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Now Biden wants to build a wall

Shia Kapos' must-read rundown of Political news in the Land of Lincoln
Oct 06, 2023 View in browser

By Shia Kapos

TGIF, Illinois. Bears (finally) win!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’re off Monday for Indigenous Peoples Day but will be back in your inboxes Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend!


People line up against a border wall as they wait to apply for asylum after crossing the border from Mexico, July 11, 2023. | AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

MIGRANT MOVES: Officials with the Department of Homeland Security have been visiting Chicago to assess the migrant situation.

And the White House made two big announcements that could impact what’s happening on the ground in Chicago, where asylum seekers have sought refuge.

Double-take: The Biden administration says it will waive 26 federal laws to allow the construction of the border wall that former President Donald Trump started putting up in Texas. 

Yes, you read that right. Democrats are going to build the wall to stem the flow of asylum seekers coming into the country — and maybe to quell concerns from local leaders, including Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Brandon Johnson, about the influx of migrants threatening to destabilize communities.

The plan drew swift criticism from Congresswoman Delia Ramirez (IL-03). “A border wall has never been and never will be a moral or practical solution to the very real challenges faced by our immigration system,” she said in a statement.

The other big news: The White House announced it would resume deportation flights to Venezuela, with 240,000 Venezuelans expected to be deported.

All that is happening as more buses arrive in Chicago, and the city and state continue to battle over how to pay for housing and other needs for asylum seekers.

Assessing the situation: DHS officials have been in Chicago examining conditions of the new arrivals and identifying ways that the city and federal government “can improve efficiencies and maximize resources,” a person familiar with the visit told Playbook.

Johnson’s administration is also exploring a backup plan to the tent cities proposal, according to the Tribune’s Alice Yin, Dan Petrella and A.D. Quig.

By the numbers: There are now more than 17,000 migrants who have arrived in Chicago since last year. And 3,000 migrants are sleeping on floors of police stations all around town, according to Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th). VIDEO interview on WTTW


Dick Butkus, linebacker for the Chicago Bears, is shown in 1973. | AP file photo

IN MEMORIAM: Dick Butkus, NFL Hall of Famer and former Bears linebacker, has died. He was 80: “Butkus, who played nine seasons with the Bears, is considered among the best linebackers to have played the game,” by NBC News’ Phil Helsel.

From the Sun-Times: “Butkus was a Chicagoan who played football like all of us wanted to — with grit, ferocity, anger and relentless aggressiveness. Through all those losing seasons, he played the game as if he felt our pain,” writes Mark Potash

From the Tribune: “Perhaps no player in the Chicago Bears’ 104-year history better epitomized the team’s tough and determined identity than Dick Butkus,” writes Fred Mitchell.

If you are Delia Ramirez, Playbook would like to hear from you. Email [email protected]


No official public events.


At City Hall at 10:45 a.m. to preside over a special meeting of the City Council to vote on a landmark ordinance eliminating the subminimum wage for tipped workers.

Where's Toni

At the Cook County Health Professional Building at 11:30 a.m. with county health officials to discuss the need to get updated flu and Covid vaccines.

Stop complaining about Columbus Day and send me a line: [email protected]


GO INSIDE THE CAPITOL DOME: From the outset, POLITICO has been your eyes and ears on Capitol Hill, providing the most thorough Congress coverage — from political characters and emerging leaders to leadership squabbles and policy nuggets during committee markups and hearings. We're stepping up our game to ensure you’re fully informed on every key detail inside the Capitol Dome, all day, every day. Start your day with Playbook AM, refuel at midday with our Playbook PM halftime report and enrich your evening discussions with Huddle. Plus, stay updated with real-time buzz all day through our brand new Inside Congress Live feature. Learn more and subscribe here.

