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Happy Tuesday, Illinois. It’s 28 days until Election Day, and what might happen between now and then really feels like a season of “The West Wing.”


Illinois Democrats are licking their chops at a blowout Nov. 3. Some folks even wonder if Joe Biden will break a record in Illinois for votes cast for a president.

Maybe. President Donald Trump is expected to make a strong showing downstate.

According to the latest FiveThirtyEight data, Biden is up 17 points up in Illinois — 55.6 percent, to Trump’s 38.6 percent.

If that holds, it still wouldn’t beat the margin in the 2008 presidential election, when Barack Obama won 61.9 percent of the Illinois vote against John McCain. In 2012, Obama took 57.6 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 40.7.

And neither Obama, nor Hillary Clinton, who also counts Illinois as home, could beat the record set by Warren G. Harding in 1920. He captured 67.8 percent of the vote in Illinois. Clinton, btw, won Illinois with 55.2 percent of the vote four years ago.

“Biden should triumph here and they’ll probably call the election immediately after polls close in Illinois,” Christopher Mooney, professor of state politics at University of Illinois at Chicago, told Playbook. “That’s under normal circumstances. Given there are more mail-in ballots this year, that may not be the case.”

The bigger race to watch, adds Mooney, is the graduated income tax ballot measure. Both sides say their polling shows they have an edge, which suggests it’s going to be close. And that means it may not be decided on election night. Voters in Illinois aren’t used to waiting for results, Mooney said. But given how gummed up Washington is over stimulus aid for states, Illinoisans have plenty at stake.


The image of President Donald Trump ripping off his mask after leaving the hospital and returning to the White House was meant to be one of triumph — of the leader of the free world conquering Covid-19. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he tweeted.

The staged affair may have emboldened his base, but for others, it prompted outrage and concern that the president was sending the wrong message about the coronavirus. We should be afraid of it, they say. The word “gasping” was trending on Twitter because Trump appeared to be having a difficult time breathing, too.

“The president could use his diagnosis & new pre-existing condition to share public health guidance, defend health coverage, & save lives. We’ve already lost too many Americans to this deadly virus because of a failure of leadership,” Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted.

Our colleagues with D.C. Playbook put it this way: HOW CAN YOU SAY don’t let Covid “dominate” your life — as President DONALD TRUMP did in a video Monday night — when you’ve just left a hospital in which you were pumped with experimental medicine that almost no one can get, under the care of a team of world-class physicians in a hospital wing that’s for you and you alone?

Reports that there is no contact tracing being conducted for the Rose Garden event that’s potentially at the center of the GOP’s Covid-10 outbreak prompted Rep. Jan Schakowsky to respond: #Irresponsible. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy added: #reprehensible.

If you’ve lost count, use this guide to catch up on the 30 people in Trump’s circle who have so far disclosed contracting the disease: the latest, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

“What we are seeing play out is this culture of a group of people who flat out, for one reason or another, felt invincible to the virus,” Olivia Troye, a former White House coronavirus task force adviser to the vice president who now supports Joe Biden, told POLITICO.

All this, of course, comes in the final four weeks of the presidential campaign, so the question now is how will Trump spin Covid-19 to his advantage? His allies are already working on that.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]


In Englewood at 10:30 a.m. for the ribbon cutting of Hope Manor Village.


No official public events.

Where’s Toni

No official public events.


The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 14 additional confirmed deaths and 1,853 new cases of the coronavirus in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Sept. 28 through Oct. 4 is 3.4 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 4.3 percent.


Midwest keeps reopening as states reel from new virus cases: “Coronavirus infections are crowding hospitals across the Midwest ahead of an election that could see the region decide the presidency and control of the Senate. But the wave of new cases hasn’t stopped governors and state legislators from pressing on with reopening plans. Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states are loosening restrictions or weighing changes, just as they experience new spikes and as colder weather pushes people indoors — a convergence that could deliver a repeat of the summer’s deadliest months,” POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein and Dan Goldberg.

As debate rages over reopening schools, some teachers embrace a return to the classroom: “We have some teachers [for which] technology isn’t a problem, and we have some teachers that are really struggling,” said Lemont High School English teacher Angie Duensing, who has been teaching for 22 years. “I feel like I’m one of those ‘I got this’ teachers. You gotta make the best of it. You got to do what you got to do for the kids.” WBEZ’s Susie An reports

More Americans blame the U.S. government than other countries or WHO for the Covid crisis: “A majority of Americans want the country to take a major role in developing a vaccine, but Democrats and Republicans are divided about sharing the vaccine globally,” by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Nearly a third of Covid patients in study had altered mental state: “The hospitalized patients showed signs of deteriorating neurological function, ranging from confusion to coma-like unresponsiveness, new research indicates,” via the New York Times.

