
Dist. 9
Cary Capparelli
Simon Ribeiro
Peter N. Silvestri
Dist. 10
Wes Fowler
Bridget Gainer
Dist. 11
John P. Daley
Dist. 13
George E. Milkowski
Linda Thompson LaFianza
Larry Suffredin
Dist. 14
Jennifer Bishop Jenkins
Gregg Goslin
Dist. 15
Laura Ehorn
Timothy O. Schneider
Dist. 16
Tony Peraica
Jeff Tobolski
Dist. 17
Elizabeth 'Liz' Doody Gorman
Patrick Maher
Cook County Assessor
Joseph Berrios
Forrest Claypool
Robert C. Grota
Sharon Strobeck-Eckersall
Cook County Board of Review
Dist. 1
Brendan Houlihan
Dan Patlak
Cook County Clerk
David Orr
Cook County Sheriff
Frederick Collins
Thomas J. Dart
Cook County Treasurer
Carol Morse
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
John 'Jack' Ailey
Michael A. Alvarez
Nadine Anne Bopp
Paul Chialdikas
Barbara J. McGowan
Mariyana Spyropoulos
Jimmy Lee Tillman, II

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama--whose major goal is to avoid controversy--found her way into a very, very minor kerfluffle after voting early in Chicago on Thursday--comments she made at the polling place--reported in the pool report--let some critics suggest that she was electioneering. in Chicago, electioneering is not supposed to happen in or very near a polling place. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about this at the Thursday briefing and he brushed it aside.

What triggered this? Some small talk from Mrs. Obama at the polling place on Chicago's South Side. Read the pool report for yourself here and you may conclude that her vague comments do not constitute electioneering.

Question from a reporter at the Thursday White House briefing: On one other issue, Michelle Obama early voted in Chicago today, as you know. And in the print pool report, one of the people, Dennis Campbell, who she met said -- this is quote from the pool report -- "She was telling me how important it was to vote to keep her husband's agenda going." Some people have raised the possibility of this being against the law, as far as election hearing rules, not campaigning within 100 feet of the polling. Can you respond?

Gibbs: Obviously, I wasn't in Chicago today. I'd point you to the First Lady's staff. I don't think it would be much to imagine that the First Lady might support her husband's agenda. But that's just me going way out on a limb.

Q: Speaking of which, has the President watched her events out there? And have you heard him say anything about it?

Gibbs: No, I have not heard him say anything today. Obviously, look, she is a -- she's a remarkable campaigner. She spent -- in 2007, she went into a lot of the early states, did a lot of campaign events and was enormously valuable throughout the general election. It's not surprising to us that she got the type of rave reviews that she got yesterday.

Illinois governor rivals Democrat Pat Quinn and Republican Bill Brady--Irish Americans both--are profiled by the Chicago Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallasch.

Quinn profile is here.

Brady profile is here.

The major candidates for Illinois governor debated on Thursday night--Democrat Gov. Quinn, Republican Bill Brady and Green Party Rich Whitney--and the Chicago Sun-Times Dave McKinney has the story.

WASHINGTON--The National Republican Senatorial Committee--the Senate GOP political operation--is going to send another $2 million to Illinois to bolster the candidacy of Rep. Mark Kirk, a source there said. Kirk is in a deadlocked race against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

GOP spending for Kirk in October so far--counting allied groups and the NRSC-- has run at least $1 million more than Giannoulias and his allies have spent.

By Lynn Sweet and Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON--Dan White, the executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, told the Chicago Sun-Times the agency is in ongoing discussions with the Department of Justice--the latest was a conference call on Thursday--to make sure all military and overseas ballots are counted by the Nov. 16 deadline.

An overseas or military ballot must be postmarked by midnight Nov. 1--but then has until Nov. 16 to be counted by a local election authority.

Most of the 110 election authorities in Illinois have complied with a federal deadline to ship out ballots to military and oversea voters by Sept. 18; 34 Illinois jurisdictions sent out ballots late, with the latest on Oct. 8, White said.

"There is still time," said White, for overseas and military ballots "to make it back to local election authorities and have that ballot counted."

Updates marked....
UPDATE3 Abdon M. Pallasch report on Gutierrez not running for mayor is here. My post below. END UPDATE3

WASHINGTON--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) decided Thursday not to run for Chicago mayor--instead staying in Congress to lead the fight for immigration reform--but will be very involved in the expected election brawl to replace Mayor Richard Daley.

Gutierrez had been organizing a mayoral campaign and commissioned a poll that showed he would be a viable candidate in a crowded field.

But Gutierrez noted his national role in immigration in an afternoon speech at the University of Illinois at Chicago, "I have an obligation not to give up on the fight I've already begun. I have unfinished business to complete. So I will not be a candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago," he said in his prepared text. (click below for entire text)

Gutierrez phoned the major mayoral candidates before his announcement--Tom Dart, Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, James Meeks, Rahm Emanuel and Miguel del Valle.

UPDATE1 My colleague, Abdon M. Pallasch, who is at the UIC, said Gutierrez was greeted with shouts of "Si se puede"--yes we can. END UPDATE1

UPDATE2 Gutierrez and Emanuel have often been at each others throat--especially over immigration. Emanuel said in a statement, "Luis and I are friends who worked together on important issues for Chicago as colleagues in Congress. He has always brought passion and ideas to the conversation about the city's future, and while he has announced that he is not running for Mayor, he will continue to be a respected leader with a powerful voice in our community. As we discussed today on the phone, we look forward to continuing to work together as we strive for the best way to address our city's challenges." END UPDATE2

"This is an extremely difficult decision, and I thank with all my heart the people who have been working so hard and supporting my candidacy.

"But it is a decision I make knowing it is the right thing to do. There is one and only one reason I am not running -- I'm already engaged in the most important battle I can commit my energy and time and devotion to winning. I am one-hundred percent committed to fighting for fairness and justice for immigrants, and to continue the battle for comprehensive immigration reform.

"Standing up for immigrants, and finishing this battle, and winning this fight is far more important than whatever personal disappointment I might feel in not making the race for Mayor of the city of Chicago.

I love Chicago. I've reached out to other candidates today to tell them I'm not running and to wish them well. I will be engaged in this race and will still be a voice for fairness for all of the people of Chicago. For jobs. For better schools. For safe streets.

But I will be that voice while I continue my obligations as Congressman and my crusade for comprehensive immigration reform.

"I know today - that even though I believe we would have mounted a great campaign, an important campaign, a winning campaign - this is the right decision for the people I represent and for people who count on me," he said.

My column on how Gutierrez was torn over running for mayor or staying in Congress is here.

WASHINGTON--Democrat Alexi Giannoulias latest poll, taken after Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate with Republican Mark Kirk has Giannoulias at 44 and Kirk at 41.

The poll was taken Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research of 600 likely general election voters, with a four percent margin of error, which means the election battle is a deadlock.

I did not see a copy of the poll.

The Giannoulias campaign passed on the results of one question, about who a respondent would vote for if the general election were held today.

Giannoulias 44
Kirk 41
Green Parly LeAlan Jones 4
Libertarian Mike Labno 3
Undecided 8

Giannoulias is holding his own despite being massively overspent in television ads during the past two weeks. According to the Giannoulias campaign, Illinois media spending for Giannoulias totaled $9.698 million since August compared to $12.656 million spent on behalf of Kirk.The Gianoullias camp was outspent $1 million by the Kirk forces between Oct. 4-17.

