Unfiltered Political News

Is Bruce Rauner toast?

In the span of one day, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s fortunes went from bad to worse. He was already widely considered to be the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country. Then came Tuesday’s Illinois primary, where he spent $17 million in TV ads but barely squeaked out a victory against a nearly unknown state legislator.

With Democrats already uniting behind the free-spending billionaire who will lead their ticket in the fall, Illinois Republicans are wondering: After Tuesday’s weak showing, does Rauner even have a prayer of winning reelection in November?

The day after the primary, Jeanne Ives, the conservative state lawmaker Rauner defeated 51 percent to 49 percent, didn’t seem to think so.

She wasn’t showing any signs the two would put their differences behind them.

“I really don’t care to say anything to the governor, quite frankly,” Ives said in a conversation with conservative radio show host Dan Proft, a strategist in her campaign. “He’s unelectable in 2018. He has destroyed the Republican Party brand … He’s a lame duck governor at this point.”

Part of Rauner’s predicament is the solidly blue state he governs — his reelection was never going to be easy, especially in a state where polls show Donald Trump is deeply unpopular. But Rauner also opened up a deep divide within the Republican Party by signing bills that alienated conservatives — among them, measures supporting abortion rights, enacting immigration protections and making it possible for transgender individuals to change their sex on birth certificates.

Those fissures showed in the primary voting results, with Ives not only beating Rauner in many conservative strongholds in southern Illinois, but also in suburban and exurban areas the governor won easily in 2014, including DuPage, McHenry, Will and Kane counties.

Pat Brady, former Illinois GOP chairman who has long supported Rauner, said the governor knows the kind of party rebuilding that’s ahead of him.

“As he said last night, he acknowledged that ‘hey, I heard the message.’ It’s a close race. I think he got it. I don’t think he’s tried to be anything that he’s not,” said Brady. “In a close race like that, he’s got to take pause and figure it out.”

Rauner’s first order of business is stitching the broken party back together. But the day after the primary, Rauner and Ives were still squabbling over who should have called whom the night before. Ives remained peeved the governor took the stage to claim victory before the two had spoken.

“Why would she talk to him after the disrespect he showed last night announcing victory before all of the counties were in — without a call to the campaign, after he poured millions of dollars into an attack campaign that flat-out lied about her, and after he dispatched his slimy operatives to the media last night to disparage Ives, her campaign and all of her conservative supporters?” said Ives spokeswoman Kathleen Murphy, in an email. “She has no reason to believe or trust anything he says.”

Rauner spokesman Will Allison suggested it was the governor who was waiting for a call.

“She never called last night,” Allison said. “Our team has reached out to their team to set up a call.”

A fractured Republican Party is only part of Rauner’s predicament. He now faces billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who just spent $70 million in the Democratic primary without a second thought. It was a high-turnout but relatively low-conflict affair, with Pritzker showing strength up and down the state — he won 98 of 102 counties, a testament to his robust statewide campaign infrastructure.

On Wednesday Pritzker told POLITICO that both of his top opponents, state Sen. Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s son, have already told him they’d back him in the general election.

“It’s clear that the Republican Party is completely divided and Democrats with a reasonably common message were able to bring out voters,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker held his first general election news conference Wednesday with banners that read “Rauner Failed” — and he had five people with him on stage to represent those who he said the governor had “failed” since taking office in 2015.

Former Rauner adviser and political strategist Lance Trover said the governor is certain to charge hard against the Democrat in short order. After all, Rauner had already spent millions of dollars in attack ads against Pritzker during the Democratic primary, bringing attention to Pritzker’s unflattering conversations with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich that were caught on FBI wiretap.

“The governor clearly has a lot of work to do but what he cannot do is focus on the past,” Trover said. “He’s going to have to look to what unites the party and for Bruce, that’ll be [Democratic Party Chairman and state House Speaker] Mike Madigan…you’ve already seen it today, Bruce’s message to voters will be: ‘I am the only thing standing between you and Mike Madigan.‘”

Yet even as Rauner looks to tie Pritzker to the state’s longtime Democratic party boss, Pritzker has his own bogeyman to exploit: Donald Trump. The president was defeated in Illinois in 2016 by nearly a million votes.