St. Viator High School moves to all-remote after ‘several’ positive Covid-19 cases over weekend, by Pioneer Press’ Graydon Megan


Plexiglass to separate Harris and Pence at VP debate: “Pence’s campaign opposed the move,” by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt and Christopher Cadelago.

Lawsuit filed over graduated income tax ballot measure: “The libertarian-leaning Illinois Policy Institute on Monday filed suit in an effort to derail Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature policy proposal — changing Illinois’ constitution to allow for a graduated income tax — by forcing the state to issue ‘corrective notices’ about the intent of the tax change, or declaring the vote on the amendment ‘void,’” reports Hannah Meisel for NPR.

Harmon has quietly been building his fundraising machine: “In December 2019, before he assumed the office of Senate President, Senator Harmon took advantage of the self-funding provision in Illinois’ election code by loaning his campaign committee $100,001 to allow it to take in unlimited contributions from donors,” reports Reform Illinois.

Madigan uses his war chest to roll the dice on Chicago TV:An unprecedented number of Democratic House candidates are running ads on broadcast channels thanks to the embattled speaker,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

— Debate: Londrigan, Davis clash over health care, reports One Illinois’ Ted Cox.

Democratic Rep. Sean Casten is out with a new spot in the IL-06 race that hits Republican Jeanne Ives for following Trump and ignoring the advice of health care experts on how to beat Covid-19.

In IL-17, Republican Esther Joy King hits Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos in her new ad as being beholden to Nancy Pelosi. The spot is also running in a coordinated buy with the National Republican Congressional Committee.

House District 71: McCombie and Padilla face off again: “If the match up for Illinois House District 71 seems familiar, it’s because it is. Incumbent state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, is again being challenged by Dixon resident Joan Padilla.

Uber to help voters get to the polls: Uber is announcing efforts to help move Illinoisans to the polls for the upcoming November election, following a commitment the company made in September to help register residents to vote. The company’s app will allow users to find their polling locations while also getting 50 percent discounted on roundtrip rides to and from the polls, via WIFR.


Chicago has spent at least $222M in overtime so far in 2020, already over budget for the year: It’s “a budget-busting figure as the city faces historic shortfalls. To put that into perspective, Lightfoot budgeted roughly $180 million in 2020 overtime costs for all city departments, records show,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Alice Yin.

Lightfoot delays budget address until Oct. 21, giving Congress more time to help: “The mayor’s budget address had been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 14. The delay gives House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin time to find middle ground on a new pandemic aid package,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

City issues mea culpa over General Iron, says public should have been told before car shredder given permit: “Ald. Garza says Chicago ‘dropped the ball’ after the company’s relocation from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side moved forward,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.

Labor ruling could complicate Chicago’s fall school reopening timeline: “An arbitrator for the state labor board, Jeanne Charles, sided with the union in a case about whether school clerks had to return to school buildings amid the coronavirus pandemic and said the district should err on the side of providing an opportunity for remote work,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.

Ex-inmate sends thank you to judge, touts clothing line whose name is said to refer to Gangster Disciples: “Johnny ‘Crusher’ Jackson told a judge in a letter he’s made the most of his release. Jackson said he’s running several ventures, including a clothing line called Gentlemen of Distinguished Nature, whose abbreviation G.D.N. stands for Gangster Disciples Nation, officials say,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.

Questions remain after firefighter struck, killed wife with SUV in what was ruled an accident: “The dots do not connect correctly” in how the case was handled, a source tells CBS/2’s Dana Kozlov.

Chicago’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House to permanently close, and Covid-19 is to blame, by Crain’s Ally Marotti


Madigan under fire from a new direction: “The political woes facing Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan expanded to a new front today with the disclosure of a gripe from the board president of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund that his board was asked to hire lobbyists close to the speaker. The extraordinary public complaint by CTPF board President Jeffrey Blackwell was part of a wider statement in which he said his agency is afflicted with ‘a culture of intimidation, intentional misinformation, discrimination, slander, misogyny, fear-mongering, blatant racism, sexism and retaliatory actions,’ among other things,” writes Crain’s Greg Hinz. Republicans, meanwhile, pounced on the comments.

