<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 10 Feb 2016 01:06:11 -0600 Wed, 10 Feb 2016 01:06:11 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[In Case You Missed It: 5 Things to Know From the N.H. Primary]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 00:57:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/5things-thumb.jpg Here's a quick summary of what happened on Tuesday night at the New Hampshire primary.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Wins New Hampshire Primary]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 23:25:54 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000010361555_1200x675_619909187632.jpg After winning the New Hampshire GOP primary, Donald Trump claimed he would be the "greatest jobs president that God every created." He also stated that the unemployment rate could be as high as 28 or even 42 percent, which is not true, according to PolitiFact.]]> <![CDATA[Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 21:44:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000010361223_1200x675_619865667712.jpg Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, beating Hillary Clinton. He slammed Republican policies and "establishment politics" for supporting the interests of large donor groups instead of the common interest of citizens.]]> <![CDATA[Clinton Concedes New Hampshire Primary to Sanders]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 21:44:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000010360982_1200x675_619843651985.jpg Hillary Clinton conceded the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders, appealing to his voters in her address by discussing income inequality and Citizens United.]]> <![CDATA[Rauner to Suburban Leaders: State Should Try ‘to Be Average’]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:58:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner+state+of+the+state+2016.jpg

During a town hall meeting with businesses and community leaders in Wheeling, Gov. Bruce Rauner discussed Illinois’ dire economic situation and stressed the need for the state to try “to be average.”

 

Rauner toured facilities at IcarTeam, a Wheeling company that deals in industrial controls and repairs, before engaging in a town hall with guests U.S. Rep. Bob Dold and Lt. Gov. Evely Sanguinetti.

 

During the meeting, Rauner said Illinois needs to bolster its economic growth and referred to Texas as an example of how to improve the state’s business climate.

 

“Texas is growing, Texas now pays their factory workers what they’re supposed to be paid,” Rauner said. “We’re supposed to be the pro-employee and pro-union state. Texas is kicking our tail.”

 

Illinois has upwards of $100 billion in unfunded pension liability and has been without an official budget since July of last year. 

 

John Melaniphy, Wheeling’s Director of Economic Development, worked closely with the governor to bring Richelieu Foods Inc. to the suburb. According to Melalniphy, Rauner recruited the company personally.

 

“This is the first time the village of Wheeling worked with the governor’s office to recruit a business here,” Melaniphy said.

 

Richelieu Foods makes pizzas, said dressings and sauces. Their new 115,000-square-foot Wheeling manufacturing plant is slated to open later this year.

 

Rauner stressed the need “free up the resources to balance the budget” by creating economic growth through government efficiency, not bureaucracy. Sanguinetti echoed these sentiments, promoting the consolidation of local governments. 

 

“Illinois has more units of government than any other state, and that’s a problem,” Melaniphy said.

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<![CDATA[See Photos of N.H. Primary Vote]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 23:21:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-509278698-bernie-sanders-new-hampshire.jpg Voters in New Hampshire took to their polling places to cast their ballots on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Illinoisans Support Candidates in NH Primary]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 16:44:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_451632437499.jpg

Prior to polls opening for the New Hampshire primary election, a handful of Illinoisans traveled to the state to volunteer for candidates Hilary Clinton and John Kasich.

Clinton won the Democratic Iowa Caucus last Monday, beating out Bernie Sanders by less than 1% and earning 23 of the state's 44 Democratic delegates. However, Sanders is expected to take New Hampshire.

John West, of Chicago’s Gold Coast, has been to five states supporting Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid. West will also travel to South Carolina, Texas and Illinois to support the campaign.

“The spirit’s phenomenal,” West told Ward Room. “There’s several dozen volunteers coming in and out [of headquarters] at all times.”

West also supported Clinton’s previous bids for the senate and the White House.

“She’s the most qualified,” West said. “She’s interested in party building."

Helen Lattimore, of Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, joined West this weekend to help the Clinton campaign by making phone calls and knocking on doors.

Lattimore told Ward Room that “over 10,000 phone calls were made in a day.”

“Everybody was excited,” Lattimore said.

Kasich received 1.9% of the votes in Iowa’s Republican caucus and garnered the support of one of the state’s thirty available GOP delegates. Kasich is expected to have a more substantial showing in New Hampshire.

Rep. Ronald Sandack, a republican representing Illinois’ 81st district, spent the weekend getting out the vote for Kasich.

“I was there over the weekend,” Sandack told Ward Room. “We think he’s the best candidate in the field.”

Sandack lauded Kasich’s willingness to work across the aisle and his ability to “find common goals and effectively govern.”

Kasich previously served as chairman of the house budget Committee before becoming governor of Ohio.

“He had a meaningful and productive congressional career as the lead budget negotiator,” Sandack said.

Sandack also noted that as Ohio’s governor, Kasich cut taxes and created a budget surplus as well as 400,000 jobs.

Sandack was joined in New Hampshire by fellow state representatives Ed Sullivan, Tom Demmer and Randy Frese.

NBC Chicago will have live results from the primary this evening.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cruz Responds to Trump's Profanity]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:52:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cruz-trump-statement.jpg

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took the high road Tuesday in his response to rival Donald Trump's use of profanity to describe the Texas Republican.

Trump, the GOP frontrunner, derided his opponents while addressing about 5,000 people at a rally Monday, the day before New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary election. He contrasted his recent statements on bringing back waterboarding to those of Cruz.

"You know he's concerned about the answer because well, some people," Trump said pointing to a woman in the audience, "she just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out 'cause I don't wanna."

Then he said it anyway: "She said, 'He's a p---y.'"

When asked about the comment Tuesday in New Hampshire, Cruz shrugged.

"Oh, listen. Nothing Donald says surprises anyone. Donald does not handle losing very well. He didn't like that he lost in Iowa and his response often is to simply yell and insult and engage in profanity," Cruz said. "My approach is not to respond in kind ... I'm going to stay focused on the issues. I'm going to stay focused on the substance."

All polls in New Hampshire close by 8 p.m. EST. Up for grabs are 23 Republican delegates, awarded proportionately. Cruz currently leads the delegate count with eight to Trump's seven after the Iowa caucus.

Both candidates — and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — earned nine primary votes in New Hampshire's three smallest communities, where residents cast their ballots at midnight.



Photo Credit: Julie Fine, NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[N.H.'s Undeclared: Less Independent Than You Might Think]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:36:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/24907310025_d9d6fcc234_o.jpg

New Hampshire voters have a reputation of being free thinkers, but truly independent voters could be hard to find in the Granite State.

Undeclared voters in the state are allowed to vote in Tuesday's Democratic or Republican primary, which has made them a valuable get for candidates in both parties. 

But just because a voter is Undeclared does not mean they’re undecided or don’t identify with the standard parties, according to a professor at the University of New Hampshire who has studied voter patterns and interviews with several voters days before the primary. 

“I think you’d have a hard time finding a true independent voter in New Hampshire,” said Peter Soreff, 73, an attendee of the New Hampshire Democratic National Convention’s McIntyre Shaheen dinner in Manchester on Friday. “Voters are really either liberal or conservative and they’re basically Republican or Democrat.”

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Soreff, of Nottingham, has called voters and canvassed homes for the past month and a half as a volunteer with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Most people didn't answer their phones and of the roughly 20 people with whom he spoke, none were interested in being swayed, he said. Soreff said the idea that independents have enough weight in the primary to determine a candidate’s outcome is “oversimplified” as voters have usually made up their minds, at least over which party they most identify.

“I know we’re supposed to say ‘we choose the person not the party,’ but that’s garbage. If you go and see how people vote, they usually vote a straight ticket,” Soreff said.

