By KENT D. REDFIELD
Financing legislative elections in Illinois:
This is the first in a series of articles on campaign spending and contributions in Illinois.
The old pattern of Illinois governors (usually Republican) sitting down with the Democratic mayor of Chicago to decide state policy is gone. It was replaced in the early 1980s by negotiations between the four legislative leaders, the governor and, on certain issues, the mayor of Chicago. In this era of declining political parties and fragmented, individualized politics, the four leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have become stronger and more independent.
House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-30, Chicago), House Minority Leader Lee A. Daniels (R-46, Elmhurst), Senate President Philip J. Rock (D-8, Oak Park) and Senate Minority Leader James "Pate" Philip (R-23, Wood Dale) have used the power and resources of their offices to consolidate control over their respective delegations. All four have been in office at least eight years, and each has built large, centralized fundraising and campaign organizations devoted to winning legislative elections. Each also has talented staff people with vast campaign experience.
One legislative leader towers above the others in fundraising and electoral success: House Speaker Madigan. While the Senate Democrats and the Senate Republicans have battled on relatively even terms during the last decade. Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats have increased both their fundraising advantage and their legislative majority. The current count of 72 Democratic seats in the House is the high watermark for the decade. A favorable map resulting from Democratic control of the 1982 redistricting process has been a key factor, but campaign receipts and expenditure data from the 1990 election cycle suggest other reasons for their success.
Historically, political parties were at the center of the electoral process. They recruited the candidates. They raised the money. They ran the campaigns. They got out the vote. The model of a party-centered electoral process in Illinois has always been Cook County elections as orchestrated by the political machine of the late Chicago mayor, Richard J. Daley. Those days are gone.
Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. In the last 10 years the four leaders have become increasingly involved in recruiting candidates, raising money, running campaigns and getting out the vote. In the 1990 election cycle the legislative leaders' political committees and their chamber political committees raised
more than $7.1 million, more than twice the estimated $3.3 million they raised for the 1984 election cycle. (See Partisan legislative campaign committees," by Richard R. Johnson, Illinois Issues, July 1987, pages 16-17; and Johnson's unpublished master's thesis for Sangamon State University.)
The leaders did more than spend money; they also commited staff. Prior to the late 1970s it was rare for a partisan legislative staff person to leave the state payroll and move onto a legislative campaign payroll, even during the last few weeks before an election. In 1990 members of all four partisan legislative staffs started going onto campaign payrolls soon after the spring session adjourned. By the first of October, only skeleton partisan legislative staffs were left at the Statehouse.
The raising and spending of this large amount of money by the legislative leaders and the deployment of staffers to campaigns has given an organization and a focus to legislative elections which has elements of the old party-centered process. It has also greatly increased the influence of the four legislative leaders. A legislature populated by members who independently control their own elections is a legislature of free agents.
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Members who get elected and reelected with substantial help from their legislative leaders tend to be more easily led than those who do not.
Analysis of campaign receipts and campaign expenditures for the 1990 election cycle of the four legislative leader political committees and the four chamber political committees controlled by the respective leaders provides a preview of the multimillion dollar effort currently underway that will culminate in the 1992 elections.
Illinois campaign finance law places few restrictions on contributions and expenditures; the law does require complete disclosure and reporting. All candidate and political action committees that exceed certain dollar thresholds are required to file campaign finance reports with the State Board of Elections. Each of the four leaders — Madigan, Daniels, Rock and Philip — has a political committee. Each of the four chamber groups — House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans — has a political committee. In addition, the Senate Republicans have a "Dinner Committee" which is created each year for the sole purpose of raising money for the Senate Republican chamber political committee. (In this search, the receipts and expenditures of the Dinner Committee are treated as receipts and expenditures of the Senate Republican chamber committee.)
The data for this article is on a 20,000-item data base which came from the 1990 election cycle's annual and semi-annual reports of "Campaign Contributions and Expenditures (D-2)" filed by the four legislative leader political committees and the four chamber political committees. Receipts or expenditures made during the period of January 1, 1989, to December 31, 1990, were considered part of the 1990 election cycle. The data are not easily obtained or analyzed. The reports are generally on microfiche. Individual receipts and expenditures were read and entered in a computer data base. The sources of receipts and the objects of expenditures were identified and classified using professional, business and commercial yellow pages' directories. For purposes of analysis, the receipts and expenditures of each set of leader and chamber political committees were combined into a legislative leader/chamber political committee. In comparing the data from the House and the Senate, it is important to note that all 118 House seats were up for election in 1990, while only 20 of the 59 Senate seats were up.
