Friday, October 19, 2007



This morning Congressional Quarterly features a dismal look at the election to succeed the disgraced, retiring Denny Hastert in Illinois' 14th CD west of Chicago. They make it clear that the Insider media sees this as a race between millionaires and big money interests with the grassroots off somewhere on the sidelines. "In the race to succeed Republican Rep. J. Dennis Hastert in Illinois’ 14th District, personal wealth stands to play a large role. The departure of the former House Speaker before the end of his term could make those funds even more critical, as the candidates vying to replace him face the prospect of participating in multiple elections in the coming months."

Three of the candidates looking to grab Hastert's seat are willing to try buying it with their own money. Owning a congressional seat has certainly paid off for Hastert and the former highschool wrestling coach in now a very wealthy man-- although he may face prison for accepting bribery.

The 3 candidates who have shoveled their own wealth into buying the seat are far right Republicans Chris Lauzen and Jim Oberweis and Blue Dog "Democrat" Bill Foster. FEC reports just made public shows that each of these "front-runners" in the money race-- though not the ideas race-- has  written personal checks for the overwhelming amount of cash they've "collected," cash used by Insiders and media to "prove" they are front-runners.

Oberweis is a well-known ice cream maker and perennial candidate who has spent millions in the past to try buying offices for himself and has always failed. He is hoping voters in IL-14 aren't paying close attention. "In his statement of candidacy filing with the FEC earlier this year, Oberweis reported that he expected to contribute $2.5 million of his own money for the primary and another $2.5 million for the general election." He's already written checks to himself for over $650,000 and Hastert has neither been indicted yet nor even said when he's leaving.

Similarly extremist state senator Chris Lauzen has written himself checks for $325,000 for his campaign and even though he is well-positioned to get contributions from the Big Business interests whose positions he always favors, over 60% of his total receipts come from his own fat purse.

The Democratic moneybags is political novice Bill Foster, an admitted Blue Dog whose policy agenda is similar to the Republicans', although couched in less far right rhetoric. He is another multimillionaire who thinks the "Congressman" appellation would look good before his name on cards. He's already written checks to himself to the tune of $321,000. He's also very corporate-friendly and although he would be a catastrophe for families and workers, he is well-positioned, like the Republicans, to rake in lots of dough from the Big Business interests he will serve faithfully if he ever gets to Congress.

Fighting against these three financial goliaths is a union carpenter with a well-grounded vision for changing American politics, John Laesch, a young man with a big vision. Blue America has enthusiastically endorsed him and we will endeavor to help grassroots activists in IL-14 to help him compete against the big money interests that the media and the Insiders are pushing. If John wins his race he will represent working families, not Big Business. That's unique. Last year he shocked the establishment by coming out of the blue-- actually he came out of Iraq, where he had been in the army-- and holding Hastert to a 60% win, forcing him in the process to spend nearly $5.2 million to keep his seat. (John spent $306,020. In other words, John's grassroots-funded campaign spent 25 cents for each vote he got while Hastert's corporate bribes put out the absurd amount of $45.50 per vote.) John was an insurgent candidate with no one behind him last year but a handful of progressive activists, Iraq war veterans and working families. His spectacular showing last year, which helped bring the local Democratic party victories in several parts of the district, has rallied the local party around him. And for all the cash Foster is putting in-- and all the clout Illinois political boss Rahm Emanuel is putting in-- the majority of elected Democratic precinct committee people in the district have already endorsed John. If you'd like to be part of the contest for the Democratic Party's-- and America's-- political soul, please contribute here.


Andy Shaw at ABC-TV seems to know a lot more about the race than anyone else covering it-- although I spoke with the Chicago Tribune's Jim Tankersley and he's clued in too. Both these guys realize it isn't just about who can write himself the bigger checks.
At issue for Republicans is the date of the special election. If Hastert leaves in the next few weeks, Gov. Rod Blagojevich could schedule the special election for February 5, which is the same day as the presidential primary --when the Democrats are expected to turnout in full force. That means a Democratic candidate like John Laesch, who ran a strong race against Hastert last year, would have a good chance of taking over the predominately Republican 14th District west of Chicago.

"Illinois is in place. It's going to increase turnout significantly to have Barack Obama on the ticket especially," said John Laesch, (D) 14th District Candidate.

And that's not a chance State Sen. Chris Lauzen, (R) Aurora, wants to take. He wants Hastert to stick out the rest of his term so that there will be less of Democratic turnout.

"Why take a risk?" said State Sen. Lauzen.

Cook County Clerk David Orr thinks the February 5 date makes the most sense financially.

"If you have it on another date than February 5, that's a lot of judges you have to pay for and polling places. I would try to avoid that if I could," said Orr.

Even Blue Dog multimillionaire Bill Foster understands more of what the race is about than most of the media. "The big driving dynamic here is that people want change." He's correct-- so why doesn't he just get behind John Laesch and donate some money to his campaign?

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At 1:14 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Look at our neighbor district. The DCCC spent $3 million on Duckworth's race, had a so-so candidate, and now we have Rep. Rawscum. Now we are expected to say that a couple million from Foster, a lackluster candidate in all regards except money, will win this race? Sure. If that is the case, look forward to Rep. Lauzerweis.

Jared Lash

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous yinn said...

Just because a candidate has $$ does not necessarily mean that s/he is trying to "buy" a seat. Personally, I think Foster's resume is quite impressive.

You have written about the estate tax. Foster is a member of Responsible Wealth, which supports the estate tax, wants a rollback of tax cuts, and promotes simplified, fair, progressive taxation.

I suppose you must exaggerate and emphasize the "blue dog" stuff, but it doesn't make it accurate.


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