A recent WBUR poll found that 44 percent of the state’s voters are Undeclared, a population that pollster and University of New Hampshire Associate Professor of Political Science Andrew Smith says should be viewed as “Democrat lites” and “Republican lites.”

His center's analysis of polling data since 1999 found just one-third were true independents.

While much attention is placed on obtaining these independents’ votes, such voters are actually the least likely to show up on Election Day, Smith said.

“People out of the state, the press, and locals as well, are guilty of calling them Independents,” Smith said. “That’s fine if you understand that they’re not truly independent. If you say ‘Independent’ for a long enough time, you get the impression that they’re not partisan and not locked in with one party. The truth is, they’re very much locked into one party. They’re quite partisan with their positions.”

People often wonder which way independent voters will swing in an election, but that’s the wrong way to look at them, Smith said.

“We should ask ourselves which of the races is exciting those people that are less likely to vote more, the Republican or the Democratic race? The race that is more exciting, especially if it’s close, pulls out more of those Undeclared voters,” Smith said.

An exciting race can pull out voters of all parties, though, and may even prompt voters to reconsider where they stand.

Crystal Berberich, 41 of Manchester, is a registered Republican, but said she considered becoming Undeclared.

“I share a lot of views of the Republicans, but I also have a lot of very liberal views as well,” said Berberich during her post-run coffee stop in downtown Manchester on Saturday. “I’m going to vote Republican in the primary because I don’t want Trump to get any further and I may vote for a Democrat in the general election. I’m so anti-Donald Trump I think that if he was to make it to the final election, I'm hoping you would see some people switch parties.”

Peter Noonen, of Manchester, is also straddling party lines. Noonen, 44, is the type of open-to-influence voter candidates search for when campaigning in New Hampshire. He has campaigned for George W. Bush, but voted for President Barack Obama. This year his top two candidates are Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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“I’m a registered Republican, but we have the ability in New Hampshire to go back and forth," Noones said. "It takes an extra five minutes to undeclare yourself and then, if you really feel passionately about someone on the other side of the ticket, you can say, ‘Yes, I want to vote for that person.’ I've done it before for governor, even for mayor for Manchester.” 

Although Berberich and Noonen are registered Republicans, their open-mindedness suggests a certain independent spirit.

Megan Doyle, a political reporter at the Concord Monitor, said that the common theme she has noticed when interviewing voters in New Hampshire is not their partisanship, but their passion.

“They want someone authentic. They want someone they feel like they connect to,” Doyle said. “They can’t always articulate why they like that person, or what puts them over the edge to support them, but when you get to a primary like this where candidates can line up similarly on issues, I’ve noticed voters will talk a lot about passion and character. That’s one of the hallmarks of the New Hampshire primary. Voters are very much putting candidates to a character test here, in addition to grilling them on the issues that they care about.”



Photo Credit: Elizabeth Arakelian
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<![CDATA[Iowa vs. New Hampshire: Who Better Predicts GOP Nominee]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 11:04:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GOP-Primary.jpg

"Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents," former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu famously said.

Among Republicans, New Hampshire's primary results over the last few decades have been better than Iowa's caucus results at predicting who would go on to become the presidential nominee.

In the last 10 elections in years without an unopposed candidate, the winner of the New Hampshire GOP primary won the nomination half the time. The winner of the Iowa caucus earned the party nomination a quarter of the time, according to InsideGov.

We'll have to see how 2016 shakes out for Republicans in a lively race for the party's nomination after voters in the Granite State make their choice on Feb. 9. 

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Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Bloomberg Talks WH Bid: Report]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:14:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-501810656.jpg

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has confirmed that he is thinking about running for president as an independent candidate in 2016.

In a story published Monday in the Financial Times, Bloomberg said for the first time that he was considering a White House bid and that he was "looking at all the options" for the upcoming election.

“I’m listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing,” he told Financial Times.

The New York Times had reported last month that the billionaire former mayor was telling advisors to work on plans for an independent campaign with a March deadline.

NBC News later confirmed the mayor's plan, noting that Bloomberg would be most likely to run if either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz were nominated as the Republican candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received the nod from Democrats.

Bloomberg told the Financial Times he would need to start the process of getting his name on ballots by the beginning of March. 

If he ran, the 73-year-old Bloomberg would be the second-oldest candidate in the field; Sanders is 74. If either won, they would eclipse Ronald Reagan as the oldest candidate to win the office. 

Rumors of Bloomberg's presidential aspirations have been swirling since 2007 when the then-NYC mayor left the Republican party and registered as an Independent.

The billionaire and former CEO of his financial services company was a life-long Democrat before switching to the GOP for his first mayoral run. 



Photo Credit: File – Getty Images for Jazz at Lincoln Center]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Rejects Expansion of State's Medical Marijuana Program]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:13:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_386110439915-BruceRauner.jpg

Governor Bruce Rauner continued to stifle the state’s medical marijuana pilot program last week after he failed to add a variety of conditions to the list of diseases that can legally be treated by the drug.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced last Friday that the state’s medical marijuana pilot program would not be expanded despite recommendations from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board which was largely appointed by former Governor Pat Quinn.

 

The Rauner administration directed Ward Room's questions about the pilot program to the IDPH.

“It is premature to expand the pilot program before there is the ability to evaluate under the current statutory requirements,” Melaney Arnold of the IDPH told Ward Room.

The expert panel reviewed evidence and listened to testimony before recommending eight conditions for treatment by the state’s medical marijuana program. These included post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis and four other pain conditions.

Nonetheless, the IDPH rejected the panel’s proposal that would have expanded the program’s treatment.

“The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is moving forward but remains in its early stage,” Arnold said. “As patients have just started purchasing medical cannabis, the state has not had the opportunity to evaluate the benefits and costs of the pilot program or determine areas for improvement or even whether to extend the program beyond its pilot period.”

Regulated medical marijuana sales began last November in Illinois. As a result of the stringent nature of the state’s program, only 4,000 patients have been approved to buy medical marijuana.

Rauner vetoed legislation last September that would have added PTSD to the list of conditions approved for treatment. The Rauner administration also rejected 11 other medical conditions which had been approved by the panel.

Medical marijuana research has been stifled by federal laws that prohibit the drug’s use.

The law currently includes 39 conditions and diseased that qualify for treatment using the drug. The list includes, cancer, HIV and hepatitis C, among others.

The state’s four-year medical marijuana pilot program is set to expire at the end of 2017.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Emanuel Announces O'Hare Gate Expansion]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:12:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/183*120/gasolina-11.jpg

The mayor’s office announced a deal Sunday to add five new American Airlines gates to O’Hare International Airport. 

The addition will increase O’Hare’s number of gates from 189 to 194. These changes to Terminal 3 will be the airport’s first major expansion since Terminal 5 was built in 1993.

 

“Chicago’s economic future is linked to the success and growth of O’Hare, and the steps we are taking are part of our long-term plan to bring the airport into the 21st century,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “These new gates will help make O’Hare not only the busiest, but also the best airport in the world.” 

 

The project, which is slated to be done by 2018, is being funded by American Airlines.

 

Although changes to the airport’s infrastructure have already been made, the airport still boasts some of the country’s worst delays.

 

“O’Hare airport is moving in to the 21st century with the addition of these gates,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger S. Evans said in a statement. “Passengers will see fewer delays, shorter taxi times and an overall improved experience when flying to or from Chicago.” 

 

Emanuel previously announced a deal last week between the city and major airlines to build a final runway as part of a larger plan to modernize the airport.

