Community Bankers Association of Illinois

CAPITOL FAX - 11/08/2007

The subscriber-only blog password this week is: CROSS

LEADERS; LAUZEN; MILLER; DUGAN; RONEN; RADOGNO; GOLAR

LEADERS TO "MEET" AGAIN TODAY

The four legislative leaders will meet for the second time this week with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but they won't be face to face. Instead, they'll meet by teleconference to try to hammer out the remaining differences between them over the gaming expansion bill.

That won't be easy. There is strong resistance among several of the leaders to Senate President Emil Jones' absolute demand for set-aside minority ownership of any new riverboats. The House Republicans, among others, would prefer that minorities be guaranteed a certain percentage of contracts that riverboats let in their respective communities, but Jones reportedly rejected that suggestion, saying they could add that idea to the bill if they wanted to, but he still wants the ownership language.

Speaker Michael Madigan's demand for strict controls over the Gaming Board and involvement by the Illinois Supreme Court in appointing its members has also run into a brick wall. Madigan has said he will not support any expansion unless his ethics demands are met. But his proposed language is so over the top at this point that it is deemed unacceptable.

And then there is the problem of how much money the boat bill would raise. Madigan's proposal would bring in less than one backed by Senate President Jones. Jones, Blagojevich and the two GOP leaders want a 70-30 split of the additional proceeds between capital and school funding, but Madigan's proposed solution wouldn't bring in enough money to fund the proposed capital plan and have much left over for schools.

Madigan's demand that racetracks be awarded slots is a lesser sticking point but is still problematic. Existing riverboats near the tracks (particularly the two Metro East boats and the Rock Island casino) aren't wild about the idea of new competition in the area, so the proposal is seen somewhat as a poison pill. Also, if the proposal is dropped, the tracks will have to be generously compensated or the leaders could have problems passing the bill because of the large handful of racing industry supporters in the General Assembly.

Also, none of the other leaders is truly convinced yet that Madigan is serious about wrapping this thing up. Madigan told Cross last week that he believed a solution could be found in seven to ten days, but Leader Cross and Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson both said this week that they thought the process would take much longer than that.

And then there's Madigan's strange negotiating stance. The Speaker has reportedly delegated Leader Cross to speak for him during negotiations. On Tuesday, Madigan and Cross talked for several hours about the gaming plan, then the four tops and the governor sat down for about an hour before Madigan left. The meeting continued for another two hours as the other leaders attempted to make some progress.

LAUZEN POLL CLAIMS TIE

State Sen. Chris Lauzen's campaign released a poll this week claiming a tie in the race to replace former US House Speaker Denny Hastert.

Stu Rothenberg reported that the Public Opinion Strategies poll of 300 likely primary voters taken late last month showed Lauzen and dairy magnate Jim Oberweis tied at 38 percent, with Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns polling at 4 percent. Oberweis has higher name recognition (97 percent) than Lauzen, whose name ID was supposedly 74 percent.

The wealthy Oberweis can outspend Lauzen, but Lauzen recently loaned his campaign $325,000, surprising many local observers. Lauzen has a large grassroots organization and has focused on his conservative voting record and rolled out several policy ideas, unlike Oberweis, who has mostly remained unspecific. Oberweis is running cable TV ads in the district and has made a lot of local hay by attacking Lauzen for hiring Kane County Republican Party Chairman Dennis Wiggins. Oberweis claims that Lauzen tried to "buy" the chairman's endorsement, which created an uproar and eventually forced Wiggins to temporarily step aside. Oberweis' campaign claimed that Wiggins peddled his wares to them first, but Lauzen and Wiggins dispute that. It's a heckuva race.

THE REMATCH THAT WASN'T

A potentially nasty race fizzled out this week when former Chicago Alderman and Cook County Board of Review member Bob Shaw dropped out of the 29th House District Democratic primary against Rep. David Miller.

Shaw filed to run on Monday, but dropped out on Tuesday afternoon. Shaw ran against Miller two years ago and was badly defeated, but the campaign was at times quite brutal. Shaw is a sworn enemy of Miller's political patron, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and was helped last time by lots of contributions from the state's payday loan industry. Miller was the principle sponsor of legislation that slapped more regulations on the industry.

RUMORS HOTLY DENIED

Widespread rumors in Rep. Lisa Dugan's 79th District that Gov. Blagojevich is behind her primary opponent have been hotly denied by the governor's people and some local politicos.

Myron Porter, a St. Anne Democrat with ties to a major African-American church in the district, filed Monday to run in the primary against Dugan. Rep. Dugan has claimed that Porter is backed by Blagojevich and her supporters claim that Kankakee County Democratic Party Chairman Don St. Germain was approached by the governor's people to help recruit a candidate. But St. Germain said recently that he only met Porter a few weeks ago and he suggested that Porter run for a different office.

St. Germain did admit that he was approached by unspecified members of the governor's circle and by people associated with Senate President Emil Jones about recruiting candidates in the area, but said they "never got specific" about particular races. St. Germain admitted to being a loyal supporter of Blagojevich, but stressed several times that he didn't push Porter into the contest - a claim that Dugan's supporters still don't believe.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

Suzanne Elder filed this week to run in the primary race to replace retiring Sen. Carol Ronen. She'll face wealthy philanthropist Heather Steans, who is backed by Ronen. *** A second Republican opponent has filed in the primary to run against GOP Sen. Christine Radogno. Brian Bartoz handed in his petitions this week. Greg Abbott filed previously. *** Perennial candidate Jerry Washington and Darryl Smith have both filed to run against Rep. Esther Golar in the Democratic primary. More races on Monday.

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