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The Top Candidates To Replace Jesse Jackson Jr. - Plus A Lawyer Named Ernest B. Fenton - Held A Debate

Notes from my couch while watching the debate at Rich Central High School on Wednesday night. (You can replay it yourself here.) Participating: Robin Kelly, Toi Hutchinson, Debbie Halvorson, Anthony Beale and Ernest B. Fenton.

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Wouldn't it be easier if the white candidate dropped out?

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Beale goes all in on Peotone - and Walmart.

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Fenton: Being an attorney and military man makes him ethical because he's learned to follow rules.

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Halvorson: "When you know what you stand for, it's easy."

Really?

"Halvorson denies her campaign website ducks the issue of guns, claiming her list of issue positions didn't touch on that hot-button subject because her ideas are still in formation . . . Halvorson claims her views have evolved since she was in Congress."

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Beale on ethics: "I have a 14-year spotless record."

Really?

See item No. 7.

And then read about the greasy glide path of Chicago alderman's daughter.

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Halvorson: Local community banks are the good guys, not like the big bad banks. Local banks need flexibility. Would reinstate Glass-Steagall.

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Fenton: Knowledgeable about HAMP through his foreclosure work as a lawyer. Rips Beale for holding up Altgeld Gardens as a success story when he just sees a ghost town. Rips Halvorson on the idea of foreclosed residents renting those homes back because banks want them to be vacant so they can re-sell them. Prone to uncomfortably bad jokes.

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Hutchinson: Against NLCB for relying too much on standardized testing, but for Race to the Top.

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Beale: Convoluted answer on education.

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Fenton: Harvard Law. Also plugs his Social Justice hour and Gospel Truth shows on WVON.

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Kelly: School funding will never be fair so she favors partnerships with businesses that adopt schools and/or work with schools to make sure students are being trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

So she's given up on fighting for equitable school funding?

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Halvorson on education: We haven't talked enough about our veterans.

Translation: We haven't pandered to our veterans yet.

Wants to put vo-tech back in high schools.

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Beale: When Clinton was in office, the city got $300 million in community development block grants. In the Bush era, that's down to $70 million.

I told y'all it's still the Bush era!

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Fenton: If we can fund a 10-year war in Afghanistan, we can fund early childhood education.

Right on!

Free college education.

Right on!

My policy? Simple, young lady. Books for everyone.

Um, yeah. That young lady you just condescended to is WGN-TV's Gaynor Hall. But we'll be expecting that Books For Everyone Act on your first day in Congress.

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Kelly: No matter what we do, comunities that have and communites that have not . . .

Wow, she's just kind of given up on inequality . . .

Suggests paying teachers more to work in distressed communities instead of places like New Trier.

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Beale: Says the Peotone airport has failed to get built because no one has brought the three counties (Cook, Will, Kankakee) together. Slap at Junior?

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Fenton: I have a payroll, Alderman Beale, of a half a millon dollars today.

Fenton attacking Beale all night.

"Congressmen don't create jobs. aldermen don't create jobs. We create opportunities for the real job-makers to create jobs."

Says he doesn't know much about the other candidates at the debate; hasn't checked their backgrounds. But he sure knows a lot about himself.

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Beale: Passed the city's gun ordinance of 2010 when he was chairman of the police committee. "I didn't take a pledge to stop gun violence, I put in an ordinance to stop gun violence."

D'oh!

Plus:

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Fenton: Lawmakers don't stop guns, they create opportunities for the gun-stoppers to stop guns.

Or so I very badly wanted him to say.

Fenton: Crime is not an issue of guns; this is a cultural war, a moral war, a spiritual war. Mentions for the second time that he was a problem child. Says this is an issue about young men of color.

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Kelly: Leads with child abuse and domestic abuse, but as important as those are, they aren't the kind of violence we're discussing here. Moves on to straw purchase legislation she passed in the General Assembly.

"Kelly's very first bill as a Illinois state legislator in the House criminalized the straw purchase of firearms. In the Illinois Senate, one of the bill's co-sponsors was a bright, up-and-coming state senator, Barack Obama. The bill passed the Illinois House 112 to 4 and became effective on Aug. 7, 2003."

If gun control is going to cut in this race, it's going to cut in Kelly's favor. Not even close.