“I’m not going to let Donald Trump have an inch of Illinois. If Rauner is desperate he may engage with Donald Trump and invite him to help him,” Pritzker said. “He may need to bring his party together. But I think Bruce Rauner has already proven that he’s like Donald Trump.”

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Lipinski win stings liberals

House Democrats are trying to hit the reset button a day after Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski eked out a win in a nasty primary battle that had several of his own colleagues publicly rooting for his defeat.

Lawmakers from the progressive and conservative wings of the party insisted on Wednesday there are no hard feelings after Lipinski’s narrow triumph over his liberal challenger, Marie Newman.

But it’s clear that some of the residual feelings about Lipinski’s politics — as an anti-abortion Democrat who has opposed marriage equality and Obamacare, he’s one of the most conservative members of the caucus — still linger.

And the outside groups that sided with Newman, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn and Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said the slim margin should send a signal to other Democrats that they’re not backing down.

“This was a district where some of us as individuals decided to get involved,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “I would like my husband and I to be considered equal by colleagues in our caucus.”

Pocan is one of a half dozen House Democrats who endorsed Newman, a rare public rebuke of an incumbent from the same party.

Now Democratic members insist they’re trying to turn the page. In interviews Wednesday, lawmakers on both ends of the spectrum highlighted their embrace of apparent winner Conor Lamb, the conservative Democrat whose upset victory in Pennsylvania Trump country last week has energized the party.

Lamb was welcomed by the House Democratic Caucus with a standing ovation Wednesday and had trouble leaving the room as several members wanted to personally congratulate him.

But the Lipinski primary caused a nasty rift within the caucus as lawmakers publicly took sides in a race that became as much about the party’s ongoing ideological messaging battle as the candidates themselves.

Lipinski, a co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, represented moderate Democrats’ efforts to carve out a home for themselves on social and economic issues in a party that continues to move steadily to the left.

Newman embodied the liberal wing’s emboldened effort to force the party to embrace a national progressive message, in line with the populist politics pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a half dozen other Senate Democrats eyeing the White House.

Newman supporters insist that Lipinski’s victory, “by the hair of his chiny chin chin,” is proof that he’s “definitely not the future of the Democratic Party,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Lipinski beat Newman by a little more than 2,000 votes, or about 2.4 percentage points, according to the Associated Press, with some ballots left to be counted.

“People on the ground in Illinois’ 3rd [congressional district] and nationally are willing to play the long game and say, ‘We fell short, but change doesn’t happen in one cycle,’” Hogue said. “We’re not taking our ball and going home.”

What’s less clear is how those bad feelings, exposed in the Illinois race, will manifest in the months ahead, as Democrats look to several crowded primaries in districts that are considered must-win if they want to take back the House.

Progressive, pro-Newman groups have already waded into dozens of House Democratic primaries — but not against other Democratic incumbents. NARAL has endorsed 28 House candidates, including Newman, while MoveOn hasn’t yet endorsed more House candidates, but is still evaluating options, such as New Jersey’s 2nd District.

Spokesman Nick Berning said the group is watching the open seat, where state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a conservative Democrat, entered the race after GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo announced his retirement. Van Drew is one of more than a dozen candidates the Blue Dogs are backing this cycle.

“We’re aware he’s had a 100 percent rating from the NRA and he fairly recently voted against marriage equality,” Berning said. “That’s a race we’re tracking and may endorse in.”

And some progressives are already setting the stage for another showdown later this spring.

The PCCC announced four new House candidate endorsements on Wednesday, including Kara Eastman, a progressive Democrat who’s running against former Rep. Brad Ashford, a Blue Dog, in a May primary for an Omaha, Nebraska-based seat.

“There are two schools of thought on this race — the old, more moderate white guy who’s already had his chance and was swept out of office, or lean into the type of candidate who’s going to inspire people to the polls,” said Sarah Badawi, a spokeswoman for the PCCC.

Hogue said Democratic candidates across the country should take Newman’s narrow loss as a “really clear signal that, to the extent Democrats retake the House and the Senate, they’re doing it on a mandate to defend their base.”