… Republicans call Blackwell’s statement “a bombshell.” In their own statement, the Illinois GOP said: “J.B. Pritzker has a big problem. He hasn’t taken a position on whether Democrats should subpoena Mike Madigan to testify before a House probe investigating his corruption. He hasn’t called on Democrats to vote to issue that subpoena. He’s hoping this will all go away … The question for Pritzker: a smart politician would be running away at light speed and calling for Madigan to resign. What does Madigan have over Pritzker that the governor can’t even call for a subpoena?”


State gambling revenues plummet during pandemic: Report notes “that casinos suffered the biggest declines, with adjusted gross receipts falling by 30 percent, or more than $400 million, compared to the previous year. That included a $119 million drop in receipts at the state’s largest casino, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, but all other casinos reported significant declines as well,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

Illinois recreational marijuana sales hit record of nearly $68M in September: “The new sales record, reported Monday by the state, tops August sales by nearly $4 million. It includes more than 1.4 million items sold, also a record since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana sales in January,” by Tribune’s Robert Channick.


— NEW LAWSUIT over cannabis dispensary lottery, by POLITICO’s Paul Demko: Three companies that received perfect scores on their Illinois licensing applications are suing the governor and other state officials, arguing that they are breaking the law by delaying the awarding of 75 dispensary licenses for the state’s fledgling recreational marijuana program. The companies — SB IL, Vertical Management and GRI Holdings — are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to issue an order forcing the state to move forward with the licensing process. Read the lawsuit.

… Some background: Last month, the state announced that 21 out of more than 900 applicants had received perfect scores and would be eligible for a lottery to dispense the licenses. The three companies who sued are among those 21 who earned perfect scores. Two Black-owned companies that were rebuffed filed a separate lawsuit arguing that the licensing process was flawed and that the successful applicants were “politically connected insiders.”

… In response, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state would reopen the process and allow applicants that didn’t get a perfect score a chance to amend their applications. The latest lawsuit says that’s not fair to those who won outright.

Former top cop Terry Hillard quits pot shop applicant group: “Hillard’s departure comes less than a month after his partner was outed as an employee of KPMG, the global accounting firm given a $4.2 million no-bid contract to grade the dispensary applications,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.


Broadcast TV is ready for a Latino family. Chicago native Justina Machado is here to prove it: Machado’s “One Day at a Time” sitcom begins a three-week run on CBS starting Oct.12. It’s in the Monday time slot immediately following ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” She stars in that, too, via the Los Angeles Times.


The murky legal concept that could swing the election, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein.

Working for Trump: Tweet-firings, subpoenas and now coronavirus, by POLITICO’s Nancy Cook and Meridith McGraw

The world’s hottest spy target: Trump’s health, by POLITICO’s Lara Seligman and Natasha Bertrand

— Big names congratulate Dr. Anthony Fauci for winning the government employee of the year award. See the VIDEO


Citing fears about I.V.F., Duckworth urges Senate not to confirm Judge Barrett: “Duckworth’s two daughters were conceived using in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F., and her youngest became the first infant to appear on the Senate floor in 2018… Judge Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, signed a newspaper ad in 2006 that was placed by an anti-abortion group in Indiana called St. Joseph County Right to Life. The group has made statements opposing in vitro fertilization, a process that often involves discarding fertilized embryos,” via the New York Times.


Roy Pratt, 8-term Gary council member, dead at 82: “Pratt, a Democrat, was remembered as a consummate statesman who fought vigorously for what he believed,” by Carrie Napoleon for the Post-Tribune.


Wednesday through Friday: The Shriver Center on Poverty Law is holding a three-day fundraiser that also focuses on racial and economic justice. The event will feature artists, activists, advocates, and others working for racial justice, “with a focus on the importance of reshaping laws and policies to bring systemic change.” Details here

Thursday afternoon: First lady of Illinois M.K. Pritzker headlines a women’s Small Business panel. Subject: “Empowering Her with Resources During Covid-19.” Some other speakers: Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Director Erin Guthrie, World Business Chicago CEO Andy Zopp, and Groupon CFO Melissa Thomas. The event kicks off National Women’s Business Month. Details here

Thursday evening: Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and other city leaders will hold a virtual discussion with residents about diversity and inclusion. Details here


MONDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to retired UCC Clergy Randall Doubet-King and attorney David Melton for correctly answering (simultaneously!) that Abner Mikva is the only Illinois politician to have served in all three branches of the federal government (legislative, executive, and judicial) and to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

TODAY’S QUESTION: Who are the first two members of the Illinois General Assembly to marry? (h/t Michael Cabonargi). I’ll take the first correct answer. Send to [email protected].


State Sen. Michael Hastings, and Dem comms specialist Tracy Sefl.



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