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WASHINGTON--Gov. Pat Quinn formally requested federal flood assistance on Thursday, unleashing a bi-partisan push from the entire Illinois congressional delegation for President Barack Obama to declare 11 Illinois counties in need of disaster relief following torrential April downpours.

Quinn, in Springfield, said 49 Illinois counties were impacted and further disaster relief requests for more counties would be coming. "We want to move forward as quickly as possible," Quinn said. The 11 Illinois counties suffering damage from the rainstorm starting on April 18 are: Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry and Will.

Quinn said the White House will be asked to handle the request on an expedited basis. Once a county is declared a disaster, residents can apply for federal loans and other financial flood and storm relief.

The delegation wrote in a letter to Obama, "The State of Illinois has determined that state and local funds are not adequate to address the damage to public infrastructure and costs related to debris removal and emergency protective measures resulting from this weather event. "We respectfully request that you make the necessary declaration so that these counties can receive the assistance they need. We thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this important request and stand ready to assist in any way appropriate."


Members signing today's letter are Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Danny Davis (D-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bill Enyart (D-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Aaron Schock (R-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL).



Text of the letter below...


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Flooding on the Edens Expressway Thursday morning forces lane closure.  (Sun-Times photo by Jon Seidel)

Good morning. Thunderstorms, high today 72 [Forecast]

Breaking

Horrific Texas fertilizer plant explosion kills at least 5, injuries scores more and forces the evacuation of the small town of West, about 20 miles north of Waco. [Sun-Times] [NBC]

Breaking

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle fly to Boston for a bomb blast  memorial, "Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service" at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.[Boston Globe] The 10 a.m. Chicago time service will be carried live on multiple platforms.

Breaking

Parts of the Ike, Stevenson expressways shut down by heavy rains, flooding. Metra, CTA, O'Hare and Midway Airports reporting delays and cancellations. Flash flood warnings. For the latest and updates [Sun-Times] 





Sex, drugs, no rock n'roll 
Going to pot... The Illinois House voted to legalize medical marijuana and mandate abstinence in sex education classes for grades 6-12. [Sun-Times][Crain's Chicago Business]

Both bills now move to the state Senate. Lawmakers taking a break from the heavy lifting...as in pension reform. 

Gun-control measures fail

GOP Senators blocked multiple gun-control measures. [Wall Street Journal] [Washington Post]

Obama called the defeat "shameful" [Sun-Times]

The underlying gun bill--with the anti-traffickling provision named after the slain Chicago teen, Hadiya Pendleton-- is expected to be sidelined today. [Sweet, Sun-Times]

Big loss for Obama. [Politico] [Ezra Klein, Bloomberg]

Obama has a lot on his plate. [Real Clear Politics] [Roll Call]

Major takeaway: Obama slapped with big loss on legacy issue. With the Senate shutdown, unlikely the House will act on gun bills.

Weather forces Rahm to delay Washington trip

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was supposed to be in Washington today and Friday; he was grounded in Chicago because of the weather. He was the headliner for an immigration forum hosted by The Atlantic. Tomorrow, Emanuel joins former President Bill Clinton to launch an "Infrastructure Financing for Cities Task Force."  

Emanuel was going to conduct rounds in the White House and huddle with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Boston bomb suspect

Videos of the Boston Marathon finish line blast site yielded the faces of suspects. Now authorities have to find them.[Boston Globe 

Ricin suspect arrested

A Mississippi man was arrested in connection with the mailing of letters containing poison to Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). Since the anthrax attacks of 2001, all White House and congressional mail is screened. [Sweet, Sun-Times] [Washington Post]

The suspect is an Elvis impersonator [CBS/DC]

POLITICAL BUSINESS 


*White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on Time Magazine's new list out this morning of 100 most influential people in the world.

*Obama dined last night with a group of Democratic senators at a hotel near the White House. This follows two dinners with GOP senators. A White House official said they discussed immigration, guns and the Boston bomb blasts.  Durbin was there along with...according to the official ...Dem Senators Michael Bennet, Chris Coons, Dianne Feinstein, Mary Landrieu, Patty Murray, Jack Reed, Jeanne Shaheen, Debbie Stabenow, Mark Warner, Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden.

*Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) on Wednesday received the 2013 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Champion Award from the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation. Context: Rush is on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

*Hello, Illinois.... Mike Schrimpf former Republican Governors Association communications director, is new communications chief for Bruce Rauner's gubernatorial exploratory drive. [Politico] 

*DLA Piper Chicago office associate Katie Jahnke Dale working with DC colleagues on a new partnership between DLA's New Perimeter global pro bono affiliate and the State Department to combat human trafficking across the globe.

DAYBOOK

Pressers....House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at 10:30 a.m. Chicago time; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at 9:45 a.m. Chicago time, both in the Capitol.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Secretary of State John Kerry, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at various Senate committees testifying on fy2014 budget requests

In Springfield, Governor Pat Quinn delivers remarks at the 5th Annual Muslim Action Day breakfast at the Mansion; later, a speech in the State Capitol in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Meetings.... Illinois Riverboat Gaming Board, Video Gaming Board.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin headlines the City Club of Chicago lunch.

Nobel Laureate Gary S. Becker delivers the 3rd annual CME Group Lecture on Global Financial Markets, "Will American Retain its Economic Leadership?

Author Thomas Dyja discusses his book, "The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream" at the Harold Washington Library.

Chef and Bravo host Curtis Stone discusses his cookbook "What's for Dinner?" at the Barnes & Noble in Skokie's Old Orchard shopping center.

SPORTS TODAY

Cubs owners prey on your hopes by promising titles with Wrigley repairs. [Morrissey, Sun-Times]

Bulls clinch a playoff berth; will play Nets on Saturday in first round. [Sun-Times]

Cubs play the Texas Rangers at Wrigley Field this afternoon; White Sox away at the Toronto Blue Jays tonight.

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Good morning. High today in the mid 60s. [Forecast]

Breaking

The Cubs and city make a deal for Wrigley field renovation. Must be a miracle on Addison; a Jumbotron is on the way.  News conference 11 a.m. at Wrigley Field, but the story burst out last night; see links below.

Breaking

Secretary of State John Kerry will stop in Chicago on Monday to visit the parents of Anne Smedinghoff, a young U.S. diplomat from River Forest who was killed while delivering textbooks in southern Afghanistan on April 6. [Sun-Times]

Breaking

The Senate "Gang of Eight" will unveil a bi-partisan immigration bill on Tuesday morning. Congress returns from spring break with a major week ahead; the main action is over in the Senate with historic gun-control and immigration legislation debated. Prognosis: Immigration measures will be easier to pass than gun provisions.

Exclusive: Mayor Rahm Emanuel heads to Washington this week; on Thursday he's the headliner at a forum hosted by The Atlantic.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Friendly confines facelift

The Cubs will renovate Wrigley Field and develop the land around it under a "framework" unveiled Sunday that includes a 5,000-square-foot video scoreboard in left field; an 800-square-foot see-through sign in right field; 40 night games; street fairs on weekend game days, and signage all over a new hotel and open-air plaza. [Sun-Times] [Tribune] [Crain's] [ABC7]

Negotiations between the Cubs and the city have been in extra innings. A timeline with the details. [Sun-Times] And speaking of baseball, with the release of "42," a photo gallery of Jackie Robinson in Chicago. [Sun-Times]

Senate tackles immigration, guns

It's a big week ahead for Congress--immigration, guns, and the budget, where Democratic are not happy with President Barack Obama's proposed changes to Social Security. The House has a series of budget hearings. [House.gov]

On the Senate side, it's guns and immigration. Sweeping immigration proposal to be released on Tuesday [USAToday] Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) is the man to watch. [Washington Post]

On the gun front, families of shooting victims will be on Capitol Hill, along with former Rep. Gabby Gifford (D-Az.) recovering from her head wounds and her former astronaut husband, Mark Kelly. The couple is leading a major drive for gun control. May be schisms within the pro-gun community. [Washington Post]

Jesse Jackson Jr. surfaces

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. surfaced at the Saturday meeting of Operation PUSH. [ABC7] Facing sentencing at the end of June, Jackson's team is starting a "campaign" in the hopes that he will get less than four or five years in prison.

