updated 10 May 2012
Bill Foster (D)
campaign website: www.billfoster.com
I had a theory about why Bill Foster was running for Congress again, this time in the newly redistricted IL-11. It had to do with the fact that his terminal financial disclosure statement from his stint in IL-14 showed that he’s sold out of ETC (the company owned jointly with others, including his brother who ran the business) and his wealth at that time seemed to be locked up in a promissory note, in combination with the fact that his campaign essentially owed him a million dollars – i.e. he was a million in debt. To himself.
My theory was influenced as well by persistent rumors I heard at the time of Foster’s last campaign against Hultgren, that he was rather bored in Congress, would like to return to physics, etc, etc. Not rumors I had ever passed along as, so far as I could tell, they came from no one very close to him and seemed speculative at best. But I heard them frequently enough that I was surprised to hear he was interested enough in being in Congress to decide to run in IL-11. And then there is the lack of any staff as of his first new FEC filing of this campaign – not even a professional fundraiser.
So my theory was simple: Foster had decided to run to raise enough cash to pay himself back that million dollar loan to his campaign fund, and if he won, okay, but if he lost, well that would be okay too. Now I think that theory is simply wrong.
I went to vote this morning, signed the sheet, was asked to confirm the address I live at, which they read out to me from their computer, and was immediately told “Okay then, we just need to see a photo id.”
To which I responded “No you don’t.”
Much conversation, several phone calls, and even more problems ensued. The details are below.
In Red to Blue: Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Grassroots Politics, author Sanford Gottlieb tells the story of Chris Van Hollen’s successful grassroots campaign for Congress in 2002, and the lessons Van Hollen, and others, took away from that campaign in subsequent election cycles.
Van Hollen’s district
Van Hollen has brought this experience to bear in his subsequent work at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). And he was not the only one to go to school on that 2002 campaign. As Gottlieb puts it:
David Axelrod told Van Hollen in 2008 that he had learned some lessons from being on the other side of the 2002 primary. It was a really good grassroots campaign, Axelrod said, with the passion on Van Hollen’s side. Van Hollen carried the lessons learned in 2002 into the successful effort to build a House Democratic majority in 2006. Axelrod and David Plouffe may have applied those lessons in the 2008 50-state race for the White House. (Gottlieb, Red to Blue, 32)
Last week Van Hollen appeared with Gottlieb at a book event in Washington, DC and talked about his attempt to apply those lessons learned to his work with the DCCC. Van Hollen’s introductory remarks, plus the question and answer session that followed, are presented below.
So it’s been a long few days. My company lost it’s biggest contract – the one I was assigned to for the balance of this year – last Wednesday. They are a governmental entity who shall remain nameless and their budget was cut by their state legislature. Bad news at casa Downtowner. Happened just as I was about to get on a plane to visit my daughter, son-in-law and 9 month old grand-daughter in Phoenix. So I went.
By the time I got there, one of my grand-daughters back here in Illinois was sick with the flu, and two days into the trip, my Mom (who lives in Florida, but was here in Illinois visiting my brother) was hospitalized with a wide array of symptoms, ranging from a blood infection to problems with her heart. So I’ll admit I was stressed already, but then I got the phone call…
If you’ve been following the local press in IL-14, you know that Ethan Hastert is currently seeking the Repub nomination to fill his Daddy Denny’s former seat, currently held by Bill Foster, and you’d also be aware that this seat is high on the Repubs wish list for recapture in 2010.
If you’ve been following the local press for the last week, you’d be able to discern that, what with their “name” candidate, and their itch to take revenge for the lost of such a high profile seat, this area has become somewhat of a priority for targeting by the opponents of meaningful healthcare reform as well.
In a move that surprised me (because I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with his spokesperson Shannon O’Brien and have been unable to get a definitive answer) Bill Foster signalled his support for a strong public option, without triggers, when he signed a letter from 22 members of the New Democrat and Blue Dog coalitions to Nancy Pelosi last Wednesday.
A copy of the letter is posted here on Firedoglake.
While n0madic has been pondering the mystery of whether or not Foster will be running again in 2010, Foster has been busy brewing a mystery for me to ponder.
Foster has signed on as a co-sponsor of Barney Frank’s internet gambling bill.
I don’t claim to be very familiar with this issue, but I can’t help but be aware that at least two large employers in IL-14, the casinos in Elgin and Aurora, are potentially threatened by the legalization of internet gambling.
So, yes, all other potential ethical questions related to gambling addictions, etc, aside, I’m more than a little surprised that Foster would sign on as a co-sponsor.
I asked for a statement regarding his co-sponsorship, and Shannon O’Brien, his spokesperson, has replied tonight by e-mail with this:
No, we have not made a public statement on this subject.
So the mystery of why it seems like a good idea to Foster to put jobs in IL-14 in possible peril in these tough economic times abides.
UPDATE: 2,332 jobs to be exact
Someone at Foster’s office must have noticed this comment in n0madic’s post about Foster’s intent to run in ’10, because I received an e-mail from one of his senior staffers today informing me that his office in Dixon is indeed still staffed. Specifically, the staffer says:
We have two people working in Dixon (1 full timer and 1 part timer) who also staff Geneseo on Thursday. We will post our hours on the website. We actually work longer hours than most Congressional offices. We are here in Batavia from 8-6 M-F.
Thank you to Foster’s office for the clarification.