Tom Kacich: 101st hopeful discusses endorsement by Proft

Tom Kacich: 101st hopeful discusses endorsement by Proft

Illinois House candidate Dan Caulkins says he didn't do anything special to earn the endorsement of radio host Dan Proft, his Liberty Principles Political Action Committee and, at last count, more than $105,000 in uncoordinated campaign support.

"Their mission is to recruit good, solid conservatives for government. They feel the need, and they have the ability to support people that they believe are honest, hardworking and conservative, people who can go to Springfield and articulate a conservative message and who believe in limited government, lower taxes, reducing the regulations on business that will make Illinois prosperous again. I fill that bill," said Caulkins, a former Decatur City Council member.

At the time he was interviewed by Proft last summer, he said he didn't know how much support he'd get or even if he'd be backed by the conservative group in the three-way Republican race in the 101st House District. The other candidates are Randy Keith of Monticello and Todd Henricks of Cerro Gordo.

"I wasn't the only candidate they interviewed in the 101st. After the interview they told me that there were other people they'd talk to before they made a decision. And they chose to support me," he said.

He said he's running his own campaign independent of Liberty Principles.

"I've run my own campaign. I've raised almost $40,000 on my own. They don't buy my yard signs," he said. "They have not put any money into what I'm doing. I run my own radio, my own Facebook campaign, my own yard signs."

Caulkins, who helped Gov. Bruce Rauner in Macon County in the 2014 election, said he's staying out of the feud between the governor and Proft, once a Rauner ally.

"He's in a primary now like I am, and, honestly, I don't have a lot of time to spend on that," Caulkins said of Rauner. "I know (Rauner challenger) Jeanne Ives. I've talked to her and met her. She's a very energetic and hardworking and intelligent person. But I'm not involved in that race at all."

He said he was "disappointed in couple things" Rauner did, mainly signing a bill providing for public funding of abortion and imposing a ban on local law enforcement from stopping or detaining anyone based on immigration status.

"Those are two bills he should not have signed. They got through the House because the Democrats pushed them through to try to embarrass the governor, and it was successful," he said.

As for his own race, Caulkins pledged not to take a paycheck, a state pension or health care.

"This is supposed to be about service. Too many people get to Springfield, and it's a job, and all of a sudden, they don't want to do anything to jeopardize that 60, 70, $80,000 a year job," he said. "It's not a gimmick. I truly believe it."

Caulkins, though, is 71 years old and has a military pension. He also is a partner in Patterson House Inc., which operates homes for adults with developmental disabilities, and assists in the operation of Franciscan Properties Inc., an assisted living facility in West Chicago.

When I suggested he might not need the pay or a pension like a younger person, he replied, "Well, talk to my wife. If we did away with the pension plan, I think we'd see a lot of legislators think that maybe they need to get a new job."

Lisa Madigan backs Jones

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has endorsed Erik Jones of Edwardsville for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District, which runs across central Illinois from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Collinsville and Edwardsville on the southwest.

Jones once worked for Madigan as her policy director.

"I first met Erik in 2011, when I testified in front of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on telephone bill cramming, a costly consumer protection issue," she said. "Erik told me he and his wife, who are both from downstate Illinois, planned to move back home to Illinois to be closer to family. I was thrilled to be able to hire him from the U.S. Senate to work as the policy director in my office.

"Erik assumed a key role in my administration and led many important efforts, including initiatives to protect Illinois workers from fees on payroll cards and to respond to the rash of data breaches affecting Illinois residents. During his time in my office, Erik pushed through the strongest data privacy protections in the country that require corporations to notify customers when their personal information has been compromised, and he helped pass legislation that protects small businesses from scammers known as 'patent trolls' who falsely threaten litigation to extort fraudulent 'licensing payments.'

"Through our work together, I know firsthand that Erik is an accomplished policy maker at the federal and state level and has the heart of a true public servant. I believe he is the best person to drive effective and needed change for us in Congress."

Polling notes

There are some interesting polling nuggets in a survey of 866 Illinois voters taken this week for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss by the Raleigh, N.C.-based firm Public Policy Polling.

— President Trump's highest favorability, by geography, is in downstate Illinois, where he has a 46 percent favorable rating. But 49 percent of downstaters view him unfavorably, and only 5 percent are not sure, the poll found.

Trump's worst rating is in the city of Chicago (23 percent favorable), followed by the Cook County suburbs (34 percent) and the collar counties (36 percent).

Trump got 38.8 percent statewide in the November 2016 election. His overall favorable rating statewide now? 37 percent.

— Gov. Bruce Rauner's numbers are worse than Trump's all over the state: 30 percent favorable downstate, 15 percent in Chicago, 30 percent in the suburbs, 25 percent in the collar counties. His overall favorable rating statewide is 26 percent. He won in 2014 with 50.3 percent of the vote statewide.


— Jones and his family will host a pizza and appetizers party from 4:30 to 6 p.m. today at Jupiter's at the Crossing, 5211 Village Green Place, Champaign.

— Another 13th District candidate, Jon Ebel of Urbana, will host a reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Sylvia's Irish Inn, 312 W. Green St., Urbana. Tea and refreshments will be served.

— Six of the eight Democratic candidates for Illinois attorney general have committed to attend a forum from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Champaign-Urbana Independent Media Center, 202 S. Broadway Ave., Urbana. Those who say they'll be there include state Rep. Scott Drury, former federal prosecutor Sharon Fairley, attorney and former public defender Aaron Goldstein, former Gov. Pat Quinn, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and attorney Jesse Ruiz.

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

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