Like Lipinski, Ashford is to the right of many in the Democratic Party on abortion. He backs abortion rights but has said he’s open to some restrictions late in pregnancy. Unlike Lipinski, Ashford has the public support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which refused to endorse Lipinski, infuriating Blue Dogs.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) said he hopes the House Democratic caucus has “learned our lesson” after the Lipinski race and won’t come out publicly against Ashford, who served one term before being knocked off by Republican Don Bacon in 2016.

Schrader, chairman of the Blue Dog PAC, said it wasn’t so much Pocan and leading voices of the progressive caucus — including Reps. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Ro Khanna of California — endorsing Newman that burned.

For Schrader and other Blue Dogs, it was liberal Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s decision to back Newman against her own in-state colleague, while maintaining her leadership position at DCCC, that really inflamed tensions between the two ideological poles of the caucus.

“I’m not going to throw stones at my progressive colleagues for trying to back progressive candidates, I think most every Blue Dog member understands that,” Schrader said. “What I don’t want to see is someone in DCCC leadership on the committee lend their weight in a campaign against an incumbent.”

Schakowsky’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But she insisted in an interview last month that her opposition to Lipinski was unique and she wouldn’t be using her leverage at the DCCC to oppose Blue Dogs or other candidates backed by the coalition ahead of the midterms.

“This has nothing to do with going after people who differ in positions from me around the country,” Schakowsky said.

Facing a deeply entrenched candidate whose family had dominated the district for more than three decades, Newman had much to overcome and not much time to do it.

Bridget Gainer, a Cook County Commissioner who also helped Newman’s campaign with fundraising, said momentum behind Newman may have come too late.

Six months ago, few thought Newman was a viable candidate to try to unseat Lipinski, Gainer said. But once polling showed a path, money flowed to her, allowing her to get out her message.

“I think the late entry of EMILY’s List and some of the pro-choice groups into this race — it’s always speculation — but if they had come on earlier, could that have made the difference?” Gainer said. “Some of the people came in very late. It was hard to gain traction.”

For now, progressives are taking solace in forcing Lipinski to the left on several issues, including immigration and the minimum wage. And while Lamb said he personally opposed abortion, he also campaigned on some of the economic populist ideas progressives tout as key to winning back the House.

“I think what that showed,” Pocan said, “is there is a populist, progressive economic message that [resonates] anywhere.”

Natasha Korecki contributed to this report

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Avaaz Honors School Shooting Victims with Sneaker Display

Avaaz is a civic organization based in the United States. They were first created in 2007. Since their creation they have promoted activism in categories such as human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty and climate change. The name Avaaz was chosen because of its use in multiple languages across Europe and Asia. Avaaz simple means “voice.” Avaaz claims to be the voice of those who are trying to make a difference in their community and the world. Avaaz, under the leadership of Ricken Patel, has become one of the biggest internet activism groups in the world. Avaaz provides the resources needed for millions of people all over the world to take action against issues pertaining to climate change, conflict and corruption. Avaaz operates in 15 languages and has activity on every populated continent on Earth where they create and spread petitions, fund media campaigns and lobby governments.

Since 2009, Avaaz has only accepted donations smaller than $5000 from individuals. Avaaz refuses to accept donations on behalf of corporate entities because they believe it muddles the lobbying process. Avaaz speaks for the common person, not corporate ideologies.Most recently, Avaaz was involved in a polarizing political statement. Avaaz coordinated a display consisting of over seven thousand pairs of children’s shoes. The display was meant to remind people of how many children have been lost due to mass shootings at schools. The shoes were either gathered by Avaaz or donated by families who have lost children due to gun violence. This is not the only instance of Avaaz raising awareness of gun violence. Avaaz once put a sign up outside Senator Marco Rubio’s home in Florida that read “How come, Marco Rubio?” The sign was asking why there were no bills on gun reform being passed through Congress.

About Ricken Patel

Ricken Patel was born in 1977 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is the founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz. He has been honored with a large range of recognitions and awards from organizations such as Huffington Post, the World Economic Forum, and Foreign Policy Magazine. He is a graduate of both Oxford University and Harvard.

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The Value of Bitcoin in Underground and Mainstream Culture

The Bitcoin evolution is here and people that have been following it since it was underground currency are now super excited about the transition that it has made into a more mainstream concept.

