Thursday, December 20, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

IL-03 Roundup #2

there's been a slew of news in this race, for everybody running. rep. lipinski got the afl-cio endorsement [PDF] and the afscme endorsement. this isn't a surprise given the association of speaker madigan with lipinski, and madigan's closeness with the unions. lipinski also got the endorsement of pipefitters local 597.

mark pera got the endorsement of NARAL/Pro-Choice America as well as the endorsement of forrest claypool, who won almost 70 percent of the vote in four il-03 townships during the 2006 primary. pera was also endorsed by reformers ald. manny flores, ald. brendan reilly, ald. scott waguespack, st. sen. dan kotowski, st. rep. john fritchey, and mwrd commissioner debra shore.

jerry bennett has announced the endorsements of 66 local mayors; the southwest sider blogger lists them all. the one that is missing is the one undoubtedly supporting lipinski.

jim capparelli has no new endorsements since the last post. capparelli's website has an audio component to it's front page, which may have been there before (i often mute sound on my computer).

the politico called lipinski one of the five most vulnerable in 2008 primary challenges:

Lipinski has never been able to win over a large majority of Democrats in his Chicago-based district since he was appointed as the nominee after his father’s abrupt resignation in 2004. His relatively conservative voting record within the Democratic caucus has prompted attorney Mark Pera to mount a well-funded and well-organized challenge.

meanwhile, the national journal has taken notice of kos' efforts to lick lil lip.

the local newspapers are giving the race attention. clout street, the chicago tribune blog covered the endorsements that pera and bennett picked up. archpundit also covered pera's endorsement by local reformers. ray hanania, of the southwest news-herald wrote this column on the race:

In the end, the Democratic Primary election comes down to an organization effort. And there, Lipinski has the edge.

In the primary battle two years ago against John Kelly and John Sullivan, Lipinski won by a landslide, with 56 percent of the city’s 46,000 votes and 53 percent of the suburb’s 36,000 votes.

Work the numbers. Lipinski was solid in several heavy voting wards in Chicago, trailing Kelly by 400 votes in the 19th Ward, where Irish voters vote for the Irish above all else.

Lipinski’s vote margin in the suburbs were strong across the suburban areas of the district. He did better, though, in the city, mainly because he won huge voter support in the district’s other key wards, the 23rd, 13th and 11th.

Can Lipinski lose? Maybe, if the powers that be who represent voters in the 3rd District turn their backs on him and on his father, who spent years helping all those communities and leaders.

read the whole thing, which reflects the current conventional wisdom about the race.

jerry bennett has been getting increasing coverage. the daily southtown covered bennett's presentation before a gage park high school class:

While not a household name, Bennett is the best-known of Lipinski's opponents. More than 20 area mayors recently endorsed his candidacy. As Palos Hills' part-time, $28,000-a-year mayor - a post he has held for 27 years - and as a regional leader on several planning boards, Bennett touts his governmental experience as the characteristic that sets him apart from his opponents.

ray hanania (as well as archpundit) covered bennett's s-chip announcement. the reporter online covered a rally, where bennett says lipinski “has not done the job” and is a “Republican in Democratic cloth.” a radio interview with bennett can he heard here.

mark pera probably scores the best in the last couple of weeks, since his netroots following has been active in keeping his story alive. one of them posted this story from chicago's fox news on youtube. local tribune papers covered pera's endorsements by citizen action/illinois, claypool and naral. the blogosphere has been on fire for pera this month, starting with an in these times article, to archpundit's coverage of pera youtube offerings, openleft's coverage of candidate statements to dailykos writeups here and here. pera is also getting coverage in the capitol hill outlets, the hill and roll call. it's no surprise, then, that aaron krager argues that pera is winning the media war.

the capitol fax blog had a lively discussion about the turmoil of the lipinski campaign, with rich miller, as usual, providing some common sense.

not so new, but at least new to his website, dan lipinski offers up an old brochure [PDF]. interestingly, i think lipinski's new slogan ("representation you have come to expect!") is probably more accurate than his old one ("leadership. commitment. experience.").

capparelli has a new, printable issues page. he has a welcome video up, as well.

