Tom Kacich: Cost-per-vote winners and losers

Tom Kacich: Cost-per-vote winners and losers

The results are in and the winners of the Most Cost-Efficient Primary Election Victor award — an award I just made up — are Carol Ammons, Pat Quinn (sorta) and Jim Oberweis (for real).

An electoral candidate gets this prestigious award by a) winning the primary and b) spending as little money as possible.

The first hurdle is important because otherwise this year's award-winners would have been 13th Congressional District Republican Michael Firsching, who got 2,145 votes without spending any money. (At least he didn't report any spending to the Federal Election Commission).

Other cost-efficient losers were Tio Hardiman, the Democrat who got 123,078 votes against Quinn (34 cents for each vote); Doug Truax, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate against Oberweis ($1.16 for each of his 326,948 votes); 13th District Democrat David Green ($1.83 for each of 4,431 votes); Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard ($7.92 for each of his 302,035 votes); and 13th District Republican Erika Harold ($12.43 for each of the 20,921 votes she got).

The two least cost-efficient losers — a real double whammy — were 13th District Democrat George Gollin of Champaign ($50.05 for each of his 9,908 votes) and Democratic Illinois House candidate Sam Rosenberg of Champaign ($51.55 for each of the 2,511 votes he received).

On the other hand Bruce Rauner and Rodney Davis won, but they spent a lot of money doing it. Rauner spent $47.16 per vote ($15.24 million for 323,296 votes) and Davis spent $43.40 ($1.205 million for 27,773 votes).

The winners, therefore, are Democratic Illinois House nominee Ammons of Urbana (who unlike Quinn and Oberweis had a legitimate opponent who outspent her) who spent $14.23 for each vote she got; Democratic Gov. Quinn ($4.68 per vote) and Republican U.S. Senate nominee Oberweis ($1.47 per vote).

The latter is significant because Oberweis had a reputation for wildly spending and losing anyway. In the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary, for example, he spent $15.64 per vote. There's a chance the old Oberweis could return this year when he takes on Democrat Dick Durbin, a race he has said will require millions of dollars. An early poll shows Durbin with a 24 percentage point lead.

Passing petitions

The Yes for Independent Maps group — the remarkably well-funded organization that is pushing for a state constitutional amendment that would allow for an independent citizens' redistricting commission to draw state legislative district boundaries — reported spending $1.285 million in the January through March quarter.

Of that sum an equally remarkable $1.062 million went to NW Democracy, a Portland, Ore.-based firm that is paid to gather signatures for statewide initiatives in a number of states,

Michael Kolenc, manager of the Yes for Independent Maps group, said the petition-passers are not paid for each signature they get.

"They are paid $14 an hour if they work over 30 hours a week. Petition gatherers are staff and not contractors and are trained on a daily basis," Kolenc said in an emailed response to questions. "They report to one of our four offices in Chicago, the collar counties or Rockford."

In Champaign County, though, a corps of volunteers has gathered more than 12,000 signatures on "Yes" petitions.

"We have been clear from the beginning that collecting this many signatures would require hundreds of staff collecting on a daily basis," Kolenc said. "A large amount of our signatures are collected by our 28 regional volunteer teams, an infrastructure that will be around after signatures are submitted to Springfield."

Trent Shepard of Urbana, who said he has collected at least 1,500 signatures on petitions, said he didn't resent that he did his work for free while others were paid.

"From the beginning they were clear with us that this is what had to be done," Shepard said. "It's sad to me that this couldn't all be done with volunteers but I guess they knew what they were talking about."

He noted that the campaign's coordinators reported recently that volunteers had gathered only about 75,000 of the reported 450,000 signatures expected to be collected.

"So if that's all that volunteers alone would have gathered this would have been another failure," Shepard said.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he felt the same as Shepard.

"It's the reality of getting to that huge number," he said. "You're going to need both. You're going to need them to pull in those big numbers. A large majority of their numbers will be valid. But you're going to need the volunteer ones that are going to have a high degree of validity to get them over the top when it comes to the petition challenge."

Yes for Independent Maps reported $1.87 million in campaign contributions during the three-month period ending March 30.

Naomi says no

Last week a rumor popped up — I got three calls about it within an hour — that retiring state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, was interested in becoming the Democratic candidate for Champaign County clerk to oppose the currently unopposed Gordy Hulten.

Nope, said Jakobsson.

"I hope they haven't started passing petitions," Jakobsson joked. "I have no plans to run for county clerk. I do not plan to run for clerk."