Right now Bitcoin currency is the hottest thing that people are talking. It is not accepted everywhere so it is not completely mainstream yet, but there definitely are a lot of online websites that are accepting it. It has become something that people are excited about because the cryptic currency block chain and bitcoin is fascinating. This type of currency and something that people may have never thought they would be using in mainstream culture because it is so obscure but it has become something that people are accepting.

A large part of the reason that it is accepted so well has to do with the different people that are gravitating towards it. Some entertainers like 50 Cent have become accidental Bitcoin millionaires. There are other companies that are accepting it as a form payment. It is something that some working class individuals even accept as payment for rent in different social circles. Bitcoins are becoming utilized for everyday things like purchases of products online or food and beverages. This has made it more of a mainstream concept, but there are still some unexpected things that make people concerned about where the future of Bitcoin is going. One of the things that people tend to have a big problem with is the volatile market that this underground currency has produced.

It is not simple enough for people to get Bitcoins that are valued at one price because the price changes quickly. Bitcoins fluctuate. Unfortunately, Bitcoins shift and the value changes from one day to the next. The Bitcoins that are not worth much more than $2,000 could easily shift to $5,000 in decrease in value back down to $3,000 in the course of the single day. This is something that totally changes the value of the Bitcoin as it moves up and down. The constant value changes of Bitcoins affect purchasing power. A cup of coffee, for example, may cost $5 in Bitcoins, but if the value rises that same cup of coffee could have cost 3 times as much in theory.

Trump congratulates Putin after election branded a ‘sham’

President Donald Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin on the Russian president’s Sunday election victory, and predicted the two men will soon meet in person.

But the White House said Trump did not raise concerns about the widely-criticized nature of Putin’s win, nor did the U.S. president mention Russian cyber aggression or a recent nerve agent attack in England that Trump has said Moscow “probably” directed.

During a brief meeting with reporters at the White House on Tuesday, Trump instead described the latest in a series of friendly conversations with the Russian leader, who has assumed villainous status in many Western capitals.

“We had a very good call and I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

That was an apparent reference to Putin’s recent boast that Russia has developed new classes of nuclear weapons that can strike the United States. Trump added that the U.S. would never allow any rival to exceed America’s military.

Critics derided Putin’s re-election win as only cosmetically democratic. The Russian leader was elected to a third six-year term with about 75 percent of the vote after a campaign in which rival candidates were excluded and even arrested, and during which state-controlled media showered praise on Putin. “Sham elections for a dictator,” Freedom House declared.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Trump did not address the nature of Putin’s victory. That drew a sharp retort from Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), a fierce Putin critic who said in a statement that “an American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.”

Trump “insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime,” McCain added.

“We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” Sanders responded. “What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something that we can dictate to them, how they operate. We can only focus on the freeness and fairness of elections in our country.”

That attitude is a departure from decades of U.S. foreign policy, in which a succession of administrations have freely criticized anti-democratic events and elections in other nations.

As recently as March 2017, for example, the State Department issued a statement condemning Putin’s government for cracking down on peaceful anti-Putin protests, which the statement called “an affront to core democratic values.”

When Putin was last elected in 2012, however, in another election whose legitimacy was questioned widely, former President Barack Obama personally congratulated his Russian counterpart. A readout of that call similarly made no mention of concerns about the election process. But it also came a moment of far lower U.S.-Russian tensions and well before Putin’s campaign of political meddling in the West had begun in earnest.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Putin’s victory reminded him of “the elections they used to have in almost every communist country where whoever the dictator was at the moment always got a huge percentage of the vote. So calling him wouldnt have been high on my list.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) seemed less bothered by the conversation. “I know he’s done the same with numbers of other leaders as they did when he was elected. I wouldn’t read much into it,” Corker told reporters Tuesday.

But pressed on whether the elections were “free and fair,” Corker replied: “No, absolutely not. I guess we shouldn’t call it an election.”

Trump’s chat with Putin comes amid recurrent warnings by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia continues to spread digital propaganda and disinformation within the U.S. and is ready to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections. It also follows by just a few days after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Russia to punish 2016 election interference that Putin himself directed, according to an October 2016 intelligence assessment.

