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Prepared Remarks of George Gollin on Election Night

Friends, thank you!

Just a few minutes ago, I called Judge Callis and congratulated her on her victory in this primary tonight.

I know you all join me in pledging our support in the general election. No matter how hard our primary fight, we must remember that the differences between us as Democrats are tiny compared with the differences between us and the Republican agenda.

One thing I’ve learned since last summer is that no one who does this does it alone. There are so many people to thank, beginning with my wife Melanie and my daughter Cordelia. Thank you both for so much more than I can say. Cordelia has been making calls and knocking on doors during her spring break, and many of you heard her on your answering machines earlier today.

I have been lucky to have an amazing team working on our campaign. Monica Biddix is our campaign manager, and has put her heart and soul and tire treads into the campaign without reservation. Deb Schrishuhn has been a steady voice and conscience from the beginning. Matt Jaccarino, our finance director, has spent hundreds of hours in a tiny room with me patiently telling me to “just make the ask, George.”

And the true heroes of tonight are our volunteers, many of whom are here with us tonight. In the past month, our campaign made over 10,000 phone calls and knocked on thousands of doors, and that was quite inspiring. I’d like anyone here who volunteered to stand up and give yourselves a huge hand.

To all of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I also want to take a moment to thank my colleagues at the University, and in the larger science community, who have been incredibly supportive with their donations and encouragement with no more agenda than making this a better country.

This has been an amazing ride. What I’ve learned, that too many people on the inside often miss, is that everyday people are hungry for straight answers. They’re smarter than they get credit for in professional politics. People are more likely to vote for a candidate they disagree with on an issue who tells them clearly what he believes, than a candidate who hunts for the lowest common denominator of consensus.

Throughout this primary campaign, I have tried to be as clear and direct with the voters about where I stand as I would in a conversation with a friend.

Let me close by quoting one of the greatest Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Dr. King knew that it is our obligation to bend the arc faster, and in recent years, this responsibility has largely fallen to the Democratic Party – the party that gave us Social Security and Medicare, and protection for our labor unions, and now a start on universal health insurance.

I hope to see us continue in this great drive toward greater justice and greater fairness.

Thank you all so much.

News-Gazette Endorses Gollin

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“Straight-talker Gollin for Dems”

Physics Professor George Gollin has made an impressive political debut and is our recommendation as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 13th District.

Democratic leaders like U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin believe — correctly — that they missed a great chance in 2012 to pick up a U.S. House seat from the state’s 13th Congressional District.

Determined to correct that mistake this year, they’ve painted a bulls-eye on the back of Republican Rep. Rodney Davis and focused all their efforts on defeating the first-term incumbent. Davis, who barely eked out a win over Democrat David Gill, is certainly vulnerable. But the key for Democrats to defeat him is to find the right challenger.

Just as they did in 2012, party leaders have focused on an individual they believe can win, retired Madison County judge Ann Callis, and anointed her as their choice. But just as they did in 2012, they failed to clear the field of party challengers.

In 2012, Gill defeated the establishment’s choice in the primary election. This year, two local Democrats, University of Illinois physics Professor Gollin and university policy analyst David Green, hope to knock off Callis in the March 18 Democratic primary.

Of the three Democratic candidates, Gollin is best suited to represent his party in the fall election. A physicist by profession, he has the intelligence to understand complex issues. Now a politician by choice, Gollin has shown that he’s both comfortable on the platform and willing to clearly articulate his positions on the issues. Although he’s certainly more liberal than the politically divided 13th District, it would be our expectation that Gollin would pursue practical solutions to serious problems rather than fall back on liberal orthodoxy. After all, he condemns what he calls the political orthodoxy of tea party conservatives.

Our enthusiasm for Gollin is heightened by our disappointment in Callis. Gollin has enough respect for the voters to state his positions in a clear and informed manner. She uses her intelligence to shape vague responses to important questions. While he has been forthcoming, she has been willfully nonresponsive.

It’s not enough for Callis to fall back on her resume and promise that she’ll determine her congressional votes the way she formed her judicial opinions — by examining all aspects of the issue and then deciding. That’s just a dodge, not even a particularly clever one. It’s hard to imagine that even Callis’ most enthusiastic supporters get excited listening to her non-answers.

Having said all that, it’s our clear expectation that Callis would follow the lead of her Democratic patron, Durbin, and be a reliably liberal vote if she is elected. She just won’t say; her campaign strategy is to say as little as possible for as long as possible to avoid alienating various groups of voters.

