Illinois politics could be so much more interesting were it to act more like a fantasy sports league, where we pick our players and create our own match-ups.
The clash of the billionaires for Illinois governor is too predictable to be very interesting, and who really trusts the political machines that handed us the current system?
How much more interesting the race would be between the folks positioning themselves farther right and farther left of the party heirs apparent.
In this corner, Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives. And in the opposing corner, state Sen. Daniel Biss.
Now that would be a clash of ideals.
Ives is a conservative from Wheaton who was graduated from West Point and served as an Army officer. She studied economics and worked as a bookkeeper and tax adviser for small businesses while raising her five children. She was on Wheaton’s City Council and was elected to the Illinois House in 2012.
She has been pounding her March 20 primary opponent, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, for betraying conservatives by making Illinois the only state that uses taxes to fund abortions. She has been pounding his inability to work with state lawmakers to pass a budget for 2 years and for Rauner’s statement that he was not in charge of Illinois – that state House Speaker Mike Madigan was.
And she hammered Rauner recently during the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, a must-see video before the primary. It prompted columnist John Kass to say this: “Jeanne Ives crushed it so hard, way up into the upper deck, Rauner’s re-election dreams bouncing up there all alone, echoing desperately, and all the governor seemed to be able to say was ‘Mike Madigan’ again and again. How many times did he say Mike Madigan? You couldn’t keep count.”
Crain’s Chicago Business warned Rauner not to underestimate Ives, the Trib hinted at an Ives endorsement, and her performance got her a $500,000 donation, more than doubling her war chest.
Repeal the 32 percent state income tax hike, cap property taxes at 1 percent of house value, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-sanctuary city. Ives is a strong Trump supporter.
Biss is a progressive from Evanston. He got his doctorate in math from MIT and at age 25 became a math professor at the University of Chicago. President Bush, the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib changed his life goal, so he got involved with the John Kerry presidential campaign. From there he was elected to serve in the Illinois House in 2011 and Illinois Senate in 2013.
The Democrats have six gubernatorial primary candidates, but the Jan. 23 debate was the Pritzker-Biss show, with the pair mainly going at one another and ignoring the other poll leader, Chris Kennedy. Afterwards, Biss said, “What I left here wondering [was], ‘What’s in J.B. Pritzker’s polling data? Why on this day was J.B. Pritzker all of a sudden going after me?’” Biss is now targeted by Pritzker attack ads.
Biss is channeling the ghost of Bernie Sanders, pushing free Illinois college tuition for all. He’s true to his progressive roots: tax the rich, strong unions, $15 minimum wage, Medicare for everyone in Illinois. He proposes a “LaSalle Street tax” that would collect $8 billion from transactions on Chicago’s commodities and financial exchanges.
He’s the only one of the eight running for governor to visit the BND editorial board, touting his experience passing legislation, including a retirement savings plan 2.5 million Illinois workers can choose if their employer does not offer one.
These candidates represent distinctly different visions for Illinois’ future. Both are experienced in politics and life. They are definitely right wing and left wing.
If only they could be our fantasy political league picks. Oh, wait: They could be.