 

The $1.3 billion plan will create a new east-west runway and add new de-icing pads and taxiways.

 

“The agreement builds on the City’s recently announced $1.3 billion landmark infrastructure plan for O’Hare, which will help create thousands of jobs and improve the customer experience at the airport,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aldermen Halt Emanuel’s Plan to Raise Smoking Age]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:26:20 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_791184962081.jpg

A group of Chicago aldermen on Monday shot down Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to increase the city’s smoking age from 18 to 21 and add a $6 million tax on all types of tobacco.

The City Council’s Finance Committee voted against Emanuel’s plan, arguing that it would encourage black market sales of loose cigarettes and force small retailers out of business, namely those located near the city limits.

Ald. Nicholas Sposato warned of these “unintended consequences” as a result of the proposed tax hike that would be “catastrophic for certain areas of our city.”

“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer said. “It hurts us more than the few people it helps.”

Tanya Triche, spokeswoman for the Illinois Retail Merchant Association, referred to tobacco sales as “a critical profit center for convenience stores and gas stations” and warned that “the illegal sale of cigarettes is on the rise.”

The move exemplifies Emanuel’s diminished support among city legislators in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014. Calls for Emanuel’s resignation erupted last November when dash-cam footage of the incident was made public.

"Mayor Emanuel has stood up to the tobacco industry countless times throughout his career to reduce youth smoking, and he's not about to back down now," City Hall Spokesman Adam Collins told Ward Room. 

Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita championed the mayor’s plan, calling smoking “the leading cause of preventable disease."

“I know that smoking kills,” Morita said. “This [tax] package would end up saving lives.”

Emanuel’s proposal, which was co-sponsored by Aldermen Joe Moreno, Will Burns and Ameya Pawar, would raise the city’s smoking age, ban the use of coupons and discounts for cigarettes and tax tobacco beyond cigarettes.

Pawar pledged his “unwavering support” for the measure and accused opponents of “carrying the water for big tobacco companies.”

"The tobacco industry can lobby as much as they like," Collins said. "We'll continue speaking to and working with aldermen on this ordinance that will prevent young people from picking up smoking, while investing in their education."

Emanuel holds that the new taxes would serve as a way to fund an orientation program for incoming Chicago Public School freshmen.

Chicago currently has the nation’s highest cigarette tax at $7.17 per pack. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Alvarez Battles Opponents During Editorial Board Endorsement Sessions ]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 22:23:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/anita_alvarez_presser.png

Embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez defended her tenure during editorial board endorsement sessions for the city's two major newspapers last week.

Alvarez has come under fire in the wake of the police shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald, with many criticizing her for not charging Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke with McDonald’s murder for 400 days.

Van Dyke was charged as video of the incident, obtained using a Freedom of Information Act request, was being made public.

During Thursday's session with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Alvarez said she does not “believe any mistakes were made” during the handling of the McDonald case and that “a meticulous, thorough, comprehensive investigation” was carried out to investigate the shooting.

Alvarez faced off against former Cook County Assistant State’s attorney Kim Foxx and former federal and state prosecutor Donna More, who both accused Alvarez of mishandling the case.

“The whole world saw this videotape, and everybody except one person believed there was probably cause to bring charges here, and that one person was our incumbent state’s attorney,” said More.

“It was unnecessary and unwarranted for her to await the US attorney’s office civil rights violations to bring these charges against Jason Van Dyke,” Foxx said. “The truth of the matter is she had determined he was a murderer and allowed him to go to work every day, to walk amongst us every day.”

During Friday's endorsement session with the Chicago Sun Times, Alvarez said, "my credibility speaks for itself."

Foxx’s record at the State’s Attorney’s office came into question last week when a FOIA request to that office revealed that she had only tried one case in the Felony Trial Division during her 12 years there. The FOIA request also revealed that Foxx had never tried a murder case.

“If Kim Foxx believes she has tried 'hundreds of felony cases' like she's repeatedly claimed, she should release her own records to back those claims up,” Alvarez’s campaign manager Mike Carson told Ward Room in a statement. “If not, it's time for Foxx to apologize for misrepresenting her record to the press and the public.”

Alvarez addressed the issue during the Sun-Times editorial board Friday, asking Foxx, “what else are you lying about?”

Foxx countered, claiming "the state's attorney is using her office for political reasons."

"During her time [at the state's attorney's office], she managed a docket of more than 5,000 criminal cases and prosecuted hundreds of cases, including felony trials and evidentiary hearinds." Foxx spokesperson Joanna Klonsky told Ward Room. "She prosecuted hundreds of felony cases, including murders, rapes and carjackings- and about 100 of those went to bench or jury trials."

During Thursday's meeting, More said she would appoint a special unit of former U.S. attorneys to handle cases involving police shootings. Foxx laid out plans to appoint special independent prosecutors to investigate each fatal shooting in the city.

Alvarez and More both claimed that a special prosecutor would be too expensive and called into question Foxx’s tenure as chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Foxx served under Preckwinkle when the board increased the county sales tax by a penny on the dollar last July.

“Maybe that’s just how you do it,” More said. “You just keep raising taxes for special prosecutors.”

Alvarez equated the sales tax increase “to picking the pockets of the taxpayers here in Cook County.”

"While Kim was Chief of Staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the County passed a modest sales tax increase to shore up the County pension system," Klonsky said. "Unlike other bodies of government, the County took the need to raise revenue to support the pension mandate head on to make sure County workers could retire with dignity."

A Tribune poll released last week found that 71 percent of Chicagoans were not satisfied with Alvarez’s handling of the case and only 30 percent of voters approved of her overall job performance.

Nonetheless, the same poll found that 34 percent of respondents would vote for Alvarez with Foxx receiving 27 percent of votes and More receiving 12 percent. Twnety-six percent of voters are either undecided or backing other candidates.

The Democratic Primary for Cook County State’s Attorney will be held on March 15.

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<![CDATA[Rep. Dunkin’s Primary Opponent Receives High-Profile Endorsements]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:17:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Stratton2.jpg

Julianna Stratton held a news conference Thursday to announce a host of powerful endorsements as she moves forward with her bid to unseat state Rep. Ken Dunkin, her opponent in the March 15 Democratic primary for the state’s 5th District House seat .

Stratton was endorsed Thursday by Secretary of State Jesse White, Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Father Michael Pfleger, among others.

Dunkin supporters protested the event, holding signs that read “Pass a budget, Springfield” and “Fire Mike Madigan.”

"Of all the people that endorsed my opponent not one has proposed a solution beyond taking more money out of the paychecks of everyday working people," Dunkin told Ward Room. "They are not the most trusted representatives in their community, so no it's not daunting because my focus in putting people over politics."

Dunkin broke up the Democratic super-majority in the Illinois House of Representatives last year, siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner on the state’s budget. Rauner received less than 20 percent of the vote in Dunkin’s district.

“In the past weeks, I have talked to thousands of residents while walking door to door,” Stratton said during the news conference. “Right now the people of this district do not have a voice in the statehouse and they’re suffering as a result of the Rauner-Dunkin agenda.”

Dunkin also received a $500,000 campaign donation from the Illinois Opportunity Project Monday. The group was co-founded by former Republican gubernatorial candidate and conservative radio host Dan Proft.

“Ken Dunkin took a half a million dollar thank you gift for voting against our families,” Stratton said. “That is not putting people over politics.”

Stratton’s powerful Democratic supporters took the opportunity to comment on Dunkin’s record as a state Representative.

