Left Justified: Manzullo cares about me

I can’t believe our U.S. Congressman cares what I think about his re-election. This District (the “fightin’ 16th”) extends from McHenry County to the Mississippi River, has 450,000 constituents, and is so Republican the leadership could run a yellow dog, and win.

There was only one Democrat elected from this area since 1840 (Illinois was made a state in 1818). That was in 1990. Galena attorney John Cox defeated Republican John Hallock in a close race. Hallock was caught speeding and failed to show up for court (he was, after all, an Illinois state representative). Republican leadership gerrymandered (remember that word from civics class?) the 16th with more conservatives from McHenry County. Result: Democrat John Cox served only one term.

Our present Congressman is the Honorable (you’re supposed to call Congressmen “Honorable”—something to do with 18th century protocol) Donald Manzullo. He was elected after a Republican primary brawl where he defeated a McHenry County pooh-bah by rounding up fundamentalist Christian votes.

The Donald bumped off Cox almost too easily. Poor “liberal” Rockford was blindsided by staunch conservative Woodstock, Ill. The Donald promised voters he would serve only six terms. That was eight terms ago. He has, so far, easily defeated every Democrat challenger that the Dems hardly even bother slating candidates. Quick, tell me the Democrat who is running against Manzullo? I’ll give you more time. Want a hint? He was the former Mayor of Galena. OK, time’s up: Dick Auman. Impressed? Few are, though he is a nice enough fellow.

I met Mr. Auman a few times when he traveled to Rockford. He’s a gentleman who believes strongly in the environment, is against war and could put up a good challenge. Except here. He’s got no money compared to Manzullo’s war chest. The few volunteers that help Auman are meager compared to the mega-church monolith that can drive voter registration and solicitation.

Let’s face it: our present Congressman has a job for life. The Donald will die in office, and there is nothing we can do about it. We are lucky Manzullo still visits the district, has a good staff that provides great services, and that he is honest.

But Manzullo’s got a “zero” voting record from the environmentalist group, League of Conservation Voters, and he is so pro-war he could lead a jihad. On social issues, he is more conservative than Attila the Hun (in my humble opinion). But he shakes hands well and is very friendly.

So why did the Congressman’s Press Secretary Rich Carter call and complain about some of my missives? Seems a column I wrote peeved the good representative. I had written: “And our Congressman, Don Manzullo, is even worse when it comes to supporting that mess (the war in Iraq). He could be speaking out against that war, trying to convince his party to change course and save some lives for a change. Instead, he’s advocating a widening of the war to take on Iran and Syria.” The Congressman says he is not for widening the war!

I was horribly mistaken, Donald does not want a war with Syria and Iran (how about Lebanon?). I had made a mistake! Of course, he is not speaking out against widening the war to Iran. I made a mistake by saying he would support that. He is very much in favor of keeping our troops in Iraq until the job is done. Whenever that is.

And could our Congressman just once vote for the environment? If he is gonna be our Congressman for Life, then he should reflect the concerns of all his constituents, not just the conservative ones.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Aug. 23-29, 2006, issue

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