Spending for Giannoulias totals includes ads paid for by his campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The tally for Kirk includes ads benefiting him paid for by the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, the group linked to GOP strategist Karl Rove and his own campaign.

Pool report by Abdon M. Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times:

First Lady Michelle Obama early-voted in Chicago Thursday morning.

Just after 9 a.m. she entered the Martin Luther King Center on the South Side and was the first early voter of the day.

"I think that's you," Election Judge Dorothy Yarbrough, a retired CTA bus driver told the first lady after looking up Mrs. Obama's voting record.

"You think?" the first lady replied with a smile.

Chicago Board of Elections employee Charles Holiday gave the first lady a quick lesson on how to work the electronic voting machine.

At 5'-11", Mrs. Obama had to hunch over a bit to use the machine. It took her six minutes to get through the ballot, which, in addition to governor, senator, and the big offices, also includes 78 judges running to be elected or retained on the bench.

Social Worker Amanda Deisch was the second voter to show up Thursday morning. She snapped a cell-phone photo of the first lady as she took the voting machine next to her and began voting.

Voter Anna Roberts took the next machine and as Mrs. Obama was finishing up voting, she allowed Deisch to take another cell phone photo and she shook hands with both women.

Obama went back to the desk and handed in her voting machine key, saying "Make sure everybody's voting early."

She let more voters including electrician Dennis Campbell, 56, take some photos with her.

"She was telling me how important it was to vote to keep her husband's agenda going," Campbell said.

"I told her we supported her and her husband and we were praying for them," Deisch said. "I told her we're trying to get the kids moving - her childhood obesity effort."

Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times

michelle alexi.jpeg (Sun-Times photo)

WASHINGTON-- First Lady Michelle Obama on the political road is asking folks to vote early--and on Thursday will vote early in Chicago, at a location not far from her South Side home, where she spent Wednesday night.

Mrs. Obama--whose father was a Chicago precinct captain-- was in Chicago for fund-raisers for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Rep. Bill Foster and Dan Seals.

The Sun-Times photo gallery on Mrs. Obama in Chicago is here.

Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch report on Mrs. Obama in Chicago is here.

My report on Mrs. Obama's kick off day on the campaign trail is here.

Last week I wrote about how Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) mulling a Chicago mayoral run, is torn about what to do. His decision comes today in a speech at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallasch is the pool reporter covering First Lady Michelle Obama at the Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias fund-raiser in Chicago on Wednesday night. Here is his report:

Pallasch pool report:

First lady Michelle Obama was introduced in the University Club's Cathedral Room to a standing ovation from the approximately 200 donors in attendance.

She hugged Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who stood behind her left shoulder as she delivered her speech.

"I am thrilled to be back home in my home town, Chicago," Obama said. "I get to sleep in my own bed tonight."

She repeated many of the same tributes her husband gave to Giannoulias when he was her last week, noting that he is funding his campaign without taking money from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists.

"The way he's running this campaign, a campaign supported by the folks who are actually going to be the people he serves ... I know he will be a phenomenal senator."

Noting how long she and her husband have known Giannoulias, a frequent hoops buddy of the president, she said, "We have seen him grow."

The first lady made a push for early voting and said she would be early-voting herself Thursday morning.

"This is my first day out on the campaign trail," she said. "This is not something I do very often..."

"My husband can't do this alone," she said. "He needs leaders like Alexi right by his side. And we need folks like all of you to make that happen. We need you to make those phone calls for Alexi. We need you to knock on those doors for this handsome young man... people will vote for him."

Among the guests were: Sens. Dick Durbin and Roland Burris, Gov. Pat Quinn, Lt. Gov. candidate Sheila Simon, U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Bobby Rush, former state Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch; former State Senate President and Barack Obama's mentor Emil Jones; Giannoulias' chief of staff and candidate to replace him Robin Kelly; state comptroller candidate David Miller.

Tickets ranged from $500 to $10,000 per couple at the first event, with proceeds going to Giannoulias' campaign and other Democratic campaigns in Illinois. She is headed toward a second event for congressional candidates.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama, in an interview on the Tom Joyner show on Wednesday booked to spur African American early voting, made a rare mention that her father, Fraser Robinson, was a Chicago ward precinct captain. Mr. Robinson had a job with the City of Chicago back in the days when patronage was rampant in Chicago's City Hall and having the backing of a ward organization was very helpful.

Mrs. Obama also said in colorful language she was pleased that people were praying for her and President Obama: "And let me just tell your listeners that it means all the world to us to know that there are prayer circles out there and people who are keeping the spirits clean around us."

Mrs. Obama: "Well, you know, my parents were always conscientious folks. I mean, my father was a precinct captain for a while, and that was just something we always knew you had to do. It was never a question. And we have to be at that place again.

"It is not just about voting once and then waiting for the change to happen. We have to vote every time. As you know, we've got a mayoral race coming up. We've got city council members coming up. We've got a governors race. All of that makes a difference in the direction this country will take and the voices who will lead that change.

So, once again, we have the power. We've got this man in office. I think we're all proud of Barack and his accomplishments. Everybody I know in our communities are praying for us. Every day we feel that. And let me just tell your listeners that it means all the world to us to know that there are prayer circles out there and people who are keeping the spirits clean around us."

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama--who was touting early voting while on the stump in Milwaukee and Chicago on Wednesday will cast her mid-term ballot in Chicago, at one of city's satellite voting locations, I've learned. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told me on Tuesday that President Obama is going to vote via an absentee ballot he requested from the Chicago Board of Elections.

WASHINGTON--Before hitting Milwaukee to kick off her political tour on Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama did two radio shows with big African American audiences--hosted by Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden--to encourage folks to use early voting programs available in many places in the U.S.

Click here for my post with links to early voting information in Illinois and links to the Cook County Clerk and Chicago Board of Elections.

WASHINGTON---First Lady Michelle Obama discussed the arts in an interview with Harper's Bazaar--in a culture and fashion magazine package featuring her arts programs at the White House.

What I learned:

*Mrs. Obama wore a tutu in a school play, Hansel and Gretel.
*Her father, Fraser Robinson, a city worker, was a painter and sculptor.
*After Paul McCartney sang "Michelle" to her in the White House, "I was like, I'm done; I can go home now."

From Harper's:

"It was the arts that popped for the young Michelle Robinson when she was growing up in Chicago. "I was fortunate to grow up in a family that appreciates music," she observes. "My maternal grandfather, we called him South Side, was a big jazz-music collector. He would play jazz 24 hours a day. As my mother said, when she was growing up, 'You learn to sleep through jazz.' He had speakers in every room in his house--including the bathroom." It was South Side who gave Michelle her first album, Stevie Wonder's Talking Book.

"At school, she performed herself once. "I remember very early on being the good fairy in Hansel and Gretel and having to sing a solo, which was humiliating." In a fairy outfit? "Yes, it was a little tutu fairy costume, and I liked it because of the costume." (Now, at least, Mrs. Obama's best-dressed status has a basis in history.) "Oh, and my brother," she says, laughing, "was Hansel."