Trump did not raise that issue with Putin either, Sanders told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t believe it came up on this specific call but it is something that we have spoken extensively about,” said Sanders. She added there are currently no specific plans for the time or place of a Trump-Putin meeting.

Nor did Trump address the attempted murder with nerve agent of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England—an attack that triggered international fury and revulsion towards the Kremlin. Putin’s government has denied knowledge of the attempted killing, but Trump himself echoed the British government’s conclusion last week when he said “it looks like the Russians were behind it.”

Sanders did not say why Trump chose not to address the subject, although she did say that “the focus was to talk about shared areas of interest.”

Trump said that he and Putin would meet to discuss “Ukraine and Syria and North Korea and various other things,” including what he called a burgeoning arms race. But he was quick to add that, militarily, “we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have.”

Putin announced earlier this month that Russia had developed a new generation of nuclear weapons that are capable of evading U.S. defenses. Most military experts say the weapons do not present a dramatic new threat to the U.S. or significantly alter the strategic balance between the countries, and are largely useful to Putin as domestic showpieces of Russian military prowess.

While Trump has denied any ties to Russia, he has been criticized often for his relatively warm stance towards the Kremlin, especially relative to his otherwise get-tough approach to foreign policy. His 2016 campaign is currently the subject of a Justice Department investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team is probing allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Trump has vehemently denied such allegations and labeled the investigations into his campaign a “witch hunt.”

The Russian government was first to announce the conversation between Trump and Putin. The Kremlin’s readout mostly matched the White House’s, but added that the two leaders had discussed the ongoing civil war in Syria and the conflict in Ukraine.

Other Western leaders have congratulated Putin on his election win, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said in a statement that she wished Putin “success in the tasks ahead of you” and said “dialogue” between Germany and Russia is essential.

But Germany’s foreign minister said of Putin’s re-election, “We certainly cannot talk in all respects about a fair political contest as we know it,”

Kyle Cheney contributed reporting.

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Trump campaign sprints away from Cambridge Analytica

President Donald Trump and his allies are well-practiced in the art of distancing themselves from their own campaign officials and activities once they run into controversy.

The swiftly intensifying scandal involving Cambridge Analytica is no different.

With the data analytics firm battling headlines over a breach of Facebook users’ private data as part of their work to elect Trump and over its now-suspended CEO’s secret pitch of honey traps to influence elections around the world, the Trump team is once again deploying a hardly-knew-‘em defense.

A Trump campaign official — who did not wish to be named — told POLITICO on Tuesday that the 2020 campaign has no existing contracts with Cambridge Analytica and no plans to contract with the firm going forward. And, the official added, the data analytics firm only “provided limited staffing” during the 2016 campaign, and the Trump campaign did not use the firm’s data.

The Trump campaign was not always so eager to distance itself from Cambridge Analytica, especially in the wake of the surprise 2016 win.

“We found that Facebook and digital targeting were the most effective ways to reach the audiences,” Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top campaign aide, told Forbes after the election during an interview in which he boasted about the campaign’s digital strategy. “After the primary, we started ramping up because we knew that doing a national campaign is different than doing a primary campaign. That was when we formalized the system because we had to ramp up for digital fundraising. We brought in Cambridge Analytica.”

And to hear Alexander Nix, the suspended CEO, tell it, Cambridge is practically the reason Trump won.

“We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy,” Nix told an undercover reporter with the U.K.’s Channel 4 in video released late Tuesday. He also said he had met with Trump “many times.”

The revisionist take is a familiar playbook for the Trump camp.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, now facing charges for money laundering? He was only involved with the campaign for “a very short period of time,” in Trump’s telling. Former foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about Russia contacts? Nothing but a “coffee boy,” per one campaign adviser.

But like those other examples, the Trump campaign’s ties to Cambridge Analytica are well documented.

Election records show the Trump campaign paid the firm $5.9 million, and the firm’s extensive ties to Trump have been the subject of numerous media reports during and after the campaign.

Cambridge Analytica has been primarily funded by Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah Mercer, was a major backer of Trump’s electoral efforts. Trump’s former White House chief strategist and campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, had served as vice president at the firm. And Kushner, along with 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who led the campaign’s digital operations in 2016, were reportedly involved in the decision to retain Cambridge Analytica.

