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Pritzker calls lack of Democratic candidates a “failure, county by county”

Monday, Apr 30, 2018

* Bernie

Pritzker put out a video last week encouraging Democrats to run against unopposed Republicans.

“There are nearly 400 county-level Republicans running completely unopposed in November,” Pritzker says in the video. “If you’ve ever thought about running, now is the time. With failed leaders like (Governor) BRUCE RAUNER and Donald Trump, we need Democrats to win at every level.” […]

“I think this is a failure, county by county, to recruit enough people to run for those offices,” Pritzker said. “The Democratic Party should be encouraging people to run. … We should never let a GOP member of a county board or a state representative or a state senator go unchallenged.”

He also noted that many counties, including some in central and southern Illinois, have had Republican majorities, making Democrats doubt they can win.

“We have to have people running, and the people who run as Democrats, I think, will find in this year that there’s an opportunity, with a blue (Democratic) wave. … So I think we’re going to see a lot of people step up.”

* Here’s the video

* From the Illinois Democratic Chairs’ Association website

Across the United States, Democrats have been winning in districts that Republicans have historically held and that Donald Trump won by significant margins. A Blue Wave is coming! The IDCCA and its partners are looking to actively recruit candidates to fill down ballot County Wide and County Board races where we are not currently challenging Republicans.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    Kind of a week late, aren’t you JB? Who just got re-elected state chair and holds primary responsibility for all that failure?

  2. - Concerned Dem - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:07 am:

    The county level and statewide political party structure (both Democrat & Republican) aren’t linear. Local candidate recruitment has nothing do with who the state chair. The biggest impediments to someone taking the plunge are money, time and the prospect of losing.

  3. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    It is the County Chairman, not the state party, that is responsible for recruiting county board candidates, @wordslinger.

    IF 400 folks filed to run for county board seats as Democrats, Pritzker could write each of their campaign’s a check for $2,500 to get some literature printed, hire some folks to work election day, and not a dime would have to be reported.

    That is $1 million spread so thin it would be invisible.

    Good idea, right?

  4. - JoanP - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    =Local candidate recruitment has nothing do with who the state chair. The biggest impediments to someone taking the plunge are money, time and the prospect of losing. =

    Tell me about it. I was once asked to run for office in one of the collar counties. There’d have been little, if any money, the incumbent was quite popular, and the county was solidly in the other party’s camp.

    I was not about to waste my time, money and energy in a futile quest.

  5. - Stand Tall - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    I think a D or an R by a name at most local levels is unnecessary. In fact many offices that are now elected should be positions where the most qualified person is hired for the job. Does the County Coroner or Sheriff need a party affiliation to do their job properly?

  6. - Roman - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:13 am:

    It is a little late in the game.

    I do think it makes sense for the Dems to make sure all ballot vacancies are filled in the suburbs — not so much downstate. If a Watergate-era blue wave does emerge (and that’s still an “if’) Dem candidates can be competitive in areas it never seemed possible. For instance, the GOP-held Cook County Board seats are much easier defended during midterms, when Democratic turnout trends downward. But if the electorate behaves like they do in a presidential year, those seats will be in jeapordy.

  7. - City Zen - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    ==There are nearly 400 county-level Republicans running completely unopposed in November==

    Not knowing how many county-level Democrats are also running completely unopposed, this sounds more like an argument there are too many county-level positions.

  8. - ZC - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    I have a student running for DuPage County Board as a Democrat. The three incumbents are all Republicans. Two of the three Democratic candidates in the primary (including my student) out-polled the Republican runner-up. The lone GOP incumbent did get the most votes, but not by that many. Bottom line at least 1 of the 3 positions on the DuPage Board district look quite possible to flip Democrat next November - and maybe 2 of them.

    JB is not wrong in principle in other words. A lot of lower local GOP-held seats, very vulnerable to flipping Democrat in this climate.

  9. - King Louis XVI - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    —this sounds more like an argument there are too many county-level positions.—

    This sounds more like an argument that there is too much democracy.

  10. - Anon221 - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    Check your last county’s sample ballot from this year’s 2018 primary. Here’s DeWitt County’s ballots. Seems like the Dems have just given up in certain areas. Makes it really hard for Independents to help the “Blue Wave” cause.

    DeWitt County R Ballot 2018 primary

    DeWitt County D Ballot 2018 primary

  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    –Local candidate recruitment has nothing do with who the state chair. –

    Is that the 11th commandment or something? The Democratic Party of Illinois has no responsibility to build the Democratic Party in Illinois?

  12. - illini - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 11:50 am:

    My downstate county regularly votes very heavily Republican - and even more so these past 10 years even when there have been Democrats on the ballot.

    Yet, this year, while the Republicans avoided a contested primary race for Sheriff, there are two very qualified individuals with law enforcement experience that are circulating petitions to be on the November ballot as Independent candidates. And the Democrats may yet have a candidate as well.

    Should be interesting.

  13. - north shore cynic - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    Was Mr. Pritzker also talking to Cook county Republicans? I guess there is no one qualified to run in the largest county in the State…though some remember O’Grady, Ryan and Olgilvie.

  14. - VanillaMan - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:33 pm:

    No thanks.
    We’ve got enough elected Democrats, we’re like Mississippi in 1939.

  15. - VerySmallRocks - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:43 pm:

    JB is late in the game, but a good idea in the coming years to help build or rebuild a grassroots effort with a modicum (not a Rauner/libertarian flood) of financial support in the coming years. He might also consider similar support support for local orgs in surroundiung states where he can reallyt make a difference.