“I always say when you take on a job, you take on the responsibility for everybody,” White said. “In the case of Ken Dunkin, he has been a big disappointment to me and to his constituents, to the people of the 5th District. The message is they can no longer afford Ken Dunkin.”

Following Rauner’s State of the State address last week, Dunkin made headlines when he came to a news conference with a backpack and sleeping bag promising to camp out at House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office until the state’s budget stalemate was resolved.

"I fought the speaker and the governor to get $2 billion in funding released for my constituents," Dunkin said. "My opponent's plan is to follow the speaker's plan, which is to remain silent. The quickest way to ensure the residents of the 5th District don't have a voice is to turn our district over to another Mike Madigan rubber stamp."

Stratton previously served as the Deputy Hearing Commissioner for the city’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection as well as Executive Director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council and Executive Director of Cook County Justice for Children. She currently serves as Director for the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois Chicago and President of JDS Mediation Services, Inc.

The primary election for the Democratic nomination for the state’s 5th District House seat will be held on March 15.

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<![CDATA['I Need Your Vote': Trump in NH]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 18:42:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Donald+Trump+NH+020716.jpg

Donald Trump, the billionaire business mogul who has enjoyed the top spot atop the Republican polls in New Hampshire, urged his supporters to come out for him in Tuesday's primary.

Trump held a rally Sunday afternoon at Plymouth State University in Holderness.

"If you're not going to vote for me, do not vote," Trump told the large crowd gathered in a university athletics center.

Not everyone at the rally had their minds made up about how they will vote Tuesday. Nancy McIver of Holderness said she will vote Republican, but is still checking out all the candidates, especially Trump and his opponents who have served as governors.

"Here it is, Sunday, and I have to vote on Tuesday, and I still don't know," McIver said, noting the economy and how to care for veterans and the elderly are of prime interest to her. "I'm running out of time - I've got to make up my mind!"

McIver's husband, Jeff, said he is strongly leaning toward Trump, but noted he did want to first check out the candidate's temperament in person, to gauge how well he may hold up in a general election.

"There's going to be an onslaught of negativity if Mr. Trump is the nominee, I believe, thrown at him," Jeff McIver said. "And he has to prove, to me anyway, that he has a way of dealing with that without losing his temper and prove to the American people that he's a leader."

Two other rally attendees, who described themselves as being "95 percent" and "99 percent" leaning toward Trump, said they had some concerns about the way the candidate, known for his bluntness and sometimes politically incorrect remarks, may treat others if he is the Republican party's nominee.

"He's not very thick-skinned, so I'm a bit worried about that," said Susan Peoples of Salem. "But I do like all his ideas."

"It's the way he words things to people - he might need to tone it down," Kelley Teunessen of Gilmanton told necn, adding she likes Jeb Bush, but was drawn to Trump because he is not a career politician.

At one point during the rally, a shirtless protestor calling Trump "racist," in reference to the candidate's call on a temporary ban on Muslims who want to move to the U.S. from foreign countries, was escorted from the venue.

While security removed the man, who had "Trump is racist" written on his body, Trump supporters loudly chanted the candidate's name.

Outside, another Trump protestor, Plymouth State student Hannah Dutton, said the candidate's presence on campus did not reflect her values or those of many other students.

"I will not be voting for Donald Trump, that is for sure," Dutton told necn. "I do not support his America."

In his energetic speech, Trump claimed victory in Saturday night's Republican debate on ABC, and said he is the candidate who can be tough with foreign leaders while addressing issues at home like growing jobs and stemming the flow of heroin from Mexico into the United States.

Furthermore, Trump promised his supporters in Holderness that because his campaign is largely self-funded, he is not beholden to special interest groups or wealthy donors, so will not always side with influential lobbies.

"I don't need your money; I need your vote," Trump told the crowd at the rally.



Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Gloria Steinem Apologizes for Comments About Young Women]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 17:26:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GloriaSteinem-GettyImages-508082072.jpg

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has apologized for implying that younger women have chosen to support Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton because they want to meet men, NBC News reported.

"In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook.

On the Friday edition of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the host asked why so many young women were not supporting Clinton during her bid for presidency. Steinem replied that young women were thinking “’Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie.” 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Calls Flint Water Crisis 'Immoral']]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 16:10:42 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ClintonFlint-AP_578549665494.jpg

Hillary Clinton called for “action now” to fight the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in a speech she made to a packed congregation in the city, NBC News reported.

Clinton, who stepped away from the campaign trail in New Hampshire to visit Flint, called on Congress to pass a $200 million bill to replace the city’s water infrastructure.

"This has to be a national priority," Clinton said at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church. "What happened in Flint is immoral. The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any part of America."

Clinton promised residents she would return to the city and not to be discouraged. With the DNC sanctioning an additional debate in Flint for March 6, Clinton will be back in the city two days before the Michigan primary.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Says Iowa Caucus Results 'Very Unfair']]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 16:23:21 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump+MTP+New+Hampshire.png

Donald Trump said Sunday that he does not need to win the New Hampshire primary and that the Iowa caucus results were "very unfair" to him and Ben Carson.

"There are those that say I actually came in first, depending on how you want to count the votes, to be honest, because that was a horrible thing that took place," Trump said on "Meet The Press."

Iowa caucus winner Ted Cruz apologized to Ben Carson after supporters spread rumors that Carson was planning to end his campaign in an effort to get them to support Cruz. Trump has said it may have pushed Cruz over the top and caused him to fall to second.

Trump said he would like to do well in the Granite State, but dismissed the idea it is a must win. 



Photo Credit: NBC News
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<![CDATA[Sanders Defends His Foreign Policy Credentials]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 11:53:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sander+Defends+Foreign+Policy.png

Senator Bernie Sanders defended himself Sunday against criticism that he does not have sufficient depth or interest in foreign policy matters.

"Let me reassure the American people…it goes without saying that a president must be well-versed in foreign policy, must have a foreign policy position. And I will of course do that," Sanders said on NBC's "Meet the Press" in response to criticism by some of his debate performance Thursday on the issue of foreign policy.

Sanders has faced intense scrutiny during his presidential campaign for not being as comfortable or fluent as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when discussing foreign affairs.

"It is not just experience that matters, it is judgment," argued the Vermont senator.



Photo Credit: NBC News
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<![CDATA[Ben Carson Waits in the Wings in Debate Introduction]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 11:23:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/BenCarsonDebate-AP_47261554959.jpg

The Republican debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, got off to a bit of an awkward start on Saturday.

It began on a high note, when ABC moderator David Muir introduced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. 

Ben Carson's name, drowned out by applause, was called second. But instead of making his way onto the stage, he stood off to the side as the moderators continued on down the candidate list. 

Carson then started to make his way out, but suddenly stopped short when the moderators called out Ted Cruz’s name. 

Someone from backstage, who popped his head out from behind the curtain, tried shooing Carson to walk out, but to no avail. 

Donald Trump appeared in the wings after his name was called, but instead of coming to the stage, he stood back with Carson. Marco Rubio barreled past the two other candidates, smiling as he walked past them. Next came former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who gave the two a quizzical look before leaving Carson and Trump behind.

Social media lit up with reaction to Carson’s late entry onto the stage.

Others were more sympathetic to the GOP candidate and laid the blame elsewhere. 

But it didn't end there. Muir could faintly be heard calling out Ohio Gov. John Kasich's name, but that too, was drowned out by applause. Both Muir and fellow moderator, Martha Raddatz, who had their backs to the stage, then realized they were missing and gave Carson and Trump another call to the stage.

“Dr. Ben Carson, please come out on the stage, he’s standing there as well,” Muir said.

“And Donald Trump,” Raddatz said.