During the 1990 election cycle the four legislative leader/chamber political committees raised a total of $7.12 million. Of that total, House Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats raised the most money, $2.45 million. House Minority Leader Daniels and the House Republicans raised $1.67 million, Senate President Rock and the Senate Democrats raised $1.47 million, and Senate Minority Leader Philip and the Senate Republicans raised $1.53 million. While the total money available to the two Senate groups was approximately equal, the House Democrats had a significant advantage over the House Republicans.
The sources of the $7.12 million in total contributions to the four legislative leader/chamber political committees fall into four separate levels (see table 1). The two most significant sources are the financial sector, consisting of financial institutions, investment firms, insurance companies, real estate agencies and CPA firms, with $1.23 million in total contributions and the lawyer sector with $1.13 million in total contributions. On a lower tier are individuals (and unitemized receipts) with $796,000, the manufacturing sector with $676,000, the union sector with $502,000 and the candidate and parties sector with $479,000. At a somewhat lower level are the retail sales sector ($369,000), the health sector ($380,000), the construction and engineer/architect sector ($320,000), the service sector ($274,000) and the public utilities/communication sector ($271,000). On the lowest tier of contributions are the distribution sector ($173,000) and the mining/agriculture sector ($35,000).
These totals do not represent all of the money that corporate and professional interests, political parties and individuals spend in legislative elections. They represent only contributions to the legislative leader/chamber political committees. While some groups make most of their contributions to legislative races through the legislative leaders, others make most of their contributions directly to legislative candidates. A complete picture of the dynamics of financing legislative elections would require an examination of the election activities of state and local parties and political action groups and an analysis of the receipts and expenditures for individual legislative races.
Knowing where contributions come from is as important as knowing how much each leader has raised. A breakdown of the receipts of each of the four legislative leader/chamber political committees by source yields patterns that are neither uniform nor random (see table 1).
The contributions of some groups appear to be largely bipartisan and status quo oriented. The groups represented in the financial category give approximately the same amount of money to both of the Republican leader/chamber groups and to Rock and the Senate Democrats, but they give more than $100,000 more to Madigan and the House Democrats. This pattern reflects both a desire to have general influence in the legislative process and an acknowledgment that Speaker Madigan is currently the most powerful legislative leader. Contributions from the public utilities/communications sector, the distribution sector and the agriculture/mining sector follow a bipartisan pattern.
Other contribution patterns are intensely partisan. Contributions from lawyers favor the Democrat leader/chamber groups
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by a margin of more than 10 to 1 in the House and 3 to 1 in the Senate. The continuing controversy over the issue of tort reform accounts, in large portion, for both the magnitude and the partisan nature of the contributions from the lawyer sector. Tort reform has been a legislative objective for the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and other corporate groups since the late 1970s. The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association has battled to maintain the status quo. The Democrats in the legislature have tended to favor the trial lawyer position, while the Republicans have tended to favor the position of the Manufacturers' Association and the Medical Society. The heavy concentration of lawyer contributions to Madigan and the House Democrats reflects the judgment that focusing on the House is the best strategy because a group only needs to win in one chamber to defeat a bill.
Contributions by the union, manufacturing and retail sales sectors also reflect traditional political alliances. Union contributions favor Democrats by almost a 10 to 1 margin in the House and almost a 4 to 1 margin in the Senate. Although the margin is smaller (3 to 2), contributions from manufacturing and retail sales sectors strongly favor the Republicans. The smaller margins favoring the Republicans for the manufacturing and retail sales sectors reflect the fact that the Democrats hold majorities in both legislative chambers. Groups interested in maintaining access to the legislative process contribute to the legislative leaders in control, regardless of partisan or policy differences. A shift in control of the legislature to the Republicans would be followed by an increase in union sector contributions to the Republicans and a decrease in the manufacturing and retail sales sector contributions to the Democrats.
The degree of control exercised by a legislative leader in his chamber has an impact on contribution patterns. Contributions from the health sector strongly favor the Republicans in the Senate but are equal in the House. The same is true for contributions from the construction sector. One explanation is that a general tendency by these groups to favor Republican candidates is neutralized in the House by the extraordinary influence of the Democratic speaker.
