Tag: candidates

How I will fill out my Illinois Democratic primary ballot on March 15 (plus other Illinois endorsements)

On March 15, I will be a Democratic primary voter in the State of Illinois, Vermilion County, Georgetown Township, Precinct 7. My precinct includes parts of my hometown of Westville, Illinois.

Below is a complete list of races on my ballot (for the presidential and U.S. Senate races, the order in which candidates are listed on the ballot for a particular race may vary from one part of the state to another), as well as which candidates I will vote for (if any).

President of the United States

There are six candidates on the Illinois Democratic presidential primary ballot: Hillary Clinton, Willie Wilson, Martin O’Malley, Rocky de la Fuente, Larry Cohen, and Bernie Sanders, from top to bottom. Additionally, there is a line available for write-in candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, although I know of no write-in candidates who have filed official paperwork to run as such.

I will vote for Bernie Sanders. Bernie is the only candidate who strongly supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, making higher education tuition-free, restoring American manufacturing jobs, and protecting America’s environment. In the extremely unlikely circumstance that Bernie were to drop out of the presidential race before March 15, I would write-in the name of an individual who is not running for president, although I won’t publicly name that individual. In any case, I will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in the November general election.

United States Senator

There are three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mark Kirk: Andrea Zopp, Tammy Duckworth, and Napoleon Harris, from top to bottom.

I will vote for Tammy Duckworth. There’s not really a progressive candidate in this race, but Duckworth served our nation during the Iraq War as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, and Duckworth will stand up for those who served our country in uniform if elected to the U.S. Senate. Andrea Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s school closing scheme in Chicago as an appointed Chicago school board member, and Napoleon Harris refused to vote for marriage equality as a member of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois Comptroller (Special Election)

This is a special election for the last two years of what would have been Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s second term as Illinois Comptroller (Topinka died not long after being re-elected in 2014). The current Illinois Comptroller is Leslie Munger, who was appointed to the Comptroller’s office by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

There is only one Democrat seeking the party’s nomination for this office (Susana Mendoza), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, since I think that it’s worthless to vote for a candidate in an uncontested race. I will vote for Mendoza in the special general election in November, however, as she will face opposition from Munger in the special general election.

United States Representative – 15th Congressional District

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention – 15th Congressional District

Illinois is unusual in that Democratic primary voters are asked to vote for both a presidential candidate and delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Delegates are elected by voters in each of Illinois’s 18 congressional districts, although I’m not sure of the exact formula that is used. There are seven individuals who have filed for four delegate slots out of the 15th Congressional District: four delegates pledged to Hillary, one delegate pledged to O’Malley, and three delegates pledged to Bernie. Democratic voters in the 15th Congressional District can vote for as many as four delegates.

I will vote for the three Bernie Sanders delegates (Cory Douglas, Amanda Benefiel, and Barbara Lawrence), and I will also vote for Hillary Clinton delegate Ann Sykes. Since I’m voting for Bernie in the presidential preference poll, I’m obviously going to vote for Bernie’s delegate slate here in the 15th Congressional District, and I’m grateful that Douglas, Benefiel, and Lawrence are supporting a fantastic presidential candidate in Bernie. However, since Bernie is one delegate short of a full slate here in the 15th Congressional District, that gives me three options: either vote for only the three Bernie delegates, vote for three Bernie delegates and O’Malley delegate John Warner, or vote for the three Bernie delegates and one of the Hillary delegates. I’ve decided on the latter-most of those three options, and my vote for Hillary delegate Ann Sykes will be a tribute to the late former Vermilion County Clerk and incredible public servant Lynn Foster, who passed away not long ago (Sykes worked for Foster when she was county clerk here in my home county).

Illinois Senate – 52nd Legislative District (4-year term)

There is only one candidate on the ballot in this race (incumbent State Senator Scott Bennett, who was appointed to the seat after Mike Frerichs was elected Illinois Treasurer), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, although Bennett will get my vote in the November general election, as he’ll be going up against Republican Mike Madigan in November.

Illinois House of Representatives – 104th Representative District

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Circuit Clerk

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Recorder

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County State’s Attorney

Despite this being an open seat due to the Republican incumbent retiring, no Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Auditor

There is only one Democratic candidate seeking this office (incumbent county auditor Linda Lucas-Anstey, the only Democrat to hold a county-wide office in Vermilion County), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, although I will vote for Lucas-Anstey in the general election.

