There is life after Blagojevich.
There is life after Blagojevich.
SHEILA NIX, who rose to be a deputy governor under ROD BLAGOJEVICH, has been named chief of staff for Vice President JOE BIDEN’s re-election campaign team.
Nix has served for three years as U.S. executive director of ONE, a bipartisan advocacy organization co-founded by BONO. She also has been chief of staff to U.S. Sen. BILL NELSON of Florida and former U.S. Sen. BOB KERREY of Nebraska, according to a story about her new job in Politico.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Nix working for Blagojevich, but at least her touch with trouble emanating from that outpost involved her taking one for the greater Democratic cause.
Nix was among three Blagojevich staffers involved in preparing a 2007 news release — given to reporters when then-U.S. Sen. BARACK OBAMA announced his presidential campaign at the Old State Capitol — in which Blagojevich was quoted as saying he supported Obama’s run for president. Coming as it did on official stationery, this was a no-no, given ethics laws that ban political work on state time. I wrote about it, and the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission later assessed fines, including $1,000 against Nix.
The lawyer for Nix and two other staffers later said Nix and the others were just trying to respond to multiple media inquiries. The commission determined that Blagojevich was not informed about the news release before it went out.
Well, good for Nix. At least now she’ll be working for a politician who isn’t shy about showing off his gray hair.
GOP squabble bothers Poe
State Rep. RAYMOND POE, R-Springfield, didn’t like all the public chatter from some of his Sangamon County Republican colleagues about what they saw as the need to replace county party Chairman TONY LIBRI.
Poe recalled former President RONALD REAGAN’s “11th commandment,” which was that members of the party shouldn’t speak ill of other Republicans.
“I still don’t believe we ought to be talking about other Republicans that way,” Poe told me last week.
Unlike some of the conventional wisdom, Poe said the fight over the chairmanship might have actually helped Sangamon County’s endorsed candidate for state Senate in the new 50th District, Springfield Park Board Trustee GRAY NOLL, in his primary race against state Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Carlinville. McCann won the primary easily and appears headed to a new term, since no Democrat ran in the district.
Poe said contested precinct committeemen races might have boosted turnout and thus aided Noll.
“Pretty much everybody was supporting Gray that I know of,” said Poe.
Poe was unopposed in his primary in the new 99th House District, and no Democrat has filed there either, so he appears in line for another two-year term representing some of the territory McCann presumably will represent.
So, do they get along?
“I probably haven’t talked to him 10 minutes in my life, so I don’t know,” Poe said.
“I feel that we are on good terms,” McCann said later. He said he and Poe have talked “several times,” though McCann also said his duty now is to represent his current district — the 49th — which doesn’t include Poe’s existing 99th.
McCann steered clear of the intra-party fight in Sangamon County.
“I am for whomever the duly elected precinct committeemen choose as their chairman,” McCann said.
McCann goes for a ride
McCann was among a handful of lawmakers who took advantage of an offer of a ride around the Capitol complex in a tractor-trailer (minus the trailer) in honor of the Illinois Trucking Association’s “Illinois Trucking Day” last Tuesday.
McCann said his stepfather was a truck owner-operator for a time, but he said he appreciated the chance to talk to MICHAEL GULLY, who runs day-to-day operations of the 250-employee Quincy-based company Gully Transportation. The family-owned firm has 200 tractor units and 650 trailers.
“I’m a big fan of going out and speaking to the people on their own turf, on their terms,” McCann said. “I like people to feel comfortable.”
Gully said the conversation during the ride centered on the work environment and “trying to build jobs.”
MATT HART, the trucking group’s executive director, said a food drive linked to the lobby day brought in 2,000 pounds of goods for local food banks.
Cahnman making it official
Now that he has a little more time for such things, Springfield Ward 5 Ald. SAM CAHNMAN has finally gone to court to make official the spelling of his name that he’s used for decades.
Fresh off a losing run for the Democratic nomination for state representative in the new 96th House District, Cahnman, who turned 58 on Saturday, filed a case in Sangamon County Circuit Court last week to remove the last “n” in his given name of Samuel J. Cahnmann.
Cahnman has talked about doing this for some time. He said he’s one of six siblings, and some use one “n” at the end of their last name, and some use two.
However, of all of them, he’s the only one that changed how the name is pronounced. The first syllable used to rhyme with “don,” but he changed it in 1996, when running unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. House, to the pronunciation of “can.” That fit right into a jingle he used in an ad — “If anyone can, the can man can.”
Cahnman thinks getting the name change approved in court should be “pretty much routine.”
Condolences to friends and family of former state Rep. VIRGIL WIKOFF, a Republican and former mayor of Champaign who died March 16. He was 85.
He served three terms in the Illinois House following service on the Champaign City Council beginning in 1963, and two terms as mayor from 1967-75.
U.S. Rep. TIM JOHNSON, R-Urbana, who served with Wikoff in the General Assembly, said Wikoff was “a rock of strength and stability through some of the most tumultuous times in local history,” and “saw us through those times with courage and a steadfast temperament.”
Wikoff had an architectural engineering degree from the University of Illinois, and was, said an editorial in the News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana, “a successful businessman, avid sports fan, enthusiastic photographer and world traveler. Mr. Wikoff led a long, rich and generous life, leaving behind a loving family and a community grateful for his many contributions.”
Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or follow him via twitter.com/bschoenburg. His email address is