These contribution patterns give each of the legislative leader/chamber political committees a distinct profile of receipts. The Madigan/House Democrat profile (see figure 1) is dominated by contributions from the lawyer and financial sectors. Contributions from the lawyer sector ($765,000) dwarf those from any other group to any of the leaders. Only contributions to Madigan and House Democrats from the financial sector ($413,000) are anywhere near the same magnitude. Madigan and House Democrats also receive greater union contributions ($237,000) than any of the others. The scale of the contributions to Madigan and House Democrats overwhelms those to the other three leader/chamber groups. The manufacturing and retail sales sectors are the only corporate or professional sectors from which Madigan and House Democrats receive significantly smaller contributions than do the two Republican leader/chamber groups. Only in the areas of contributions from individuals and parties/candidate committees do Madigan and House Democrats receive less money than the other leader/chamber groups. The relatively smaller amount of candidate/party and individual contributions for Madigan and House Democrats may reflect less of a need to seek support from individuals, local party organizations or candidate committees. As previously noted, the contributions from lawyer, union, manufacturing and retail sales sectors reflect policy differences, while the contributions from the financial sector reflect a desire for general influence.
In contrast to Madigan and the House Democrats, the Daniels/House Republican receipts profile (see figure 2) is shaped by contributions from the finance, manufacturing, retail sales and construction sectors and from party/candidate committees and individuals. Among the corporate and professional groups, only the manufacturing, retail sales and construction sectors contribute more to Daniels and House Republicans than to Madigan and House Democrats, and the margin for the construction sector is very small. Comparing the receipts profiles of the two leader/chamber groups in the House, contribution patterns are reversed for the union, lawyer, manufacturing and retail sales sectors.
The receipts profile of Rock and Senate Democrats is shaped by contributions from the financial, lawyer and union sector and from individuals (see figure 3). The next two largest contribution totals come from the manufacturing sector and from political parties and candidate committees. This profile is quite similar to the Madigan/House Democrat profile. Comparison of
Figure 1. Contributions and receipts to Madigan/House Democrat political committees, by source, 1990 election cycle
Figure 2. Contributions and receipts to Daniels/House Republican political committees, by source, 1990 election cycle
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receipts profiles of Rock and Senate Democrats to Daniels and House Republicans shows contribution patterns are reversed for the union, lawyer, manufacturing, retail sales and constructions sectors.
The Philip/Senate Republican receipts profile (see figure 4) is primarily shaped by contributions from the finance and manufacturing sectors and contributions from individuals, political parties and candidate committees. While quite similar to the Daniels/House Republican profile, contributions from the health sector are much more significant and contributions from the retail sales sector are less significant. The union, lawyer, manufacturing and retail sales sector contribution patterns for Philip and Senate Republicans parallel those of Daniels and House Republicans and are opposite those of the two Democrat leader/chamber groups.
On the spending side, Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats had a significant advantage over the other three leader/chamber political committees. Together the four legislative leader/chamber political committees spent (6.74 million during the 1990 election cycle (see table 2). Madigan and House Democrats spent a total of $2.44 million, Daniels and House Republicans $1.88 million. Rock and Senate Democrats $1.03 million and Philip and Senate Republicans $1.38 million. With all 118 House seats but only 20 Senate seats up for reelection in 1990, the difference between the House and Senate totals is not surprising. Within the two chambers, Philip Senate Republicans spent $244,000 more than Rock and Senate Democrats, and Madigan and House Democrats spent $556,000 more than Daniels and House Republicans.
Of the $6.74 million in total expenditures made by the four leader/chamber political committees, $4.92 million went directly to legislative elections. Most of the Madigan/House Democrat expenditure dominance occurs in this category. While Philip and Senate Republicans spent $126,000 more than Rock and Senate Democrats on legislative elections, Madigan and House Democrats spent $617,000 more than Daniels and House Republicans.
Besides legislative elections, the most significant expenditure category was contributions to state parties, a total of $888,000. Madigan and House Democrats and both Republican leader/chamber groups made large contributions to their respective state parties. Rock and Senate Democrats did not. Rock may not have contributed because the chief of staff for Speaker Madigan, Gary LaPaille, successfully challenged Democratic state Sen. Vince Demuzio (D-49, Carlinville) for the chairmanship of the state Democratic party in April 1990. The House and Senate Democratic leader/chamber political committees gave more to local political parties than did the Republicans, but the overall total of $160,000 is comparatively small. The same is true of the $156,000 in total contributions the four leader/chamber political committees made to nonlegislative candidates for local, statewide and national offices.
Approximately $613,000 in expenditures were classified as nonelection expenditures. These expenditures included such items as donations to charitable causes, contributions to interest groups, political gifts, travel, meeting and meal expenses, staff Christmas parties, membership dues for clubs, and tickets for sporting and cultural events. The vast majority of these expenditures were made from the legislative leader political committees rather than from the chamber political committees.
