Good Monday morning, Illinois. And Happy Valentine’s Day to all those who show love by subscribing to Illinois Playook.
Billionaire Ken Griffin is endorsing Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin‘s Republican primary bid for governor — and showing his affection with a $20 million campaign contribution.
“I firmly believe Richard Irvin has the character and leadership needed to again make Illinois a place where people can feel safe to live, raise a family and pursue their dreams,” Griffin told Playbook in a statement that also swipes at Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker on issues such as crime, corruption, and taxes.
“We must end the senseless violence that has engulfed our state and put countless mothers through the pain and agony of losing a child to a random shooting,” the founder and CEO of hedge fund Citadel added. “JB Pritzker puts politics first and refuses to address the crime that is tearing apart our state, cities and families.”
His support for Irvin was the worst-kept political secret, though it wasn’t until making it official today that it will really realign the race, propelling Irvin to frontrunner status in the crowded GOP primary.
In a separate statement, Irvin said “I appreciate” Griffin’s support and that of “thousands of other donors” who have contributed to his campaign, most of whom will be listed in the next quarterly report. He called his campaign “a movement to stop out of control crime, skyrocketing taxes and wasteful spending, heavy handed government and corruption.”
For his part, Griffin praised Irvin as “self-made” with a life story that “epitomizes” the American dream. “I have tremendous respect for all that he has accomplished,” Griffin said in his statement that also offered a glimpse about his own concerns about the state. “I care deeply about Illinois. I came to Chicago 30 years ago to start my career and my partners and I have built an incredible firm in our state,” Griffin said, then blamed Pritzker, who’s been in office for three years, for “hurting not only our firm, but also countless other Illinois success stories.”
Griffin, also the largest individual donor to GOP super PACs trying to flip control of Congress, has vowed to do whatever he can to defeat Pritzker. Griffin said Irvin knows “the importance of ending wasteful spending and reducing oppressively high taxes.”
Griffin’s enormous donation sets the stage for the governor’s race to be among the most expensive ever and Irvin will be able to saturate the airwaves.
The question is whether southern Illinoisans will be moved, knowing that Irvin isn’t as far right as state Sen. Darren Bailey, for example, who is closely aligned with Donald Trump. Irvin has ducked and dodged questions about whether he voted for the former president.
The five Republicans running for governor — Irvin, Bailey, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, businessman Gary Rabine, and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan — “have all done their best to dance around Trump and thread the needle of alienating neither Trump supporters nor anti-Trump moderates and independents,” explains Tribune’s Rick Pearson.
— ONE-ON-ONE WITH GRIFFIN: Ken Griffin talks to Better Government Association’s David Greising about his support for Richard Irvin.
— Every Republican has to answer about Jan. 6, Kinzinger says: “I have lost faith in some of the courage of my colleagues,” the Illinois Republican said. POLITICO’s David Cohen reports
The crisis in Ukraine seems far away, but for many residents of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood, it hits home, Sen. Dick Durbin told Playbook in an interview over the weekend.
Interest in Ukraine also extends to the Chicago area’s Polish populations from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Romania — “they’re people who understand that Putin’s adventurism and thuggery are a direct threat to countries that their families call home,” Durbin said.
In a larger context, he said, “World War II was fought and won by the United States and its allies to stop this kind of aggression by Hitler and others, and to make it clear that in this modern world it is unacceptable conduct.”
Durbin said that hit home for him last week when he met the new chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz. “He made this chilling statement. He said, ‘We have memories of a land war in Europe. And this is a land war in Europe.’ That sharp declaration spoke volumes to the price you pay when you shrug your shoulders and say well ‘It’s just Ukraine.’”
Durbin said the crisis in Ukraine could also slow the process to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing a few days ago, President Joe Biden talked about a slow-down in the process. “He ended the meeting saying that we’re focused on a timetable for approving the [SCOTUS] nominee, and he said this conversation could be interrupted by Ukraine,” said Durbin, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee. “He feels that concerned about it and should. He’s worried about Americans who have been warned to pick up and leave and get out as fast as they can and have been slow to do that. He’s worried about that and so am I.”
