Monthly Archives: February 2013

Electing a Lieutenant Governor

Forty-three states have a lieutenant governor.  Twenty-five states elect a Governor and Lt. Governor on the same ticket.  In eighteen states, the Governor and Lt. Governor are elected on separate tickets.  Illinois is one of those twenty-five states where a Governor and Lt. Governor are elected on the same ticket.  In 2014, however, the state will implement a new law where candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor will run as a joint ticket in the primaries rather than as separate candidates as they do now.

Pre-2014 Governor/Lt. Governor Elections (Primary)

For Governor                                        For Lt. Governor
Bill Davis                                                Deborah Engels
Adam Jones                                           Steven Mix
Rachel Smith                                        John Thomas
Lee Williams                                         Paulette Young

2014 Governor/Lt. Governor Elections (Primary)

For Governor-Lt. Governor
Bill Davis-Paulette Young
Adam Jones-John Thomas
Rachel Smith-Deborah Engels
Lee Williams-Steven Mix

Candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor sometimes run as an unofficial ticket in the primaries.  For instance, Bill Davis may say that Paulette Young is his choice for a running mate, but ultimately the selection of the Governor and Lt. Governor is done separately and is decided by the voters.  Therefore, Davis could end up with a nominee that was not necessarily his first pick.  This was case in 2010 when Pat Quinn ran for Governor in Illinois.


Scott Lee Cohen

Quinn won his gubernatorial primary, but primary voters chose the little-known Scott Lee Cohen as the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor.  Cohen’s opponents in the Lt. Governor primary were members of the Illinois State Senate and State House.  Cohen’s occupation?  Cohen was a pawn broker from Chicago.  It would also later come out that Cohen had a criminal record.  Embarrassed Democrats scrambled for a solution. They met with Cohen, forced him to drop from the ticket, and found a replacement in Sheila Simon, daughter of the late US Senator Paul Simon.
To avoid any future embarrassment, state officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, passed a bill which would combine the Governor and Lt. Governor on the same primary ballot ticket.  Quinn signed it into law.

Do you think that the positions of Governor and Lt. Governor should be separate in the primaries? Do you believe that the positions should be combined as a ticket in primary?

Are We Realigning?

Are the two major political parties in the United States currently realigning themselves?  Realignment or a realigning/critical election, has been defined by Walter Dean Burnham, as an event that occurs every 30-36 years.  When realignment does occur, the political parties tend to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant.  They do this by adjusting their political party platforms while the country or the political electorate changes.  Sometimes, however, it is the critical election that adjusts the way the voting behaves.  For the most part, political scientists agree that the United States has had five party systems.  The first party system somewhere between the creation of American political parties to the time of Democratic-Republican Party dominance (1789-1828).  The second party system occurred during the height of the Democratic Party strength and the somewhat competitive Whig Party (1828-1860).  The third party system took place with the emergence of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln and lasted until the late 1890s (1860-1896).  In fourth party system, the parties aligned themselves based on the economy, as Democrats became the party of unions and an agrarian mindset, while the Republicans captured big business and industry within their ranks (1896-1932).  With the fifth party system, the Democrats took on the role of supporting the New Deal, while the Republicans opposed the FDR platform.  From the time of the New Deal, Democrats have supported public policy solutions created by the federal government.  Republicans supported solutions initiated by state governments.  This party system has lasted since 1932 (1932-Present).    The two major parties have continued to promote their party platforms from a federal vs. state government angle.

The Influence of the Super PAC

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Could it be that a Super PAC, led by NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, helped determine the election result in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District Democratic Primary? Bloomberg’s Super PAC, Independence USA, spent $2.2 million in a race that was won by Robin Kelly.  Kelly was supported by the Super PAC.

What is a Super PAC?

Super PACs are organizations that may not make contributions to candidate campaigns or parties.  They can, however, engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns.  Super PACs can also raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions and other groups, without any legal limit on donation size.  Super PACs cannot coordinate directly with candidates or political parties.  Super PACs may support particular candidacies.  As stated before, Independence USA supported Robin Kelly.  The organization also targeted former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson and Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson in their ads.  Super PACs are protected by the First Amendment according to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Here are two examples of ads run by the Independence USA Super PAC.

Unofficial results of the 2nd Congressional District Primary (D)
Robin Kelly                 30,799 votes          51.9%
Debbie Halvorson     14,525 votes          24.5%
Anthony Beale              6,255 votes           10.5%
Joyce Washington       2,542 votes           4.3%
Toi Hutchinson             1,598 votes           2.7%
Ernest Fenton                1,537 votes           2.6%


Debbie Halvorson

Turnout in the race was 15%.  This is typical of a special election, but low considering that Congressional races have a turnout rate of 20-25%.  Weather may have played a factor in the low turnout as it did snow throughout the District that day.
Was the outside influence of the Super PAC that powerful to be a factor in the election? Maybe.  That’s the conventional wisdom, as many believed that former Congresswoman Halvorson had a strong chance to win this race.  However, one must look at Halvorson’s recent electoral and campaign track record to realize that she was a weaker candidate than originally perceived.