2024 WATCH

— Illinois presidential primary process starts Saturday with petitions for candidates and delegates: “The number of necessary signatures ranges from as few as 136 in the sprawling, heavily Democratic Chicago and suburban district of Democratic U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, to more than 1,000 signatures from voters in the heavily Republican downstate congressional districts of U.S. Reps. Mike Bost of Murphysboro and Mary Miller of Oakland,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) is being endorsed by Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker. "Bill's background as a businessman and as a scientist gives him a unique perspective on some of the most pressing issues we are facing right now, like tackling rising sea levels and regulating artificial intelligence,” Pritzker says in an endorsement video. He added: “Bill is the only Ph.D. physicist in Congress, which makes him the perfect person to represent two of the most important research laboratories in the world: Fermilab and Argonne.” Watch the video here


David Axelrod, left, Susan Davis, David French, Dave Wasserman and Bakari Sellers talk about 2024 on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, on the University of Chicago campus. | POLITICO's Shia Kapos

Dave Wasserman, a senior editor with The Cook Political Report, was in Chicago on Thursday talking about the 2024 election as an increasingly likely rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Wasserman’s take: “This is the weirdest election I've ever approached,” he said on the panel sponsored by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at University of Chicago. Joining him were IOP Director David Axelrod, NPR political correspondent Susan Davis, New York Times columnist David French and political commentator Bakari Sellers.

Flip-flop: “There is a chance that the House and Senate will flip in opposite directions. But also, I'm not sure that Trump or Biden truly want to serve another four years as president,” Wasserman said. Trump, added Wasserman, sees a political campaign as “the best shield” against his legal challenges. And President Biden “sees it as his moral obligation to prevent Trump from ever being president.”


— Mayor gets pushback about NASCAR's new deal: Ald. Bill Conway says Mayor Brandon Johnson didn’t consult with downtown aldermen about renewing the contract with NASCAR. Johnson told reporters Wednesday he spoke with the necessary aldermen, though he didn’t say who. Conway says it’s not the first time Johnson hasn’t brought in aldermen for a big decision, via interview with NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern.

— Johnson to join UAW picket line on Saturday, by Crain’s Justin Laurence

— Ald. William Hall (6th) has been named chair of the Chicago City Council Revenue Committee.

— Almost 1,000 migrating birds die Thursday after crashing into McCormick Place Lakeside Center, a 40-year record: The cause could be "weather patterns, badly timed rain and lit windows at Lakeside Center,” Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg reports.

— CPS suspended 2 security guards last month. Both were fired police officers and named on Chicago’s do-not-hire list, by WTTW’s Jared Rutecki

— Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg are spending $250M on science in Chicago, by Crain’s John Pletz

— Chicago Public Library unveils public art piece taking on banned books, by WBEZ’s Adora Namigadde

— Chris Rock to direct, Steven Spielberg to produce Martin Luther King Jr. biopic based on ‘King: A Life:’ The book is by Chicago author Jonathan Eig. Tribune’s Rebecca Rubin reports


— Pat Fitzgerald suing Northwestern for $130M for wrongful termination: “Attorney Dan Webb, who filed the lawsuit, said Northwestern fired Fitzgerald based on "no new facts, no new developments whatsoever, zero." ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reports.


GO INSIDE THE CAPITOL DOME: From the outset, POLITICO has been your eyes and ears on Capitol Hill, providing the most thorough Congress coverage — from political characters and emerging leaders to leadership squabbles and policy nuggets during committee markups and hearings. We're stepping up our game to ensure you’re fully informed on every key detail inside the Capitol Dome, all day, every day. Start your day with Playbook AM, refuel at midday with our Playbook PM halftime report and enrich your evening discussions with Huddle. Plus, stay updated with real-time buzz all day through our brand new Inside Congress Live feature. Learn more and subscribe here.

Reader Digest

We asked for political revenge stories.

Kristopher Anderson: “When Gov. Pat Quinn skipped the swearing-in of his successor, Gov. Bruce Rauner.”

Lissa Druss: When Michael Corleone had his brother Fredo killed, via The Godfather.

Chris Kolker: “When then-Speaker Michael Madigan attempted to draw out state Rep. Dick Mautino in the 1991 remap because Mautino had voted present for the speaker in 1987.”

Kevin Lampe: When Morton Zwick primaried his ex-wife, state Rep. Jill Zwick. She eventually dropped out of the race.