"But Mrs. Obama still found her voice. "We accessed culture in Chicago, which is one of the premier cities in the country for the arts." Visual art is also in her blood. "My father was an artist. He sculpted and painted and spent time at the Art Institute of Chicago," she remembers. (Fraser Robinson III died of complications from multiple sclerosis in 1991.) "Before he got really sick and had to work and raise us, he probably, if he had his choice, would have been an artist."

".....One of the privileges of being a presidential spouse is "almost everything is accessible. That's the beauty of this position," Mrs. Obama says. Next up, Motown, opera, classical music, "because I also think about this in terms of my children. I don't want them to develop just one taste. I want them to feel the power in country as much as they feel it in Justin Bieber." But there is power in the Bieber. "There is some power in the Bieber! But we don't have Fever," she chuckles. "But when Paul McCartney was here singing 'Michelle,' I was like, I'm done; I can go home now."

Vice President Biden rallied Democrats in Chicago on Tuesday night, touting Gov. Quinn at a rally at Plumbers Hall and slamming GOP governor nominee Bill Brady as no friend of the working person. Read the on-the-scene report from the Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch here.

WASHINGTON---President Obama tapped Chicagoan John W. Rogers Jr. to chair the new President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability--an outstanding choice given the years Rogers has worked in finance--and most important in these times, financial literacy, a special interest of Rogers.

HOW ROGERS FITS IN THE OBAMA WORLD: Rogers is a key figure in the Obama saga. When the basketball playing Chicago native was at Princeton, he helped recruit Craig Robinson--Michelle Obama's brother--to the school. Robinson wrote in his memoir, "A Game of Character," that Rogers, as captain of Princeton's basketball team has "irrepressible energy level and enthusiasm."

Mrs. Obama followed her brother to Princeton. Rogers is also a long-time friend of Valerie Jarrett, the senior White House advisor--they grew up down the street from each other in Chicago. Rogers married and divorced Desiree Rogers, the former White House Social Secretary.

Rogers bio, from the White House:

John W. Rogers, Jr., Appointee for Chair, President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability

John W. Rogers, Jr. is the Chairman, CEO, and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments, a firm he founded in 1983 to focus on undervalued small and medium-sized companies. Mr. Rogers currently serves as a board member of Aon Corporation, Exelon Corporation and McDonald's Corporation.

Additionally, he is chairman of the Economic Club of Chicago, a director of the Chicago Urban League, a trustee of the University of Chicago, chairman of the board of trustees for the University of Chicago Laboratory School, and a member of the board of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he chairs the investment committee. Mr. Rogers served as a co-chair for the Obama-Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee. In 2008, Mr. Rogers was awarded Princeton University's highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented each year to the alumni whose career embodies a commitment to national service. In 2010, he was named an Outstanding Director by the Outstanding Directors Exchange for his leadership on governance, management and diversity in the boardroom.

WASHINGTON---First Lady Michelle Obama returns home to Chicago on Wednesday for only the third time since moving to the White House. After hosting two fund-raisers--where the sliding price tags run from $250 to $30,400-per-person--she overnights at the family home in Kenwood, I've learned, before heading to Denver on Thursday.

Mrs. Obama visits Chicago to host fund-raisers for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Illinois House contenders Sen. Debbie Halvorson, Sen. Bill Foster and Dan Seals. For my overview on Mrs. Obama's 2010 political tour--kicking off today in Milwaukee and Chicago--click here.

For my post on Mrs. Obama's price list for the Chicago fund-raisers, click here.

I'm told Mrs. Obama is not going to attack Republicans while on the road; that will be left to President Obama, Vice President Biden--who delivered strong remarks Tuesday night in Chicago at a get-out-the vote rally for Gov. Quinn and others.

Excerpts of Mrs. Obama's stump speech, provided to the Chicago Sun-Times, show she is staying in super-safe territory.

As Prepared for Delivery on Wednesday, October 13th

"....[T]his isn't something I do very often. In fact, I haven't really done it since a little campaign you might remember a couple of years ago. As a self-described Mom-in-Chief, my first priority in the White House has been making sure that my girls are happy and healthy and adjusting to this new life. Like every parent I know, my children are the center of my world. My hopes for their future are at the heart of every single thing I do. And that's really why I'm here today.

"You see, more than anything else, I come at this as a mom. When I think about the issues facing our nation, I think about what it means for my girls...and I think about what it means for the world we're leaving for them and for all our children. As I travel around this country, and look into the eyes of every single child I meet, I see what's at stake.

"I see it in the child whose mom has just lost her job and worries about how her family will pay the bills. I see it in the child whose dad has just been deployed and tries so hard to be brave for his younger siblings. I see it in the child stuck in a crumbling school, who looks around and wonders, "What does this mean for my future?"

"That's how I see the world. And I think that's how most folks see the world.

"That's something that we all share...that regardless of where we're from...or what we look like...or how much money we have...we all want to leave something better for our kids."

WASHINGTON--A woman from Chicago's South Loop--Paula Cannon--asked President Obama a question on Skype at a town hall in Washington on Tuesday aimed at jazzing up grass roots voters.

From the DNC, Cannon, "a volunteer with Organizing for America (OFA) who asked President Obama a question via Skype at tonight's webcast town hall -- marking the first time in history a President has ever taken a question through the web-based service/"


MR. BIRD: We're going to actually have someone calling in from their computer here. And we actually have Paula calling in from the great city and your hometown, Chicago, Illinois.


Q Good evening, Mr. President. In this last push to get out the vote, is there an overarching message or approach that you think volunteers could best take to persuade voters to get back to the polls on November 2nd?

THE PRESIDENT: Great question, although I don't think she can hear me, right? This is not a two-way Skype?

MR. BIRD: I don't think it's -- I don't think it's two-way here.


MR. BIRD: She's watching you online right now.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, everybody. (Laughter.) I think the most important message to deliver in this election is that it is a choice, because what the other side is counting on is -- understanding the economy is still weak, even though it's growing; a lot of people are still unemployed, even though we've seen private sector job growth -- in that kind of environment, the easiest thing to do is to say things aren't good enough now; throw the bums out. That's going to be their message, particularly since we have control of the House and the Senate, as well as the White House.

We have to make sure that we are delivering a choice to people. And so the most effective message is to say that this is what Democrats stand for. We stand for tax cuts for middle-class families who have seen their incomes declining over the last several years. (Applause.) We stand for giving tax breaks to companies that are investing in research and development here in the United States, not those who are investing in research and development overseas and jobs overseas. (Applause.) We stand for making sure that every young person in this country is getting a good, quality education K-12 and that they can afford to go to college without taking on so much debt that they could never hope to pay it back. (Applause.)

This is what we stand for: innovation, research and development, skilled workers, lifelong learning -- all the things that are required to make sure that this a competitive 21st century America that is playing for number one on the global stage.

And what the other side stands for are the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place. It's not as if we didn't try the other side's theories. We tried them for eight years. We had massive tax cuts, much of those tax cuts going to millionaires and billionaires. We deregulated across the board in every field imaginable, from the financial sector to oil and gas companies to you name it. We didn't take the challenges that middle-class families were going through seriously. We said, you know what, fend for yourselves, you don't need help from the government; the market will solve all problems.

