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Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is continuing his staff shakeup, quickly naming Matthew Besler of the Illinois Opportunity Project to replace Mike Zolnierowicz as his lead political operative.
Before accepting the role of chief strategic adviser to Rauner’s campaign committee, Besler had been president of the Illinois Opportunity Project, a tax-exempt, Rauner-aligned group co-founded by Dan Proft, a radio talk show host and failed 2010 candidate for governor. It does not have to publicly disclose its donors.
The group played a major role in funding the unsuccessful primary campaign of former Democratic Rep. Ken Dunkin of Chicago, who had allied himself with the Republican governor to prevent some Democratic initiatives. Virtually all of the more than $1.3 million Dunkin raised came from the Illinois Opportunity Project. Dunkin was trounced in the March primary by now-Democratic state Rep. Juliana Stratton of Chicago.
In a statement Monday, Besler said: “The work we’ve done on policy and political advocacy over the past three election cycles and the progress we’ve made in that time must culminate with Gov. Rauner’s re-election in 2018 and an end to Speaker (Michael) Madigan’s reign in the House.”
“I’ve enjoyed a great working relationship with both the House and Senate GOP caucuses and their staffs. I look forward to that continuing in furtherance of the electoral goals we share for the 2018 cycle,” he said.
Besler said he will take a leave of absence from the Illinois Opportunity Project. Another organization co-founder, Pat Hughes, will serve as interim president.
Zolnierowicz, a former Rauner chief of staff before moving over to the governor’s political operations, resigned Friday to join a political affiliate of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. (Rick Pearson)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel had no public events scheduled.
*Gov. Rauner’s public schedule wasn’t available.
*The Cook County Board will hear from Assessor Joseph Berrios following a Tribune report on inequities in the system.
*The City Council’s Public Safety, Aviation and Capital Development committees meet.
*State Rep. Lou Lang and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans will have a morning news conference at the Bilandic Building in Chicago about the budget for a home care for seniors program.
From the notebook
*Roskam has $1.1 million as six challengers line up in IL-6: Several Democrats are eyeing a challenge to U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam in the west and northwest suburban 6th Congressional District, but the Republican lawmaker entered July with a hefty campaign account.
Federal campaign disclosure reports show the Wheaton Republican raised more than $843,000 from April through June while spending $229,213. Added to the $532,702 Roskam had to begin April, and the six-term congressman reported nearly $1.15 million on hand.
Among the Democrats who have announced their candidacies, Kelly Mazeski of Barrington, who has served in municipal government, reported raising more than $208,000, which included $90,000 in personal loans. She reported spending $19,300 and had $189,373 to start July.
Amanda Howland, a Lake Zurich attorney who lost to Roskam last November, reported raising nearly $53,000 in the second quarter, added to $11,512 she previously had. After spending $16,821, she began July with $47,558.
Another candidate seeking the 6th District Democratic nomination, Suzyn Price, reported raising just less than $40,000. After spending $10,751, the former Naperville school board member reported $28,939 left to start the third quarter. And Democrat Jennifer Zordani, a regulatory attorney from Clarendon Hills, reported $29,495 raised.
Two other announced Democrats, Carole Cheney and Austin Songer, only recently formally declared their candidacies.
*In the North Shore 10th District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield reported raising $657,504, adding to the $602,888 he had to start April. After spending $154,564, Schneider had $1.1 million to begin July.
Republican challenger Jeremy Wynes, an attorney from Highland Park who announced his candidacy in May, reported raising $161,520 by June 30 and spent less than $6,000 to leave him with $155,636 to start July.
*In the far west suburban 14th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano reported $185,886 in fundraising for the quarter after starting April with $230,495. He spent $62,414 from April through June and had $353,967 to begin July.
Two Democrats have announced to challenge Hultgren. Victor Swanson of Batavia reported raising $34,271 and spending just less than $10,000, leaving him with $24,295 to start this month. Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley only recently announced his campaign. (Rick Pearson)
*Pawar hitting the road: Northwest Side Ald. Ameya Pawar is taking his Democratic candidacy for governor on the road Friday, making a 10-day bus tour of 20 communities.
“While other campaigns are focused on who has the most money, the most endorsements or who has the most-outsider campaign, I’m working to address the serious issues facing communities across the state. We’re focusing on the intersection of race and class, and how those things manifest themselves in people’s day-to-day lives,” Pawar said of his One Illinois Bus Tour.
The tour begins with a rally at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago before heading statewide to stops that include Harvard, Rockford, Chicago Heights, Macomb, Rock Island, Naperville, Schaumburg, Tinley Park, Des Plaines, Waukegan, Morton Grove and LaGrange. (Rick Pearson)
*Reporter shopping: Mayor Emanuel’s administration has long been known for reporter shopping — going around City Hall reporters and trying to place stories with other journalists at the same news organization who might be less well-versed in the context of what might be motivating mayoral maneuvers.
On Monday, NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern publicly called out the adminsitration for it.
What we’re writing
*Racist water department emails show Chicago official joked about ‘safari’ tour to see violence in black neighborhoods.
*Rauner vows to veto education funding bill, demands Democrats send it to him.
*Rauner ‘body man’ fired first day on job after racially insensitive, homophobic tweets surface.
*City workers gave out free street parking to friends during Blackhawks, Bulls games.
*Berrios to play defense as county property valuations scrutinized.
*How did Terrance Jenkins die? Guards, prisoners disagree on details in inmate’s death.
*Judges ordered to set affordable bonds for defendants who pose no danger.
*Operator of proposed sober-living home to seek city approval despite alderman’s opposition.
What we’re reading
*Parents accuse R. Kelly of holding their daughters in abusive ‘cult,’ report claims.
*Wrigley sues suburban vape firm that sells ‘Dbl Mint’ and ‘Joosy Fruit’ flavors, alleges trademark infringement.
*Pitchfork 2017: Despite growing pains, new vibe, fest delivers talent.
Follow the money
*Second-quarter campaign finance reports covering April through June were due at mightnight. Here are the latest.
*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.
*After, more opposition from Republican senators, the GOP health care plan falters.
*U.S.: Iran complying with nuclear deal but ignoring spirit.
*Sessions wants more asset forfeiture from crime suspects.
*Christie: Getting Russian oppo research is ‘probably’ illegal.
*Venezuelan opposition calls for nationwide strike.
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