Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Nancy Rotering: “I’ve always been raised to be an advocate”

Rick Pearson is joined by Highland Park Mayor and Democratic candidate for Attorney General Nancy Rotering. Nancy shares what prompted her entry into the race, her stance on the NRA, the importance of prioritizing public access to information, and more.

Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Nancy Rotering: “I’ve always been raised to be an advocate”

Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul: “I think we need to do more in terms of examining victim resources”

Rick Pearson is joined by State Senator and Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul. Kwame expresses how he’s been interested in the Democratic Attorney General position for years; his previous collaborations with Lisa Madigan; the importance of analyzing the diversity throughout the state, and more.

Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul: “I think we need to do more in terms of examining victim resources”

The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Full Show 1/21/18

On this edition of The Sunday Spin:

Rick Pearson is joined by the Executive Director of Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, Rebecca Shi. Rebecca explains what DACA is, its impact on the current government shutdown, and much more.

Then, Rick continues his interviews with candidates for Democratic Attorney General as he speaks with Highland Park Mayor, Nancy Rotering. Nancy shares what prompted her entry into the race, her stance on the NRA, the importance of prioritizing public access to information, and more.

For our last guests, Rick talks with State Senator and Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul. Kwame expresses how he’s been interested in the Democratic Attorney General position for years; his previous collaborations with Lisa Madigan; the importance of analyzing the diversity throughout the state, and more.

The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Full Show 1/21/18

Tom Kacich: Biss, Rauner piling up local endorsements, donations

There’s little question about who the most passionate Republicans and Democrats in East Central Illinois — those who are willing to write a check — support for governor in the primary election this March.

For the Democrats, it’s state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston. And Republicans want Gov. Bruce Rauner for another round.

Biss has picked up a pile of local endorsements in the six-way Democratic primary for governor: state Rep. Carol Ammons, former state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson and her husband, Eric, former Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, the Champaign County Young Democrats, Champaign City Council member Alicia Beck and county board members Josh Hartke and Kyle Patterson.

And when it comes to campaign contributions, he’s the runaway winner among Democrats with $7,275 from Champaign, Urbana and Danville, although none of it is from Danville. His biggest local donor is Drora Shalev of Champaign, with a $2,500 contribution.

Chris Kennedy has raised only $525 locally.

And Democratic frontrunner J.B. Pritzker — with a $42.2 million campaign so far — doesn’t have any other donors, let alone local ones. His campaign is 100 percent self-funded.

Rauner’s team hasn’t compiled a list of endorsements although a couple of area legislators, including Reps. Tom Bennett and Bill Mitchell, have gone on the record for Rauner over his challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton.

The governor so far has collected about $7,282 in itemized contributions — $7 more than Biss — from supporters in Champaign, Urbana and Danville. The biggest donation is $1,500 from Daniel Wells of Champaign.

Ives, who hasn’t campaigned any closer than Charleston-Mattoon, is still looking for her first itemized contribution from the area.

It’s another indication of how the late start to her gubernatorial campaign — she didn’t announce until around Halloween and didn’t raise any money until Nov. 11 — has hurt her.

Ives raised $438,579 in November and December, an impressive amount that could be viewed as more than Rauner collected in the quarter. The governor reported $2.755 million in the three-month period, but $2.5 million was from Ken Griffin, Illinois’ wealthiest man and a longtime Rauner pal.

But a poll last week of likely Republican voters by the firm We Ask America found that about 65.5 percent favored Rauner and 20.5 percent sided with Ives.

Most telling, though, was that 68 percent of the likely GOP voters said they hadn’t heard of Ives, a conservative lawmaker who is running to the right of the governor. Even in the Chicago collars counties, where Ives is best known, 65 percent of the Republican voters said they had never head of her. Downstate almost 70 percent said they weren’t familiar with Ives.

The news wasn’t all good for Rauner either. A quarter of the GOP voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of him. His unfavorables were highest among women (26.5 percent), voters ages 35-44 (35 percent) and those in the collar counties (30 percent). His favorables were highest among men (68 percent), those ages 18-24 (71.5 percent) and those living in suburban Cook County (67 percent).

Judicial primary

Judicial races seldom draw a lot of intense interest from voters, much less judicial primaries. But the Republican circuit judge contest between Judge Randy Rosenbaum, who was appointed in 2016 to replace retiring Judge Harry Clem, and challenger Sami Anderson is intriguing.