We tried that. And it didn't work. And so when this election is posed as a choice, then I think people -- sort of the light bulb goes on, "oh, yeah, now I remember -- that didn't work." And that then gives us an opportunity to say what we've been doing isn't enough, we're only halfway there, but what we're doing is starting to work and we've got to stay on that path.

And for a lot of people here, depending on who you're talking to, you should tailor a message to speak to those persons' concerns. If the young people who are here, if you're talking to a classmate, it's not that hard to say, what's your student loan debt going to be when you graduate? And they've probably calculated, boy, I'm going to owe $50,000, $60,000, $70,000, $100,000. And you say to them, you know what, the President passed a tax credit for young people that will be worth $10,000 for anybody going to four years of college, and that could be repealed if Republicans take over. They've already proposed to cut education spending by 20 percent. Well, that will get people's attention because that's a pocketbook issue, that's a bread-and-butter issue.

If you're talking to a senior, and you say, I know you've heard a lot of nonsense about the health reform bill, but do you know that the trustees of Medicare said that as a consequence of our reforms we extended the life of Medicare, and by the way, if you're in that zone called the doughnut hole where you're having trouble paying for your prescription drugs, you're going to be receiving a $250 check to help pay for those prescription drugs. And over time, by next year, we're going to cut your costs for prescription drugs in half -- according to the reform law.

So you want to speak to people in terms of what it is that they're going through right now in their lives. And I think that across the board, if they see what the choice is, then I think that we'll do very well. (Applause.)


"The two videos regarding Illinois' U.S. Senate race that were posted on the New Prosperity Foundation website earlier today were done so inadvertently due to an internal miscommunication. They were produced in April 2010 as video story boards, they have never been aired as television ads nor were they intended to be posted on the website. We regret the error. The videos have been removed from our website."


WASHINGTON--A Chicago based group--the New Prosperity Foundation, backing Illinois GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk--bankrolledproduced a negative spot against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias--released Tuesday, claiming Kirk served as a Naval Reserve officer in Iraq.

"When Mark Kirk was serving his country in Iraq," the spot says in the opening line, "Giannoulias was playing basketball in Greece."

The co-chairmen of New Prosperity are Illinois GOP establishment figures Ronald J. Gidwitz and Gregory W. Baise.

Kirk has been to Iraq--as a House member; he did not serve there in his military role. The Giannoulias campaign--and the Democratic Senate political shop--has been hitting Kirk over embellishments of his military record.

From the Giannoulias campaign: "Another ad, another lie about Congressman Kirk's military record and another day that he refuses to come clean and answer yes or no on whether he was shot at while flying over Iraq. That fact is he won't answer the question because he doesn't want to admit to another lie about his service," said Alexi for Illinois campaign spokesman Scott Burnham." Let's be clear you don't forget getting fired upon. If Congressman Kirk can't be honest about his service, then how can he be trusted to serve the people of Illinois in the United States Senate?"

WASHINGTON -- A poll Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) commissioned to test the waters for a Chicago mayoral run shows he is very viable -- and the favorite of Hispanic voters -- but as of Monday night Gutierrez was torn over running or staying in Congress and leading the fight for immigration reform.

I am told that Gutierrez will announce his decision Thursday when he makes a speech at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The poll of 703 likely city voters was taken between Oct. 5-7 by the Washington, D.C., firm, Lincoln Park Strategies, including interviews with 200 likely Hispanic voters done in English and Spanish. I was given the entire survey to review.

In a horse-race matchup, the front-runner in the Gutierrez poll is former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel at 27 percent to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, 19 percent; former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), 9 percent; Gutierrez, 8 percent; Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), 6 percent, state Sen. James Meeks, 5 percent; City Clerk Miguel del Valle, 3 percent; Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2 percent and Chicago City Colleges Board chief Gery Chico, 2 percent.


WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off her political travel for Democrats on Wednesday with stops in Chicago and Milwaukee.

In Chicago, Mrs. Obama headlines two receptions for Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias--officially the Illinois Victory Fund 2010, (a combo of the Giannoulias campaign and the Democratic Party of Illinois) both at the University Club of Chicago, 76 E. Monroe. The host reception is 3:30 p.m. The general reception is at 3:45 p.m.

*For $10,000 raised or donated a person gets two tickets and a photo. There is a warning note on the invite that is a bit unusual, but necessary to make sure Mrs. Obama does not get into a photo she will later regret. The warning: "Guest list is subject to review and admittance is not guaranteed."

*For $2,400 per person, preferred seating.

*For $1,000, general admission.

*"Limited tickets: available for $750.

UPDATE: Another e-mail went out Monday with another price level-- a limited number of $500 per-person tickets.

After the Giannoulias events, Mrs. Obama is hitting the Standard Club for an evening reception to benefit "Blue Illinois 2010," a joint fund-raising warchest of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and three Illinois Democrats in the biggest House races in the state: Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Rep Bill Foster and Dan Seals. The cheapest ticket is $250--the top price is $30,400.

Attendee, Limited Quantity (General Reception)
($250.00 each)

Guest (General Reception)
($500.00 each)

Friend (Preferred Seating in the General Reception)
($1,000.00 each)

Co-Host (Photoline, Preferred Seating in Reception)
($10,000.00 each)

Host (VIP Reception, Photo, Preferred Seating in Reception)
($30,400.00 each)

ON WISCONSIN: Mrs. Obama is the draw for a Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) fundraiser Wednesday at the US Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets are $250 to $500 per person. Craig Gilbert, over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's "The Wisconsin Voter" blog took a look at Mrs. Obama's favorability ratings: she rates higher than President Obama, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Nancy Pelosi.

The Mark Kirk campaign is passing along a clip from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" where Joe and Mika and Willie chew over Alexi Giannoulias answer about Broadway Bank loans to crime figures on the "Meet the Press" Illinois Senate debate.

Giannoulias has talked about these loans to crime figures before; the matter is getting renewed life before a national audience. Kirk having a press conference on Giannoulias MTP comments Monday morning.

Monday is the start of early voting in Illinois--no reason or excuse needed, just come on in and vote.

To find out locations across Illinois for early voting click here

Cook County Clerk information for suburban voters is here.

Chicago Board of Elections information about early vote locations is here

For today only, city voters can go to:
On Monday, October 11, Columbus Day, Early Voting will be offered only at these three locations:
-- 69 W. Washington St., Lower Level, 9 am - 5 pm
-- 22nd District Police, 1900 W. Monterey, 9 am - 5 pm
-- Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside, 9 am - 5 pm

From the Illinois State Board of Elections:

The 2010 general election will be held on
November 2, but any registered voter can
request an absentee ballot in person at the
office of their election authority beginning
September 23.
However, not every election office in every
county has the ballots printed and ready
for distribution precisely on the date stated
by law - 40 days before the election.
Locations designated as permanent Early
Voting Centers across the state will be
open from Monday, October 11 (Columbus
Day) through Thursday, October 28. They
also will be open on the weekends of
October 16-17 and October 23-24.
Early Voting locations designated as
temporary will be open October 12-28.

WASHINGTON--GOP Illinois Senate nominee Mark Kirk's campaign called a last minute press conference on Monday to go after Democrat Alexi Giannoulias over comments he made Sunday about loans to crime figures during their debate on NBC's "Meet the Press" hosted by David Gregory.

