A teacher friend of mine from the suburbs sent me a copy of State Representative Jeanne Ives farewell letter to her constituents.
He lives in Ives district.
“I have been waiting for this email for six years,” he wrote me.
Ives stepped down from her office so she could challenge Bruce Rauner in the gubernatorial primary. She came within a few percentage points of beating Rauner. Rauner then went on to be crushed by billionaire Democrat JB Pritzker.
But Jeanne Ives is probably not leaving the scene. There has always been a deep division in the Illinois GOP between what some describe as business oriented moderates like governors Jim Thompson, George Ryan and Jim Edgar and hard right culture and race warriors like Ives.
I believe Ives and her supporters will still be picking at the cadaver of the Illinois Republican Party for a while.
The Illinois GOP has been reduced to a small minority of voters.
This week, legislators in the Illinois General Assembly begin their work with the prospect of a new governor taking office and Democrats firmly in control of all parts of state government.
In addition to all six statewide offices, Democrats hold a 40-19 edge in the Senate and a 74-44 advantage in the House.
The Illinois legislature hasn’t looked like this in 50 years.
Yet, just like in the national Democratic Party, the Illinois party has its divisions too.
The best example of the Democratic Party’s political divide in Illinois was the 2016 presidential primary which pitted Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. With little support from the state or Chicago party leadership Sanders came from 20 points behind and ended up in a virtual dead heat in votes and elected delegates.
In the elections since then, the ability of Democratic progressives (A wiggly category, at best) to unite against the regulars (aka: The Machine) has been less than impressive.
In fact, I would say it has been disappointing
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, there was no single candidate that truly represented the politics of the Bernie movement and you could find Bernie supporters dispersed among all of the candidates, painfully diluted and with little apparent influence.
The same can be said about the current race for Chicago’s mayor.
Voters are confused by those who call themselves progressive or on the Left, but then watch as they support the Democratic Party regulars and Machine candidates who run for office.
Like supporting the Chair of the Cook County Democratic Party for mayor.
Chicago is a Democratic Party town. It is increasingly true about the suburbs. And Democrats are firmly in control in Springfield.
Yet, just as in the national Democratic Party, there are at least two wings and a struggle over the heart and soul within the Democratic Party in Illinois.
In Illinois, Democrats may run it. But which Democrats?