As the moderators took their seats, Kasich was still missing.

“Where’s Kasich?” someone could be heard saying.

“Yes, yes, we’re going to introduce Ohio Gov. John Kasich.” 



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[GOP Debate in NH: Christie vs. Rubio, More Top Moments]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 09:15:14 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rubio-at-debate.jpg

Donald Trump was back, Carly Fiorina was out, excluded by the rules of the ABC News debate, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was drawing attacks after his strong showing in Iowa.

The GOP presidential candidates were on stage Saturday night for the final debate before the New Hampshire primary, where some of the Republicans must do well if they are to continue. Trump, who finished second behind U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the Iowa caucuses, returned after skipping the previous debate. 

Here are some of the liveliest moments of the evening. 

GETTING ON STAGE
The debate got off to an awkward start as Dr. Ben Carson hesitated going onto the stage even as he was waved on. Trump lingered with Carson until they both entered, but then Kasich was left behind. He later said that he did not hear his name called.

RUBIO ATTACKED FOR "30-SECOND SPEECH"
Rubio tried to defend his relatively short time in the U.S. Senate by saying if years spent as a senator were the measure of a candidate everyone on the stage should be rallying around Vice President Joe Biden. Biden represented Delaware for 36 years.

But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie quickly attacked Rubio for failing to make a single decision of consequence in the Senate for which he was held accountable and mocked him for giving his “30-second” prepared speech. Memorized speeches don’t get the snow plowed or help rebuild a state destroyed by superstorm Sandy, he said. And he criticized Rubio for listing the Hezbollah Sanctions Act as an accomplishment but failing to show up for the vote.

“That’s not leadership," Christie said. "That’s truancy.”

Rubio rejoined by telling Christie he had to be shamed into returning to New Jersey from New Hampshire during the recent blizzard. And he brought up New Jersey’s credit rating, downgraded nine times since Christie became governor.

But Rubio also continued to repeat himself several times with the same comments criticizing President Barack Obama.

"You see everybody. I want the people at home to think about this. That's what Washington, D.C., does," Christie rebutted. "The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech...Marco, the thing is this: When you're president of the United States, when you're a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn't solve one problem for one person."

"WASHINGTON ETHICS"
Carson was asked about messages sent by Cruz’s campaign just before the Iowa caucuses, claiming falsely that Carson was leaving the race.

“I’m not going to use this opportunity to savage the reputation of Senator Cruz,” he said.

Carson said he owed it to his volunteers, one of whom died in a traffic accident in Iowa, to stay in the competition. And he added that he was disappointed in the display of what he called “Washington ethics” — doing what is needed to do to win, not what is right.

Cruz apologized, and blamed CNN for reporting that Carson was taking a break from his campaign.

But Carson responded that CNN’s initial tweet was quickly followed by a second one saying he was still in the race. Voters can make their own judgement, he said.

At the end of the debate, Trump got a dig in, saying Cruz had received Carson's votes.

"TOUGH GUY"
Trump and Bush got into a sharp disagreement over eminent domain, the process by which the government can take private property for public good. Trump, who has benefited from it, defended it as a way to build roads and schools.

Bush countered with a jab at Trump's attempt to take a woman’s house in Atlantic City to use as a parking lot for limousines, next to one of his casinos.

"Jeb wants to be a tough guy,” Trump snapped.

The woman went to state court and ended up keeping her home.

TRUMP VERSUS THE CROWD
Trump at one point said his team was unable to get tickets for the audience because they had gone to “donors, special interests, the people who put up the money.”

As the audience booed, he added, “The reason they’re not loving me is I don’t want their money.”

Trump makes a point of saying he is funding his campaign himself.

FEELING LEFT OUT
Carson showed his frustration at not getting as much time as the others.

"I’m not here just to add beauty to the stage," Carson said as he jumped into a discussion about the Middle East.

In his closing remarks he said the media had tried to ignore him

"I’m still here and I’m not going any place either," he said.

HEROIN EPIDEMIC
Cruz, asked about the heroin epidemic in New Hampshire, talked about the death of his half-sister, Miriam, from a drug overdose. He and his father, Rafael, tried to rescue her from a crack house, but failed, he said. After his sister’s death, he put her son, Joey, into a military school with a $20,000 loan on a credit card.

He joins Christie and Fiorina in discussing addictions from the vantage of their families. 

Christie talks about a law school friend who died after injuring his back and becoming addicted to Percocet.

Fiorina's step-daughter, Lori, died at age 35 after a struggle with alcohol and prescription pills.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fiorina Uses Debate Exclusion As Fuel to Fight On]]> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 15:43:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CarlyFiorina-AP_707918705720.jpg

Carly Fiorina told a crowd of supporters on Saturday morning that "the game is rigged," assailing ABC News for not inviting her onto Saturday's GOP debate stage because of her low polling numbers nationally, NBC News reported.

"Sorry, I thought votes counted in elections. Sorry, I thought delegates counted in elections," Fiorina said during a campaign town hall in Goffstown, adding that she "will go all the way to Cleveland," referencing the site of the Republican National Convention this summer.

ABC News announced on Thursday that Fiorina - who is garnering roughly two percent of support, nationally, in polling averages - was not invited to participate in the final debate before Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO called ABC the "Anybody But Carly" network.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: John Kasich's Snow Day in N.H.]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:53:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/john-kasich-snowball-fight-new-hampshire.jpg

Considering how much time he has spent campaigning in New Hampshire, it's perhaps no surprise that Republican John Kasich took some time Friday to have a snowball fight.

The governor of Ohio, whose disappointing finish in Monday's Iowa caucus leaves him a long shot for his party's nomination, took part in "an impromptu snowball fight with members of the media and volunteers," according to his campaign.

The video showed him ducking snowballs and launching some of his own in front of a snowy red barn.

According to the latest NBC News poll, Kasich has 10 percent of support among likely primary voters in New Hampshire, trailing only Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Kasich has campaigned heavily in the Granite – the snowball fight took part between his 99th and 100th town hall events in the state.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Illinois Dems Move to Make Obama’s Birthday a State Holiday]]> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 12:23:29 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama4.png

Illinois State Rep. Andre Thapedi introduced a new bill this week that could make President Barack Obama’s birthday a state holiday.

 

The proposed legislation, House Bill 4654, would close schools and state offices on Aug. 4, Obama’s birthday. If the date falls on a Sunday, the following Monday will be observed instead.

The bill is co-sponsored by representatives Thaddeus Jones, Rita Mayfield and Arthur Turner.

"As President Obama serves his final year in office, the timing to make his birthday a state holiday is critical to recognizing his accomplishment and the legacy that he will leave behind for future presidents, Illinois officials and young people who aspire to serve their community," Jones said in a statement.

Before becoming a U.S. Senator and subsequently the country’s Commander-In-Chief, Obama served as an Illinois senator from 1997-2004.

The president will address the state’s General Assembly next week in Springfield amid the state’s historic budget impasse and pension crisis.

Obama became the first black president in the nation’s history when he was sworn into office in January of 2009.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Las Vegas Newspaper Endorses Marco Rubio]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:38:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MarcoRubio-AP_480187241596.jpg

The Las Vegas Review-Journal endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio Friday, NBC News reported.

"Our reasons for endorsing Sen. Rubio are many. Notably, the Florida senator has deep personal connections to the state," the editorial board wrote, noting that he spent ages eight to 14 in Las Vegas.

The paper said it required the candidate needed to meet with its editorial board. The paper also insisted the owner, Sheldon Adelson — who has yet to personally endorse a candidate — played no part in its decision.