The firm was so central to Trump’s electoral efforts that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling, has asked the firm to turn over the emails of any employees who worked on the Trump campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Parscale, for his part, has tried to downplay Cambridge’s role, instead saying during an October 2017 interview with “60 Minutes” that the campaign had its own set of tricks that created a winning strategy.

The Trump campaign on Tuesday also tried to point to some past comments, directing POLITICO to an October statement, in which campaign executive director Michael Glassner said Trump chose after securing the nomination to “partner with the Republican National Committee on data analytics” and “relied on them as our main source for data analytics.”

“Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false,” the statement said.

But the effort to tamp down the Cambridge Analytica scandal will likely become increasingly difficult as lawmakers seize on the revelations.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, on Tuesday cited the scandal as he freshly accused Republicans on the panel for prematurely wrapping up its investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia-driven election meddling.

“Glad to see Cambridge Analytica whistleblower is willing to testify,” Schiff tweeted, referencing news that former Cambridge employee Christopher Wylie was willing to speak with the panel’s Democrats. “Recent revelations about Erik Prince, Roger Stone and Cambridge Analytica illustrate how GOP decision to shut down their investigation abdicated their oversight responsibilities to country. But our work goes on.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she’d like Nix to testify and answer questions about potential Russia connections, which could lead to a public airing of close ties between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica.

The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

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Lipinski’s fate on the line as Illinois goes to the polls

Illinois voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of a conservative Democratic congressman facing a fierce challenge from the left — and potentially to set the stage for the most expensive gubernatorial race in the nation’s history.

Rep. Dan Lipinski faces the best-funded and best-organized primary challenge of his seven-term House career, as Marie Newman aims to take out the abortion rights opponent in a show of strength for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

The primary results in the Chicago-based district won’t affect control of the House, but it has widened the gap between the party’s activist base and the moderate, swing voters Democrats need to capture the chamber in November.

In the governor’s race, both party front-runners are hoping to beat back primary challengers on their right and left flanks. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is hoping to dispatch Jeanne Ives, a state legislator who’s argued the governor isn’t conservative enough, while Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who’s sunk $70 million into his bid, aims to clear the field of several liberal opponents.

Spending in the race is on pace to top the record $280 million spent in the 2010 California governor’s race.

Several other House primaries — from the suburbs of Chicago down to the southwestern tip of the state — will also produce Democratic nominees to compete a handful of GOP-held districts that Democrats must make competitive to retake the majority.

Polls close in the state at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Back in Lipinski’s district, national powerhouse groups — including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Human Rights Campaign — waded into the primary, elevating Newman with endorsements and ads.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee largely stayed out of the primary fray, infuriating Blue Dog Democrats who wanted the campaign arm to officially back Lipinski. Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a member of the DCCC leadership, broke with the party and endorsed Newman.

Lipinski, who hails from a longtime political family, was slow to spend in his first seriously contested primary. Newman’s campaign and outside groups hammered him in attack ads for weeks without a response on the air.

Citizens for a Better Illinois, a pro-Newman super PAC, aired ads that attacked Lipinski for opposing same-sex marriage and “pushed to allow businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbians,” the ad narrator said.

“It’s not Trump, it’s your congressman, Dan Lipinski,” the narrator continued. “You can’t fight Trump when you agree with him.”

A week before the election, Lipinski went negative on Newman. A TV ad highlighted a Chicago Tribune story that revealed Newman’s former business partner, James Garofalo, pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to six months in prison in 2010 for his role in an illegal mortgage scheme.

Lipinski, sitting on more than $1.3 million in the bank, still holds an advantage in name recognition. But turnout is trending high in the district, which is a good sign for Newman. Of the early vote in the district, nearly 40 percent are infrequent voters, compared to 9 percent in 2014, according to a campaign list maintained by the Service Employees International Union.

The Republican gubernatorial primary also turned negative, as Rauner was forced to attack Ives in TV ads that linked the state legislator to House Speaker Mike Madigan, a controversial Democratic leader and GOP boogeyman.

In the final days ahead of the primary, the Democratic Governors Association began airing a TV ad arguing that Ives is “too conservative” for the state. On the surface it looked like an attack on Ives. But it was designed, in fact, to appeal to conservative voters to back Ives, who would almost certainly be a weaker general election candidate.

