MIKE COFFEY JR., who has the backing of the Sangamon County Republican Party in his quest for Springfield mayor, has received a financial push from another group — the Laborers’ union.

MIKE COFFEY JR., who has the backing of the Sangamon County Republican Party in his quest for Springfield mayor, has received a financial push from another group — the Laborers’ union.

The political action committee of Laborers’ Local 477 and the Southern Central Illinois Laborers’ political action committee each donated $10,000 to Coffey’s campaign in late December.

“Mike, as the chairman of the convention center board … has shown the capacity to work with organized labor for the overall betterment of working men and women,” said BRAD SCHAIVE, business manager of Local 477. Schaive chairs the political committee of that local, which has 1,300 members in seven counties. He also is on the board that oversees donations from the south-central group, which spans 46 counties.

Schaive said he and Coffey are longtime family friends and went to Griffin High at the same time. Coffey said they played baseball together. Schaive’s late father, JOHN, and Coffey’s grandfather, FRANK SAPUTO, were very close, Schaive and Coffey said.

But the key to the endorsement, Schaive said, is the smooth way the Laborers’ union was able to organize employees of the Prairie Capital Convention Center. Coffey chairs the elected board that oversees the building in downtown Springfield.

Local 477 has represented workers at the PCCC since mid-2007. Brian Oaks, general manager of the building, said 22 full- and part-time employees, including maintenance workers, security guards and event coordinators, are members of the union.

“He was honorable,” Schaive said of Coffey. “He treated the members of the new bargaining unit with respect.”

Schaive has tangled with city officials over what level of prevailing wages should be paid on a housing project. But he said that at the convention center, “the negotiations went very well,” and “many people who run municipalities don’t have that type of character” shown by Coffey in working with organized labor.

The labor donations were included in a Coffey campaign finance report filed last week showing donations totaling more than $104,000 through the end of 2010. Also included were $5,000 from Dr. WILLIAM COUGLIN, who Coffey said has been a family doctor; $1,250 from JASON MAHON, a financial adviser who he grew up with; and $1,000 from PAT TAVINE, a family friend who long ago served on the convention center board.

 More recent donations include $2,000 from JAMES BRUNER of Jacksonville, president of United Contractors Midwest; and $1,000 from the Good Government Council, the political action committee of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association. BILL CELLINI, former treasurer of the Sangamon County GOP, remains executive vice president of the asphalt group. But Coffey said he got the check from Bruner, who is first vice president of the asphalt pavement association and chairs its political action committee.

Another mayoral candidate — MIKE FARMER — filed a report last week covering the period through the end of December. The committee was formed just a day before that deadline. Farmer loaned $5,000 to his effort, and all donations including that loan totaled $9,880. Other donations included $600 from MICHAEL DAVLIN of Fraser, Colo., a brother of the late Mayor Tim Davlin; and $500 from Timoney & Page, the law firm of TIM TIMONEY, co-chair of Farmer’s campaign.

Timoney introduced Farmer at a fundraiser last week at Knights of Columbus Council 364, attended by about 450 people. The lowest ticket price was $25, but some paid more, and Timoney said more than $20,000 was raised. Several city workers, including City Water, Light and Power general manager TODD RENFROW, attended.

I asked Farmer, the city’s planning and economic development chief, if it is appropriate to take money from people who could soon be working for him.

“I haven’t solicited any, but if they’re willing to make a contribution, certainly,” Farmer said. He said there would be “no favoritism — absolutely not” to those who contribute.

SHEILA STOCKS-SMITH, another candidate for mayor, reported she raised $19,094 in December. The total included $300 from LORETTA DURBIN, wife of U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN, D-Ill.; $200 from BILL HOULIHAN, downstate director for Durbin; $1,000 from MARY JO POTTER; and a combined $3,000 from Stocks-Smith and her husband, Dr. LAWRENCE SMITH. Stocks-Smith was educational liaison in the Tim Davlin administration.

Other candidates in the Feb. 22 primary for mayor are Ward 3 Ald. FRANK KUNZ, former Mayor MIKE HOUSTON, businessman MARIO INGOGLIA and former Williamsville Village President WILLIAM McCARTY.

Davlin’s fund
Also last week, a report was filed noting activity for the last six months of 2010 by the late Mayor Davlin’s campaign fund.

The fund contained $226,403 as of July 1, and in the next six months raised $50,889 and spent $48,722. The year-end balance was $228,570. During much of that time, nobody knew if Davlin was planning to run for a third term.

Among contributors were Farmer and his wife, MARYBETH, who gave $150 plus $30 for a raffle. Several city employees gave, and Saga Communications of Illinois donated $450. The Good Government Council gave $1,000, and Carpenters Local 16’s political fund gave $1,200.

The late mayor got $300 from the Sangamon County Democratic Party and then gave the party $500. Davlin himself got $1,200 for mileage and payments for food or dues, including $435 to the Sangamo Club and $4,278 to Illini Country Club. Another $221 was paid in two visits to Saputo’s — the restaurant near the mayor’s office that is owned by Coffey’s family.

The next report by the committee will cover the first quarter of this year and is due April 15. Renfrow is now chairman and treasurer of the Davlin fund.

Dutton joins Schock
STEVE DUTTON, 29, is the new Washington, D.C.-based communications director for U.S. Rep. AARON SCHOCK, R-Peoria.

Schock, a second-term House member who is on the Ways and Means Committee, is likely to remain in the spotlight, so Dutton should have plenty to do. Schock — also 29 — remains the youngest member of Congress.

Dutton, a native of Argyle, Texas, earlier was communications director and leadership aide to U.S. Rep. KAY GRANGER, R-Texas, and before that scheduler for retired U.S. Rep. HENRY BONILLA, also a Texas Republican. Dutton began his career in Washington as a legislative assistant in the public affairs office of UPS.

He said Schock knows both his former bosses, adding that he was lucky to get the new post. He’s being paid $75,000 annually, and replaces the very able DAVE NATONSKI, who has joined the staff of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Posts for Shimkus
U.S. Rep. JOHN SHIMKUS, R-Collinsville, enters this two-year session of Congress holding leadership positions on both the governmental and political sides of things.

On the governmental side, Shimkus has been designated by Rep. FRED UPTON of Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to lead the subcommittee on environment and the economy.

“I look forward to tackling the challenging issues before us, such as safe water and nuclear waste, which have been priorities of mine for years,” Shimkus said in a news release.
 
Meanwhile, Rep. PETE SESSIONS, R-Texas, is in his second two-year stint chairing the National Republican Campaign Committee, which will work to elect as many members of the GOP as possible to the House in 2012.

This week, Sessions announced appointment of eight vice chairs, with Shimkus being the only one from Illinois. Shimkus is overseeing “mentoring” in his role.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.