Giannoulias was defensive when Gregory asked whether he knew that Broadway Bank (family owned until it failed in April) was lending money to crime figures. "We didn't know the extent of that activity," Giannoulias said. Asked again by Gregory if he knew, Giannoulias said, "I didn't know the extent of their activity, of course not."

Giannoulias said it--and he's said it before, the Giannoulias camp notes. A sampling:

"It was never standard procedure to do criminal background checks on customers...If I knew then what I know now, obviously we wouldn't have made those loans.'" [Chicago Sun-Times, 1/29/10]

"No bank performs criminal background checks when someone comes in to get a loan...If I knew now what I knew then, we probably wouldn't have approved those loans." [Springfield Journal Register 2/8/10]

"As far as the details of Giorango, which we've answered 100 times, this is a relationship that was started before I got to the bank. Was I involved in some of the servicing of the loans? Yes." [Tribune Editorial Board, 3/3/2010]

"I didn't know the full extent of his legal problems." [Crain's Chicago Business3/3/2010]

WASHINGTON--Chicago's Sam Skinner--former Transportation Secretary and Chief of Staff for President George H.W. Bush--returns to the White House on Monday as part of a bi-partisan group of honchos joining President Obama to pitch infrastructure investment.

Below, from the White House...

"Joining the President at the meeting will be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, former Secretaries of Transportation Norman Mineta and Samuel Skinner, Governors Ed Rendell and Jack Markell, and Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa, Mick Cornett, Julian Castro, Michael Coleman, Michael Nutter, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Kasim Reed and Joe Riley. The group will discuss the current state of our transportation infrastructure in cities and states across the country, the challenges they face to improving their infrastructure, and the short- and long-term economic impact of new infrastructure investment."

meet the press2.jpeg

meet the press3.jpeg

Kirk, Giannoulias on the "Meet the Press" set after the debate. (photos by Lynn Sweet)


WASHINGTON--In their first debate, Illinois Senate rivals Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk drew stark contrasts Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" over taxes and job creation--and whose credibility is most flawed.

Giannoulias was defensive when he said--about his family owned Broadway Bank loans to crime figures--he did not know the "extent" of their activity. But Giannoulias also opened up a new front during the debate: accusing Kirk several times of telling "whoppers" about his claims to be a fiscal hawk.

Kirk and Giannoulias are deadlocked in one of the most hotly contested races in the nation, for the seat once held by President Obama.

Kirk was forced to revisit the lowest point of his campaign, which is still impacting the race: a series of embellishments about his career as a Navy Reserve officer. Kirk told host David Gregory that exposures of his embellishments was "a painful and humbling" lesson.

Highlights from the exchange:

*Giannoulias was pressed by Gregory over what he know about loans made to organized crime figures by the Giannoulias family owned Broadway Bank when he was a loan officer. Kirk has made those loans by the bank--which failed in April--a centerpiece of his campaign.

Asked if he knew that there were crime figures the bank was loaning money to, Giannoulias said "We did not know the extent of that activity," and when asked again, said "I did not know the extent of their activity."

After Giannoulias said Kirk does not have much private sector experience, Kirk replied,
"I don't have experience in loaning money to mob figures."

*Kirk--who had been against ending the Bush era tax cuts--said he would be open to a compromise two year extension. Kirk said the Obama stimulus has "largely failed" while Giannoulias said Obama's plan prevented a second Depression

Kirk said, "First of all, we recognize that the stimulus has largely failed. A very small part of it even went to infrastructure development projects. It didn't answer the question, "What happens when all the borrowed money runs out?" Secondly, this Congress has been very, very viciously anti-business. New taxes, new regulation. We need-- Senators and Congressmen that will pass a pro-growth agenda."

Giannoulias took a small hit at Obama's Recovery Act, the legislation with the economic stimulus money in his reply, when he acknowledged some--unspecified flaws in the measure.

"The bigger question is what would have happened?" Giannoulias asked. "It was not flawlessly done, but if you take a look at what would have happened, do we need to see soup lines down the street to figure out what would have happened. We avoided and all economists will tell you that millions of jobs were saved because of the Recovery Act and we avoid a second great depression, that is a reality."

*Giannoulias accused Kirk several times of telling "whoppers" about his fiscal hawk claims. Kirk came back with a jab--that Giannoulias could not think of any spending he would cut during a Chicago Tribune editorial board interview.

Giannoulias said, "This is-- why this race is so important. This is a fundamental public policy difference between myself and Congressman Kirk. He says he's-- a fiscal hawk. Look-- the Congressman has told some real whoppers during this campaign, but that may be the biggest one of all. He voted for every single one of the Bush budgets, which doubled our national debt. He voted to increase his own pay six times. He voted for the bridge to nowhere twice."

Kirk came back, "It's ironic for my opponent to credit my record on fiscal conservatism. In front of the Chicago Tribune they asked him, "Name one spending bill that you would actually vote to cut." He couldn't name one. And as the Chicago Tribune said when they endorsed me, it was painful to watch."

After the debate, Kirk and Giannoulias met with reporters--not together-- on the "Meet the Press" set.

On Broadway Bank, Kirk said the Giannoulias answer "lacks some credibility given how heavily these figures were covered in the Tribune and Sun-Times."

Regarding his comments on not knowing the "extent" of the background of the crime figures, Giannoulias said his remarks were "consistent with everything I've said over the past few years. ...the folks back in Illinois know that I have been very consistent."

Since the matter Sunday morning was not whether Giannoulias was consistent--I asked him to explain what he meant when he used the word "extent." Giannoulias said, "We knew there were rumblings of problems. These weren't loans that I was intimately involved in. These weren't relationships that I brought to the bank, nothing has changed."

meet the press.jpeg David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press" set just before the start of the Illinois Senate debate. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--It's a lovely morning; the Illinois Senate candidates have arrived at the NBC studios here in advance of their first debate on "Meet the Press," moderated by David Gregory. The show will be televised at 11 a.m. Chicago time; 10:30 a.m. eastern time. It's a high stakes debate because it is the first.

Kirk and Giannoulias had a joint appearence before the Tribune editorial board--and both appeared at a session last May sponsored by the Metropolitan Planning Council--but they were not on the same stage at the same time.

My post on the GOP declaring a Kirk victory in the debate before it happens is here.

My column on the three Illinois Senate debates--and why there is not a fourth--is here.

updated with NRSC response below....

WASHINGTON--The National Republican Senatorial Committee--the GOP senate political operation--in an audacious move, declared Illinois Senate GOP candidate Mark Kirk the winner over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate before it happened.

On Saturday night, the NRSC was running a fund-raising appeal pegged to the Sunday debate, with the time travel headline and opening paragraph:

Giannoulias Fails In Debate

"It was plain to see on Meet the Press. Alexi Giannoulias is wrong for Illinois and should not be elected to the United States Senate. For too long America has been on a similar course of more spending, more debt, and a weakened economic recovery. We are on an unsustainable path and the American people don't like what they see."

Here's the Sunday timetable: Kirk and Giannoulias tape "Meet the Press" at 9 a.m. eastern time at NBC's studios in northwest Washington. After that, the two are likely to hold a post debate availability with reporters at NBC.

from NRSC spokesman Amber Marchand:

"Google mistakenly made the draft ads live without our approval this morning, and they've since been deleted. Perhaps this reflected a little bit of overconfidence on our part, but when you consider Alexi Giannoulias' failed record with Broadway Bank and Bright Start, we weren't expecting him to do any better on Meet the Press."