As for the third candidate in the race — Democrat Green — he’s been entertaining to watch. Like the libertarian candidate in the three-way GOP House primary, Green offers a rigidly ideological point of view that is highly critical of both foreign and domestic policy under Democrats and Republicans. While that extreme left-wing point of view makes him interesting to hear and watch, Green would be hopelessly ineffective as both a party nominee and a member of the U.S. House.

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Only Two Slices Left

A couple of days ago, we set a goal of raising $10,000 for our final push toward Election Day and our Get Out The Vote efforts. We’re only $2500 and two slices short of reaching that goal!

pizza indicator

We just ordered our first pizza of the week at campaign headquarters! Afterward, our student volunteers were so re-energized that they continued calling voters even after their shift ended.

With a contribution of $50, you can help us feed the evening shift of hard-working volunteers. A contribution of $100 or $200 will help us make sure that no volunteer walks away hungry.

We have truly been running a grassroots campaign, and it is one of the reasons we are in the position to win this race. It’s going to be close on Tuesday, and our volunteers are going to need that extra fuel while they are knocking on doors and making phone calls.

Please click HERE to contribute $50 and feed a shift of volunteers!

An Open Letter from George Gollin

An Open Letter from George Gollin

Last night, I got an e-mail from a colleague – a person I respect and admire – who had questions about our campaign’s television ad about Ann Callis and Social Security. Obviously, I’m also aware that the Callis campaign has taken issue with the spot, going so far as to fly in the president of a “non-partisan” charity organization to make a last-minute endorsement.

So I want to clear the air about the spot, both for my colleague and the general public.


I understand why the Callis campaign is unhappy about the spot. It’s a very tough ad.

And I stand by it completely.

Here’s why:

At a Democratic candidates’ forum in Bloomington in mid-December, we were both asked if we agreed with Senator Durbin’s “trial balloon” that we should consider reducing benefits, and delaying the retirement age, for people covered by the Social Security system.

(This was during the height of the budget negotiations, when the conventional Washington wisdom that a “grand bargain” – including earned benefits – would be part of a deal.)

I said that the proper remedy was to remove the cap on income taxed for Social Security. (There would also need to be a progressive roll off in benefits for the highest earning participants).

Ms. Callis did not describe how she felt the solvency concerns should actually be addressed, but instead asked one of Senator Durbin’s staff, who was in the audience, to comment. The staffer described Mr. Durbin’s proposal that the cap should be indexed to inflation, but not removed. And since “people are living much longer … maybe we’ve got to add a year” to the retirement age. He pointedly added that “everything would have to be on the table.”

From her handling of the question, I was convinced—as were many in the audience—that Ms. Callis was unlikely to support a solution different from that advocated by Senator Durbin.

After the event, all the candidates were interviewed by a reporter for WGLT. The resulting story went up on their web site and was titled “Democrats Start To Discuss Entitlement Program Changes.” The story says this: “Still, cautious Democrats, like Ann Callis of Troy … hedge so much they don’t even firmly acknowledge there is a problem.” The full quote from Ms. Callis follows immediately in the story: “Let’s see where we’re at in a cohesive manner. And then if there are issues, if they say definitively this is a looming problem, this is going to happen to your grandchildren then we’re going to have to see what’s there, and what we remove, and what we don’t.”

Rather than explicitly include possible remedies which might involve an increase in revenues, Ms. Callis chose to discuss cuts.

Ms. Callis’ campaign has said that the quote we used was taken out of context and was actually about “waste, fraud and abuse,” but that is clearly not the case from the story. Some of her supporters have theorized that the answer was about lifting the income cap, but she’s quoted later in the story as not supporting that.

She has yet to offer any credible explanation of her recorded statement.

I invite everyone to listen to the radio story and decide for yourselves. The entire radio story, including Ms. Callis’ quote, can be heard here (the relevant sound bite used in our commercial begins around 0:50):

I stand by the accuracy of the ad. It is an accurate reflection of Ms. Callis’ full statement.

There continue to be two clear contrasts between my position and that of Ann Callis on Social Security; the contrasts are also consistent with our answers at a candidates’ forum in February: 1) I have consistently and from the beginning said that benefit cuts are neither acceptable nor necessary; Callis has not. 2) I have endorsed a realistic plan for keeping the system solvent for decades; Callis has offered clichés and anecdotes.




Update: Three Slices In, Five Slices To Go

by Monica Biddix, Campaign Manager


Yesterday I wrote you about buying our great volunteer corps some pizzas, and your response has been fantastic. Since we started the Pizza Challenge 24 hours ago, you’ve donated over $4,000!

