The numbers look bad for Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
Illinois has remained in lousy shape throughout Quinn's five years in office.
The state's jobless rate is the worst in the Midwest and among the highest in the country. Quinn pushed through a sizable tax increase early in his term, yet Illinois's finances remain among the shakiest in the nation, with its overall budget gap continuing to increase.
"We were one of only two states in the entire country where the unemployment rate got worse last year," says Andrew Welhouse, communications director for the state Republican Party. "Illinois is getting worse, as all of our neighbors are getting better."
For all these reasons, Quinn's approval ratings are underwater and polls indicate he trails Bruce Rauner, a multimillionaire venture capitalist expected to win Tuesday's Republican primary.
Yet few people in Illinois are ready to rule out Quinn, who took the reins in 2009, after fellow Democrat Rod Blagojevich was impeached for trying to sell President Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Last fall, Hillary Clinton joked that Quinn belonged in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "luckiest politician" in the world — an acknowledgment of the governor's good fortune in avoiding a tough primary election fight.
"People have written Mr. Quinn's epitaph too early too many times before," says Gregg Durham, a pollster with We Ask America, a firm based in Springfield. "He always seems to bounce back."
Running Against A Newcomer
Democrats are eager to paint Rauner as the second coming of Mitt Romney, only worse — an arrogant rich guy seeking to buy his way into top political office.
"There is hardly a more flawed candidate running for office in the country today," claims Quinn consultant Mark Mellman. "He's done Romney-like dismemberment of companies to his own benefit."
Rauner handed the Quinn campaign a gift recently when he said the minimum wage should be reduced by a dollar an hour. Rauner quickly backpedaled, saying he would favor a wage increase under certain circumstances.
But Democrats intend to pounce on Rauner on wage and equality issues, as well as the management of his own companies.
"He's got to establish that he's more than just a rich guy who wants to buy his way into the governorship, and that's how Democrats will portray him," says John Mark Hansen, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.
Outpacing The Field
Rauner has spent at least $6 million of his own money on the race, raising even more from other donors. He has vastly outspent his three rivals, including state Sen. Bill Brady and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, for the Republican nomination.
Rauner's leading opponent, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, lost the nomination by less than 200 votes four years ago. It appears he will come up short again.
Dillard had received backing and financial support from a number of public-employee unions. But they pulled their money out of the race last week, a clear indication they thought he couldn't catch Rauner.
The unions are unhappy with Quinn for having pushed through a pension bill last year that raises retirement ages and reduces cost of living increases. But they prefer him to Rauner, who talks openly of his disdain for "union bosses."
"Rauner scares them so much that they're swallowing hard and realizing that Pat Quinn is a better deal for them than Rauner would be," says David Yepsen, who directs a public policy institute at Southern Illinois University.
Quinn has some work to do in rallying Democrats to his cause. Illinois is a blue state — no Republican has been elected governor since 1998 — but like Democrats across the country, he has to worry about a midterm fall-off in turnout.
Four years ago, Quinn's margin of victory was less than 1 percentage point. He lost all but four of the state's 102 counties, racking up his winning margin in the populous Chicago area.
What's more, a recent poll indicated that a third of Illinois Democrats aren't certain they will vote for him this fall.
"That's a devastating number," says Durham, who conducted the poll.
Rauner, meanwhile, has proven himself to be a disciplined candidate. He has essentially no public record, but with the exception of his minimum wage comment has stayed strictly on message and pounded his GOP opponents with well-timed attacks.
"Rauner has shown two things that most of the rich guys who run haven't, which is kind of a killer instinct in terms of his campaign approach and great opposition research," says Dennis Culloton, a public relations consultant and former GOP gubernatorial aide.
Rauner will have to mend fences himself, with a majority of Republican primary voters likely to vote against him. They haven't all warmed to his moderate-to-liberal stances on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Luck Is Residue Of Work
Quinn, meanwhile, managed to avoid a bruising primary challenge that he might well have lost. And his pension law, while not a panacea, gives him a powerful argument about being able to push through difficult changes in a legislature that will remain dominated by Democrats.
Quinn sought to cut off pay for legislators until they passed the bill, which angered them but played well with the public.
"He's begun to solve the pension crisis that has bedeviled the state," says Mellman, Quinn's campaign consultant. "He had to knock some heads together to do it, but he's starting to bring the state back."
People in Illinois know that, when it comes to the campaign, Quinn will not be outworked — and he's a master at attracting free media.
"It's the toughest race Quinn will ever see," Culloton says. "By the same token, this is a guy who doesn't need millions of dollars to run a campaign. He needs a push mower, a little bit of protein and a flashlight, and he's good to go. This is a guy who can live off the land."
