Daily dose: Local history, 13th Congressional District fundraising, Light workload in Springfield
In 1912, contracts will be signed this week for the Urbana and Champaign Railway, Gas & Electric Company to furnish most power to the Bonner Manufacturing Co. in Champaign. Just as soon as the material arrives, the company will construct lines that will carry the electricity direct from the big power house in downtown Champaign to the factory. The Bonner factory now has five boilers that supply power for the operation of their machinery, but with the increase in business, it has been found necessary to get additional power.
In 1962, the architecture firm of Richardson, Severns, Scheeler and Associates was awarded the contract to design an elementary school in west Champaign. The school will be on a 10-acre tract the school board purchased from Scott Weller. It is about 350 feet east of Duncan Road.
Big fundraising in 13th Congressional District
From Sunday's column ...
Think there might be some big money spent this year in the normally sedate congressional district race in the area that includes Champaign-Urbana?
Consider that the normally underfunded Democratic contender, Bloomington physician David Gill, has about 50 percent more in his campaign fund than he did at this point two years ago, that his Democratic challenger Matt Goetten has more than four times as much money as Gill, and that incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson already has $468,367 on hand — almost three times more money than he has ever reported in the 12-plus years of his congressional campaign fund.
It’s all because congressional redistricting has moved Champaign-Urbana out of the comfortably Republican 15th District that stretched down the eastern spine of Illinois into a new 13th District that arcs across the state from the twin cities through Decatur and Springfield and down to Edwardsville and Collinsville.
It’s a more Democratic district, perhaps even marginally majority Democratic.
That’s one reason Johnson’s campaign has set a goal of raising as much as $1.5 million, according to Mark Shelden, the former Champaign County clerk who is now Johnson’s chief of staff and is consulting for the Johnson campaign.
“We hope that people stay out of this race and that it comes down to Tim Johnson versus David Gill or Tim Johnson versus Matt Goetten,” Shelden said, “but we can’t prevent it from coming down to Tim Johnson versus the DCCC (the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee).”
The DCCC has placed the 13th District race on its third tier of campaigns this year, in the “Emerging Races” category, below “Red to Blue” and “Majority Makers.”
In campaign disclosure reports filed last week, Johnson’s campaign said it had raised $163,759 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. Fifty-three percent of the contributions came from political action committees; 47 percent was from individuals, most of that amount itemized. Ninety-four percent of his campaign donations in this election cycle were from Illinois, according to the website Opensecrets.org.
Still, among Johnson’s largest contributors were political committees from outside the 13th District: $5,000 from the ERIC Pac, affiliated with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; $10,000 from the John S Fund, affiliated with Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville; $5,000 from the GOP Generation Y Fund, affiliated with Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria; $5,000 from the Jobs, Economy and Budget Fund affiliated with Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Republican Caucus; and $1,500 from the Lincoln PAC, affiliated with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
He also has received donations from PACs affiliated with companies and associations that appear before his two House committees: Agriculture and Transportation and Infrastructure. He’s received $5,000 from the Syngenta Corp. PAC and the Pork PAC; $2,000 from the McDonald’s PAC; and $1,000 from the Hershey Co., United Airlines, American Airlines, ADM, the Bayer Corp. PAC, the Altria Group, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and PepsiCo.
Goetten’s $143,312 in campaign receipts can almost be divided into three sectors: the candidate himself (a $50,000 loan made on Dec. 31); his family ($10,475 from his father, mother, brother, uncles and cousins, all of whom live in the district); and $11,500 from other Democratic politicians, including $2,000 from state Rep. Jay Hoffman (who was briefly a candidate for the 13th District seat last year), $1,000 from state Sen. David Koehler of Peoria, and a maximum $5,000 contribution from Sen. Dick Durbin’s Prairie PAC organization. The latter donation is considered a sure sign that Durbin will endorse Goetten in the March 20 Democratic primary.
Even more intriguing is a $500 contribution to Goetten from Dallas Ingemunson of Yorkville, who at one time was treasurer of the state Republican Party. According to campaign finance records, Ingemunson has contributed more than $70,000 to various state and federal candidates, all but $300 going to Republicans.
Ingemunson said he’s a longtime friend of the Goettens.
“I don’t usually give to Democrats, but there’s a very close relationship between our family and the Goettens,” said Ingemunson, who was state’s attorney in Kendall County for 26 years. “I’ve known Matt for a very long time.”
Goetten’s campaign manager, Vlad Gutman, said the campaign is “really happy about the response we’ve received from people. When Matt announced his candidacy, a lot of people stepped up to be a part of the campaign because they care so much about him becoming a congressman and fighting for the issues that people in central Illinois care about.”
Gill’s modest contributions in the last quarter of 2011 totaled $45,770, almost all of it from individuals and about one-third of it from Champaign-Urbana residents.
“Although my cash on hand is somewhat less than his, an important item to note is that the cash spent thus far has been used to build a strong network of support throughout this district,” Gill said.
He noted that he has outraised Goetten more than 3-to-1 in unitemized contributions — “money from people that can’t afford to plunk $200 in a congressional campaign,” he said. Gill so far has $44,363 in unitemized contributions, and Goetten has $13,507.
Light workload for lawmakers this year?
From the Chicago Tribune ...
Those are tall tasks to tackle during any year, but this time around there's an election in which all 177 seats in the Illinois House and Senate are on the ballot.
Not only that, but many lawmakers will be running in new territory after a census that led to redrawn district boundaries. That means they'll be courting voters unfamiliar with their work. The dynamic is likely to leave legislators squeamish about taking tough votes that quickly could boomerang on them in the form of over-the-top glossy campaign mailers that accuse them of being awful.
The widespread expectation in Springfield is that the General Assembly could nibble around the edges of the big issues this spring, doing just enough to tell voters back home they did their best but leaving the more difficult decisions until after the November election.
"I don't think it would be a big secret for me to say that there are many on the House floor who are not going to want to take votes on very controversial issues before the (March 20) primary," said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie. "In fact, we'll go farther: There will be people here who don't want to take votes on controversial issues until the general (election)."
Indeed, a light early schedule means lawmakers are hardly in town the next two months, providing plenty of time to knock on doors and shake hands back in the new districts.