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October 26, 2006

Bits and pieces from the political front ....

The growing dissatisfaction with the choices the major political parties are offering voters this year can be measured in Illinois by soaring support for Green Party candidate Rich Whitney in the governor's race.

A SurveyUSA poll done last week pegs Mr. Whitney as the choice of 14 percent of likely voters, up from 7 percent a month ago. The number, of course, leaves him trailing incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich (44 percent) and Republican Judy Baar Topinka (34 percent) but it is astonishingly large for an under-funded, unknown third party guy who wasn't even certified as a candidate until Aug. 31, when the state board of elections finally rejected Democratic attempts to keep him off the ballot.

With Blagojevich pals and fund-raisers either under indictment or investigation on various corruption charges, a good many people think it's only a matter of time until the governor himself follows ex-gov George Ryan into the prisoner's dock. Topinka under-inspires voters. Whitney offers the disaffected a place to go; most everyone can find at least some issues on which they'll agree with the Greens.

-- The national Republicans are providing no financial support for 17th Congressional District candidate Andrea Zinga. That's none, as in zero, according to reports on file with the Federal Election Commisson.

There are two ways to interpret that fact: 1) The GOP is so certain she's going to win that it sees no need to provide additional help, or 2) the GOP is so certain she's going to lose that it doesn't want to waste money sorely needed as it battles to hang onto seats elsewhere around the country.

I'd go with interpretation No. 2. The 17th is a tough district for any Republican in any election. Zinga's problems are multiplied by the fact she's pretty much in lockstep with an unpopular president on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to fiscal policy that has turned budget surpluses into record deficits over the last six years.

The bizarre manner in which Democrats ended up with Phil Hare as their candidate left a bad taste in lots of mouths, including Democrat ones. Whatever leg up that might have provided Republicans is likely lost because of Zinga's 'stay the course' stances.

-- The paucity of money in the 17th race at least has the virtue of sparing residents with the ludicrous attack ads that are flooding the airways across the river in Iowa, where both parties and partisan PACs are pouring huge dollars into the see-saw fight between Republican Mike Whalen and Democrat Bruce Braley for the 1st Congressional District seat opened when incumbent Jim Nussle opted to run for governor rather than to seek re-election.

As always these days, the TV ads are nasty things that turn reputable candidates into caricatures of evil. The worst of the bunch so far is the anti-Braley spot that accuses him, in effect, of being a communist. It's difficult to believe that ad evokes anything other than laughter on both sides of the political fence.

Joe McCarthy has been dead for a half-century; the Soviet Union imploded nearly 20 years ago; 'Communist' China has become a major -- if not 'the' major financier of the U. S. economy over the last six years. And these guys think there's political hay to be made with some 'commies under the bed' routine.

Oh, my.

-- Speaking of nasty campaigns, the Rock Island County sheriff's race between Kraig Schwigen and Mike Huff is about as nasty as it gets -- it's an exercise in mutual character assassination that no doubt leaves many voters wishing there was a third alternative. Whichever one of them wins, the atmosphere in the sheriff's office is going to be so poisonous that it will be a miracle if the routine operations of the department are not impaired.

Through all the mud-slinging, though, one fact keeps rearing its head: Mr. Huff adamantly refuses to open his personnel file for public inspection. The various excuses and explanations offered for that refusal don't really hold much water. No one expects perfection from a 25-year deputy who's been a controversial figure in a sometimes politicized department, and it's difficult to understand why he's unwilling to share his record with the people he's asking to entrust him with the county's top law enforcement job.

Posted by jcb at October 26, 2006 02:04 PM


In fumble-finger fashion, while deleting a bunch of spam, I managed to also delete the first comment on this post even before reading it. Send again, please.

