My life as a new IL-17 Republican: toward November 4

I got a couple of mailers; one was from Bobby Schilling and one was a letter signed by several “prominent” Republicans (Aaron Schock was one) saying how bad Cheri Bustos is and how great Bobby Schilling is.

It wasn’t as bad as the stuff I got in 2012.

But it was still bad.

This also reminded me of the stuff conservatives pulled in 2004 (I cannot say that the Republican party did this):


I find it interesting that they are trying to rely on deception and suppressing the vote.

I suppose they can justify the latter by saying that “it is better if only the “worthy” vote” and the former….trying to trick not-so-informed people into thinking that your candidate is a Democrat….hmmm…not sure as how I would justify that. Why wouldn’t you brag about how super-duper conservative your Tea Party nutjob is?

I am no fan of Cheri Bustos as she is a Blue Dog in what should be a more progressive district. But Bobby Schilling is a 14’th Century regressive and a dishonest campaigner.

She remains a modest favorite to win reelection.

IL-governor: toss up. Nate Silver has Quinn up by 1 but the election well within the “toss up” range. Same for Election Projection. Though Dick Durbin is comfortably ahead in his US Senate Race, the overall balance: Republicans will probably end up with 51-53 seats, depending on how the post November 4 run-offs go.

November 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, Cheri Bustos, IL-17, IL-18, Illinois, political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Election Recap: Part I: my experience, Koehler and Bustos (IL-17 US House, IL-46, State Senate)

Workout notes Easy 4 mile walk over lunch.

Election Recap, Part I
I’ll probably keep a stream of these coming.

Personal Experiences

This election, I broke down my activities as follows:
National: mostly money to the Obama campaign.
Local: I attended fund raisers for the Koehler and Bustos campaign (several) and attended the Bustos-Schilling debate, and I spent money on each. I wrote a letter to the editor for Mr. Koehler. On election day, I did an “almost complete” walk route (had to double back to get rain gear) and part of another route. The idea: make sure our people got to the polls. Basically, I knocked on doors (about 80 total) and hung “please vote” door hangers on the door knobs.

Here is one of my routes (the morning one, with the “double back” to get rain gear:

Note: I did NOT count this as “training mileage” :-), though I get in a 5 mile run prior to starting this.

I probably put in another mile in the late afternoon, quitting when it got too dark to read the house numbers easily.

In between routes, I hung out at the Peoria Democrats headquarters and got to say “hi” to Ms. Bustos and Ms. Gordon (uncontested race) and the other volunteers. I spent part of the evening at the Democratic victory party for Senator Koehler.

About the canvass What was very different this time is that I canvassed in a neighborhood that I was familiar with; I actually knew many of the people whose houses I visited. Also, many recognized me because several of my regular running or walking training routes goes through that neighborhood. They “know” me as the old man who is always running or walking in the neighborhood.

I got encouragement and in one of the other neighborhoods, I got the “way to go” fist pump.

How the Dave Koeher race went
Many were worried as Pat Sullivan was well known and, up to the start of the race, reasonably well liked. He had success in small business and he resurrected some properties along the riverfront. Those accomplishments are genuine. He also had a lot of money backing him: the Republican party establishment, Aaron Schock (US House, IL-18) and my City Council Person Barbara Van Auken (who I worked for when she first ran).

He then ran some very negative ads; Koehler responded and then the Sullivan campaign screamed bloody murder. There were Sullivan signs all over the place, but ultimately, not enough votes. Note: Sullivan’s debate performances were very poor.

It ended 54-46 Koehler.

The Bustos race Bustos took on Tea Party Incumbent Bobby Schilling. Given that the IL-17 district was gerrymandered to make it more Democratic friendly, this was a tough sell for Mr. Schilling. He couldn’t be too antagonistic toward President Obama (who lead by 15 points in this district) but he could ill afford to lose what conservative support that he had.

Tactics: the NRCC ran some deceptive ads for him and he came out with a flier called The Illinois Democrat which featured him.

It didn’t work and Bustos won 53-47 (18,500 votes); she picked up her margins in Rock Island as well as in sections of Rockford and Peoria:

She won Fulton county by 200, Knox county (Galesburg) by 1200, Peoria County (part of it; the other part is in IL-18) by 8400, Rock Island by 6600, Tazewell by 200 (part of the county), Whiteside by 200 and Winnebago (part of Rockford) by 8700. Or put another way, her margin came from Rock Island plus parts of two larger cities.