Jakobsson, 72, who served 12 years as county recorder and is completing her 12th year in the Legislature, said she is looking forward to retirement.

"I fully want to be able to spend time with my family and to do some volunteer work in the community," said Jakobsson.

Incidentally, Jakobsson told me that her family has lived for about 40 years in the Urbana home once owned by O.L. Browder, the Urbana mayor who censored the showing of the 1913 film "Traffic in Souls," which was the topic of my column last Wednesday.

Rose a believer

Rose stayed out of the four-way Republican gubernatorial primary this year, but on Wednesday night he told the county GOP convention that he's on board the Rauner bandwagon.

"I'm enormously excited after talking to him yesterday. We had a wonderful conversation about the University of Illinois and how Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich have destroyed the leadership of this institution that I have two degrees from," Rose said. "He's going to open tons of field offices in downstate Illinois and he's made a commitment to the citizens of Illinois and to rebuilding the Republican Party of Illinois."

Intrigued about the remarks about the UI, I asked Rose what Rauner said about the university.

"We talked about the board. We talked about how they ignore the alumni association," Rose said. "I'm not going to get into anything else now because I think he will do that. But I was just happy to hear someone talk about growing it and making sure that it is a premier institution in the world, that it was and that it can be again."

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

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Political Observer wrote on April 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Well, Tom, you've given us the start of what could be a very good investigative journalism article on the massive fraud involved in the "Yes for Independent Maps" campaign. Thank you for showing us the tip of the iceberg, as revealed by the numbers you've provided for us on the amounts raised and spent by the campaign itself and also by what you've chronicled for us on the campaign's extensive use of "petition gatherers for hire," the hired hands who go out and endlessly solicit and harrass people in an attempt to trick them into supporting an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that they know very little about.

Political Observer wrote on April 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Perhaps now some of the News-Gazette readers here in the article discussion forum --  the few who aren't apologists for millionaires and billionaires, anyway -- can lend you a hand with some of the research that will be necessary to fill things out a bit, and show your readers how totally corrupt the "Yes for Independents Maps" effort has been, right from the very start.

Political Observer wrote on April 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

But first, here are a few numbers that might surprise a few people who haven't been following this thoroughly-corrupt campaign so far:


Biggest benefactors of Yes for Independent Maps

    Kenneth and Anne Griffin - $250,000
    Illinois State Chamber of Commerce - $80,000
    Harrison Steans - $50,000
    Steve Kersten - $50,000
    Robert Stuart - $50,000
    Barry MacLean - $50,000
    Gordon Segal - $40,000
    Illinois Manufacturers Association - $35,000
    Barbara Stewart - $30,000
    Alexander and Robin Stuart - $25,000
    Robin Steans - $25,000
    James S Crown - $25,000
    Jim and Maxine Farrell - $25,000
    Jennifer Steans - $25,000
    Roger Stone - $25,000
    Leo Smith - $25,000
    M. Blair Hull - $25,000
    Bill and Cathy Osborn - $20,000
    Peter Huizenga - $15,000
    Jerry Reinsdorf - $10,000
    Michael Keiser - $10,000
    Ronald Gidwitz - $10,000
    William Kunkler - $10,000
    Sheli Rosenberg - $10,000
    Ed Bachrach - $10,000


As you can see in this table, Ken and Anne Griffin have given at least a quarter of a million dollars (a very small fraction of their many, many billions) to try to grab re-districting away from the Democrats.

I say "at least a quarter million dollars" because the date of the last campaign contribution on the list above is 2-26-14, and I'm sure that Ken and Anne have made additional contributions since then.  

In fact, as you can see below, they tossed another $50,000 into the the pot just recently, back on the 11th of this month, as this link shows:


Yes for Independent Maps            

Griffin, Kenneth and Anne
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Occupation: Aragon Global Management
Employer: Portfolio Manager    

4/11/2014    Individual Contribution

Political Observer wrote on April 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Now, if you don't happen to remember who billionaire hedge-fund owners Ken and Anne Griffin are, that's OK...Just copy and paste this phrase into the search query box of your favorite search engine:

"money laundering" "Rodney Davis" "Doug Ibendahl"

Even though this is a topic that the News-Gazette apparently doesn't want you to know much about, Mr. Google is pleased to inform you that it's an important issue that's been widely discussed among those interested in Illinois politics.

In actual fact, Ken and Anne Griffin were the nice couple that Rodney Davis introduced to a number of Illinois County Republican chairmen, so that the Griffins could make large donations to each chairman.