Posted by: jcb at October 26, 2006 09:39 PM

You question why Huff hasn't released his file and there is a simple answer. Schwigen has helped Grchan target Mike Huff for years and has probably loaded it full of bogus crap. Perhaps if Schwigen would release his correct and true file, rather than the one that they wiped clean, Huff might too. Schwigen has campaigned about his opponent and has given the voters no reason to want him as Sheriff. Schwigen is trying to divert the attention away from the fact that he does not have the education that Mike Huff has with his degree in law enforcement administration along with other credentials. Schwigen is not respected in the department and even he said that he is not well liked or trusted by other deputies. In that same article he said that there were morale problems in the jail when he was the interim jail administrator. Employees were forced to file a grievance when Schwigen was treating employees unfairly. Do you see a resemblance to the current Sheriff there? It's obvious that Schwigen is the last ditch effort for the Grchan administration to keep control of the department. Electing Schwigen sheriff would be the biggest mistake we could make.

Posted by: county employee at October 26, 2006 10:18 PM

I have been sad that the 17th didn't raise more interest, but as a democrat I feel like that means Zinga really has no shot. Though living in Galesburg, we get plenty of TV ads without them. Because of both the Iowa race that you mentioned in the QC market, and the Peoria races as well. Network Tv is hardly worth watching right now.

As far as the governors race I think I might get Nieuked. Cap Fax has been posting a lot of his ads and I think they're funny. With how bad our major candidates are I might as well vote for someone entertaining. I don't feel like voting for Whitney just because he isn't Topinka or Blago.

Posted by: Robbie at October 27, 2006 08:57 AM

If your talking this late in the game about Zinga not having a shot it makes me wonder how long did you think she had a shot. Phil Hare should be 15 points ahead and this race is a dead heat. With this district so jacked up with gerrymandering Zinga or any Republican should never have a shot but she is right there at the end and Phil is barely ahead. Why is that?

Posted by: The Dem's Choice at October 27, 2006 10:04 AM

One would have to think that the reason that the National Party is avoiding Zinga is the fact that she has no chance (as there is no reason whatsoever to consider that she is running away with the race).

As jcb mentions, she is lockstep with the Administration and has little to say that is not straight out of the Republican playbook...an incredibly unwise position in ,

1. A District that is 60%+ Democrat, and
2. When so many of those Democrats are so unhappy with their candidate and the manner in which he was selected.

The Republicans had a great chance to win this seat if they could have put forth a candidate that had the backbone to speak to the voters and not just the Republican voters. Zinga has not given an Independent or a Democrat a reason to vote for her.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 27, 2006 12:05 PM

Remember, Lane Evans had a few elections that were very close even with his incumbency status. So the district is not as lopsided as one may think. Moreover, Phil is a Democrat cast from the old mold and that appeals to a great number of people, but Democrats with that same philosophy lost control of Congress in 1994. Many in the district consider Phil to be too far to the left. He offers little substance on the issues outside of that traditional base. While health care issues are vital to our quality of life – it is not the dominant issue in the Congressional campaigns. Phil’s lack of a comprehensive Iraq policy is really hurting right now. If he had one, when Zinga uses her poll-researched catch phrases – he could render it meaningless by presenting a well thought out and researched option for Iraq. The 17th is left with one candidate that supports the current failed policies of President Bush and another candidate whose politics led to the Democrats losing control of Congress in 1994 - who was selected by a very heavy-handed process in the first place. This should not be a surprise, there were plenty of people who saw this coming and expressed their opinions months ago.

Posted by: Rob Mellon at October 27, 2006 02:18 PM

As JCB said, the excuses of why Huff hasn't opened his files are juvenille and idiotic. As a voter, I'm supposed to believe "the man" has doctored Huff's file while wiping Schwigen's clean? I'm supposed to vote for someone like that? Stick to promoting Huff's education and his ideas and it will sway independent's. Smearing Scwigen or running from his own past isn't going to cut it.
To say Schwigen isn't respected at all in the department is just factually not true. The rank and file deputies I've talked to have given no indication that Schwigen is someone they don't respect or trust. Please stop making false claims, it makes me not want to vote for your guy.
Finally, I'd like to say I really wish there was a third choice ... I've heard enough from both of these guys.

Posted by: Anonymous? at October 27, 2006 02:23 PM

The word of the day is gerrymander! ;)
In fact the Illinois 17th gets used a an example - http://www.economist.com/world/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1099030

M.M said - "Remember, Lane Evans had a few elections that were very close even with his incumbency status. So the district is not as lopsided as one may think."


