Tag: primary election

Three Democratic candidates for Governor of Illinois who I won’t vote for in Democratic primary

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am currently serving a two-year term as an election judge in Vermilion County, Illinois, with the last currently-scheduled election of my term being the Spring 2018 primaries. This blog post is purely my opinion about a race that will be on the Democratic primary ballot in an election in which I may be called to serve as a poll worker, and is not, in any way, connected to my election judge duties.


I’m not going to publicly endorse a candidate in the 2018 bicentennial election for Governor of Illinois, although I will be a voter in the 2018 bicentennial Illinois Democratic primary, and there are three candidates who I will not be voting for in the primary, unless, of course, they end up being the only three candidates on the primary ballot.

J.B. Pritzker is probably the only Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial primary in Illinois who could probably outspend Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in the general election, but there’s a very possible chance that Pritzker won’t make it to the general election. One main reason why Pritzker could have trouble winning the Democratic nomination is that, in 2012, Pritzker publicly refused to support then-President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign well into the Republican primary campaign season that year. Even worse, Pritzker outright said that he wasn’t 100% supportive of the Democratic Party, and signaled that he was open to supporting far-right Republicans.

Christopher G. Kennedy is a member of the Kennedy political family, and he’s also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor here in Illinois. However, CGK had the gall to appear at a campaign event in downstate Illinois and proceed to support a major education funding proposal that would give Chicago-area politicians more control over downstate school districts:

Kennedy said he is opposed to funding kindergarten through high school public schools through property taxes.

“We need to get rid of that system. It’s a terrible system,” he said. “Every other state in the United States has figured that out. They pay for their schools at the state level and not through local property taxes and they have much better outcomes.”

Removing local control from K-12 education funding in Illinois would put all non-federal funding of public schools in the hands of a state government dominated by Chicago-area politicians. Needless to say, downstaters are not going to like CGK’s idea to put decisions regarding funding their community’s public schools in the hands of a Chicagoland-dominated state legislature.

Another candidate running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is Daniel Biss, a mathematician-turned-state senator serving the Evanston area in Cook County. Biss’s claim to political fame was supporting Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the unconstitutional state law that was designed to cut state public employee pension benefits in Illinois. While Illinois has a major pension funding crisis, SB1 was such a blatant violation of the Illinois Constitution’s provision prohibiting cutting earned pension benefits, even right-wing Republican state supreme court justices like Rita Garman ruled that SB1 was unconstitutional.

The other two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination that I’m aware of are Ameya Pawar, a Chicago City Council member, and Bob Daiber, a farmer and regional school superintendent from Madison County. I’m not going to tell anyone which of those two I’m going to vote for, but I’ve already made up my mind.

We now have a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary to celebrate the Illinois bicentennial

Next year, Illinois will celebrate the 200th anniversary of our state gaining statehood, and, as a proud Illinois Democrat, there is no better way to celebrate our state’s bicentennial than a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Well, we’ve officially got one, and it’s in the Democratic primary for governor:

“I am running because we’ve gotten to a point in this country where wealth worship is the only qualifier for public office, trumping public policy. Chopping benefits or declaring strategic bankruptcy or selling companies off in pieces for profit is somehow seen as the secret ingredient for an Illinois utopia,” said (Ameya) Pawar.

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar is officially running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois, joining businessman and former University of Illinois Board Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy, who intends to formally launch a gubernatorial bid later this month. CGK and Ameya are probably not going to be alone:

Does Pawar have the wherewithal to go up against the potential primary election cash of Democratic billionaires (Chris Kennedy & JB Pritzker)? Or to take on, maybe, a couple of state senators (Kwame Raoul & Andy Manar), a pair of congresswomen (Robin Kelly & Cheri Bustos) or an Attorney General named Madigan?

A note to gubernatorial candidates and potential gubernatorial candidates: don’t ask me if I want to be your lieutenant-gubernatorial running mate, because the answer is going to be no, and I’m currently serving a two-year term, which includes the spring 2018 primary, as an election judge in Vermilion County.