Mark Rosenberg: Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Russell Scott: “Interim Speaker Patrick McHenry kicking Nancy Pelosi out of her former speaker office while she was in California for Dianne Feinstein’s funeral.”

Peter Skosey and Bill Wheelhouse: Mayor Richard M. Daley carving X's into the runway of Meigs Field in the middle of the night.

Is it OK for political ads to use AI? Email [email protected]


SPEAKER RACE: Illinois Republican Congresswoman Mary Miller (IL-15) is backing Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to be the next U.S. House speaker. In a statement, Miller said Jordan has a “proven track record of holding the Biden Administration accountable.”

Trump is also endorsing Jordan, reports POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw.

No word yet on who fellow Republicans Darin LaHood (IL-16) and Mike Bost (IL-12) will endorse. But former President Donald Trump is endorsing Jordan over House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana Republican,

SIDE NOTE: Republican Darren Bailey, who is challenging Bost in a primary, says he’d back Jordan, too.


— Biden world plots to take on, and take out, third-party challengers, by POLITICO’s Elena Schneider and Jonathan Lemire

— Biden’s two-headed policy nightmare — Ukraine funding and border security, by POLITICO’s Myah Ward

— Feinstein memorialized as a trailblazer for women in politics, by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White and Justin Gardiner


— Today: It’s the last of a two-day window to get a special 50 percent discount on Tribune reporter Ray Long’s book, “The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer.” Here’s the deal, and here’s the discount code: CILH23

— Thursday: Gun-control activist David Hogg headlines a fundraiser that will benefit congressional candidates. Details here

— Oct. 27: Stacy Abrams, the national voting rights activist, headlines a fundraiser for Erikson Institute. Details here


THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Gennie Siwicki for correctly answering that The Brewster House is the hotel where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas stayed when they had their second debate in Freeport, Ill., in 1858.

H/T to Randy Bukas for the question and Ashley Huffines for the fact-checking. She’s head librarian at the Freeport Library and an officer in the Freeport Chapter of the Lincoln-Douglas Society.

Tall story: Thanks to the readers who pointed out that the Wyndham in Springfield is actually a few feet higher than Watterson Towers at Illinois State University. The college has claimed the tower is the highest point between Chicago and St. Louis.

TODAY’s QUESTION: In what Illinois town did the Harlem Globetrotters play their first game? Email [email protected]


Today: State Sen. Michael Hastings, Lieutenant Governor’s Office policy director Susan Ogwal, South Side pastor and former congressional candidate Chris Butler, Cook County Department of Emergency Management PIO Caitlin McElroy, Dem comms specialist Tracy Sefl, attorney Jamal Edwards and PR pro Mary Wagstaff.

Saturday: Congressman Bill Foster, state Sen. Craig Wilcox, state Rep. Jaime Andrade, Ald. Nick Sposato, former Sen. (and state Rep.) Carl Hawkinson, ABC 7 program producer John Owens, attorney Warren Silver, Playbooker Michael Rosengart and WBEZ political reporter Claudia Morell.

Sunday: The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Cook County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Gallagher, former state Sen. John O. Jones, comms consultant and former Highland Park council member Alyssa Knobel, state treasurer’s campaign finance director Samantha Fendt and pollster and political strategist Dan Cohen.

Monday: Illinois Republican Leader Tony McCombie, Board of Review Commissioner George Cardenas, Illinois Senate Republican Caucus Senior Legal Counsel Jack Felker, PAWS Chicago co-founder Alexis Fasseas, Google exec Tarresha Poindexter, committeeman candidate Michael Rabbitt, Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, journalist Bill Mullen, Chicago Appleseed Center policy director Jaylin McClinton who turns the big 3-0, and Brian Wallach, a former assistant U.S. attorney who once worked for Barack Obama, who is an outspoken advocate to find a cure for ALS.

And belated greetings to Leah Israel, co-founder of Magnify Strategies and fundraiser for the 2024 Democratic Convention. Her birthday was Thursday.



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Shia Kapos @shiakapos


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Now Biden wants to build a wall


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