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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.