Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: I Want To Vote Republican, But I Can't

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    NEWSLETTERS

    I want to vote Republican for the state legislature, I really do. I’m as sick of Michael Madigan as house speaker and Joe Berrios as chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization as the next guy. I also believe we need two-party rule in this state. Since I voted for Pat Quinn two years ago, I’d like to balance my ticket by voting to send a Republican to Springfield. Also, my Democratic legislators are pre-occupied with gay marriage and abortion rights. I have no opinions on those issues. I’d rather talk about jobs and the pension gap.

    But here’s my problem: there are no Republicans on the ballot in my district. There is a Republican running for state representative, but he’s a write-in candidate, and his yard signs, which I’ve seen posted at intersections around the nabe, only list his first name: Paul. How can I expect my vote to be counted if I just write “Paul” on the ballot? A one-name sign may work for Hillary Clinton or Rahm Emanuel, but it’s not working for Paul. I had to log on to the Chicago Republican Party website to find out that Paul’s full name is Paul Minervino. There’s also a write-in candidate for state senate named Rafael Chagin, but the site offers no more information about either of them. If I can’t find out what Paul and Rafael stand for, how am I supposed to vote for them?

    In all of Chicago, the Republicans have only seven state representative candidates whose names actually appear on the ballot. They have write-in candidates for six seats.  According to the site, the “1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd and 39th state house districts are uncontested by Republican candidates leaving voters with no choice for the offices.”

    So Republicans are only fielding legitimate candidates for seven of the 36 legislative seats in Chicago. That’s 19 percent. The state senate is even worse. The Republicans have candidates on the ballot for two of 24 Chicago seats -- a pathetic 8 percent. Meanwhile, the Illinois Democratic Party’s website lists a candidate for 48 of 59 Senate seats and 88 of 118 House seats. Is it any wonder Madigan has been speaker for 30 of the last 32 years? You can’t win if you don’t play.

    But the Republican Party’s lack of effort in Chicago doesn’t just hurt it in the legislature. It hurts them up the ballot, too. If voters never meet a Republican candidate in their neighborhoods, they can’t be blamed for believing the Democrats’ caricature of the party as indifferent to minorities, contemptuous of the poor and hostile to the urban way of life. When the Republicans ignore inner-city neighborhoods, they make themselves look like a party that’s indifferent to minorities, contemptuous to the poor and hostile to the urban way of life -- a party that only markets itself to wealthy, white rural and suburban voters. If Chicagoans believe that caricature, they’ll never vote Republican for any office.

     

    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.