Political news

Wisconsin Gov. Candidates Meet For Final Debate Tonight

Oct 17, 2014
State of Wisconsin / Burke for Wisconsin

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are scheduled to meet for their second and final debate.

Tonight's debate in Milwaukee will be broadcast nationwide.

The one-hour debate begins at 7 p.m. It is being broadcast live on about 100 radio and television stations, including statewide on public television and nationally on C-SPAN.

Walker argues he turned around the state's economy. Burke says Walker failed in his first term and isn't advocating for the middle class.

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Republican Bruce Rauner is out-raising and out-spending Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn in their race for Illinois governor.

Quarterly campaign finance reports were due Wednesday.

In the last such report before the election, Rauner says he raised and spent more than 20 million dollars between July 1st and the end of last month. Quinn raised about 8 million dollars and spent more than 15 million.

The majority of Quinn’s money came from unions and other political committees. Rauner’s biggest contributor was himself.

twitter.com/BruceRauner; twitter.com/QuinnforIL

Governor Pat Quinn and challenger Bruce Rauner continue to battle over what's best for Illinois’ future.

The top candidates faced off in two televised debates. The focus of last night’s debate was mostly African American voters - and the issues they’ll be thinking about on Election Day.

Both candidates on stage at the DuSable Museum realized the importance of this voting block.

My investments and my donations to the African American community have totaled 10s of millions of dollars.
--- Republican candidate Bruce Rauner

Thirty-one thousand Illinois voters turned in online applications.

That's according to the State Board of Elections, which says more than a third of those arrived in the final two days before last week's deadline.

It was the first time Illinois allowed applicants to register online.

Voting rights groups pushed for the change. Critics question the process's ability to properly screen identities.

First Debate For Illinois Treasurer Happens Today

Oct 15, 2014
State of Illinois

The candidates for Illinois treasurer face off this morning for the first debate in a tight race. Republican State Representative Tom Cross and Democratic State Senator Mike Frerichs both want to be the next state treasurer.

It’s a race that’s been surprisingly negative, and Frerichs’ campaign manager Zach Koutsky says it’s all Cross’ fault.

"Our 22-year statehouse opponent has been smearing every time Sen. Frerichs comes out with a proposal to improve an existing program in the office."
--- Zach Koutsky, Mike Frerichs's campaign manager

Office of the Illinois Attorney General

The Republican challenging Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she's not doing enough to fight corruption.

Paul Schimpf is running on this campaign slogan: "Trust a Retired Marine, Not the Madigan Machine!" A reference not only to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, but also to her father -- House Speaker and head of the state Democratic Party, Michael Madigan.

Schimpf says both are part of a political class that has proven it can't police itself.


Chicago's mayor has one less challenger. Incumbent Rahm Emanuel wishes Karen Lewis a quick recovery from her cancerous brain tumor.

The Chicago Teachers Union president says she won't run for the mayor's office.

Lewis was seen as Emanuel's most credible re-election opponent. She often tussled with the mayor during the 2012 public schools teachers' strike.

In a statement, Emanuel said he respected and admired Lewis' willingness to be part of the conversation about Chicago's future. He said he looks forward to seeing her back on her feet.

DeKalb Mayor Officially Looking For New City Clerk

Oct 14, 2014
City of DeKalb

DeKalb Mayor John Rey is officially looking for a city clerk.

The seat was left open after the early resignation of Liz Peerboom last month. Peerboom left after expressing frustration with the senior city staff.

Rey said anyone interested in the position should contact him, and “a cover letter of interest with a brief resume is requested.”

The appointed clerk will serve until the April election. After that, he or she can choose whether or not to run for rest of the term.

The position pays $5,000 annually.


A fight over the federal budget led to a government shutdown about a year ago. Partisan tensions remain over what to do about popular, but expensive, programs.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, and one of the party's nominees for Congress --- former Judge Ann Callis --- called a press conference Monday. The theme? The effects of their respective opponents' -- Republican State Sen. Jim Oberweis and Congressman Rodney Davis -- fiscal plans.

Campaign website

Republican Senate candidate Jim Oberweis says ground troops may be needed in Iraq to defeat ISIS. But he says sending U.S. troops back to Iraq is not an idea that Americans will support right now.


Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner are nearly tied in the polls as the November election approaches.

Libertarian's nominee, Chad Grimm, wasn't part of the first televised gubernatorial debate, hosted by public broadcasting stations and the League of Women Voters in Peoria Thursday night. The League's established rules require a candidate poll at least ten-percent; Grimm has polled at five-percent, or at times edging closer to eight.

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Both major party candidates for governor say Illinois should put more money into education. But neither is ready to embrace a controversial plan that would change how state money is distributed to schools.

A proposal passed by the state senate is meant to even out how much money schools have to operate. Schools where poverty is high and property values are low would get more state funding by cutting money for wealthier districts.

Supporters say the change is fair. Gov. Pat Quinn isn't on board.

The two leading candidates for Illinois governor met Thursday night in Peoria for the first debate of the election season. Both men stuck closely to the ideas they’ve been honing for months on the campaign trail.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, are running carefully scripted campaigns.

Quinn has a populist message: That he’s a friend of the working man, always looking out for the little guy.

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Democrat Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner will meet for their first true debate of the Illinois governor's race. The candidates are scheduled to face off tonight in Peoria.

WNIJ will carry this debate live starting at 8 o’clock tonight. at 89.5 FM. You can add your thoughts via Twitter, using #ILGov2014

Today is the final day to register to vote before the November election. Officials encourage voters to have their paperwork in by the regular registration deadline.