Crony conflict

One of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's biggest campaign contributors, Howard Labkon, has the president of the Fraternal Order of Police on his company's payroll -- a relationship that's come to light as Emanuel and the union try to negotiate a new contract for 10,400 Chicago cops. [Sun-Times]

Abortion doctor trial

Assessing whether there is "enough" coverage of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. [Washington Post] The developing storyline breaking into mainstream media--pushed by conservative outlets--is that the Gosnell trial is not getting the attention it deserves from national media because of an abortion rights bias.

Justin Bieber and Ann Frank

Bieber visited Ann Frank's hideout in Amsterdam, where her family and others hid from the Nazis--and his note in the guest book has triggered an uproar. Because it was more about him than her. [Bill Zwecker]

Chicago story obits

Blues guitarist Jimmy Dawkins was a son of Mississippi with a stinging West Side style. [Sun-Times' Maureen O'Donnell]

CSO trumpet great Adolph 'Bud' Herseth dies at 91 [Sun-Times' Andrewhttp://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/sports&id=9064877 Patner]

Political Business

*Political veterans John Borovicka and Mike Alexander--each with deep government and political networks-- are teaming up to launch Alexander & Borovicka Government Solutions. The firm will work at the federal, state and city levels.

At-a-glance: 

Borovicka managed Rahm Emanuel's first campaign for the House in 2001 and went on to be his Chicago District Director; ran the Chicago office of State Senator John Cullerton; worked for now Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). Borovicka was Deputy Campaign Manager for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's final reelection campaign in 2007.

Alexander has long ties to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), working in his Senate campaign and later joining his Senate staff, working in Washington and Illinois. In 2003, Alexander became the Director of Local Government Affairs for the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity (DCEO), serving under Jack Lavin, the current Chief of Staff to Governor Pat Quinn.

*Robert Weinberger,  former 10th Congressional District Democrat nominee on Sunday wed Jennefer Hirshberg, a one-time press secretary for former First Lady Nancy Reagan at a lovely ceremony in suburban Washington. Durbin--who interned with Weinberger in the office of  the late Sen. Paul Douglas (D-Ill.)-- offered the first toast.


Daybook

*Obama honors the BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide on the South Lawn of the White House.

*Gov. Pat Quinn chairs a meeting of The Big River Moves Leadership Forum to discuss economic and environmental issues facing Mississippi River states at the Blackstone Hotel.

*Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle paddles down the North Branch of the Chicago River with canoeists and kayakers. She launches from the Skokie Lagoons, Willow Road and North Forest Way.

*Quinn and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)--in her first joint appearance with the governor since her swearing-in last week-- will announce a project to update the Kankakee area's water infrastructure.

*Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno headlines the City Club of Chicago.

*Because it's April 15... Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) now a WIND-AM talk show host at a Chicago Tea Party and Tea Party Patriots Tax Day Tea Party Rally at the Daley Center. 

And happy birthday to cousin David, a Chicago parking and transportation planner whose last name really is Taxman.

Sports Today

White Sox at Toronto; Bulls at Toronto; Blackhawks host the Stars.


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Good Morning. Overcast, drizzle, high today in the low 50's. Goose Island streets open again...

Breaking

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) swears in Robin Kelly at 1:30 p.m. Chicago time. Kelly holds presser afterwards to talk about her swearing-in on the House floor. Freshman Kelly is allowed to inherit the well-situated Rayburn House Office Building suite of the man she is replacing, disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. 

Breaking

Two brothers shot at on the South Side, a man grazed by a bullet in Lakeview and a car-on-pedestrian accident in Goose Island were among the stories that happened between midnight and 6 a.m. in Chicago. [Sun-Times

___________________________________________________________________________________

Senate gun-control votes

Four months after the Sandy Hook massacre, the Senate today is set to hold a series of crucial votes on gun-control laws, with big resistance from the National Rifle Association. The House will not act until the Senate sends over legislation. [USA Today] President Barack Obama has a lot on his plate: guns, immigration, new budget. [Washington Post]

Sandy Hook families will be at press conference with Democratic senators in the Capitol this morning, pushing for a package of measures to curb gun violence.