Industriously working both sides of the scheme himself, clever little Rodney then sold over-priced tickets to a Karl Rove Chicago-area benefit to the same chairmen who'd received the donations, and thereby ended up netting a big profit for the Illinois State Republican party that he was temporarily in charge of (during the short period of time that Pat Brady had temporarily stepped aside, to allow young Rodney a taste of the big time).

If you're a Republican, you'd probably call this a clever way of getting around the maximum campaign donation limits that were still in effect at the time.  If you don't happen to be a Republican, though, it certainly looks and smells like what's commonly referred to as a standard money laundering operation.

Political Observer wrote on April 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

For those of you who have worked on (or maybe just signed) the "Fair Maps" petition, Mr. Google will give you some nice photos of the photogenic billionaire couple that you've just helped out, if you copy and paste this line into your favorite search engine:

reboot illinois ken anne dias griffin

Political Observer wrote on April 22, 2014 at 2:04 am

And if you want more than just some nice pictures of Ken and Anne Griffin to look at, one of the many search results that Google gives you is for  RIch Miller's Capitol Fax blog, and it goes to an item he  posted back in June of 2012 on the Griffins:

So, hey, take a look at this item at Capitol Fax, sample a few of the many interesting reader comments at the end, and then, if you signed the Fair Maps petition or were in some way involved in the petition campaign for it, ask yourself if you're still glad that you helped participate in the campaign that the Griffins shoveled more than a quarter million dollars into, in order to help their effort to help "Reboot Illinois!"  Thanks!

Political Observer wrote on April 22, 2014 at 2:04 am

This Chicago Tribune article is from our recent April Fool's Day, 4-1-14, but unfortunately it's already out-of-date from the standpoint of how fast the ultra-big money has been coming in to the "Fair Maps for Billionaires" program.  

The quarter-million dollar campaign contribution that Ken and Anne DIas Griffin made (that I'd just been writing about) is now essentially pitiful pocket change ever since former  Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked in $500,000 (and members of the Crown family of industrialists  tossed in another $100,000, just to sweeten the pot a little bit.)

It sure doesn't take long to raise campaign contributions, does it, if you can get people like the Former New York Mayor to give you a half-million dollars worth of free speech at a time?!

Here's the link:

 [Excerpt]  The coalition pushing the effort "has received more than $2.5 million in contributions as it tries to get a question before voters this fall asking to switch to a more independent way to craft the boundaries. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently gave $500,000. Venture capitalists Kenneth and Anne Dias-Griffin have kicked in $250,000. Members of the Crown family of industrialists have tossed in another $100,000.

That money has been used to create field offices, help pay for petition passers and to amass a defense fund for a possible legal challenge to the effort to get the redistricting change proposal before voters.

It takes about 300,000 valid petition signatures to get on the Nov. 4 ballot. On Tuesday, the Yes for Independent Maps group said it has gathered 346,759 signatures, but hopes to collect between 450,000 and 500,000 signatures by April 18. Some signatures could be found invalid, so it helps to have a cushion."

Political Observer wrote on April 22, 2014 at 3:04 am

It's interesting that many times when you find media articles on the "Fair Maps" proposal, like the one above from the Chicago Tribune,  the same article will then throw in some information at the end on what Bruce Rauner is going to do to try to DestroyIllinois! as well, once he buys himself the Governor's office next November:


"Besides the [map] redistricting proposal, Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner is seeking to ask voters to change the state constitution to limit state lawmakers to eight years in office. Rauner’s plan also would reduce the size of the Senate, add some seats to the House and make it harder to overturn a governor’s veto."


Say what??!!  Go back and read that one again!  That's my advice, anyway, since that paragraph seems a bit weirder each time you go back and read it again!

Rauner doesn't JUST want to buy the Governor's office.  He also wants to keep turning over the lawmakers in office again and again (each serving no more than 8 years), just constantly turning and churning them over, so that none of them can ever accumulate enough experience to do anything but say, "Yes, Sir, Mr. Governor!"...He wants to change and rearrange all the seats, and then make it harder to overturn his vetoes, as well!

Why not just pass a Constitutional Amendment that makes him Dictator for Life?!
Maybe then he could begin calling his proposed constitutional amendments the "Say Yes! to a Fair Governor" Amendment!

That way, if you're against it, then everybody can say that you're against having a fair governor!!  And, sorry, we don't allow that kind of thing around here anymore!