Welcome to the Home Stretch of Campaign Season

The early days of November bring many familiar occurrences to Illinoisans. We enjoy the days of the beautiful colors of Fall. We lament “what could have been” watching the baseball playoffs. We wonder if the Bears will ever be good again (there is more optimism now than previous years.) Also, the campaign season is winding down as candidates across Illinois make their final loud pitch for your vote. Hopefully there is excitement for the election. This may often be coupled with relief that the campaign season will be ending.  With the election being less than 10 days away, it will soon be safe to open your mailbox or watch tv without a barrage of ads warning of political extremism. Note – if you are in Chicago, you will see the cycle repeat itself in early Spring.

This year there are several issues pushing people to vote that don’t regularly vote in midterm elections. The top issues have been the economy, reproductive rights and public safety or the Safe-T Act. Some of the dialogue in campaigns focused on COVID-19 mitigation as well as concerns over threats to democracy.

Both candidates for Governor are making their final pitch to voters. Governor Pritzker has defended his first term in office by highlighting his fiscal management, legislative policy agenda and his responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also highlights his support for access to reproductive health. Pritzker continues to cast Bailey as a conservative extremist who criticizes the state but has no plan for how to solve any problems. Senator Bailey criticized Pritzker over issues including crime, especially in Chicago, and the impact the criminal justice legislations the Safe-T Act. He also criticizes the Governor on state spending and underperforming schools. Bailey said Pritzker was directly to blame for those problems. When engaged in face-to-face debate each candidate one accused the other of being bad for the future of Illinois and too extreme for the state. Neither offer many specifics on how to more the state forward. The campaigns are relying on paid media to get their messages across to the voters.

 Statewide Democrats Use Financial Edge to Their Advantage

“People with the most money do not always win, but people without money almost always lose to people with money,” said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Pritzker has held a large financial advantage. The latest quarterly campaign finance reports that showed Pritzker, spending $38.5 million over the previous three months compared to Bailey’s $1.6 million. Each campaign has been spending additional funding in the final weeks of the campaign.

Multiple polls show incumbent Governor Pritzker holding a lead near 10 points over challenger Sen. Bailey. This margin appears consistent with all of the statewide offices. The Democrats have had a massive spending advantage that has translated into a significant lead of 7 to 10 points in the polls for Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer and Comptroller.

For example, the Chicago Tribune reported that at the end of September, Secretary of State candidate Alexi Giannoulias still had nearly $2.6 million in his bankroll, boosted by Pritzker’s $1 million contribution. The Republican opponent, state Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington, had less than $249,000 in his campaign account at the end of September. In the state treasurer’s race, two-term incumbent Democrat Michael Frerichs of Champaign began October with $2.3 million in his campaign account. His GOP challenger, state Rep. Tom Demmer, of Dixon, ended the period with just under $461,000 on hand. The campaign cash since September has increased for all campaigns but Democrats maintain a significant advantage.

Insurer Fined for Violation of Mental Health Parity Act

The Illinois Department of Insurance (IDOI) announced a $1.25 million fine for Celtic Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, for violating the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The insurer was fined for allegedly failing to cover mental health and addiction at the same levels as other medical issues. The department alleges Celtic violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which is a federal law that requires health insurance plans to have equivalent levels of coverage for mental health and substance use disorders as they do for medical or surgical care. Illinois law expands on that federal law.

Specifically, the department says Celtic required prior authorization for all substance use disorder claims. Prior authorization is when a patient must get an insurance company’s approval for coverage of a treatment or medication before the patient can get it. It’s a requirement that many have criticized as creating barriers to care. The company also allegedly required prior authorization to get medications for ADHD, depression, drug overdose and the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms, among others, according to the department.

The department says that Celtic limited the quantities of anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, smoking cessation, schizophrenia, addiction treatment and HIV/AIDS medications that it would cover. The department also said Celtic violated the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act, which requires insurers to maintain an adequate network of providers. A provider network is a group of doctors and other health care workers who have contracted with an insurance company to provide care to its members.

Constitutional Amendment on the Ballot

Illinois voters are also being asked to decide on Amendment 1, the “Workers’ Rights amendment” being pushed by organized labor. It would amend the state constitution’s Bill of Rights to guarantee Illinois workers the right to organize, bargain collectively, and negotiate wages, hours and working conditions. The measure only goes into effect if it is approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question, or a majority of those voting in the election.

 Supreme Court Races Could Determine Control of State’s Highest Court

Two races for Illinois Supreme Court this year which will determine which party controls the Supreme Court. As Illinois’ highest court, the Supreme Court could potentially rule on cases related to abortion access or any other major issues like civil rights, gun regulations, voting laws, criminal justice reforms, legislative redistricting and more. The outcome of this election will have a long-term impact. Once judges win a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court, they often can stay for a long time. Illinois justices don’t have lifetime appointments like on the U.S. Supreme Court, but their terms last a decade. Once that decade is up, a justice doesn’t run against someone else, they run for retention.

Some Early Voting Trends

More Illinois women than men are voting ahead of the Nov. 8 elections, according to vote-by-mail ballots turned in to the State Board of Elections. The data shows 54 percent of women and 45 percent of men have voted. More women than men have also requested but not yet returned their ballots. Women have outnumbered men in recent elections, according to historical data from the Board of Elections. In the 2020 General Election, women outnumbered men by 15 percent. In the 2018 General Election it was by 14 percent.

In DuPage County, early voting turnout has nearly doubled from four years ago. That adds up to 8% turnout so far compared to 4.4% of ballots at the same date four years ago. The DuPage County Clerk’s Office believes this is largely due to the expansion of voting by mail.

AT&T to Pay $23 Million to Settle Corruption Probe

In what appears like déjà vu, AT&T entered into a delayed federal prosecution with the U.S. Attorney’s office related to a corruption probe including conspiracy and bribery. AT&T Illinois to pay $23 million to settle corruption probe related to bribing former politician. This is similar to an agreement reached with ComEd. AT&T faces charges stemming from an investigation that led to this year’s racketeering case against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. AT&T’s former president is accused of conspiring with former Illinois House Speaker Madigan and Madigan’s longtime friend Michael McClain in 2017 arranging payment of more than $22,000 to influence and reward Madigan’s efforts to advance legislation in Springfield.

 Different Kind of Beast Spotted in Springfield

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) detected a mountain lion on the west side of Springfield. The lion was being tracked through GPS installed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission last year as part of a research project. The lion has been caught and relocated to a sanctuary in Indiana. There only have been eight sightings of mountain lions in the state in the past 20 years. However, this is the second time this month that the animals have been documented in Illinois. The first animal was hit and killed by a motorist Oct. 16 on Interstate 88 near DeKalb.

Upcoming Dates

November 8, 2022                                       Election Day

November 15-17, 2022                                Veto Session

November 29-December 1, 2022               Veto Session