Michelle Obama jumps in gun fray

With the Senate poised to act, First Lady Michelle Obama, back home in Chicago spoke out for the first time--with great emotion-- about youth violence and for the first time, gets involved in a controversial issue, urging Congress to allow votes on gun bills. [Sun-Times] And finally time she did. [Lynn Sweet] Mrs. Obama spent two hours at Harper High School on the South Side. [Mary Mitchell] [Bloomberg]

Mrs. Obama made it a day-trip. She headed from Harper back to Midway Airport, returning to Washington last night.

Quinn's gun push

With gun measures pending in Springfield, Gov. Pat Quinn headlines an Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence rally "in support of common sense gun legislation" in front of the Abe Lincoln statue at the state Capitol.

Wright's daughter indicted

Imagine if this story broke during the 2008 election, when the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright--then pastor for presidential candidate Barack Obama threatened to derail his bid. Jeri Wright, his daughter, was indicted Wednesday on charges of money laundering and lying to federal investigators in an expanding 2009 state grant-fraud case.[Sun-Times]

Political Business

* Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) will be reporting more than $390,000 raised in the first quarter. Aiming to discourage the man he beat for the tenth district seat from trying again, Schneider's team noted that he raised more than former Rep. Bod Dold (R-Ill.) "raised in his first quarter in 2011."

*Ald. Tom Tunney holds a fund-raiser aimed at the LGBT community. Double entendre on invite: "Come out to support equality." Tunney Honorary co-chairs: state Rep. Deb Mell and spouse Kelly Cassidy; state Rep. Greg Harris; Ald. James Cappleman and Water District Commissioner Debra Shore. Happening at the Lincoln Park home of Brad Lippitz and Jonathan Pizer. The tab ranges from $100 to $1,000.

* Last night, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) threw  a fund-raiser at Nationals Stadium during the Nationals-White Sox game.

* Cook County Committeemen huddle today to select a replacement for the latest pol forced to resign because of corruption, former Cook County Board Members William Beavers, convicted on federal evasion charges last month.

Daybook

Memorial for Roger Ebert, the beloved Sun-Times movie critic who died last week. His funeral was Monday and today, a tribute at a fitting place, the Chicago Theater, 175 N. State.

 ...Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams in announcing Chicago's completed transition to a grid garbage system at 11:30 a.m. CT, 900 East 103rd St. 

...U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin at Greene Elementary School, 3525 S. Honore on student health. ...National ACLU president Susan Herman at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

Obit

Donald L. Duster, the grandson of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells. Under former Gov. James R. Thompson, he led the state's Department of Business and Economic Develop. [Sun-Times Obit writer Maureen O'Donnell]

Sports Today

Bulls play New York Knicks; Cubs host San Francisco Giants; White Sox continue stand against Washington Nationals. The Nats beat them Wednesday 5-2. 


Talkers Today

HBO's "Veep" star Julia Louise-Dreyfus guests on Ellen DeGeneres; Edie Falco on Jon Stewart; Alec Baldwin on David Letterman; LL Cool J on Jay Leno; Tom Cruise on Jimmy Kimmel; Carl Reiner on Craig Ferguson and Vince Vaughn on Jimmy Fallon.

Lynn Sweet discusses her Michelle Obama column on Julie Mason's SiriusXM show, 12:03 p.m. Chicago time.




WASHINGTON--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made a quick trip to Los Angeles Friday for a fund-raiser, aiming at Hollywood cash. A Quinn operative told me he was in Los Angeles for about 24 hours for the funder at the home of producer Bob Teitel. About 100 folks attended the event, including Glee star--and Dolton native--Jane Lynch.

To note: Quinn has been a lackluster fund-raiser and is bolstering his war chest as he heads into re-election facing an almost certain 2014 Democratic primary battle with either Attorney General Lisa Madigan or former White House chief of staff Bill Daley. I posted earlier: on Thursday, Quinn headlines a fund-raiser at Loft 644, 644 N. Orleans in Chicago. The tickets for the Quinn Thursday event range from $100 to $1,000. Madigan holds a 3-to-1 fundraising lead over Quinn. Hollywood hat tips: Reel Chicago, Crain's Greg Hinz

quinn funder.png

WASHINGTON--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, up for re-election in 2014--and facing a potential Democratic primary fight with Attorney General Lisa Madigan-- is throwing a fund-raiser March 28 at Loft 644, 644 N. Orleans in Chicago.

