By Stanley Campbell
As the director of a nonprofit organization, I can’t make political endorsements of any candidates, which is too bad because most nonprofit workers know which candidates are generous and live up to their words. But the way the politicians drew their district lines, I might as well go ahead and give my 5 cents worth on some of the upcoming primary elections.
Last week, when I suggested U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., was more liberal than his opponent (he is vying with a young Tea Party Republican for the 16th Congressional District), I reiterated the views expressed were those of myself only and did not reflect upon the broad opinion of the United Methodist Church, Rockford Urban Ministries or its affiliates. Of course, few people read the column anyway, and took it with a grain of salt (or something the size of Lot’s wife). So, hesitantly, I suggest you take a close look at that primary election.
In my humble opinion, I believe the real election is taking place in the March 20 primary. The districts are so well gerrymandered that the other party’s given up and will not even slate a candidate. The aforementioned Manzullo district is now so heavily Republican, there’s no Democrat who’ll even consider putting his/her name in, much less take time to file the paperwork to get on the November ballot.
The same can be said for state Sen. Dave Syverson’s Illinois senatorial district. He has been gerrymandered into another Republican district now occupied by Christine Johnson, who is well-loved in DeKalb and those parts. Sen. Syverson has always been a big backer of casinos here in Rockford. He could be upset when the farmers of DeKalb County show their disapproval. So, voting in the March 20 election will determine the course — and the representation — of that district, but I dare say there will be no Democrat who could defeat either Syverson or Johnson in November. Therefore, the real election is in March.
The 34th Illinois State Senate district, Syverson’s former, has the same problem, except it is all Democrat. There’s a three-way race, and depending on whose campaign manager you are talking to — Marla Wilson, Steve Stadelman or Dan Lewandowski is in the lead. As of this writing, I am still pondering the choices. I do like the fact that Lewandowski filled out a Sierra Cub questionnaire, although I wish he was a little more concerned about industrial-strength casino gambling.
But the real battle seems to be in the Winnebago County Republican Party. Almost every incumbent has a challenger from the right wing, as if the Tea Party was trying to take over. At one of the candidate forums, the snide attitude was palpable, and someone even questioned why we needed a police force, much less a school system.
I ask you to be real careful whom you vote for. Make sure you know them, and can vouch for their political beliefs. Otherwise, we’ll end up with government deadlock that’ll make Washington, D.C., look like, well, a tea party.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the March 7-13, 2012, issue