Kacich: Frerichs happy where he's at

Kacich: Frerichs happy where he's at

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State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Champaign Democrat, said last week that he's "not looking at" running for governor in 2018.

If he did he'd likely be running against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the approximately $55 million Rauner's already got in his campaign fund, including a $50 million contribution the governor made to his campaign on Dec. 20.

Frerichs, by contrast, had about $235,000 in his campaign account last Sept. 30.

"I'm looking at the treasurer's office. I am two years into this office," he said. "We have big things we still want to do, in terms of our ABLE accounts (Achieving a Better Life Experience savings accounts for people with disabilities and their families), our college savings program, our Secure Choice savings program (coming in 2018) and we're focused on those things."

And he shied from offering support for any of the other possible Democratic contenders, but took a shot at Rauner.

"I think part of our problem with our state is that everyone is looking at the next election and not looking at the office they were elected to," he said. "At some point people have to stop campaigning and start governing. I had some hope after this last election the governor and Genera Assembly would sit down and focus on governing. But his reactions are to create web sites attacking other people and put $50 million into his campaign fund. It's clear it's going to be a two-year campaign, not two years of governing.

"I choose to focus on governing and managing my office rather than campaigning right now."

Given the amount of money Rauner has signalled he's willing to spend to get reelected, Democrats may turn to their own big-money candidates, or at least candidates who have access to big money: Chicagoans J.B. Pritzker or Chris Kennedy, who formerly headed the University of Illinois board of trustees.

Brown moves on

Adam Brown, at the age of 32, is retiring from the Illinois House to do what he loves: running his family's farm in Macon County.

Brown, a Republican from Champaign, is the only local legislator whose term will end Wednesday when the new General Assembly — the 100th in the state's history — is sworn in.

Brown, who did not seek reelection to a fourth term in the House, will be replaced as the 102nd District representative by Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, who is making a return to the Legislature. Halbrook was a representative from 2012 to 2015.

Brown called the career shift — really only a moderate one since he's been farming all along — "bittersweet."

"I've especially enjoyed working with my colleagues, especially under (House Minority Leader) Jim Durkin. It's been a tremendous honor to be part of his leadership team," said Brown, who has been Republican conference chair. "But ultimately my primary responsibility is upholding what I think is so important, and what makes me me, and that is our family farm.

"It's fun to come back. I was out here hauling beans this morning and my dad was here and my grandpa's here. It's really nice to have that family interaction and the opportunity to do so."

Brown said he likes politics and intends to stay involved but isn't certain how.

"I'm not positive if I'll ever seek elected office again," said Brown, who burst into politics at the age of 23 when he was elected to the Decatur City Council. "But I definitely enjoyed my time. It's just a matter of placing priorities on time and life with family."

The Browns have two children, ages 3 and 1.

"My wife and I are building a house right next to the farm (near Warrensburg) so between that and running the operation we've got a lot of irons in the fire," he said.

Marlin money

Democrat Diane Marlin, one of four candidates for mayor of Urbana, already has raised more than $20,000 in her campaign, and has $18,858 in her treasury.

Neither of the other Democratic candidates — Mayor Laurel Prussing or Evelyn Burnett Underwood — have filed a statement of organization in advance of the Feb. 28 primary election. Prussing, who has been through this exercise three times earlier, likely won't file with the State Board of Elections until later in January. That's been her practice.

The sum Marlin has raised so far is in line with the amounts Prussing spent in her three successful mayoral campaigns: $22,407 in 2013; $17,674 in 2009; and $23,975 in 2005.

Marlin has loaned her campaign $3,000, but she's also received $5,000 from William Soderstrom of Fox Point Wisc., $1,000 from Champaign businessman Peter Fox and $1,000 from Dixie and Gregory Whitt of Urbana.

Soderstrom, incidentally, has been a friend of Marlin's "back to the second grade in Streator, Illinois," she said. "And here's the cool thing: he's the grandson of Reuben Soderstrom, who was a famous Illinois labor leader."

Reuben Soderstrom was president of the Illinois Federation of Labor from 1930 to 1970. He also was a Republican state representative from 1918 to 1936, and was a major proponent of child labor laws, and public education, according to Marlin. Carl Soderstrom, also of Streator and also a former Republican legislator, was Reuben Soderstrom's son and William Soderstrom's father.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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vcponsardin wrote on January 08, 2017 at 11:01 am

"Happy Where He's At"?!  So grammar has now gone out the window along with journalistic integrity at the ol' N-G?