July 20, 2022

In our contemporary world it is invariably presumed that bigger is always better. Like housing square footage, king-size mattresses, SUV capacity or menu portions. Nobody wants a “Little Mac” or a mini-Whopper on their plate.

In political terms, it’s about how big was one’s most recent winning margin. The larger the size of the victory – especially in the realm of a robust 60 to 40 percent to a blowout 75 to 25 percent – the safer is a politician’s job and the less encouraged are future opponents.

As set forth in the chart, two area Democratic state legislators really bulked-up their numbers. State Senator Rob Martwick (D-10) surged from 52.9 percent in the 2020 primary to 66.8 percent on June 28, and state Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D-19) leaped from 42.5 percent in 2020 to 76.1 percent. Appointed state Representative Mike Kelly (D-15) got a 52.3 percent win. And  first-term state Representative Denyse Wang Stoneback, who beat the incumbent, Yehiel “Mark” Kalish, in 2020 with 41.7 percent, lost this time with 43.2 percent.

Martwick won by 7,203 votes, LaPointe by 6,504, Kelly by 567 and Stoneback lost to Kevin Olickal 1,492.  But these are totally illusionary numbers. To put this in perspective, Illinois has a population of 12,812,508. That amounts to 800,000 people in each of 16 congressional districts, 185,000 in each of 59 state Senate districts, and 93,000 in each of 118 state House districts. Registered voters (RVs) are about 40 percent. Chicago, for example, has a population of 2,746,388 and 1,498,813 RVs, or 55 percent. 2022 RV turnout was barely 20 percent. And not everybody voted in the Democratic primary.

So, in actuality, while Martwick got 14,278 votes, it amounted to about 14 percent of his district’s RVs and 7 percent of its population. LaPointe’s numbers were 18 percent and then 10. Two conclusions can be drawn: (1) Voters don’t care about who represents them in Springfield. And (2) anybody with the ambition, time, energy and money (and the right party) can get to Springfield, and stay.

10TH DISTRICT: The key to victory is to run for office at the right time, in the right  (winnable district) place and against the right (flawed and beatable) opponent. Chicago police officer Erin Jones and her FOP mentors bungled her 2022 state senate bid. It was the right time (rising crime is a huge issue) and the right place (a district filled with lots of CPD officers), but the wrong (non-flawed) opponent and the wrong (Democratic) party. In hindsight, Jones should have run as a Republican.

Jones lost 14,278-7,075 by Martwick, who won the 45th Ward (48 precincts) 4,871-2084, with 70 percent, carrying 46 precincts; his home 38th Ward (40 precincts) 3,567-1,614, with 68.8 percent, carrying 39 precincts; the 36th Ward (6 precincts) 203-115; and Jones’s home 41st Ward (36 precincts) 2,906-2,091, with 58.1 percent in a 4,997 turnout, carrying 32 precincts, 15 with over 60 percent.  By comparison, Martwick lost the ward to officer Danny O’Toole 5,320-3,783 in the 2020 primary, getting 41.6 percent and lost the ward to officer Anthony Beckman (R) 12,201-11,234 in the 2020 election, getting 47.9 percent. In the suburbs (31 precincts) Martwick won 1,617-652, with 71.3 percent this year.

Martwick’s mailers ripped Jones as a “Trump Republican” and, by implication, an “insurrectionist.” These pieces deluged Democratic households outside the 41st Ward, and the result was predictable. Outlook: This was a breakthrough election for Martwick, who is up again in 2024, but he is safe for the rest of the decade.

19TH DISTRICT: “She’s a 24/7 campaign machine,” said Martwick of LaPointe, who succeeded to his House seat in 2019. “Her life is her job,” he said. When I talked to LaPointe in 2020, during the zenith of the pandemic, she superciliously said she was “governing from her living room,” but voters seem to like her serious and accessible style.