So, we’re slightly less than five slices to go on our goal of raising $10,000 for our final push toward Election Day six days from now. Let’s keep it going!

Seriously, we’re not really buying ten grand worth of pizzas, but your contribution will help us finish at top speed. This election is going to be very, very close, and every single voter contact could make the difference between having a strong progressive as our nominee, or a generic Democrat who can’t win in November.

Help the hungry volunteers? Please click HERE to contribute $50, $100 or more today!

Gollin Endorses Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Proposal

Says “Better Off Budget” Plan Will Create Jobs, Reduce Deficit

CHAMPAIGN, March 12– Democratic Congressional candidate Dr. George Gollin endorsed the “Better Off Budget” proposal released today by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“I have consistently supported the alternative budgets that the Progressive Caucus has put forth under co-chairs Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. The Better Off Budget would reverse harmful Republican cuts, create 8.8 million jobs in the next three years and reduce the budget deficit by over $4 trillion over the next 10 years,” Gollin said. “It is a blueprint for a prosperous and fair America, and I will co-sponsor the plan in Congress.”

The Better Off Budget contains 20 specific proposals for reversing the income inequality and hollowing out of the middle class created by Republican budget austerity and the recession.

It’s Coming Down To The Pizzas

by Monica Biddix, Campaign Manager

PizzaPrimary Election Day is one week from today.

Our television buys are made and our spots are running non-stop. Our mail is in mailboxes and at the Post Office. The phones are humming and there are volunteers knocking on doors right now.

We’re ready for next Tuesday, except for one small thing: We have more than a hundred volunteers, and they’re hungry!

Can you pitch in to get these kids some pizza? They’re working hard, and we want to keep them fueled up.

Help the hungry kids? Please click HERE to contribute $50, $100 or more today!

Seriously, we’re trying to raise $10,000 before Friday for our last push. It’s not all for pizzas, it will help us hit the finish line running hard. This election is going to be very, very close, and every single voter contact could make the difference between having a strong progressive as our nominee, or a generic Democrat who can’t win in November.

Toss in some cheese today!

We’ll keep you posted over the next few days on our progress. Thanks for your help!

The Telegraph: “Democrat attorney, educators run for Illinois 13th district”

Former Madison County chief judge Ann Callis is facing a particle physicist and a policy analyst in the race for the Democratic nomination for representative from the 13th Illinois Congressional District.

Candidate George Gollin is a particle physicist and professor; Candidate David Green is a resource and policy analyst at the Center for Prevention, Research and Development, a division of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. Both Gollin and Green are employed at the University of Illinois.

The district includes parts of Madison County, including much of Collinsville, Edwardsville, part of Godfrey, Foster, and Moro Townships. Also included are Telegraph area counties of Calhoun, Greene, Jersey and Macoupin.

The three candidates appeared at a forum Thursday night, sponsored by the Edwardsville League of Women Voters and the NAACP. It was held at the Edwardsville Public Library.

Callis pointed out her experience in getting things done in the Third Judicial Circuit including her part in establishing a Veterans Court, Foreclosure Mediation Program and several other mediation and arbitration programs, designed to increase the efficiency of the court system.

She was appointed an associate judge in 1995 and was appointed as a circuit judge in 1999. She was then elected circuit judge in 2000 and was retained by the voters in 2006 and 2012.

Gollin said he has been a professor at University of Illinois for 25 years.

“Our government is broken,” he said.

He said he favors full employment, affordable medical care, reproductive rights and steps to address climate change.

Green acknowledged being the candidate farthest to the left.

“I am running to challenge the Democratic power brokers,” he said.

He has a doctorate in education philosophy. He said he would end wars, demolish foreign military bases and find jobs for everyone.

“We must end the racist war on drugs,” he said. He said he also favors free day care and pre-school for everyone.

Callis said that as a judge, she worked to ensure justice and fairness, and she would work for those same values in Congress.

“I have a prior record of reaching across the aisle. I think I know a little bit about justice and fairness,” she said.

Problems such as sequestration, government shutdown, opposition to the minimum wage and lower pay for women do not reflect the justice and fairness. She said that as she spoke to people across the district, she detected anger about gridlock but a lot of hope for decent schools, decent health care job apprenticeship programs and so forth.

Gollin agreed with Callis about the need for affordable health care.

“Access to medical care is a basic human right,” he said.

He also decried government gridlock, caused by an excess of special legislative initiatives. He said that, although he has never held public office, as a scientist and educator he has experience in “fixing things.”