The tickets for the Quinn event range from $100 to $1,000--modest compared to Madigan's ask for a fund-raiser Monday night at Wildfire, 159 W. Erie. The price tiers run from $1,000 to $5,000. The theme is to mark Madigan's 10 years as Illinois' attorney general.

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AP Photo

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama is urging the Illinois General Assembly to legalize gay marriage in his home state as lawmakers are poised to take up the measure as early as this week in Springfield.

"While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect," White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.

"As he has said, his personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally," Inouye said.

The lead sponsors of the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), intend to put the measure up for a vote during the upcoming January lame-duck session.

The toughest challenge for gay marriage backers will be winning passage in the Illinois House. Prospects for approval in the Illinois Senate--where Obama once served--are brighter.

The practical impact of Obama urging his home state to legalize gay marriage is to prod--and give political cover to--reluctant Democrats from conservative suburban and Downstate districts.

Both chambers in Springfield are controlled by Democrats. Republicans cannot be depended on for widespread gay marriage support. Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney has reported that Steans and Harris predicted there would be some Republican backing.

Illinois passed a civil union law effective June 1, 2011. When lawmakers took up civil unions, only one Senate Republican voted for the bill--current Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

While Obama rarely gets involved in statehouse battles, he has voiced support for gay marriage measures in the past year, issuing -- through his re-election campaign -- statements of support for gay marriage ballot questions up last November in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Those initiatives won, and a Minnesota referendum to ban gay marriage -- which Obama also publicly opposed -- lost.

Obama himself endorsed gay marriage in May after grappling with the issue for several years. "At a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts.

The leading Democrats in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, are urging lawmakers to send Quinn a gay marriage bill he can sign.



Delegates and fellow Americans, it is an honor to be with you this evening. And it's an honor to represent the great state of Illinois, the home of President Barack Obama.

Tonight I want to talk to you about a scary subject for many, many Republicans. I want to talk about facts. You know, I watched the Republican National Convention last week, and I heard a lot of things that are simply not true.

One of our founding fathers, President John Adams of Massachusetts, once said that "facts are stubborn things." But last week, as they nominated a very different man from Massachusetts, Republicans stubbornly smeared President Obama's excellent record of reforming welfare. They went on and on, pretending that he weakened its work requirement. Everyone knows that is a ridiculous charge. Even the Republican author of "Welfare Reform" says Romney is wrong. Fact-checkers have called this talking point "blatantly false, a drastic distortion and widely debunked," and "a mind-boggling act of untruth telling."

In Illinois, we know President Barack Obama. We know his record. And we know that President Obama has made sure that work is always part of welfare. As an Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama spearheaded welfare reform in the Land of Lincoln. And the fact is, under President Obama, states can get flexibility only if they move 20 percent more people to work.

Let me repeat that for our Republican friends: more people working, not less. Then there's Medicare. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to take away the promise that makes Medicare, Medicare. They want to give seniors a voucher that caps what Medicare will cover and then tell seniors they're on their own for what's left. That would cost seniors thousands of dollars a year. And if they don't have the money, it could cost them their lives. But that didn't stop Romney and Ryan from telling the American people that their plan won't hurt seniors. The fact is, it will. President Obama's plan will protect Medicare and protect our seniors.

Facts are stubborn things. Now, when Paul Ryan got his turn, he blamed President Obama for a plant that closed under President George W. Bush. Here's a fact: when President Obama took office in January 2009, the Chrysler plant in Belvidere, Illinois employed just 200 people. Today, because President Obama saved the auto industry, that same Chrysler plant is employing more than 4,000 American workers.

There's something else the Republicans left out of their convention: any explanation of why they call Mitt Romney "Governor Romney." We already knew this extremely conservative man takes some pretty liberal deductions. Evidently that includes writing off all four years he served as Governor of Massachusetts.

And if you want to know how someone's going to govern the country, look at how he governed his state.

