First, you have to consider that Illinois' politicians have cleverly scheduled our primary election so that it always occurs long after the presidential nominees have been decided. This helps keep the turnout down, which is to the advantage of our professional politicians in the state. We wouldn't want unreliable voters to show up because of an interesting presidential race. I still remember taking a Democratic ballot in 1992 to cast a futile vote for Paul Tsongas, the last presidential candidate who I really liked. But I digress...
I've known for years that the redistricting process that most states use is bad for voters. Voters thrive in an environment where there are a large number of competitive districts. Politicians thrive in an environment where there are a maximum number of safe districts. Politicians draw the maps. Can you guess what we get?
I've been redistricted from what was a safe Republican U.S. House district and competitive state House and Senate districts into districts that are all so safely Democratic that the Republicans didn't even bother to field a candidate. I'm not sure what I'll vote for this fall, but it calls to mind the old joke that Gretchen tells about Chicago elections. (The Democrats go into the voting booth. The Republicans go into the boys room. There's a handle there they can pull and it will make just as much difference.)
Of course, there was a contested Senate race on the Republican side. I finally decided to hold my nose and vote for Jack Ryan, since I think he has the best chance of winning this fall, and a Republican victory this fall is our best chance of keeping Patrick Fitzgerald as the U.S. Attorney here in northern Illinois. (Fitzgerald was nominated by outgoing Senator Peter Fitzgerald -- no relation -- who wanted someone honest from outside of Illinois who would chew up our corrupt local government on a bipartisan basis. So far, so good.)
And the first thing that I did was to spoil my ballot as I punched the hole for Jim Oberweis by mistake. I think I managed to spoil that ballot in record time. I apologized to the election officials and got a new ballot and voted for Ryan.
But I think what I really wanted was an ice cream cone.