Election Topics: Money, Media, Prognostication, Post-Mortem

Sep 7, 2012

As candidates head into the final 60 days before the election, Northern Illinois University will spotlight the issues which have helped to shape the political forum for this year’s presidential election.

The NIU Presidential Speaker Series will address campaign funding, news coverage and prognostication leading up to the Nov. 6 election, with a bipartisan post-election discussion following the balloting. Dr. Matthew Streb, Chair of the NIU Department of Political Science,will moderate the series.

The first presentation will be a discussion of “The Impact of Citizens United: The Role Of Money in the 2012 Elections,” featuring Dr. Richard Hasenfrom the University of California -- Irvine and Bradley Smith from the Capital University of Law in Columbus, Ohio.

The landmark Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission case in 2010 effectively ruled that the government could not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. The highly contentious 5-4 decision opened the floodgates for spending in this year’s presidential election. Led by independent “super PACs,” this year’s election promises to top $6 billion in spending, breaking all previous spending records.

Hasen is a nationally recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation. In addition to co-authoring more than 80 articles on election law issues for The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, Hasen also has been published in numerous journals including the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review and the Supreme Court Review. He is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at UCI.

Smith also is one of the nation’s leading authorities on election law and campaign finance. In 2000, he was nominated by President Bill Clinton to fill a Republican-designated seat on the Federal Election Commission, serving as FEC Commissioner in 2004. Smith’s writing on campaign finance and other election issues has appeared in the Yale Law Journal and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, among other academic journals. He is the Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University.

The discussion will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, in Altgeld Auditorium on the DeKalb campus.

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the topic turns to “Media Coverage and Presidential Elections,” with Mark Stencel, NPR’s managing editor for digital news.

Since Stencel joined NPR in 2009, the network has been recognized as a leading digital news service, receiving numerous awards including the 2011 Eppy Award for Best Journalism Website, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Peabody award, and the 2011 Webby and People's Voice awards for news.

Stencel has co-authored two books on media and politics. Peep Show: Media and Politics and in an Age of Scandal, was written with political scientists Larry J. Sabato and S. Robert Lichter; and On the Line: The New Road to the White House, was written with CNN's Larry King.

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in the Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center on the DeKalb campus.The final pre-election lecture is “Predicting the 2012 Presidential Election,” led by Dr.Alan Abramowitz, known for his “time for change” model, which has correctly predicted the winner in the last five presidential elections. Abramowitz has authored or co-authored five books, including Senate Elections, hailed as the first thorough study of modern-day senatorial elections.He is Professor of Political Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

The lecture series will wrap up with “An Evening with J. Dennis Hastert and Bill Lipinski,” on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Event Room at the NIU-Naperville Campus.

Dennis Hastert was the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in history, holding that post from 1999 to 2007 when he resigned his seat mid-session.  Hastert was first elected to Congress in 1987 and represented Illinois’s 14th congressional district, which included the DeKalb area, until the Republican House lost its majority in the 2006 election.

A 1967 NIU alumnus with a master’s degree in the History of Philosophy, Hastert also served as Republican spokesman for the Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Utility Regulation. He was named one of Illinois’ 20 top legislators in 1985 by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Democrat Bill Lipinski served in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 2005, representing southwestern Chicago, first in the 5th District and later in the 3rd District. In 2004 Lipinski withdrew his name from the ballot after winning the primary election, choosing instead to retire when his term expired in 2005.

Lipinski has served on the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. He most recently worked as a lobbyist for the American Association of Railroads and Chicago Transit Authority, among other transportation-related industries. 

The university Presidential Speaker Series is co-sponsored by WNIJ, the Office of the President, the Department of Political Science, and the Division of University Relations. All lectures are free and open to the public.