Madison County regional superintendent of schools Bob Daiber (D) “filed petitions Wednesday to run for the Democratic nomination for governor in the March 20 primary. Daiber said he filed 9,500 signatures, while 5,000 valid signatures are needed.” (State Journal-Register)
BAD PRESS. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) promoted “kudos from a group led by a self-styled taxpayer watchdog who contends Abraham Lincoln fought the Civil War to keep collecting taxes from Southern states, not over the issue of slavery.” (Chicago Tribune)
The National Review‘s cover depicts Rauner as “The Worst Republican Governor in America,” citing his “betrayal” for legalizing taxpayer-funded abortions, which “capped a season of defeats for conservatives, including an income-tax hike, a big bailout of Chicago’s public schools, and turning Illinois into what critics of illegal immigration are calling a ‘sanctuary state.’” (National Review)
Meanwhile, venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker (D) and philanthropist Chris Kennedy’s (D) disclosures show a number of notable investments. “Kennedy … listed companies linked to defense, tobacco and oil interests among the hundreds he named in the economic interest statement he filed Monday with the Illinois secretary of state. … Kennedy also lists stocks in Amazon. Chicago is one of several cities vying for the company’s second headquarters.”
“Pritzker’s extensive filing … shows a partnership interest in Energy Transfer Partners LP, a pipeline operator that constructed and is a part-owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline.” (Chicago Sun-Times)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. State Assistant House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D) endorsed Pritzker on Wednesday. (release)
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"White House chief of staff John Kelly has tapped Chris Liddell, a senior White House aide and former executive at Microsoft and General Motors, as his deputy." Prior to his appointment, Kelly had just one deputy: "Joe Hagin, who focuses on the day-to-day operations" in the White House. "Up until now, the White House had not named a deputy chief of staff for policy, though several aides, including [DHS Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen, had informally played that role."
The Supreme Court on Monday "rejected a plea to undertake a historic reassessment of the constitutionality of the death penalty nationwide. The court denied certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona, which challenged the constitutionality of that state’s death penalty statute but also attacked capital punishment generally 'in light of contemporary standards of decency.'" The Court did not act on another case, Evans v. Mississippi, which would have prompted a broader review of the death penalty. "Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan issued a separate statement agreeing that the Hidalgo case should be denied because the record in the case was not fully developed, but hoping a future case would be a better platform for reviewing capital punishment."
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman begins his two-week visit to the U.S. this week, meeting with "political and business leaders in Washington, New York, Silicon Valley and elsewhere" in an effort to shore up financial support for his government and rehabilitate its image abroad. "The crown prince employed a similar public relations strategy on a three-day visit to the UK," where he met with "an array of British business and defense leaders." Bin Salman has been widely criticized for his alleged political chicanery in the Gulf, and for Saudi Arabia's devastating air campaign in neighboring Yemen.
A fourth package bomb injured two people in Austin on Sunday evening, "which the police chief says was caused by a tripwire and showed 'a different level of skill' than the package bombs used in the three prior attacks." The police are still searching for the perpetrator, and have warned residents to not pick up or approach suspicious packages. Previous explosions, which the police believe are connected, have killed two and wounded several others.
White House Lawyer Ty Cobb said that President Trump not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Speculation swirled after Trump attacked the investigation on Twitter, and called out Mueller directly for the first time. “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration," Cobb said, "...the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller." Several members of Congress, "including some top Republicans, warned Trump to not even think about terminating Mueller."