Tag Archives: Illinois

Evaluating the Ads — Enyart vs. Bost

There is a lot going on here in this week’s “Evaluating the Ads” post.  For some perspective on the Congressional race in the 12th District of Illinois between first term Congressman Bill Enyart (D) and Illinois State Representative Mike Bost (R), please watch this video on an outburst Rep. Bost made in 2012 regarding the rules set forth by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Fast forward to 2014.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running this ad targeting Bost.

Here is the response by Bost.

Please notice the difference in the two ads.  An ad that was paid for by the candidate’s team has to say, “I approve this message.”  This was a provision from the Bipartisan Campaign Act (McCain-Feingold) of 2002.  Any organization outside of a political campaign must declare that they are not affiliated with a campaign team.  Therefore, the ad that was run against Bost was not run by the Enyart campaign.  Bost’s ad was paid for by the Bost campaign.

If you were a voter in this race, how would you rate each ad?  Do you believe the DCCC’s ad is effective?  Do you believe Bost’s response was a strong one?

The Purpose of Runoff Elections

Take a look at these two sets of election results.  The first is from the Republican Party primary for Illinois Governor in 2010.  The second is from the Republican Party primary for South Carolina’s open Congressional District 1 seat that was held on Tuesday, March 19.

2010 Gubernatorial Primary — Illinois (Republican Party)

Bill Brady 20.26%
Kirk Dillard 20.24%
Andy McKenna 19.29%
Jim Ryan 17.04%
Adam Andrzejewski 14.47%
Dan Proft 7.73%
Bob Schillerstrom 0.97%

Brady became the party’s nominee with less than 21% of the vote.  His total vote difference over Dillard was a slim 197 votes.  In Illinois, a plurality of votes is sufficient enough for a candidate to become a party’s nominee.  Another way to look at the above result is that almost 80% of the Republican primary vote went to a candidate other than Brady.

2013 Congressional District 1 Primary– South Carolina (Republican Party)

Mark Sanford 36.9%
Curtis Bostic 13.3%
Larry Grooms 12.4%
Teddy Turner 7.9%
Andy Patrick 7.0%
John Kuhn 6.5%
Chip Limehouse 6.1%
Ray Nash 4.7%
Peter McCoy 1.6%
Elizabeth Moffly 1.0%
Tim Larkin 0.7%
Jonathan Hoffman 0.7%
Jeff King 0.4%
Keith Blandford 0.4%
Shawn Pinkston 0.3%
Ric Bryant 0.2%

Since no candidate received 50% of the vote in the South Carolina Republican primary, a runoff election will be held between the Sanford and Bostic on April 2.  In states where there are runoff elections, a candidate must get a majority of the vote in order to avoid a second or runoff election.  A runoff will ensure that a candidate will become a party’s nominee with a majority of the vote.  Runoff elections, as I mentioned, will give the voter a choice between two candidates.   There are, however, arguments against runoff elections.

Criticisms involving a runoff election include:

a.  Cost:  Having a primary and a general election are costly enough.  Adding an extra election in between will also come with a price.

b.  Turnout:  Voter turnout in the South Carolina Special Election Primary on March 19 was 70,399 out of 453,632 registered voters (15.5%).  Turnout was a little higher than expected.  That being said, turnout for the runoff election will be lower on April 2.  Too often, runoff election results are determined by the party faithful who turn out to vote consistently in elections.  The faithful, though, only make up a small portion of the actual number of registered voters in that party.

c.  First and Second Switch:  Low voter turnout could benefit the second place contestant.  There are no guarantees that the results from the first round will remain the same in the second go around.  Such was the case with Virginia Foxx in 2004.  She finished second in a Republican primary for Congress in North Carolina.  The winner of the first round of voting, Vernon Robinson, finished with 24% of the vote, way below the runoff threshold.  Foxx overtook Robinson in the runoff 55-45%.

What is your take on runoff elections?  Do you support them? Should there only be one primary election, as is the case in Illinois, where first place only needs a plurality to become the nominee?

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?

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?