Mitt Romney promised Massachusetts three things: more jobs, less debt and smaller government. Then he left his state 47th out of 50 in job growth, added $2.6 billion in debt and on his watch, government jobs grew six times faster than private-sector jobs. What does Romney promise today? More jobs, less debt and smaller government. But he didn't do it then, and he won't do it now.

From day one, President Obama has told you where he stands, what he believes and what he is doing to make our middle class strong again. America is moving forward under President Obama's leadership--and that's a fact. Now it's our job in the next nine weeks to make sure that the American people know the facts.

Your vote is a valuable thing. Entrust it to someone who respects you enough to tell you the truth. Join me in voting for President Obama and together let's make the will of the people the law of the land.


(Video by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who speaks at the Democratic convention on Tuesday, calls New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a "bully" and "braggart." This comes after Christie last week, in Tampa for the Republican convention, slashed President Barack Obama for being a product of Chicago ward politics.

I asked Quinn to react to Christie at the Monday Illinois delegate meeting.

"We don't pay much attention to a Jersey Guy like him," Quinn said. Quinn said Christie's convention said more about him than Mitt Romney. "He's a bully, a braggart, and we don't pay much attention to people like that."

WASHINGTON--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. next month. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also on the program. For my latest on Democratic convention speaking slots, click HERE.

WASHINGTON--Cook County voters hold favorable opinions of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and give her high marks for how she handles her job, according to a poll taken by her political operation.

The poll, by Tulchin Research, was taken Aug. 1-6 of 600 likely voters--called on land lines and cell phones. The survey has a 4 percent margin of error. I did not see the entire poll; portions were shared with me on Thursday

Voters were asked about county issues and how Preckwinkle was doing--comparing her with President Barack Obama, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Quinn.

The survey shows that Preckwinkle, Emanuel and Madigan are even in their favorability ratings. Obama has the best, Quinn the worse, ratings for job approval and favorability.

The poll comes out as Democrats are aware that Quinn's ratings are low and at present is vulnerable as he heads towards a 2014 re-election campaign. Preckwinkle's name has been mentioned as a potential 2014 Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate and this survey bolsters her viability.

The survey, paid for by the Preckwinkle for President Committee, was taken because "it is important for us to discern whether Toni's administration is effectively communicating her agenda to voters," Ken Snyder, who is Preckwinkle's political consultant, told me.

Obama, no surprise, had 100 percent name ID in the poll, compared to 98 percent for Quinn and Emanuel, 93 percent for Madigan and 83 percent for Preckwinkle--which means she has work to do to get known better within Cook County.

Voters also approved of Preckwinkle's handling of a controversy involving the management of the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Some 81 percent have heard at least "a little" about "the mismanagement crisis at Cook County's morgue that resulted in the county's previous medical examiner being replaced."

Of that group, 39 percent said the strongly approved Preckwinkle's handling of the crisis, 34 percent somewhat approved, 4 percent somewhat disapproved, 8 percent strongly disapproved and 16 per cent had no response to the question.

Key findings

% FAVORABLE OPINION

67 Obama
54 Emanuel
53 Preckwinkle
53 Madigan
41 Quinn

% NEUTRAL

21 Madigan
21 Emanuel
20 Preckwinkle
20 Quinn
13 Obama

% UNFAVORABLE

37 Quinn
23 Emanuel
20 Obama
19 Madigan
10 Preckwinkle

% JOB APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL

72/27 Obama
69/26 Emanuel
67/15 Preckwinkle
54/43 Quinn
*Madigan not included

Gov. Pat Quinn got some tough treatment from union members at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday--and it was a day celebrating Democrats. Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney has the story HERE.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is in Williamsburg, Va. on Friday and Saturday for a National Governors Association meeting. He will also likely attend Democratic Governor Association events being held in the same place.

From Quinn's office: "As Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, Governor Quinn will lead a session discussing innovative Medicaid strategies. Governor Quinn will also be meeting with foreign delegations and hold a meeting with the Executive Director of Select Business USA, part of the Department of Commerce, discussing how to boost the economy and continue to create jobs in Illinois."

below, from Quinn...

GOVERNOR'S PUBLIC SCHEDULE

**Monday, June 25, 2012**

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn will sign legislation strengthening Illinois' education system.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: National Louis University

122 S. Michigan Avenue

Chicago, 60603

###

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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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