With all due respect, I think it should be pointed out that those prior close races for Lane Evans are really a historical matter, with little relevance to the current district. The 17th district lines were re-drawn circa 2002, and the district today is nothing like the 17th looked in the '90's when Evan's races were being closely contested by Mark Baker.

As you may know, I work for Mike Boland. The district Rep. Boland represented in the '90's was also significantly different than the one he represents today.

In 1998, and in 2000, and again in 2002, Boland had no Republican opponents. The re-map cost Boland some Democratic territory where he'd traditionally run very strongly. In 2004 and again now in 2006 Boland is facing significant re-election challenges, at least in part because of demographics.

In another decade, the lines will be redrawn again . . .

Posted by: M. Huntoon at October 27, 2006 07:02 PM

Mellon, maybe you could run from the green party next time around. You seem to be attacking Hare and the democrats every chance you get. I know as a democrat that I will never vote for a crybaby like you. You should be supporting the man that destroyed you in the appointment process and realize that people just did not like your platform and ideas.
Sour grapes will only hurt your future. Polotics is addition Mellon. Get with the program.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 27, 2006 09:57 PM

When they finally do redraw the boundaries, I hope they draw them with representation--not self-preservation--in mind and look across the river at how Iowa's districts are drawn.

Posted by: Huck Finn at October 28, 2006 07:14 AM

This Mellon person is clearly not a REAL Democrat. He wants Congressman Hare to be a Republicrat! Phil should not sell out his base in order to please Mellon.

Posted by: Funinthesun at October 28, 2006 06:25 PM

Anon 9:57 - I am not attacking Phil Hare - I am dissatisfied with the process in general – something I have made very clear. As for my platform - maybe you will get a chance to reject it in the future - and be in the minority when you do. I have no idea why you would be against more money in your pocket, improving your security and enhancing your quality of life though.

Posted by: Rob Mellon at October 28, 2006 06:26 PM

The Rock Island County Voter's Information Guide arrived in the D/A last week, and having our choices (or lack thereof) laid out in black and white was a deeply disturbing experience. I've been voting since the '70s and this is the first time ever I can remember not wanting to vote.

But no matter. As promised, I have listed below all the RICO "races" that have unopposed Democrats. The "incumbent's" names are in parentheses.

Representative for 72nd District (Verschoore)

County Clerk (Leibovitz)

County Treasurer (Kerr)

Superintendent of Schools (Vermeire)

Judge of 14th Circuit (Meersman)

There are also lots of County Board seats with no opposition, but mine isn't up for election this year.

As discussed earlier, these write-ins have no chance of winning, but I'm doing this as a sort of NOTA-type protest. Since I'm not thrilled with any of the candidates and have outright loathing for some, I am also taking suggestions for any and all positions shown on the RICO ballot, including those with both D and R candidates.

Let's hope the success of the Green Party will inspire other third parties to get on the ballot in future elections.

The only names I can remember writing in from the primary are John Miller for Treasurer and Herb Schultz Jr. for judge. I think Miller's name sprang to mind because I've seen him on TV giving financial advice. Since Schultz is now representing Cory Gregory, this may be a career killer for him---or maybe not.

So any legitimate names are welcomed---it doesn't matter if they are Rs, Ds, Independents or Communists, I'd just like some good names to write-in and would also like to encourage others to do the same. Let's face it, all these unopposed candidates have to do to win is vote for themselves. This is hardly the spirit in which our nation was founded.

Help, please.

Posted by: paladin at October 29, 2006 04:45 PM

Funinthesun - I don't want Phil Hare to change anything. He needs to do what he feels is right. My criticism is of the system in general – not of Phil Hare. I am not the only one in the country by the way - CNN just ran a whole series on the "Do Nothing" Congress. If you are satisfied - Great. Personally, I am not satisfied and will take advantage of my freedom to express my dissatisfaction. If you are a cog in the current political machine I could see how you would not like what I am saying. I am tired of the money in politics and the influence over our politicians. Republicans and Democrats both are part of this unfair system - so both will receive criticism from me. I guess I like the fact that you don't call me a Democrat - there are those on the other side that consider me a socialist. Receiving fire from both sides - I must be doing something right. A Democrat with my philosophy would win the district by 70% - too bad we are too tied to old alliances. Hopefully, the old way of thinking does not cost the party the 17th seat in Congress.

