Brian Mackey

Statehouse reporter

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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Kirk and Duckworth arriving at the Illinois State Fair
Amanda Vinicky (Kirk); Brian Mackey (Duckworth) / NPR Illinois

Illinois voters are sending a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.

Kirk recovered from a debilitating stroke in 2012, but was always going to have a hard time holding onto the seat. He won the seat in the Tea Party wave election of 2010, and Illinois tends to vote more Democratic in presidential election years.

Kirk was magnanimous in defeat, inviting Duckworth to meet at Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

An election season of unprecedented spending on negative advertising is coming to an end. How does it rank? And what does it mean for the future?

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth participated in their first televised presidential debate this week. Kirk made a comment about his opponent's ethnic heritage for which he later felt compelled to apologize. We'll ask Charlie Wheeler why voters should care about the special election for Illinois comptroller. And Sen. Dick Durbin might mean it when he says he isn't interested in taking on Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Kirk and Duckworth arriving at the Illinois State Fair
Amanda Vinicky (Kirk); Brian Mackey (Duckworth) / NPR Illinois

Our two-part series looks at where Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth are on a few key issues, and why the politics of 2016 mean those policy positions may not have much effect on the outcome.

bus stop
flickr.com/stevekeiretsu

Several downstate mass transit districts say they are on the verge of shutdown — or have already shut down.

Thousands of people rely on the services to get to medical appointments, the grocery store, or even work. And in turn the services rely on the state of Illinois for their funding.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Donald Trump's talk of "rigged" elections prompts Illinois and Chicago officials to say widespread voter fraud is a thing of the past. Meanwhile, a Chicago Democratic operative feels the burn of a conservative undercover activist. And could there be unintended consequences for state parks if Illinois voters approve the so-called transportation lockbox?

Starved Rock State Park
courtesy Brian Mackey / all rights reserved

A key source of funding for the Department of Natural Resources could be blocked. Or maybe not.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Republicans continue to struggle with their reactions to Donald Trump's bus video. Congressman Rodney Davis withdrew his endorsement while Gov. Bruce Rauner continues trying to dodge the question.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune editorial board is backing Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth over Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, citing concerns about Krik's ability to do the job following his 2012 stroke. And the advocacy arm of the conservative Illinois Policy Institute has screened its movie attacking House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Last Friday, central Illinois held its final naturalization ceremony before this year’s election.

Fifty-eight men and women entered Springfield's Old State Capitol as citizens of 30 nations. An hour later, they left as citizens of one.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Simon Poll says incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk is 14 points behind Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. Democrats and Republicans are trying to use the other side's unpopular leaders to sink down-ballot candidates. Plus, Illinois is awash in campaign cash.

hourglass with dollar signs instead of sand filtering through
flickr/ Bill Brooks

Before he ran for governor, Bruce Rauner described a plan to use funding for social services as a “wedge” issue to persuade Democrats to support anti-union proposals. The fact that lawmakers did nothing to address the rollback of the temporary income tax increase, which was passed in 2011, set the stage for him to try out his strategy.

Rauner-Madigan-Cullerton approval poll
Fall 2016 Simon Poll / Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

We’re just over a month away from the election of 2016. It’s a season of campaign advertising, speeches, debates, and of course polling.

Every election cycle, Illinois voters are asked their opinions on a range of issues by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.

This year, they weighed in on elections for president and U.S. Senate, the popularity state government leaders, and whether Illinois ought to amend its constitution to lock in road-building money.

NPR Illinois State Week logo (Capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A federal judge has put limits on election-day voter registration in the most populous parts of Illinois. The governor's office has a rosier view of the Illinois deficit then legislative analysts. And Donald Trump once again shines a light on violence and policing in Chicago.

Could the Republican nominee's emphasis on "law and order" derail a growing bipartisan consensus on crime and punishment?

wikimedia

A federal judge has blocked an Illinois law that had been aimed at making it easier to vote this fall.

The law required the state’s biggest cities and counties to let citizens register to vote on election day and at their local polling place. It did not impose the same requirement on smaller election authorities.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library digitized a rare copy of a 1956 presidential primary debate. What does it have to say about American politics today?

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner stuck to his script during his Facebook Live event. He also denies that his legislative agenda is "hurting some class."

flickr/sideonecincy

When a man or woman is wrongfully imprisoned, Illinois law says they're entitled to compensation. But like so many others owed money by state government, 14 innocent individuals are still waiting. This is one of their stories.

the moon
NASA / flickr.com/nasacommons

Prisons often take an expansive view of their power to censor what inmates are reading. It makes sense that they might ban a book on, say, how to escape from jail. But what about medical textbooks? Classic works of literature? Or even a picture of a cat?

13th Congressional District
U.S. Department of the Interior / Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

A central-Illinois physician has lost another round in his fight to become an independent candidate for Congress.

Jamey Dunn and Brian Mackey
Network Knowledge

Host Jamey Dunn, Brian Mackey, and Andy Maloney (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) talk about the new movie about the Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner has donated $16 million of his fortune to help elect Republican candidates. But he also says he's not really involved in the election. Huh?

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

  Advocates for changing how Illinois’ legislative districts are drawn are not done yet, there’s continuing fallout from the ongoing unnatural disaster known as the Illinois budget, and Chicago violence hits a grim milestone.

book cover
The New Press

Even at this time of economic anxiety, America's system of organized labor is so convoluted, it’s no wonder unions are so unpopular.

John Bradley soft on crime ad
screen capture / Friends of John Bradley

In an era of political gridlock, one of the few topics on which there's been hope of bipartisan cooperation is on the issues of crime and punishment.

Politicians have traditionally been averse to doing anything that could get them painted as being "soft on crime."

It's an easy attack, and one that's been frequently deployed in the past. But this year, criminal justice reform advocates are fighting back.

IGPA

The ongoing budget debacle that’s hobbled Illinois government was front and center Wednesday in Springfield.

Debates over the minimum wage usually come down to economics — whether it helps or hurts workers and businesses. But new research suggests another potential winner: babies.

Economists have long known that people who make more money are generally healthier.

Robert Kaestner is with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government & Public Affairs. He found that among new mothers with lower education levels, living in an area with a higher minimum wage led to heavier babies — about 11 grams for every dollar — and heavier babies are healthier babies.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to change the way Illinois' legislative districts are drawn.

Gill campaign

A Bloomington man running for Congress has successfully sued to keep his name on the ballot.

David Gill is running as an independent, and failed to file the number of valid signatures required by Illinois law.

That number is much higher than it would be if he were running as a Democrat or Republican, and a federal judge on Thursday ruled that Gill must remain on the ballot.

Amanda Vinicky and Brian Mackey
Network Knowledge

Host Amanda Vinicky, Brian Mackey, and Dave Dahl (WTAX) discuss what went on when the legislature returned for the Illinois State Fair.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

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