— Duckworth talks Ukraine, Supreme Court in Springfield interview, by Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore
— U.S. ‘watching very carefully’ for phony Russian reason to kick off Ukraine invasion: “Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — one of just two GOP lawmakers to join House Democrats’ investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection — praised the move to publicize a possible fabricated pretext for an invasion, though he added the Nord Stream pipeline should be sanctioned ‘regardless of what happens in Ukraine,’” by POLITICO’s Connor O’Brien.
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No official public events.
At the Department of Family & Support Services office at 1:30 p.m. for event to raise awareness to domestic violence.
In Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Counties’ 2022 Legislative Conference.
— Illinois ‘on the forefront’ of EV revolution, Buttigieg says: “The U.S. Transportation Secretary, who was joined by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, toured Heartland Community College’s advanced training academy, which is designed to train students in the manufacture, diagnosis, service and repair of electric vehicles. ‘We believe that there is a strong policy role to make sure that the EV revolution happens quickly enough to beat climate change, that it happens on equitable terms and benefits every American, and that it is a ‘Made in America’ electric vehicle revolution,’ Buttigieg said,” Lee Enterprises Brenden Moore reports.
— Legislation would make it easier for CPS to hire retired educators in effort to address teacher shortage: “The pandemic — with divisive rulings on mask mandates disrupting schools and fear of illness still widespread — has only exacerbated the problem, with more than 4,000 unfilled teaching positions statewide, according to the Illinois State Board of Education,” by Tribune’s Clare Spaulding.
— Peters, Buckner slam state GOP’s announced intentions to repeal criminal justice reforms: “Illinois Republicans say SAFE-T Act is ‘damaging and dangerous,’” by Capitol News’ Beth Hundsdorfer and Hyde Park Herald’s Aaron Gettinger, staff writer.
— Ammons hopes to see more expungements of marijuana arrest records by dropping drug test requirement: “She’s working with Cabrini Green Legal Aid on an amendment to specifically note that a petition for expungement cannot be denied because of a positive drug test. It would also block courts from denying expungement of someone testing positive,” by WGEM’s Mike Miletich.
— A roof for Soldier Field? City will explore that and other amenities to try to keep the Bears, mayor says: “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to keep the Bears in Chicago,” Lightfoot said on WSCR-AM 670. “We’re working on some plans to present to them that I think will make a very, very compelling financial case as to why it makes an abundance of sense for them to stay in Chicago.” Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports
… Lightfoot has ‘compelling’ case for Bears to stay in Chicago, by NBC 5’s Alex Shapiro
— Black Fire Brigade hopes to increase Black first responders in the Chicago Fire Department, by WBEZ’s Michael Puente
— Park Ridge 6th graders win NASA competition with alligator-shaped space junk collector: “The inaugural NASA TechRise Student Challenge is intended to inspire a deeper understanding of space exploration and expose students to careers in science, technology and space exploration,” by Sun-Times’ Josephine Stratman
— Eli’s Cheesecake returns to O’Hare: The kiosk in the B Concourse of the United Terminal reopened after being closed for almost 2 years.
YEAR OF THE TIGER: Chicago’s Chinatown brought out big names for the Lunar New Year Parade on Sunday. Spotted marching in the parade: Gov. JB Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Rep. Danny Davis, state Treasurer Michael Frerichs, secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias, and broadcaster Judy Hsu.
Illinois native Bob Odenkirk’s long road to serious success: “In the late ’80s, Lorne Michaels hired him for the ‘S.N.L.’ writing staff, where Odenkirk wrote one of the show’s most famous sketches — about a self-hating motivational speaker named Matt Foley, played by Chris Farley, who lives ‘in a van down by the river’ — and co-wrote another, about schlubby Chicago-area dudes obsessed with ‘Da Bears,’” by New York Times’ Jonah Weiner.
Closings today in Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson trial — then jurors have their say: “The case revolves around $219,000 Thompson got from the now-shuttered Washington Federal Bank for Savings. His attorneys filed a motion late Thursday hoping to convince the judge to acquit Thompson on two counts, but the judge declined,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel and Tim Novak.