Comparing total receipts to total expenditures, it appears that Madigan and House Democrats and Daniels and House Republicans spent as much or more than they took in during the election cycle. In contrast, the expenditures of both Senate groups were less, and for Rock and Senate Democrats, substantially less than their receipts for the period of the election cycle. This may be explained by the small number of competitive Senate races in 1990 and an understandable desire to build up resources
Figure 3. Contributions and receipts to Rock/Senate Democrat political committees, by source, 1990 election cycle
Figure 4. Contributions and receipts to Philip/Senate Republican political committees, by source, 1990 election cycle
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for 1992 when all 59 seats will be up for election following redistricting.
The breakdown of expenditures on legislative elections into detailed categories reveals interesting patterns (see table 3). In total expenditures, the No. 1 category is polling, targeting and direct mail; it accounts for $2.18 million or 44 percent of total legislative election expenditures. Ranking second are expenditures on campaign staff, accounting for $810,000 or 16 percent of the total. Ranking third are expenditures for fundraising for candidate or chamber committees ($696,000 or 14 percent), direct contributions to candidates ($472,000 or 10 percent) and media ($456,000 or 9 percent). At the bottom are miscellaneous and unclassified expenditures ($311,000 or 6 percent).
Direct contributions of money to legislative candidates account for less than 10 percent of the total amount spent on legislative elections by the legislative leader and chamber political committees. Rather than just providing money for candidates to spend, the legislative leaders and their staffs are directly involved in the operation of the campaigns. They provided experienced campaign staff; they purchased and coordinated polling, targeting, direct mail and media services. The degree of control in individual races varies, but the influence of the legislative leaders and their staff is definitely there.
The legislative election expenditure patterns for the four legislative leader/chamber political committees show a clear set of differences between chambers, parties and individual leader/chamber political committees (see table 3). In particular, each of the four leader/chamber political committees has a distinct expenditure profile.
The Madigan/House Democrat profile (see figure 5) shows an overwhelming commitment to a strategy of polling, targeting and direct mail with almost 60 percent of legislative election expenditures devoted to that category. Expenditures for campaign staff rank second (16 percent). Expenditures for cash contributions to legislative candidates and fundraising for legislative candidate or chamber committees are evenly balanced (10 percent each). Expenditures on media play a very minor role (1 percent). The most striking feature of the profile is the overwhelming dominance of expenditures on polling, targeting and direct mail.
In contrast, the Daniels/House Republican profile (see figure 6) is roughly balanced among expenditures on polling, targeting and direct mail services (28 percent), fundraising (22 percent) and campaign staff (21 percent). The lowest priorites are media expenditures (9 percent) and cash contributions (7 percent). In contrast to the Madigan/House Democrat profile, Daniels and House Republicans place a greater emphasis on media and a lesser emphasis on polling, targeting and direct mail. They also place a greater emphasis on fundraising for candidate or chamber committees and a lesser emphasis on cash contributions. While Daniels and House Republicans spend a larger percentage of their money on campaign staff than Madigan and House Democrats, the overall resource advantage held by Madigan and House Democrats still allows them to outspend Daniels and House Republicans in total dollars in the campaign staff category.
Like the Madigan/House Democrat profile, the Rock/Senate Democrat expenditure profile (see figure 7) shows the greatest portion of election dollars being spent on polling, targeting and direct mail (49 percent) and the next largest portion on campaign staff (17 percent). In sharp contrast to the Madigan/House Democrat profile. Rock and Senate Democrats spend 13 percent
Figure 5. Expenditures of Madigan/House Democrat political committees, by classification, 1990 election cycle
Figure 6. Expenditures by Daniels/House Republican political committees, by classification. 1990 election cycle
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of their resources on media. Their expenditures on fundraising and cash contributions to legislative candidates are similar to Daniels and House Republicans, with expenditures on fundraising (11 percent) exceeding contributions to legislative candidates (6 percent) by a ratio of 2 to 1. The expenditure profiles of the Senate Democrats and the House Republicans are the closest of the four groups in their overall patterns.
Like the other three groups, the Philip/Senate Republican profile (see figure 8) shows the largest portion of campaign expenditures being made on polling, targeting and direct mail. But the percentage, 31 percent, while larger than that of Daniels and House Republicans, is also much lower than the percentage spent by either Democratic leader/chamber group. Philip and Senate Republicans spend a much higher percentage on media (23 percent) than do any of the other three groups. Their fundraising expenditures (14 percent) are in line with the other three groups. Campaign staff expenditures (11 percent) are the lowest of any of the groups in both percentages and absolute dollar amounts. Compared to the other three leader/chamber groups, Senate Republicans place more emphasis on media expenditures and less on expenditures for campaign staff. Their expenditures of $128,000 in contributions to candidates appear to be the greatest percentage (14 percent) of any of the four groups. However, there are always anomalies in any set of data: Philip and Senate Republicans made a single post-election contribution of more than $120,000 to the campaign of Nancy Beasley, the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Patrick Welch in the 38th district.