November 8, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Cheri Bustos, dave koehler, Democrats, IL-17, IL-18, Illinois, Peoria, Peoria/local, politics, politics/social, walking | Leave a comment

Thursday Night Koehler “GOTV” rally

Thursday Night Barbara and I went to the Dave Koehler “Get out the Vote” rally.

Dave Koehler at the podium (incumbent IL-46 State Senator)

Cheri Bustos: D challenger for the US House IL-17

I am in this shot; I am talking to Lynn. I am wearing a blue and gold Navy jacket and a red Bradley sweatshirt. Yes, I have a very gray beard.

Another crowd shot; I am in it.

November 3, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Friends, IL-17, IL-18, Peoria, Peoria/local, photos, politics, politics/social | 1 Comment

Changing Neighborhoods, Static Presidential Race

Workout notes Part II 1800 yard swim; 600 free, 5 x (free/back/free/side/free/side/free/fly), 100 of free/fly, 100 of front/free.

Changing neighborhoods: no trick-or-treaters today. We used to have a lot of them but we have no families with small kids anymore. We have empty-nesters and college students.

Local Politics The Peoria Journal Star ran my letter today:

I am writing this letter in support of state Sen. Dave Koehler, who is running for reelection.

Sen. Koehler has built a well-deserved reputation for high integrity and for boldly tackling the tough issues. He has consistently fought for the long-term interests of his constituents.

Pat Sullivan is running against him with little more than a “trust me, I was successful in business” message. Nothing in his ads or in the debates indicates that he either understands or is interested in understanding the complexity of the challenges facing our state. Instead he offers simplistic slogans and vague promises to “fix it.”

Even worse, one of his later ads complains of Sen. Koehler attacking him, even after running very negative ads of his own from the very start! Sullivan’s ads are straight from the Karl Rove playbook.

I also notice that one of Sullivan’s ads has Aaron Schock supporting him. Schock has consistently fought for the interests of the wealthiest among us and has been taken to task for boasting of delivering money projects that he voted against!

Some tea party types didn’t like my letter too much; you can see the comments at the link.

IL-17 Aaron Schock (the incumbent who is in total command of the IL-18 race) is hosting a rally for Bobby Schilling. Note: the south side of Peoria (where I live) is in IL-17; Schock represents IL-18. I am currently in IL_18 but will be in IL-18 in the next Congress.

This is interesting, since Schilling appears to be trying to sell himself as a “moderate” and even a “Democrat” (by his mailings); now he is campaigning with a well know right-wing House member.

Note: Obama has a 15 point lead in IL-17; though the race is close in the polls (they go both ways) and the race is a toss up at this point, I am not sure that getting close to this right winger will help him. Evidently his campaign thinks that it will.

Presidential Race

I’ve learned some things from following this race:

1. Not all “close” states are created equal. You have some close states (e. g., North Carolina) where the race is close, but there are almost no persuadable voters. You have mostly white evangelicals (pro-Republican) and a mixture of research triangle types and blacks (pro-Democrat) and little else. In these states, it is almost all about turn-out; the candidates play to their respective bases here in order to get them excited. In the North Carolina example, though the polls are close, Mitt Romney will probably carry it.

On the other hand, there are some close states where there is some hope of peeling off “soft support” or persuading an undecided voter.

2. Not all “close” states are “tipping point states”. Example: North Carolina or Florida. If Obama wins either of these, it probably reflects the fact that he is in command elsewhere by larger margins. Hence these will probably NOT be the states to “put him over the top” should he win them (unlikely in both cases).

3. National versus state polling: sometimes state polling can give a clearer picture than national polling, even in terms of the final popular vote margin. If that sounds counter intuitive, read Nate Silver’s article.

Now about the race:

Electoral Vote

The Bookies

How to read this: Obama 1/4 means that one must bet 4 dollars to win 1 dollar (e. g., if Obama wins you get your 4 back plus one extra); this is roughly equivalent to Obama having a 4 in 5 chance (5 = 4+1) of winning (80 percent). Romney: 9/4 means you bet 4 to win 9 (you get 4 back plus an extra 9); this means that Romney has a 4 in 13 chance (4 + 9 = 13) of winning (30.8 percent). Note: the odds add up to more than 1 because the house always makes money; the bookies set the odds to get the same amount of money on each candidate.

Nate Silver


There are others that give Obama more favorable odds; I’d rather not look at those right now.

