Kadner: Silent political campaigns in Southland mean one thing: You don’t count
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org October 11, 2012 5:34PM
Updated: November 13, 2012 6:28AM
No campaign literature is filling the mailbox. Few yard signs are popping up on lawns.
It feels as though South Cook County is almost forgotten in this hotly contested election season.
Maybe the Democrats figure they own the territory and don’t need to waste time or money.
Perhaps Republicans have given up the fight.
To find out what was going on, I decided to contact Steven Williams, of Orland Park, a Republican candidate who won the primary for the 35th House District.
I told him back in April that I would be writing about his race because his opponent, Fran Hurley, is a secretary in Chicago’s 19th Ward and didn’t seem to know a whole lot about the suburbs.
But I discovered Williams is no longer running for office.
He withdrew in July.
A change in employment finds him working as an IT consultant at a nuclear power plant in Kansas.
“I still live in Orland Park, but I’m out here three or four days a week and decided I couldn’t take that time away from my family to campaign,” Williams said.
Well, that explains why I didn’t see any yard signs for Williams in Orland Park.
Republican committeemen in Palos, Orland and Worth townships have named Ricardo Fernandez to run against Hurley in place of Williams.
Fernandez, a physical therapist, also lives in Orland Park.
But with less than a month to the Nov. 6 election, I haven’t seen any campaign literature about the guy, nor seen his name on yard signs.
All I really know about him is that he ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary this spring for the 18th Senate District and was defeated by Barbara Bellar.
Nevertheless, Democrats were worried enough about the guy to challenge the way Republican precinct captains appointed him to replace Williams. Michael Kasper, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s election lawyer, handled the challenge.
Chicago Democrats believe they have the right to anoint Hurley, a Beverly resident, to represent a district that geographically includes a huge chunk of the southwest suburbs.
The district includes a good piece of territory formerly represented by state Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park).
McCarthy may have been controlled by the Chicago Democrats, but at least he lived in the suburbs.
I had hoped to point out to suburbanites they had a decent option at the ballot box in Williams.
While many residents are probably happy they’re not getting political fliers in the mail, that sort of stuff can serve an important educational function.
Congressional and state legislative districts have been changed this year.
My guess is the average guy doesn’t know what congressional or state Senate or House district he’s living in, let alone the names of the candidates.
“Obviously, the Cook County Republican Party doesn’t have the sort of money to spend on campaigns that the Democrats have,” said Sean Morrison, Palos Township Republican committeeman.
But Morrison said some campaign literature will be going out as soon as this weekend and more yard signs may soon be popping up in communities.
“We have some strong candidates and we do want people to know about them.”
No matter what your political leanings, it’s important to have a vital two-party system.
When Democrats start taking suburban Cook County for granted, things can happen in Springfield that have a huge impact on your pocketbook and your community.
For example, state Democratic Party leaders want to shift the responsibility for the state’s share of the pension fund for downstate and suburban teachers to local school districts.
Chicago teachers aren’t part of that system, so the city wouldn’t be impacted by that.
In fact, the state could take the money it saves on the suburban teacher pensions and send part of it to the city.
If state lawmakers feel a greater loyalty to the Chicago Democratic organization than their suburban constituents, you’re going to get the shaft.
Judging from the comments I’ve been hearing, there are an awful lot of voters who are not only disappointed with President Barack Obama but ready to jump on an anti-Madigan bandwagon.
Yet Republicans in the south suburbs seem poorly positioned to take advantage of that backlash.
At the very least, the Cook County Republicans ought to be distributing literature displaying the new congressional and state legislative district maps.
They could clearly demonstrate that the Democrats in Illinois have gerrymandered the districts to disenfranchise Southland voters.
They could also point out that Republican Party leaders in the Legislature have helped block Madigan from shifting pension funds onto the backs of suburban homeowners.
Instead, there’s silence. Not a peep out of Cook County Republicans in this neck of the woods.
And the Cook County Democrats are able to ignore the area while focusing their resources on races elsewhere.
Get used to being ignored. The Democrats take your votes for granted, and the Republicans don’t seem interested in putting up a serious fight.
Those empty mailboxes are sending a powerful political message. You don’t count.