Let’s have a show of hands. How many people are disappointed that the campaign season is over?
Didn’t think so.
Well, OK, some people are sad to see it all end.
People who make money off of long campaigns may want to see it go on even longer, like those who print all of those mailers, or people who produce the radio and TV ads that never seem to end, and the radio and TV stations paid to air them.
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform tracks fundraising/spending in legislative races throughout the campaign season. As of last Thursday, the ICPR found 17 legislative races topped $1 million in fundraising and spending. It includes nine Senate races and eight House races.
The top state Senate race was the 48th District that stretches between Springfield and Decatur. At $2.3 million, it was the most expensive of any contests for the General Assembly. The top Illinois House race was the 52nd District in the Chicago suburbs at $1.6 million.
Those aren’t even final numbers. It’s only what was reported between July 1 and Thursday. After September, campaigns don’t have to disclose contributions unless they are for $1,000 or more. If someone gave, say, $900 to a campaign on Oct. 10 10, we won’t know about it until final campaign disclosure reports for this election are filed in January.
The bottom line is, a whole lot of money was spent, again, on campaigns to win seats in the Legislature. An early frontrunner for the least surprising headline in 2013 is, “Record amounts spent in legislative elections.”
There’s another aspect of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s reports that may be surprising or depressing, depending on your view. That’s the lack of competitive races for the Legislature.
This is a remap election. It’s the first election held after new legislative district boundaries are drawn to reflect population changes in the last decade.
In most elections for the General Assembly, all 118 House seats are up and about one-third of the 59 Senate seats. In a remap year, all 177 seats in the General Assembly are up for election.
ICPR tracks only legislative races where two candidates are running and a $5,000 threshold has been met. And face it, if only $5,000 is spent in a legislative race, it ain’t much of a race.
The list of spending in campaigns put out by ICPR last week includes only 26 House contests and 27 Senate races. It does not include districts like the 99th House where Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, is running unopposed. Nor does it include districts like the 22nd House where House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has a Republican opponent who has yet to file any documents indicating he’s formed a political committee.
If you like the idea of a lot of truly competitive races for a state Legislature, Illinois is probably not the best place to live.
Gov. Pat Quinn last week showed he could play hardball when he wants to, despite his reputation for waffling and not being an effective administrator.
Quinn effectively ousted the head of the board that oversees U.S. Cellular Field and installed his own man. That gave him the vote to install Kelly Kraft, his former spokeswoman, as executive director of the Illinois Sports Authority. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wanted someone else he thought was more qualified.
It was a turf war between Quinn and Emanuel that got little attention in the rest of the state, but the outcome showed Quinn could go to the mat when he wanted.
We’ll see whether he shows similar determination when he deals with legislative issues.