Much as I'd like to let go of last year's election, we're still sifting through the aftermath of it, even as we're less than two weeks out from the local election that follows it.
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a nonprofit group that has long championed meaningful changes in state government, released numbers earlier this month that showed a particularly crass election year, with the most contentious races in the state boiling down to pretty much one factor: How much money Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, Tom Cross, and Christine Radogno could funnel into the races.
Decatur didn't need to be told that, of course. The election between then-state Rep. Bob Flider and the Republican who defeated him, Adam Brown, pretty much conquered the airwaves and mailboxes out here. It didn't seem to matter all that much if accusations were baseless or ads were wrong. Both men criticized the other for taking a whole bunch of support from their respective legislative leader, all the while doing it themselves.
Now that the latest campaign reports are in, we see a curious result: Nearly two-thirds of Flider's funding came more or less straight from Mike Madigan or Democrat organizations, while nearly 85 percent of Brown's funding came from Tom Cross or Republican counterparts. Party leaders gave Brown and Flider $1.2 million in all, a substantial chunk of the $15.4 million the parties spent statewide on legislative candidates.
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Speaking Tuesday, Brown said he wants party leadership to have less sway in the electoral process, despite the fact it might have been one of the primary factors in his winning an election by a margin of only 599 votes as $675,328 of the $808,870 he raised came directly from Republicans. His campaign spent more than $50 on each of the 15,939 votes he got.
At the same time he said he would support spending caps being imposed on party leadership (currently there are none, just caps on everybody else), he also said accepting all that money was fair because Flider was already doing it.
"If my campaign opponent took money solely locally, I would do the same," Brown said. "I think that's the direction political campaign contributions should go. There should be less reliance on party leadership, but it should go both ways, for both parties."
If Brown and other representatives really believe in changing the process, they're going to have to do more than simply say they want the process to change, then use it to get elected again. Next year, Brown will have a chance to show voters he's serious.