Primary election critical, be sure to vote

Early voting is underway for the 2018 Illinois primary election. The last official day to register with deputy registrars is this Tuesday.

If you haven’t registered, do so at once. The primary election is critical. Most of our problems stem from having candidates in the general election who have been chosen by a small percentage of eligible voters—the most passionate ones.

Emotions have a part to play in voting, but reason and sober judgment are safer guides. It’s better to have a choice between two excellent candidates than the lesser of two evils. Primary voters are the ones who decide which option we get.

A majority of our citizens choose not to participate in primaries because they don’t want to be identified as either a Republican or a Democrat. That’s foolish. Selecting a party ballot in the primary doesn’t mark you for life. You can change parties whenever you wish.

A heavy turnout at the March 20 primary gives all of us better options in November. Voting is both a privilege and an obligation which defines citizenship. It’s never a good idea to let others make political choices for you.

The Republican race looks interesting, but incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner seems to have the inside track. His opponent, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, is attacking him from the right. She is an army veteran and a former tax advisor with rather radical conservative views. She is considered a very long shot, but so was Donald Trump.

There are some even more interesting gubernatorial options for Democrats. The three leaders in the field are J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, and Daniel Biss. Those who handicap the race suspect that any of the three could defeat Rauner.

J.B. Pritzker is given the best odds on the Democratic side. He is a venture capitalist who has a seemingly endless supply of cash to invest in the race. That has given him a solid advantage.

I remember a conversation I had with then-Democratic Party county chairman John Gianulis when Rod Blagojevich was running against Paul Vallas in the 2002 primary. I asked John why he wasn’t supporting a fellow Greek. He explained that “money wins elections” and Blagojevich “came downstate with $2 million.”

Pritzker is following Rod Blagojevich’s playbook: wooing Democratic leaders and organizations by flooding downstate with money while lining up strong support in Chicago. Shakespeare put it well: “Nothing comes amiss, so money comes withal.”

Pritzker’s strongest competitor, Chris Kennedy, isn’t a poor man, by any means, but his advantage is a range of experience broader than any of his opponents, from business and politics to extensive work for the underprivileged. The fact that he is a Kennedy will earn him far more trust than he can buy.

The third candidate, Daniel Biss, is Illinois 9th District senator from the Evanston area. He has an unusual background: an ace math scholar from a family of musicians. If he were in a two-man race with Pritzker, he might have a chance. At present, he stands to dilute the vote that could give the win to Kennedy.

I am long out of politics and I have seldom revisited Springfield, sensing that a defeated legislator is as welcome there as the ghost of Banquo in “Macbeth.” Even so, after a 38-year absence, I often find myself calculating how to correct our state’s knotty problems, but that’s the stuff of daydreams. It’s up to the coming legislative session and a new governor.

The odds-makers assume that will be J.B. Pritzker, but that’s an assumption, not a guarantee. Rauner can match him dollar for dollar for dollar, which means we could be in for an epic, electoral mudfest.

I’ll just put that thought aside and vote for Kennedy.

It’s better to have
a choice between two excellent candidates than the lesser of two evils. Primary voters
are the ones who decide which option we get.

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