Vermilion County Coroner

Although we don’t get too many Democrats running for county-wide office here in Vermilion County, there is a competitive primary for county coroner (believe it or not, Illinois county coroners are elected in officially-partisan races). There are two Democrats running for coroner: Steve Cornett, the Village of Tilton police chief, and Butch Fields, a paramedic from Tilton.

I will vote for Steve Cornett. Butch Fields is a convicted arsonist, so that completely disqualifies him from receiving my vote in a Democratic primary, although I will vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

Vermilion County Board of Supervisors – County Board District 4

There are two seats up for election in Vermilion County Board District 4, and there are two Democrats running for the party’s nomination in the district, which includes all of Georgetown, Love, and McKendree townships in Vermilion County. There are two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in this race: Dale Ghibaudy and John Barton. In county board races in Illinois, voters in the Democratic primary can vote for as many Democrats as the number of county board seats in their district that are up for election (in my district this year, this is two, although this number varies from one Illinois county to another, as well as within Illinois counties and from one election cycle to the next).

Although both Dale Ghibaudy and John Barton will be on the November general election ballot, I’m not sure if one candidate receiving more votes than the other would have any affect on general election ballot placement, so I will vote for Dale Ghibaudy. I know absolutely nothing about John Barton, and I know extremely little about Dale Ghibaudy outside of the fact that I attended high school with two people of the same last name (Kody and Karly Ghibaudy, who are siblings, but I’m not sure how they’re related to Dale, if at all).

Vermilion County Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman – Georgetown Township Precinct 7

In my home precinct, no candidate filed for a Democratic Party precinct committeeman slot. Georgetown Township Precinct 7 includes parts of the Village of Westville in Vermilion County, as well as some rural areas immediately to the west and east of Westville.


Additionally, I want to take this opportunity to endorse candidates seeking Democratic nominations in other parts of Illinois. Please note that I do not live in any of the constituencies listed here, so I am encouraging people who live in an area of Illinois where one or more of these races are on the ballot to vote for the candidates that I’m endorsing. The two U.S. House races where I’m endorsing a candidate are in the Chicago suburbs, whereas the state house and state’s attorney races where I’m endorsing a candidate are all in Cook County.

United States Representative – 8th Congressional District

I endorse Michael Noland in Illinois’s 8th Congressional District. As an Illinois State Senator, Noland has been a strong champion of good government and ethics reform, and he’ll bring his pro-good government mindset to Washington if nominated and elected.

United States Representative – 10th Congressional District

A while back, I endorsed Nancy Rotering in Illinois’s 10th Congressional District, so, for the sake of completion, I’ll reiterate my endorsement of Rotering on here. As mayor of Highland Park, a Chicago suburb located in Lake County, Rotering helped to provide legal aid to people who couldn’t afford to sue their landlord after their landlord wronged them. Rotering’s Democratic primary opponent, Brad Schneider, is a D.C. insider who opposes President Obama’s deal to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.

Illinois House of Representatives – 5th Representative District

This race pits incumbent State Representative Ken Dunkin, a Raunercrat (i.e., a Democrat who is a political ally of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner), against primary challenger Juliana Stratton. I endorse Juliana Stratton in Illinois’s 5th Representative District. Ken Dunkin has voted with Bruce Rauner in opposition to funding child care and other important state government services, and Dunkin has benefited from big-money Rauner allies like Dan Proft.

Illinois House of Representatives – 22nd Representative District

This race pits powerful State House Speaker Mike Madigan (not the same Mike Madigan who is running as a Republican in the 52nd Legislative District state senate race) against primary challenger Jason Gonzales and two other primary challengers planted by Madigan in an attempt to split the anti-Madigan vote in the Democratic primary. I endorse Jason Gonzales in Illinois’s 22nd Representative District. Madigan is anti-abortion, supported a pension theft bill that was unanimously struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court, has strongly opposed many common-sense good government measures, such as independent redistricting and term limits, and supports corporate-minded politicians like Rahm Emanuel.

Illinois House of Representatives – 26th Representative District

This race pits incumbent State Representative Christian Mitchell against Jay Travis, who nearly defeated Mitchell in the 2014 Democratic primary for this seat. I endorse Jay Travis in the 26th Representative District. Christian Mitchell has taken money from the same anti-public education/pro-school voucher lobby that supports far-right Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Cook County State’s Attorney

This race pits incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez against primary challengers Kim Foxx and Donna More. I endorsed Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney a while back, so I’ll reiterate that endorsement here for the sake of completion. If nominated and elected, Foxx will restore public trust in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Anita Alvarez played a key role in hiding the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald for many months, and Donna More donated to Bruce Rauner’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

Advertisements

What if I had to introduce the candidates at the first Democratic presidential debate?

