The Road To November Begins
The primaries may be over, but that just means the general election is about to start.
It's time for a reprieve from robocalls.
The primary races had some flair and drama, all to set up the big contests in November.
Consciously, I chose not to write about the primary contests. I felt, probably like most voters, that it would take a lot of work to really understand the differences in the candidates enough to publicly voice opinions of them. Candidly, I also was turned off at the aggressive tactics in some of the races, in a way that lead me to choose silence over saying anything negative.
In the 10th District Congressional race, the four-way contest between Brad Schneider, Ilya Sheyman, Vivek Bavda and John Tree ended up pretty much as I would have predicted. Schneider was the best paper candidate, Sheyman the most aggressive. Tree seemed to come into the race too late and with insufficient focus and Bavda made no impression upon me at all.
In besting the field, Schneider came in with some key endorsements down the stretch, including State Representative Karen May. Sheyman distracted voters with strange endorsements from Howard Dean, Peter Welch and Russ Feingold. Every time I saw those names cited, I wondered how they had anything to do with the 10th District.
Sheyman's campaign tactics also seemed over the top, and I worried that he would suffer in the general election as a result. His volunteers were aggressive at public events, places where politics didn't seem to fit. Schneider's campaign, on the other hand, didn't seem to be rolling professionally at the outset, and only in the final days did their materials have the polish and positive messages needed to win.
We will all learn more about Brad Schneider in the months ahead, but his campaign must quickly regroup and repair some of the flesh wounds inflicted during the primary. There's also one glaring concern for the Schneider campaign in that there were a total of 24,000 ballots cast in the contested Democratic primary, while 29,000 voters colored in the bubble for Bob Dold on the Republican ballot -- where he had no competitor. It's not clear that any of the Democratic candidates against Dold had a shot at overturning the incumbent, but at least now the efforts can unite. Voter turnout, less than 25 percent county-wide in the primary, will be a key factor in this November race.
In other contested races in Highland Park and environs, Julie Morrison's 87 percent victory is one of the highest ballot margins I've ever seen in a contested race. I didn't even realize she had an opponent until a week before the election. Morrison likely spent more to win the primary than needed, but that may help her November campaign with a name recognition boost. Chris Kennedy handily beat out his Democratic competitors for State's Attorney, while Mike Nerheim did so on the Republican side as well. The good news for the county is that so many attorneys were interested in that office, all recognizing the need for new leadership.
Lauren Turelli seems to have bested Mark Neerhof for the Republican side of the 58th District State Representative race, which surprised me given the primary season disclosure that she had perhaps made misrepresentations in her academic credentials. Turelli's 2010 campaign against Karen May was nasty and belligerent, so hopefully this time around she will recognize the limits of those tactics. Scott Drury ran unopposed for the Democratic side of that dance card, so there will be no hesitation in marching forward from his side.
Other ballot positions were notable because they were uncontested -- Highland Park Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Mandel secured the Democratic nomination for Lake County Board's 11th District, while no candidate was fielded on the Republican primary ballot. Mandel is ready to campaign anyway, in case the Republicans slot someone into the election post-primary.
In the seven months to the general election, we can expect the candidates to run steady-paced marathons. Hopefully these candidates will focus on their own talents, positions, and strengths, and we the voters can make a clear choice in November.