Suburban Political Recount
State. Rep. Darlene Senger today formally announced her campaign for Congress. The Naperville Republican faces a likely primary challenge from either private investigator Ian Bayne of Aurora, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema from Channahon or both.
"I’ve never shied away from big challenges," Senger said in an announcement on her website. "Whether it was serving as a PTA mom, a Naperville City Council member or a state representative, I didn’t run away from challenges—I ran towards them."
Senger is running in the 11th District, a seat now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville.
This blog doesn't dabble in Chicago politics very often, but the ongoing Metra investigations reach pretty far.
Today, Democrat Deb Mell was chosen to take the seat on the Chicago City Council left by her just-retired father, Dick Mell.
Deb Mell was chairman of the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee, one of many groups probing the ongoing Metra scandal, which includes House Speaker Michael Madigan's attempts to get a campaign donor a pay raise.
Mell's new job means she won't be doing the old one anymore, and its unclear to what extent lawmakers will hold more hearings about Metra.
A couple more suburban lawmakers have signed onto state Rep. David Harris' call for Metra board Chairman Brad O'Halloran to step down.
So far, Republican state Reps. David McSweeny of Barrington Hills, Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and Barbara Wheeler of Crystal Lake have become official backers of Harris' call.
It wouldn't be surprising to see more people jump on board by the end of the week.
Six months into the year, the video gambling machines in bars and restaurants across the state now pull in more revenue than all but one Illinois casino, including the mighty Grand Victoria in Elgin that used to be the biggest cash-generator in the state.
In June, the video poker and slot machines in bars beeped and dinged their way to $23.2 million in revenue before taxes statewide. That number is only growing.
In the same month, the Grand Victoria pulled in $16.7 million. Harrah’s in Joliet did $16.9 million.
The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is still king at $35.2 million in June, but look for bars’ video gambling to keep creeping up, perhaps making it the biggest “casino” in Illinois.
The announcement today that businessman and former GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rod Gidwitz will be backing Republican Bruce Rauner for governor comes with some implications for state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale's bid.
Dillard's 2010 campaign counted Gidwitz as a supporter and still owes Gidwitz about $185,000 in loans from that campaign.
Only about $18,000 separated the second-quarter fundraising efforts of Republicans Darlene Senger of Naperville and Chris Balkema of Channahon in their bid to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.
Senger, a state lawmaker, raised about $82,500 in the last three months, and Balkema, a Grundy County board member, raised about $64,600. Ian Bayne, a private investigator from Aurora, didn't file a report, according to federal election records.
The close fundraising numbers could indicate a tight primary race to come, but some perspective is important. Over the same three months, Foster, of Naperville, raised about $275,000.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, will take his gubernatorial announcement tour to DuPage County today, an area he's represented in the Illinois Senate for 20 years since 1993.
It's his last stop of the tour, and his current term in office is likely to be his last in the Senate. Dillard is serving a two-year term in office, and he can't run for both governor and Senate at the same time.
If he wins, he'll be the next resident of the governor's mansion. But if he loses, he won't have the Senate to return to, barring some unforeseen and unlikely maneuvering.
Gov. Pat Quinn has an ally in a top suburban Republican in his drive to find a solution to the state's $100 billion in pension debt by cutting lawmakers' pay.
"Drastic times call for drastic measures," DuPage County Board President Dan Cronin told me today.
Cronin reached out to Quinn's office Wednesday to support the governor's plan to cut lawmakers' salaries off until they send him pensions legislation. Cronin said he works with the governor's office on various issues every week, so his contact with Quinn and his staff isn't out of the ordinary.
But as Quinn faces questions about his ability to lead because the pension issue remains unresolved, Cronin has voiced his support.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard will announce his candidacy for governor Monday.
I reported as much in my column Friday, but the Hinsdale Republican's website post makes it certain. He'll be the last Republican to get in the race unless WLS-AM talk show host Dan Proft gets in.
Proft told me last week he's still thinking about it.
This video of U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam at a committee hearing features him using a favored phrase to describe President Barack Obama's delay of implementing his health care reform law.
"Now we've got a situation where, essentially, the administration, for years, has been pumping sunshine," he says.