* Some of you have noticed that House Speaker Michael Madigan has an opponent in his reelection for state party central committee. If Madigan somehow loses that race, he can’t be state party chairman. Mateusz ‘Mat’ Tomkowiak had originally decided to run for Congress as a Democrat. From this past June..
While no Republican contender has yet come forward, Democratic U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, of Illinois’ 3rd District, continues to gain challengers from his own party.
The latest candidate to announce his intention to run is Mateusz “Mat” Tomkowiak, an academic with an eye toward health policy, who wants to be the first openly LGBT federal elected official in Illinois’ history. He will be joining Lipinski and marketing consultant Marie Newman, who announced her candidacy in April, in the March 2018 primary.
Being the first federal LGBT elected official from Illinois would be a significant step for the LGBT community, Tomkowiak told Windy City Times. He believes LGBT members of Congress are important in demonstrating that LGBT people are “capable of representing constituents in the same way that non-LGBT people are.”
Tomkowiak hasn’t reported raising any federal money and he doesn’t yet have a state committee. He does have a website, however.
* I asked Tomkowiak about his race and he sent me this…
The thing that I believe in more than anything is single payer health care. I have fought for that most of my adult life (ever since my brother’s and mother’s mental illnesses tore apart their lives). I thought I could change the health system from a university (so I got a PHD at Princeton), or by advising politicians (so I got involved in writing the ACA); but, those avenues didn’t work. So, I tried to run for Congress in the place I grew up (the place where my family first stepped on American soil when we came here from Poland). Sure, I am half the age of the two other people in the race, but, at least on paper, I thought that my resume of progressive accomplishments was longer than both of my opponents’ records combined. Nonetheless, I realized that I don’t have the money to buy the Democratic primary for Congress in the 3rd. Both Lipinski and Newman (two rich folks, from the two wealthiest cities in the district, Western Springs and La Grange) spend more money in a month, then my parents or I made in a year.
Name and wealth are destiny in American politics. The rich rule while the poor spectate, fooled into thinking that their cheering has an impact on the outcome of the game. While I was pursuing my PhD at Princeton, I was part of study that demonstrated empirical evidence for this conclusion. For instance, when the rich and the poor disagree in public opinion polling, the rich almost always win in public policy, whether the Democrats or Republicans are in power (we called America an “oligarchy”). Still, I wanted to experience this on my own skin. Maybe the data were wrong.
The data were NOT wrong. And what I have seen over the last few months has only further convinced me that the Democratic party is not the vehicle for the changes I want to see in the world. For instance, I have watched as a wealthy businesswoman who worked as a PR consultant for the health insurance industry, working to deny health care to the poor, has bought herself the label of “progressive.” This is America in a nutshell. The wealthy and the well-connected can make catastrophically bad decisions, yet elude accountability.
All of this is to say that I have decided to run as an independent against whoever buys the Democratic primary for Congress, and for the State Central Committeeman of the 3rd Congressional District in the March Democratic primary (against Madigan).
In my race against Madigan, I don’t paint him as some cartoon villain; but, I point out the obvious – the current status quo lays squarely at his feet. Rauner is terrible, but Illinois’ problems didn’t begin during his term. Madigan and the cogs in his machine had plenty of opportunities to make changes. They failed. Now, it’s time for something new.
I will propose a number of changes to the party, to make it more open to independent voices. Like the progressives of the late 19th century, who broke the party bosses of their day by turning towards proportional representation, I believe we need to change the rules that govern our elections. I argue for multimember districts, proportional representation and public financing of elections. Cross-national studies have shown that democracies with such insitutions have greater trust in government, higher turnout, lower polarization and more diverse legislatures. Moreover, I will argue for a bold progressive economic and social agenda, which should have as it’s centerpiece, the necessity of a single payer health care system.