The 2016 Illinois primaries are now behind us. Although it wasn't fraught with too many surprises, there were a few upsets, affectionately dubbed "proxy races", by the media, in this election.
One headline grabber was the 5th district house seat in the Illinois General Assembly. Newcomer Juliana Stratton annihilated incumbent Ken Dunkin at the polls, garnering over 60% of the vote. Unfortunately, Dunkin committed political suicide, by breaking ranks with the Democratic Party on several issues-most directly, going against House Speaker Madigan by voting with Governor Rauner on a key human services bill. What made this a proxy race? Well, that would be the fact that both Governor Rauner, Speaker Madigan, and their interests, contributed just over $5 million dollars in this District race, a starch contrast to the typical war chest of around $100,000.
The democratic nod went to Kim Foxx in the State's Attorney race, sweeping away the two-term incumbent Anita Alvarez with 60% of voters taking her to victory, and she's on the brink of making history. If elected in the general election come November, Foxx will be the first African American to hold office as Cook County States Attorney.
The political climate in Chicago was extraordinarily contentious due to the recent police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The public illustrated much outrage and called on her to resign, based on her 400-day delay of charging the Chicago Police officer responsible for McDonald's death, with his murder. By many accounts, it appears it took a 17 year-old loosing his life in the manner that he did, for people to hold their government officials accountable.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "When the government fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."
This past Tuesday's polls bear witness to what can happen to an elected official when the people are fed up and what change and want it now. Smart money typically bets on the incumbent; but not this go round. Two "established" politicians were asked to see their own way out the door. According to the Cook County Clerk David Orr, typical primary elections have a 25-30 % voter turn out. It's believed the actual voter turnout hovered around the 40% and not to mention, there was a record breaking early voting turnout as well.
And on a side note, without fail, there were people who attempted to make correlations between some of the candidates running for office and Mayor Emmanuel, including presidential hopeful, Hilary Clinton. Furthermore, for the love of GAWD, what did reporters mean when they wrote commentary such as the "Rahm effect" was hurting candidates? Let's take a glance at that, shall we? Hillary Clinton....WON. Illinois State Representative Christian Mitchell...WON. And not to be outdone, Juliana Stratton's opponent spent one million dollars on ads linking her to Mayor Emanuel in an unfavorable manner and you guessed it, Juliana Stratton, WON! So again, readers beware of those distracters. Some people will stop at nothing to further their agenda regardless of facts or accuracy.
Perhaps the times have changed and now more people are engaged in their civic duties and the political process. We shall see if the momentum continues through November.