Vote for Lewandowski

Unopposed for 10 of his 14 years in office as the senator of the 34th District, Dave Syverson (R) is getting a run for his money, for a change. Recent figures from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform show he’s received $743,000 for his re-election effort, and challenger Dan Lewandowski (D) has received $519,275. That’s a total of $1,236,000 for the Rockford race, and more is coming in these last few days. More than apparently, Springfield and Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D-14) have answered his question, “Where’s Rockford?” He answered that question with $428,000 for Lewandowski’s campaign from his and party funds, plus two managers.

The Senate minority leader, Frank Watson (R-51), has answered that question, too, dumping at least $248,868 into Syverson’s campaign and a staffer to manage the campaign. Syverson is treasurer of the state Republican committee, and it has dumped at least $24,000 into Syverson’s coffers.

Syverson’s committee assignments are: Appropriations I (minority spokesperson); Senate Committee of the Whole; Appropriations II; Commerce & Economic Development, and Health & Human Services.

While more than 80 percent of Lewandowski’s funds have come from Democratic Party funds, about 65 percent of Syverson’s funds have come from individual, medical, insurance and developer special- interest groups.

Particularly large contributions have come from Nicolosi & Associates, $17,500. Other major money has come from medical groups and construction interests, which benefit from Syverson’s committee membership and his acquisition of school construction funds.

Syverson has never made his insurance business clients public. It has long been a public debate in Illinois as to whether members of the Illinois Legislature should be able to own businesses or hold employment other than the legislature because of potential conflicts of interest.

Despite Syverson’s acquisition of school and playground construction funds, his anti-Chicago campaign is self-defeating for his constituents. Lewandowski is right when he says, don’t anger the folks with the purse strings; work with them. The way Syverson and fellow Republicans in the Senate have held up Blago’s road plan has hurt us through lack of funding and has set Syverson as a target for Jones’ attempt to reach a super majority that can bypass Republican objections. In politics, if you don’t negotiate, you lose. Then again, that’s been the Republican philosophy from Korea, the Kyoto Agreement and Venezuela right down to Illinois—the Republican way or no highway.

What has hit the airways in commercials by Syverson is pretty sad, and shows he’s more than a little desperate. Using images and personnel from the Barbara Olson Center of Hope and the Rockford Park District is pretty sad. When these federal 501 (c)3 not-for-profits are involved in elections, if someone wants to press the issue, they can lose their charity status under the IRS codes, i.e., your contribution to them is not tax deductible. Then add in the ad that showed him with Harlem Township Supervisor and Winnebago County Board Democratic Candidate Doug Aurand in an American Cancer Society march.

Then add in all the other ads and promotional material that showed him next to State Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-67), IEPA Director and former Rockford Mayor Doug Scott (D), Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I), Rockford Ald. Jeff Holt (D-11) and Rockford Ald. Leonard Jacobson (D-6). Rationalizations aside, this trend shows Syverson is really grasping for some associative credibility.

Lewandowski has had problems with two ads. One was the “Broken promises” ad that took a stretch from materials Syverson ran on years ago and applied them to his fight with Blago, Jones and company. The other ad was filmed at Harlem Middle School, after school was out. Principal John Cusimano gave his permission, but he did not ask Superintendent Pat DeLuca for approval—that was not Lewandowski’s fault.

A low point in Syverson’s career was his instrumental role in nominating the right winger Alan Keyes as the Republicans’ U.S. Senate candidate in 2004, who was trounced by Barack Obama (D). Former U.N. Ambassador and television and radio talk show host from Maryland, Keyes divided the Republican Party and only received 27 percent of the vote. Syverson has tangled with Republican Judy Baar Topinka on Keyes and other issues.

As he unsuccessfully tried to enter as an actor on the national stage with Keyes, Syverson has been much more successful on the local and county level. His sway with Rockford Republican aldermen and City Legal Director Patrick Hayes is significant. He has also been the invisible hand behind Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R), and the Republican County Board Caucus through handyman John Sweeney. His influence on the county is undue. The combination of the state clout along with campaign fund distribution and soliciting has grown too extreme, and the behind-the-scenes games are out of the sightlines of public scrutiny.

Syverson’s powerbroker style across official separation of powers is wrong; Syverson needs to go.

Dan Lewandowski is a fresh face, but he has good instincts. He will be a member of the majority party and can bring home the road funds we so desperately need because of the failure of the city sales tax.

As a former attorney for Prairie State Legal Services, Lewandowski knows the plight of the little guy and gal who can’t afford to pay for justice under our legal system. He’s a people person. He’s come a long way since his loss to Doug Mark in the race for alderman of the Third Ward. Syverson’s repetition of the daily’s less-than-complimentary characterization of him is a cheap and personal attack. He’s acquired grace; and like all of us, he still has a way to go. He’s really a nice guy. He has skill and potential without the arrogance, which is refreshing.

He’s also been endorsed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Lewandowski is just the kind of new blood, enthusiasm and outlook we need. Cast an unjaded vote for Lewandowski.

The way the Republicans are piling in the money to Syverson ($45,000 just over last weekend), they’re obviously scared. Let’s give them some change; we can use it.

From the Nov. 1-7 issue.

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