Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2010

Republican Brown Defeats Incumbent Flider in 101st District House Race

Voters in Illinois' 101st House District will have a new state representative in January. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) narrowly defeated incumbent Bob Flider (D-Mt. Zion) in Tuesday's general election with 51 percent of the votes.

The rancorous and expensive race left both parties pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns. Flider, who has held the seat for four terms, said like many candidates across the country, he was swept away by anti-incumbent fever.

"You know, the combination of throw them out mentality, combined with the high Republican turnout," Flider said. "I think that was very difficult to overcome."

Betty Hughes of Decatur said her vote against Flider was a vote for change in Springfield and Washington. She said she hopes voter cynicism towards incumbents will have a ripple effect on the legislative process.

"I think the state of Illinois needs to clean their house," Hughes said. "I hope we're sending a message to the federal government and the state government that we need a change."

Hughes explained that the federal government should do more to stem the nation's unemployment rate, and re-examine the cost of the federal health care law.

The change many voters were calling for this election year translated into a lot of negative advertising in the 101st House District race, which could be seen all over Central Illinois. Decatur trial lawyer William Faber, who supported Flider, said this sort of mudslinging is typical with any campaign. However, Faber said there should have been strict limits on the amount of negative advertisements coming from both campaigns. He feared voters were swayed by the rhetoric, and missed out on important issues.

"The politicians are unwilling to put limits on things in terms of time and money," he said. "The people complain, but don't put any pressure on the politicians to change things."

For Brown, who currently sits on the Decatur City Council, the victory was bittersweet. He has portrayed himself as a new fresh face who will distance himself from the tight grip of Chicago politics. Still, the 25-year-old Republican faces yet another challenge --- getting his voice heard a state legislature that continues to be controlled by a Democratic majority.

"You know, we got to stand up to Mike Madigan," Brown said. "I don't believe Central Illinois values align with the Chicago machine's values, so it's going to be a tough process."

Decatur is a manufacturing town that has been plagued with job losses from the Firestone plant closing to the recent decision by the Tate and Lyle company to move jobs out of Decatur.

Brown said he plans to stand up to Speaker Michael Madigan to push forward his plans to create jobs in Decatur and reform workers' compensation and lawsuit abuse.

Brown is up for re-election is 2012.

(Photos by Sean Powers/WILL)

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2010

Quinn and Brady Await Final Count in Tight Gov Race

The race for Illinois governor is still up in the air. Republican State Senator Bill Brady ended election night trailing Democrat Pat Quinn by about 8300 votes. But he did not concede the race.

"Some of you may have realized by now I have a penchant for close elections", said Brady jokingly. That's a reference to his Republican primary win over State Senator Kirk Dillard - which came down to just about 100 votes. Plus, in his first campaign win, Brady defeated longtime incumbent Gordon Ropp in the 1002 GOP Illinois House primary by just eight votes.

Brady campaign spokeswoman Patty Schuh says they want to ensure that every ballot is counted. She says there's still absentee ballots to count - in addition to others that weren't reported late Tuesday night

Burt Odelson is the attorney for Quinn's campaign. He said Tuesday night that he'll monitor the incoming figures. But he said then ... when 11 thousand votes separated the leading candidates .... he considered the race over.

"There not enough votes down state to make up the difference between what's left in Cook County and what's left downstate", says Odelson. "So Pat Quinn's going to win the election."

Once all votes are counted, the Illinois State Board of Elections must certify the results.

At that point ... the loser can ask for a "discovery recount." That enables him to check over a quarter of the ballots in each jurisdiction. If the candidate believes it's warranted, he may contest the election.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2010

Kirk Moves from US House to Senate, Defeating Giannoulias

Republican Congressman Mark Kirk won the race for Barack Obama's old Senate seat. That seat is currently held by Roland Burris.

The race was close for much of the evening so Kirk didn't hit the stage until midnight. He told his supporters they had voted for fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and bringing down the deficit, saying the Republican victory changes both national and state politics.

"We saw dark days surrounding this Senate seat," Kirk told supporters. "Blagojevich tried to sell it. Democrats blocked a special election to fill it, but tonight the sun set on a one party corrupt state."

Kirk says he's anxious to take office, something he'll get to do almost immediately. He won't have to wait until January like other newly elected Senators because he also won the court ordered special election on the ballot yesterday.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2010

Frerichs, Righter Easily Fend Off Challenges for IL Senate

One of the incumbent state senators says Democrats will be willing to let Republicans make suggestions on ways to straighten out Illinois' budget, but wholesale cuts shouldn't be in the equation.

Senator Mike Frerichs won a third term over Republican Al Reynolds, a former tea party organizer. But legislative Democrats will have to work with a smaller majority after GOP wins elsewhere in the state. Frerichs says for the Republicans, having a larger minority should bring more accountability.