Halvorson’s Congressional win in 2008 was in a Presidential year where Democrats ran successfully on the national, state, and local levels.  Halvorson’s opponent that year, Martin Ozinga, was a Republican who came into the race late, as he was a replacement candidate when the original Republican nominee dropped from the race after winning his primary.  Halvorson lost in 2010 to Republican Adam Kinzinger in her re-election bid which was punctuated by Republican victories nationally.  Soon after, her former Congressional district was divided up through redistricting efforts by Illinois Democrats.  She was no longer a resident of her previous district, the more rural/suburban white 11th.  Halvorson was now a resident of the urban and black 2nd Congressional District.  In 2012, she ran an ill-fated primary campaign against then Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.  Halvorson’s campaign relied heavily on door-to-door retail politics in areas of suburban and rural Will and Kankakee counties.  Kelly, Washington, Beale, and Fenton all sent direct mailers to residents of all areas in the 2nd Congressional, but mostly in south Chicago and the south suburbs of Cook County.  Halvorson did not.  Halvorson’s campaign was doomed from the start.  Coupled with the influx of Super PAC television ads, Halvorson faced an uphill battle.

What are your thoughts on this race?  What are your thoughts on Super PACs and their influence in political campaigns?

American Foreign Policy

Whether or not former US Senator Chuck Hagel becomes the next Secretary of Defense, the new Secretary along with Secretary of State John Kerry will have many situations across the globe to handle.  What should be the country’s first priority?

Current Events Quiz

This week’s quiz is live in MySearchLab.  Good Luck!

The Daisy Ad

It isn’t very often where a political ad that is only run once gets more notoriety than an ad that is run over and over for all the public to see.  That is the case with this political commercial, which is called the “Daisy Ad“.  The ad’s content in 1964 was deemed to be too extreme and it was only shown once during the Presidential campaign of that year.  The ad, which supported Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, painted the Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater as an extremist.

What is important to note is that the ad is effective because of what is said/seen and what is not said/seen.  What do you see/hear or NOT see/hear in the ad that, in your opinion, makes the ad effective?  (By the way, the voice that you hear before the closing narration of the ad is President Johnson.)

Jackson’s Fate

480px-Jesse_Jackson,_Jr_,_official_photo_portraitOn Wednesday, February 20, former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. admitted guilty in a federal courthouse in Washington, DC.  He pleaded guilty to one felony fraud count related to his misuse of $750,000  of campaign funds which included the purchase of fur capes, entertainment memorabilia, stuffed animals, and elk heads.  He will be sentenced in June.

What’s The Big Ideology?

untitledYou’ll often hear politicians and pundits alike speak of “the right” and “the left” in political terms.  However, we might not understand what those terms actually mean.  These terms fall on what is sometimes called a “left to right” ideological scale.  In the United States, there are four predominant political ideologies.

Before we get into the scale itself, we must first understand what an ideology is.  An ideology is a clear, coherent, and consistent set of beliefs about the size and scope of the governmentl.  Those on the left side of the ideological scale tend to believe in more federal government involvement, while those on the right side of the scale believe in a federal government that is smaller in size and scope.  We will look at the four primary ideologies (socialism, liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism) from an economic perspective.  The crux of each is founded on economic principles and government’s reach within the economy.  When social issues (i.e. gay marriage, abortion) or the military are discussed, that consistency which makes up the fundamental makeup of an ideology gets clouded.  Here are some brief descriptions of the four ideologies:

Socialism:  This ideology is found on the left-hand side of the left-to-right scale. Socialists believe in curbing the excesses associated with private capital, but also they believe in a more active government intertwining itself within privately run businesses.  The end result being that privatization would no longer exist, and that which was once private becomes “public” in the form of a government controlled and regulated economy.  Socialism would provide more government programs to those in need, but would also need more taxes from the public to pay for those programs.

Liberalism:  Moving to the right of socialism is the liberal ideology.  Liberals tend to believe in the role of government as a “safety net”.  Government is designed to help those in need through social welfare programs.  This may sound like socialism in theory, but liberals do not believe in government controlled, or statist, society.  Private capital and businesses may be regulated and taxed by the federal government, but they would not be taken over and controlled by the government either.

Conservatism:  To the right of the liberal perspective is the conservative ideology.  In the case of the conservative, he believes in a smaller government which is cut down to size by reducing the number of social welfare and spending programs in the United States.  Conservatives also believe in cutting taxes.  This modern-day conservative is different from the classic conservative.  The classic conservative believed in the status quo.  Those who espoused such an ideological perspective believed in keeping things “as is”.

Libertarianism:  The ideology at the most right of the scale being described here is libertarianism.  Libertarianism, at its American core, was promoted during the American Revolution.  Classic liberalism, as it was called then, supported a federal government that had very limited powers.  The definition of limited powers would be derived from the United States Constitution.  Simply put, if there was  a question on the size and scope of the federal government, then the Constitution would be final arbiter in settling a governmental dispute between the federal government and the states.  Only that which is written specifically for the federal government in the Constitution can belong to the federal government.  That which is not a federal government power would then belong to the states.

If the United States had one dominant ideology, which one would it be?  Perhaps you believe that we live in a moderate or middle-of-the-road nation.  Remember, however, that the moderate position is not an ideology.  Moderation in politics is not clear, consistent, or coherent as the definition of an ideology suggests.

It’s a Presidents’ Day Celebration

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I’m displaying a list of the top 10 greatest Presidents as determined by the Siena College Research Institute Presidential Ranking Survey.  Results from that 2010 poll can be found here.

In their survey, the top rated President was Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed by Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson in the Top 5.  My list is in alphabetical order.

Who do you consider to be the country’s greatest President and why?  Take the poll and explain your answer.

Current Events Quiz

This week’s quiz is live in MySearchLab.  Good Luck!