“Meet Jeanne Ives: She’s been rated as one of the most conservative in the state. Ives wants to ban abortions. She has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, pushing to arm teachers and stop new gun laws. And on Immigration, Ives marches in lock-step with President [Donald] Trump, trying to eliminate protections for undocumented immigrants,” the ad stated.

Ives’ campaign released internal polling that showed a single-digit race, but public polling has shown Rauner with a double-digit lead.

Democrats have their own divided primary. Pritzker is facing businessman Chris Kennedy, another deep pocketed Democrat and the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Biss. Most polling has shown Pritzker with a comfortable lead over his rivals.

The primary has been marked by overtones of larger divides within the Democratic Party. Biss and Kennedy have jockeyed for position as the most viable anti-establishment candidate, while Pritzker has remained the front-runner. Cementing that position, Hillary Clinton taped a robocall for Pritzker in the final days before the primary. Prtizker has picked up major endorsements from local and statewide politicians, including Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

But both Kennedy and Biss have touted their own endorsements. Kennedy is backed by Reps. Danny Davis and Bobby Rush in Illinois, among others, and Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a relative. Biss has been endorsed by the Bernie Sanders-aligned outside group Our Revolution, as well as Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio and Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois.

Pritzker has faced questions about his views about African Americans after the Chicago Tribune reported on comments the businessman made in discussions with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And with less than a week until the election, the Chicago newspaper also reported on secret offshore banking accounts connected to Pritzker.

House primary races will also yield answers on the kinds of Democratic candidates finding success in 2018.

Seven Democrats are jockeying to take on Republican Rep. Peter Roskam in a red-tinted suburban seat that Democrats are targeting heavily. The district backed Mitt Romney by an 8-point margin in 2012, but Hillary Clinton won it by 7 points in 2016.

Kelly Mazeski, a Barrington Hills Planning Commissioner, got an early boost with an EMILY’s List endorsement, but Sean Casten, a clean energy executive, poured his own cash into a bid.

A pair of down-state Republicans will pick up their general election opponents in races that Democrats hope to turn competitive in 2018.

Rep. Mike Bost is expected to face Brendan Kelly, a St. Clair County State’s Attorney, who has outraised the two-term congressman throughout much of 2017 and 2018, nearly matching his cash on hand.

Democrats Erik Jones, an attorney, and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a businesswoman endorsed by EMILY’s List, are vying to take on Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, whose district stretches from the St. Louis suburbs to the state capital in Springfield and Champaign, with rural counties in between.

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Illinois primary 2018: Live analysis

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Live tonight: 2018 Illinois election results and maps

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The Streaming Revolution

Everyone seems to be getting into video and music streaming these days with smart devices. It makes sense for this to occur because there are so many possibilities that exist when it comes to entertainment. The underground culture is finding that there is even more available now that they have access to the fire stick. There are videos that show how to jailbreak the firestick on YouTube. Consumers have access to this through the web and they really have everything that they need to take them into the underground world of entertainment.

This is considered part of the counterculture because it is something that many people know about but very few people are admitting that they know anything about it. Even Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, must clearly be aware that the Fire Stick is selling as well as it is because people are jailbreaking this and downloading Kodi. This is the app that, after a couple of modifications, allows people to access a world of entertainment where they can watch many of their favorite shows that come on HBO, Starz, Cinemax and the standard television channels. People are even able to see some movies that are still in theaters. This is what has made the Amazon
Fire Stick so popular in a short time frame. It has essentially wiped out most of the other streaming devices that were selling prior to the Inception of the Amazon Fire Stick. It is the underground culture that is making this happen.

When people look at the entertainment for the Fire Stick there is no mistake about it. It is a Sleek format that actually has background wallpaper for the shows and a number of different sources to select from. If one cloud Server is not working for a particular show the fire-stick automatically connects with another cloud server if it is jailbroken.

Many people that utilize this do not even know all of the ins and outs on how this technology works. They just utilize it because it is easy and allows them to save a ton of money. This is where the underground culture is becoming so much more geared towards saving money and sharing files with one another. It is just easier to entertain this way.