Left Justified: Rockford gets two congressmen

December 14, 2011

Stanley Campbell

By Stanley Campbell

The boys in Springfield gerrymandered Rockford into two congressional districts, which, I think, will give us a little more input into the U.S. Congress. If we don’t get help from one representative, we can appeal to the other.

Right now, Rockford is in the 16th Congressional District. We have Donald Manzullo as our “Representative for Life.” He is not a hard worker. The Donald takes the easy way out on a lot of issues, though he has a great staff that gives good service, which is very important to maintain one’s power.

The Donald ran as an outsider, and promised to serve only six terms. That was 10 terms ago. He could have had practically any congressional committee in Congress, but he chose some simple ones that had little power (and even less to do).

Manzullo racked up an incredible zero percent on environmental votes. He never voted for the environment. He did allow the Rock Island Arsenal to place some acreage in a wildlife preserve, thanks to the work of his wife.

Manzullo’s new 17th Congressional District will have most of the Republicans in Illinois, and they can yell at each other as to which one will build the highest electrified fence at our borders, who’s more conservative and wants to kill the most Arabs. Manzullo now faces a Tea Party Republican in his first primary battle since he trounced Democrat John Cox in 1992.

Four Democrats are running in the 17th Congressional District who want their party’s vote. They are vying to be the first Democrat from the Rockford area to be elected to Congress since John Cox (and he was only there one term). Before Cox, the last Democrat was in the 1840s.

The 17th District is represented by a Teabagger as well, Bobby Schilling, but his chances, I imagine, are now pretty narrow. Gerrymandering means the politicians draw boundaries so their side wins. Almost always.

A month ago, Rockford Progressive Meetup hosted a Meet the Candidates Night. They invited those Democrats running for U.S. Congress in the Illinois 17th District. It was the first chance to meet them. Rockford will be split between the 16th and the 17th in the new gerrymandered state. Since I’d heard the 17th will be more Democrat, I figured this would be a good time to meet one of our next representatives.

Five Democrat candidates were invited, but only three showed: George Gaulrapp, mayor of Freeport; Cheri Bustros, alderman of East Moline; and David Koehler, state senator from Peoria. This was the first time these candidates were together, and the event gave us an opportunity to hear them talk. Only The Rock River Times advertised the event (thanks, Frank!), but two of the three TV stations showed, as well as one of the Hispanic papers (El Tiempo, I believe).

Here’s my impressions: They were all good candidates. I loved the fact that Cheri’s father ran Paul Simon’s gubernatorial campaign (he lost, but went on to beat Chuck Percy for Senate), and Dave Koehler worked for Cesar Chavez before moving his family to Peoria, where he worked for an interfaith urban ministries (my kinda guy!). Late breaking news: Dave just pulled out of the race!

George was the best I’d ever seen him. He’d run against Manzullo in 2010. Articulate, focused on his “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” campaign. Concerns: George does not identify himself as a Democrat in his big yard signs, and he bends to business interests.

I think there are two other Democrats running. Hope they show up at some public forum before the primary. Thanks to Progressive Meetup for hosting a great candidate forum, and IBEW for letting everyone into their beautiful hall.

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

From the Dec. 14-20, 2011, issue


  1. Eric Reyes

    December 14, 2011 at 8:55 am


    I just wanted to point out that my campaign was never invited to the event. I have spent a great deal of time in Rockford, from working at AmericanTV during college, to practicing law at the Zeke Giorgi Legal Defense Clinic during law school, to working alongside Ladarius Curtis during the Obama for Illinois Senate Campaign (while I ran the campaign in 5 neighboring counties).

    I look forward to continuing to develop my relationship with the people of Rockford and to serving as their Congressman.

    Eric Reyes
    Democrat For Congress

  2. rockfordteaparty

    December 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I have to hand it to Mr. Campbell who is the Minister-in-Chief at the Non-Profit 501C3 Rockford Urban Ministries here locally. He has no fear of losing his independent voice as one can see from this lopsided letter and castigation of anything Conservative. It always amazed me how left wingers can get away with such inflammatory, abusive language and never fret over their 501C3 Status.

    It may be more of an indictment on those so called right wing Conservative Ministers that have a terrifying fear of loosing their Tax Exempt Status who keep their mouths closed and remain cloistered in their Church silos muttering, “make the bad things go,” and “Jesus Saves,” while the the likes of Mr. Campbell run around railing against their meek requests, with much deference, for a chance to even mumble a hushed an all inclusive prayer at a preschooler breakfast.

    Those so called Conservative ministers who would prayer torture people keep a tight lid on things never straying from the reservation when it comes to standing up, whereas Campbell has no qualms about sticking it to anyone that so much as peeps anything like a Prayer in public.

    Campbell’s use of the derogatory homoerotically-sexually charged term “Tea Bagger” to describe those in the Tea Party says more about whatever Ministry Credentials he may hold in the Methodist Church or whatever denomination it is that would Ordain a man that refers to Human Beings as Tea Baggers as opposed to, say, fellow citizens, or errr…human beings. Eee gads. Tea Baggers are human beings? Oh ok.

    I will hand it to Campbell who has attended a number of Occupy events and back slapped with the best of them while cat calling anyone in the Tea Party that respectfully in polite tones has merely asked for Government to stop abusing Tax Payers. Anathema to Cambell and his crowd of culture warriors on the left. Campbell’s public, overt, shameless disdain for Conservatives and “Tea Baggers” is almost admirable in its brazenness and fearlessness of back lash and utter lack of concern with losing that 501c3 non-profit status. The operative word there is almost, because in this day and age it is laudable for those in the popular culture such as Mr. Campbell, who in his off time attends various soirees with the elites of Rockford’s left wing political class, finds himself a celebrity of sorts for standing up to, uh, lets see, the Grand Old Tea Party.

    Its easy to join the pack Stanley when everyone else in the pack. I have seen packs of teens and mobs of mobs beating one person mercilessly and none of them probably even knew why they were doing it, they were just doing it because it felt good to join the rest of the mob to beat someone down. Well Stanley welcome to your mob. Real brave Stanley. You’ve made your denomination proud with your version of Social Justice and Christian Charity. I’m thinking that the mobs of people that partake with Campbell in their cafe society will not object.

  3. John

    December 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Amazing that in spite of Manzullo’s many faults as pointed out by Stan the Man, he is overwhelming re-elected every term???? Gee, you’d almost think he was a Chicago Democrat, except that he isn’t backed up by the Union Lemmings or socialist rats like Moveon.org.

    I do take exception to Campbell’s usage of the insulting “Teabagger”. That’s the reason I invented the term Left-Nut”. And I’m not talking about the “extremist” kind of Nut.

    Campbell, you are truely a Left-NUT!

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