Monday, December 22, 2003

Bush and the ballot -- Madigan is relentless for Bush

Chad Anderson's report in the Rockford Register-Star includes this update on the Bush ballot situation:

Meanwhile, Republicans are still scrambling to make sure President Bush appears on the general election ballot in November. Topinka has said her top priority as state GOP chairman is putting Illinois in Bush's corner in November.

Further action is required to get Bush on the ballot because the General Assembly failed last month during veto session to waive a state election rule that requires presidential nominees be certified by Aug. 27. The GOP national convention in New York will be held after that deadline.

The Senate couldn't muster enough votes for passage after Democrats included a provision to allow the state Board of Elections to dismiss fines against political campaign committees for improperly filing financial statements. Though the GOP sought the Bush language, Senate Republicans refused to support the bill in light of the campaign fine provision.

The election board has levied $305,900 in fines against the campaigns of legislators and constitutional officers, according to the board. Of those, 94 percent were levied against Democrats, 6 percent against Republicans.

Cross, who is leading the effort to get Bush on the ballot, said he is confident the president's name will appear. He said House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, assured him this would occur early in the spring session.

“The speaker said to me the last day of veto session, ‘Tom it will get done. I will make sure it happens,’” Cross said. “And I take him at his word. I said, Will there be anything attached to it? He goes, There might be but it won't be the campaign fine issue.”

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown noted the House passed the bill with support from Madigan and Cross. Brown said its now up to the Senate to move the bill.

Brown noted the Legislature previously approved similar campaign fine language as part of an ethics bill. That language gives the Board of Elections the option of not fining a campaign for certain disclosure violations. The language at issue last month is much broader: It would grant the board discretion to forgive fines already on the books.

“The vote was final,” said Cindy Davidsmeyer, spokeswoman for Senate President Emil Jones Jr., D-Chicago. “It’s in the Republicans court as to what theyre going to do. It’s their issue.”

But Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Watson, the Republican leader, maintained the proposed campaign fine language is unacceptable to Watsons caucus.

Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said Republicans in the spring would ask Democrats to move a bill to waive the election rule, sans the campaign fine provision. If the Democrats don’t cooperate, he said, Republicans will take the matter to federal court.

“We’re not going to play games,” said Syverson, who also is treasurer of the Illinois Republican Party. “Either the Democratic Party is going to allow Bush to come on, no questions asked, early in January when we go into session, or we go to court and just get it done.”

---comment time---

So why is Speaker Madigan so adamant to make it easy on Republicans who are in this pickle because of their September New York City convention?

What Michael Madigan should do is make the Republicans pay for their sins of the DC-based operatives who scheduled the political rally in September in New York City in order to get a 'bounce' off of the 9/11 anniversary. And the way they can pay for that is to admit that they are the ones who caused this problem because of their September convention (and why is there a September convention? It's not the Olympics. . .it's 9/11).

I sympathize with Illinois Republicans, because it isn't their fault, but if they are so intent on going to federal court already, then just let them do it.

As Speaker Madigan seems hell-bent on making it easier for Bush to win his re-election, it falls to the Democratic Senate caucus to hold this up. Just don't call it for a vote! Come on, Senate Dems!

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