Speaker Madigan's political committee and the House Democrats' political committee appear to be better integrated than the other three leader/chamber groups. Treating the legislative leader political committee and the chamber political committee as parts of an integrated whole is a somewhat artificial construction for the other three chamber groups, but for the House Democrats it is a reflection of reality. A comparison of leader and chamber political committee fundraising (see figures 1-4) shows that almost 80 percent of the money for the House Democrats was raised through Speaker Madigan's political committee, while only 25 percent of the Senate Republican money, 40 percent of the House Republican money and 50 percent of the Senate Democratic money was raised through the leader's political committee. Each of the other three leaders made either no or only nominal transfers from his political committees to his chamber's political committee. Speaker Madigan transferred more than $1 million from his political committee to the House Democrat chamber committee during the 1990 election cycle. In contrast to the other three chamber political committees, the House Democrats' political committee is more a mechanism for campaign expenditures than a vehicle for fundraising. The concentration on fundraising in the speaker's political committee gives him a greater degree of control over expenditures than is the case with the other three legislative leaders. It also focuses attention on him as the source of assistance.
Better integration between the legislative leader and his chamber political committee and a greater concentration of power in the hands of the legislative leader can facilitate raising money and winning elections. It also helps to have staff competence and continuity. Speaker Madigan's chief of staff, Gary LaPaille, and his current issue development staff director, Jenifer Klindt, have been directing legislative election campaigns for the House Democrats since 1980. (The former issues staff director. Bill Filan, left this spring after 10 years to join Cook County Board President Richard Phelan's staff.)
In sum, the legislative election expenditure data from the 1990 election cycle shows a House Democrat campaign strate-
Figure 7. Expenditures by Rock/Senate Democrat political committees, by classification, 1990 election cycle
Figure 8. Expenditures of Philip/Senate Republican political committees, by classification, 1990 election cycle
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gy built around polling, targeting and direct mail and providing candidates with paid, experienced campaign staff. The development and refinement of this approach over the past 10 years has been a key element in the electoral success of the House Democrats.
Legislative elections in 1992 are going to be incredibly messy and competitive, compared to a non-remap year. All 59 Senate seats (instead of the usual one-third or two-thirds) and all 118 House seats are up for election. In some cases, the territory and the demographics of the legislative districts will be substantially different from the districts that have been in place for the past 10 years. This reduces the advantages of incumbency. Many incumbent legislators will have to communicate with and influence large numbers of voters who know little or nothing about them. Because the Republicans drew the map establishing the districts' new boundaries, barring wholesale court changes. Democratic incumbents will have to campaign in more new territory than Republican incumbents. Creative mapmaking has also created a number of districts with no resident incumbent legislator. Voluntary retirement of incumbents before the primary and involuntary retirement of incumbents because of the primary will create more open seats. Candidates in these races will have none of the advantages of incumbency. Even more important in these 1992 campaigns will be those key elements of any election — recruiting good candidates, raising sufficient money to mount a serious race, running an effective campaign and getting out the vote. More than ever, it will be important for the legislative leaders to have effective organizations for raising money and running campaigns.
History teaches us that Illinois' legislative district maps do not always produce the results intended by their drafters. The legislative map that House Speaker W. Robert Blair helped draft in 1971 was supposed to guarantee Republican control of the Illinois House for the decade. It worked well in 1972. In 1974 the outrage of suburban voters over the creation of the Regional Transportation Authority helped end Blair's legislative career in the primary election, and the general outrage over the Watergate scandal helped end the Republicans' control of the Illinois House in the general election. The 101 Democrats elected to the House that year provided a majority that the Republicans were unable to overcome until 1980.
While a Republican-drawn 1992 legislative map may tip the balance in the fight for control of the Senate, Speaker Madigan's fundraising and campaign organization should provide ample protection for his Democrat majority in the House.
Kent D. Redfield is associate director of the Illinois Legislative Studies Center at Sangamon State University. The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of two former graduate assistants with the Illinois Legislative Studies Center: David Hobby and Dennis Johnson. This article with additional graphs and tables will he published in the Almanac of Illinois Politics — 1992, set for February 1992 publication by Illinois Issues. Redfield is also co-author of Lawmaking in Illinois, published by Illinois Issues. From 1975 through 1979, he was a legislative analyst for the House Democratic staff.
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