How to shorten American campaign season while still allowing people to take part in democracy

While Australia has a short, campaign season for all seats in both houses of the Australian Parliament, America’s campaign season, especially in regards to presidential elections, but also in regards to congressional and even state legislative and other types of elections, is ridiculously long to the point of being seemingly perpetual, and it needs to be shortened badly. However, at the same time, we must allow the same or greater level of ability of voters to participate in the political process.

Here are some of my ideas for speeding up America’s political process:

  • Establish a national primary day for party nominations in federal elections, preferably the Tuesday following the first Monday in September
  • Establish a filing deadline for federal races that is four weeks before the national primary for non-incumbents and five weeks before the national primary for incumbents
  • Overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision by federal constitutional amendment and allow for robust regulations, limits, and restrictions on money in politics

One reason why many voters here in America are burned out by the political process is because campaign season is too long. It’s time to change that.

How to fix America’s antiquated electoral process

Granted, it would require amendment(s) to the U.S. Constitution and massive changes in federal and state laws, but America needs a massive overhaul of its election system.

Below are some of my own ideas for fixing America’s antiquated electoral system:

  • Drastically increase the size of the U.S. House – There should be one U.S. Representative for every 100,000 residents of the fifty states, rounded up, plus one U.S. Representative with full voting rights each for the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. This would result in a U.S. House size of 3,086, but it would be more representative of the country than a 435-member House.
  • Give the District of Columbia and each U.S. territory one Senator with full voting rights each – This would result in a U.S. Senate size of 106.
  • Implement a national popular vote system for electing the President, the Vice President, and major-party presidential and vice-presidential nominees – The Electoral College is an antiquated relic of the 19th century, when it wasn’t easy to report election results for a nationwide race. Ideally, an instant-runoff voting system should be used, in which voters can cast first, second, and third preferences, and second and third preferences can decide an election if no candidate gets a majority of first preferences. For party nominations for president and vice-president, a nationwide semi-partisan primary should be conducted, in which those registered with a political party would be able to choose between candidates running for their party’s nomination and unaffiliated candidates, but those not registered with a party can vote for candidates of any party affiliation, as well as unaffiliated candidates. Political parties that get 1% of the total primary vote send their top vote-getter (instant-runoff would be conducted within each party) to the general election, and any independent candidate who receives 1% of the total primary vote makes the general election ballot. Furthermore, presidential and vice-presidential candidates run as a ticket in both the primary and the general election. In the event that a presidential candidate or a vice-presidential candidate seeking a party nomination lacked a running mate, but won his or her primary, he or she would be paired with the candidate for the other office whose ticket got more votes within the party than any other ticket with a candidate for said other office
  • Standardize the electoral calendar nationwide – Here’s how I’d set up the election calendar for regularly-scheduled elections in a two-year electoral cycle:
    • Tuesday after first Monday in May of odd-numbered year – Political party leadership elections (closed to party members) and some judicial elections (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered year – County, municipal, and other local elections for the entire country (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in May of even-numbered year – Some judicial elections (open to all votes, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in September of even-numbered year – Partisan primaries for, depending on the year, President, Vice President, U.S. Congress, state executive positions, and/or state legislature (semi-partisan primary system in place)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday of November of even-numbered year – General elections for offices in which nominees were selected in the September primaries
  • Use hand-counted paper ballots for all elections, everywhere – Even when an online system is used for some absentee ballots (see below), a printout of the online absentee ballot would be hand-counted at the precinct after the polls close.
  • Speed up the absentee and military voting process with an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not part of the World Wide Web – If it’s not possible for an absentee or military absentee ballot to be physically sent to the voter’s home polling place on Election Day, set up an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not connected to the World Wide Web or any other existing infrastructure in order to allow the ballots to be scanned, uploaded to the electronic system, and printed out at the polling place so that it can be hand-counted on Election Night.
  • There should never be more than 1,000 people per polling place – It is absolutely unacceptable to cram several thousand voters into a single voting place, forcing them to wait in line for several hours.
  • Make federal judicial posts directly-elected – For federal district court judgeships, each federal district court would have at least four judgeships, with at least one seat being up for election every year. For federal circuit court appellate judgeships, a similar model to the district courts would be followed. For the U.S. Supreme Court, three associate judgeships would be up for election in years ending in “2”, two associate judgeships in years ending in “5”, three associate judgeships in years ending in “8”, and the Chief Justice’s seat in years ending in “0”.

