The Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Illinois has been a pretty disappointing one, in that no obvious liberal champion ran. Instead, we got a crop of second-tier “regular” liberals – State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Robinson Jackson. On health care, which in my opinion is the most reliable policy indicator of how liberal a candidate is (i.e. how much government involvement the candidate favors), all three favor an individual/employer mandate with government subsides and a public option, but nothing further.
There has been also been precious little accessible information about the candidates, and this primary race has been a rather unexciting, ho-hum affair. It garnered a little attention late last week on Open Left, and from discussions here and here, the consensus seems to be that frontrunner Giannoulias is a tainted politician whose history with his family’s bank is just waiting to explode all over his doomed campaign, Hoffman (who’s running as a clean, scandal-free candidate) has some right-wing tendencies, and Robinson Jackson is (barely) the most liberal candidate but she used to work for Rod Blagojevich, so somehow that disqualifies her candidacy. There are also several no-name candidates whom I know nothing about.
As you can see, the field (aside from the questionably right-wing Hoffman) is decent, but underwhelming. There are a few bright spots – for example, Giannoulias thoughtfully provided a vaguely pro-government governing philosophy, something so few politicians do, to my never-ending frustration. By the way, Giannoulias’s troubles with his family’s bank isn’t as important to me as how he’ll deal with that issue in the campaign. Early indications aren’t exactly glowing about his ability in that regard, but I’ll reserve further judgment until I see more. This issue doesn’t affect my personal judgment of him.
Alexi Giannoulias. Source: STLtoday
Normally I’d be inclined towards supporting Robinson Jackson, but her marginal edge of leftism is mainly on Afghanistan, which isn’t an inspiring issue for me in that sense. As for her Blagojevich ties, personally I don’t see how merely working for him, years before the big Senate seat scandal, really taints her, but the worry is that general election voters may not be as forgiving as I am. In any case, as is the case with Giannoulias’s bank, it doesn’t affect my personal judgment of her.
Cheryle Robinson Jackson. Source: Flickr
So I’m not going to endorse any of the candidates in this race, but I’ll say that I’ll be happy with either Cheryle Robinson Jackson or Alexi Giannoulias. I’d rather not have David Hoffman be our nominee.
FEBRUARY 2 2010 UPDATE: Oh god. So I went on to Open Left to see the results. Apparently Giannoulias is winning, as expected, but the real shocker is that in Democratic-leaning IL-10, there’d been a competitive primary between non-liberal champion Dan Seals and more liberal “Jan Schakowsky protégé” Julie Hamos. It’s close, with Seals narrowly leading.
Where the hell was Open Left on this?!!! Here’s the sadness:
Hamos is one of my favorite local politicians… (4.00 / 1)
in ANY state. She would be a representative much like her political mentor, Jan Schakowsky, who has been a consistent and vocal House progressive firebrand.
I am crossing fingers and toes that she pulls this one out against Seals! Makes me wish I’d done more (Hamos’ state senate seat was in my childhood district, even though I’ve been a New Yorker for years).
Keep your eyes open…
wish I had known that (0.00 / 0)
Really seems like a primary where we should have helped out, then. My mistake.
My fault too! (0.00 / 0)
I thought about bugging you about this one awhile back, but in the aftermath of the health care fight and Mass., I’ve been shirking and lurking a bit more than usual.
There’s still a chance!…
Ugh… I’m getting a sickening feeling in my stomach (0.00 / 0)
I’m really not happy about how we all totally missed Hamos’s campaign.
FEBRUARY 2 2010 UPDATE II: Good news, bad news, and okay news. The okay news is that Giannoulias won, 39-34-20 against Hoffman and Robinson Jackson, respectively. The bad news is that Hamos has conceded defeat to Seals, 47-48 (658 votes).
The good news is that Hamos’s defeat doesn’t look like a big loss, since apparently Hamos isn’t as liberal as previously thought:
Hamos would be good, but… (0.00 / 0)
she supported more troops in Afghanastan and Seals did not. There weren’t a lot of issues separating these 2 and this was one issue that did.
Julie has been my state rep for years and has done good work. And my bias is to support more women when possible. I think either would be fine and their electorate will support them in being progressive, and Schakowsky will demand it, I suspect. We’ll see where we are at the end of the night.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King, Jr
CQ says Julie has conceded (0.00 / 0)
Did a quick Google search of Julie Hamos (0.00 / 0)
As for single payer, here’s what Julie said at the Northside DFA event in October, when asked if she would co-sponsor a single-payer health care bill (HR676).
“I would not sign on, although I wish that the year we passed Medicare fifty years ago, that we figured out how to extend Medicare [by] ratcheting down year by year the groups that it would be available to. I went on a study tour of the Canadian health care system with Quentin Young in the early 90’s. I got very excited by the possibility of single payer but I think our country is not ready for it right now. I think we have no political will to dismantle the insurance industry and I think it’s not a possible thing to do. That’s the political reality – not because what’s in my heart [but] because what my political gut tells me what’s possible.”
For good measure, here‘s a liberal blog panning Hamos.
FEBRUARY 2 2010 UPDATE III: Added photos of Giannoulias and Robinson Jackson.