Most of my ballot choices will be easy.
My Democratic congresswoman is in tune with my stances on all the issues, and in a heavily liberal district, she's likely to garner at leasst 70% of the vote. My U.S. senators—Barack Obama and Dick Durbin—aren't due up for reelection yet.
A lawyer friend gave me this link for bar associations' guidance on judicial candidates (with the advice to scroll down to find another link for the Chicago Bar Association's ratings listed elsewhere), so I'll print out whatever's there and take it to the polling place (conveniently located around the corner in Ben's school!).
For statewide offices, there are a bunch of Democratic incumbents to vote for. The only conflict here is that I'll have to hold my nose while voting for Rod Blagojevich. Sure, he tends toward corruption—that venerable Illinois/Chicago political tradition—but he's our corrupt politician. With his bold action on key issues near and dear to my heart—requiring Illinois pharmacists to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, initiating universal health care coverage for the state's children, and proposing universal preschool—he's built up plenty of good will. That keeps me from considering his GOP rival, Judy Baar Topinka. She's a woman, yes, but Blago's feminist political credentials are probably better than hers.
Then we have the Cook County races. The big one here is the battle for the Cook County Board President seat, and those of you who aren't from the Chicago area may not have heard about it. (Cook County includes the city of Chicago as well as dozens of suburbs, and has a population of 5.3 million. So this is a significant post.) The Dem incumbent, John Stroger, was fond of political hiring and maintaining a business-as-usual stranglehold on political reform. In the primaries, a County Commissioner with the delicious name of Forrest Claypool fought hard for the Democratic nomination, and I strongly supported him. (I didn't donate or volunteer, but trust me—in my head, the support was fervent.)
Anyway, about three weeks before primary election day in March, John Stroger suffered a massive stroke. His volunteers picked up the pace with phone calls, and a seriously ill man handily won renomination. Eventually, he made it out of the hospital and into rehab, and eventually, without ever seeing or speaking to the media, John Stroger issued a letter. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe someone wrote and signed it for him—who knows? The letter said, in essence, "I'm stepping down and I want my son Todd on the ballot in my place in November." His son Todd, whose political and executive experience is meager, who has never served on the County Board. The Democratic officials acceded to this wish, whoever it belonged to, and thus Todd Stroger is on the ballot.
His Republican opponent is Tony Peraica, and local Democratic politicians sent me a letter mentioning Peraica's anti-choice and anti-gay record. Which means Peraica's views are antithetical to mine—except that he supports the reform efforts, while Todd Stroger's whole raison d'etre is "politics as usual." Todd Stroger isn't even making much of an effort to define himself as a candidate—really, one is left to see a vote for Stroger as a vote for continuing the malarkey that's gone on, and the best way to further Forrest Claypool's reform goals is to vote for a right-winger.
So I might actually vote for a Republican. The last time I did that, it was to send a representative to Springfield, and I think he was a Rhodes scholar. Peraica's much less appealing than that guy—whoever he was—but Cook County needs some housecleaning, and continuing an unenthusiastic Stroger dynasty is repugnant to me. It would be lovely to write in Claypool's name on my ballot, but Peraica will have to fight for every vote he gets in a blue city. A friend pointed out that the County Board Commissioners tend to have a Democratic majority, and so Peraica couldn't do much harm on that front.
If you're in Cook County, what do you think about the Stroger/Peraica faceoff?