These are just a few of my own suggestions for making America’s electoral process more efficient.

GOP-led Danville (IL) Election Commission tries to deprive Democrats of their vote

To give you a general idea of how Republicans here in my home county of Vermilion County, Illinois have a total disdain of Democrats, the Danville Election Commission, which is responsible for administering elections in the city of Danville, refused to send more Democratic primary ballots to a precinct that ran out of Democratic ballots:

Frank Wright, the Democrat Party Chairman in Vermilion County, Illinois has reported that an election judge at the Danville Boys and Girls Club called the Danville Election Commission earlier today to let them know she was running out of Democrat Ballots.

She called twice without any action to deliver more ballots.

The third time, the Election Commission hung up on her, refusing to talk.

The election judge at the polling place named was not named in the report, although she was forced to photocopy ballots so that Democrats who voted later in the day could cast a ballot of their preferred political party.

What happened at the Danville Boys and Girls Club polling place last night is absolutely unacceptable. Election officials in every corner of this country should always prepare for every kind of imaginable high turnout scenario they can think of, as well as high turnout scenarios they can’t think of.

The Danville Boys and Girls Club is the polling location for City of Danville precincts 10 and 13, which are located in the eastern part of my home county’s largest city. I’m guessing that precinct 13 was the one that was short on ballots, as 96 total votes were cast in the Democratic presidential race there, compared to 63 total votes cast in the Democratic presidential race in precinct 10, although that’s just a guess based on election results, so I could be wrong about that.

Also, in case you’re wondering who Danville’s election commissioners are, the current director of the commission is Will Nesbitt, someone who I attended community college with and was formerly either an intern for, or an employee of, Illinois State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin), and the members of the commission are Barb Bailey, Charles Bostic, and Leora Clark. It’s also worth noting that, where I voted (Illinois, Vermilion County, Georgetown Township Precinct 7), I had absolutely zero issues voting, and the elections in Vermilion County outside of Danville are run by a Republican county clerk.

This is the second major controversy involving the Danville Election Commission in less than two years (in the 2014 general election, Danville election officials ran some absentee ballots through a tabulator over a week before Election Day that year). I think that it is once again time to take a serious look at either replacing Danville Election Commission officials or putting the Vermilion County Clerk’s office in charge of elections for the entire county. Elections should be run as smoothly as possible, regardless of the party affiliation of those who are responsible for running elections.

NRA-supporting DINO Ron Kind finally gets a primary challenger

For the first time in a very long time, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of the 3rd Congressional District of Wisconsin is facing credible opposition within his own party. That’s because Myron Buchholz, a retired history teacher from the Eau Claire area, is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 3rd District of Wisconsin.

Very little is known about Buchholz, outside of the fact that he is politically aligned with Bernie Sanders and considers himself to be answering Bernie’s call for ordinary Americans to take back our country from big-money special interests. No information is available as to whether or not Bernie actually recruited Buchholz to run against Kind (I highly doubt that is the case).

Ron Kind, on the other hand, is well to the ideological right of Hillary Clinton on many political issues, including guns, where Kind has taken money from the NRA and received their endorsement in 2010. On gun issues, Kind has voted for, among other things, allowing guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. On other issues, Kind has voted the corporate Democratic line, including supporting President Obama’s free trade deals that have shipped Wisconsin and American jobs overseas.

I strongly encourage Democrats of the 3td Congressional District of Wisconsin to take a serious look at Myron Buchholz.

Right-wing extremist Kyle McCarter to run in GOP primary against Republican Congressman John Shimkus

Republican Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Vandalia) intends to run against incumbent U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) in the Republican primary in the 15th Congressional District of Illinois.

As a Democrat who lives in the 15th District, I think that Shimkus and McCarter are two absolutely awful right-wing politicians.