Watch live streaming video from chicagosuntimeslive at

Watch live streaming video from chicagosuntimeslive at

WASHINGTON -- Illinois Senate rivals Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias meet in the first of three debates Sunday morning, in a session on NBC's "Meet the Press" with host David Gregory.

Kirk wanted more debates -- on July 27, he proposed seven debates across the state -- on the theory that when voters saw the two rivals at the same time, Kirk would prevail because voters would see he was smarter and more informed than Giannoulias.

The Giannoulias camp never agreed -- one of Kirk's proposed debates was to be hosted by an ally -- and the Kirk team could only push so far. Accepting or rejecting debates is a matter of campaign strategy. Kirk declined debates in the GOP primary; Giannoulias debated four times with primary challenger David Hoffman.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) is touting President Obama's signature new health care law in a spot in his re-election contest, where he is pitted against Republican Ron Johnson. For an overview on Wisconsin voting trends--and the growing number of conservatives up north--check out the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Craig Gilbert's "Wisconsin Voter" blog.

below, from Emanuel mayoral campaign....

Rahm Emanuel will resume his "Tell It Like It Is" tour on Friday, October 8. Schedule below.

12:15 pm - Home Run Inn Pizza (4254 W 31st St).

2:00 pm - The Breakers at Edgewater Beach (5333 N Sheridan Rd)

The Chicago papers split when it comes to endorsements in the deadlocked Illinois Senate race for the seat once held by President Obama.

Read the Chicago Sun-Times editorial endorsing Democratic Alexi Giannoulias here.

Read the Chicago Tribune editorial supporting Republican Mark Kirk here.

By Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Political Writer

CHICAGO--President Obama praised U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias at two Chicago fundraisers Thursday, saying, "He's comfortable in his own skin. He doesn't shift with the wind. He doesn't pretend to be something that he's not. You know . . . who he is today and who he'll be tomorrow."

That was an apparent jab at Giannoulias' Republican opponent Mark Kirk, who Giannoulias has criticized for flip-flopping on some big issues.

Obama's appearance at the Drake and at a private dinner was expected to raise $750,000 to $800,000 to be split between Giannoulias' campaign and the national campaign to elect Democratic senators.

By Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Political Writer

CHICAGO--President Obama flew into Chicago Thursday night to raise money and enthusiasm for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

He also gave shout-outs to Gov. Quinn and other Democrats running for office.

And, without naming him, the president made a crack about his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who left the White House Friday to run for mayor of Chicago: ". . . By the way, have you seen my chief of staff?" Obama asked to laughter from 400 people under the 24 chandeliers of the Drake Hotel's ornate Gold Coast Room.

"I was like looking around, I was like, 'What happened?'"

WASHINGTON--President Obama hits Chicago for a few hours on Thursday, with the main purpose of the trip to raise money--at least a million for Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. In advance of his arrival, the Republican National Committee lobbed one at Obama:

"The Presidents willingness to raise money for Alexi Giannoulias raises serious questions about his judgment and credibility. Just two years after campaigning on a message of hope and change, the American people should be troubled that President Obama is now endorsing a risky banker who made loans to mobsters and put his own interest over Illinois voters. The President should be condemning Mr. Giannoulias, not offering a tacit endorsement of his shady business dealings to mobsters." - Ryan Tronovitch, RNC Spokesman

WASHINGTON -- President Obama hits Chicago on Thursday to fund-raise for Illinois Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias and give the first of what I learned will be several boosts to Gov. Quinn. I'm told that Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel is doing them all a favor by not campaigning on Thursday and sucking up all the attention.

Quinn campaign spokesman Mica Matsoff told me that Obama cut a radio spot for Quinn -- to start Monday -- where he says he will be voting for Quinn on Nov. 2 and urging others to cast their ballot for Quinn.

Emanuel's mayoral quest, born fully grown over the weekend, is triggering massive local and national media interest due to his political celebrity that may or may not translate to Chicago's 50 wards. In the meantime, there's much political chatter over whether Obama will or should endorse Emanuel, and if he does, when.

All this means is that if Emanuel, who quit as Obama's chief of staff on Friday, showed up anyplace on Thursday, the story line could likely shift to being about him, since Chicago, as we 606ers all know -- and I've been trying to explain to my curious colleagues here -- is massively mayoral centric. President, senator, governor, those are nice offices, but as they say in Chicago, it's good to be the mayor.

WASHINGTON--White House senior advisor David Axelrod is in New York on Wednesday with two gigs: he tapes the David Letterman show in the afternoon and in the evening he sits down with author Elie Wiesel for a discussion over at the 92nd Street Y.

The 92nd Street Y: "Founded in 1874 as the Young Men's Hebrew Association where Jewish men could find harmony and good fellowship, 92nd Street Y today has evolved into a world-renowned community and cultural center; an organization of exhilarating vitality and remarkable diversity; a proudly Jewish institution that reaches out to people of every race, ethnicity, religion, age and economic class."

WASHINGTON--The Illinois Senate rivals, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias meet on Sunday for their first debate, on NBC's "Meet the Press." In advance of the session, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday posted a video of Kirk debating himself. The Giannoulias campaign said the "concept is that Mark Kirk can't be trusted."

WASHINGTON--Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel snagged White House assistant press secretary Ben LaBolt to be communications director for his mayoral campaign, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

And in other campaign hiring, Emanuel is picking up Anna Valencia, an Illinois campaign veteran to be field director for his campaign.

LaBolt, 29, is a catch for Emanuel. He has a perfect--and unique-- resume for the job.

The LaGrange native knows Chicago politics. He's been with the Obama campaign since the beginning and in the Obama White House since Day One--so he can explain Emanuel's job as White House chief of staff. LaBolt also worked for a House member, so he can go through Emanuel's congressional record if need be. LaBolt knows and has worked with the national and local press corps in a campaign that is already attracting national and international press. LaBolt is a veteran of the Obama presidential campaign and knows all about rapid response and pushback--all skills he will need in what may well be a brutal contest.

What Rahm did Tuesday

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Rahm Emanuel's campaign during the day Tuesday only released details of two stops on his "listening tour"--stops in Austin and Bronzeville. Turns out Emanuel did more on Tuesday. In the evening the campaign revealed more of the story of where Emanuel stumped during the day.

Memo below from the Emanuel campaign.....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1. Community: Austin
CTA "L" Platform, Central Stop - Central and Lake Street
District 15 Police Department, 5701 W Madison St

2. Community: Bronzeville (Douglas)
Ricobenes, 252 West 26th St.
Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles, 3947 S. Martin Luther King Dr.
Maxima Barber Salon, 3951 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

3. Community: North Center
Jewel-Osco, 3400 N. Western Ave.
Dominicks, 3350 N. Western Ave.

4. Community: Lakeview
CTA "L" Platform - Sheffield and Belmont

WASHINGTON--Democratic strategist Joe Trippi advising Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart--an all but announced Chicago mayoral candidate--produced a video designed to give mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel a headache. Trippi's video, posted on Tuesday on his web site, patches together news reports from various outlets dealing with bumps in the road Emanuel faced on Monday--his first day on his "listening tour." Trippi played the "Welcome Back Kotter" theme music in the background of the video.--with the stress on the "welcome back" refrain--a reference to Emanuel's return to Chicago on Sunday after living in Washington D.C. since 2009--where he served as President Obama's chief of staff.