But those who miss it are not completely out of luck. Grace period registration and voting starts tomorrow and runs longer up to and including Election Day.

This spring, legislators approved online voter registration, which entails visiting the State Board of Elections website and providing information like name, address, the last four digits of a social security number, and a driver's license number.

Dan Libman

It's almost closing time for our `Politics on Tap' series.  Throughout the summer, author Dan Libman interviewed voters in their neighborhood bars, asking about their political concerns ahead of the election.  After a beer or two they opened up about Obamacare, the economy and redistricting.  Now, with `last call' looming -- at the bars and the polls -- Dan asked the regulars what issues they want the candidates to address.  Read the peoples' opinions in Dan's essay below. 

flickr user / Vox efx "I Voted" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois election officials say there are two days left for regular voter registration.

Residents who have a driver's license or state ID can register for the Nov. 4 election online through the Board of Elections website until Tuesday.

Regular early voting for governor, a U.S. senator and other state officers starts Oct. 20.


This week, Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem are scheduled to campaign for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. But over the weekend, actor Martin Sheen lent a hand.

According to the trade magazine "Variety," Sheen made as much as 300-thousand dollars an episode for his role as Democratic Pres. Jeb Bartlet in the show "West Wing." He says he was paid nothing fundraise for Quinn and call for an increase in minimum wage.


Illinois regulators continue to develop a plan to reduce the state's output of greenhouse gasses.

The state EPA and commerce commission are proposing a federal rule. It would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants. The Rev. Brian Sauder heads an environmental advocacy group.

"So we stand here today with 20,000 -- more than 20,000 petitions addressed to Gov. Quinn thanking him for saying that he supports President Obama in rolling out this Clean Power Plan. "
--- Rev. Brian Sauder

Talk Radio News Service

It's been a year since the Affordable Care Act launched. The state says 685,000 people have taken advantage of the law --- more than expected.

That includes Keith Moons, who says his family lost insurance coverage in 2011 and weren't able to get it back because of unemployment and preexisting conditions.

John Howard Association of Illinois

A watchdog group says whoever wins the race for governor will face difficult choices about Illinois’ prisons. The group is laying out what it’s calling a “roadmap” for overhauling crime and punishment — and wants to know where the candidates stand.

DeKalb County Online

DeKalb Mayor John Rey will announce he is accepting applications for a temporary city clerk position Oct. 13. That's after former clerk Liz Peerboom formally resigned.

The Daily Chronicle reports Rey is waiting for a written opinion from the city attorney before appointing a new clerk.

facebook.com/GovernorQuinn & facebook.com/BruceRauner

Republican candidate for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has been asked repeatedly by reporters about Trans Health Care. That’s a group of nursing homes with ties to Rauner’s namesake venture capital firm.

Here’s what Rauner had to say about the nursing home trial - when asked by reporters Monday.

I hope and believe that there wasn’t any wrongdoing done anywhere. If there was, it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
--- Republican Bruce Rauner, gubernatorial candidate

Illinois Governor Candidates Spar Over Taxes

Sep 30, 2014
facebook.com/GovernorQuinn & facebook.com/BruceRauner

Republican Bruce Rauner says eventually he wants to cut Illinois’ income tax rate from 5 percent to 3 percent. But he says that might not happen right away because taxes are scheduled to drop to 3.75 percent in January.

Rauner indicated that might be too much, too soon. So he recognizes lawmakers might have to temporarily raise taxes above 3.75 next year.

There’s a possibility. We need to look at all the taxes, the entire tax code.
--- Republican Bruce Rauner, gubernatorial candidate

Brian Mackey

Politicians, public employee unions and others spent the last several years focused on pensions. Illinois racked up a $100 billion unfunded liability -- largely because lawmakers didn't pay the state's share of its workers retirement benefits.

Eric Madiar is the top attorney for the Illinois Senate President. He found a report that said Illinois' pension systems were on the "verge of insolvency" in 1917.

"...and it stemmed primarily from the fact had not been properly been financing pensions."
--- Eric Madiar, Senate Democrats' Chief Legal Counsel


Bruce Rauner's campaign continues to point the finger at Gov. Pat Quinn for a prison early release program.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate ran ads slamming Quinn for the early release of inmates from state prisons. Some went on to commit violent crimes.

Durbin: U.S. Has Limited Power Over ISIS

Sep 25, 2014

Senator Dick Durbin says the U.S. only has so much power over the group known as the Islamic State. American air strikes expanded to Syria after six weeks of bombings over Iraq, where ISIS has strongholds. But Durbin says it's time for Iraqis to be the boots on the ground in the conflict.

"There are 900,000 people in the Iraqi Army. It's huge. A third of them, if well trained and positioned, could take care of this task for sure. There are about 20-50,000 in ISIL. So we certainly are not outnumbered and we won't be."

---Senator Dick Durbin

Dan Libman

This November, citizens will vote on a number of issues. Many of them will also participate in the next open enrollment period under The Affordable Care Act. The ACA, or Obamacare, remains a hot topic for political pundits. But will it motivate voters? For the third time this summer, WNIJ asked author Dan Libman to learn the mood of the electorate. Dan has been interviewing voters in the places they feel most comfortable: their neighborhood bars.

flickr user / Vox efx "I Voted" (CC BY 2.0)

Candidates from the Illinois Green Party will not appear on the November ballot.

Quinn, Rauner Agree To 3 Debates

Aug 20, 2014
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The Illinois candidates for governor have agreed to three debates, all of which will take place in October.