The Big Kickoff

Last night the NTDO Executive Committee held its monthly meeting. The main topic was the details for the upcoming New Trier Democrats Election Year Kickoff rally. It will be held on Sunday, February 18. We have reserved a large meeting room at the Wilmette Recreation Center at 3000 Glenview Road, just west of Skokie Blvd. Every Democrat or Independent who is fed up with the Bruce Rauner’s failed agenda and Donald Trump’s destructive initiatives is urged to show up.

The rally will present the priorities of the New Trier Democratic Organization from now until Election Day, November 6. You’ll get reports from the endorsed candidates on their ongoing campaigns – what they’re experiencing on the campaign trail, the issues that they are emphasizing, the responses they are receiving. You will hear about what’s at stake in the judicial and MWRD races. You will learn the role our organization of volunteers will play in helping those candidates achieve victory. And more specifically, the role you can play in this critically important effort.

Now, you might think that every Democrat running for office this year is sure to win. So, is a rally like this one, so early in the year, really necessary? After all, an ever-growing number of Americans have concluded that President Trump’s election was a terrible mistake. (Actually the majority never wanted him in the White House in the first place.) And as for Governor Rauner, the majority of Illinois voters have been badly disappointed by his ineptitude in office.

There’s also growing discord within the Republican Party. The ethical and philosophical boundaries being crossed by some Republicans have greatly upset their more conventional (or should I say “more honest” or “more sane”) Republican brothers and sisters. The ignorance and bigotry displayed by Governor Rauner’s Primary opponent has to be a divisive embarrassment to at least some Illinois Republicans. Then there is Republican Congressman Nunes, looking increasingly foolish and reckless as he ignores congressional ethics and security protocol with his Trump sycophancy.

And who can ignore the sole Republican candidatefor Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. He’s an avowed Nazi and Holocaust denier. He’s run for office as a Republican in the past. (Does this mean he’s an example of the Republican Party’s “big tent” approach?)

But even with all that Republican chaos, if we assume easy victories for Democrats in November we would be making a big mistake. There are important races that could be lost. Here’s the cold truth about mid-term election years. A huge number of potential voters always stay home. The percentage of eligible voters who participate in mid-term voting is disgracefully low. 

We are still suffering from the campaigning mistakes Democrats made after Barack Obama’s convincing victory in 2008. In 2010, over- confidence and inattention cost Democrats control of both Houses of Congress. That loss halted America’s chance to move into a much more positive, productive and unifying era. That’s certainly not what we have today. – I hope that lost opportunity taught every Democrat: we cannot take anything for granted.

But wait. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. The truth is we definitely do have the advantage in this mid-term election year. Beyond the public’s negative feelings toward Trump and Rauner, we have an even bigger asset. We have really good candidates. They are smart and principled and dedicated to public service. They have gotten involved in politics for all the right reasons. You probably already know some of them personally. But others may be new to you. Their success depends on your participation. This is why I hope you will be able to attend the rally on February 18 at the Wilmette Rec. Center. Mark you calendar now.

What Republican office holders are doing to our state, our nation, our future becomes more destructive every day. This year we have a good chance reverse this disaster. Rallies like ours are the first step.

Nels Howard
NTDO member since 1973

P.S. At last night’s NTDO Exec. Meeting, a fellow named Cam Davis (camdavis.org) briefly spoke to us about his candidacy for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Cam is an attorney who has defended the Clean Water Act for the Obama Administration. He is President and CEO of the alliance for the Great Lakes, Vice President of the Democratic Party of Evanston and now a candidate for the MWRD. Cam is not an endorsed NTDO candidate since he was not running for office when we held our Endorsement Session. In fact, there are also a few other candidates hoping to fill this MWRD opening.

Even so, Cam’s environmental background is quite impressive and the path to his candidacy is unusual and worth understanding. So, I’ll try to explain it here:

When the NTDO membership held its endorsement session, Cam was not a candidate. However weeks before our meeting, an MWRD commissioner passed away leaving a vacant MWRD seat. Because that death occurred at almost the same time as the last date for turning in ballot placement petitions, no candidates for this commissioner slot will appear on the March ballot. The only way anyone can win the MWRD seat is to get at least as many write-in votes as would have been required for placement on the ballot. That amounts to thousands of names. Unfortunately, the number of total votes cast in Mid-term Elections for offices “down ballot” can sometimes be anemic. It’s quite a challenge.

I have included this postscript about Cam Davis’s write-in campaign as one more example of the importance of Mid-term Election turnout. Low turnouts too often keep bad incumbents in office. And in rare cases like this, a low turnout number can keep a good candidate out.