With election season in full swing, two powerful Illinois Democrats—House Speaker Michael Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel—are hustling up big amounts of cash from deep-pocketed donors.
Madigan, the state's wily and polarizing Democrat power broker, is slated to collect a new round of campaign money from the Illinois Restaurant Association, which will host an "evening with Michael J. Madigan" at the Hubbard Inn downtown Chicago Oct. 14. Tickets range from $500 to $10,000 with proceeds going to the Illinois Restaurateurs PAC (and then to Madigan's war chest)., The guest roster includes a who's who of Windy City dinging moguls from Lettuce Entertain You's Jay Stieber to Harry Caray Restaurant Group's Grant DePorter to Gibson's honcho John Colletti.
"I'd be willing to bet that the bulk of those throwing the event are, at heart, Republicans. But the only question in Springfield this year isn't whether Mr. Madigan will survive as speaker but whether he'll be able to hold on to his veto-proof majority in the House of Representatives," writes Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz. "Among issues Mr. Madigan's House may take up as soon as November is whether to increase the state's minimum wage — something that would go straight to the bottom line of many eateries."
Just curious: Will there be food at the event?
Meanwhile, in an epic 22-page campaign finance report Tuesday, Emanuel's re-election committee listed around $375,000 in fresh contributions from a batch of United Airlines execs and numerous other donors including assorted attorneys, MDs and Beverly Hills stylist Jennifer Levy.
Emanuel's already inflated campaign coffer boasts more than $8.3 million in donations. Though his approval numbers are down considerably since taking office in 2011, the mayor's flair for fundraising continues to keep him afloat in what stands to be a contentious mayoral race leading up to February's election. Emanuel's wealthy supporters have also set up a controversial super-PAC, Chicago Forward, to help grow his power inside City Council—and get him elected to a second term. So far, Chicago Forward has raised $2.4 million-and-counting in outside money from business elites like Stephen Malkin, president of Ranger Capitol Management, Joe Mansueto, CEO of Morningstar, Inc.
Gov. Quinn, another Democrat, collected half a million from the Democratic Governors Association, and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner poured another $1.5 million of his own fortune into his competitive—and increasingly nasty—campaign to kick the incumbent out of Springfield.