Thursday, February 7, 2013

Filler overflows when it comes down to Illinois 2nd Congressional candidates

The Chicago Sun-Times may have inadvertently given us the most accurate assessment of the field of candidates running in the Democratic primary to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr., in Congress.
He might as well be running

The newspaper published a story Thursday telling us that only three of the 16 candidates have bothered to file the financial disclosure reports that are required by law of all campaigns for federal office.

OR, AT LEAST they’re required of any candidate who has either raised or spent more than $5,000 as part of their campaign.

The point of these reports is to give us a clue as to where this person gets their money from. What is their income? Do they have spouses who have significant financial wealth?

Have they invested their money in something that provides a significant financial dividend that they can live off of, and would be indebted to politically – if elected to office?

If this is a person who truly is working for a living, it comes out in these reports.

AND AS FOR those individuals who don’t want to have to give up such information, I’d argue we’re better off having them weeded out of the political process. I literally recall when broadcaster Howard Stern talked of running for office, it was this requirement that ultimately got him to back off.

Because we would have learned just how wealthy he truly was – despite his attempt to create an image of a guy who’s down-to-earth and more-in-touch with the people (and our crudity) than other politicians.

But back to Illinois, where it seems that most of the candidates didn’t bother to meet the deadline for reporting.

The Sun-Times reported that Debbie Halvorson of Crete, Robin Kelly of Matteson and Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields all filed (although Hutchinson needed an extension to get her papers together). And it isn’t clear why Anthony Beale of the Roseland neighborhood didn’t file.

BUT FOR THE rest of the campaigns, it is all too clear why they didn’t bother.

We’re talking the ultimate in fringe campaigns – those candidates who manage to get their names on the ballot but never get included in the coverage leading up to Election Day.

And if, in the end, they get a full 1 percent of the vote, they consider themselves successful. Because their point in running was usually to try to advance a pet issue or cause that they hold dear.

Getting their names on the ballot was about gaining a public forum.

IF ANY OF them were to actually win on Feb. 26, their reaction likely would be even more bewildered than that of actor Robert Redford’s “Bill McKay” character in “The Candidate.”

And yes, I include one-time member of Congress Mel Reynolds in that category.

He may be the one member of the fringe who tops 1 percent – although I’d be amazed if he got as high as 3 percent.

So what we’re talking about is a field of candidates who are spending no money and are gaining no traction – all because they want to rant about some cause. Which may be their right – they did, after all, manage to gain enough signatures of support on nominating petitions and nobody thought it worth their time to challenge their presence on the ballot before the Illinois State Board of Elections.

WHICH WILL MEAN they’ll take (at most) about 12 percent of the total vote. Leaving about 88 percent of the vote for the “real” candidates for Congress.

This truly is going to be an election in which a candidate with 25 percent support is going to be able to declare themselves “da Winnah” and move to Washington.

These are just a few thoughts to keep in mind Thursday if you happen to pay much attention to the candidate “forum” being held at Governors State University out in University Park – where it seems they’re actually going to have the bulk of the 16 Dems and five GOPers who are on the primary ballots.

Personally, I live just outside (less than a full mile) the boundaries of the Illinois Second Congressional district. But those of you who have to make a choice, keep in mind that most the candidate field is best ignored as you try to figure out which woman is fit for D.C.


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