IDCCA President’s Message
by Kristina Zahorik, IDCCA President
Dear Fellow County Chairs and Friends,
Is it over yet? It depends on what we are talking about.
We helped to restore our democracy by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. President-elect Biden has won by more votes than ever in presidential history. He has also won the Electoral College by the same “landslide” margin that Donald Trump won in 2016.
But Trump and his GOP enablers have not conceded or allowed for a smooth transition. Illinois electors wrote a letter to Emily Murphy, the General Services Administrator who was holding up the process. It took her three weeks to finally reach the obvious conclusion that state election officials and the responsible media have known all along. Read about her current job search here. The other side is fundraising on lies and pushing a false narrative about massive voter fraud. They are filing ridiculous lawsuits that are being quickly dismissed. Prominent Republicans like Lindsey Graham are pressuring local election officials to throw out legally cast ballots. It is frightening! Thank you for all of your hard work to help preserve our democracy and save the soul of our nation.
November brings one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Like for many of you, this year brings mixed emotions. There is much to be thankful for, and much to be frustrated and angered by.
Using a public health crisis as a political weapon is unconscionable. Dan Goodspeed’s COVID-19 Chart reports that “results suggest a strong correlation between a state’s political leanings and its ability to employ proven science to slow the spread of COVID.” The misinformation and misdirection from the GOP and the Trump Administration have cost lives. FactCheck.org’s Guide to COVID-19 Coverage takes a clear look at “the tremendous amount of misinformation on the coronavirus pandemic” that is floating around social media.
Illinois has not been immune to the distortion. Illinois Republicans hit a new low when they circulated a photo claiming to show Governor Pritzker’s daughter eating out at a Chicago restaurant. It wasn’t her and they should leave the Governor’s kids out of their ugly lies. And how ironic that all of this Republican outrage comes when their own members continue to rally together unmasked in what become super spreader events? Shame on them.
Our Democratic leaders have been making the difficult choices needed to keep us safe. Follow Illinois’s response here.
One bright note was that even though Trump’s GOP did everything they could to extend their “red tide” to flip the Congressional seat that Lauren Underwood won last cycle, she prevailed again this year over perennial candidate Jim Oberweis. Read about it in this Sun-Times article.
The Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association worked hard throughout the election cycle. We assisted and offered training to the newly elected County Chairs, trained grassroots volunteers, recruited and trained Democratic candidates, provided election integrity through the appointment and training of election judges and poll watchers, and got out the Democratic vote. You can read more about it when our Annual Report is released in a few weeks.
Thank you to everyone who stepped up to work this election cycle. You understood the importance of Democratic leadership and the high stakes that were riding on this election.
Illinois did its part. We elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We re-elected Senator Dick Durbin and will be sending 13 Democrats back to Congress, including newcomer Marie Newman. We also kept control of our super majorities in the Illinois General Assembly. In the counties, we strengthened 2018 gains.
Even where we did not elect all our candidates, we worked to fill the ballot, giving voters choice. In McHenry County, for the first time in our history, we had Democratic judges on the ballot. We challenged members of the extremist “Eastern Block” group of legislators, providing voters the opportunity to vote for candidates who would represent their districts instead of grandstanding around the state. While we did not win every race, we did see some big wins throughout the state.
Part of the County Chairs’ responsibility this year was to appoint commissioned Democratic Election Judges. This year’s effort was particularly important since the Election Code was changed to allow for three panel Election Judges to review a huge number of Vote By Mail (VBM) ballots. Our work made a positive difference and protected the votes of Illinois’ citizens.
Thank you to all the grassroots volunteers who worked the REV Project. We had three phases to: 1) identify Democratic voters; 2) get out the Democratic vote; and 3) chase down rejected Democratic VBM ballots. It made a difference. In my own county, we were able to stem a red tide and elect four women to the County Board and flip a strong GOP Illinois House seat to blue. We also were able to secure Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s reelection. In Sangamon County, they were able to pick up two County Board seats in the GOP-dominated county. We saw historic gains in the Collar Counties that included major shifts to Democrats in DuPage & Kane Counties. We saw McLean County go blue for the first time in a long time while picking up several County Board seats.
I know, some of you may be exhausted. We have been fighting for four years. We are not done yet, but I hope you are able to take time to reflect on all the great work we did and muster your energy for the good fight that remains.