Tuesday, March 06, 2012

NBC Chicago: Why Chicago Republicans Have To Run As Democrats

A posting at our local NBC affiliate's website describes Illinois' political history. In the early 1980s Patrick Quinn - our current Governor - had initiated a reform known as the Cutback Amendment that was adopted in a public referendum that gave Illinois the House of Representatives it had today.

Before 1982, there were 177 state Representatives elected from 59 legislative districts. In each of those districts there were three representatives per. A voter could distribute votes towards any candidate running for state representative in a system referred to as cumulative voting. This system enabled a minority party to get elected in a majority party district. As referenced by Edward McClelland it had the following effect:
The Cutback Amendment killed the Chicago Republican Party, ending the careers of such thoughtful legislators as Susan Catania, who used her office to rally constituents against Democratic state’s attorney Edward Hanrahan, hated by blacks for his role in the killing of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Catania also defied House Speaker George Ryan by supporting the Equal Rights Amendment. There wasn’t much he could do to control a Chicago Republican. The Cutback Amendment killed the independent legislator, too.
Currently there are 59 state senators and 118 state representatives elected to the Illinois General Assembly. Both senators and representatives represent single member districts.

There have been people who want to return to such a system that had existed in our state for over a century as it was noted by McClelland. Sadly in 2008, voters in Illinois voted down the possibility of a state constitutional convention where I'm sure it would've come up. One issue that killed that referendum over four years ago was pensions and that's something we're still debating in financially troubled times for governments around the nation. Of course in saying that, it's not to say it would've been adopted again anyway.

The rest of the article however was about how Republicans can't win in Cook County and Chicago. Some Republicans are forced to run in elections as Democrats and one potent example was of a former Republican ward committeeman who is running for state representative as a Democrat. Another challenger is noted here as she hoped to knock off the powerful speaker of the State House of Representatives. She's being accused of being a Republican plant.

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