Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (2/6)

February 6, 2023


CDPH COVID-19 Update: Cook County and Chicago Remain in Low COVID-19 Community Level, from the Chicago Department of Public Health.


Durkin, Bennett House replacements named

On Sunday, Illinois House Republicans named new appointees to fill the vacancies left by former House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and former State Rep. Tom Bennet. Durkin resigned early last month; Bennett, the uncle of late Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), was appointed to a vacancy in the Illinois Senate.

Replacing Durkin in the 82nd District is Lemont Mayor John Egofske, a Certified Public Accountant renowned for his work helping reform municipal finances and improve bond ratings in Lemont. Egofske will continue to serve as Mayor of Lemont, a post he’s held since 2017.

Replacing Bennet in the 106th District is Livingston County Board member Jason Bunting, who works as a family farmer and is a Director for the Illinois Corn Growers’ Association.

In public statements over the weekend, both appointees expressed their excitement to serve in the state House and said they were “honored” by the appointment.


New Illinois Supreme Court justices got major boost from hidden spending by Democratic group: “A political committee (All for Justice), funded in part by Senate President Don Harmon’s campaign that helped expand the Democratic majority on the Illinois Supreme Court, failed to file timely campaign reports as required by state law and didn’t disclose the bulk of its $7.3 million in spending until after the election,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Dems forging ahead on next steps to assault weapons ban as legal setbacks grow: “U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), a Highland Park resident, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) met with state lawmakers in Highland Park Friday to announce new legislation they were introducing in Congress to require gun stores to store their firearms when the store is not open to prevent smash and grab burglaries. At the same time, Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) asked a Macon County judge to issue the third temporary restraining order blocking some Illinoisans from following the assault weapons ban,” by The Daily Line.

Gov. Pritzker Announces $40 Million Grant Opportunity to Develop Megasites: “Governor Pritzker today joined state and local leaders, along with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), and Intersect Illinois in Pullman to announce $40 million in Rebuild Illinois Capital Funds to supercharge the development of megasites – large, developed sites ready for occupancy for manufacturers, distribution centers, industrial centers, and more,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Pritzker Administration Announces Inaugural Cohort of the Governor’s Office Academy of Leadership (G.O.A.L.): “Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) announced Friday the participants of the inaugural cohort of the Governor’s Office Academy of Leadership (G.O.A.L.) program. The highly-competitive program was designed to provide a robust professional development opportunity for a population of State mid-level leaders that maintain critical roles in advancing key initiatives and maintaining optimal operations for the State,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.


Buckner proposal would change CPS head to superintendent over CEO

Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) – one of nine candidates in the Feb. 28 race for Chicago mayor –  introduced legislation in Springfield last Monday that would require a qualified educator to serve as head of the Chicago Public School (CPS) system.

The legislation (HB1535) would change the title of the head of the CPS system from chief executive officer (CEO) to superintendent and would put Chicago in line with most other school systems in the state who have a superintendent with education qualifications and certifications (rather than a CEO).

A current frontrunner in the polls for Chicago mayor is former CPS head Paul Vallas, who was the first CEO in 1995. Buckner said his bill isn’t meant to target Vallas specifically. “My opinion is we shouldn’t run our school system like a business,” Buckner told The Daily Line. “We should run it like a school system.”


Aldermen introduce proposals ranging from discussion on ranked choice voting to Chicago safe consumption sites: “Aldermen on Wednesday introduced proposals to begin discussing the possibility of ranked choice voting in Chicago municipal elections, a resolution urging the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation to allow the city to establish safe consumption sites to prevent overdose deaths and a measure to change what tax-increment financing (TIF) dollars can be spent on,” by The Daily Line.

10th Ward Candidates Talk Police And Development At Southeast Side Aldermanic Forum: “All five aldermanic candidates running to replace retiring Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza in the 10th Ward race gathered to talk public safety and community-led development at a forum Thursday night,” by Block Club Chicago.

 Ald. Jim Gardiner Defends Record As Opponents Slam His Closed-Door Policies, Criminal Probes At 45th Ward Forum: “ As incumbent Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) attempts to keep his seat while under local and federal investigation, Northwest Side residents packed the Copernicus Center Thursday night to hear from him and his five challengers about issues facing the ward,” by Block Club Chicago.

Laurence Msall, president of Civic Federation of Chicago, dies at 61: “Msall, who served as president of the Civic Federation for 21 years, died following complications from surgery, the organization said in a statement,” by the Chicago Tribune.


Beltway Briefing: 2024 GOP Presidential Primary

Following months-long speculation she might throw her hat in the presidential ring, Nikki Haley – a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N and former two-term South Carolina governor, is expected to officially announce a White House bid on Feb. 15. So far, former President Trump is the only high-profile Republican who has formally announced a presidential campaign.

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, and Patrick Martin look at several widely floated contenders likely to challenge Trump and discuss the possibility of a crowded GOP presidential primary in 2024. And, as Democrats balk at negotiating on the borrowing limit while GOP pushes spending cuts, they also review the start of debt-ceiling discussion between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy, with the latter expressing cautious optimism they can come to a deal to avoid the first-ever default of the country’s debt.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


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