Political Rewind: November Election Issues Taking Shape
As we start a new week, it's always good to get caught up on state politics. Here's an easy guide to what happened last week.
Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Watchdog, formerly Illinois Statehouse News.
SPRINGFIELD – Voter purges and other campaign news began to take center stage in Illinois as September drew to a close and the November election looms.
Southern Illinois counties purge 4,000 from voter rolls
Two cash-strapped counties in far southern Illinois purged more than 4,000 names from the voter rolls ahead of the November presidential election.
Alexander and Massac counties at the southern tip of the state culled the voters from the rolls for reasons like death and relocation.
State elections officials say they are continuing efforts to clean up Illinois’ lists of registered voters.
“Having good, clean election rolls avoids any possibility of people attempting impersonation voting,” said Ken Menzel, an attorney with the Illinois State Board of Elections. “While it’s not a huge problem from what we can tell, keeping your rolls clean limits the opportunity for mischief along that line.”
Voter purges, which occur every other year in Illinois counties, also help keep down costs associated with running elections. Clean voter rolls mean precinct officials have a better idea of how many voters to expect, how many ballots to print, how many machines to have on hand and how many election judges to pay.
“If you can get a few hundred people out of your voter rolls, you can consolidate people tighter into precincts, so you’re only paying to serve people who are still there and might show up to vote,” Menzel said.
Three counties in far southern Illinois, Alexander, Massac and Pulaski, were unable to purge their voter rolls as frequently as other counties because of budget constraints, causing their voter-to-over-18-population percentages to get out of whack.
Purges had to be completed at least 90 days prior to the election. Pulaski County, which stands at about 115 percent, was unable to complete its purge by the Aug. 6 deadline but expects to finish after the election.
Testy 12th U.S. House race a toss-up heading into November
Money is pouring into the 12th District U.S. House race, a long-time Democratic stronghold in southern Illinois, where both major political parties are courting voters.
The New York Times identified the 12th as one of 22 most-competitive toss-up races in the country. The district, stretching from industrial Alton north ofSt. Louis to rural Cairo at the southern tip of the state, has been in Democratic hands for 20 years. U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello has had the seat since 1993 and is retiring at the end of his term.. Before Costello, Democrats Paul Simon, Ken Gray and Glenn Poshard represented the region from 1973 until 1993.
That kind of political longevity is contributing to the frenzy over the seat, said John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
“The important thing, beyond the national implications this year, is that once somebody’s in (that seat), they stay in until they die or retire. We keep them forever,” Jackson said. “So whoever wins will be the odds-on favorite to be our representative for southern Illinois for the next 20 or 25 years.”
Plummer ran for Illinois lieutenant governor in 2010 and lost. His family owns R.P. Lumber Co.
Enyart got a late start in the race,when he was nominated to replace Brad Harriman, who dropped out in May citing medical problems.
Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw is a 59-year-old nurse and activist from Carbondale.
Plummer and Enyart have spent a great deal of time during debates sparring over who has more wealth, who has more military experience, who did or didn’t release their tax returns and who is more like the presidential candidate of their own party. Both have flooded the southern Illinois airwaves with attack ads. Neither candidate has a political record for voters to reference because neither has ever held office.
Jimmy John’s owner moving some operations to Florida
The owner of the Jimmy John’s sandwich company revealed he intends to move to Florida and take the company’s licensing division with him – all because of Illinois’ corporate tax hike last year.
“I think you will see us out of Illinois in the next two to four years, and it will probably be Indiana or Austin, Texas, if I was to guess,” Jimmy John Liautaud said at a panel discussion sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute.
He said other states, such as Michigan, Indiana and Texas, have been courting him to headquarter his company elsewhere.
Liautaud said he doesn’t mind paying taxes.
“What I mind I show they spend the tax,” he said. “I would stay, but the way they spend thee tax is what’s really driving me away.”
Quinn visits Brazil on trade mission
Gov. Pat Quinn was in Brazil last week, promoting Illinois tourism and a plan to bring Brazilian students to study at the state’s universities.
Quinn’s campaign fund is picking up the cost of the trip, although additional expenses could be incurred by the state. Accompanying Quinn on the trip were state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago; officials from state colleges; and various executives from Illinois-based companies.
Quinn announced Tuesday an effort to bring more Brazilian college students to Illinois for one year to study science, technology, engineering and math in Brazil’s “Science Without Borders” program. His initiative includes scholarships and internships supplied by Illinois companies Motorola, Ingredion and Tate & Lyle.
On Monday he urged Brazilians to visit Illinois and Chicago, saying, “Illinois offers Brazilians an authentic American experience.” He cited the Chicago lakefront, President Abraham Lincoln, the Mississippi River and historic Route 66.
Illinois had 56,000 Brazilian visitors in 2011, according to state figures.
Quinn also is meeting with various business leaders and industry groups in Brazil. He will be there for six days. His other overseas trips this year include Spain, Belgium and Canada.
— Jayette Bolinski