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Halvorson: Violence prevention needs common sense, comprehensive approach. Universal backround checks, more penalties for straw buyers. Need to go after the criminals. Brings up Bloomberg commercial.

Says the problem is mental illness; state cut $187 million out of mental health services, the city closed down half its mental health clinics. Less than 2 percent of murders in Cook County are committed with assault weapons.

Also: "I'm a victim of domestic abuse. Most killings are done by spouses who harm their wives."

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Toi: Hadiya Pendleton the same age as her daughter. Shared same interests like dancing.

Hutchinson is a fairly strong speaker. Halvorson comes off a little buggy and incoherent. Kelly is more business-like. Fenton is charismatic, but off-putting in a salesman-y, preacher, motivational speaker kind of way. Beale isn't a total dummy, but he doesn't appear to have great campaign skills and doesn't seem to understand he's running for Congress, not the state legislature.

Clearly this is between Kelly and Hutchinson. The differences between them? Plenty. Kelly is the anti-NRA candidate; Hutchinson is NRA-endorsed (and was once Halvorson's chief of staff.) Kelly is more progressive; Hutchinson sponsored the bill to give tax breaks to Sears and the CME. Kelly, however, is tainted by working as chief of staff to Alexi Giannoulias in the state treasurer's office. I can finally see Hutchinson's appeal in terms of her speaking skills and ability to connect, but those are theatrical skills; what matters are the issues, as boring as it is to keep insisting. Kelly seems a bit brainier; Hutchinson more emotive.

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Beale: Talk of new gun legislation has led to lines outside the doors of gun dealers. Says there's a reason for that. And?

"Assault weapons to harm us. We cannot sugarcoat this issue."

Um, is sugarcoating a problem right now?

Wants the president and the Congress to look at Beale's ordinance of 2010.

I take what I said back; Beale is a dummy. Are you kidding me? Besides, it was Daley's ordinance, dude. And then you lost your chairmanship.

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Fenton: Gun violence in my family. Can't have a temporary conversation about change instead of transformation to change lives. Sweden per capita has more guns than U.S. but fewer murders.

(The per capita part is actually not true.)

Wants to make guns like Siberian white tigers. You can purchase them, but you just can't take them home! I am Ernest B. Fenton! Drops mic. Really.

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Hutchinson: We're in a moment in time. The country is evolving.

And so are you and Debbie!.

I listened to Gabby Giffords' husband talk at the hearing today . . .

Hutchinson was the only one to mention Hidaya Pendleton and Gabby Giffords..

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It just occurred to me: Where's Mel Reynolds?

Most recent sighting.

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Fenton clearly loves to hear himself talk.

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Kelly: Says she's a change agent and a unifier. Grew up middle-class, parents ran a mom-and-pop grocery store, but "life happens." Got divorced, was so poor kid(s?) had to eat Cheerio's for dinner.

Has D.C. relationships, which Halvorson has been boasting of ("nobody has those relationships"); knows the president. Wants to be an ally but not a rubber stamp.

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I'll say this: They're not Junior!

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Halvorson: Husband from Harvey. Was first female state senate majority leader (name checks Emil Jones). In 2008, Obama and Durbin suggested she run for Congress. Explains - too defensively - how she lost her congressional seat to redistricting and the Tea Party. But she believes that God has a plan. Says she will never vote to raise the retirement age or cut Social Security. Brought a veterans' home to Joliet, creating 7,00 jobs. (True?)

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Hutchinson: I don't lead with I'm a senator. I lead with I'm PJ, Ryan and Cameron's mom.

Not entirely sure on the names. But as if.

If you have veterans' benefits (again with the veterans) but you don't have a facility nearby it's like not having benefits at all.

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Beale: How many Christians do we have in the house?

Uh-oh.

Because the bible says he who is last shall be first. See, he's the last to speak.

Says he didn't not grow up in anybody's organization and was not grown in anybody's political family. I dunno, my understanding has always been that Beale is a creature of Junior but they had a falling out when Beale decided he had gotten there on his own, though Jackson might have been trying to control him too much.

Former chairman of police and historic landmarks committees, and current chairman of transportation committee.

"I believe that being an alderman is a training ground for congressmen." Cites Gutierrez, Rush and Davis.

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+1.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 31, 2013


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