Slating needs to go, but not this way!

Slating needs to go, but not this way!

Don’t trust idiots! – J. B. Pritzker

Talk about something cogent coming straight from the horse’s mouth! It’s hard to argue with the Governor when, of the billions of people on the planet, he would know.

When my friend, and the attorney who keeps me out of jail (nearly a full-time job), Jeff Meyer, brought me this story, I was demonstrably underwhelmed. C’mon! On the Illinois Richter scale of political malfeasance, this one rates no more than a 0.00001, which is the seismic equivalent of dropping War And Peace on the kitchen floor. And when I saw that the Trib and other local papers had weighed in, I thought I was off the hook.

But those reporters barely touched on the basics, much less the nuance, so who was left to pick up the slack? Yep! Lucky me.

The political maneuver in question is the tried and true even-year electoral practice of slating candidates into empty general election slots. Those vacancies tend to occur when no one from the Party is willing to run in the primary, so they can wait and see who emerges from the opposing camp. If that victor is deemed beatable, they’ll ask their Party to “slate” them into the open spot.

What most people fail to understand is it’s not a free pass. The slated candidate is still required to fill out every last bit of the same nominating paperwork, including acquiring the appropriate number of voter signatures. If they’re sloppy, those signature sheets can be challenged just like it is with the primary contenders.

So, it’s not quite the “backroom deal” Governor Pritzker claimed it was. But it does mean Dem primary winners, who thought they had a clear path through the general, might have to face a slated opponent. And that means putting the time, energy, and money into running a reasonable campaign. As MLB pitchers like to say, “Any player with a bat in his hand is a dangerous hitter,” so you can’t afford to take your slated opponent for granted.

And as it so happens, the vast majority of the potential Illinois 2024 slated candidates would fall into the Republican ranks.

But not anymore! Because in what can only be described as a “backroom deal,” that scurrilous Springfield supermajority got together and forever banned slating – but just for state rep and state senate seats – because to do otherwise would limit their options in smaller districts.

In an amazing effort to prove his quoted point, Pritzker dutifully signed the bill into law telling reporters he didn’t know all of the details. Then the Guv went on to frame this shift as an “ethics” initiative intended to eliminate “backroom deals” from the candidate selection process.

And we all know just how much those Illinois Democrats loathe backroom deals. Just ask:

  •         Danny Solis
  •         Ed Burke
  •         Rod Blagojevich
  •         Luis Arroyo
  •         Terry Link
  •         Martin Sandoval
  •         Tom Cullerton
  •         Patrick Daley Thompson
  •         Ricardo Munoz
  •         Carry Austin
  •         Willie Cochrane
  •         Tim Mapes
  •         The ComEd Four
  •         James Weis
  •         Barbara Byrd-Bennett, and of course,
  •         The Great One, Michael Madigan himself

The bottom line is this new rule doesn’t begin to pass the laugh test. Its sole intent is to provide our Springfield Democratic primary winners with a clear path to a November win so they can simply sit on Montrose Beach sipping pina coladas all summer long. That’s it and nothing more.

Not to be outdone, doing their best Nikita Khrushchev pounding-his-shoe-on-the-table impersonation, Republicans claimed this tactic reeked of dictators stealing elections and proceeded to shriek and howl they weren’t gonna take this sitting down – which is pretty much what the Illinois variety is famous for.

Why, they even went as far as insisting they were going to sue the Governor and his heinous henchmen to reverse this travesty if it was the last thing they did, and then they did. Their filing claims:

The state has an interest in providing free and fair elections, and enacting legislation in the middle of a well-established process for candidates to appear on the ballot, allowing some candidates to access the ballot and prohibiting others, is clearly contrary to the interest in providing free and fair elections.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You know what? If you want to compete in the general election then get off your fuckin’ shiftless lazy white GOP asses and compete in the primary like everyone else did. Not only is this waiting-to-see-who-your-opponent-might-be strategy complete bullshit, but it puts the slated candidate four laps behind the opposition who already have a six-month name-recognition primary advantage.  

I’m sure it’s happened, but I can’t remember the last time a slated candidate won unless they were running against another slated candidate.

Slating’s original intent was to provide voters with a choice when, through no fault of their own, a candidate was forced to drop out of the race due to their own death, a health problem, or a family issue. It wasn’t supposed to become a game by which Illinois Republicans could lose even more elections – as if that were even possible.

About a decade ago there was a Geneva nitwit who ran for three hyperlocal offices because, as he put it, if he won more than one, he could choose which best suited him. F*****g idiot! We need candidates who can make a goddamn commitment, not candidates who need to be committed, which is far too frequently the case.

So, do I feel any sympathy whatsoever for our Republican whiners? Nope! Not one bit. Perhaps if you bleeps managed to come up with electable candidates, there wouldn’t be a Springfield supermajority and you wouldn’t have to resort to slating.

Oh! And by the way, those same Republicans had the nerve to claim that slating was one of Darth Madigan’s favorite tricks when nothing could be further from the truth. Madigan would NEVER deign to be that reactive.

What The Speaker did was insert operatives armed with a variety of completed paperwork in every local election authority on signature submission day. So, when an Hispanic, black, or female interloper ran, they’d suddenly be facing a candidate that looked a lot like them, dooming their primary possibilities.

As I’ve noted over the years, the IL GOP should be emulating Madigan’s ground game, not playing around with this stupid slating shit.

All that said, even a supermajority can’t change the rules in the middle of the game. All the Democrats are doing is wasting our time and money on a political ploy that violates every statutory equal protection clause under the sun, which means, unlike their eventually slated candidates, the Republican lawsuit will prevail.

Have I said “Fuckin’ idiots?” – on both sides!

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