Donald Trump’s other attorney general problem

CHICAGO — Turn on any TV in Illinois and you’ll see ads from a slew of candidates for state attorney general who are vowing to battle a notorious tyrant, a racist fear-monger whom they view as a threat to democracy itself.

They’re talking about Donald Trump.

In the state’s first primary election of the Trump era, the president has turned the race to be Illinois’ top lawyer upside down, with the traditional focus on consumer protection, law enforcement and legislation taking a backseat to promises to fight tooth-and-nail against Trump.

The eight Democrats running for the party nomination in this solidly Democratic state have tapped Trump as the bogeyman in campaign material, debates and TV ads, promising to serve as the tip of the spear in a war against the White House.

“Sharon Fairley’s been taking on bullies and bigots her whole life,” says a narrator in one typical ad Continue reading “Donald Trump’s other attorney general problem”

Primary challenge squeezes Illinois GOP governor

CHICAGO — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner insists he is “100 percent” focused on the November general election, and not worried about the conservative challenger trying to unseat him on Tuesday.

His actions, however, seem to suggest otherwise.

His campaign has increased TV ad spending in Chicago. But the biggest signal that the Illinois Republican primary might be closer than anyone expected came when Rauner vetoed a major piece of gun reform legislation Tuesday that members of his own party joined in sending to his desk.

Rauner — whom the right has repeatedly hit as too liberal on social issues — had more than a month to consider the bill, but chose to use his veto power one week before the primary election. And he announced his veto intention on a conservative radio show popular in Republican-heavy downstate Illinois.

In this solidly blue state, it’s a decision that’s certain to haunt Continue reading “Primary challenge squeezes Illinois GOP governor”

Team Obama settles score with Lipinski

CHICAGO — Congressman Dan Lipinski was no friend to President Barack Obama when his fellow Chicago Democrat occupied the White House.

On Thursday, Lipinski got his comeuppance.

A collection of former Obama aides and supporters banded together to deliver some Chicago-style payback, just days before the embattled congressman faces a tough Democratic primary challenge that could end his career.

A campaign mailer from a super PAC backing Lipinski gave the group the opportunity to pile on Lipinski at the worst possible moment. The mail piece featured a photo of the former president on one side, and the words “Known for Leading.” The flip side offered a picture of Democratic opponent Marie Newman under the headline, “Known for Misleading.”

The idea that Lipinski — who voted against the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature achievement, and declined to endorse Obama’s re-election in 2012 — would try to use the former Continue reading “Team Obama settles score with Lipinski”

A Dem incumbent’s 2018 struggle: The Trump-emboldened challenger from the left

CHICAGO — Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) is facing the most daunting primary challenge of his nearly 14-year career — but you wouldn’t know it from his campaign spending.

While the conservative Democrat is under assault from the left with the best-organized and best-funded opponent he’s faced, Lipinski (D-Ill.) sat nearly dormant on the airwaves for three weeks as newcomer Marie Newman leveled attacks.

Newman began 2018 with less than $237,000 in her campaign account to mount a primary challenge, while Lipinski had six times that at $1.7 million.

Yet it was Newman who was first in the race to air TV ads during a critical period in the primary, the same period when polls showed the little-known candidate made huge gains in name ID.

It’s the latest illustration of Lipinski’s struggle to hang on to his seat as longtime Democratic incumbents across the country face challengers from Continue reading “A Dem incumbent’s 2018 struggle: The Trump-emboldened challenger from the left”

‘Cannabis candidate’ accused of abusing women and resume inflation

CHICAGO — Benjamin Thomas Wolf, an Illinois congressional candidate whose provocative campaign has captured national media attention, has smoked weed in front of an American flag, brandished an AR-15 in a campaign ad and is running ads on porn sites.

But his turn in the spotlight — the former FBI employee has been featured in write-ups in Newsweek, CNN and appeared in an interview on Fox & Friends — has unearthed a troubled past, including accusations of abusive behavior toward women and claims that he inflated his resume.

The allegations against Wolf, the so-called “cannabis candidate” who is running in a crowded Democratic primary against Chicago-based Rep. Mike Quigley, come amid a national moment of reckoning on sexual harassment and domestic abuse, and on the heels of a scandal involving Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary accused of domestic violence by two ex-wives.

Katarina Coates, a former Continue reading “‘Cannabis candidate’ accused of abusing women and resume inflation”

Illinois GOP candidate called AG candidate racial, gay slurs, colleagues say

CHICAGO – A Republican candidate for the Illinois state Legislature is under fire by his own party amid allegations that he asked an African American attorney general candidate if she was a “lesbo,” and used the N-word during a conversation with her.

Now, Illinois’ Republican House floor leader, Peter Breen, is calling for the candidate, Burt Minor, to drop out of a race for state representative.

“He’s not fit to be a Republican nominee for office, especially not the General Assembly,” Breen told POLITICO. “His conduct was outrageous.”

At issue is a conversation that took place last fall between Minor and Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold. Harold, the party-backed candidate for the GOP, who is also a Harvard Law graduate and former Miss America, was talking to Minor in his capacity as a Winfield Township chairman.

“[Minor] asked Ms. Harold personal questions about her marital status, and even Continue reading “Illinois GOP candidate called AG candidate racial, gay slurs, colleagues say”

Incendiary ad fuels primary challenge to Illinois governor

CHICAGO — The Illinois Republican whose “repulsive” campaign ad caused an uproar in the governor’s race this weekend remains defiant and unapologetic about the spot.

“Well, do I have everybody’s attention now?” state Rep. Jeanne Ives said Monday, as she began her address to the City Club of Chicago.

In less than a week, Ives has heightened her profile from little-known primary challenger to Gov. Bruce Rauner to talk of the state, a Twitter-trending phenomenon whose lightning-rod ad — criticized by one Democratic candidate for governor as “repulsive” — has grabbed national headlines.

Despite pressure from within her own party to take down the ad — which has been ripped as “racist,” “transphobic” and anti-immigrant — Ives has refused to back down, even admitting she’s taking advantage of what little time she has before the March 20 primary to drive up her name recognition.

Positive performances before editorial boards, Continue reading “Incendiary ad fuels primary challenge to Illinois governor”