A painful-for-Emanuel scene: The close-up of Emanuel using what seemed to be hand sanitizer in a car after he did a meet and greet at a campaign stop.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel answers questions about his city residency in his new blog, under the headline, "Got Residency." Emanuel's campaign also tallies all kinds of social media numbers.

WASHINGTON--Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel has signed on one of Chicago's top election lawyers, Mike Kasper, to advise his campaign; this comes as questions are being raised by rivals about whether Emanuel meets residency requirements to run for mayor.

Emanuel is tapping Anne Olamey is doing the fundraising; she worked on Emanuel's House campaigns.

recap on other hires:

AKPD, main consultants.

Pete Giangreco, direct mail and other stuff.

Jasculca Terman, handling the Emanuel launch.

AKPD vice president of political affairs, Buffy Wicks, grassroots organizing

Scott Fairchild, chief of staff for Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), campaign manager.

WASHINGTON--President Obama signed a law Tuesday mandating Federal statutes will no longer use the term "mental retardation;" the replacement phrase is "intellectual disability."

WASHINGTON--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the Democrats top draws when it comes to fund-raising. Major donors demand face time with the big shot Democrats: Pelosi, President Obama, Vice President Biden and former President Bill Clinton can draw in the major checks.

The Pelosi political travel so far, according to the Speakers office:

"Since entering the Democratic leadership in 2002, the Speaker has raised more than $215 million for Democrats. In the current cycle, the Speaker has raised $50.1 million for the DCCC, Members, and candidates. This cycle, she has been to 24 states and one territory, holding 194 political events (not including events in D.C. and SF).

"October Travel:
The Speaker will travel across the country for the DCCC, Members and candidates, participating in more than 25 fundraising events in 8 states with 21 Members and candidates as well as message events on the "Make it in America" manufacturing strategy, job creation, protecting Social Security, honoring our commitments to Troops & Veterans and the Patients' Bill of Rights."

click below for details:

WASHINGTON--The Illinois Senate race remains deadlocked, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, released on Tuesday, with Republican Mark Kirk at 45 percent to 41 percent for Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

From Rasmussen:

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Kirk picking up 45% of the vote, while Giannoulias earns 41% support. Four percent (4%) back Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones. Another five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

The race is little changed from two weeks ago, when Kirk posted a 44% to 41% lead over Giannoulias and Jones has four percent (4%) support.

The Rahm Emanuel reader

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Rahm lavished attention on the New York Times David Brooks and he returns the favor in an affectionate column.

Politico on Rahm
on Rahm

Jane Hamsher,
How Emanuel angered Hispanics

WASHINGTON--Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel hit 12 Chicago neighborhoods on his first day of campaigning on Monday. He only has one public stop set so far for Tuesday--hitting the West Side over at the Austin Green Line "L" stop at Austin and Lake Street. Now I was told by his campaign that Emanuel would be criss-crossing the city again on Tuesday; maybe he is; the campaign is spooning out information on his whereabouts today.

from the campaign: "Rahm will be making a stop at 12:30 pm today in Bronzeville at the Chicken & Waffle (3947 S. Martin Luther King Drive). "

Emanuel got an earful as he roamed the city from Roseland on the South to Devon Ave. on the north.

The Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallash and Kara Spak reported:

"Rahm Emanuel got a mostly warm reception Monday as he greeted commuters and diners on the Near South Side, Park Manor and Pilsen on the first day of his "listening" tour to succeed Mayor Daley.
"But as the closely guarded secret of where he would be appearing Monday began to leak out, protesters flocked to Izola's restaurant on 79th Street and Nuevo Leon in Pilsen to heckle him. "Get out of our neighborhood," a protester holding a "Dump Quinn in 2010" banner shouted at Emanuel as he left Izola's. Emanuel waved off questions from reporters Monday, saying his purpose was to talk with voters."

The Emanuel story so far, my recap is here.

Where Rahm ran:

Monday, October 4, 2010

1. Near South Side
CTA "L" and bus stops at State/Roosevelt
Jewel, 1231 S. Wabash Ave
Dunkin Donuts, 1224 S. Wabash Ave

2. Chatham
Izola's Restaurant, 522 E. 79th St.
CTA stop at 87th/State

3. Roseland
Department of Motor Vehicles, 9901 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

4. Lower West Side (Pilsen)
Retail Stop walk on 18th Street (Between S. Blue Island and Ashland), including Café Jumping Bean (439 W. 18th Street) and Nuevo Leon Restaurant (1515 W. 18th Street)

5. US Holocaust Memorial Museum Annual Risa K. Lambert Luncheon, Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water Street

6. Near North Side (River North)
Fire Engine 42, 444 N. Dearborn St.

7. Avondale
Home Depot, 3500 N. Kimball
8. Irving Park
Soap Box Laundry, 324 N. Pulaski
City Café, Corner of Pulaski and Melrose
9. West Ridge
Retail Stop walk on Devon (Between Kedzie and California), including Tel Aviv Kosher Bakery (2944 W. Devon) and Taza Bakery (3100 W Devon)

10. Albany Park
Capricornia Hair Salon, 3619 W. Lawrence Ave.
Quichpoke Salon, Corner of Central Park West and Lawrence Ave.
Vanessa and Wendy's Unisex Salon, 3519 W. Lawrence Ave.
Chicago Produce, 3500 W. Lawrence Ave.

11. Lakeview
Whole Foods, 3640 N. Halsted St.
Center on Halsted, 3656 N Halsted St.

12. Lincoln Park
Diversey River Bowl, 2211 W. Diversey Pkwy.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday will finally start helping Democrats win in the Nov. 2 mid-term elections: she will host a phone chat with the Democratic National Committee's grassroots arm, Organizing for America.

The OFA, which absorbed the Obama for America presidential campaign, announced on Monday, "This Wednesday, October 6th, at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Michelle Obama will be hosting a Vote 2010 update with OFA supporters to discuss the work we've all been doing together and the importance of volunteering in the final four weeks before the November elections."

The live chat is designed to crank up turnout on Nov. 2 and also to generate small dollar donations--the link to getting a reminder for the Wednesday call is connected to an on-line donation page.

Mrs. Obama does not return to the campaign trail until Oct. 13, when she stumps in Chicago at two fund-raisers.

Mrs. Obama's October political travel--the first since the 2008 presidential election--will have her headline nine events in seven citiies in six states--all friendly Democratic territory.

WASHINGTON--The Obama White House is not making any official endorsement of Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel--President Obama's Friday mega send-off for his chief of staff followed by a session with Chicago reporters where he repeated that Emanuel would make an "excellent" mayor is enough for now--and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is not deviating from that official message. She was asked about an Emanuel endorsement Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in a conversation with Mark Halperin, who is one of the many national reporters in Chicago on Monday following Emanuel's "listening tour."

Jarrett: "Mark I hear you are in Chicago, my hometown."

