Primary Thoughts and Beyond

The 2018 Primary Election is now history. And with the exception of the Cam Davis write-in campaign for a MWRD seat (a combination of computer entries and paper write-ins), the results are in for most of the races we New Trier Dems have paid attention to. We now know who our Democratic Party candidates will be in the November general election.

There’s no need for me to rehash the details of the political contests we’ve just witnessed. But I will say this Primary Season was different from most I can remember. It seems like there were more candidates than usual vying for the Democratic nomination in several key races. — How did that happen?

In the case of the Attorney General race, the crowded field of extraordinary Democratic candidates was the result of Lisa Madigan’s unexpected announcement that she wouldn’t seek reelection. Once that political career opportunity appeared, naturally a number of sharp, highly qualified people reached for it.

The election of the misogynistic, and dangerously ignorant, Donald Trump was another cause for the big 2018 Democratic candidate “turnout.” His presidency has awakened a wave of political participation among hundreds of women candidates across America. I’m sure it energized more than a few Illinois women to run for office this year. And I’m guessing it played some motivating role among the impressive candidates who competed for our 17th House District seat.

Even our state’s top political office drew an unusual number of serious competitors for that nomination. The reasons for the crowd of candidates in this case were easy to sum up in two words — Bruce Rauner. He has been a disaster for Illinois. Each of the Democratic candidates appeared to recognize the urgency of replacing him in November. (The one exception to what I just stated might be the candidate Robert Marshall since I have no idea what he deems urgent other than his mission to divide Illinois into three states. I wonder which of those resulting states he would like to govern?)

So now, at least for most of the Primary contests, the conciliatory concession speeches have been given. I checked YouTube for the gubernatorial concessions. Daniel Biss’ address was beautifully worded, inspiring, hopeful. Chris Kennedy’s address was positive and human. Neither displayed bitterness. Their supporters should feel proud.

In fact, all of you Democrats who supported yesterday’s profusion of attractive candidates who weren’t winners should feel proud. The people you chose to back did their best to win for you. They were serious candidates – and this is no small thing. It is easy for sideline observers like me to ignore the fact that running for any office – from school board to governor — is a very tough job. It demands a ridiculous amount of energy and daily motivation. Candidates without deep pockets or deep party funding must spend brutal hours every day fundraising. But the reality is, without people stepping forward to aspire for elected office, we would have no democracy. So, my hat is off to every candidate who put his or her personal lives on hold during this lengthy primary campaign season. To dive into this intense arena must be admired by us all.

Now the winners of every Democratic Primary contest must begin preparing for the months leading up to Election Day, November 6. We know what needs to be accomplished.

Bruce Rauner must be removed from office. Illinois Republican candidates, at every level of government, who support Donald Trump’s actions must be defeated. Congressman Brad Schneider must be reelected and his Republican opponent sent home permanently. In our neighboring 6th Congressional District, we must do as much as we can to defeat Trump defender Republican Peter Roskam. The same goes for the congressional district just across our northern state border. House Speaker Paul Ryan is facing a legitimate challenge from union organizer Randy Bryce. We must work to defeat him.

And in our local Illinois legislative races, we must be prepared to keep our 17th District House seat and our 9th District Senate seat blue. We cannot allow them to be taken over by Republican challengers with ultra conservative philosophies. These could be difficult campaigns, with Madigan Machine accusations (a device that never gets old for Republican strategists) being thrown with abandon at both of our local Democratic Party candidates.

This brings me to my final thought on how we might spend some of our time leading up to November. And that is: we should begin reflecting on some of the disturbing negative aspects of the Democratic Primary we just experienced. This is not an uncomplicated subject so I will reserve it for a commentary in the future. Meanwhile, I am sure many of you have already begun a mental review of what you liked and didn’t like about the recent Primary contests and what if anything can be done to improve things.

Here’s the bottom line. We have a lot of worthwhile stuff to do between now and November.

Nels Howard
NTDO member since 1973 

A message from NTDO’s President, Judy Mandel:

“Congratulations to all the winners in yesterday’s primary. I was with Cam Davis last night at Prairie Moon with many of our winners – Robyn Gabel, Larry Suffredin and Deb Shore – and things are looking good for Cam but, because he was a write-in candidate, final results could take at least a week. Also, shout out to Fritz Kaegi who slayed the dragon. Hopefully the win stands and no legal action taken by opponents but we will see. Meanwhile, to our members – let us put the races and any hard feelings aside. We need to roll up our sleeves and step up to elect our candidates and also go after some bad GOP in the 6th Congressional District and Wisconsin. Thanks to all who worked so hard for their candidates regardless of outcome to make Democracy work. Thanks to all our volunteers who canvassed and phone banked. Thanks also to Dean and his sign team who put up all those signs at precincts Tuesday. Last but not least, thanks to Joan Fishman who did a great job manning the office and helping us with our Endorsement meeting, mailings and handouts and even doing canvassing. Proud of you all. Looking forward to a productive Summer.”