Vote Tuesday or blame yourself

Written By By LAURA WASHINGTON Posted: 04/18/2014, 12:10am

The primary election came up on a ride on the Halsted No. 8 bus the other day.

The older gentleman lounging near the door nodded his military-style khaki cap. “Not many choices,” he said. “I might just write down Harold Washington.”

The CTA bus driver weighed in. “I would like Carol Moseley Braun to come back,” she chirped. “She’s very qualified.”

One politician long dead, one retired.

I detect little interest in the actual competitors in Tuesday’s Illinois primary. Voters will nominate candidates for statewide constitutional offices, the U.S. House and Senate, the Illinois General Assembly, county offices and the courts.

“Well, we’re hoping to be somewhere where we were four years ago, which would be somewhere like a 24- to 25-percent turnout,” Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal told 89 WLS Radio last week.

Too many voters routinely pass on primaries. Some think the general election is where the “big” decisions come. Or they are reluctant to declare a party. Others just want to throw all the bums out.

And the choices. A year ago, it looked like rough going for lllinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The political vultures were buzzing that Quinn was dead meat — unelectable. His poll numbers sagged, he was battling with fellow Democratic leaders and looking at two stiff challenges from high-profile, well-resourced Democrats.

This St. Patrick’s Day, Quinn is enjoying the luck o’ the Irish. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Bill Daley declined to take him on.

Quinn’s only primary challenger is community activist Tio Hardiman, an obscure political novice. Paul Vallas, Quinn’s surprise pick for lieutenant governor, didn’t even bother to campaign.

Last week, I spoke to a group of engaged, active voters. I asked for a show of hands. A year ago, not one of the 50 had heard of Bruce Rauner.

The uber-wealthy venture capitalist and his well-heeled friends have spent many millions to change that equation, dominating the airwaves and headlines in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

A recent poll posted Rauner at 20 points ahead of his nearest rival. Some of that support is soft. But if Rauner prevails, he will have essentially bought the nomination.

The judicial elections are on few voters’ radar. We are clueless about the credentials of dozens of candidates aspiring to wield a gavel in county and state courts.

Who cares? Ponder that question at your own peril. Judges make decisions that govern your worst times: the terms of your divorce, who raises your child, whether you get compensation for a personal injury, whether you lose your home to foreclosure. Judges touch millions of lives in intimate and lasting ways.

Ignore the political fliers plaguing your mailbox. Don’t let the party hacks game your vote. Spend a few minutes at The Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice has gathered the results of an array of reputable bar associations, who interview, assess and rate judicial candidates.

There are key issues at stake: the state’s pension crisis, economic development, jobs, immigration.

You don’t need us in the media to tell you where candidates stand. There’s Google magic out there.

If you don’t take charge of your vote, you take the blame.


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