Republicans in Nevada caucus in two-and-a-half weeks on Tuesday, February 23.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Fights Back After Low N.H. Poll Numbers]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 07:24:36 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_617541352129-debate.jpg Hillary Clinton is way behind in the latest New Hampshire polls, and she came out swinging in last night's Democratic Debate.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Megyn Kelly Talks Trump Boycott on 'Tonight Show' ]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:45:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KELLY_AP_828085981256.jpg

Megyn Kelly explained on "The Tonight Show” that she was just doing her job as a journalist during the Republican debate she moderated that featured a clash with Donald Trump.

“We never thought anyone would react to the questions that way,” she said to host Jimmy Fallon. “He got a tough question but they all got tough questions.”

Kelly, who hosts the “Kelly File” on Fox News, appeared on the “Tonight Show” on Thursday night where she described the “surreal six months” after Trump accused her of being biased against him because of her line of questions during an Aug. 6 debate last year.

During that debate, she asked Trump about his treatment of women.

“You've called women you don't like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ '’slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals’,” she said to Trump. “Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?"

Kelly explained to Fallon Thursday night that the point of a debate is to ask “tough questions.”

“All those guys got it right it in the kisser. But that’s what they have to do,” she said. “They want George Washington’s job”

She continued, “I’m a member of the press and that’s what I do, press.”

Fallon praised Kelly for not bowing to Trump’s boycott of the Jan. 28 debate and asked her if Trump would be attending the upcoming Republican debate on March 3.

“He hasn’t committed,” she said and then went on to note that Trump has inspired many on the right.

“He’s electrified the Republican debates,” she said. “He’s introduced a lot of issues in this election that Republicans wanted to talk about.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll: Trump Holds Lead in N.H., Rubio Gains Ground]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 06:50:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rubio-Trump-Split.jpg

Donald Trump continues to lead Tuesday's New Hampshire primary after his second-place finish in Iowa, but Marco Rubio has gained ground on him, according to a new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll conducted after the Iowa results.

Trump gets support from 30 percent of likely Republican primary followers — followed by Rubio at 17 percent, Ted Cruz at 15 percent, John Kasich at 10 percent, Jeb Bush at 9 percent and Chris Christie at 4 percent.

Last week — before the results in Iowa, where Cruz finished first and Rubio third — Trump was at 31 percent, Cruz 12 percent, Rubio 11 percent, Kasich 11 percent, Bush 8 percent and Christie 7 percent.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton '100 Percent Confident' Emails Won't Hurt Campaign]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 07:26:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/HillaryClintonDebate-GettyImages-508470704.jpg

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was faced with the nagging issue of her private email server once again during MSNBC’s Democratic debate in Durham, New Hampshire, on Thursday.

Clinton said she is “100 percent confident” the investigation will not be problematic in her bid for the White House.

“I have absolutely no concerns about it whatsoever,” she told debate moderators Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow.

It was the first time Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders debated in a one-on-one face off since former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley suspended his campaign on Monday. It is also the last time the two candidates will meet before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

Clinton called the server issue a “political ploy” before turning to news that former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are now facing a similar problem. The State Department said it found “secret” or “confidential” information on 12 emails from personal servers of Powell and Rice's staff.

“There are going to have to be security reviews of a lot of other people — including Republican office holders,” she said. “We've got to get to the bottom of what's going on here and I hope that will happen.”

The State Department said last week it would not release 22 emails from Clinton’s private email server because it said they contained classified information.

“I never sent or received any classified material,” she said. “They are retroactively classifying it.”

As for Sanders, he said he will not politicize the issue.

“The secretary probably doesn’t know that there’s not a day that goes by when I am not asked to attack her on that issue, and I have refrained from doing that,” he said.  



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Creates New Private Economic Agency]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:01:57 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner1.jpg

Gov. Bruce Rauner established the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation Wednesday, a privately run and funded corporation dedicated to bringing new business to the state.

Rauner used an executive order to direct the state's economic development agency to work with the newly formed not-for-profit corporation.

Oversight of the newly minted corporation will be handled by the state’s commerce agency who will be responsible for approving any incentives offered by the ILBEDC.

"The Executive Order directs the Department of Commerce to work collaboratively with the ILBEDC," Kyle Ann Sebastian of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity told Ward Room. "The business community, economic development stakeholders and Department of Commerce leaders incorporated the ILBEDC."

Rauner previously negotiated a deal with House Speaker Michael Madigan last year to create a private-public partnership within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity focused on creating economic development. Over a dozen states have similar private-public partnerships.

The deal fizzled due to Rauner’s concerns over a sunset provision that would have required a private contract review in three years.

“This could’ve been a law that could’ve been on the books for nearly a year,” Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown told Ward Room.

Nonetheless, Rauner’s democratic counterparts remain skeptically optimistic about the governor’s executive order.

“We’ll look carefully at all this,” Brown said. “No one is against bringing businesses to Illinois.”

Illinois is following the successful corporation models of states like Ohio, Texas and Michigan.

Wisconsin’s corporation model, on the other hand, has been riddled with problems since its establishment in 2001. The state has doled out $126 million without a formal review and have had a hard time recovering loans from struggling companies.

Rauner claims that transparency will not be an issue with the new corporation due to the public disclosure of donors and a conflict-of-interest policy for board members. In addition to these policies, Rauner promises public board meetings and corporate records that will be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

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<![CDATA[Jeb Bush Campaigns With Mom in New Hampshire]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:47:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JebBarbaraBush-AP_83444133525.jpg

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has started to rely more on his family as he continues to campaign. 

Bush was joined by former first lady Barbara Bush Thursday, for the first time since he announced his bid for the White House, NBC News reported.

Barbara Bush sat directly behind Jeb as he delivered an emotional campaign speech in which he described his father — the 41st president — as "the greatest man alive" and his daughter's drug addiction and recovery. 

George W. Bush's aides have hinted that the former president will make an appearance on his brother's campaign trail in the coming weeks.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Aldermen Look to Improve City's Mental Health Services]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:12:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ervin+nbc.jpg

A group of Chicago aldermen, led by Jason Ervin, announced a plan to bolster the city’s mental health system Wednesday.

The group argues that increased mental health services will undercut costs incurred from multi-million dollar police shooting settlements. This comes in the wake of a series of high-profile police shootings involving victims with mental health conditions.

“The last set of incidents in our city, namely Laquan McDonald and the Quintonio LeGrier, were clear issues where mental health was definitely the reason why these calls were made,” Ervin said during a press conference Wednesday.

“If we help to improve people’s mental health that definitely will lead to less challenges in other areas,” Ervin told Ward Room.

The group of aldermen supporting the ordinance, which also consists of Ray Lopez, David Moore, Walter Burnett, Deb Mell, Nick Sposato, Anthony Napolitano and James Cappleman, is pushing for a proposed “mental health safety net” that further addresses the issue.

Ervin considers the ordinance “a great first step” that could potentially lead to “full psychiatric treatment at the clinics.”

The proposal would require the city to staff enough psychiatrists at its six mental health clinics to meet demand. New patients are currently not accepted at these clinics and psychiatrists are only on duty four to six hours a day, one day a week.

"CDPH is already making progress towards hiring psychiatrists and establishing contracts with insurance companies," a statement provided to Ward Room by the Chicago Department of Public Health said. "We feel strongly that Alderman Ervin’s ordinance will interfere with our ability to achieve these goals."

Under the ordinance, the CDPH would be given six months to join three managed care networks. Unlike most medicaid recipients, the city hasn't shifted to these managed care networks. In effect, the city can't be reimbursed for providing these mental health services.