Here is Election Projection (Electoral Vote is from a Democrat; Election Projection is from a Republican)

Note: Election Projection has a LOT of good data on House races.

All signs point to a narrow but static Obama lead. In football terms, Romeny is going to have to force a fumble, block a punt or run back a kick for a score, etc. I’d call Romney’s situation “tough” but NOT “desperate”.

November 1, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, IL-17, IL-18, Peoria/local, political/social, politics, swimming | 1 Comment

Republican Dirty Tricks in IL-17, with video (and yes, I voted today!)

Workout notes Weights plus an untimed 5 mile walk. Weights: 5 sets of 10 pull ups, rotator cuff, 3 super sets of (rows: 10 x 200 Hammer machine, 10 x 160 pull downs, 10 x 52.5 curls (pulley)), bench press: 10 x 135, 8 x 165, 6 x 165, 5 x 165, incline: 2 sets of 7 x 135, 2 sets of 15 x 45 (dumbbell) military press (seated). I did vertical ab crunches as rest between sets.

IL-17 is a redistricted Congressional District in Illinois; it was redrawn after Illinois went from having 19 Congressional Districts to 18.

Historically: Lane Evans won it in 1982 and represented it until Phil Hare won it in 2006. But in 2010, Phil Hare was upset by a Tea Party Republican named Bobby Schilling.

However the district has been redrawn to be even more Democratic; currently Barack Obama leads by 15 points.

The Bustos-Schilling race has been close; by Election Projection:

10/25/12 Stuart Rothenberg Pundit Change: Tilt DEM to Toss-up
10/15/12 Public Opinion (R) Schilling 51% – Bustos 44%
10/18/12 GBA Strategies (D) Bustos 49% – Schilling 45%
10/13/12 RATING CHANGE: Weak Schilling to Weak Bustos
10/09/12 WeAskAmerica Bustos 46% – Schilling 46%
10/10/12 RATING CHANGE: Weak Bustos to Weak Schilling
10/04/12 Anzalone Liszt Research (D) Bustos 45% – Schilling 44%

So, the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to hold this seat. So watch out for the dirty tricks!

We have this ad from the NRCC:

Wow! There are some problems here though. For one, Ms. Bustos isn’t a member of that country club and never was. Also, this improvement was for water main repair, and had started BEFORE she took her seat.

More here.

Now there is this:

What you are seeing is a newspaper tabloid style mailer called “The Illinois Democrat” which is an extended ad for Bobby Schilling. You have to dig deep into the ad to find a mention that Mr. Schilling is the Republican candidate.

That isn’t a surprise; at the last Schilling-Bustos debate, Mr. Schilling failed to mention Mitt Romney once, but did have a few good words to say about President Obama.

Here is my (7 minute) video commentary.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Cheri Bustos, IL-17, IL-18, Illinois, Peoria, Political Ad, political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans, walking, weight training | 3 Comments

Political Saturday (May 2012): Peoria, Training and Senator Durbin

This is Barbara getting a greeting from Senator Dick Durbin at an event at Bradley University.

Weekly address

Political Training
We attended some political training this weekend; this was “Precinct Committeeman” training. Though I am not one of these, I was allowed to attend anyway.

There were some interesting tidbits on how to establish contact with voters in small areas; much of it involved getting to know people who live in the areas and in establishing a relationship with them. I’d be terrible at it. :)

There was some training in voter software; this stuff is sophisticated! Basically, the political operations know much more about you than you think that they do.


One thing that makes arguments tough: we tend to not trust what comes from the other side. What hurts is that political parties tend to “spin” the truth in a way that helps them rather than just attempt to explain what is going on. Understanding isn’t the goal of political communication; getting the vote is.

No: the arena that President Obama spoke at in Ohio wasn’t empty.

It wasn’t capacity either (14,000 in an 18,000 seat arena).

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, economy, family, IL-17, IL-18, politics, politics/social | Leave a comment

Politics: Romney and Santorum again; Subliminal comparison of Obama to Ahmadinejad

The sane

Now for the Clown Show:

Mitt: the Amorphic candidate…or one who is always in a state of quantum super position of states? :)
Ask him a question and he collapses his political wave function.

How did it end up in Illinois? Crazy Rick won 12 of the pledged delegates:

all 3 in CD 12, all 4 in CD 15, , all 3 in CD 17 (where I live), 1 of the 4 in CD 16 1 of the 4 in CD 18.
The places where Santorum swept were not at all a surprise.

