Bruce Rauner attacks Libertarian challenger for supporting marriage equality

Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting that the Illinois Republican Party (IL GOP) is sending out this mailer, on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, criticizing Rauner’s opponent for supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry in Illinois.

However, Rauner isn’t attacking Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, who signed the Illinois marriage equality bill into law, for supporting marriage equality. Instead, Rauner is attacking Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm for supporting marriage equality:

GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner frequently has said he “has no social agenda” on hot button issues such as gay marriage and abortion, even emphasizing through his wife, Diana Rauner, that he in fact is pro-choice. But in the final days of his campaign, his money is saying something else.

In the past 24 hours, Rauner-funded flyers and robocalls have surfaced that savage another candidate for governor, Libertarian Chad Grimm, for backing same-sex marriage and legal abortion. Republican insiders fear Mr. Grimm’s small-government message is playing well in conservative sections of the state and could take away votes that otherwise would go to Mr. Rauner.

Bruce Rauner has claimed to be a supporter of reproductive rights and hasn’t taken a firm stance on marriage equality. In reality, the IL GOP, of which Rauner has provided a whopping 80% of the funding for, effectively admitted that Rauner is opposed to reproductive rights and marriage equality by attacking a third-party candidate because his party, the Illinois Libertarian Party, supports reproductive rights and the third-party candidate himself supports marriage equality (although the Libertarians are absolutely horrible on many other issues, such as supporting the gun lobby’s agenda and supporting the elimination of social safety net programs).

The IL GOP has revealed Bruce Rauner’s real social agenda, and it’s the same anti-equality and anti-woman agenda that Republicans all across the country have long been pushing. This is yet another reason why I’ll be voting for Pat Quinn, the rest of the Democratic ticket, and all five of the statewide referendums (one of which, the birth control insurance advisory referendum, deals with reproductive rights) on Tuesday.

Blue Downstate to be archived on December 1, 2014

Effective December 1, 2014, I will no longer be posting new articles here at Blue Downstate, although I’ll keep the site online for archival purposes.

On December 1, I will be moving all of my blogging activity (save for the occasional contribution to DailyKos and a couple of other sites) to The Progressive Midwesterner, which you can view here. I’ll write primarily about Illinois, Wisconsin, and national politics there.

My thoughts about the Vermilion County (IL) Clerk race

Once again, there’s a hotly-contested race in Vermilion County for county clerk. Despite being a heavily-Republican county, Vermilion County has a Democratic county clerk, Lynn Foster. Foster is running for re-election against Republican challenger Cathy Jenkins, one of three people (the other two being Democrats Edwin Barney, Jr. (who is my cousin) and Terry Stal) who represent me on the Vermilion County Board.

One of Jenkins’s ideas is that she wants hook up voting machines in Vermilion County to phone modems in order to transfer election results to the county clerk’s office electronically:

Jenkins, a county board member beginning in 2012, said she wants to make things more hands-off on election night for the county.

“With regard to counting and transmitting election results from the polling places in a timely and safe manner, using phone modems on the machines in the polls can provide numbers much more quickly and accurately so that counts are turned in to the county clerk with less manual handling,” she said.

That’s actually a terrible idea, and I’ll tell you why. Hooking up voting machines to phone modems would make it considerably easier for someone to hack into the voting system in Vermilion County and change the results, potentially allowing a candidate who didn’t actually receive the most votes to win an election. With Republicans being responsible for election snafus in Florida, Wisconsin, and other parts of Illinois in recent years, we can’t afford a major election debacle in Vermilion County.

Lynn Foster, on the other hand, has an actual track record of using new technology to make the Vermilion County Clerk’s office run better, including implementing online training for election judges who manage the polling places in Vermilion County. Foster wants to continue that track record by upgrading the technology that the county’s property tax collection system uses in order to eliminate delays in property tax bills.