"In the past you've had one party sitting on the sideline saying 'it's your responsibility, you make those cuts, we're not interested in being involved,'" said Frerichs. "Now is the real time for bipartisanship. After the election and the next election a couple of years off, maybe these people will be willing to work together."

Frerichs says no one likes to see tax increase or spending cuts, but he says both will be needed to resolve the state's deep debt.

Rejoining Frerichs in the state Senate will be 55th district Republican Dale Righter, who easily fended off a challenge from Josh Weger.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2010

Illinois House Remains a Democratic House, Though Less So

Election night was a good one for legislative incumbents in east-central Illinois as well as one candidate who had a longtime legislator's seal of approval.

Republican Chad Hays will replace retiring state Representative Bill Black next year after beating Democrat Michael Puhr. Hays is a hospital administrator and former mayor of Catlin - he had received campaign assistance from Black.

Democrat Naomi Jakobsson will go to Springfield for a fifth term after beating Norm Davis. The former social service executive says services to people with disabilities or mental illness should not meet the budget knife.

"These cut across all parts of our population," said Jakobsson. "It's very important that we make these services available. These are some of things that I want to make sure we're able to do, and that's going to take some people really putting their votes on the line."

In the 110th district, Republican Chapin Rose racked up one of the largest winning margins in Illinois with a win over Dennis Malak.

"A major message has been sent to people who think you can continue to borrow your way out of this problem, and there's been a major message sent to people whose first option is to run and raise taxes," said Rose. "All across the country, the message has been, 'you've got to get your fiscal house in order.'"

Shane Cultra easily defeated Green Party candidate Vince LaMie in the 105th.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 03, 2010

Urbana Congressman Elected to 6th Term

Urbana Congressman Tim Johnson will serve a sixth term after besting Democrat David Gill for a third time.

The Republican Johnson says he'll continue to strive for a limited government, a free-market economy, and cutting through the bureaucracy of agencies like the Veterans Administration. He still wants to repeal the health care reform bill. But with the Democrats still in control in the US Senate, Johnson says it won't be an absolute repeal.

"But I think we can work to make some constructive changes and were funding is relevant, to limit funding to that," said Johnson. "So my hope is that we'll be able to bring some more sense to a health care system, or at least a health care bill that's out of control." Gill, an emergency room physician, calls that kind of talk 'politicking'. He likes parts of the package, but says it needs some re-crafting.

Johnson finished with 64-percent of the vote to Gill's 35-percent. Gill says this loss is disappointing for the people. He says elected winners on each side of the political aisle are failing to compromise, and that proves there's something wrong with our government. "Maybe eventually there will be enough pain for voters that they'll understand that they need to look beyond the 'D' and the 'R' and find out who's funding the different candidates," said Gill. "And maybe then they'll start supporting those who are interested in accomplishing good things for people."

Gill has described himself as an independent-minded Democrat, but says he may consider a true independent campaign for Congress in the future - calling it the fastest-growing part of the electorate.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2010

High Turn Out of Voters Head to the Polls in Champaign County

Champaign County clerk Mark Shelden said he expects a near-record turnout by the time polls close Tuesday night.

Shelden said he thinks more than 55,000 voters will make it to the polls, which is well above the 2002 record for a non-presidential election year. By contrast, Shelden said more than 84,000 Champaign County residents voted in the 2008 presidential race.

"We had to bring a few ballots out to places, especially federal only ballots," Shelden said. "I think we're seeing kind of a significant uptick in those ballots, and those are people who didn't get their addresses updated in time."

Election judges at two Champaign polling sites report that there has been a steady stream of voters coming in throughout the day. About 400 people cast their ballots by Tuesday afternoon at St. John's Lutheran Church. At the McKinley Foundation, things were slower, as they often are for Campustown polling sites. Still, more than 40 came in by late morning while as many as four had to wait in line.

At The Church of Christ on Philo Road, voter Melanie Kruger said she rarely misses an election, and used this one to take some frustration out on incumbents by choosing third-party candidates in some races.

"I'm just tired of people getting into the office, and then seeming to put priority on their party rather than on their constituents," Kruger said. "I don't know how else to protest."

Shelden said more than 6,000 votes were cast well before Tuesday's opening of the polls, and he said a few more absentee ballots will trickle in over the next few days. He added that there have been few minor problems at a couple of Champaign County polling places with tabulators, but he said those problems were eventually resolved with no effect on voting.

(Photo by Jeff Bossert/WILL)

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2010

UI Urbana Faculty Senate Rejects Proposed Administrative Restructure

The University of Illinois' Urbana Faculty Senate has unanimously rejected administrative changes proposed by President Michael Hogan.

