Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

How to Survive the Political Game of Musical Chairs

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When Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, announced she was going to run for reelection instead of Governor, it sent a full ripple effect down the ballot, as candidates had spent months jockeying for different offices fully expecting her to run for Governor.

Two Democrats in particular, were most affected by Madigan’s decision: Kwame Raoul and Shelia Simon; both were eyeing a run for Attorney General. Instead they were both left to make hard decisions about their political futures. Here’s an example of when push comes to shove, money can help delegate your next seat in the political game of musical chairs.

Sheila Simon was not going to give up her statewide ambitions and with her already abandoning her position as the 46th Lieutenant Governor, she was left to decide between running for Comptroller and Treasurer.

Sheila Simon & Duffy Blackburn (and their spouses) after Blackburn announced he was suspending his campaign. source: Duffy Blackburn Facebook Page

Sheila Simon & Duffy Blackburn (and their spouses) after Blackburn announced he was suspending his campaign. source: Duffy Blackburn Facebook Page

While both offices had other Democrats eyeing those positions, when looking at the money, the choice was clear for Simon. The path to the Democratic nomination for Comptroller looked strategically easier than to Treasurer. While there were other reasons Simon made this decision, one key reason was money. Duffy Blackburn the Democrat running for Comptroller had only about $25,000 on-hand, Mike Frerichs running for Treasurer had nearly $650,000.  It can be said that Simon’s chances for Comptroller were a lot higher since her opposition (Blackburn) had low fundraising support.

Money played a role for both the futures of Frerichs and Blackburn. Frerichs had a built a large war chest which would serve as a firewall to protect him from new challengers. And for Blackburn, it was a demonstrated weakness that Simon was able to take advantage of. Once Simon sat back and looked at the D2’s of her potential primary opponents, it was an easy choice.

Kwame Raoul – Simon’s decision to run for Comptroller was an easy one compared to Raoul. Raoul went on a fundraising tear at the end of June and reportedly raised $462,000 over the previous three-month period. Raoul had the same options as Simon, but apparently has also much more ambition.

State Senator Kwame Raoul. Source: Kwame Raouls' Facebook page

State Senator Kwame Raoul. Source: Kwame Raouls’ Facebook page

Raoul is now weighing running for Governor, which is something he will likely announce in the next week. His impressive fundraising haul is playing some role in the buzz surrounding a potential campaign. Even though he raised only half of what Quinn and Daley raised, he was able to raise enough to be taken seriously by the Democratic players in this state.

This game of musical chairs played by the candidates help reinforce something I tell clients all the time, “If you have money then you have options and power.” Simon chose to take on a much financially weaker opponent in Blackburn, and because of Raoul’s fundraising successes he has some real options to consider.

By Nick Daggers, Vice President, Fundraising

Is Reform Coming to Illinois?

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I read the news today and oh, boy…another Illinois politician is under investigation.

The Chicago Sun Times reports an FBI investigation underway on Chicago Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) for firing two employees, who had allegedly complained about doing political work while on city time.

It’s no secret that Illinois has had its fair share of ethical discrepancies toward the conduct of business in the political arena.

However, some believe that the culmination of political scandal over the recent years may have finally reached its tipping point, which begs the question: Will Moore’s case be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Many wonder if the feds will come down hard on Moore. But will more instances like this finally make Illinois voters realize the need for a near complete overhaul of our states ethics and good government laws?

I don’t know but I do know is that in 2014, voters may finally have the chance to vote on one of the largest and most sweeping reforms in over 30 years. Yes for Independent Maps is currently gathering signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to reform our state legislature’s redistricting process by creating a non-partisan redistricting commission similar to California, Arizona, Missouri, Florida, and a handful of other states.

An amazing first step towards saving Illinois from a handful of corrupt elected officials would be to create an independent mapping process.  Why?

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First, simply changing the way that state legislative districts are drawn will create an unprecedented level of transparency. It will also create more competitive districts. If it is successful, we will see like-minded communities protected rather than split apart for political purposes.

Secondly, if this amendment passes it will send a deafening boom to elected officials all over the state of Illinois and hopefully open the door to more good government policies.

The deafening boom of this amendment becoming law will remind elected officials how important integrity and ethics are to the people of Illinois.

