Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey, Where'd He Go?

I didn't quit blogging if you are wondering. Just been busy and started posting on SoapBlox Chicago mostly. Once Jeff and the gang at SbC gave me front page status, I thought that rather than maintain a separate blog for myself and constantly cross-post, I would just blog on favorite Illinois blog.

SoapBlox Chicago is taking off and due to the wide variety of writers and the wonderful format of SoapBlox (just like Kos only without the Scoop) it's only a matter of time before SbC becomes THE blog for Illinois Democrats to read.

Come on over. The water's nice.

Friday, February 10, 2006

No Stopping Cegelis Supporters

I was out running some errands last night; had to get my wife a birthday present so she wouldn't feel neglected. No guilt there. As I was driving on my way to get said birthday present, I come to a four-way stop at a busy intersection. On one corner of the intersection I see a house with a bunch of signs for the Republican candidate for IL-06 in the yard. Two or three signs lined both sides of the property facing both ways along the intersection. "Oh brother, how many signs in their yard does one person need!" I though.

But as I drove through the intersection I notice the neighbor's yard. Standing tall, if not a bit beat up, was one big-ol' home-made Cegelis sign in the front yard. It was both humorous and inspiring. White board with letters in marker and electrical tape. There, all alone in its yard, stood this testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of the Cegelis campaign exemplified in this one anonymous supporter's front yard.

Inspired, I quickly pulled into the driveway of this Cegelis sign's owner. I have some signs, bumper stickers and rally signs in the trunk. I continue to admire the handiwork on the sign as I stroll past it and go up the porch steps to ring the door bell. After a pause, a very surprised looking middle aged man stands shocked in his doorway at the sight of a another middle-aged guy standing on his porch holding a bunch of Cegelis gear.

We make introductions and he proceeds to tell me that his Cegelis sign was stolen. Twice. So he got tired of not being able to show his support to his neighbors and just went and made his own sign. An inspiring and not so subtle protest to the signs in his neighbor's yard.

I invited him to Christine's Saturday event, gave him a bumper sticker for each of the three cars in his driveway, two rally signs for his windows that faced the street, and a couple of yard signs to replace the ones stolen. We shook hands, and I departed his porch, both of us grinning from ear to ear.

The people who swiped his signs succeeded in making this one Cegelis supporter and his family more devoted to the campaign. And thanks to his hand-made sign, a Cegelis supporter well stocked with Cegelis gear.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Lunch with Christine

Today, my friend who volunteers driving Christine was sick with the flu, so I was asked last minute to drive Christine to her first two events of the day. The first, a "Conversations with Christine" on healthcare in the morning, then a "Coffee with Christine" after lunch. I've written about the first event at Christine's blog. I've written about Coffees before. The part of the day where I learned more about who Christine Cegelis is as a Democrat however, was the conversation we had during our stop over between events for lunch.

After the first event we had a little time window for lunch. We stopped in at the Omega Restaurant on Irving Park Road in Schaumburg. Great food. Highly recommended. But enough of the food critique. The conversation we had focused on our views on how Democrats could regain control of Congress. I'm telling you out there reading this: Christine is for real. She gets it.

You'd think for most candidates, such a conversation would be about how getting them elected would be the first step. But refreshingly, the conversation almost never went to Christine's campaign, but instead focused on how the Democrats as a party could improve their batting average against Republicans.

We both noted how Republicans banded together, circled their wagons, stayed on message, and gave voters a clear idea of what they stood for. We of course didn't agree with where they stood, but their positions (whether true or pure fiction) were easy to remember and clear in the minds of voters. Republicans, as a group, stood for something.

Democrats on the other hand were less so. We were a 'big tent' party, which was a strength. But too often it seemed that big tent meant putting one's re-election first at the expense of the party. Christine was adamant that lockstep voting for Democrats wasn't what she would envision or endorse. But some sort of party identity was needed. It seemed often to us that once elected, the goal of getting re-elected trumped the long term goals for the party for some. Votes seemed to follow re-election posturing rather than party ideology and values, often undermining and confusing what Democrats valued or stood for.

To illustrate this, we discussed the Sensenbrenner immigration bill and how a bunch of Democrats, seeing that the bill would pass, voted for this terrible Republican pushed legislation for purely political reasons. There were even reports of Democrats pressuring Democrats to vote for the bill to aide their re-election bids. This is just so cynical and short sighted neither one of us could belive it. So now, when Democrats go to the Hispanic community, how are they going to prove they are the party that will represent them? How are Democrats going to hang this legislation around the necks of Republicans when, thanks to their votes, the bill can easily be spun as bi-partisan?

Who the Democrats are and what they stand for is completely undermined by votes like this. And it happens again and again, on CAFTA, the Bankruptcy bill, the Estate Tax, and on and on. Democrats in DC, so disconnected from their constituents, beholden to lobbyists and the money "donate" to fuel their re-election bids, lose sight of the larger picture of creating, reinforcing, and sustaining a Democratic brand.

When Democrats take a stand, stay unified, and stand up to Republicans, great things are possible as was the case with the defeat of Bush's planned gutting of Social Security. But sadly, both of us noted that such stands seem to rare these days.

I asked Christine how she thought she would react to the pressure to be re-elected when she becomes a Congresswoman. Again, she defaulted to her core values and her faith, and noted that she was in this race to make the world a better place for her sons and her neighbors. She was certain that what ever God had in store for her, it would work out the way it was suppose to, whether that be one term or twenty. Her confidence in fighting the good fight is always inspiring to me. But she also noted that when Democrats stood for Democratic core values, despite what the polls or conventional wisdom says, they tended to be re-elected. I noted that not standing for core Democratic values is what might cost first-term Congresswoman Melissa Bean her seat, regardless of how much money she had raised.

I'm obviously biased. But I'm also very excited about what I am seeing in Christine's candidacy. She wants to win for all the right reasons. She wants to win for us. She wants to win for the good of the country. She wants to win to help those who come after her.

Helping Christine win helps us all win, from the precinct level to the national level. She's one of us. Be a part of what is happening in my district. Get involved in her campaign today.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cegelis on Campaign Changes

Christine has a post up on her blog regarding changes in her staff this week:
This is how I feel about Pat Mogge. He was there at the beginning for me. He fought along side me, encouraged me, supported me, and as my campaign manager helped me build a campaign from the ground up. I will always view him fondly as I would one of my own sons.

But as the saying goes, nothing is constant but change, and Pat and I have decided together to part ways. His leaving the campaign is bittersweet for me, as I hate to see such a good friend who has been there and dedicated so much to my campaign, and to me personally, leave my side.

[...]

Now the campaign will be run by Kevin Spidel, who will be taking over formally this Friday. I'm excited at the array of skills and experience he brings to the campaign, and look forward to introducing you to him at upcoming campaign events...
[...]

These are exciting and encouraging times for my campaign. While I will miss Pat's steady guidance, I look forward to what Kevin's grassroots and field direction experience will bring to my campaign. I'm sure you'll hear from him here directly as he settles into his new role, and hope you will join with me in welcoming Kevin into the Cegelis family.

There's bio information on Kevin in the post as well. Very impressive stuff.

I will miss Pat too. He is a great guy who I've gotten to know better at recent campaign events. I'm sure he'll have a bright future in Illinois politics.