CHICAGO – The Illinois Opportunity Project (IOP) made a $500,000 donation to the campaign of State Representative Ken Dunkin, a Chicago Democrat, the group announced Monday.
The IOP, co-founded by Illinois politicos Matt Besler, Dan Proft and Patrick Hughes, is backing the Democrat this time around, because his absence during key votes in the Illinois House prevented Speaker Mike Madigan from overriding Governor Rauner's budget vetoes.
Dunkin is being challenged in the March 15th primary, and IOP is likely to be investing in his campaign with hopes that the Democrat's passive support for Rauner's agenda may create a wedge in the House Democrat's caucus. Last Wednesday, Dunkin held a press conference after the Governor's State of the State speech, saying he would camp out at the Capitol until the ongoing budget feud was settled.
And someone in Dunkin's district is exploiting his partisan line-straddling. These yard signs tying Dunkin and Rauner together are appearing:
IOP explained their generosity:
"Rep. Dunkin has consistently shown independent thinking and provided support in policy areas of critical importance including: (1) protecting honest, adversarial collective bargaining between the governor and public sector unions representing state employees, and (2) ending the discrimination against children based on their household income and address when it comes to the primary and secondary schools they may attend," a statement from IOP said Monday.
And although IOP has never written a check to Dunkin before, they point back six years to a vote Dunkin made that led to their financial support this spring.
"Dunkin’s support for certain structural reforms well predate the election of Gov. Bruce Rauner. For example, in 2010, Dunkin voted for the school choice legislation (SB 2494) sponsored by then State Sen. James Meeks," their statement said.
Thus far in the 2016 cycle, IOP has written only one other check to a primary candidate – $6000 to Republican Allen Skillicorn, who is in a four-way race to succeed retiring State Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake).
With funds from another source, Liberty Principles PAC, Proft is helping Skillicorn in the primary.
And while stepping into Democrat races, Proft and his associates are creating headaches in GOP circles by trying to knock off Republican State Senator Sam McCann in the 50th Senate District.
So far, Liberty Principles PAC has spent $316,960 on January 20th for a media buy and $8,753.12 for a mailing on Illinois State Police's Bryce Benton's behalf.
The incumbent McCann was the only Senate Republican that voted with Democrats and public sector unions against Governor Rauner's legislative efforts to institute his Turnaround Agenda.