CFO Consulting is proud and excited to be working with Yes for Independent Maps and to be helping them raise the money they will need to pass this amendment. We believe that reforms like this bring great transparency to the political process and help to create a better government that is capable of serving its citizens.

To learn more about the work we are doing with Yes for Independent Maps visit them at www.independentmaps.org.

By Nick Daggers, Vice President, Fundraising

Cities Look to Water for Innovation

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Cities Look to Water for Innovation

Cities across the world are going through a major shift from agrarian and rural living conditions to dense urban living.  As of 2011, for the first time in the history of man, more than half of the world’s population lived in cities.  Though there are many benefits to humans living in cities, there are also many challenges.  One of these challenges is a growing water scarcity problem in many urban areas.  How can cities provide ever-drinking water and  sanitation services  fit to meet the expectations of an ever-growing middle class? Innovation is the answer.  Nationally, cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago are leading the charge by thinking of creative and innovative ways to use the water they possess with greater efficiency.

Milwaukee sits along the shores of Lake Michigan, at the convergence of three rivers — the Menomonee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Milwaukee. The lake provides approximately 1 billion gallons of fresh drinking water each day.  Access to such large amounts of water has lead the Milwaukee Water Council, a nonprofit organization that brings together the region’s water industries and universities, to dub Wisconsin as the “Silicon Valley” of fresh water.

Indeed, innovative ideas for the use of water are taking off in Milwaukee.  The eleven county area is already home to 194 water-related companies that work on everything from aquaponics, a method for farming fish year-round on land, to innovative ways of managing storm-water runoff.  “There is nothing else like this in the United States at all,” says Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of the Water Council. “The goal is create a world hub that grows companies and entrepreneurs [focused on] developing ways to use water more efficiently and return it at a high quantity and quality.”

Chicago is another city that is providing a blueprint for the rest of the country in water innovation.  In May of 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a forceful letter to the State of Illinois stressing that the state should adopt new water quality standards for major stretches of the Chicago Area Waterway System, including the Chicago River. The EPA indicated that portions of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers must be upgraded to protect the health and safety of people who use these waterways for recreation.

Enter Debra Shore; the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.  Under Shore’s leadership, the rivers are much cleaner now than they were years ago, largely due to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s innovative use of ultraviolet light or chlorination to kill more of the bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in treated wastewater.  The MWRD has also placed considerable effort in capturing combined sewer overflows in the Deep Tunnel and reservoirs to treat storm water before releasing it into the waterways.

In the future, Shore hopes to promote green infrastructure through the use of rain barrels.  Rain barrels can be used to capture rain off roofs and then reused to irrigate gardens stays in the natural hydrologic cycle and out of the sewers. The MRWD plans to distribute 15,000 55-gallon rain barrels in the next few years. They’ll capture 825,000 gallons in each quarter-inch rain event.

Can the City of Providence be the next great water innovator?  Brett Smiley, the Providence Water Supply Board Chairman & President of CFO Consulting Group, LLC, certainly hopes so. “One of our great assets is that we have adequate fresh water; the dilemma is we have unequal distribution,” Smiley said. “Northern Rhode Island is water-rich and southern Rhode Island is water-poor.”  That is why Smiley and the Providence Water Supply Board, which services a majority of Rhode Island water customers, is proposing that Rhode Island move to a more regional system of governance of its water supply.  This ability to pool resources, which is based on best practices now employed in many other states, will improve service delivery, foster efficiency and reduce costs.

The Providence Water Supply Board is proposing, through legislation proposed in May of this year, the creation of the Ocean State Water (OSW) – a new publicly managed and resourced water authority. OSW will be a new entity, separate and apart from any existing water authority or supplier. OSW, through its regionally-representative board, will produce, distribute, and sell water.

CFO Consulting Group is looking forward to seeing the State of Rhode Island become one of leaders of water innovation in the country by enabling and supporting companies to invest in Rhode Island.  CFO hopes to help Rhode Island become a world leader in evolving field of water innovation with the creation of this new regional authority which will provide the modern governance structure essential to protecting Rhode Island’s water supply and ensuring safe drinking water in the long-term.

