Bill Lipinski games the system to get his kid elected to Congress. The son keeps his dad’s cronies on the payroll, and two of them (includng one who remains on the payroll) are getting payments from his father’s childrens’ charity fund, which doesn’t appear to be doing a lot of charitable work except for Dan Lipinski’s benefit. Dan shares an office with his daddy’s lobbying firm and even pays that firm for advice, but he insists he never talked with daddy about a project that the elder Lipinski is working on.
mark pera has emerged as the early netroots favorite. he's demonstrated that he's serious about this race, lining up pat botterman as his campaign manager and julie sweet as his deputy. pera has gotten the dfa endorsement and convinced the local dfa groups (all outside the 3rd) to send in the troops. pera just announced the endorsement of citizen action, which has been a bellweather endorsement in past races.
pera has two videos up on his youtube page, "Mark Pera on the issues" and his first television ad, "It's Time". it's no surprise that pera is generating support from the netroots, given his efforts to appeal to them in the language we understand.
but pera is also following the traditional campaign plan, having commissioned a benchmark poll by penn, schoen and berland [PDF]. archpundit breaks it down:
401 Likely Democratic Primary voters +/- 5%
Lipinski Re-elect 35 percent
Wrong Track: 81 percent
Generic Congressional Approval: 37 percent
our own maven notes that mark pera won the ballot lottery.
also jumping into the race has been former prosecutor and army reserves lt. colonel jim capparelli. capparelli's main justification for entering this race appears to be that pera and the baby lipinski both live in western springs (does lipinski *really* live in illinois???). but unlike the pera campaign (to this point), the capparelli presence has just been catching up. he talks on his website talks about campaigning at the metra stations, and there seems to be a sparse nature (so far) to the website. as yet, no one seems to have seen him (although you'd expect that to change).
capparelli also generated some publicity, has a youtube page, where you can find this introductory video. his website now hosts a blog, although it appears to be only for the purpose of answering questions (or taking testimonials) rather than actively engaging the netroots or incorporating them into his campaign.
one capparelli supporter says, in the capital fax blog, that "the unions are playing a huge role in city elections and Capparelli has been lining up their support." that certainly remains to be seen, although the citizen action endorsement for pera (who's board and members who vote on endorsements is full of union representatives) may forebode otherwise. it's been reported that capparelli has the endorsements of local 399 of the operating engineers and teamsters local 786. that comment may be indicative of the strategy and expectations around the capparelli campaign and it will be interesting to see whether union support favors one candidate or is dispersed across the field.
one of the big disputes in this campaign is the presence of machine plants, or shills, expected to divide the anti-incumbent vote (for the incumbent's benefit). jim capparelli has taken great exception to being called a shill for the machine [PDF] even though it is said that "Many of his positions — on the war and abortion, for example — appear to mirror Lipinski’s." palos hills mayor jerry bennett also faces the accusation that he is the machine plant. kos has examined bennett's past and identified this continuing connection between bennett and lipinski:
Palos Hills mayor Jerry Bennet -- a Lipinski ally -- is supposedly running a legit race. Yet he endorsed Lipinski two years ago -- an endorsement that has been reposted on Lipinski's new and updated campaign site:
Gerald Bennett, the Mayor of Palos Hills and a health care executive, said Congressman Lipinski's proposals were an "excellent approach to helping American families become better health care consumers."
"The Congressman should be lauded for working with colleagues in both parties to craft initiatives that will not only improve health care availability and delivery, but also have a great chance of being enacted," Mayor Bennett said.
and yet, appearances can be deceiving. unlike john kelly, who was regarded as the shill in lipinski's first democratic primary in 2006, bennett has come to play. he's put together a well-regarded campaign team, with alex behrend, mia phifer, vasyl markus and lake research partners (celinda lake's polling firm). bennett garnered the endorsement of the other challenger in 2006, john sullivan.
bennett's reason for running can be found here:
A life-long Democrat and South Sider, Jerry Bennett is the only person running in Illinois 3rd Congressional District with the background and broad-based appeal in both the City of Chicago and the Cook County suburbs to win the February 5th Democratic Primary. Voters previously supportive of Dan Lipinski are fed up with the Congressman's support of George W. Bush and Jerry Bennett offers both realistic Democratic change voters seek and experience required.
the real problem is that lipinski seems to have alienated every single democratic constituency there is. given that democrats don't always agree on their priorities, it should be no surprise that there are different people running against a vulnerable democrat for seemingly different reasons. if only he wasn't mired in scandal and the machine wasn't under serious strain, he might have a better chance of weathering the storm. the presence of three serious challengers (at this point, i'm taking their word for it) certainly increases lipinski's chances at re-election.
what will be interesting to see is whether voters coalesce around one single candidate. if this is going to happen, it will begin before the television commercials get aired or perhaps even the billboards and lawn signs go up. voter contact is the only reliable means for generating such a consensus. as such, it's interesting to look at the ground activity of these campaigns.
the capparelli campaign reports that they've been making a big push going door-to-door for at least the last three weeks "with a big mailing." they've been hitting different wards in the city and get started at 8am every saturday morning. while they have a campaign headquarters (5602 1/2 w 63rd st), they appear to meet at different locations each saturday (so call the office if you want to help out). jim capparelli has also been making the veteran's circuit, speaking at a veteran's day rally as well as at local vfw halls in the district. their campaign calendar shows a couple of fundraisers scheduled over the next few weeks.
the pera campaign has been out in the field a little while longer. the campaign reports that mark pera has been going to train stations every (weekday) morning and walking with volunteers in the afternoons. they have also been conducting weekend canvassing with both the northside and oak park dfa groups. they report that they have a major outreach push on for december 1st and 2nd, as well as an id canvass on the 8th. the campaign reports fund-raisers planned for the 10th and 13th. most of their volunteer activities start out of their campaign office, at 7061 s. willow springs rd in countryside, although northside dfa car pools in from the city. i can't seem to find a calendar on the website, but i might have missed something.
the bennett campaign also has a campaign headquarters set up at 7229 w 103rd st in palos hills. the volunteer who answered the phone (they were in the midst of "a big conference call") didn't feel capable of answering any other questions about the campaign.
the lipinski campaign clearly relies on the machine for his re-election. the problem with this strategy this february is that the on-going battle between the governor and the speaker may divert forces from helping lipinski. there isn't a lot of crossover wards where the speaker will be defending incumbent state house members and il-03. and one just doesn't get the impression that lipinski's seat is that important -- at least, not more important than the speaker's forces in the general assembly. it matters how these four campaigns divide the map, where they concentrate on -- and where they have pre-existing support.
all four democrats can be contributed to online through actblue.