Posted by: Rob Mellon at October 29, 2006 05:56 PM

You guys just amaze me. Everyone complains that politicians are fake and have no substance. Yet Rob Mellon actually is honest, talks about issues, is critical of the good ole boy political scene, and what does he get? Lambasted by a bunch of cowardly anonymous posters. Rob Mellon is not the problem here. I think a few of you need to look in the mirror.

Posted by: Robbie at October 29, 2006 08:29 PM

For the 17th, I'm voting for who I think is the best for the office...and it's not Phil Hare, it's a write-in vote!

Maybe if others have the same idea, maybe we'll see that reflected in the results. It only takes 10 write-ins for the same name to show up on the results, even if the write-in is not registered as a write-in candidate.

This is my way of protesting the process we used to select our "nominee." If it causes Phil Hare to lose, then that's the party leadership's problem.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 30, 2006 08:36 AM

The voters looked over Mellon's thin politcal resume and determined he was not worth electing. Heck, he eeven finished behind Boland running dead last.

Paldine, Mellon and Rumler should get together and form one candidate!

Posted by: Funinthesun at October 30, 2006 02:07 PM

Look what padded political resumes have given us - a "do nothing" congress. I put my experience up against any current candidate - a soldier and a teacher. There are several veterans around the country who have less education and less experience than I have, but many of them will be elected this year and two weeks from now no one will even mention their lack of a political experience. As for the "voters" - they did not get to vote for the Democratic candidate. The precinct committee members voted for them - I did not even get my primary vote or my wife's from my precinct committee member - what a joke. Say what you want, but I am not the one who looks like a fool now.

Posted by: Rob Mellon at October 30, 2006 05:14 PM

Just ran across a creative new campaign web site out there --- at www.jacobsforsenate.com

Some entertaining old family pics on the site.

Nice change of pace from the mudslinging going on in other campaigns around here!

Posted by: web site at October 30, 2006 11:01 PM

Haring recieved another $100,000 yesterday. The republicans smell blood in the wate. Boland needs to quit attacking Democrats and start talking about what he wants to do to help the economy. I feel that he should come out and adress his scholarship scandle and state that he won't do anything like that again.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 31, 2006 08:13 AM

Boland got his $100,000 to match today from Madigan.

Ha! Ha!

You will never catch Mike Boland.

He is untouchable. He has all this money and now he has 13 Chicago operatives in here to Haring 0.

What do you have to say about that Anonymous at October 31, 2006 08:13 AM.

These Chicago boys will come in here and will beat that country boy Haring and his rubes into the ground.

We will win because we will match the money and we have supperior men on the ground.

You brag of money but we have the manpower. There is a cost to having this many people from Chicago in Here.

The Republicans act like elitists but we have Chicago on our side.

Better luck next time Haring.

Posted by: Boland backer at October 31, 2006 09:04 PM

All of the dems are going to clean up on these republicans. Only a few more days to go. I just wish some of Grchan supporters would let go of him getting beat. Arn't they democrats? Shouldn't they support democratic candidates? I had heard that some of them are supporting that Schwigen guy just because they are mad that Huff beat Grchan. How childish is that? Support what you believe in and don't be a sore looser.

Posted by: rico voter at November 2, 2006 02:01 PM

rico voter,

Are you telling us (admitting) that Dem's are the sheep that we think that they are? Come now, it's a sheriff's race for goodness sake.

I appreciate the fundamental differences in the Democrat and Republican agenda in national elections, but in a sheriff's race?

I would certainly hope that people voted for the best person, regardless of party.

"Dem's fall in line" - what a way to run a party, no wonder the QC area is in such poor economic condition...

Posted by: Anonymous at November 3, 2006 06:34 AM