Tom Kacich: Republicans showing support for Marlin

Tom Kacich: Republicans showing support for Marlin

There's evidence of Republicans already crossing over to vote in Urbana's Democratic mayoral primary election, according to Champaign County Recorder Mark Shelden, an elections numbers cruncher who formerly was the county clerk.

And that's a likely sign of trouble for Mayor Laurel Prussing.

Shelden said he reviewed the names of about 240 people who have voted early in the three-way Feb. 28 mayoral primary and found that about 25 percent of them were people who had voted in the Republican primary election last March.

Another quarter hadn't voted in either party primary last spring, and the remainder had voted as Democrats.

Shelden said he reviewed the list Thursday night, when there was a total of 239 ballots cast. By noon Friday, according to County Clerk Gordy Hulten, the number of votes cast had risen to 251.

"Having that many Republicans versus Democrats showing up in the Democratic primary is a pretty big number, that would be a pretty big outlier. I don't think that would be typical," Shelden said.

Esther Patt, who is chairing Prussing's campaign, has acknowledged concerns about Republicans crossing over because there is no GOP mayoral primary.

"What I'm telling Democrats is that if you're a Democrat, you'd better be voting in the Democratic primary because the Republicans are," Patt said.

Diane Marlin, who is believed to be the beneficiary of the GOP votes, said she's "not actively seeking them, no, but the fact of the matter is that this is a local election, and people vote for the person rather than the party."

Shelden said "there's no question" Republicans are taking a Democratic ballot to vote for Marlin.

The contest between Prussing, Marlin and Evelyn Burnett Underwood is the only race on the Feb. 28 ballot in Urbana.

"I've certainly heard lots of people talking about it, but it doesn't surprise me. We had this 12 years ago, too," he said. "There were certainly a lot of Republicans who voted in the (Tod) Satterthwaite-Prussing primary 12 years ago, but I think the number of Republicans expressing that they're going to vote I think is a lot higher than it was 12 years ago.

"Every Republican who I've heard talking about voting and participating in this primary is voting for Marlin."

Shelden said he is "watching from my couch" and is "not one of them casting a Republican primary ballot this year."

U.S. attorney opening

Jim Lewis, the former U.S. attorney for the Central District of Illinois, including Champaign-Urbana, stepped down in December.

That means there's an opening for a pretty prestigious job, headquartered in Springfield.

If you're interested, get your applications and resumes in to and to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

It helps to be a Republican.

Normally U.S. senators get to recommend U.S. attorney candidates to the president, but because both Illinois senators are Democrats and the POTUS is a Republican, things are different in Illinois this year.

Shimkus, because he is the most senior of the state's Republican congressmen, will have a part in recommending the three new U.S. attorneys in Illinois.

"He will have a role. We're still not clear on how the process will go, but we are accepting resumes, applications, everything," said Shimkus spokesman Jordan Haverly. "So anyone who wants to be considered should contact us."

Once Attorney General Jeff Sessions establishes the nomination process, Haverly said, "we'll find out exactly how this process of representatives making a recommendation to them for appointment works. For now, we're in the process of just collecting information from those who are interested."

Haverly said there already have been some applicants for the top prosecutor position in Springfield.

He stressed that Illinois' two senators still will have a role in the selection, particularly Sen. Dick Durbin, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Senators, in what is now a 100-year-old tradition, can "blue slip" a nominee: literally a blue slip of paper sent to the Judiciary Committee with a senator's favorable or unfavorable opinion about a nominee. The committee will take the opinion into consideration, said committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

"We'll be working collaboratively with the senators. We don't anticipate there will be any problems," Haverly said.

Hulten on immigration investigation

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said he was contacted during the last week in January by FBI agents investigating Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, the 33-year-old Mexican citizen who has been charged with a number of federal charges including "voting in an election by an illegal alien."

Hulten posted on Twitter that he was "(p)roud to have provided records to contribute to this prosecution."

"They came by the office last week and they were looking for voter registration records and voting history records for this person. We searched them and found them and turned them over," Hulten said Friday.

He said it was the first time in his six years as clerk that he had been contacted by federal agents about illegal voting.

"I've had conversations with the FBI before about procedures and just to keep an open dialogue. But in this case, they came to us and said we've got somebody with what we believe is a case of stolen identity, and it also appears he has voted using this stolen identity," Hulten said.

The main parts of the case against Valencia-Sandoval are related to him making a false statement in applying for a passport and aggravated identity theft. Those are related to his use of the birth certificate — for which he paid $50,000 in 2005 — of a Texas man whose identity he allegedly assumed.

But four voting-related charges also were filed against Valencia-Sandoval, who has lived in Urbana for several years.

"I don't know that I'm in a position to draw any conclusions, but my understanding of how federal prosecutions work is that they will charge you with everything they can charge you with," he said.

