Ammons cashes in

Ammons cashes in


In what will be perceived statewide as an upset and a stunning defeat for House Speaker Michael Madigan, Urbana City Council member Carol Ammons soundly defeated Champaign attorney Sam Rosenberg, 57 percent to 43 percent, in the Illinois House district that includes most of Champaign-Urbana.

In raw numbers, Tuesday’s unofficial total was 3,298 for Ammons to 2,497 for Rosenberg.

Ammons, 41, will face Republican Kristin Williamson of Urbana in the November general election. 

Williamson was unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican primary in the 103rd House District.

Ammons’ win — the first by a black candidate in the House district that includes Champaign-Urbana — also apparently means that a woman will continue to represent the district. 

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, who is retiring, has held the seat since January 2003.

Rosenberg, 29, was backed by Madigan’s campaign operation. He had endorsements from Jakobsson, plus the Democratic mayors of Champaign and Urbana and the Democratic state’s attorney of Champaign County. He had received more than $185,000 in itemized campaign contributions compared to only about $16,000 for Ammons.

But Ammons said Tuesday that her campaign had raised close to $60,000, most of it small donations from within Champaign-Urbana.

“Almost all of my donations were under $200, or $25, $50. Some people put me in their budget and gave me $40 every month from October. These are just working people, some retired, who said: This campaign is important and I want to put something into it,” she said.

Ammons credited her volunteer corps with organizing the upset win, including former Urbana City Council members Danielle Chynoweth and Esther Patt, and Michelle Jett and Maryam Ar-Raheem.

“The reality is, I couldn’t have projected this. I had never run a campaign this large. But I did know that my inner circle was a group of really experienced, connected, wise individuals who had run many campaigns before. And they did have an idea. They knew what it was going to take. But the pieces coming together, that was the surprise,” Ammons said.

“We knew the pieces we needed. We just had to get the right people together, and some people came forward that I didn’t know,” Ammons said. “We had a retired physician who came forward to do data entry. She’s been working like a full-time job for no pay for this campaign. Who knew? I didn’t see that on October 5th (the day she announced her candidacy). But as we kept building the campaign, people kept coming forward.”

In the closing weeks of the campaign, Ammons hit Rosenberg for his connections to the longtime Speaker of the House. Rosenberg had received $48,672 in in-kind contributions from Madigan’s Democratic Majority political action committee — plus another $11,750 in in-kind aid from the Friends of Michael Madigan committee. Further, several Madigan lieutenants in the House — including Reps. John Bradley of Marion, Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook and Frank Mautino of Spring Valley — donated to Rosenberg’s campaign.

Ammons’ biggest contributions were $5,000 — from both the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union.

“We’re dealing with a campaign of the people,” Ammons insisted. “I’m just a regular person of this community and have served here for a number of years. And I don’t have the backing of the machine. That’s the truth.

“And here you have (Rosenberg), who doesn’t have that experience behind him, hasn’t done that service, and that person is backed by the machine. I think people are sending a clear message that they do want something different. They just want a regular person.

“That was a very clear message from the beginning. Our campaign has been run by volunteers, over 250 to this point today. You have people who are willing to stand on the street corners all day to hold a sign that says, ‘Vote for Carol Ammons.’ What else can you say about a campaign like that?”

Rosenberg said he planned to remain in Champaign-Urbana, and he endorsed Ammons in the general election.

“I want to congratulate Mrs. Ammons on her victory,” he said. “Now we need to focus on bringing the party together so that we can make sure that this seat remains in Democratic hands.

“And I want to thank all of my supporters and everyone who came together to help on my campaign, and especially for the service and help of retiring Rep. Naomi Jakobsson.”

Ammons’ candidacy produced big Democratic turnouts in the two predominantly African-American precincts in Champaign-Urbana. In Cunningham 1 in Urbana, Democratic voters outpolled Republicans, 210-14. That was a greater disparity than in the 2012 presidential primary, when Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 136-15. 

Ammons beat Rosenberg in the precinct, 193-13.