— In wake of Van Dyke case, Kim Foxx’s pledge to seek more special prosecutors has not come to pass: “Cook County prosecutors in her administration have never sought the appointment of a special prosecutor in a police shooting case. And in at least two instances, Cook County prosecutors have said they opposed bringing in outside attorneys to reinvestigate police shootings, saying their office had already reviewed the cases and determined charges were not appropriate,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Gil Villegas has been endorsed by United Here Local 1, Plumbers 130, and ATU 308 in his bid for Congress. In a statement, Karen Kent, president of United Here Local 1 said, during the pandemic, “Alderman Villegas’ efforts on behalf of our members have ensured that dedicated and long-serving hospitality workers can return to their jobs as guests come back to our city.”
— SOS campaign is wide open for the first time in 24 years: Can money, labor endorsements and presumably volunteer manpower be enough for former state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias to edge out Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and 17th Ward Ald. David Moore? And for Republicans, is state Rep. Dan Brady’s experience enough to win against former U.S. Attorney John Milhiser’s expected financial support? Eric Krol digs in to the race for Center for Illinois Politics.
— Anna Valencia has won the endorsements of eight county Democratic parties in her bid for secretary of state. Mason, Henderson, Logan, Christian, Wabash, Hancock, Mercer, and DeWitt Democratic parties are backing Valencia, according to the campaign. “Anna is a strong Democrat who has always fought for our values and our candidates,” Jay Briney, Mason County Democrats Chair said in a statement.
— Monica Gordon has been endorsed by Service Employees International Union Local 73 in her bid for Cook County Commission in the 5th District. The SEIU organization represents more than 22,500 public service workers in Illinois and Northwest Indiana, according to her campaign.
— Death-defying: Evanstan Mayor Daniel Biss juggled fire at a petition-signing event in Chicago’s 49th Ward sponsored by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy. Via Twitter
— Dixon businessman running in Republican primary for state Senate in 37th District: Brett Nicklaus, owner and president of Trinity Financial, said “he will fight to protect the unborn, defend the Second Amendment and promote economic growth.The 37th is currently represented by Win Stoller, a Germantown Hills Republican. Stoller was unchallenged in the 2020 primary and easily won the seat against independent write-in opponent Marcus Throneburg in the general election,” Shaw Media’s Troy Taylor reports.
Chicago cop who boasted ‘I kill’ in 2018 video stripped of police powers after separate complaint: “Officer James Hunt has been assigned to desk duty following a civilian complaint that took place during the George Floyd protests in 2020,” by Sun-Times’ Katie Anthony.
We asked what the most over-the-top Valentine you’ve ever given or received: Ashvin Lad recalls a gift a friend gave to another friend: “My friend showed up to dinner dressed in an elephant costume to deliver chocolates in a heart-shaped box wrapped in dalmatian covered gift wrap. Elephants, chocolates, hearts, and dalmatians were all things she loved.”
In six words, what would you ask Barack Obama if he came to dinner? Email [email protected]
— Rep. Marie Newman keeps on political payroll man who is key witness in House ethics panel probe: “Two ethics watchdog groups — FACT, the conservative Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust — and the left-leaning CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — agree the payments raise ethics questions,” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
—BIPARTISAN LOVE FOR LINCOLN: Congressmen Darin LaHood (IL-18) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) introduced legislation to create a commemorative coin in honor of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The funds raised through the sale of the commemorative coin would support the long-term maintenance fund for the Lincoln Memorial, which celebrates its centennial on May 30.
— Newsom wants to end school masks, but teachers say not yet, by POLITICO’s Susannah Luthi and Victoria Colliver
— Biden’s climate agenda stalls, and progressives fume, by POLITICO’s Josh Siegel, Kelsey tamborrino and Alex Guillen
— Mental health push in Congress sparks lobbying frenzy, by POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Wilson
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Kevin Conlon and Katie Johnson for correctly answering that Hebron won the state basketball tournament in 1952.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Where specifically did the St. Valentine’s Day massacre happen and what exists on the location today? Email [email protected]
Ald. Sophia King (4th), Congressional health policy expert Gidget Benitez, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics exec Karen Anderson, consultant Bill Beach, political consultant Roberto Caldero, marketing and comms pro Emerald-Jane Hunter, comms consultant Hannah Fierle, National Insurance Crime Bureau legislative senior analyst Craig Sepich, and National Insurance Crime Bureau government affairs senior director Howard Handler. And belated greetings to Jessica Gutierrez, Puerto Rican Cultural Center policy director and 30th Ward alderman candidate, who celebrated Sunday.
- Shia Kapos @shiakapos