In a written three page statement, the Senate reported that plans to add a vice president, new duties for some administrators, and change titles for others simply have too many unanswered questions. However, Senate Executive Committee Chair Joyce Tolliver said U of I Trustees have been encouraged to refine the proposals, and discuss them further with campus Senators. Tolliver said one key area of concern is money, especially when the U of I's fiscal situation is dire.

"We are told that this is an investment we should make," Tolliver said. "That is probably true. I think some of us accept that logic, but many of us on the campus are very worried about where the money is going to come from in order to create new positions, and in order to do searches for re-defined existing positions."

Tolliver said the entire process for whatever changes occur needs to be slowed down.

"We were given an extraordinary tight time frame to respond to the proposed changes to the University administration," she said. "There are still entire areas in which we have asked for more information, and haven't been addressed."

A capacity crowd rejected President Hogan's plan at the Senate's regular meeting on Monday. The Senate's executive committee will send a much longer version of its statement to the Senates Conference, which is made up of elected officials from all three U of I campus Senates. That group will forward that document, along with its own advice on the proposed changes, onto the U of I Board of Trustees. Tolliver said the Senate is not afraid of change, but would like to seek out new ways to accomplish these goals.

Categories: Economics, Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 01, 2010

Quinn, Brady Urge Voters to Get to the Polls

Candidates for Illinois governor touted their efforts to create jobs and reduce the state's $13 billion budget deficit during campaign stops in Savoy.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn returned to Savoy's Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Hall where he was joined by union members and state elected officials.

Quinn said while his Republican opponent, State Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington, seeks to cut the state's minimum wage and slash education funding by more than a billion dollars, he said his own initiatives while serving as governor have helped the state's unemployment rate begin to drop in the past nine months.

"We're not going to be tearing down Illinois; we're building up," Quinn explained. "We want to make sure we have the proper funding for our schools, and for our students."

Quinn touted his efforts to rescue Illinois' Monetary Awards Program, which provides grants to college-bound students. He blasted Brady for wanting to cut education programs and the minimum wage.

"If you're working 40 hours a week, you shouldn't have to live in poverty," Quinn said.

As Quinn was talking to supporters, Brady was nearby at Savoy's Willard Airport where he criticized Quinn's track record as governor, and reiterated his own plans to balance the state's budget without raising taxes.

"The last two years have been a failure for Illinois under (Quinn's) reign," Brady said. "Illinois needs a governor who will put the people first, not a governor who has secret deals, secret early release programs, secret pay raises, secret tax increases, and record unemployment."

Looking forward to Tuesday's legislative races, Brady predicted Republicans will set victory records across the state.

"We're going to do better than we've ever done," Brady said. "For too long we've had a Chicago-centric governance that needs to understand that there's more to Illinois than Chicago."

With Congressman and U.S. Senate hopeful, Mark Kirk, by his side, Brady also said he thinks Illinois voters will shift party leadership in the U.S. House of Representative by sending as many as four more Republicans to Congress.

Despite polls showing Brady ahead, both candidates are working to get out the vote until the polls close. The Green Party's Rich Whitney, Independent Scott Lee Cohen, and Libertarian Lex Green are also on the ballot.

(Photos by Jeff Bossert/WILL and Sean Powers/WILL)

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 01, 2010

Reminding Voters to Vote While at the Polls

A computerized alert system is reminding voters this election year to choose a candidate for each of Illinois' constitutional offices, which include governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

The technology aimed at catching ballot errors stems from a 2007 law that took effect during the February 2 primary election. If a voter forgets or chooses not to vote for a candidate, they are notified to make that vote if they choose.

The alerts are only used during election years when constitutional office holders are on the ballot. Sixty seven counties in the state use the ballot alerts at polling places, but not every county uses them in the same way.

For example, in Champaign County, voters get an on-screen notification when they do not fill out a response for one of the state's six constitutional offices. However, in Macon County, voters are alerted when they skip any ballot measure. Macon County Clerk Steve Bean said election laws should apply to every item on the ballot.

"The most concern of most clerks is this is a law that affects six offices selected in the state of Illinois," Bean said. "It doesn't care about any of the others."

County Champaign Clerk Mark Shelden, whose county restricts the alerts to constitutional offices only, filed a lawsuit in November 2009 against the Illinois State Board of Elections. He claimed that the alerts violated voters' rights to privacy. However, Shelden later dropped the lawsuit because of budgetary reasons.

"If the legislature doesn't act in the spring," Shelden explained. "I definitely think the lawsuit needs to be brought back."

While the technology alerts people of a missed vote, it does not discard ballots.\

(Photo by Tom Rogers/WILL)

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