Anderson is in a coordinated campaign with a group of other young Republicans — Gordy Hulten for county executive, John Farney for county treasurer, Allen Jones for sheriff and Matt Grandone for county clerk — while Rosenbaum is backed by judges and former judges.

“I’m certainly supporting her,” Hulten said of Anderson. “I believe that the others are too.”

But those supporting Rosenbaum include Appellate Court Justice Robert Steigannn and his wife, Sherry, who gave Rosenbaum’s campaign $300, and Circuit Judge Tom Difanis, who contributed $266.72. Developer Peter Fox donated $500 to the Rosenbaum campaign.

Further, former Judge Jack DeLaMar has cut an effective radio commercial on Rosenbaum’s behalf.

“We shouldn’t elect judges based on politics,” DeLaMar says in the spot. “We elect them based on experience and qualifications. And there’s nobody more qualified to serve as circuit judge than Randy Rosenbaum.”

The commercial then cuts to a female voice who improbably links Rosenbaum with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a favorite of political conservatives.

“Like new Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch, Judge Randy Rosenbaum believes judges should interpret the law, not rewrite it,” says the announcer.

In terms of fundraising, Rosenbaum has a big advantage with $35,849 on hand versus $4,423 in Anderson’s fund. But of the $43,566 that Rosenbaum has raised, $40,000 is from a loan he made to his campaign.

Miller money

Oakland Republican Chris Miller, seeking to replace Charleston Republican Reggie Phillips in the Illinois House, is picking up financial support and endorsements from quite an array of Republicans.

Miller is running against Charleston Republican Terry Davis in the 110th District, which includes all of Coles County plus all or parts of Edgar, Cumberland, Clark, Crawford and Lawrence counties.

Last week he announced the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana, who also gave Miller a $1,000 campaign contribution through his federal Middle Ground PAC.

Miller also got $2,000 from state Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville.

And he’s been the recipient of almost $5,550 in “independent expenditures” (for mail pieces and video) from Chicago conservative Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC.

I asked him how he was able to win favor from such a variety of politicians and groups.

“I’m a farmer. Everybody loves farmers,” he joked. “Well, the biggest thing is that over the years, you meet a lot of people.”

He said he knows Johnson through the former congressman’s son, Buzz, who works for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

He’s “had both a social and business relationship” with Halbrook for more than 30 years, he said.

Miller said he has never talked to Proft, although before he announced his candidacy, he was interviewed by Proft associates including Pat Hughes of the Illinois Opportunity Project.

“Basically the interview was to see if I was a moral and fiscal conservative. And apparently they determined that I was somebody they wanted to support,” Miller said.

“Most of these people are conservatives and they want to see conservatives going to Springfield and they know that that’s how I live my life. I don’t make it up,” he said.

Miller said he’s staying neutral in the Rauner-Ives race.

“Oh heavens no. That would be a landmine,” he said. “I have no desire to get involved in that mess. I have enough problems running my own campaign.”

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

Tom Kacich: Biss, Rauner piling up local endorsements, donations

Editorial: Illinois taxpayers deserve to know how their money’s spent

Don’t ask too many questions, Illinois taxpayers. It’s only your money. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration went out of its way to provide cover for several firms contracted to manage a briskly enacted privatization of Illinois’ massive Medicaid program.

Late last month, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services redacted reimbursement rates for insurers NextLevel Health, IlliniCare, Harmony and Meridian when Crain’s Chicago Business sought the information. The four firms claimed that disclosing the amount of public cash pouring in to run Illinois’ $15 billion-a-year program would result in undue harm in the open market. 

And, like a good puppy, Health and Family Services complied. 

Even more curious, the agency released the rates for three other insurers — Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois, CountyCare and Molina — that didn’t ask the people of Illinois to fund something without asking questions, Crain’s reported.

Recently, NextLevel Health realized the public relations nightmare caused by its desire to accept public funds without any semblance of accountability and released how much Illinois is paying for each Medicaid recipient it covers.

There’s a common refrain from the private sector looking to do business with government. Transparency is damaging to the bottom line, they argue. Open government injects too many pesky opinions into otherwise straight forward deals, they complain.

Yet, as any firm is keenly aware, these are basic requirements to working with government. Crying about disclosure, either before or after a deal is done, is downright disingenuous. 

Government is not private business. It does not tout the efficiency of a like-minded corporate board. Representative government is a large, clumsy exercise in balancing stakeholders’ interests. 