It's been more than a decade since New York darlings Cibo Matto mixed up their unique batch of hip-hop-infused cocktail-pop. What have they been up to since their 1999 album, Stereo ? Type A? With downcast eyes and a wink, vocalist Miho Hatori told KEXP, "Well, we were in jail." Bandmate Yuka Honda quickly picked up on the ruse, "We worked out ..." "... read lots of Bibles ..." "... learned how to cook with the smallest equipment."
While the "Cibo Matto" name may have been locked away awhile, these quirky, playful ladies showed their creative spirit is as free as ever with a set of songs from their new release, Hotel Valentine.
Our early headlines:
The day's other news includes:
— "U.S. Navy SEALs board tanker hijacked in Libya." (Reuters)
— "Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair agrees to plea deal in sexual assault case." (The Washington Post)
— "Snow, Some Ice Linger into St. Patrick's Day" as storm hits mid-Atlantic. (The Weather Channel)
— At murder trial, testimony that Oscar Pistorius "knew rules" about gun use. (BBC News)
— "Guinness pulls out of NY's St. Patrick's parade over ban on gays." (Reuters)
Related: Boston and New York City mayors also boycott parades. (MSNBC)
Aside from U2, Bell X1 is the Irish band with the most airplay in their native country. They got together as schoolboys in County Kildare, calling themselves Juniper. Back then, the lead singer was Damien Rice. He left soon after, with Paul Noonan taking over as lead. They changed their name to that of the aircraft that first broke the sound barrier (flown by West Virginia native Chuck Yeager). In fact, the first time Bell X1 visited Mountain Stage, members of the band asked - only half jokingly - if there was a possibility that Yeager would be in the audience.
Bell X1 has a hybrid sound informed by several styles of rock and pop music, including Talking Heads and The Flaming Lips. They've been compared to Coldplay and Radiohead, yet they definitely retain a certain "Irishness" about them. They recorded their first album in 2000, and their latest, Chop Chop in 2013.
This set is taken from their 2011 appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University.
- "Hey Anna Lena"
- "The Great Defector"
- "4 Minute Mile"
We're updating this post as new information comes in.
There's still no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 or the 239 people on board.
The plane went missing March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on what was supposed to be about a six-hour flight to Beijing.
It's thought the jet turned west, crossing back over Malaysia, before heading either north or south for at least six more hours. The main reason authorities don't know more about where the plane went: They say its tracking gear was turned off or disabled.
Among today's news about the jet's disappearance and the massive search that's underway:
— Reuters reported early Monday that there is "mounting evidence the plane's disappearance was meticulously planned." The news service went on to write that "suspicions of hijacking or sabotage hardened further after it was confirmed the last radio message from the cockpit — an informal 'all right, good night' — was spoken after someone had begun disabling one of the plane's automatic tracking systems."
But later in the day, Reuters writes, Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya "told a news conference that it was unclear exactly when one of the plane's automatic tracking systems had been disabled, appearing to contradict the weekend comments of government ministers."
"Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is also Malaysia's acting minister of transportation, appeared to give a crucial clue pointing to the possible complicity of the pilots when he said at a news conference on Sunday that the communications system had been 'disabled' at 1:07 a.m. on March 8, before someone in the cockpit gave a verbal signoff to air traffic controllers here on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
"But Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, clarified at a news conference early Monday evening that the communications system, known as an Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, had worked normally at 1:07 but then failed to send its next regularly scheduled update at 1:37 a.m."
(We updated with the information about the airline executive's statement at 9:45 a.m. ET. This development underscores, again, how even information released by officials in a position to know about the investigation can change. We'll continue to sort through what's out there and update.)
As for the "all right, good night" sign off, airline officials said Monday that they believe those words were spoken by co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
That does not necessarily mean, of course, that the co-pilot disabled the tracking system. According to Reuters:
"The informal hand-off went against standard radio procedures, which would have called for the speaker to read back instructions for contacting the next control centre and include the aircraft's call sign, said Hugh Dibley, a former British Airways pilot and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
"Investigators are likely to examine the recording for any signs of psychological stress and to determine the speaker's identity to confirm whether the flight deck had been taken over by hijackers or the pilot himself was involved, he said."
Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at the newssite Flight Global, tells NPR's Frank Langfitt that whoever turned off some of the tracking systems "seemed to have a very astute knowledge on how to completely shut down the entire communications system on this type of aircraft. It shows a very comprehensive knowledge of the 777, a terrifying amount of knowledge to be honest."
According to the BBC, "police have searched the homes of Captain Zaharie Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. A flight simulator taken from the captain's home was being reassembled and examined at police headquarters, officials said."
— The search is expanding northwest into Central Asia and south across much of the Indian Ocean, NPR's Langfitt reports from Shanghai.
The Wall Street Journal writes that "Malaysia has requested radar information and search assets from the 26 countries involved" and is "coordinating with countries as diverse as Laos and the U.S. to search the northern corridor between Thailand and the border of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan."
Australia, Bloomberg News adds, has taken the lead in the search to the south.