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Chicago, Emanuel won along with Obama, mayor’s allies say

President Barack Obama’s re-election — and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s front-and-center role in it — will pay dividends for Chicago, mayoral allies predicted Wednesday.


WASHINGTON — With early voting in Illinois starting next Monday, the already sizzling rematch battle between Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., and former Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., for the north suburban 10th Congressional District seat got hotter on Monday on several fronts.

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Owning assault weapons a right, three GOP candidates say


Three of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates say they believe all Illinois residents have the right to own assault weapons. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka said so at an ABC7/Univision televised debate put on with the League of Women Voters.

Lawmaker: Don’t tax Sochi medalists


One suburban legislator wants to stop the state from taxing the winnings of Sochi Olympic and Paralympic medalists. Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, sponsored a bill exempting Illinois athletes who medal in the Sochi 2014 games from paying the 5 percent state income tax on their earnings.

Mayoral run for CTU’s Karen Lewis? Spouse sour on being first husband


SPRINGFIELD — Chicago Teachers Union chief Karen Lewis came to Springfield Wednesday to rally against possible pension cuts to city teachers but left town being urged to run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. By her own and other union members. Chants of “Run for Mayor!” filled the Capitol rotunda, where unionized city workers gathered to hear her speak. Afterwards, Lewis seemed to suggest she’s staying put in 2015, when Emanuel faces re-election, but she also didn’t close any doors.

GOP gubernatorial debate a ‘blood sport’ fight for second place


SPRINGFIELD — His campaign crippled by sexual harassment allegations, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford bemoaned how Illinois politics has become a “blood sport” ­— but otherwise was a non-factor in Tuesday’s debate among the four-way GOP field for governor. Instead, state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington were the ones drawing blood against each other — and frontrunner Bruce Rauner — in a bid to assume Rutherford’s one-time role as the main alternative to the private equity investor from Winnetka.

Feb. 10: Republicans can’t avoid elephant in the room at radio debate


Before a packed house in Hoffman Estates on Monday, three GOP gubernatorial candidates heaped criticism on a fourth contender who was missing — and one candidate found himself defending a past plug for Barack Obama. But the most dramatic moment of a 90-minute radio debate sponsored by WLS 890-AM was when state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale pointedly took on the elephant in the room – a fresh sexual harassment charge that had been leveled against opponent Dan Rutherford.

Madigan proposes $1.5 billion tax cut for businesses


A day after Republicans slammed Gov. Pat Quinn for the state’s jobs climate, House Speaker Michael Madigan gift-wrapped a $1.5 billion election-year bouquet to Illinois businesses by offering to halve corporate income tax rates so they can “grow their work forces with good-paying jobs.”

Experts: Corporate tax cuts will bring jobs, but not net revenue increase


If Illinois cuts corporate taxes in half as House Speaker Michael Madigan proposes, the state will certainly gain companies and jobs, but those gains will not be enough to make up the lost revenue, experts say. For every 1 percent cut in taxes there will be a 3.5 percent increase in the number of business establishments, according to economist Juan Carlos Suarez Serrato, of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. That trade off could benefit the state in terms of jobs, but could still leave it scrambling to close an even wider budget deficit.

Obama calls for ‘year of action’ — vows to act on his own, if necessary


From lifting the minimum wage to overhauling immigration to closing Guantanamo Bay once and for all, President Barack Obama put forth Tuesday night a sweeping call for a “year of action.” The president used his State of the Union address to lay out an aggressive vision for 2014, where he urged Congress to focus on “creating new jobs not creating new crises.” But Obama promised he would meet inaction in Congress by sidestepping members and using his own executive power. “America does not stand still – and neither will I,” Obama said.

Concealed-weapons applicants say they want protection


Some applicants for conceal carry gun permits have jobs involving valuables, some fear a violent ex-partner, some want training just in case they need it, but all say they want to be able to protect themselves and their family. “People want to be able to defend themselves,” said Mike Elrod, who founded Illinois Gun Owners Rights.

Jan. 23: GOP gubernatorial rivals stress being ‘reasonable,’ and electable in first TV debate


Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford declared Thursday that he was not a “Republican with horns and a tail,” as he and three other GOP primary gubernatorial candidates gave their pitch for who was best prepared to win over a Democratic state. The Thursday night forum in Downstate Peoria was the first time all four of the candidates met for a televised debate — and it proved to be a more civil affair than a previous forum, which ended in a fiery clash. With the TV cameras rolling, the four rivals sought to look more like statesmen than hatchet men.

Republicans Rutherford, Rauner lead money race, reports show


With more than $1.37 million, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford has the most cash available in his campaign kitty, while competitor Bruce Rauner raised by far the most money in the four-way race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Campaign reports showed state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington continuing to struggle to raise money. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn raised more than $1.85 million in the last quarter and has $4.75 million on hand, his campaign told the Sun-Times.

Analysis: Rauner’s latest flap could pack the greater punch


After spending all last week putting out fires because he said he wanted to lower — and then raise — the minimum wage, multi-millionaire gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner began this week facing a brand new firestorm. And it’s the latest storyline that potentially has greater staying power.