"The costs for service under [Ervin's] proposal would never be adequately offset by reimbursement," the statement from the CDPH said. "We’re paying an average of $450.00 per patient, per visit, but only being reimbursed for roughly $75.00."

The CDPH has hired one additional psychiatrist to meet the city’s demand. A national shortage of psychiatrist’s could affect the city’s plan to bolster the staffs at these mental health clinics.

The ordinance would also require increased outreach by the Department of Public Health. The outreach would focus on making people who are struggling with mental illness more aware of their options for treatment.

According to Ervin, the ordinance has been directed to the health committee.

Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to improve crisis intervention training among Chicago Police officers and 911 operators. The plan aims to improve the city’s handling of emergencies involving the mentally ill.

Emanuel’s first city budget closed six of the city’s twelve mental health clinics. Half of the aldermen proposing the ordinance also supported these closings. 

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<![CDATA[Report: CTU Garners Triple the Support of Emanuel]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:01:54 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Emanuel6.png

The Chicago Teacher’s Union received three times more support from Chicagoans than Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how to improve the city’s ailing public school system, according to a Chicago Tribune report released Thursday.

According to the poll, 60 percent of Chicagoans side with the teacher’s union on how to improve schools. Only 20 percent of Chicagoans side with Emanuel while 12 percent backed neither side and 7 percent had no opinion.

The relationship between CPS and the teacher’s union has grown increasingly tenuous, as CTU’s 40-member “Big Bargaining Team” unanimously rejected an offer from Chicago Public Schools Monday. District CEO Forrest Claypool then announced cuts of $100 million to school budgets Tuesday. CTU President Karen Lewis referred to the cuts as an “act of war."

CPS officials also took out a high interest loan of $725 million Wednesday to help prop up the already cash strapped school system. CPS is facing a $480 million budget deficit for this school year and the district projects a $1.1 billion deficit for next year.

Last December, 88 percent of CTU members voted to strike if a new contact agreement wasn’t reached. State law requires 75 percent support for a strike. The union’s last strike was in September of 2012 and lasted nine days. CTU held a rally downtown Thursday to protest the district’s recent decisions.

The Tribune poll also found that Emanuel’s approval rating on education has fallen to an all-time low. This comes on the heels of Monday’s Tribune poll which found that only 27 percent of Chicagoans approve of Emanuel’s leadership and job performance while 63 percent disapprove.

Emanuel has come under fire in the wake of the Oct. 2014 fatal police shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald. Nonetheless, Emanuel was confident about CPS’ contract offer when he spoke to "Chicago Tonight" last Thursday.

"I think it's better for me to characterize it as very good discussions, with a lot of respect on both sides for the challenges they're facing, but to try to create a win-win situation for both teachers, taxpayers and our students," Emanuel said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner moved forward this week with his plan for a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools and is currently looking for an interim superintendent for the district. If legislation introduced to the state senate and house is passed, control of CPS would be given to the Illinois State Board of Education.

“Gov. Rauner’s threat of a takeover of CPS represents an educational abomination,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said during a press conference Wednesday. “This is a guy who knows nothing about real education.”

The Emanuel administration did not respond to Ward Room’s request for comment.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ABC News Pressured to Include Fiorina in Debate]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:41:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CarlyFiorina-AP_707918705720.jpg

Carly Fiorina is attracting sympathy, as more people are coming to her defense for being excluded from the last Republican debate hosted by ABC News on Saturday, NBC News reported.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Mitt Romney have supported the former Hewlett Packard executive. Romney urged ABC News not to “exclude (the) only woman.”

Fiorina is the only Republican candidate that is not invited to the debate because she does not meet ABC News’ criteria. ABC News has only invited candidates who ranked in the top three in Iowa, who placed in the top six places in New Hampshire polls and in national polls.

She met with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus Thursday, following up on a letter she sent to the RNC to press ABC to let her debate.  

The debate will be the last time the candidates will square off before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sanders Leads Clinton by 20 Points in NH: Poll]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:19:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bernie-Sanders-Hillary-Clinton.jpg

Bernie Sanders has a significant double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, NBC News reported.

Sanders has the support of 58 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, compared to 38 percent for Clinton.

"So far in New Hampshire, it's all Sanders as Clinton faces an uphill fight," says pollster Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The numbers come out before Thursday night’s debate on MSNBC, the first one-on-one encounter between the two candidates. Martin O’Malley dropped out of the race on Monday.  

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<![CDATA[Watch: Bernie Sanders Tries to Help Man Who Falls]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 13:13:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sanders-concord.jpg

Stand up moment for Bernie Sanders.

Sanders briefly halted a campaign event in New Hampshire Thursday to try to help a man who collapsed on stage.

"Oh my God," Sanders said when the man fell just after the Democratic presidential candidate was taking a question in Concord about the schedule of debates. The scary thump could be heard on video that captured the moment. 

Sanders waited near the man until he was helped off the stage about a minute later.

The specifics of why the man had collapsed and his condition after walking away were not immediately clear.

The man was a supporter of Sanders who worked for the state chapter of the Sierra Club, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

It wasn't the first time Sanders was caught on video trying to aid someone in distress.

The Vermont senator yelled at camera crews to back up when NBC News' Andrea Mitchell was reportedly nearly crushed by other members of the media following a Democratic debate in October.

Sanders will face off against Hillary Clinton in a debate on MSNBC later Thursday ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Feb. 9.  



Photo Credit: NECN
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<![CDATA[Ward Room Campaign Round-Up: Week 2]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:05:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/458407950.jpg

This is the second edition of the Ward Room's Campaign Round-Up, a weekly posting dedicated to keeping voters informed about the state and county's upcoming 2016 elections. Check the Ward Room blog for continued coverage every Wednesday.

State’s Attorney

In one of the most highly contested primaries in the state, incumbent Anita Alvarez faces stiff competition from Kim Foxx, who has received a host of high-profile endorsements, and Donna More, who has recently launched a month-long TV ad campaign.

Foxx released a campaign ad Sunday claiming that in the wake of the Laquan Mcdonald shooting, Alvarez did nothing for 400 days. This is in reference to Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke who was not charged with McDonald's murder for 13 months.

“It’s disappointing that Kim Foxx is running attack ads to score political points off the death of a teenager,” Alvarez’s campaign manager Mike Carson said in a statement to Ward Room.

Foxx’s record at the State’s Attorney’s office has also come into question this week. Aides to Anita Alvarez claim that in Foxx’s 12 years at the State’s Attorney’s office, she only tried one felony case. The Foxx camp has denied these claims.

Foxx received an endorsement from Cook County Board of Commissioners member and former Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia Wednesday.

More, who has largely self-funded her campaign, rolled out an extensive TV ad campaign this week. The campaign will be comprised of 700 ads that will “run in targeted cable TV regions of Cook County.”

The first 30 second spot claims “Anita Alvarez must go.”

Nonetheless, according to a recent Tribune poll, Alvarez received 34 percent of votes with Foxx receiving 27 percent and More receiving 12 percent. 26 percent of voters are either undecided or backing other candidates.

All three State’s Attorney candidates are scheduled to speak at the City Club of Chiago in the coming weeks. More will appear on Feb. 9, Foxx will appear on Feb. 18 and Anita Alvarez will appear on Feb. 24.

The election for the Democratic nomination for Cook County State's Attorney will be held on March 15.

Illinois Senate Race

In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Mark Kirk will face James Marter in the March 15 Republican primary.

Kirk faces an uphill battle in his quest for re-election. Over the past year, he has faced a handful of scandals, from being caught calling Sen. Lindsey Graham a "bro with no ho" to attacking the Chicago Tribune for a story that was not yet published.

