This Week in Mudslinging: Bruce Rauner Is An Alpha Bully; Oberweis Is Toast. | NBC Chicago
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This Week in Mudslinging: Bruce Rauner Is An Alpha Bully; Oberweis Is Toast.

Plus: A shocking resignation at the Sun-Times! A cockroach at City Hall!

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    A man pours mud water on the head of his girl friend during the Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach in Boryeong, South Korea, Friday, July 18, 2014. The annual mud festival features mud wrestling and mud sliding.

    There's T minus 12 days to go 'til Election Day, and no clear winner in the close battle between Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and challenger Bruce Rauner. Both men are in survival mode. The stakes are high. This cash-strapped state's future hangs in the balance. Cockroaches run amok.

    Without further ado, This Week in Mudslinging:

    Quinn vs. Rauner. The nemeses ripped one another to shreds in their final debate before Election Day, firing off the muddiest round of Quinn-sults and Rauner rips thus far in this knock-down, drag-out fight. Rauner, a finger-pointing "mansplainer" onstage, repeatedly bashed the incumbent Democrat as a "failure" and a "phony," to which Quinn responded: "He's a champion name caller." (If this were a kindergarten playground, Rauner would get a time out. Then he would try to buy his way out of time-out, by donating millions to build a new charter school for over-privileged children in Lincoln Park.) The multi-millionaire GOP investor then dropped his braggiest campaign ad yet, touting all of his mainstream media endorsements. Next came results of a Tribune poll showing the two rivals in "dead heat" with Rauner inching two percentage points ahead of Quinn, 45-43, thanks to growing support from white suburban collar-county women voters who tend toward the fiscally conservative and the socially moderate. Can Quinn out-campaign Mr. Mansplain heading into the home stretch? With the outcome in "toss-up" territory, the governor got some back-up this week from Democratic power brokers like President Barack Obama and ex-President Bill Clinton, slinging mud on his behalf in Chicago (where Quinn has a firm grip), as well as Veep Joe Biden, traveling north to Vernon Hills to stump in the battleground 10th district. Negative ads abounded.

    Dave McKinney vs. the Sun-Times and Rauner. Sending shockwaves throughout the incestuous Chicago media-verse, McKinney—a veteran political reporter at the liberal-leaning Sun-Timesresigned in protest after brass allegedly cowed to pressure from Rauner's PR team to kill a controversial story he was working on and "yanked" him off his beat. In a letter addressed to Sun-Times owner Michael Ferro, whom he blamed for a "chilling effect in the newsroom," the journalist lamented that the candidate's aides had forwarded to higher-ups an error-ridden "opposition-research hit piece" falsely suggesting that his wife, a Democratic political consultant, was collaborating on the story. The final straw for McKinney? The paper's decision to break its no-endorsement policy, endorse Rauner over Quinn and support "the very campaign that had unleashed what Sun-Times management had declared as a defamatory attack on me." Now he might sue, but in this case, a legal victory is an uphill battle. For more on this insidery yet significant media scandal, see my colleague Mark Anderson's excellent essay "Sun-Times Squanders Trust Right When City, State Need It The Most."

    Dick Durbin vs. Jim Oberweis. The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate has no competition whatsoever from the Illinois state Republican senator and ice cream tycoon. He's now 14 points ahead of Oberweis. Despite those long odds, Durbin's GOP rival keeps on swinging ... and missing. In the enemies' first and only televised debate Wedneday, he slammed the incumbent as "smooth" and out of touch with "people on the streets." Sniped Oberweis: "He's not the same man that he was 32 years ago when he first ran for Congress." Countering, Durbin linked the Sugar Grove politician to the much-maligned tea party and referenced Oberweis' past remarks encouraging a tea party group to "take over" the state Republican Party. Oberweis, pulling a Biden, made headlines by publicly supporting gay marriage, and Durbin—a strong proponent of marriage equality—had no mud to sling upon that surprising 180 from the guy who voted against making it legal here in the Land of Lincoln.

    City Council vs. Cockroach. Having once lived in New York City, the sight of a cockroach gives me stress hives. I instinctively want to reach for a can of Raid and spray the vermin before it disappears underneath my bed never to be seen again until eight hours later, when it re-surfaces and FLIES ACROSS MY STUDIO APARTMENT. Cockroaches are prehistoric, resilient bugs. And they can smell fear. They also appreciate irony. On Thursday one was spotted climbing up the walls of City Council during testimony from Fleet and Facility Management Commissioner David Reynolds, the authority in charge of ridding the city of such pests. Reynold said afterward, "I was mortified. The timing is ironic, that in the middle of my budget hearing a cockroach decides to make itself known." That is exactly why I am dubbing it the very first "Mudslinger of the Week" for hilariously—and courageously—creeping into a notorious chamber of corruption and keeping aldermen on their toes.