the bennett campaign got back to me shortly after posting the first post, and i gave them the opportunity to answer those questions. their campaign headquarters is located at 7229 W. 103rd St, Palos Hills, IL, 60465. (Phone: 708-907-5063), which is open everyday. they feel like their grassroots support is strong:

we have more than 70 Mayors from all over the region backing Jerry's campaign. Mayors are at the absolute grassroots level, ensuring the quality of life in their towns and communities is addressed and providing those essential services from water to libraries to parks and rec. Mayor Bennett is also a life-long South Sider and his extensive network of family (he's one of 13 brothers and sisters), relatives, friends, colleagues and civic contacts are doing everything from making phone calls to hosting coffees to telling their own friends and neighbors to collecting small-dollar donations for the campaign. Our Southside Swarm is also gearing up for a strong field effort in these weeks leading up to the Feb 5th Election Day.

they report they have "lots of "at home" projects - calling, netroots networking, etc - for at web-savvy folks!" email alex [] or call 708-907-5063, if you are interested.

pera put up a new cable ad, the youtube version is here. the campaign also sent out two direct mail pieces, available on the website. the "end this war" mailer is justified by a "fact sheet for this mailing." [PDF]. the campaign also released a third video message from the campaign to voters. that's using your web.

since the last post, the pera campaign has been joined by two new employees, deputy fund-raiser trevor montgomery, who is an iraq war veteran, and community outreach and field organizer, maura kelly. a video of montgomery is up on youtube here.

if the first posts in this series was designed to lay a foundation, this next group will be focused on looking at the fundamentals in this race. like blocking and tackling decide football games, the fundamentals decide elections. there are five fundamentals that are thought to be decisive in the outcome of elections:

1. the candidates
2. money
3. the environment (deciding factors that campaigns can't change)
4. the climate (deciding factors that campaigns can influence)
5. their organizations

probably the biggest deciding factor *right now* in this race is the political environment. while the incumbent has about a third of those polled who support his re-election, this is still a machine district. and it's not just any machine district, but the core of the chicago political machine. it will take more than half a million dollars to be competitive with the machine candidate in this district. there is such a strong undercurrent in the last two weeks that any campaign that hopes to be competitive will need to buttress itself and its voter base from the effect.

add to this the fact that the primary is february 5th. the machine is hoping that the weather is nasty -- typically, this is called precinct captain's weather, because some believe that only those who benefit directly from the chicago system will come out in such weather.

the bennett campaign seems to expect to import some of their own lil machines into the district for his benefit. many of the towns and villages who's mayors have endorsed bennett have non-partisan elections. that doesn't mean they don't have parties -- or machines -- just that they are not known by the democratic or republican label. we cannot know how committed these mayors are to bennett's election, but if they are, then machine or precinct captain's weather may not tilt the campaign one particular way. however, bennett can only benefit from importing lil machines if he's got his support id'ed by the time they come in (for the most part).

the final environmental factor that will strongly influence this race is the obama effect. barack obama drives turnout in illinois. his presence on the ballot in the primary of 2008 will have the same effect as his presence on the ballot in the primary of 2004 -- it will boost turnout significantly. and it will boost turnout beyond the normal surge turnout expected in a presidential year. turnout will be super-surged, and all those extra voters are not likely to go to the machine. of course, the good precinct captains know this, and they may have a plan to respond.

in many ways, as candidates the jury is still out for the non-incumbents. lipinski is, at best, a D candidate. that's a D for below average, not democrat. mark pera has shown promise, but i don't think he's shined (yet) like dan kotowski or deb shore did in 2006. his campaign says:

By any objective measure, Mark Pera is the viable challenger to Congressman Dan Lipinski. With less than 50 days to the election, Mark, myself and our campaign staff have been up and running full-time and over-time for nearly five months out of our offices here in Countryside. We have been up on cable TV since the end of October with two TV ads ("It's Time" and "Pain at the Pump"). We have four top-notch direct mail pieces out the door and in the hands of Democratic voters. The video messages that we have posted online at our Web site and on YouTube are watched by thousands of viewers. We've set the framework for this campaign and, perhaps most importantly, we are directing the new people and resources that have joined us to increase the pace of the campaign. For example, we recently opened a second field office in the city.

