Tom Kacich: Meager amounts from local donors to Davis, Callis

Tom Kacich: Meager amounts from local donors to Davis, Callis

Not too many Champaign County residents appear to be excited about the 13th Congressional District race.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' fundraising haul from Champaign County in the last quarter — $4,800 — was pretty meager. And his Democratic opponent, former Madison County Judge Ann Callis, didn't do much better. She raised $6,002 from Champaign County during the period April 1 to June 30.

Together, that's less than the $12,500 Davis raised in the same period two years ago, when he went up against Democrat David Gill and independent John Hartman.

Unlike Davis, who relied on political action committees for the bulk of his contributions (61 percent of the $554,943 he raised in the period), Callis had to get most of her money (72 percent) from individuals. Her campaign boasted that more than 80 percent of the contributions they have received were of $50 or less. Many of the donations to Callis from Champaign County residents were as little as $5 or $15, and were made through Act Blue, a website that allows people to make frequent, small donations to Democratic candidates.

But the big money in politics is with PACs. That $6,002 that Callis got from dozens of donors in Champaign County is only a little bit more than a series of $5,000 contributions she got from a number of Washington-based PACs: the American Association for Justice, the American Federation of Teachers, the Communications Workers of America, the International Association of Firefighters, the Machinists Nonpartisan Political League, the Service Employees International Union and the United Steelworkers.

Callis received $91,599 from about 50 PACs, but Davis got $338,040 from more than 200 of the organizations in the last quarter.

Callis also got some support from other Democratic lawmakers, but not nearly as much as Davis got from his Republican colleagues.

Among those stepping up for Callis were California Rep. Anna Eshoo, $2,000; plus another $2,000 from her Peninsula PAC; California Rep. George Miller's Solidarity PAC, $3,000; New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, $2,000; Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore's Giving Willingly Empowering Nationally, $1,500; California Rep. Loretta Sanchez, $1,000; Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Democrats Win Seats PAC, $1,000; Connecticut Rep. Rosa Delauro, $1,000; and Rep. Mike Quigley's PUCK PAC (the Chicago Democrat is a big hockey fan), $1,000.

Mayoral money

There's already a total of $47,620 in the campaign coffers of the four candidates for mayor of Champaign — and the election is about 10 months away.

The four announced candidates — there may be others in the wings — updated their campaign disclosure statements last week. They show Champaign Park Board President Joe Petry in the lead with $26,012 on hand, followed by Champaign City Council Member Deb Feinen with $16,246, Mayor Don Gerard with $2,829 and Council Member Karen Foster with $2,532.

The money available already indicates that next year's mayoral race will be much more costly than the 2011 race, when former Mayor Jerry Schweighart and Gerard spent about $42,00 combined.

In that race, Gerard didn't officially become a candidate until Sept. 29, 2010; we're not there yet in this mayoral election's cycle.

In the April 1 to June 30 quarter, Petry raised $25,031 to $9,349 for Feinen, $2,639 for Gerard and $750 for Foster.

McGinty running again

Brendan McGinty, who served two terms on the Champaign County Board and considered running for the Democratic nomination for Congress two years ago, says he's a candidate for the Parkland College board of trustees next year.

Longtime Parkland trustee Lin Warfel of rural Tolono said he will not run for another term. He's been on the Parkland board since 1991.

McGinty, 50, is a graduate of Parkland and the University of Illinois and owns Macora, a performance improvement consulting firm in Champaign. He is married and lives in Philo.

"I've seen the positive impact that Parkland has on lives, from me personally to many family members who have attended, to friends and others," he said.

New Richards job

Champaign County Board member Michael Richards, who had been Gov. Pat Quinn's downstate intergovernmental affairs coordinator — a state government job — has moved off the state payroll and now is on the Quinn campaign payroll.

Richards, who still lives in Champaign, was listed on the campaign payroll in Quinn's campaign disclosure report released last week. He also was with lieutenant governor candidate Paul Vallas on the latter's recent visit to town.

Bipolar Ricketts contributions

The four children of the politically torn Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, have been busy making campaign contributions in recent months, records show.

Todd Ricketts of Wilmette gave $2,600 in April to Davis and $5,300 to Republican state treasure candidate Tom Cross.

And the superPAC he heads, the Ending Spending Action Fund, doled out more than $2.8 million in seven races, the biggest chunk going to attacks on two U.S. Senate candidates (one a Republican, one a Democrat) in Georgia.

On the other hand, Laura Ricketts of Chicago gave $250 to Cross' opponent, Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs. She also gave $50,000 to Quinn, $5,000 to the Equality Illinois PAC and $1,000 to Democratic attorney general Lisa Madigan.

Tom Ricketts gave $50,000 to the failed Yes for Independent Maps group.

And on July 15, the fourth Ricketts sibling, Peter, gave $2,500 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Sunday and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 217-351-5221 or at

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