Rolling down the river

The Madison County Record May 7, 2005, 12:04pm




Resident Rove

Why would toxic tort specialist SimmonsCooper recruit Chuck Scholz, former mayor of a far-flung Mississippi town like Quincy, to join its firm? Sources tell Dicta it’s all about political ambition-- John Simmons’, that is.

These pages have speculated for months about Simmons’ political aspirations.

Rumor has it the former asbestos ace will challenge U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) in 2006. If he does, Scholz’ support and savvy will lend his campaign instant credibility amongst Democrats here and elsewhere.

Serving 12 years as mayor, Scholz is a longtime political operative and Springfield regular whose experience includes a stint with U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Makanda). He also once ran a Granite City office for then-Illinois Attorney General and later gubernatorial candidate Neil Hartigan (D-Chicago).

National Democrats will remember Scholz for his prominent role guiding Quincy through the Great Flood of 1993. That led to his rubbing elbows with former President Bill Clinton, who fawned over Scholz and even visited the town.

When asked if his political expertise/connections would be in play for Simmons' reported political ambitions, Scholz told The Record, "I would be supportive of that."

He’d just be reciprocating. SimmonsCooper gave $5,000 last month to Scholz’ anointed successor, new Quincy mayor and fellow Democrat John Spring.

Also worth noting: Spring raised another $15K in March from the Chicago-area trial bar, including “super lawyer” Bob Clifford. That’s some machine they’re building up the Mississippi.

If you don’t succeed…

Which conservative-minded someone will Republican Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier appoint this summer to fill a vacancy on the 5th District Appellate Court in Mt. Vernon?

One Southern Illinois-savvy Dicta source thinks it will be a Democrat.

Mt. Vernon native and Second Circuit Court Judge Jim Wexstten won 19 counties but lost 47%-35% to Melissa Chapman in a bruising three-way primary for the same Appellate Court slot back in 2002.

Chapman, the daughter of Granite City plaintiff’s “patriarch” Morris Chapman, had no previous judicial experience but she was still-- albeit controversially-- appointed to fill a vacancy on the court a year previous. Madison and St. Clair Counties contributed some 49% of Chapman’s vote total.

Tough to swallow.

Dicta’s source suggests the conservative Judge Wexstten would make a perfect surprise appointment for Karmeier, who surely has his eye on the election-worthiness of his appointee.

For Wexstten’s part, he’d have to switch parties but he’d gain the advantage of running as an incumbent.

Harrisburg attorney Bruce Stewart is the only announced Democratic candidate for the seat thus far.

No respect

The Washington, D.C. political journal Roll Call reports that U.S. Senator and East St. Louis Assumption graduate Dick Durbin (D-IL) got in a tussle with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) over asbestos legislation.

“The fight broke out when Durbin complained that the hearing didn’t have enough victims testifying about their life-threatening illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos… Durbin (said).. “we” should be spending more time on the bill.

Specter told Durbin, “When you say ‘we’ should be spending more time on this bill, don’t include me.” The room broke out in laughter. Specter added, “We had about 40 sessions on this bill. I didn’t see you attend one.”


Durbin isn't known as the "Rodney Dangerfield of the U.S. Senate" for nothing.

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