While nobody would hire a known Bernie Sanders supporter like me to publicly introduce the candidates at a Democratic presidential debate, if I had to do so for the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 election, here’s what that would sound like:

Please note that I did not include an announcement for Lawrence Lessig, who was not invited to the debate by CNN despite being a Democratic presidential candidate (something I strongly disagree with), nor did I include an announcement for Joe Biden, who CNN will allow to appear at the debate if he wishes to do so (Biden is not expected to appear at the debate).

If you want to leave your thoughts about my announcing style (be honest!!!), feel free to do so in the comments section.

The debate is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13th at 7:30 P.M. Central Daylight Time, and will be televised by CNN (obviously, I will not be at the debate, but I will be watching on television).

ENDORSEMENT: Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate in Illinois

With U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois declining to run for U.S. Senate, I am now endorsing Tammy Duckworth for the U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by right-wing Republican Mark Kirk.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. House, Duckworth served our country in the Illinois Army National Guard, losing both of her legs when a Black Hawk helicopter that she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and shot down. Duckworth has served the people of the 8th Congressional District of our state, located in the western Chicago suburbs, with honor, having supported background checks on gun sales, supported reproductive rights, supported raising the minimum wage, and, best of all, sharply criticized a federal contractor for falsely claiming that he was a service-disabled veteran.

Duckworth currently has one primary opponent that I know of, Andrea Zopp. While Duckworth isn’t exactly an Illinois progressive’s dream candidate, Zopp represents most of what is wrong with Illinois politics. First off, Zopp has the backing of Bill Daley, who was a member of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s transition team prior to Rauner being sworn into office. As an appointed member of the Chicago school board, Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago’s public schools. That means that Zopp is aligned with three of the most odious people in Illinois politics: Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Bruce Rauner. Additionally, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmor) is considering running against Duckworth and Zopp. However, Harris refused to vote for the Illinois marriage equality bill, meaning that LGBT Illinoisans can’t trust Harris to fight for and protect their rights.

I encourage my fellow Illinois Democrats to cast a Democratic primary ballot for Tammy Duckworth next year.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials release the party’s own autopsy

A 22-member Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) committee, led by DPW Second Vice-Chairman Jeff Christensen, released its own internal report on the 2014 midterm elections in Wisconsin yesterday. You can read the full report here; it’s a 14-page PDF file.

According to the DPW Administrative Committee, here’s what I’ve interpreted as being the main points in the report:

  • Since 1990, Wisconsin has become an extremely polarized state, with a very strong two-party system and the top-of-the-ticket race in November general elections in Wisconsin having a huge impact on downballot races.
  • The DPW should provide more support to candidates in officially non-partisan local elections in order to build a bench of Democratic candidates for state legislative and statewide elections.
  • The DPW shouldn’t meddle in contested primaries unless it has a very good reason to do so (such as scenarios involving known Republicans/conservatives running in a Democratic primary or a candidate who is clearly unfit for public office running in a Democratic primary).
  • The DPW leadership should explain its proper role in the political process and management of the party more effectively.
  • The Republicans’ message in Wisconsin is to effectively paint the Democrats as the “party of government”, even if Democrats aren’t in power.
  • Democrats should rebut the Republicans’ talking points more effectively.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin have focused too much on attacking Scott Walker and not enough on promoting a positive message of any kind.
  • To use terminology that was used in the report, Democrats in Wisconsin have “played nice in the sandbox”, leading to Democratic candidates who are too defensive.
  • While Democrats should focus heavily on tailoring a positive message to rural voters, both rural and urban voters in Wisconsin regard education, infrastructure, and jobs as three important issues.
  • Election fatigue is becoming a major problem among Democratic activists/volunteers in Wisconsin.
  • In regards to the DPW’s field operations, the DPW should find various ways to optimize voter turnout.
  • Three programs created as part of the “72-county strategy”, regional field organizers, Spring Forward (support for known Democrats running in officially non-partisan local elections in Wisconsin), and Red-to-Blue (support for Democratic state legislative candidates in Republican-leaning or heavily-Republican areas of Wisconsin) should be expanded.
  • The most important point of the report is that “the path to a new progressive era (in Wisconsin) is entirely possible”.

While some of these points are specific to Wisconsin, some of the points also apply to state-level Democratic parties in other states as well.