In City of Champaign 1, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 216 to 12, and Ammons beat Rosenberg, 204-11.

In Ammons’ home precinct — Cunningham 6 — she defeated Rosenberg by a 86-19 margin.

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):2014 election

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wayward wrote on March 19, 2014 at 8:03 am

What really blew me away wasn't the result. Rather, it was what a shockingly poor job the Madigan people did on Rosenberg's campaign. The mailers attacking Ammons for her vote on CB seemed dumb and tone-deaf, but when I complained to the people running his campaign about them, the response was underwhelming. It sounds like they weren't too interested in local people's feedback, period. The day before the election, about five pieces of mail from them arrived, and I was about ready to bang my head on my desk. There were a plenty of comments on my Facebook feed from reasonable people I knew who'd been really turned off.

If this is how Madigan's people run campaigns, maybe it's more "stunning" that they manage to win any of their races.

787 wrote on March 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

To me, the biggest negative with this campaign were the actions of Eric Jakobsson.  He just didn't know when to give it up, and let go.

wayward wrote on March 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

Whether you agree with Eric or not, he expressed his sincere opinions.  I thought that was a lot better than the canned crap the Madigoons were sending out.

787 wrote on March 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Someone needed to pull Mr. Jakobsson aside, and asked him what exactly he was fighting for.  

Unfortunately, the answer to that question was "nothing".  It is not his wife's position anymore. Once Naomi announced her retirement, then it is up to the people to fill it.  Yet, he acted like he had something at stake... when he had nothing at stake. 

So, he should have let it go, stepped back, and just let the people decide.

FLN wrote on March 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

The Jakobssons have thoroughly diminished their name.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on March 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm
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It appears that flooding people's mailboxes with campaign literature might not be an ideal strategy, after all.

The response from the local Dem establishment towards Ammons' campaign was very telling.  Their message was basically: hey, blacks and poor folks.....we expect you to vote for us, but don't you dare get too big for your britches and try to run for larger offices outside of your neighborhoods.

Hopefully, the likes of Prussing, Gerard, and Jakobsson have got the hint that a whole lot of people in this community, including a whole lot of Democrats, can't stand any of them, and don't appreciate being told who they should vote for.

spangwurfelt wrote on March 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

I don't know if I have ever received campaign mailings more ridiculous than the ones I got from the Rosenberg campaign. And two or three a day, too, full of unpersuasive faux populism.


alabaster jones 71 wrote on March 20, 2014 at 4:03 am
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The never-ending stream of mailers are probably the main reason that he lost.  I don't think the Rosenberg campaign was familiar with the concept of oversaturation.

cjwinla wrote on March 20, 2014 at 9:03 am

The conduct an disrespect by the Jakobssons has cost them all  respect and appreciation from the African American community and elsewhere. It will be interesting to watch as she will surely launch a lobbyist career how the black caucus in Springfield will receive her. Not well would be my guess . I used to like her, now I hope to never see her again. 

wayward wrote on March 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm

It's difficult to imagine Naomi working as a lobbyist. But my guess is that she and Eric would probably be fine with never seeing you again, so you're probably in agreement on that point.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on March 24, 2014 at 8:03 pm
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I'll bet the Jakobssons' African-American children still like them, and I know Jonathan still lives in the community. So there's that.


I talked to some people who'd confused the Anti-Ammons Prussing Letter (an outright attack, which challenged readers to take its author at her word) with the previous day's mailing (similar envelope and font) containing a Letter From Naomi Jakobbson. Maybe that's the case elsewhere.

aantulov wrote on March 27, 2014 at 12:03 am

Who will/is looking out for ward 3 during this opportunity grab? A successor and currrent go to person needs to be named. Mr Ammons, is not my choice for many reasons. What is his position on the eyesore gas station on Lincoln Ave that's not employing people or the back up problems on the east side of the park? Who is named will decide and will affect this possible win.And more importantly the fate of ward 3 which has not been served but used as a stepping stone.
Participation is the first step. But does the district understand all at stake on a the local level?