Last week Marter travelled to Chicago to support Rep. La Shawn Ford’s bill that would allow voters to recall mayors in the State of Illinois.

“I’m here to say I don’t blame the anger of the people in the City of Chicago,” Marter said in a YouTube video. “After 60 years of Democrat rule and corruption in the city, I think they have a right to be angry and I’m here to say we need to support the clean-up and restore the civil rights and the constitutional rights of the citizens here.”

The March 15 Democratic primary consists of U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Chicago Urban League President and CEO Andrea Zopp and State Senator Napoleon Harris.

This week, Duckworth was endorsed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Transport Workers Union. Duckworth responded to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address in a speech at Chicago State University last week, touching on the effects of the Illinois’ budget impasse.

“Here at Chicago State, operations may shut down within a month,” Duckworth said. “Think about that. This institution is a gateway to opportunity and a better life for some of Chicago’s most disadvantaged kids.”

Harris also responded to the governor’s state of the state address last week.

“This isn’t time to talk,” Harris said. “Words don’t feed seniors, keep college students in school or provide childcare for working families.?

Harris also supported funding Monetary Award Program funding for universities throughout the state.

Last week Zopp spoke at the City Club of Chicago, calling for reforms to policing practices and the criminal justice system.

“Can we turn this around,” Zopp asked. “Can we repair distrust that has been built between law enforcement and community?”

8th Congressional District

In the race for Rep. Tammy Duckworth's soon-to-be vacated seat in the northwest and west suburbs, Raja Krishnamoorthi remains the Democratic front-runner.

Krishnamoorthi was endorsed by the Transport Workers Union Tuesday. Krishnamoorthi has previously received support from the Amalgamated Transit Union, the United Steelworkers, Ironworkers, Machinists, and Airplane Pilots unions.

Krishnamoorthi has raised more than $1.49 million for his campaign, more than any other candidate for the 8th District Congressional seat. Krishnamoorthi currently has $1.27 million in the bank.

Krishnamoorthi will face State Senator Michael Noland and Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel in the March 15 Democratic primary.

Noland has raised $210,000 thus far with $69,000 coming in the last quarter of last year. Noland currently has $64,000 in the bank. The state senator has also garnered endorsements from a variety of trade unions as well as Senate President John Cullerton and a host of other Illinois politicians.

Bullwinkel has raised $67,000 dollars overall, but her debts and obligations are currently more than the $14,000 she has in the bank.

The Republican ticket boasts Dupage County Commissioner and former mayor of Elmhurst Pete DiCianni.

High school teacher Bill Fraser, an Independent, will appear on the general ballot in November.

10th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Bob Dold leads the two Democratic challengers for his house seat in fundraising. Dold has raised $2.4 million since winning the 10th District in 2014. He is running unopposed on the Republican ticket.

Dold has won two terms in the house, in 2010 and 2014. He was ousted from his seat in 2012 by Democratic challenger Brad Schneider.

Schneider recently won the endorsement of Waukegan Township Democrats adding to his extensive list of endorsements that also includes former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Jesse White. Schneider was also endorsed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers this week.

On Monday, Schneider announced that his campaign had raised $390,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015. Schneider will face Nancy Rotering in the March 15 primary election.

Rotering gained some important endorsements last month: Moraine Township Democrats, New Trier Democrats and Northfield Township Democrats. Rotering was also endorsed by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin last month.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Comptroller: Illinois Will Fall $6.2B in Debt ]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 20:15:05 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/munger+nbc.jpg

In the wake of the state’s budget impasse, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger predicts overspending of $6.2 billion during the fiscal year that began last July.

Court orders and consent decrees have driven spending at the Department of Human Services and Department of Healthcare and Family Services. As a result, the state has been forced to cover costs for those departments.

“The only things we can pay are things that are required by the courts,” Munger’s Press Secretary Rich Carter told Ward Room

A combination of state and federal court orders and consent decrees have allowed for payment to these departments while Governor Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly remain in a deadlock over the state’s budget. Illinois has been without an official budget since July of last year.

If things remain the same and a budget isn’t passed, DHS and DHFS are slated to spend $1.2 billion more than was spent during the previous fiscal year. When this is added to lost revenue from the state’s income tax rollback last January, Munger anticipates a total deficit of $6.2 billion.

Rauner previously predicted a deficit of $6.16 billion in his budget proposal last February. Munger's prediction does not account for state services that currently aren't being paid for. This includes state funding for higher education, which cost roughly $2 billion last year.

Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills currently amounts to $7 billion. However, the state looks to gain an influx of money with tax season approaching. Nonetheless, Munger predicts that the state's bill backlog will be between $10 billion and $12 billion at the end of the fiscal year.

“The problem is, the longer this goes on, the longer it takes to make payment,” Carter said. “The longer this goes on, the more this bill backlog grows.”

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<![CDATA[170 Black Women Leaders Support Clinton]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 19:43:14 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/HillaryClinton-AP_206070213195.jpg

The Clinton campaign announced Wednesday that more than 170 prominent African American women leaders have endorsed the former secretary of state, NBC News reported.

The list includes actress Uzo Aduba, North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams, and BET CEO Debra Lee.

The women, who will serve as surrogates for Clinton, will rally other African American voters South Carolina and in March primary states.

They will host neighborhood meetings, debate watch parties and will also walk door-to-door to businesses carrying Clinton’s message about closing the gap for women, paid family leave, raising the minimum wage and protecting women’s reproductive rights.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sanders Staffer Criticizes Fellow Dreamer on Twitter]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 19:20:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ErikaAndiola-AP_811293247246.jpg

A Bernie Sanders staffer came under fire Wednesday after publicly criticizing an immigration activist after her endorsement of Hillary Clinton, NBC News reported.

Erika Andiola criticized Astrid Silva’s endorsement of Clinton as a “press hit.”

Both Andiola and Silva are Dreamers, or immigrants who arrived or stayed in the country legally, usually because their parents did.

Twitter reacted, coming to Silva’s defense with supporting tweets. Silva, however, didn’t seem phased, saying “I crossed a river at 4 years old to get to this country. A little water hardly means anything.” 



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia Endorses Kim Foxx for State’s Attorney]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:15:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kim+foxx+1.jpg

Former Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia endorsed Kim Foxx’s State’s Attorney bid Wednesday.

In a statement provided to Ward Room, Garcia said Foxx is “the person most qualified to become the next State’s Attorney of Cook County and to restore faith, trust and a true justice to an office that has been sullied by the incumbent [Anita Alvarez] for many years now.”

Foxx, a former Assistant State’s Attorney who worked under Alvarez, has received a host of high-profile endorsements in the lead up to the March 15 Democratic Primary.

“I’m honored to receive the support of Chuy Garcia, a progressive champion and a tireless fighter for working families in the Latino community and across the county,” Foxx said in the statement. “As State’s Attorney, I will fight to secure justice for every community in Cook County.”

Alvarez came under fire for the delay in charging police officer Jason Van Dyke for the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teen Laquan McDonald.

Last week, Foxx was endorsed by AFSCME Council 31, a 1,0000 member union of state employees. She has also received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, among others.

Foxx is perhaps most notably endorsed by her former boss, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Foxx served for 12 years as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney before serving as Preckwinkle’s Chief of Staff.

Foxx will face incumbent Anita Alvarez and former state and federal prosecutor Donna More in the March 15 Democratic Primary.

According to a recent poll, Foxx received 27 percent of votes with Alvarez receiving 34 percent and Donna More receiving 12 percent.

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