CHICAGO, IL — Heading toward the March 17, 2020 Illinois primary elections, Bernie Sanders holds a lead in the polls, reflecting a grass roots dissatisfaction with same-old non-solutions, a hunger to address the fight for basic survival needs like health care, housing, and poverty. New York’s multi-billionaire former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has flooded the media with ads that have boosted his poll numbers. Significant down-ballot races exhibit the same characteristics.
Overshadowing all local Chicago elections in this primary season is the campaign for Cook County State’s Attorney. In 2016, Kim Foxx ousted incumbent Anita Alvarez in the primary. Alvarez colluded in covering up the horrific killing of Laquan McDonald, along with other police murders. Spurred by Black Lives Matter and police accountability activists, Foxx won. She was immediately targeted by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for attempts to reform cash bail and support for a consent decree restraining the police. Her main opponent this year, Bill Conway, is supported by the FOP and has a war chest of over $5 million, mostly contributed from his billionaire father. At stake in this campaign is the mass incarceration of people for months without coming to trial.
In another high-profile race, incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski is challenged by Marie Newman, who came close to winning in the 2018 primary. Lipinski “inherited” his seat from his father in 2004. He is prominent among Democrats in opposing abortion rights, and he is the only Illinois House Democrat to vote against the Affordable Care Act. The starkest contrast is the fight over reproductive rights, but Newman has endorsed Medicare for All. Prominent Chicago Democrats seem intent on ousting Lipinski, but New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has gone further. She remarked that there are some Democrats with whom she does not want to share a “big tent.”
Long serving incumbent Rep. Danny Davis is facing three challengers. The call to replace the “old guard” expresses anger about disinvestment in majority African-American communities and resulting violence. Teacher Anthony Clark is running against Davis for the second time. Envisioning healthcare and housing as a right., Clark said (Chicago Tribune): “I know the issues plaguing my district are deeply rooted & systemic, and must be addressed at a national level.” Also running against Davis is Kina Collins, who favors single-payer, Medicare for All, and Green New Deal.
Working class people are demanding an end to bankruptcy-by-illness; people are declaring that housing is a right, so the practicality of socialism is under review. The “Big Tent” cannot for much longer contain both advocates and foes of corporate rule.