Thursday, January 3, 2008

Illinois - 2008 election battleground

By John Bachtell

As the new year gets underway, it more and more looks like the 2008 elections could alter the political balance in a progressive direction for years to come.

And Illinois could be a 2008 election battleground state. In addition to giving an old fashioned Prairie State whupping to the Republican presidential candidate, there are several congressional races shaping up that could spell doom for more Republican right wingers.

The labor-led people's coalition is gearing up as never before and there are huge majorities who are fed up with the Bush rightwing agenda. There's a lot of action at the grassroots against the Iraq war, for universal health care, immigrant rights, expanding labor and civil rights, for stopping foreclosures and funding people's needs.

There are possibilies for Democratic pickups including electing some new very progressive representatives. Although many of the races will be complicated by the probable presence of Green Party and other independent candidates on the ballot.

What's colliding - and reflected in the presidential primaries - is a growing mass upsurge and a fraying of the Bush rightwing coalition. Running for the exits are Republican Reps. Dennis Hastert, Ray LaHood and Gerry Weller (one step ahead of indictment). They see the handwriting on the wall.

With the February 5th primaries fast approaching, the race in the 11th CD is considered to be the 3rd most important race in the country by the AFL-CIO. Here State Senator Debbie Halverson has the backing of labor, the Democratic establishment, community organizations, etc. The Republican nomination is up for grabs.

The race in the 14th CD where Hastert quit is wide open at this writing. A lot of people began to see Hastert as increasingly out of step with the district.

On the Democratic side is union carpenter and progressive candidate John Laesch (with the support of the state AFL-CIO, PDA and others), strong against the war and for immigrant rights, who is competing with businessman and Fermi Lab scientist Bill Foster (with deep pockets). Foster also calls for bringing the troops, but advocates a national ID card and has no approach to the healthcare crisis.

On the Republican side is a motley crew led by extreme rightwinger and anti-immigrant bigot Jim Oberweis.

In the 10th CD it looks like Democrat Dan Seals will get a rematch against Republican Mark Kirk, who likes to portray himself as a moderate but has voted with the Bush administration on every key issue. In 2006, Seals got 47% of the vote.

There's also possibilities for progressives to get more engaged in other primary races. Mark Pera, who calls for bringing the troops home from Iraq within a year, is challenging Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 3rd CD.

The 2008 election should excite everyone. We have a real chance to impact them with millions of fired up voters and their concerns. They challenge every progressive minded person to become fully engaged.

No comments:

Post a Comment