Halperin: "Valerie I am and I'm delighted to be here. And the coverage of Rahm has been wall-to-wall and brutal. Part of his problem, as you know, is this is a pretty diverse city with a lot of different constituencies. I understand why the president has to be kind of laid back but Nancy Pelosi endorsed Rahm for mayor. I'm wondering if this morning you'll endorse Rahm and say he's your choice for mayor of Chicago?"

Jarrett: "I don't think anybody is interested in my choice for mayor of Chicago. My focus is right here and he hasn't even announced yet. I think this weekend he announced he's doing his listening tour; allowing people in Chicago all around the neighborhoods to tell him what they think. So, we'll be watching closely from afar."

Halperin: "So unlike Nancy Pelosi, you're not willing to endorse him?"

Jarrett: "I think the president said it best, 'He'll be a terrific terrific mayor if he's elected.'"


Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter

CHICAGO--The first question isn't: Can Rahm win? It's: Can Rahm run?

Sunday, Rahm Emanuel announced in a video posted on a website that he is preparing to run for mayor of Chicago. But two of Chicago's top election lawyers say the state's municipal code is crystal clear that a candidate for mayor must reside in the town for a year before the election.

That doesn't mean they must simply own a home in the city that they rent out to someone else. They must have a place they can walk into, keep a toothbrush, hang up their jacket and occasionally sleep, the lawyers say.

Another three election lawyers say Emanuel could be thrown off the ballot on a residency challenge. None says Emanuel will have it easy.

WASHINGTON--Check out who visited Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel when he was White House chief of staff---the Sunlight Foundation's Paul Blumenthal extracted the data from the White House visitors logs and has the story.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel, who left his job as White House chief of staff on Friday, has his main campaign elements in place. It's Sunday and his website is live ---a video announcement about his run is supposed to be posted sometime Sunday to compliment his Monday retail street campaigning in the city. Key staff is in place. Emanuel's campaign started Google ads running over the weekend.

Exclusive Sun-Times scoop

Staff news first: Pete Giangreco is signed on as the direct mail consultant--though he will bring a wider portfolio to the campaign. Giangreco is a veteran of scores local, state and campaigns and was a key member of the Obama presidential campaign team. Giangreco is also advising Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

The manager will be Scott Fairchild. Fairchild bio...

Scott Fairchild has worked for Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA-08) since May of
2006. He is currently his Chief of Staff. Fairchild managed Murphy's first re-elect and his challenger race back in 2006. Additionally, he was a Senior Advisor to the Bill Foster for Congress campaign waged to reclaim Speaker Hastert's seat in 2008. After winning that race he helped manage Foster's transition to Congress.

AKPD--David Axelrod's old firm--will be the main consultants handling media and other matters. As I reported earlier, AKPD vice president of political affairs, Buffy Wicks--one of the nation's top grass roots organizers--a veteran of the Obama presidential campaign--will be a player on the Emanuel campaign.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Emanuel's send off Friday by President Obama in the East Room was lampooned on "Saturday Night Live"--using the Rambo motiff--in the lead skit and on "Weekend Update"

RAHM'S WEBSITE: Makes extensive use of Obama's send-off ceremony from the East Room on Friday. Includes video of the event and a transcript of Obama's and Emanuel's remarks.


rahm mayor ad .jpeg

WASHINGTON -- Rahm Emanuel will hit the streets of Chicago on Monday morning to kick off his mayoral run with a planned long day of street campaigning -- after getting a running start Friday with a high-profile goodbye from President Obama to his first chief of staff.

"This is a bittersweet day in the White House," Obama said to about 150 people assembled in the East Room. "On the one hand, we are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well-qualified. But we're also losing an incomparable leader of our staff and one who we are going to miss very much."

At least 10 Cabinet members were seated in the front rows -- including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Kirk schedule Oct. 2, 3, 2010

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Quinn/Simon schedule Oct. 2, 2010

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WASHINGTON-- President Obama praised mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel during a brief session in the Oval Office on Friday with four Chicago reporters.

"I think he would make an excellent mayor and he would bring an incredible energy to the job," Obama said in a meeting where the conversation was off the record except for a few comments about Emanuel. Obama met with the Chicago reporters shortly after he formally announced Emanuel's departure from his administration as White House chief of staff.

Obama's comment on Friday echoed words he used in an interview a few weeks ago when he was asked about Emanuel running for mayor.

The reporters who met with Obama In the Oval Office have covered him for years, including the Washington based Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Sun-Times and Christi Parsons, White House correspondent, Chicago Tribune.

Two Chicago based reporters who flew to Washington to report on Emanuel's departure in the Oval Office session were Charles Thomas, WLS ABC7 political reporter and Mike Flannery, Chicago Fox News political reporter.


Obama hits Chicago on Oct. 7 to headline a fund-raiser for Democratic Illinois Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias, a long-time friend and basketball buddy.

While Obama is clearly hustling for Giannoulias--Oct. 7 will mark the second Obama visit to Chicago for him--don't take Obama's lavish praise of Emanuel as a formal endorsement.

At Friday's briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked if "the president (was) going to campaign for Rahm in Chicago."

Said Gibbs, I don't -- I don't believe any -- I don't have anything on that. I don't -- I don't know the answer to that, to be honest with you. I think -- I mean, obviously the president was -- you've heard what the president said over the past several weeks and what the president said today about Rahm and his next endeavors."

WASHINGTON--President Obama announced Rahm Emanuel's departure from his White House job on Friday--Emanuel starts a run for Chicago mayor Monday--in a jammed East Room event marked by sentiment and emotion. Both Emanuel and Obama said Emanuel's leaving is "bittersweet."

Emanuel leaving the White House on Friday was well known by the time it happened---and Obama joked about it at the top of his remarks.

"Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the least suspenseful announcement of all time. As almost all of you have reported -- my chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has informed me that he will be leaving his post today to explore other opportunities. This is a -- a -- a bittersweet day here at the White House," said Obama in a room filled with at least ten members of the cabinet, top staff and Emanuel's family.

"On the one hand, we are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well-qualified. But we're also losing a(n) incomparable leader of our staff, and one who we are going to miss very much."

rahm dead fish.jpg
Rahm Emanuel's going away gift, a dead asian carp. Photo credit: On deep background, from a White House source

WASHINGTON--Departing White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, stepping down in a few hours to launch his bid for mayor of Chicago on Monday was given a standing ovation at his last White House senior staff meeting on Friday morning.

Chicagoan Austan Goolsbee, chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers and the White House policy team delivered a wicked going away gift with a distinct Chicago flair: a dead asian carp wrapped in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Goolsbe had the asian carp--plauging Lake Michigan--flown out special for the occasion. Some 30 plus staffers gathered in the Roosevelt Room for the send-off.

Why this is funny: One of the standard, often told stories about Emanuel--is how--some twenty years ago--he sent a pollster he was upset with a dead fish wrapped in newspaper.

WASHINGTON -- Before White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel gave his last briefing to President Obama near 5:30 p.m. Thursday, winding up a historic 20-month tenure, he looked exuberant and excited about returning to Chicago to run for mayor.

Emanuel flies home over the weekend and Monday launches his mayoral campaign -- not with a splashy announcement but instead a "listening tour" in Chicago's neighborhoods as he starts to build a coalition seeking to survive the Feb. 22 nonpartisan primary and prevail in the April 5 runoff.

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Lynn Sweet

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

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