Helping Rhode Island’s Marriage Equality Bill Gain Momentum

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The issue of same-sex marriage is an argument that all of us have heard, and most of us have strong opinions on. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love.” While he said this in reference to marriage between races, the same can be said about homosexuals.

Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.  According to the Washington Post, national support for marriage equality is trending upwards with 58% of Americans being in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage as of March 2013.

CFO Consulting Group is proud to be the public affairs team fighting for marriage equality within Rhode Island.  There are currently nine states, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal.  In addition to this, 3 states are considering bills to legalize same-sex marriage; Delaware, Illinois, & Rhode Island.  In January, the Rhode Island House of Representatives & House Speaker Gordon Fox overwhelmingly passed legislation to allow gays and lesbians to marry in the only New England state where they can’t.

The Rhode Island Senate will be next to address the issue of gay marriage when they return from their recess this week for the final work of their annual session.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider legislation allowing gay couples to wed. The session is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 23rd. Also up for consideration is a bill that would place the question of allowing gay marriage on next year’s ballot.

The two bills before the Senate Judiciary Committee take different paths.  One would reaffirm Rhode Island’s constitutional  protection of religious liberty.  The other has a long lists of special exemptions and carve-outs,

The major issue keeping Rhode Island from becoming the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage, and why there are two bills being considered, is the question of how will those that oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, including religious institutions, businesses, and hospitals, be affected if same-sex marriage is approved?  More specifically, questions regarding the legality of a business or religious institution denying service to same-sex couples because of religious beliefs will be up for debate this Tuesday.

CFO is looking forward to seeing the Rhode Island Senate vote in favor of the bill and allow all people in Rhode Island, regardless of their sexual orientation, to possess equal rights.

By Brett Smiley, founding partner of  CFO Consulting Group

What will it cost to win back the House?

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By Nick Daggers
Follow Nick on Twitter @nickdaggerscfo 

With the 2012 election in our rearview mirror we are all looking down the road to 2014. After a successful cycle the Democrats gained eight seats in the House but are still 18 seats short of the majority. There are plenty of race trackers and analysts that can offer their thoughts on which seats will be in play and why. I would like to offer a quick demonstration of what we can expect to see spent in a race for the majority.

A good case study to establish an estimate for 2014 spending is to look at the six (8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17) competitive races in Illinois from 2012. According to the Center for Responsive Politics in the five districts won by the Democrats the campaigns and their allies spent a total of $20.5m, or an average of $4.1m per Democratic pickup.

The Illinois’ 11th and 17th Congressional Districts provide a microcosm of districts across the country that Democrats must win in order to take back the House. In both cases the DCCC was able to help recruit strong Democratic challengers (which will be key again in 2014) to take on popular Republican incumbents. In order to take back the house in 2014, Democrats will likely have to defeat at-least 20-25 Republican incumbents.

In the IL11 Bill Foster defeated Judy Biggert. Foster and his allies had to spend $4.88m in order to secure victory. The IL11 covers a diverse swath of the Western Suburbs of Chicago. Meanwhile two hours to the west is the IL17. In this district, Cheri Bustos defeated one-term Congressman Bobby Schilling. Bustos and her allies had to spend just shy of $4.7m to win.

While the races had many similarities they also had one glaring difference, they both fell into two very different media markets. The IL11 is in the Chicago media market, the third largest in the country, and the IL17 covers the Rockford, Quad Cities, and Peoria media markets, of which only the Quad Cities are a top 100 market.  Since both districts cost about the same to win it helps demonstrate that no matter the media market, Democrats can expect to spend about $4.75m per Republican incumbent they can defeat.

The Democrats are looking at needing to spend $120m just to defeat Republican incumbents. That number does not include the 201 seats we will have to defend and the 100 plus seats that are safely in the Republican column, which can probably be estimated at-least another $200m.

Over the next 18 months we will see exactly how these races play out and if the Democrats and their allies can raise to take back the House. While we won’t know that final number for months to come, we can already guess that just like the past three election cycle we should all expect it to be another record year for campaign spending in the battle for the Speaker’s Gavel!

 

Nick Daggers is a Vice President of Development for CFO. He has spent the last five years working as a fundraiser for political campaigns and non-profits.