The week that was in Illinois politics and government (March 19th-23rd).
Chicago and Cook County News
The Illinois primary Tuesday overshadowed city and county politics this week, though they were a few local races on Cook County voter’s Democratic primary ballots.
The biggest was the race for Cook County Circuit Court clerk where 12-year incumbent Dorothy Brown beat out Chicago Ald. Rick Munoz (22nd).
One election coming up in Chicago is the race for Chicago Public Schools Local School Councils – the deadline was today for parents and community members to be part of an LSC. There is an LSC that monitors each CPS school, and is in charge of hiring and firing the school’s principal.
The City of Chicago denied a parade permit for the Coalition Against NATO/G8 to protest the NATO summit -- after granting a permit to the very same group to march against the G8 summit, which has since been relocated from Chicago to Camp David. The coalition formally appeals the denial next week.
The denial comes as the Occupy the Midwest movement met in St. Louis last weekend to plan for upcoming NATO summit protests.
PI looked Friday at the future of the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plant sites after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recent announcement that the plants would shut down.
Tuesday was election day, and PI reported from polling places, campaign parties, and communities across Chicagoland. We also live blogged the entire day.
The day blog provided a look at early balloting snafus and dispatches from often under populated polling places. The evening blog made sense of the chaotic swirl of election returns, victory and concession remarks happening simultaneously across the state.
We also reported on some of the closest state legislative races:
* In the North Side Chicago 39th District, Will Guzzardi wants every voted counted in his race against incumbent Rep. Maria Berrios. With all the precincts reporting, Guzzardi trails Berrios by 111 votes. Guzzardi might formally challenge the results, which he has until April 3 to do.
* Christian Mitchell narrowly beat Democratic opponent Kenny Johnson in the South Side Chicago battle for 26th District House Representative. Mitchell declared victory Wednesday.
* Silvana Tabares bested Rudy Lozano, Jr. in the race by all of 381 votes in the 21st District Race for State Representative. We interviewed Lozano Jr., shortly after his concession speech, and the candidate promised to keep active in the Southwest Chicago 21st District community.
In other notable races, PI reported on Speaker of the House Mike Madigan cruising to re-election in the Southwest Chicago 22nd District – and challenger Michele Piszczor cataloging numerous polling precinct snafus that she alleges were Madigan’s doing, “I know he cheated,” Piszczor told Progress Illinois.
Derrick Smith easily won a contested re-election for Illinois’ 10th House District Democratic nomination – exactly a week after federal agents charged Smith with bribery.
One day after the election, leading Illinois Democrats, including Gov. Pat Quinn and Smith’s mentor Secretary of State Jesse White, called on the West Side Chicago representative to resign. Amazingly, this came after White and other top Democrats actually campaigned for Smith two days before the election, and five days after his bribery charge.
Also, the Illinois House formed a committee to investigate Smith.
Another big statewide race was for a Cook County district representative on the Illinois Supreme Court: Temporary court appointment Mary Jane Theis used her money and high bar rating to cruise to a victory.
The numbers from the Chicago Board of Elections, in fact, reveal that turnout was not unusually low, considering the lack of competitive Democratic Party races for president, governor, or U.S. Senator. Perhaps more disconcerting was downstate turnout numbers which were in the teens and twenties, percentage wise, of registered voters. This is despite many downstate voters partaking in the competitive Republican presidential primary.
In other state news this week, University of Illinois President Michael Hogan submitted his resignation Thursday.
The Illinois House passed a bill Wednesday to ban legislative scholarships, the program that allows state legislators to award four-year scholarships to constituents attending Illinois public universities.
A coalition of environmental groups cited Illinois as one of the largest polluters of the Mississippi River.
Will County and Joilet officials criticized Wednesday Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close the Tinley Park mental health center.
The Illinois jobless rate fell from 9.4 percent to 9.1 percent in February, marking the sixth straight month that the state's unemployment rate has declined.
The nation’s eyes were turned to Illinois this Tuesday as Mitt Romney won most of the state’s delegates in the Prarie State’s Republican presidential primary.
PI reported throughout Tuesday on competitive Congressional races:
* In the 2nd Congressional District Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. pulled away from challenger Debbie Halvorson, a former Congresswoman. Jackson used his election night speech to renew calls for his pet project – a third Chicagoland airport. However, the airport still has a way to go.
PI caught up with Halvorson prior to her defeat. The candidate accused Jackson as being part of a broken political system.
* In the 8th District, Tammy Duckworth knocked off Raja Krishnamoorthi, and she will now take on Rep. Joe Walsh (R-McHenry). PI discussed policy issues with Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi prior to the election’s conclusion.
After the election, Walsh immediately challenged Duckworth to monthly debates. Duckworth responded that she would debate Walsh as many as four times.
* In the 10th District, Brad Schneider edged out national progressive favorite Ilya Sheyman. Schneider will now take on Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth). We caught up with both Schneider and Sheyman on Tuesday.
Duckworth, Schneider, and Bill Foster – the 13th District Democratic nominee for Congress – held a press conference Thursday to denounce a federal budget written by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) that passed the House Budget Committee Wednesday night.