It’s déjà vu all over again for Jim Oberweis and Sue Rezin, the Illinois Senate colleagues squaring off in the 14th Congressional District Republican primary. In September Oberweis released a poll showing 56 percent of likely GOP primary voters would back him while only 8 percent support Rezin, who doesn’t live in the 14th but has represented this part of Illinois for a decade.
Last week, Oberweis’ campaign put out new numbers showing his support among likely primary voters was down to 46 percent, although the small sample size of 300 voters carries a margin of error of 5.6 percent. Nearly all his loss seems to have gone to Rezin, who stayed firm in second place but is up to 16 percent.
Rezin also seems to be the favorite of 16th District U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, whose campaign gave her $4,000 in September and as of Dec. 31 hadn’t donated to other 14th District candidates, though it has allotted $2,000 to 13th District U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis as well as Jeanne Ives, the former state representative and challenger to then-Gov. Bruce Rauner in the 2018 primary who now is looking to unseat Sixth District freshman Democratic Rep. Sean Casten.
The campaign also gave $2,000 to incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, of Ohio’s First District. Chabot is unopposed in the Republican primary but will have a November challenger. He sits with Kinzinger on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Other out-of-state recipients of $2,000 include Randy Feenstra, an Iowan challenging Fourth District incumbent Steve King — who famously asked a New York Times reporter how terms like white nationalist and white supremacists became offensive — and Jason Church, a Republican running in a special election for Wisconsin’s Seventh District. That race is needed to fill a vacancy from the September resignation of Sean Duffy, who served nearly a decade in Congress but also is well known for his time as a cast member on “The Real World: Boston” in 1997.
For slightly smaller stakes, Kinzinger’s campaign made $500 donations to the mayoral campaign of Morris resident Chris Brown and Grundy County Circuit Clerk Corri Trotter.
MARIJUANA MATH … On New Year’s Day, recreational marijuana dispensaries across the state reported total sales exceeding $3.1 million. That set a pace of $96.1 million over the first 31 days of 2020 and $1.13 billion for the entire year. Obviously those figures weren’t attainable, but when January ended with sales approaching $40 million, backers of legalization as a cash boon had to be happy with easily clearing $1 million per day and hopes of exceeding $470 million for the year.
Those numbers are especially optimistic given widespread reports of demand exceeding supply after a booming first week, resulting in reduced retail hours at many outlets and questions about when market forces will finally balance. State reports on resulting tax revenue are anxiously awaited, but in the meantime anecdotal evidence about how dispensaries are boosting business at neighboring stores is encouraging. Pot has a long way to go to catch up to alcohol as a revenue generator — the Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois organization said its members would collect nearly $1.7 billion in state tax revenue in 2019 — but from a pure dollars standpoint this new approach is making sense for Illinois.
ON THIS DAY … Last week’s piece urged Gov. JB Pritzker to firmly and publicly affirm his commitment to a nonpartisan process for drawing political maps using data from the 2020 Census. It was a timely point given Pritzker could easily have made such a pledge in a State of the State speech that focused heavily on government ethics, but it also could’ve waited a week to coincide with today’s 208th anniversary of Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry’s signature on a controversial set of legislative district maps, a decision that added the word gerrymandering to the American lexicon.
The portmanteau — a mashing of the politician’s name with the word salamander — became popular thanks to a March 26, 1812, Boston Gazette satirical essay and accompanying illustration depicting an Essex County state senate district in the image of a dragon-like creature. Many close to Gerry said he actually opposed the partisan maps, but the term stuck to the governor and contributed to a losing re-election bid shortly thereafter. Yet it didn’t hamper his vice presidential bid later that year on the James Madison ticket. Gerry, the fifth U.S. vice president and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, died in office on Nov. 23, 1814, at age 70.
SCOTT T. HOLLAND is a former associate editor of The Times who continues to contribute his column plus help with editing and writing. He can be reached at email@example.com, facebook.com/salmagundi or twitter.com/sth749.