Paper or plastic? E-mail or fax? Weekly or as-it-happens news?
Rob Nesvacil of the Wheeling Township Dems this week reached out to see just how we'd like to receive information about the organization's efforts to "target local Republicans' talking points."
Which Republicans, and what talking points, I ask? (Following the anti-incumbent tide last November, there are a lot of 'em in the burbs).
Tenth District Congressman Robert Dold, Sen. Mark Kirk, and state Rep.David Harris are in among the first targets, I've learned.
Sure enough, the Township Dems issued a release today urging Sen. Mark Kirk to "go even farther in the spirit of bipartisanship" with his federal judicial recommendation of John Tharp, a partner at Mayer Brown. The release, which noted Tharp and his firm's contributions to Kirk's campaigns, lacked mention of Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin's four recommendations - two of which have made contributions to his campaigns.
Here's the release.
"On Tuesday, news media reported that Senator Mark Kirk (R) made his first federal judicial recommendation as part of a gentlemen's agreement between he and Illinois' Senior Senator Dick Durbin (D). Normally, a state's Senior Senator of the same party as the President makes such recommendations but Sens. Durbin and Kirk have agreed to share this function in a show of bipartisanship.
The Wheeling Township Democratic Organization strongly urges Sen. Kirk to go even farther in this spirit of bipartisanship and calls on him to end the Cold War-like standoff his Republican comrades are waging against the President and his court nominees lest Sen. Kirk's own suggested nominee also be caught in the Republicans' blockade. To date, the minority party's secret holds and filibusters are creating a judicial crisis by constantly freezing President Barack Obama's nominations for no reason other than crass political games.
As of June, 2011 the Senate had confirmed 89 of Pres. Obama's nominees but was sitting on an unprecedented 57 nominees in large part due to Republican obstruction. Meanwhile, more than 110 federal judgeships either already are vacant or are expected to become vacant before the end of Pres. Obama's term.
According to the Associated Press at one point last year these secretive Republican maneuvers in the Senate resulted in the lowest judicial approval rate in 40 years, even though many Republicans readily admit that Pres. Obama's nominees are uncontroversial and capable jurists.
Noting that black mark on the Senate's Republican caucus and advocating for Sen. Kirk to take an active role in resolving it, Wheeling Township Democratic Committeewoman Kathleen Sances said, "In his victory speech last year Mark Kirk promised we Illinoisans that he would work for bipartisan cooperation in Washington. With today's judicial recommendation by Senator Kirk it's high time he started fulfilling that promise to us by encouraging his fellow opposition party Republicans to stop their petty, un-American blocks of so many of President Obama's well-qualified judicial nominees."
The President of the American Bar Association, Stephen N. Zack, recently expressed his concern about these unfilled chambers to the ABA Journal, saying, "Our federal courts have a constitutional responsibility to execute fair and timely decisions. Persistent judicial vacancies threaten the courts’ ability to do this, eroding public confidence in our system of justice." Moreover, conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts called for politics to be put aside and chided the Senate in his 2010 annual report for delaying the approval of judicial nominees.
Committewoman Sances' fellow Wheeling Township Democrats encourage GOP Sen. Mark Kirk to break his comrades' Cold War-style blockade so the Senate's duty of advice and consent on President Obama's experienced and highly competent nominees can continue with up or down votes as the Republicans themselves have demanded until recently.
The all-volunteer citizens' group also questions the appropriateness of Sen. Kirk using his first recommendation to suggest John Tharp, an attorney with Mayer Brown, for the federal bench given that Mr. Tharp donated $500 directly to Mark Kirk's 2010 campaign while Mayer Brown employees over the years have donated more than $28,000 to Mr. Kirk's various campaigns.