Lynn Foster is perhaps the only actual public servant in Illinois, and she deserves four more years as Vermilion County Clerk


The rise of the far-right in Douglas County

Douglas County, Illinois, a mostly rural county with numerous small towns and about 20,000 residents, is one of the most Republican counties in all of Illinois. For example, Mitt Romney won nearly 69% of the vote that was cast for the two major-party presidential candidates in Douglas County two years ago.

However, something even more sinister than your typical Republicans are gaining traction in Douglas County: far-right reactionaries.

Three weeks ago, WAND-TV, the NBC affiliate in Decatur, ran this report about Nazi flags flying in Arcola, a community of nearly 3,000 people located in the south central part of Douglas County:

While the individual who is flying the Nazi flags has the legal right, per the free speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to fly them, I find it downright disgusting that someone would fly a flag associated with a group of people that, among other things, killed millions of people in a mass genocide known as the Holocaust. Worse, the individual flying the flag appears to be a true believer in the Nazis’ racist ideology, as his truck features a sticker with the abbreviation “W.P.W.W.”, which refers to the “White Pride World Wide” motto of the neo-Nazi hate group Stormfront. Just like the Blues Brothers, I hate Illinois Nazis!

On November 4, voters in Garrett, a small village in the western part of Douglas County which has 162 residents and only 90 registered voters, will vote on whether or not to completely get rid of the municipal government in Garrett. The movement to deincorporate the Village of Garrett began by a man by the name of Mike Gray, who got nearly half of the 90 registered voters in Garrett to sign a petition to put a dissolution referendum on the November ballot. The reason why Gray went around Garrett trying to get people to get rid of the village government was because he threw a royal fit over the village board increasing fines for violating local ordinances. I’m not sure what kind of ordinances Gray was referring to, but local ordinances in Illinois villages typically involve things like requiring lawns to be mowed after grass reaches a certain height and parking restrictions on village streets. Additionally, I’m not sure what Gray’s actual political ideology is, trying to get rid of a municipal government over something like increasing fines for violating ordinances sounds like something a member of the far-right Tea Party would do. Should the Garrett dissolution referendum be approved, Garrett streets would no longer be plowed when snow falls, the local water system would be completely shut off, and streetlights would be shut off. I strongly encourage Garrett voters to vote NO on the village dissolution referendum.

Republican Illinois House candidate Mark Batinick mocks Democratic challenger Moira Dunn for surviving brain tumor and stroke

In the race to succeed Republican Illinois State Rep. Tom Cross of the 97th Representative District, who is not running for re-election in order to run for Illinois Treasurer, far-right Republican candidate Mark Batinick sent out a disgusting mailer depicting Democratic challenger Moira Dunn, who survived a stroke and a brain tumor, as a bobblehead with a metal clamp over her head.

Batinick’s disgusting attack against Dunn is one of the worst I’ve seen in this state in my lifetime. To attack a candidate over the fact that she survived a brain tumor and a stroke and depict her as a bobblehead in a metal clamp is way out of line. Additionally, depicting a female candidate for public office as a bobblehead is downright sexist and way out of line. Even worse, Batinick, who associates himself with the far-right Tea Party that wants to implement a far-right agenda here in Illinois, has refused to apologize for his downright disgusting attack against Dunn.

Several Plainfield-area cancer, stroke, and brain tumor survivors wrote a letter blasting Batinick for sending out a campaign mailer that mocked a brain tumor and stroke survivor, and Illinois Observer quoted part of it:

Mark Batinick recently littered our mailboxes with a political attack depicting Moira Dunn, a stroke and brain tumor survivor, as a “bobble head” toy with a metal clamp over her head,” says the letter. “Mr. Batinick insulted tumor and stroke survivors with his outrageous and insensitive advertisement […] [he] should be ashamed of the way that he openly mocking his opponent’s past health circumstances…

While the 97th Representative District, which includes western portions of Will County and parts of northeastern Kendall County in the outer western and southwestern portions of the Chicago suburbs, is usually thought of as a Republican stronghold, Mark Batinick’s far-right views and his offensive attacks against Moira Dunn have made the 97th Representative District one of the top Democratic pickup opportunities in the state. I strongly encourage voters in the 97th Representative District of Illinois to vote for Moira Dunn.

