Regional Web banner January
Rich Miller

Rich Miller

Crime will be big issue this year

By Rich Miller

Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch marked his first anniversary as his chamber’s top leader with a series of news media interviews last week. One of the questions I asked was what his legislative district’s constituents were talking to him about the most.

“The number one issue in my district, and this is across the state, is crime,” Speaker Welch said.

Welch said he is telling people in his district that he’s working on legislation to address carjacking, organized retail theft and other crime-related issues. He also said he’s talking to mayors and police chiefs in his suburban district about their ideas.

Welch said he wants to put money into the state budget. “I want to make sure our police are properly funded, properly trained, properly educated.”

RichMiller 1

Rich Miller

When told about Speaker Welch’s response, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said, in part, “Democrats must just be getting their polling in, showing how disastrous their ‘defund the police’ and anti-crime victim agenda has been with Illinois voters. Talk is nice, but actions are more important. Just last week the Democrats again passed a law that gives accused criminals more rights than victims. It is no surprise that the number one issue in Speaker Welch’s district is crime, because Democrats have created a consequence free Illinois that has emboldened criminals.”

I’m hearing from people in both parties that current poll results are extremely ominous for Democrats, particularly in the suburbs. Welch told me he’s “well aware of the political climate as we head into the election season.”

I mentioned that former House Speaker Michael Madigan was often criticized for living in 1994, when Democrats were swept out of office after a massive, racialized anti-crime backlash. But, in a somewhat bizarre twist, it was Madigan’s strong support for the Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform “pillar” as part of his last-minute attempt to hold onto power a year ago that resulted in the controversial bill’s passage. That bill has intensified the Democrats’ political woes.

“We’re going to be fine in 2022, but it’s not going to be given to us, we’ve got to do the work,” Welch said. “And there’s a lot of difference between 2022 and 1994. There’s a lot of ways to communicate to voters that exist now that didn’t exist in 1994.”

Also, the Republicans drew the legislative district map ahead of that 1994 national blow-out. Madigan’s Democrats managed to hold on to the majority during the 1992 race, but lost it two years later (and then regained it in 1996).

As far as Leader Durkin is concerned, Welch was completely dismissive. “Leader Durkin has proven that he can’t get past Speaker Madigan,” Welch said, adding that Durkin “is stuck in a partisan fight in his own mind, and so we’ve got to find other ways to work with members on his side of the aisle.”

Welch is disclosing that he has $12 million cash on hand in his caucus and personal campaign committee accounts. Madigan’s standard election cycle budget was $30 million, but Welch’s operation also focuses on helping members raise money for themselves, which is not something Madigan ever did. Even so, he has a long way to go.

“There was never a fundraising apparatus within the caucus’ political side,” Welch said. “We’re also helping our members with their political messaging…from a social media standpoint, we’re providing them with content. That’s never been done before.” He also claimed that his members “have had quite a successful year when it comes to fundraising.”

With petition circulation kicking off last week, I asked Welch what will happen if any of his House Democratic members attracts a primary opponent. Will he step in to help with money and people?

“I have told our caucus members that it is my plan in every sense of the word to protect incumbent members,” Welch said. “And we will do that.”

By the way, I also asked Senate President Don Harmon what people in his district are telling him.

“What I’m hearing most,” Harmon said, “is a longing for something that resembles ‘getting back to normal.’ It is most often voiced in growing concerns about crime, schools and COVID.”

Normal seems so far away right now.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell had good news to report about crime in 2021 except for weapons arrests. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Many crimes down in Orland, but weapons arrests concerning

By Jeff Vorva Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell had mostly good news when revealing the village’s 2021 crime statistics. But one glaring area that has him bothered is the number of unlawful use of a weapon arrests that have been shooting up. Mitchell and Mayor Keith Pekau attribute it to felons from other towns…

election 2022

Former GOP allies to battle for county board race

Gorman wants to reclaim seat from Morrison By Bob Bong A battle royale is brewing in the race for the Republican nomination for Cook County Board’s 17th District. The 17th District is one of only two county board seats held by Republicans and it has only ever had a Republican commissioner dating back to Herb…

Mayor John Mahoney explains modifications to an ordinance regarding video gaming in Palos Park on Monday night. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park inches closer to gaming solution

By Jeff Vorva Signs are pointing to the fact there probably will be limited video gaming in Palos Park. Mayor John Mahoney and the village council rejiggered a few things with an ordinance and some of the village codes and the end result is that Monday they asked village attorneys to look into the changes…

Josh Barron has been named the new superintendent of District 218. (Photo supplied by District 218)

Barron ready to pitch in as new SD218 superintendent

By Jeff Vorva Tommy John surgery and an auto accident helped derail Josh Barron’s dreams of becoming a major league baseball player. So, he embarked on a different career path, teaching and coaching, and that evolved into his becoming a school administrator. He has worked his way up to the top spot as he was…

Chicago Police Department

Police reports

Shot in the head, killed on Archer A 33-year-old man was shot in the head and killed as he drove a vehicle in the 4200 block of South Archer at 5:13 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22. The victim was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:47 a.m. Police said he shooter…

GSWNH_TabaraesAndMinaDuarte_012822

Tabares backs West Lawn Branch Library

Twenty-third Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares (left) recently toured the renovated West Lawn Branch Library, 4020 W. 63rd St.,, with new branch manager Mina Duarte. Details about the renovation’s may be found in the West Lawn column in the January 28 Greater Southwest News-Herald. –Supplied photo

