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WASHINGTON--After wrapping up a stint as interim Democratic National Committee chair, Donna Brazile hits Springfield on Friday to address the Illinois Democratic Women's convention.

Brazile stepped in as interim DNC chair after Tim Kaine stepped down to run for a Senate seat from Virginia. On Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Scultz (D-Fl.) officially took over as DNC chair; she was feted at a reception on Thursday night here attended by White House chief of staff Bill Daley, Brazile and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett introduced Wasserman Schultz.

The Democratic slaughter Tuesday will make it harder for President Obama to govern -- but might make it easier for him to win re-election in 2012.

The Obama White House will shift into re-election mode in a few months, and the 2012 presidential campaign headquarters will be Chicago again, if all goes as planned. But for now, a lot of attention on the political front will have to be on dealing with a GOP-controlled House and a Senate where Republican gains will make it harder to get the 60 votes needed to get anything done. Obama will reach out to Republicans during his press conference today.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff who was an architect of the 2006 Democratic House sweep, is using his e-mail list to spur Democratic turn out.

Emanuel earlier sent out an appeal for Democrat Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias; today's appeal if for the ticket.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Watch live streaming video from chicagosuntimeslive at

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

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.


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.

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.

10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT | Battle for the center in North Shore race to replace Kirk


Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter

CHICAGO--The North Shore suburban 10th Congressional District is wealthy, socially liberal, and for the last 10 years has sent a self-styled moderate Republican, Mark Kirk, to Washington.

WASHINGTON--The Service Employees International Union included Illinois in a poll about extending the Bush tax cut--President Obama wants to end it for folks making more than $250,000--and found support for the Obama position in Illinois. The poll is by Stanley Greenberg and found that supporting Obama on not extending the tax cuts for everybody--the Republicans want that extension--will be helpful to Democrats, especially in the Illinois Senate contest.

"In a tough political environment, where Alexi Giannoulias is locked in a competitive contest and is tied with Republican Mark Kirk 45 to 45 percent, the tax cut issue can help bolster Giannoulias' support," Greenberg said in a memo (read memo at the click below.) (The Greenberg firm is the Giannoulias campaign pollster)

The seven states the SEIU polled are Illinois, California, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin--all with big Senate battles.

"Good policy equals good politics," said SEIU spokesperson Teddy Davis. "Although some in Washington are proposing to temporarily extend the tax cuts for families making up to $1 million a year, this poll of likely voters in Illinois and other battleground states shows that more Americans support letting the tax cuts expire at $250,000 per year."

WASHINGTON--President Obama sent out a fund-raising appeal on behalf of tenth district House Democratic nominee Dan Seals (read at click below) while Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headlines a fund-raiser for Seals on Sept. 25 in Chicago, at a private home; donations betweel $500 and $2,400 get ya in the door.

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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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