Shimkus has been a loyalist to John Boehner, and big-money special interests as a Member of Congress. Furthermore, Shimkus ran his first congressional campaign on a pro-term limits platform, but has now become the ultimate D.C. insider, with Shimkus running for an 11th two-year term in Congress. As a Member of Congress, Shimkus has built up an extremely conservative voting record that reflects the interests of big businesses and bible-thumping zealots, not the interests of the people of the 15th District.

McCarter would be an even worse Member of Congress than Shimkus is. As a state senator, McCarter was one of the most vocal opponents of marriage equality, even going as far as to try to repeal the Illinois marriage equality law. While Shimkus is very conservative on social issues in his own right, McCarter is even more of a Religious Right nutjob than Shimkus is.

If you want proof that the Republican Party is in complete disarray, look no further than the Republican Party in my home congressional district.

Tammy Duckworth wins MoveOn email straw poll for Illinois U.S. Senate race

With a whopping 91% of the vote, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) has won the MoveOn Illinois U.S. Senate email straw poll. That means that Duckworth has been endorsed by MoveOn, a progressive political organization.

If I’m not mistaken, one must have been from Illinois and have been on MoveOn’s email list in order to get a ballot (for the record, I received an email ballot and voted for Duckworth). Although Wikipedia lists three candidates (Duckworth, former Chicago School Board member Andrea Zopp, and radiologist Robert Marshall) as running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, only Duckworth and Zopp appeared on MoveOn’s straw poll ballot.

The email in which MoveOn announced the straw poll results emphasized Duckworth’s military service (she lost both of her legs after a Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was shot down) and support for the nuclear deal with Iran and attacked Republican incumbent Mark Kirk for being one of the most vocal opponents of the Iran deal:

The results are in, and MoveOn members in Illinois have voted overwhelmingly to endorse Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate!
Rep. Duckworth knows the costs of war more than most, having served in Iraq as a helicopter pilot before losing both of her legs in combat…
[…]
In contrast, current Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is one of the biggest war hawks in all of Congress. In addition to voting to invade Iraq, he railed against President Obama for pursuing diplomacy with Iran, even claiming that the President’s goal was to “get nukes to Iran.”
Make no mistake about it, Mark Kirk is dead wrong when it comes to his absurd claim that the Iran deal would result in President Obama giving nuclear weapons to Iran. In fact, the Iran deal would keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands and prevent another war that would cost thousands of American lives and billions of American taxpayer dollars. MoveOn members in Illinois have made it clear that Tammy Duckworth would be a better Democratic challenger to Kirk than Andrea Zopp, who voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago public schools, mostly in predominantly-black neighborhoods, would be.

Milwaukee is why Wisconsin progressives can’t have nice things

After the Wisconsin State Senate voted overwhelmingly to give a quarter of a billion dollars in corporate welfare to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks so that they can build the new arena that the NBA is forcing them to do, I’ve come to the conclusion that Milwaukee is why Wisconsin progressives can’t have nice things.

Over the past quarter of a century or so, Milwaukee has become a cesspool for Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money being wasted on state government policies, supported by both Republicans and Democrats, that have little or no actual benefit to the vast majority of Wisconsinites. First, it was school vouchers, which was first implemented in Wisconsin in 1990, but the Wisconsin school voucher program originally only covered Milwaukee (it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that vouchers were expanded statewide in Wisconsin). Next came the corporate welfare package for Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers, which gave them taxpayer money to build a new baseball park, which became Miller Park after naming rights for the park were sold and opened in 2001. Now, the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks are about to get their own corporate welfare package for their new arena in Milwaukee. In all three of these cases, both Republicans and Democrats supported these policies, which have little or no benefit to the vast majority of Wisconsinites.

How the Bucks got such broad support for corporate welfare for a new arena in the Wisconsin State Senate looks to be, at first, shocking, since scientific polling has shown nearly 80% of Wisconsinites are opposed to corporate welfare for the Bucks. However, the Bucks had two advantages to overcome public opinion being against them: support from the political elite in Wisconsin and a well-organized campaign by a vocal minority of Wisconsinites to give the Bucks taxpayer money for a new arena. Unlike the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers, which have a very large national following, and baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers, which have a large following in Wisconsin, the Bucks have a relatively small fan base.