The report strongly suggested that the DPW should run statewide candidates who can run on a positive, progressive message, as well as relate to both urban and rural voters. However, the report didn’t suggest any potential statewide candidates for future elections in Wisconsin, and there aren’t that many Democrats in Wisconsin who could pull off such a campaign. Lori Compas, who was the recall organizer and Democratic candidate in the 2012 recall attempt against Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, is the first person that comes to mind for me. However, I don’t think that Compas is interested in running for public office again at all. The second person who comes to my mind is Kathleen Vinehout, a state senator from the west-central part of Wisconsin who was the third-place candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary in the gubernatorial recall election. Vinehout nearly ran for governor last year, but injuries sustained in an automobile crash prevented her from running for governor. There’s probably a few others out there as well.

Additionally, while the DPW’s report didn’t touch on any of these points at all, I do have several suggestions of my own:

  • Democrats in Wisconsin should run against income inequality, preferably by using “1% vs. 99%” messaging and supporting ideals such as raising taxes on the wealthy and ending tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare for businesses.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should run on progressive ideas and values, and, even more importantly, they should explain how progressive policies would benefit all or the vast majority of people.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should stop speaking favorably of Republicans, as well as stop ignoring and criticizing progressives.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should emphasize restoring local control to counties and municipalities over issues that are best dealt with at the local level.
  • Progressive-minded Democrats in Wisconsin should, as much as possible, distance themselves from fellow Democrats who are opposed to progressive ideals and values on many issues, most notably Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin, should, if possible, use the own words of Republican elected officials and candidates against them.

One thing is clear from the DPW’s autopsy: The DPW, in its current state, is one of the weakest state-level Democratic Party organizations in the entire country. A Second Progressive Era in Wisconsin is certainly obtainable, although it’s going to require progressives to hold the DPW leadership accountable to many of the points they made in their own report on the 2014 elections, as well as require Democrats to run progressive candidates who can appeal to a wide coalition of voters.

Jeff Smith outlines what he’d do if elected Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairperson

Make no mistake about it, Former Wisconsin State Representative Jeff Smith has an actual plan of what he’d do if elected Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairperson, and he’s going to run the party as a progressive organization whose main goals are helping progressive-minded people vote and promoting progressive values across the entire state of Wisconsin.

Smith, if elected to lead the Democratic Party in the state that will likely decide control of the White House and the U.S. Senate in next year’s elections, has promised to:

  • Work with whoever is elected to be the new leader of the DPW County Chairs Association (DPW CCA)
  • Direct county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin to help voters obtain Voter IDs in order to allow them to vote (Wisconsin’s discriminatory Voter ID law will go into effect at the next election of any kind held in Wisconsin)
  • Implement new DPW messaging based on recommendations by Scott Wittkopf of the Forward Institute
  • Provide proper support for Democratic candidates, campaign managers, and volunteers in Wisconsin
  • Open year-round DPW field offices in every region of Wisconsin
  • Help county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin maintain a strong online presence

Notice that Smith made absolutely no mention of Scott Walker in his press release. That’s because Walker is no longer trying to hide the fact that he doesn’t care about Wisconsinites, and that provides a great opportunity for Wisconsin Democrats to lay out their own vision for Wisconsin’s future.

Jeff Smith is the only one of the five candidates for DPW Chair who, at least to my knowledge, has laid out a highly-detailed plan for rebuilding the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and that’s why I encourage DPW Convention delegates to vote for Jeff Smith.

STRAW POLL: 2016 U.S. Senate Democratic primary in Illinois

I’m going to conduct a straw poll of declared and potential Democratic candidates in the upcoming 2016 U.S. Senate election here in Illinois. There is currently only one declared Democratic candidate, Tio Hardiman, a political activist from Chicago, but several other Democrats are considering. The straw poll includes dozens of potential Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, including several you probably didn’t think of as potential opponents to Republican incumbent Mark Kirk, and you also have the option of writing-in a potential candidate that I’ve not listed. I’ll keep the poll online until 10 P.M. Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, although I may decide to shut the poll down at a later date and time than that.

You can vote in the poll here:

Five-way primary for Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday

Two days from now, five candidates will be running for two general election spots in the officially non-partisan race for Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. The candidates are incumbent Paul Soglin and challengers Bridget Maniaci, Scott Resnick, Christopher Daly, and Richard Brown.

Carousel Bayrd, the Vice-Chairwoman of the Dane County, Wisconsin Board of Supervisors and one of several hosts of the Madison-area local political talk show A Current Affair on Madison-based community radio station WORT-FM, interviewed all five of the candidates over a three-week period, and I’m including the links to all of Bayrd’s interviews for the convenience of voters in Wisconsin’s second-largest city:

The two candidates with the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will advance to the April 7 general election, even if one candidate gets a majority of the vote in the primary.