  16. - Phenomynous - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    Spoken like a true billionaire who has never once had to worry about money.

  17. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:46 pm:

    === Is that the 11th commandment or something? The Democratic Party of Illinois has no responsibility to build the Democratic Party in Illinois? ===

    I wish folks would pick a lane.

    Bernie folks complain about the Democratic Party getting involved in races, recruiting candidates, kicking the tires of campaigns before deciding who to endorse….

    …and then complain when the Democratic Party isn’t recruiting candidates, kicking the tires to ensure they are viable.

    The fact is, County Chairmen are much better positioned to know which county races they have a shot of picking up, who might be good candidates, and if they need help from the state party, all they need to do is ask.

  18. - lake county democrat - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:47 pm:

    Leaving timeliness aside, good to put this on the radar.

  19. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:53 pm:

    ===County Chairmen are much better positioned to know===

    In theory, perhaps. In practice, not so much.

  20. - Concerned Dem - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:53 pm:

    =Is that the 11th commandment or something? The Democratic Party of Illinois has no responsibility to build the Democratic Party in Illinois?=

    The topic at hand is local candidate recruitment and local party building, not statewide party building. The state party has been lacking severely these last two decades in maintaining a reliable statewide network for state candidates to utilize, but that has nothing to do with county party’s and their efforts to draft candidates for local office.

  21. - Concerned Dem - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 12:56 pm:

    Clarification… when I said “state candidates” I meant statewide candidates. DPI has been pretty good about getting resources to state legislative races, in particular State House races.

  22. - Wallinger Dickus - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 1:20 pm:

    Wordslinger –
    It’s not often I disagree with you and rarely will I defend the Democratic state party chairman.

    But local candidate recruitment is the responsibility of the local party apparatus.

    If Democrats are serious about rebuilding the party nationwide the effort has to start with its local infrastructure. If Pritzker is serious and concerned about rebuilding his Illinois base, that job begins at the foundation of the political committees.

    Republicans nationwide didn’t build their map advantages from the top down. County boards, school boards and local executive offices are the farm systems for successful political parties.

  23. - Nick - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 1:22 pm:

    People saying he’s late to the game, isn’t there some sort of slating process that the central committees could do?

  24. - Concerned Dem - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 1:28 pm:

    =People saying he’s late to the game, isn’t there some sort of slating process that the central committees could do?=

    Yes, County Parties can appoint candidates to the ballot. So Pritzker is not late, but time is ticking.

  25. - TR - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 2:06 pm:

    == “There are nearly 400 county-level Republicans running completely unopposed…” ==

    Are those ballot vacancies mostly downstate? If so, not sure I would bother to fill them — an anti-Trump wave probably won’t materialize there. Burbs are a different story.

    And @north shore cynic, the same applies in reverse in Cook County. Filling ballot vacancies against Preckwinkle, Dart, and other races where the GOP has zero chance might unintentionally gin up Democratic vote.

  26. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    Rich -

    Your “In theory” is a fair point.

    The Democratic County Chairman’s Association has an able staff and an exceptional chairman.

    If they need help, and this is really a priority, it will get done.

    I think it is less of a priority than they want to admit.

    Winnable County board seats that could flip a county board? Or winnable seats in populous counties like Lake, DuPage where younare establishing beachheads? Sure.

    Ford County? Notsomuch.

  27. - Blue trickle - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 3:14 pm:

    The democrat county organizations were diminished by Blago after he used them to win the the nomination. Maybe JB has learned the lesson that county organizations are beneficial.

    But in Sangamon County after the patronage years of Thompson, Edgar and Ryan and the manufacturing job genocide in Springfield during the 1989s it is hard to run as a democrat.

    The democrats need to decide what they are and no just rely on how bad the other side is.

    The wave looks like it has hit the breakers with North Korea implosion so by November it may only be a trickle

  28. - Anon - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    A top down party is going to have a problem with filling candidates at the local level because there is little incentive to be heavily involved in the local party if one cares passionately about one issue or another — especially in rural areas where many of this offices are unopposed.

    An easy fix to this would be to reform the system so that every two years each county has a convention to put together a county platform, each district has a convention to put together a district platform, and the state party has a convention to put together a platform.

    The process would shake the dust off at the local level and encourage folks to be involved at the local level in order to have a broader in the platform of the party.

    There are plenty of folks that would like to be involved in their local party that don’t want to be on a ballot, and there are plenty of folks that are involved in their local party that don’t do anything.

    In many regions the old style machine has lost most of the fuel it used to run on and revisiting what else invigorates local parties might be a good idea.

  29. - MyTwoCents - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 5:47 pm:

    I think that all county level offices should be nonpartisan. I don’t see a valid difference between county offices and municipal offices to justify 1 being partisan and 1 being nonpartisan. The Democrats encouraging participation is a good thing but honestly speaking how many voters are forced to choose between voting in the legit contested county election or voting for the state rep or governor candidate of their choice.

  30. - jwI - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 7:37 pm:

    In my county it makes no difference how well liked or qualified you are if you run as a dem. you lose in the last election the dems. had the most qualified candidate lost 5000 to 1000 the same is true to county board and township offices.

  31. - Ross Brown - Monday, Apr 30, 18 @ 10:59 pm:

    Try running as a Democrat in Ford County (where I’m from). You’re wasting your time as there’s no possible way to win. Sorry, but this is why a Democratic presidential candidate shouldn’t focus on a state like Alabama or Mississippi. There are some like McLean or Champaign counties where this might work, but in a lot of them it’s simply a waste of time.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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