Now Santorum hurt himself with an ill advised line:

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday said Republicans should give President Barack Obama another term if Santorum isn’t the GOP nominee and for a second day compared rival Mitt Romney to an Etch A Sketch toy.

Santorum reiterated an argument he has made before: The former Massachusetts governor is not conservative enough to offer voters a clear choice in the fall election and that only he can provide that contrast.

“You win by giving people a choice,” Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there.”

Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.”

Santorum was referencing Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s comment Wednesday that “everything changes” for the fall campaign. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch,” he said on CNN. “You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”

The remark reignited criticism of Romney as the type of politician who will say or do anything to win.

Romney, who made no public appearances Thursday, issued a statement expressing disappointment “that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican.”

“This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America,” he said. “Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”

Now of course, Santorum is “walking it back” His campaign sent the following out (I got on the mailing list by making a token contribution)

Knowing that their candidate lacks a consistent conservative message, Romney’s spin machine is once again working overtime.

That’s why, even though Rick is busy campaigning in Louisiana today he wanted me to rush this email out to you regarding his comments yesterday about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Rick’s response is here:

“I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous. This is just another attempt by the Romney Campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney’s policies mirror Barack Obama’s.

I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it’s easy to see why – Romney has sided with Obama on healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts.

Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign’s movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation. If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation. It’s time for bold vision, bold reforms and bold contrasts. This election is about more than Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or Rick Santorum – this campaign is about freedom and I will fight to restore your freedoms.”

Please forward this email to your friends and family. Let them hear the truth from Rick, not what Mitt Romney wants them to hear.

Thanks for all you are doing.

Proud to stand with Rick,

Mike Biundo
Campaign Manager

And his campaign released this nasty attack ad:

The key is at 40 seconds into the ad, where Santorum’s campaign puts a super brief photo of President Obama between shots of Iranian President Ahmadinejad; quite subliminal.

March 24, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, IL-17, IL-18, Illinois, Mitt Romney, Political Ad, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, rick santorum | 1 Comment

My life in a social bubble….

A couple of events made me realize what a bubble I live in. One was a women’s basketball game (university); it was a Komen “pink-out” type of event. The other was the Peoria County Democrats Dinner (Senator Dick Drubin and Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach spoke).

Yes, I enjoyed both events and plan on doing more of them. But I was reminded of a few things.

As far as the women’s basketball game: the Komen “no longer going to fund Planned Parenthood” was a big deal on the internet sites that I routinely visit AND on the facebook walls of the people I usual talk about social and political events to. So I felt that there would be less enthusiasm for the Komen themed basketball game. WRONG. It was as if the “dust up” had never happened; in reality only a small percentage of people were even aware of it and an even smaller percentage cared one way or the other.

The Democrat Dinner: the local Democrats are very labor oriented. All Democrats are welcome, of course, and President Obama is popular with this crowd, mostly because he is from Illinois. But as to the type of people who were here:

The event started with a “in the name of Jesus” prayer; it was about as non-ecumenical as it gets. And while I enjoyed both Senator Durbin’s and Senator Erpenbach’s speeches, some of the jokes made by the MC were, IMHO, in poor taste.

Sure, Senator Durbin poked fun at Willard “Mitt” Romney; he joked that he was going to get the name “Not” added to his name so as to get more votes in the Republican primary. But that is a joke that is specific to a political situation.

The joke made by our MC was “ha, ha, Romney is a “horse’s ass”” which is a very non-specific insult; you can make that joke about anyone you don’t like.

This was definitely not the Prius driving, Birkenstock wearing crowd; this was the type of crowd were people frequently went outside to take smoking breaks.

This was a very different demographic than, say, the Daily Kos crowd.

If you want to open your eyes some more, volunteer to walk a route on election day to do a “get out the vote” sweep. Most of the time, you’ll get a bunch of “broken sidewalk” type neighborhood in which the porches are often full of junk (or trash) and the houses reek of cigarette smoke. This is NOT the “hiking at the nature center” or the Unitarian congregation crowd.

