The week that was in Illinois politics and government (November 5-9).
Chicago And Cook County News
Tuesday was election day and PI fanned out across the Chicago area to speak with voters, cover state and national races, and report on the big election night events. We liveblogged both our day coverage along with the latest news, and the evening of election night returns.
PI was in the audience at McCormick Place when President Barack Obama cleared the 270 electoral-college votes needed for re-election a bit after 10 p.m.
We also covered a Thompson Center viewing party where chilly November weather didn’t keep about 75 or so people from gathering.
Election day proved somewhat chaotic for the Chicago Board of Elections. The Board of Election’s Web site was down for the most of day, preventing voters from accessing information about where they should cast their ballot.
A remap of city wards meant new polling places for Windy City voters.
PI reported from polling places at the Wicker Park neighborhood where some voters were indeed disoriented about where they should vote. We also spoke to voters in the community of Lakeview who expressed anxiety about what a Mitt Romney presidency might mean.
And we spoke with voters in Obama’s neighborhood of Hyde Park. Voters there expressed support for the president – and qualified support for South Side Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who sailed to re-election despite an extended medical of leave of absence and being subject to federal investigations. The night after the election the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jackson was in plea discussions with federal authorities.
We reported that election-day was a downbeat one for some city Asian American voters who said they feel alienation from the political system and economic pain.
The Illinois Coalition on Immigrant and Refugee Rights held a downtown vigil on election night drawing attention to immigration issues.
Seventy-four percent of Chicago voters and super majorities in several other townships throughout the state voted 'yes' on a referendum that calls for a constitutional amendment to effectively reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision.
Protesters were arrested Friday afternoon at the Kluczynski Federal Building as they rallied for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to push for Wall Street corporations and the nation's richest two percent to pay more taxes instead of allowing Congress to make further cuts to social service programs.
Chicago voters approved a referendum that allows the city to negotiate the price of electricity on behalf of residents and small businesses.
Some Chicago precincts weighed in on whether the city should have an elected school board in a non-binding referendum. Nearly ninety percent of voters said the board should be elected.
There was a job fair in Chicago on Friday for employment in city government at Kennedy King College. Also on Friday, the Chicago Federation of Labor has made a major television ad buy with a 30-second message making an appeal to elected officials and constituents about the fiscal cliff. The ad notes that although the election may have been a victory for Democrats at the local and national levels, "the fight has just begun."
The Cook County Board passed its 2013 budget Friday and in it includes a hike on cigarettes, which follows a $1 increase on packs that was passed at the state level earlier this year.
According to David Orr, the county clerk, election day featured an expecting mom who took the time to vote before heading to the hospital.
The Democratic Party picked up five seats Tuesday in the Illinois state Senate and seven in the state House, giving them 60 percent super majorities in both chambers.
Democrats even won a race they didn’t want to win as federally indicted Derrick Smith, who the Illinois House kicked out in August, was voted backed into office as 10th district representative. PI reported on election day about the lack of enthusiasm for Smith’s opponent Lance Tyson, despite Tyson’s backing from the West Chicago Democratic establishment.
We reported Thursday that the decisive Democratic victory, in fact, might do little to clarify the murky future of statewide gambling expansion.
PI looked Wednesday at a confusing referendum that barely failed to be adopted regarding pensions. The referendum was supposed to have made it harder for public employees to receive increased pension benefits.
Freeport workers at the Bain Capital-owned Sensata Technologies rallied Thursday as part of a national movement calling on politicians to focus on job creation, not cuts to social services and education.
Teachers in Geneva are going on strike on Monday after negotiations going on since February broke down.
Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to win re-election, winning nearly every critical swing state. The outcome was not much better for Illinois Republicans running for Congress in close races.
But in the five other close Illinois Congressional races, the Democratic candidate prevailed.
Democrat challenger Tammy Duckworth knocked off U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh in the 8th district, portraying the contest as her pragmatism against Walsh’s strident Tea Party views. We caught up with a “very confident” Duckworth on the morning of the election.
Brad Schneider had a come from behind win against GOP U.S. Rep. Robert Dold in the 10th district, giving the 10th its first Democrat representative in more than 30 years. We reported during the day from a Highland Park precinct where turnout was high, and talked to Schneider, accompanied by his family, on election morning.
Democratic challenger for the 11th Congressional District, Bill Foster is heading back to Washington after defeating Republican incumbent U.S Rep. Judy Biggert, 58 percent to 42 percent, a surprisingly decisive outcome in a race most polls had as a dead heat.
Foster spoke with PI earlier on election day, noting that voting turnout was high in increasingly Democratic strongholds of the western suburban district including Joliet. Foster was also aided by robo calls from former Democratic President Bill Clinton.
In the 12th district, Democrat Bill Enyart will take over for retiring U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello as he bested Republican challenger Jason Plummer.
Democrat Cheri Bustos upended U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling in the 17th district, a race where local issues, including the slated layoffs at Sensata Technologies, took on a national significance. Bustos had set up a voter protection hotline on election day.
Republicans lost these races even after they received considerably more money from outside spending groups, such as Super Political Action Committees. PI examined Thursday why Super PACs and "dark money" did not prove to be the game changer many political observers had anticipated.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk told ABC-7 on Tuesday that he is planning a return to Washington in January, after spending almost all of 2012 sidelined by a stroke. Kirk made his first public appearance in nine months on Sunday climbing three-dozen flights of stairs at the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago.
Thursday, concerns over the fate of the nation’s social safety net were expressed in an elaborate demonstration held by a group of area clergy members outside of the downtown Chicago office of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin.
On Friday, President Barack Obama pressed House Republicans to act fast on the fiscal cliff and pass a tax hike on the rich, which has already passed in the U.S. Senate.