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Weighty week for future of amendments

Judge plans to rule on their constitutionality

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 8:26 a.m. CST
Caption
(Seth Perlman)
Secretary of State Jesse White D-Chicago First elected in 1998, White, who turned 80 on Monday, leads his Republican opponent, Mike Webster, in a recent We Ask America poll, 63 percent to 29 percent.

This week will provide some indication of where a couple of proposed amendments to the Illinois Constitution may be heading.

A judge in Chicago said she will issue a ruling on whether the remap amendment and the term limit amendment meet the criteria for getting on the November ballot. Whichever side loses could appeal, but the ruling will give an indication of whether those amendments will get before voters.

In both cases, supporters are attempting to get the issues on the ballot through petitions. The other way is by having the General Assembly vote to put them there.

You can understand why supporters figured a petition drive was the only way to get amendments on the ballot to term limit lawmakers and take the drawing of political maps out of the hands of politicians as much as possible.

However, the state constitution provides for only narrow criteria for amendments that can be put before voters by petitions. Hence a lawsuit filed by people connected to the powers that be contending neither the remap amendment nor the term limit amendment meets that criteria and should be kept away from voters.

The court case has great impact for the term limit amendment – pushed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner – because that proposal has enough valid signatures to get on the ballot if it survives the court challenge. It's still unclear whether the remap amendment will have enough.

Don't fret, though. Even if the two amendments are banned from the ballot, you'll still get a chance to vote on those meaningless advisory referendums.

Running mate in the news

Interesting week for the Rauner campaign. Or at least for his running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti.

First, quotes surfaced where Sanguinetti talked about making decisions in Rauner's stead. Such as, “I will be able to make decisions in his stead.”

That would seem to indicate a somewhat greater lieutenant governor role than is spelled out in the constitution. Not so, the Rauner campaign said. It merely means Rauner and Sanguinetti see totally eye to eye, so Sanguinetti can accurately represent Rauner's views in his absence.

Whatever.

That was followed quickly by a report of Sanguinetti speaking to a Republican township organization and mentioning “magical” powers. She said when women knock on doors during campaigns, “something magical happens.”

“What happens when we knock on doors as women? They let us in,” she said. “And this is where we use our special powers to disarm and talk about our candidates.”

At least it was more entertaining than the Rauner budget stuff.

Untouchable

It's never a good idea for politicians to run unopposed for office. Nothing against incumbents, but it's just healthier all around if there's competition for an office rather than a cakewalk for one person.

Having said that, you have to sympathize with anyone running against Secretary of State Jesse White. The perennially popular politician looks like he'll be untouchable until the day he decides to retire.

Consider a We Ask America poll released last week. It showed White with a 63 percent to 29 percent lead over his Republican opponent, Mike Webster, an attorney from Willowbrook.

These polls break things down into smaller categories, such as how the two candidates fare with men, how they do with women, upstate, downstate, Republicans and Democrats. Webster beat White in only one category – among likely Republican voters. Even among that group, White got 33 percent.

Numbers

Some numbers for the week:

One was a $2.5 million campaign contribution to Rauner from billionaire Ken Griffin of Chicago, which is believed to be the largest individual campaign contribution ever in the state.

To put that in perspective, Griffin could have paid for eight performances of Pitbull (cost of $300,000) at the state fair and still had $100,000 left for the beer tents.

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