However, from an electoral standpoint, the Democrats who support the Bucks corporate welfare deal are in big trouble…if anti-corporate welfare progressives can organize effective political campaigns against those Democratic elected officials who sided with the Bucks owners. There is growing opposition to corporate welfare, both in Wisconsin and nationally, so there’s a golden opportunity for anti-corporate welfare progressives to get organized and replace corporate Democrats with progressive Democrats through the electoral process. In fact, in regards to the 2018 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, if there’s a contested Democratic primary, the battle lines have pretty much been drawn. For all intents and purposes, a competitive Democratic primary for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018 is effectively going to be between a pro-corporate welfare Democrat supported by the Milwaukee-area political elite and an anti-corporate welfare Democrat supported by the activist progressive base of the party, if such candidates run. The anti-corporate welfare Democrat should ideally run against Milwaukee, but not in the same way that a Republican would. The anti-corporate welfare Democrat should talk about a bipartisan political elite giving Milwaukee taxpayer money for corporate welfare for wealthy sports team owners, religious welfare for private schools, and other policies that are of little or no benefit to the general public. At the same time, the anti-corporate welfare Democrat should advocate for progressive policies that benefit the vast majority of Wisconsinites. This message would resonate heavily in both Dane County, the progressive stronghold of Wisconsin, and the rural western and northern parts of Wisconsin, which are the areas with most of what few persuadable voters there are in a statewide general election in Wisconsin. Also, there would be extremely little political risk in running against Milwaukee for a Democratic statewide candidate. This is because quite a few people in the Milwaukee area are strongly opposed to the kind of policies that the anti-corporate welfare candidate is opposing, and roughly 99% or so of the voters in the Milwaukee area have a group grievance with one of the two major parties and vote for candidates in the other major party all the way down the ballot. This kind of campaign would be even more effective for state legislative races outside of the Milwaukee area, but anti-corporate welfare progressives would have to drop the Milwaukee-bashing for state legislative races in the Milwaukee area.

Could Russ Feingold lose a Democratic primary for his former U.S. Senate seat?

Go ahead and laugh at me, but I think it’s possible that Russ Feingold could actually lose a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat he held for three terms before being defeated by far-right Republican Ron Johnson in 2010.

During his 18 years in the U.S. Senate, Feingold became famous for his advocacy for progressive ideals on a wide array of issues, especially civil liberties and campaign finance reform, and, because of that, he is regarded as a political institution in Wisconsin, especially among progressives. However, it is possible for a Democratic primary challenger to stake out ground to Feingold’s left. One issue where this is possible is on guns. In a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the right-wing majority on the bench prohibited state and local governments from banning firearms, Feingold signed an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the Chicago, Illinois handgun ban that was struck down in the case, although a handgun ban is considered so left-wing of an idea in American politics nowadays that even many progressives refuse to support handgun bans. Another issue where this is possible is on is, believe it or not, regulation of the financial industry. While Feingold actually opposed this from the left, he voted against the Dodd-Frank bill that, among other things, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate the financial sector of the economy, and it wouldn’t be completely unthinkable for a Democratic primary challenger to Feingold to attack him over this and what few other issues Feingold has opposed Democratic and progressive policies and positions and gain political traction.

One strategy that would not work is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin against Russ Feingold and running to Feingold’s right, as that would do nothing but help Feingold galvanize his progressive base of support, and any Democrat who were to run against Feingold and attack him from the right would face nearly non-stop criticism from progressives. Additionally, if the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin were to throw Feingold under the bus by discouraging him from running for his old U.S. Senate seat, like they’ve done to people like Barbara Lawton, Mark Harris, and Kathleen Vinehout in past gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin, and push an corporate establishment candidate like Ron Kind or Chris “Boss” Abele, you’d never hear the end of the outrage from Wisconsin progressives, even long after my time on this planet has passed and my body is buried somewhere in Dane County, Wisconsin.

While I highly doubt that anyone would run against Russ Feingold in a Democratic primary, it’s not completely impossible for Feingold to lose a Democratic primary for his former U.S. Senate seat.