Illinois

Et Tu, Santorum?

If Rick Santorum loses as handily in today’s Illinois primary as the polls predict, it will be interesting to see if he expands on his eye-opening new tack: going after Mitt Romney’s lucrative years at Bain Capital. Until this week, Santorum had stood out among Romney’s GOP challengers for refusing to hammer him on his business background, arguing that it was un-conservative for Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman to take up that attack.

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Last week Nate Silver wondered how much better Rick Santorum would be doing in the GOP primaries if Newt Gingrich had been on the sidelines the whole time. Using data from the polling firm PPP, Silver assumed Santorum would have received about 57 percent of Gingrich’s votes, Mitt Romney 27 percent, and Ron Paul 16. The punchline:  It would undoubtedly still help Mr. Santorum if Mr. Gingrich dropped out--especially if Mr. Gingrich endorsed Mr. Santorum and asked his delegates to vote for him.

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Citizens Excited

Last year, Ronnie Manns was feeling down on his luck. His two Rockford, Illinois-based transportation and financial services enterprises—Manns Logistics, Manufacturing & Distribution and R. Manns & Associates—had gone bottom up during the recession, and the political rancor on television had put him in a sour mood. But from his frustration was born an idea: He would start his own super PAC. “To be completely honest, to tell you exactly what I was thinking would be a lie, because I honestly can’t remember,” Manns told me over the phone.

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[Guest post by Molly Redden] This election cycle, one congressional race is already a comforting reminder that when a lawmaker spends more time making splashy headlines than substantive policy, he sometimes actually pays for it. That lawmaker is Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois, a Tea Party incendiary with such legislation to his name as the “Save Christmas Act”, not to mention an unsavory habit of yelling at constituents, and his competition is—well, it’s actually not clear yet.

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Today, Rod Blagojevich, one of the many disgraced former governors of Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for eighteen felony corruption convictions, including an attempt to sell President Obama’s old Senate seat. It wasn’t the harshest penalty possible—he could have been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison—but it is nonetheless a shocking fall for the former two-term governor.

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Have any plans for this Saturday? The nearly 100,000 people who have pledged to take part in Bank Transfer Day certainly do: closing their bank accounts. The idea is to punish “Too Big to Fail” banks by instigating a mass exodus to smaller credit unions and community banks. Though not technically affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, it’s a practical expression of the anti-bank anger the movement has wrought. But if the executives at the country’s biggest banks have circled Bank Transfer Day on their calendars, it's probably not out of anxiety.

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With the political press' attention on New Hampshire focused on the Republican primary, there's been little made of today's announcement by Maggie Hassan, a former Democratic state senator, that she will run for governor next year to replace John Lynch, the popular two-term Democrat who has decided not to run for reelection. But the governor's race will undoubtedly have an impact on whether Obama is able to hold onto New Hampshire next fall.

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Crandall Who?

This evening, Rick Perry heads to Wheeling, W.V. for a private fundraising event hosted by Bob Murray, founder and CEO of Murray Energy. Does that name ring a bell? It should: Murray Energy was the lead partner in the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah where nine miners were killed in 2007, six in an initial collapse and three more who went in 10 days later on a rescue mission.

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Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis last week was a poignant reminder of the continued presence of capital punishment in the United States. The Davis execution generated extraordinary interest because of troubling doubts about his guilt. Some observers have already speculated that the Davis case might serve as the spark that could reignite the movement to abolish the death penalty. But lost in some of the attention that the execution has generated is the death penalty’s unmistakable and precipitous decline over the past decade.

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Whatever their differences, the leading Republican candidates all swear that they love states’ rights.

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