GSWNH_ChuyStarbucks_012822

Chuy backs Starbucks unionization

U.S. Rep Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th), white mask, recently stood with those who support unionization of Starbucks workers, outside a shop in the city. Workers are attempting to organize under the banner of Chicago and Midwest Joint Board, Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. –Supplied photo

Sophomore Danni Scully of Nazareth is triple-teamed by Marist in a 53-42 victory in LaGrange Park on Jan. 19. Photo by Jeff Vorva

‘Grizzled’ sophomores help Naz beat Marist

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Nazareth’s “grizzled veterans” have won 19 of their first 20 games. The Roadrunners’ were victorious in a big East Suburban Catholic Conference showdown with Marist, with two sophomores doing most of the damage in a 53-42 win in LaGrange Park on Jan. 19. Nazareth improved to 19-1, 4-0. The Roadrunners…

Sandburg’s boys bowling team is headed to state for the first time since 2017 after winning its own sectional on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Carl Sandburg

Postseason Sports Report: Area stars ready for state bowling and dancing

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The first two IHSA state tournaments for winter sports will take place this weekend, and an army of area athletes will be competing in both. The boys bowling and competitive dance championships will be held Friday and Saturday, with the bowlers heading to St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon and the…

Stagg coach Marty Strus gets ready to talk to his players during Friday night’s game against Andrew. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Strus tops former coach in Stagg’s win over Sandburg

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer Marty Strus has nothing but good things to say about his former high school coach, John Daniels. “He’s meant a ton to me,” Strus said of the coach he faced off against last week when his Stagg Chargers took on Sandburg. “He meant a lot to me as a player…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
USALiquidators WebAd
Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell had good news to report about crime in 2021 except for weapons arrests. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Many crimes down in Orland, but weapons arrests concerning

By Jeff Vorva Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell had mostly good news when revealing the village’s 2021 crime statistics. But one glaring area that has him bothered is the number of unlawful use of a weapon arrests that have been shooting up. Mitchell and Mayor Keith Pekau attribute it to felons from other towns…

election 2022

Former GOP allies to battle for county board race

Gorman wants to reclaim seat from Morrison By Bob Bong A battle royale is brewing in the race for the Republican nomination for Cook County Board’s 17th District. The 17th District is one of only two county board seats held by Republicans and it has only ever had a Republican commissioner dating back to Herb…

Mayor John Mahoney explains modifications to an ordinance regarding video gaming in Palos Park on Monday night. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park inches closer to gaming solution

By Jeff Vorva Signs are pointing to the fact there probably will be limited video gaming in Palos Park. Mayor John Mahoney and the village council rejiggered a few things with an ordinance and some of the village codes and the end result is that Monday they asked village attorneys to look into the changes…

Josh Barron has been named the new superintendent of District 218. (Photo supplied by District 218)

Barron ready to pitch in as new SD218 superintendent

By Jeff Vorva Tommy John surgery and an auto accident helped derail Josh Barron’s dreams of becoming a major league baseball player. So, he embarked on a different career path, teaching and coaching, and that evolved into his becoming a school administrator. He has worked his way up to the top spot as he was…

Chicago Police Department

Police reports

Shot in the head, killed on Archer A 33-year-old man was shot in the head and killed as he drove a vehicle in the 4200 block of South Archer at 5:13 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22. The victim was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:47 a.m. Police said he shooter…

GSWNH_TabaraesAndMinaDuarte_012822

Tabares backs West Lawn Branch Library

Twenty-third Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares (left) recently toured the renovated West Lawn Branch Library, 4020 W. 63rd St.,, with new branch manager Mina Duarte. Details about the renovation’s may be found in the West Lawn column in the January 28 Greater Southwest News-Herald. –Supplied photo

GSWNH_ChuyStarbucks_012822

Chuy backs Starbucks unionization

U.S. Rep Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th), white mask, recently stood with those who support unionization of Starbucks workers, outside a shop in the city. Workers are attempting to organize under the banner of Chicago and Midwest Joint Board, Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. –Supplied photo

Sophomore Danni Scully of Nazareth is triple-teamed by Marist in a 53-42 victory in LaGrange Park on Jan. 19. Photo by Jeff Vorva

‘Grizzled’ sophomores help Naz beat Marist

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Nazareth’s “grizzled veterans” have won 19 of their first 20 games. The Roadrunners’ were victorious in a big East Suburban Catholic Conference showdown with Marist, with two sophomores doing most of the damage in a 53-42 win in LaGrange Park on Jan. 19. Nazareth improved to 19-1, 4-0. The Roadrunners…

Sandburg’s boys bowling team is headed to state for the first time since 2017 after winning its own sectional on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Carl Sandburg

Postseason Sports Report: Area stars ready for state bowling and dancing

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The first two IHSA state tournaments for winter sports will take place this weekend, and an army of area athletes will be competing in both. The boys bowling and competitive dance championships will be held Friday and Saturday, with the bowlers heading to St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon and the…

Stagg coach Marty Strus gets ready to talk to his players during Friday night’s game against Andrew. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Strus tops former coach in Stagg’s win over Sandburg

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer Marty Strus has nothing but good things to say about his former high school coach, John Daniels. “He’s meant a ton to me,” Strus said of the coach he faced off against last week when his Stagg Chargers took on Sandburg. “He meant a lot to me as a player…

CRR NH Evergreen Window Door House Ad
CRR NH Midway Storage House Ad