Since one of my favorite judges informed me my readers can’t live without those traditional First Ward post-election pieces, I’m gonna abrogate my two-columns-a-week promise to myself and knock this one out.
Please get your scorecards ready!
Considering Hillary Clinton, a truly terrible candidate, trumped Trump by 7,000 2016 Kane County votes, I thought we’d see a slightly larger Biden margin this cycle. But if you’d told me it would be 33,000 votes, I would’ve insisted that your significant other lock up the liquor cabinet.
Similarly, if you said KC would smash its previous 182,000 voter turnout record by an astounding 48,000 votes, I would’ve happily co-signed the paperwork for a lengthy stay at the Elgin Mental Health Center. And even though that incredible Trump inspired turnout wasn’t the decisive factor on a really bad Illinois Republican night, it certainly didn’t help matters much.
You really have to give County Clerk Jack Cunningham and Director of Elections Ray Esquivel credit for making it very easy to vote in Kane County.
But at some point Republicans are going to have to wake up and realize that Trump is only about Trump and selling your souls for a short-term gain may well mean the ultimate destruction of their party. That said, my fondest wish going forward is that Uncle Joe can make some real progress in healing our massive national divide.
Trust me! I fully understand the Illinois Republican Party barely exists, and even if did, no party can control who runs for office, but as long as they insist on putting up hyper-conservative candidates like Jeanne Ives and Jeanette Ward, they’re gonna lose!
Lauren Underwood barely survived, but Sean Casten cruised to a 7-point victory because he knows exactly how to tack back to the messaging middle without alienating his base. It’s really not rocket science.
The Democrats who barely won this round should truly take note of what I just said because the 2022 midterms are gonna be an epic anti-Biden backlash bloodbath.
Ms. Underwood consistently proves that age-old political adage that it’s better to be lucky than smart. Though she’ll likely prevail, the fact they’re still counting votes from the day of the Democrats day when the opposition carries Jim Oberweis’ vast political baggage says it all.
She will not be so lucky in the 2022 race.
Meanwhile, Jim! You have got to let go of this obsession of running for office because, just like Captain Ahab, you’re single-handedly destroying the Illinois Republican Party – not that that’s a terribly difficult task.
Mark Curran actually could’ve beaten Dick Durban last round, but you just had to jump into a race you couldn’t possibly win, didn’t you! Of course, Curran had no shot this cycle because the political winds had changed.
ANY OTHER Republican candidate would’ve beaten Underwood, who is almost as ineffective as Bill Foster, but your insistence on dominating primaries only to lose the real race has got to STOP. Considering our more than reasonable relationship, I’m telling you this as a friend and not a journalist.
25th State Senate
I could simply say “see the above race” because the dynamic is virtually the same.
I know I’ve made this claim before, but it appears we haven’t quite hit rock bottom in this regard. Karina Villa may be the most arrogant politician in Kane-ish County with the absolute least to show for it. Her campaign was not unlike an I-90 multiple car crash that, despite all the carnage, you just can’t look away!
Think about it! On the day of the IL Democrat, she won by less than 2,000 votes against a hyper-rightwing religious zealot with no name recognition and even less money. If the Republicans ran ANYONE even moderately reasonable in that historically GOP district, they would’ve retained that seat.
But no! They put all their money on Beth Goncher, a terrible candidate with a questionable campaign ethic who’s lost more elections than Jim Oberweis. With absolutely no Party money, all Jeanette Ward did was work her ass off to a beyond amazing 20-point primary victory.
But Ward’s work ethic wasn’t nearly enough to overcome Michael Madigan’s general election money.
Villa, who proves that God really does protect children and fools, will be a one-term State Senator.
49th State House
Maura Hirschauer worked her but off, campaigned well, and beat Laura Curtis by 8 points. That’s how it’s done folks!
65th State House
Incumbent Dan Ugaste survived in a ridiculously Republican district by a scant 4 percent. The only thing that saved his electoral hide was his opponent Martha Paschke tends to consistently come across as flat and distant.
Rest assured, this is only a professional critique and not any kind of personal attack. Martha worked hard enough to make it very close in a district she should’ve lost by 20 points. But the stark reality is, even at the local level, a minimum amount of charisma is required to succeed as a candidate, and unless you have a lot of money (Bill Foster), it’s beyond difficult to overcome that shortcoming.
66th State House
We’re starting to move out of my political purview here, but since it involves my former radio show co-host, Allen Skillicorn, I thought I’d weigh in.
Part of Allen’s loss can be attributed to those shifting Collar County party demographics, but the truth is, despite my advice, Allen took a conservative radio talk show host approach to the Illinois General Assembly which ain’t never gonna work.
Allen wouldn’t begin to consider messaging back to the center in a state that’s purple at best, so, when you add a Trump backlash to a record turnout, that sum comes out to a 3-point loss.
I also have to wonder if Allen’s heart was truly in this one because it’s beyond difficult to be a Springfield Republican these days. But since one of the few things we can count on in life is the political pendulum swinging back, I don’t think Mr. Skillicorn is ready to head off into that bright orange sunset quite yet.
Considering what’s on my plate these days, we’ll have stop here. “What about Keith Wheeler,” you ask? We’re saving him for last for a very good reason. Meanwhile, we’ll move on to the Kane County races Friday or Monday, but I’m making no guarantees.
Might I humbly suggest that I’d be a bit more motivated write these very time-consuming pieces (the COVID columns, too) if more readers would regularly avail themselves of the “Donation” button to the top right of The First Ward homepage. Of course, that’s always a thought and never a demand.
Oh! And before we go. For those of you who can’t get enough Jeff Ward – and who does – an announcement regarding my soon-to-be expanded media presence will be forthcoming. You might want to consider hiding in the crawlspace now!