The reason I am saying this: the “hot issues” that are deemed so important at my internet hangouts are often completely off the radar screen with many (most?) people, including many (most?) who tend to vote for the same party. It is wise to remember that when you listen to our politicians speak.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, Dick Durbin, IL-17, IL-18, Peoria, Peoria/local, political/social, politics, social/political | Leave a comment

Romney vs. Santorum, Frogs and Hilarity…

Workout notes yoga, then a slowish 6.25 (10k) run along the water; I started at the lot, ran to Hooters, back through the gateway and out to the dam; then I went to the factory entrance, back and twice around the gooseloop; back to the I-74 bridge and back to the car. It took 1:05; when I was headed out to Hooters my doctor (did my colonoscopy) blew past me as if I were standing still; he is in his early 60’s and can still turn over a 3:3x marathon.

I’ll NEVER be like him. :)

At yoga, my teacher gave me a nice correction to “down dog” (my arms were bent).

As far as running: I might have to add a 2-4 mile run to get to 4 runs a week; my body isn’t adapting on 3 runs a week.

Atelopus coynei, a small “harlequin frog” which lived in Ecuador, was thought to be extinct. It isn’t!!!! That is always good news…

Click on the thumbnail too see this handsome creature in a full size photo. Yes, this frog is named after biology professor Jerry Coyne.

Right now there is “this is how others see us, this is how WE see us and this is how we really are”. I passed along the professor one. Here is a Unitarian Universalist one; note that I was a member of the local UU church for a long time.

So, this is how I will address the photo: the social one (the protest signs) is pretty close; also many UUs work in organizations that care for the poor or for those who have AIDS, battered women, etc. So there is no denying that aspect of UUs. But as far as the “how New Atheists view UUs”: no, not really. I see them more like this, or this:

Just throw in a few science words and some Eastern religion words, mix in a word salad, and you’ll have a whole congregation of UU’s nodding in agreement..or at least in approval. Just leave out “Jesus” and “God the FATHER” (“Mother Goddess” is ok).

Is Rick Santorum really less electable than Mitt Romney? Well, probably a little; then again Mr. Santorum runs stronger in key areas in key demographics (working class whites in the Midwest) so….still I find Mr. Silver’s “possible Santorum map” to be farfetched. But yes, his point is that there is more to electability than national poll numbers. The point is that whereas Mr. Romney would do better in many states, many of these are those that Mr. Obama isn’t going to win anyway, and Mr. Santorum does better than Mr. Romney in some Midwestern states.

And, no I do NOT approve of the Daily Kos “operation hilarity” which is supposed to have us spending money and voting for Mr. Santorum in open Republican primary states. Evidently, I am not alone in objecting (here, here, and here)

I want to make this clear: I can understand voting in a Republican primary if it is legal to do so in some circumstances; in fact I considered it in 2008. Here is why: I live in IL-18 (I will be shifted to IL-17 in the upcoming cycle due to redistricting). The Republicans have a lock on IL-18; only once in 100 years has a Democrat won. Hence the winner of the 3-way Republican primary for US Representative was a shoo-in for the general election. Hence if I wanted a chance to elect our Representative (currently Aaron Schock), I had to vote in the Republican primary. The rules allowed for you to register as a Republican or as a Democrat on the day you voted.

I ended up NOT doing that as then Senator Obama was in a close contest with then Senator Clinton and we had a contested race for the Illinois House seat (IL-92). So I voted in the Democratic primary, as always.

By the way, I’ll be voting in the Democratic primary again; this time it will be for Cheri Bustos for the IL-17 nomination.

February 16, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Aaron Schock, Barack Obama, frogs, humor, IL-17, IL-18, Mitt Romney, politics, politics/social, religion, running, yoga | Leave a comment

27 August 2011

Mostly 9-11 fluff…oh well.

Last night: my spousal unit drug me to this French film: Au Revoir Les Enfants
It was actually pretty good.

Politics I wrote to Aaron Schock (R, IL-18) about the debt limit ceiling issue. He responded with a detailed 3 page letter describing his reasoning. I didn’t agree with much of it, but it was well written and detailed. I have to give him credit.

Spandex/Big Butts:

If you like sporty women (speed skaters, pole vaulters, jumpers, throwers, sprinters, runners) and if you like the views that I like; well, I’ve never seen a better photo spread (50 pages!) than this one. White women, black women, larger women, slender women, leggy women…all here. Ok, there are a small number of guys (wasted space, IMHO :) ) but the vast majority are like these:

(click on the thumbnails to see the photos at the source)

August 27, 2011 Posted by | Aaron Schock, big butts, bikinis, IL-18, movies, political/social, politics, politics/social, running, spandex | Leave a comment


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