Republican meeting

Republican precinct committeemen in County Board District 1 (generally the northwestern quadrant of the county) will meet at 4 p.m. today to select a replacement for Gary Maxwell, the Mahomet Republican who resigned from the Champaign County Board last month. The meeting will be at the Hensley Township Building, 301 W. Hensley Road, Champaign.

UI birthday resolution

The Illinois House Higher Education Committee last week OK'd a resolution declaring Feb. 28 as "University of Illinois Day" in the state.

That date is close to the 149th anniversary of the day the UI opened for business — March 2, 1868 — in tiny Urbana.

House Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, urges Illinoisans "to celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the leading institution of higher learning in the state."

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

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Skepticity wrote on February 12, 2017 at 11:02 am

Many voters are independents or moderates and switch parties in primaries (as allowed by Illinois law) to vote where they believe that their vote will have the best effect in framing the contest for the regular election.

For decades I have at times voted in Democratic primaries and at time in Republican primaries in order to attempt to influence the contests toward having reasonable candidates in the regular elections.

If someone chooses to vote in the Democratic Party primary now, but voted to oppose Trump in the Republican primary last year, no one should assume that they are a Republican crossing over.

They are just concerned citizens.

Homeboy wrote on February 12, 2017 at 11:02 am

Republicans crossing over and voting against the current mayor in the primary? That must be Carles fault.

Gordon wrote on February 12, 2017 at 11:02 am

I did not think you  could legally vote in Democratic Party primary this spring if you voted in GOP primary last March, in fact if you vote in either primary this year you can't change next year. (10ILCS5/7-45)

wayward wrote on February 12, 2017 at 11:02 am

Looks like that particular statue only applies to an affidavit a voter has to sign if s/he is challenged: 

Marlin's also got a decent amount of support from Democrats who want change.

bb wrote on February 12, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Challenging a voter's desire to vote in the Democratic primary for Mayor just because they voted in the Republican primary last year would likely be considered voter suppression. There was a US Supreme Court case ruling Illinois' 23-month law UNCONSTITUTIONAL in 1973:

Skepticity wrote on February 13, 2017 at 10:02 am

Thank you for the link!

It appears that the section in question has been ruled unconstitutional because it unduly infringes upon freedom of association by locking a voter into a party for 23 months. 

It is interesting that the New York provision that you must register your affiliation 30 days prior to a primary is considered constitutional because the voter has the choice to do so or not, even though not registering will prevent changing affiliation just prior to the primary. 

Skepticity wrote on February 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Well, your citation does appear to be accurate, and if challenged, it appears I could not vote for a candidate in a party other than the one from last year without perjuring myself.

So if last year someone voted for a Socialist Worker Party, Green Party, Republican Party, or a Libertarian Party candidate in the primary they cannot have a voice in this year's Urbana mayoral primary? That would mean that to have any input in the local Urbana election process you must always choose being a Democrat.  Otherwise, no choice, since the chance of a Republican winning in this left leaning sanctuary city is negligible.

I wonder if every prospective Democratic Party vote will be challenged in order to stop crossover voting? That would be a mess.

The two party system as practiced under this law is flawed in that it appears to restrict a large number of voters from voting input in the political process prior to the general election. Because of this, those holding the more extreme views of either party will usually choose the ballot from which the greater number of voters must choose in the general election.

This is how we end up with candidates with extreme views and no moderates on the ballots.

Gordon wrote on February 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm

thats why its called a party primary, and the statute is for 23  months so you can change in general elections, but any way why shouldn't the parties have some control of members?

Skepticity wrote on February 13, 2017 at 10:02 am

The existing party system and restrictive rules suppress citizens' rights to vote and to help choose the better mayor candidates by limiting primary election input to ongoing members of the respective parties.

Gerrymandering and the requirements for independent candidates to obtain more signatures to get on the ballot than is required of the party candidates also curtail the rights of independent voters.

The system requires that for a citizen exercise their right to vote in a primary, they need to choose a party. There are positions in the platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties with which I do not completely agree, so I am effectively disenfranchised by the nature of this party system. While alternative parties exist, the same issues exist, and locally, none are viable.


By the way, the party system is NOT part of the US Constitution.


EDIT: The link above shows that the provision blocking a change of affiliation for 23 months was determined to be unconstitutional because it infringed unfairly upon freedom of association.

BruckJr wrote on February 12, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Gee, I wonder why the feds haven't looked into fraudulant voting for the last six years. 

Sid Saltfork wrote 1 day 21 hours ago

The Champaign County Tea Party, and affiliated groups, monthly meeting will be held at the usual location at the usual time on the usual date.  Beer, and pig provided.  Bring lawn chairs, and fire wood.