Only .0014 percent of Payton College Prep students get in thanks to principal’s help


So how difficult was it for an average Chicago student to be admitted into Payton College Prep the year that Bruce Rauner made a call to get his daughter in? More than 9,000 students applied for 353 open seats in the 2008-09 academic year, according to data obtained by the Sun-Times through the Freedom of Information Act. This happened before the Chicago Public Schools system changed its policy on attendance records. That means for the thousands of students competing for 353 open seats, consideration was supposed to be based on test scores, grades, and students’ attendance when they were in

Rev. Jackson: 50 years later, time for a new War on Poverty


The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a revival of the 1960s-era War on Poverty, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s initiative that brought us Head Start, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, various job training programs and also ramped up funding for welfare and public housing. In a news conference Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of Johnson’s War on Poverty speech, Jackson said that many of these problems are under attack or have been eliminated and that the number of poor has grown to record levels.“Poverty in America is becoming a crisis presenting unprecedented challenges for our nation,” Jackson said.

Republican Rauner: Cut state’s hourly minimum wage by $1 to be ‘competitive’


SPRINGFIELD — Republican Bruce Rauner is calling for a $1-an-hour rollback in the state’s minimum wage in a move Democrats described as “class warfare” on Illinois’ working poor. A Downstate Alton radio station Tuesday reported Rauner’s statement in support of moving the state’s minimum wage from its existing $8.25 an hour level to $7.25 an hour. The position puts him at odds with the other three Republicans in the March 18 gubernatorial primary and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who wants to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour.

Pension deal benefits Gov. Quinn heading into election year


ANALYSIS: By Tuesday night, organized labor was shouting “pension theft,” while Republican candidates for governor either grumbled about the constitution or a raw deal for taxpayers. But once again, it was Gov. Pat Quinn who walked away smiling.

Quinn, legislators gear up for Tuesday’s ‘World War III’ pension vote


Gov. Pat Quinn Monday championed a landmark pension-reform deal and vouched for its constitutionality as he and legislative leaders frantically prepared for what the governor called “the most important fiscal vote” lawmakers will ever make.

Durbin says challenger Oberweis’ past will come back to haunt him


If Jim Oberweis wants to run for the U.S. Senate, he should be ready to deal with some long memories, says the longtime holder of the seat he’s after — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

Public pension and salary ‘double-dippers’ targeted in new bill


This summer, the Metra patronage scandal erupted after an allegation that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan tried getting the rail agency to give a raise to a campaign worker who held a state job. Tempers once again flared after the Sun-Times revealed that the raise request — which Madigan said he later withdrew — came even as that worker, Patrick Ward, was already drawing a pubic pension roughly equal to his $57,000 annual salary. A new bill in Springfield, however, would ban such practices. The new legislation dubbed: “Retirement Means Retirement Act” proposed by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, takes

Rauner’s $500,000 donation to lift fund-raising limits in gov race


The sky will soon be the limit for candidates raising cash to run for governor. Wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is putting $500,000 of his own money into his Republican campaign kitty.

Kirk says Illinois Republicans need to appeal to the middle to rise to the top


U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Monday said the only hope for a Republican taking control of the governor’s mansion in Illinois is to remain moderate on social issues. Kirk, the state’s ranking Republican, said he wouldn’t endorse in the four-way GOP primary for governor. But he offered some advice. “It’s pretty tough to win statewide as a Republican in Illinois. I would just urge, be a moderate on the social issues,” he said.

Hall reserved for same-sex marriage bill signing


SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn announced Thursday he plans to sign legislation allowing same-sex marriages on Nov. 20 at the UIC Forum, a venue that can hold as many as 3,000 people. Quinn’s office said the free event will be open to anyone who wants to attend but asked those planning to go to register at a website the administration established: www.Equality.Illinois.gov.

Emanuel’s gun sentence bill holstered in Springfield


SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s legislative offensive against lenient gun sentences stalled at the Capitol Thursday in the face of opposition from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and what the mayor derided as “political stunts” by a key bloc of black lawmakers. As the House and Senate concluded their scheduled fall session, other issues wound up on the legislative cutting-room floor, as well, as lawmakers failed to act on state pension reform and a series of corporate tax incentives sought by Archer Daniels Midland and other companies.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s pal accused of double-billing state


A personal friend of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White who also held a $75,000-a-year job in his office was at the center of an internal probe that allegedly found she was double-billing her time with the state. The investigation also concluded she had lied about her background — including having nine variations of her name in public records. The woman, Marlene Liss, left the office in September when a report by the office’s inspector general was finalized.

Same-sex marriage likely to remain issue in GOP governor’s race


The state Legislature may have resolved a hot-button social issue on Tuesday — but that doesn’t mean questions about same-sex marriage are off the table for four Republican candidates running for governor. It’s likely to re-emerge throughout the Republican gubernatorial primary — even as GOP contenders push to shift the focus to the state’s dismal finances.