ENDORSEMENT: Bob Fioretti for Mayor of Chicago

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis has decided not to run for Mayor of Chicago next year after becoming ill recently. Needless to say, this is a huge disappointment for progressives Chicago and elsewhere.

Unless another candidate were to enter the race, this leaves Bob Fioretti, the alderman of Chicago’s 2nd Ward, as the main left-wing opposition candidate to incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. I am endorsing Fioretti’s campaign against Rahm.

When Fioretti launched his campaign for mayor of our state’s largest city, he produced this fantastic web video in which Fioretti talks about his background, touts endorsements that he’s received, and outlines the main theme of his campaign:

Fioretti supports a $15/hour minimum wage, which is a higher minimum wage than what Rahm supports and would lift even more Chicagoans out of poverty than Rahm’s plan would. Additionally, Fioretti supports creating a directly-elected Chicago school board, because it’s absurd that places like Westville, a small community in the east central part of Illinois, has a directly-elected school board, but Chicago has a school board consisting of political appointees. More importantly, Fioretti will fight to stop the expansion of charter schools that are draining taxpayer money from public education and, in most cases, aren’t providing a better education for children. When it comes to crime, Fioretti supports creating after-school and youth job training programs designed to keep young Chicagoans off the streets.

Rahm Emanuel has failed Chicago on many levels. As Mayor of Chicago, Rahm has enacted a corporate agenda that has benefited the wealthiest Chicagoans at the expense of teachers, public employees, and poor, working-class, and middle-class Chicagoans. Under Rahm’s failed leadership, Chicago has become the “crime capital of America”, dozens of neighborhood public schools have been closed, and Chicago are worse off than they were four years ago. More importantly, Rahm has demonized the progressive base of the Democratic Party, even publicly comparing progressives to people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, Rahm is a personal friend of ultra-wealthy Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, who wants to dismantle what is left of the middle class here in Illinois.

Chicago needs a new mayor who will lead our state’s largest city in a new direction. That’s why I endorse Bob Fioretti, and I strongly encourage Chicagoans to vote for Fioretti in next spring’s elections.

Bizarre College Republicans ad campaign compares Pat Quinn to a bad wedding dress

The College Republican National Committee (CRNC), a federation of Republican organizations on college campuses across the country, is running one of the most bizarre ad campaigns I’ve ever seen. The CRNC’s ad campaign compares voting to picking wedding dresses and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn to a bad wedding dress:

The CRNC is either running or intends to run similar ad campaigns in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and other states on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidates.

I found the CRNC’s ad campaign downright distasteful for a couple of reasons.

First off, comparing candidates for the office of Governor of Illinois, the highest office in our state, to wedding dresses is downright insulting to Illinois voters. Voting for our state’s chief executive is far more important than picking a wedding dress. That’s because the governor holds considerable political power, being responsible for signing or vetoing legislation passed by the General Assembly, appointing top officials of numerous state government departments and agencies, and proposing a state budget, among other things.

Additionally, while Pat Quinn has done some things that I’ve disagreed with (such as signing legislation to gerrymander our state’s congressional and state legislative districts and legalizing fracking in our state), to compare him to a bad wedding dress is absolutely absurd. Quinn has made Illinois a marriage equality state, has legalized medical marijuana in Illinois, and supports raising the minimum wage in order to lift thousands of Illinoisans out of poverty. More importantly, I wouldn’t want to be “married” to a crook like ultra-wealthy Bruce Rauner, who wants to bust unions, drive down wages, and put more Illinoisans in poverty, for the next four years.


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