Mark has the talent and vision to provide real leadership for residents of the 3rd district. Since 2001, he has served as President of the Lyons Township High School Board of Education, which has an attendance area of 80,000 residents. The district is one of the top school districts in the state. As director of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office's Environment and Energy Division, he and his team was responsible for prosecuting major industrial polluters and well-known utility companies that were working against the public interest. It's these civic and law and order credentials that have helped him earn the trust and support of some of the leading reformers in Cook County and the state.

jerry bennett is still too new to the race. he's played an insider's game, to the extent he can, and hasn't really had the level of public appearances one expects from an a-level candidate. the bennett campaign tells us that the local mayoral network is significant in the southside and southwest side. they will leverage that as much as they can. bennett has been, by all accounts, an effective mayor who has organized his fellow mayors to gain influence in the state. but bennett's late entry is problematic. bennett's name recognition outside his town is limited. in pera's poll, capparelli had better name recognition than bennett. pera's name recognition was higher than either of them -- due to his earlier start.

jim capparelli has been almost invisible outside his base. so who knows?

the political climate favors the reformers. that's why there's so many looking to claim that label in the race. lil lip is vulnerable, and pera's campaign has specifically been designed to take advantage of that:

We're hearing from voters that they have decided to vote for Mark Pera on Feb. 5. The reason they most often cite is that our campaign is on the right side of the issues that the voters care about deeply, whether it's the Iraq war, energy and the environment, choice, personal privacy, stem cell research or health care. They think our current Congressman's leadership on these issues is inadequate, the don't like how Lipinski was put in office and voters want change. They know Mark can bring about that change.

the campaign that can seize the reformer label in this race seizes the advantage. that's why the pera campaign (and its allies) have worked so hard to grab the reformer label and present this race as one between pera and lipinski. this rankles the campaigns of the other two candidates, each of which brings their own advantages to the race.

actblue offers one way to tract money. at this date, actblue shows:

Jerry Bennett
Contributors: 22
Amount: $8,140

Jim Capparelli
Contributors: 5
Amount: $300

Daniel Lipinski

Mark Pera
Contributors: 1,859
Amount: $118,066

the bennett campaign tells me that they have raised $100,000 in the first 30 days of his campaign. yet even if they continue this pace, they still don't get to $500,000 (which rich miller reminds us is the "price" of competitive *state* legislator races in illinois -- there are three state senate districts in il-03). there's a reason why we advise campaigns to start early. pera may have outraised lipinski in the last quarter, but lipinski ended it with more cash on hand. i'd call that a tie.

it's a little harder to compare organizations. the word seems to be that lipinski's organization is crumbling. demoralized, even. there are rumblings that lipinski senior has seized control of his son's "organization" in order to right the ship. i wonder if it matters. the lipinski name isn't what it used to be. madigan will be the machinehead who decides where the resources go. if the speaker wants to keep this seat, and he's willing to sacrifice some other races he's interested in, he will. but we won't know until the last two weeks. the afl-cio and afscme endorsements could be vital to mobilizing behind lipinski -- if they get into the middle of it.

there's very little question that the pera campaign has the best organization at this moment. they've been aggressive about raising money, and this has allowed them to go on the air and in the mail. they've been outrageously successful at gaining earned media. they have opened a second field office, and plan "an amazing Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategy and we're fortunate to have the support of the volunteers and constituent groups we need to move from planning to action in the upcoming weeks."

i wouldn't underestimate the bennett organization. they have put together a "kick-ass chicago team to run bennett's campaign." he needs it. palos hills is a small town in the district, and the 3,000 votes he's gotten there in the past isn't close to what is needed to be competitive. in 2006, there were more than 81,000 votes cast in this primary. no one would be surprised if it went over a hundred thousand in february. the real question is, where will the extra votes come from? if they come out of the city, and the 19th ward holds its voters for lipinski, the incumbent wins.

numerous calls and emails to the capparelli campaign were not returned for this report...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's a Snow Day...

it started snowing last night. what fascinates me the most about when it snows is just how quiet it gets. very few cars are out. kids stay in. there are no animals or insects making noise. the snow falls by itself. it doesn't seem like the city (or a suburb) at all.

that's not what i expect. but i like the quiet. seems almost like the country. or another country. with snow.

we had 3-4 inches outside our door, which seems like a lot for the south side...