As the days tick down to the March 20 election, I feel like a flag, flapping in the breeze. Man, I can't decide who to vote for in the gubernatorial primary!
One day it's Chris Kennedy, the next day it's J.B. Pritzker. Or Bob Daiber. Or Tio Hardiman. Or Daniel Biss.
I don't think I'm too picky. I'm just looking for the Democrat who's most progressive and least likely to sell us out, and who has the best chance of defeating whichever horrifying specimen the Republicans throw our way.
Is that asking for too much?
I know I'm not alone. Recent polls show that about 25 percent—38 percent in one poll—of the Democratic electorate is undecided.
So allow me to lead you through my ever-shifting positions.
Initially, I was for Bob Daiber, the downstate Democrat out of Madison County, just east of Saint Louis. A former high school shop teacher who still operates a family farm, Daiber supports unions, public schools and progressive taxation. I figured it's time the party turned to an earnest, plain-spoken downstater who knows how to campaign to Trump voters.
So I started telling people I'm for Daiber. And they said—who? And I realized, duh, no one's heard of this dude. Do I want to vote for a candidate who can't possibly win?
So as much as I like Daiber—and I still like him a lot—I flipped toward Biss, the state senator from Evanston. I figured he's smart—a former University of Chicago mathematician. Plus, he's served in both the state house and the state senate, so he knows how Springfield works.
Then he chose 35th Ward alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate. Nothing against Carlos—great alderman. But it seemed like such a blatant attempt to cater to Bernie bros (Ramirez-Rosa was a Sanders delegate) that I started screaming at my morning paper: You should have picked a black woman, Biss! Like state representatives Carol Ammons or Litesa Wallace. How long do black voters have to wait before the Democrats start showing them some love? Bernie bros are around for, like, one year, and already the party's kissing their ass.
It reminded me of when former governor Pat Quinn chose a white man (Paul Vallas) over a black woman (Chicago treasurer Stephanie Neely) in 2014.
OK, I realize I'm probably the only one who remembers that, but still.
It didn't help when, six days in, Biss dumped Ramirez-Rosa over a difference of opinion on Israel. I started thinking, now, that's just too indecisive. Even for me, Mr. I Can't Make Up My Mind. The breeze blew me toward . . .
Chris Kennedy. I loved it when he called out Mayor Rahm's move-out-the-poor gentrification policies. Plus, he has a great running mate in activist Ra Joy, who speaks with passion and understanding about the need to fund schools and social services.
But then . . .
In a clumsy effort to criticize Pritzker, Kennedy said Rauner wasn't so bad 'cause—get this—he spoke "truth to power." I really started howling over that one. Speaking truth to power? We're not talking about Fred Hampton here. We're talking about a billionaire venture capitalist who buys up corporations cheap and lays off the workers. Man, Rauner is power personified. And he's been using his power to plow over the poor and the middle class.
So, thanks, Chris, for giving Rauner a sound bite he'll endlessly air in his lame-ass commercials should he win the Republican nomination. As much as I appreciate Kennedy's criticism of Rahm, I shifted towards . . .
Tio Hardiman, the anti-crime activist from the south side. I liked his long-term commitment to working in the poorest, high-crime neighborhoods. But then I realized—who are you kidding? Hardiman's got less of a chance of winning than Daiber. So I moved to . . .
J. B. Pritzker. I know, I know—he seems like the quintessential corporate Dem I'm always bellyaching about.
But I started listening to my more pragmatic Democratic friends—everybody's got a few. They were telling me: Don't be too idealistic. Beating Rauner is all that really matters. And to beat Rauner you need money.
And, let's face it, Pritzker's got plenty of that.
Plus, Pritzker's staked out the progressive side on all the issues. And he had a strong running mate in state rep Juliana Stratton, who should keep him on the progressive path.
And he is kind of charming in an affable, easy-going way. He reminds me of those quick-on-their feet boxers who can dance in and out of a clinch without taking a blow. In fact, I started calling him Sugar Ray Pritzker. But then . . .
The Tribune released the tape of Pritzker's 2008 conversation with former governor Blagojevich, where they're swapping demeaning comments about Jesse White, Emil Jones, and other black politicians. And I'm like—oh, no, you can't dance your way out of this one, Pritzker! You sound like every other white pol I ever heard talking about black people when they're not around.
So now I've flipped back to Biss. I mean, that running-mate debacle seems like ancient history—he wound up choosing Litesa Wallace, who he should have taken in the first place. But, really, I should get over it. Though I'm still not over that Vallas/Neely thing. So, obviously, these things take time.
Oh, brother, as you can see—it looks like I'm starting to shift again. So who knows where the prevailing winds will take me next: Daiber or Kennedy or Hardiman or, yes, even Pritzker? Hey, he is going on his apology tour in the black community.
So it goes. I'm changing my mind day-to-day: Daiber, Kennedy, Hardiman, Pritzker or Biss? Anything's possible.
Except Rauner or Ives. I may be blowing in the wind. But it would take three tornados, two hurricanes, and a tsunami to even inch me in their direction.