The Illinois campaign finance reform legislation passed in June includes a provision that State political parties will not endorse candidates for statewide office during the next primary season. Pundits claimed that Gov. Quinn demanded the deal so that Mike Madigan couldn't use State party money to support his daughter, though others said it was a political deal for other purposes. *
But we could also look at this as a temporary reform of the primary process - when the party "slates" a candidate, that candidate is the official party candidate, even when there is a primary. You may recall that in our recent Congressional special election, I voted for an open primary, where no candidate would get the nod as the official candidate of the Democratic party.
So, in the face of new restrictions on raising money, which at the outset tends to favor incumbents, we could look at this provision in the law as a means of leveling the playing field a bit, at least at the statewide level.
And that is what I argued at the July 14 meeting of the Cook County Central Democratic Committee when it was proposed that since the state party would not endorse candidates for Governor, Treasurer and the like, the Cook County Democrats should. I suggested that allowing the Cook County Democrats to endorse candidates seemed a circumvention of the state law.
Rising in defense of the measure was Committeeman Todd Stroger (Cook County Board President) who said that the state legislation was "stupid" and that we should endorse statewide candidates "because that's what we do."
Committeeman Mike Krelov from the North Shore announced he thought both Stroger and I were right: he thought the state law was a bad idea, but he also thought that the proposal was a circumvention of the spirit of the state law - so he was going to vote no.
In defense of the measure, I understand that many other county Democratic parties (and Republicans) are adopting similar measures. Plus, the finance restrictions don't start until 2011 (after the next election).
All I know is, the measure was adopted by voice vote, so I can't tell you who in addition to myself voted against it.
It does matter when you question the status quo and stand for principle.
What do you think?