Green’s motto is “A ‘new’ deal: full employment, economic justice and social progress.” He claims the the party has forgotten the people that formerly made up its base: union members, minorities, the poor and women. He said there is a drastic concentration of wealth at the top 1 percent of the economic ladder.

Callis said a deciding factor in her decision to run was the fact that her son, Elliott Corey, joined the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from Cornell University. She said she worried about business interests who have labeled Madison County as a “judicial hell hole.”

“I worried about my record being twisted and trashed, but when I saw that he (Elliott) wasn’t afraid to serve his country, I wasn’t afraid,” she said.

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Q&A: George Gollin, U.S. House, 13th District

The News-Gazette

13th repubQ&A with George Gollin, Democrat, Champaign, candidate for 13th District, U.S. House.

1. Do you favor repeal of the Affordable Care Act? If so, should Congress move quickly to approve an alternate health care program that would cover all or most Americans? What kind of provisions, coverage do you think it should include?

I do NOT support repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Let’s break the discussion of ACA into two separate pieces. The roll-out was entirely unacceptable in execution. But we are Americans, and we fix problems rather than throwing up our hands and walking away. The enrollment software is now working nearly as well as intended, and the rate at which people are signing up for health insurance isn’t appreciably lower than the targeted rate.

Access to affordable healthcare is a basic human right, and ACA brings us much closer to this than had been the case in the years before ACA.

2. Would you support a “single payer” health care program?

Yes. The advantages — in cost reduction, in the savings to small businesses, and other aspects — are substantial.

3. In view of the mounting federal debt, do you believe it is practical to call only for spending cuts? What share of federal deficit reduction should come from spending cuts and revenue increases? Please be specific about those shares, and about where you think cuts must be made and where revenue increases should be made?

No: it is not appropriate to address the federal debt only through spending cuts. A strong, growing U.S. economy requires a strong middle class, working in good, secure jobs with salaries that are sufficient to allow spending on necessities, durable goods, and some leisure activities. Returning the country back to full employment will increase tax revenues.

But spending cuts — in particular to programs that do not produce broad economic or other benefits for the United States — are an important part of any sensible economic recovery plan.

We spend too much on defense. In particular, expensive weapons systems that are plagued with cost overruns, and are of dubious utility in a 21st century war, should be scrapped. The F-35 is too costly, and is already plagued with cost overruns. Our standing military is overly large, and I am encouraged by Secretary of Defense Hagel’s recent proposal to reduce the number of military personnel to roughly 440,000.

We should end subsidies to the oil industry.

Farm subsidies, such as the provision of federal funds for crop insurance, should be directed primarily towards single-family farm operations, and be reduced for large agricultural operations.

We should end what is described by economist Joseph Stiglitz in The Price of Inequality as “corporate welfare.” As Stiglitz points out, “much of corporate welfare is far from transparent—perhaps because if citizens really knew how much they were giving away, they would not allow it.” Included are corporate subsidies such as cheap credit, government loan guarantees, and relief from liability for the (potential) environmental damage wrought by the oil industry.

We should end what Stiglitz calls “government giveaways,” in which resources properly identified as public assets are given over to corporations. Examples are the no-bid defense contracts awarded to Halliburton, the no-bargaining provisions in government acquisition of pharmaceuticals, and the handing over of the electromagnetic spectrum to broadcasters with minimal compensation to the public.

I do not believe a single metric—the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases—can be used to describe any realistic economic plan. A good model for a budget that would return us to economic vigor is the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “Back to Work Budget.” It emphasizes major infrastructure investment in its first years, at the cost of an initial increase in the deficit, to be followed by deficit reduction through the closing of corporate loopholes, reduction in military spending, and implementation of a more progressive tax system. So the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases varies with time.

[Read more...]

Science Magazine: “Physicist Seeks Illinois House Seat”

George GollinGeorge Gollin faces an uphill battle in his campaign for Congress. A particle physicist from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), he has never run for public office. In contrast, his chief opponent in the 18 March Democratic primary is Ann Callis, a veteran county judge who has been anointed by the party’s leadership as their best bet to topple freshman Representative Rodney Davis (R–IL) in the November general election.

But Gollin, 60, isn’t backing down. Labeling himself a “scientist, teacher, watchdog” and bolstered by contributions from scientists and educators from around the country, Gollin hopes to convince voters in this swing district in central Illinois that a “progressive” Democrat who has spent his career “analyzing tough problems and fixing things that are broken” deserves their vote.