After 6 month in office, LaPointe won the 2020 primary 7,295-5,979-3,865 over Patti Vasquez and officer Joe Duplechin, getting 42.5 percent. Her renomination, after 34 months in office is a testament to her work ethic and issue strategy (and money) and to opponent Tina Wallace’s inept campaign. Wallace, a longtime area realtor, seeded $80,000 of her own money into the race and hired a campaign manager with a winning track record. It didn’t work.

His strategy was to presume that 57 percent of the 2020 Democratic base was anti-LaPointe and had remained so, and that simply whining about crime, inflation, Lori Lightfoot and Kim Foxx would motivate the base. LaPointe, a Left progressive, focused on the bills she co-sponsored, the service her office provided, and kept relentlessly knocking on doors.

The two largest wards in the 19th are the 45th (48 precincts), which LaPointe won 5,293-1,659, with 76.2 percent, and the 38th (26 precincts), which LaPointe won 2,583-811, with 76.1 percent. Of those 74 precincts, LaPointe won 72. In her home 45th Ward, LaPointe won 16 precincts (in the Portage Park south end) with over 80 percent, 13 by 70-79, 23 by 60-69 (mostly in the north end) and 2 by 51-59. In the 38th, she got over 60 percent in 24 precincts.

Outlook: LaPointe, perhaps, could run for alderman in 2023 against Jim Gardiner, but turnout will be 20,000-plus, which is beyond her “woke” base. Or perhaps she can stay in the House for at least a decade.

15TH DISTRICT: Kelly isn’t John D’Amico, his predecessor who resigned in 2021. But then again Kelly hasn’t been on the ballot 18 times, as D’Amico was between 2004 and 2020 (both primary and election). D’Amico was a relentless door-knocker. This was Kelly’s debut, and it was wobbly. He’ll get an encore in 2024 and he’s going to have to bust his tail punching doorbells for the rest of 2022 (even though unopposed) and all of 2023 even though he has state rep duties and is a full-time firefighter.

The 15th is anchored by the 39th Ward (42 precincts), long the fiefdom of the Laurino Dynasty (of which D’Amico is the last legacy). Kelly was picked because he lives in Mayfair, is the St. Edward’s parish athletic director and was expected to sweep his base 2-to-1. Instead, against Michael Rabbitt, another “Woke Leftist,” Kelly won the Mayfair precincts by just 166 votes, and the ward by 3,103-2,713, a margin of 390 votes, getting 53.8 percent.

The ward is run by a triumvirate of D’Amico, now the Plumbers Union political director, Alderman Sam Nugent and state senator Ram Villivalam (D-8), the committeeperson. D’Amico ran Kelly’s campaign, and it was a last-minute infusion of union money and workers which saved him. Kelly won 25 precincts, just 7 over 60 percent. In the suburbs (30 precincts), which run through Niles to west of Golf Mill, Kelly won 1,932-1,665, with 53.7 percent.

Outlook: I asked Rabbitt about a 2024 rematch, but he was non-committal. Kelly won by 567 votes. That will bring out more opponents against him in the future.

16TH DISTRICT: When Lou Lang (D-16), who was on track to be speaker, resigned in 2019 amid #MeToo allegations, he picked Rabbi Yehiel Mark Kalish for the vacancy,  which historically has had a large Jewish population. But then Kalish voted “present” on a pro-abortion bill and promptly got himself dumped by Lang and the Niles Township Democrats, who backed Stoneback, a gun-control advocate. She won the 2020 primary 7,749-5,799-4,407 over Kalish and Kevin Olickal, getting 41.7 percent.

Stoneback was uncompromising, voting against a mild gun control bill because it was too mild, and opposing some other labor bills. Facing just Olickal, Stoneback lost 5,481-3,989, taking the Skokie-Lincolnwood suburbs (27 precincts) 1,937-1,665, but losing the 50th Ward, where Orthodox Jews are the largest voting bloc, 2,771-1,529.

It was payback time.

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