But none of the four that sought non-disclosure are the real culprit here. It’s disconcerting that large firms would demand to hide information from Illinois taxpayers while feeding from the public trough. 

It was Rauner’s administration that sided with big business over basic accountability to the public.

More than 3.1 million Illinoisans are enrolled in Medicaid. On Jan. 1, they were thrust into a hurriedly concocted scheme that is bound to result in denied services and reduced care. Just this past week, The Des Moines Register detailed Iowa’s shameful privatization effort. Payments are denied or withheld. Initial appeals are sent to the private firms, not a state oversight agency. Real people are struggling to access the health care system.

This, too, is the likely fate for thousands in Illinois. Business is about turning a profit. And, in the name of rooting out waste and fraud, a lot of Illinoisans in need will go without necessary health care. Already, advocates for children with special needs are crying foul. There’s is a chorus that’s bound to grow. 

Add to that a coordinated effort to cloak the program’s details in secrecy and it’s impossible to ignore just how poorly the Illinois Medicaid roll-out has gone so far. 

Roads, military and prisons — there are certain arenas in which government and government alone should operate. They’re areas of society too easily corrupted by profit. Providing health care for society’s poorest is among them.

But, to save a buck, Illinois has joined a growing number of states willing to shirk government’s duty.

And, in Illinois’ case, the desire for corporate privacy trumped the taxpayer, providing even less reason to have any confidence in the overhaul whatsoever. 

Editorial: Illinois taxpayers deserve to know how their money’s spent

Census 2020: High stakes for Illinois

One of the federal government’s most vital functions is one of its most overlooked. Americans rarely think about the U.S. census, the once-a-decade exercise that has at its core something many of us have little patience for: a questionnaire.

Yet so much hinges on people’s answers to those questionnaires, and the wealth of data they yield. The 2020 census is two years away, but there’s a whole lot of cause for Illinoisans to be concerned. Interim metrics tell us that Illinois has been bleeding population at an alarming — and accelerating — rate. It’s critically important that Illinois limit the damage from that outflow by urging its residents to help provide a full, accurate count.

Census findings serve as the basis for nearly $20 billion in federal money that Illinois gets every year for a vast array of needs — from highways and housing to health care and foster care. This state appears sure to lose one of its 18 seats in the U.S. House but could lose two. As that number shrinks, so does Illinois’ voice in the Electoral College. What’s the basis for the boundaries of federal, state and local voting districts? The census. And businesses from Walgreens to Walmart, sensitive to population growth or decline, use census data to help decide where to open and close stores.

At this point, Washington should be deep into its prep work for the census. But it’s not. The Census Bureau had wanted to carry out three dry runs around the country that would test new technologies as well as outreach strategies to ensure accurate counts. Congress, however, has underfunded census preparations, forcing the cancellation of two dress rehearsals. Field testing is especially important with this census, since it will be the first time questionnaires largely will be administered online.

The Trump administration also has yet to appoint a director to lead the bureau. And its push to ask people about their citizenship status has fueled fears of a substantial undercount. If it makes it onto the questionnaire, that question could lead Latinos and members of other groups who are fearful of the administration’s hard-line immigration policies to ignore the census, which always counts citizens and noncitizens alike.

That would especially hurt Illinois. In 2017, Illinois lost a net 33,703 residents, marking the fourth consecutive year of population loss and dropping the state to sixth largest in the country, one rung below Pennsylvania. The last thing this state needs is a census undercount that magnifies its population plunge.

The federal to-do list: Appoint a director, provide the funding the census bureau needs to do its job, and shelve the citizenship question.

But there’s also a state and local government to-do list. Illinois shouldn’t just sit back and hope for an accurate count.

Springfield and locales statewide can minimize the potential for an undercount here through public awareness campaigns. The message? Census data is confidential information that won’t be relayed to law enforcement, data that’s vital to Illinois’ representation in Congress and its fair share of federal funds. Illinois nonprofits and community groups with links to population segments vulnerable to undercounting also can ensure participation. County governments and agricultural groups can work on rural areas, while Latino organizations can calm fears about the census in Hispanic neighborhoods.

The potential alternative is a flawed census that robs Illinois of its rightful share of federal funding, further weakens its political clout, and makes investment here by businesses less likely.

Yes, Illinois is losing people. Let’s make sure the government counts everyone who’s here.

Join the discussion on Twitter @Trib_Ed_Board and on Facebook.

Census 2020: High stakes for Illinois