He’s also embracing the reality that he’s David against a political Goliath. His first television ad,a 30-second spot intended to introduce him to voters, shows the U.S. hockey team beating the heavily favored Soviet squad in the 1980 Olympics as the announcer proclaims, “Do you believe in miracles?” The miracle is changing Washington, Gollin explains. But the words could also suggest that Gollin knows he’s bucking long odds.

Still, at least some in the political establishment are taking Gollin’s campaign seriously. On 2 March, he picked up the endorsement for the primary race of the Chicago Tribune, a traditionally conservative newspaper. “We disagree with many of his positions, but at least we know where he stands,” the Tribune writes of Gollin. The Tribune said Gollin is a “good fit” for his district and panned Callis for “stick[ing] to safe talking points.”

A lifelong academic who grew up in New York City and came to UIUC in 1989, Gollin is no Olympic athlete. But he’s gone toe-to-toe against the operators of several so-called diploma mills and won: In 2008, for example, federal officials used his work to help convict a couple in Spokane, Washington, whose sham universities had generated millions of dollars by awarding thousands of bogus degrees.

“I published a report about them and they came after my family and me,” he reports on hiscampaign website. “They threatened lawsuits, arson and gunfire. I fought back.”

In contrast, he tells ScienceInsider, the campaign so far has been relatively clean. Instead of having to fend off personal attacks, he says, his biggest problem has been getting voters to focus on the upcoming primary. But he says people have reacted positively to his political platform—which features more spending on infrastructure, making college more affordable and using community colleges as a hub for job training, raising the minimum wage to as high as $15 an hour, giving legal status to undocumented immigrants, and using Obamacare, once the initial glitches in enrollment have been smoothed out, as a springboard to a single-payer approach to health care.

In addition to teaching UIUC undergraduates, he spent years working on plans for the International Linear Collider and is part of an experiment called Mu2e at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), 200 kilometers to the north in Batavia, Illinois, that is looking for the morphing of muons into electrons. That’s an odd hypothetical process that, if observed, would signal new particles over the high-energy horizon.

That career path has prepared him for tackling the challenges facing the country, he argues. “Reducing unemployment and providing better-paying jobs is the most pressing concern in this district,” he says. “And the resources and people at our universities have a lot to offer.”

Gollin believes that it’s still possible to get things done in Washington but that success will require a bipartisan approach. He says he learned that lesson several years ago while working with Democrats to strengthen federal oversight of diploma mills that cleared the House of Representatives but died in the Senate. “It got labeled as a piece of progressive legislation when it was really just good government,” he said during an interview with a local newspaper. A better approach, he says, would have been to find Republican cosponsors for the changes, which would have been part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

His scientific colleagues are cheering him on. Suzanne Staggs, a cosmologist at Princeton University who worked for Gollin briefly as a graduate student and who responded to his appeal for campaign donations, doesn’t expect Gollin to explicitly champion scientific research. But she resonates with his scientist’s worldview. “I felt that he would think about things the way I would,” Staggs says, “i.e., reasonably logically and demanding evidence and so on.” Although many physicists may come across as dry and reserved, she says, Gollin is “enthusiastic and vibrant.”

Gollin’s scientific connections appear to be helping him. Three-quarters of his donors are scientists, according to federal election data. And while Gollin certainly appreciates their support, his overall war chest of $400,000 falls well short of the $725,000 that Callis has raised.

Gollin is currently on unpaid leave from the university. Observers say that he’s running a solid campaign—pressing the flesh in 16-hour days and using a small army of volunteers to help him get out his message.

“I mention George when I talk about scientists and engineering getting involved in the political process,” says Shane Trimmer, executive director of Franklin’s List, a new nonpartisan political action committee (PAC) that hopes to recruit and support candidates with scientific backgrounds.

The PAC was the brainchild of one of two physicists now in the House, Representative Bill Foster (D–IL), who teamed up with a third physicist-turned-legislator, retired Representative Vern Ehlers (R–MI). Gollin and Foster go way back: Gollin says he tried to hire Foster as his first postdoc at UIUC, but Foster instead took a job at Fermilab. Foster did not respond to requests for comment about Gollin’s campaign, but Gollin says he has sought Foster’s advice.

Gollin has also won the support of a dozen Nobel laureates in science and economics. But he knows that basic research isn’t what voters want to hear about.

“If people ask me why a particle physicist is running for Congress, I tell them that I come from a culture of teaching and research and that I’m familiar with addressing complicated problems,” he says. “I also tell them that I’ve spent my entire career fixing things that are broken.”

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