There’s no excuse for voter apathy when it comes to the Illinois congressional races on the Nov. 8 midterm ballot. Issues ranging from abortion, inflation and gun control to Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, climate change and election denial make voter participation paramount.
Democrats’ control over the U.S. House of Representatives hangs in the balance, and Republicans smell blood. Will the GOP gain ground on seats in Illinois, historically a blue state?
This is the first installment of the Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsements in Illinois’ contested U.S. House seats. We begin with the 1st District, where longtime Rep. Bobby Rush will step down after nearly three decades in Congress.
Democrat Jonathan Jackson, son of the famed Rev. Jesse Jackson, emerged victorious from the June 28 Democratic primary that featured a dizzying number of candidates — 17. His district stretches from the South Side and Southland suburbs to towns outside Kankakee.
Gun violence is an entrenched scourge in the metro Chicago portion of this district, and Jackson wants to get at the problem by cracking down on the illegal flow of guns from neighboring states like Indiana. He also wants to give the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives broader authority to shut down rogue gun dealers who sell to straw purchasers and gun traffickers. Jackson’s experience as the national spokesperson for his father’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, along with his travels around the world with his father to advance human rights, make him better prepared for this job.
His Republican opponent, Eric Carlson of southwest suburban Lemont, works as a program director for a nonprofit that helps veterans. He believes the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol “was not an attempt to subvert anything,” and says climate change is a hoax. Jackson is endorsed.
Democrat Robin Kelly of south suburban Matteson has capably represented this district since 2013. She has been a strong voice for gun control, and the job fairs she has organized in her district have led to thousands of constituents finding work. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade, Kelly has also been an ardent proponent of ensuring that Illinois has the resources to handle the growing influx of women who seek abortions but are coming from states where the procedure is banned.
Her Republican opponent, Thomas Lynch, is a meat and poultry inspector and an Iroquois County Board member from downstate Cissna Park. He says there’s a simple approach to curbing runaway inflation. “Our government authorized over a trillion dollars in spending just in August,” Lynch told us. “That’s beyond irresponsible. We need to rein in spending immediately.” Lynch has a strong point, but Kelly has served this district well. She is endorsed.
The Chicago region’s Latino population continues to grow, and this new district was created by Illinois Democrats to capitalize on that demographic shift. That means Republican Justin Burau from Winfield has an uphill climb. He’s a 36-year-old operations vice president for a mortgage firm who has never held political office. Still, he brings to the race moderate GOP views that might win him some traction.
He supports some gun control measures, like universal background checks and raising to 21 the minimum age to buy assault-style rifles. He’s right when he says the Biden administration needs to pull back on its spending spree. And he opposes U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposal for a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
Nevertheless, his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Delia Ramirez, is more in sync with the district, which includes large Latino enclaves in Chicago neighborhoods like Belmont Cragin, Logan Square and Humboldt Park, as well as Hispanic communities in west suburban Bensenville, Elgin and West Chicago. In the General Assembly, the Chicago progressive has demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle to get legislation passed. She backs a federal ban on assault-style weapons and federal codification of a woman’s right to choose — positions that align with our thinking.
We don’t agree with every stance she takes — she helped push for an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools, an idea that we think will lead to damaging Chicago Teachers Union influence on CPS through its elected proxies. Overall, however, Ramirez, 39, is smart, articulate, passionate about her positions and best suited to represent this district. She is endorsed.
Will Chuy run for Chicago mayor? That question hovers over this race, and it’s anyone’s guess when the city will get an answer from Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has represented this Southwest Side and west suburban district since 2019. In the meantime, the Latino Democrat is defending his seat against Republican James Falakos, a small business owner from west suburban Westchester.
Garcia, a longtime progressive with political roots that date back to the Harold Washington era, has a strong sense for the needs of this district. Social justice issues such as immigration and affordable housing are high on his list. Falakos says the U.S. has gotten far too entwined in the war in Ukraine and believes fraud tainted the 2020 presidential election. He’s wrong on both fronts. Our endorsement goes to Garcia, who nonetheless needs expeditiously to tell voters about his future plans. Also on the ballot is Chicago teacher Edward Hershey of the Working Class Party.
It’s hard to think of a better voice in the nation’s capital that stands up for Illinois than incumbent Democrat Mike Quigley. As a media-savvy member of the House Intelligence Committee, he speaks eloquently and cogently on America’s intersection with the world’s international crises — whether it’s Vladimir Putin’s ruinous war in Ukraine or the economic and geopolitical threats posed by China.
Quigley also correctly believes that federal legislation to prevent gun violence hasn’t gone far enough. “Congress must pass an assault weapons ban and implement universal background checks to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands,” Quigley told us. His Republican opponent, Tommy Hanson, is a Chicago commercial real estate broker who argues climate change “was invented” and insists the election was stolen from Donald Trump. Also on the ballot is Chicagoan Jerico Matias Cruz running as an independent.
We have endorsed Quigley before, and we do so again.
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October 19, 2022 at 08:46AM