As we reported some time ago, this dynamic may have undergone a sea change lately, as the Lake County Dems appear to be so self-assured with their recent successes that many have now decided that inter-party power struggles now take precedence over beating their GOP rivals. Nowhere is this as evident in the very public power struggle going on in the 60th District, which mostly is comprised of Waukegan and North Chicago, and which has been represented by Eddie Washington since 2003.
Eddie seems to have fallen out of favor with some of the Lake County Dems lately, especially State Senator Terry Link, who also serves as the Lake County Democratic Party Chairman. It is largely due to Link's chessmaster-like control of the Lake County Dems and his calculated political moves made over the last decade that has resulted in the greatly diminished power and standing of the Lake County GOP, so I try to remember him with a little curse every night before I retire (just kidding, Senator). But, Washington still has a fair number of backers including (surprise) Pat Jones.
Link has put his political muscle behind County Board member Angelo Kyle, and the rhetoric between these two contenders has been extremely heated in the months and now weeks leading up to the Democratic primary on February 5th. While on the one hand, many voters detest Link and his Chicago-style machine politics, many other voters are critical of Washington's record and contend that he has not represented his district well, and is tainted by a wide variety of scandals and accused malfeasance. Link has pulled out all the stops, including paring his campaign signs with Kyle's up in the Waukegan/North Chicago area and sending in his myrmidons to do battle on behalf of Kyle, including 59th Dist. Representative Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills), who was quoted as calling for massive voter turnout on behalf of Kyle to "bury" Washington. There is, of course, no love lost going the other way, and Washington touts the recent editorial calling on Link and Kyle to explain the accusations of petition fraud as set out in the News-Sun, which editorial is provided on Washington's campaign website.
As much as I hate to admit it, it appears the wiser group of Dems (which would include Link in this case) are backing Kyle, even though he has stated that he will not relinquish his county board seat even if he wins election to the General Assembly. One of the good things about primaries is that it forces candidates to take positions and, in the heat of battle, sometimes some very telling comments get into the record, many of which candidates probably wish they could take back later.
As a case in point, one reported quote from Washington, which was made to Elroy Reed, the editor of the People's Voice paper in North Chicago, is as follows: "My god is Allah, My god and your God is at war, and my god is going to win." Washington is a Muslim, Reed is a Christian. See the whole article here. The Reed piece is absolutely scathing. As you may imagine, it's fairly obvious Reed has an agenda... and it's definitely not supportive of Washington. But, even as over the top as the "My god is Allah" quote may seem, Reed is standing by his article, even in the face of a defamation lawsuit brought against Reed by Pat Jones. Washington declined comment to the News-Sun on the lawsuit and will not file a suit of his own, according to the paper.
Among many other issues raised by Reed, including allegations that Washington has a criminal past, Reed states that:
"Eddie has gone through about six paid office staffers, legislative administrative assistants in about three years. They all report intolerable working conditions, verbal abuse and mental stress resulting from working with him. Eddie Washington's legislative agenda has focused on ghetto related matters such as Senate Bill SB0075 where he advocates for persons convicted of felony prostitution to get off with a light sentence of probation. He is the sponsor of a bill, “The Pimp and Whore Bill”, that protects the rights of prostitutes if they are abused by their Pimp. This one drew laughs and "behind the back" conversations about the intellect of Eddie Washington. He became the laughing stock of the House of Representatives. Springfield is still laughing about Washington and the community that he represents."
Washington is also an ardent supporter of expansive rights for illegal immigrants. At this last weekend's Waukegan Leadership Council / Immigrants Rights Forum, one of TA's cub reporters brought back the following take-aways:
- Washington touted his vote in support of illegal immigrants;
- Washington opposed giving Waukegan Police the authority to initiate deportation proceedings for illegals who are dangerous felons; Eddie's answer was to let Bush do it;
- Washington said that we don't need non-federal policymakers and voices commenting on federal issues;
- He stated, "I haven't taken anything from the Democratic Party over the table or under it."
- Washington closed out the forum by chanting "power to the people."
However, before you go feeling too sorry for Eddie Washington, you may be glad to know that he has one other remaining friend in the Democratic party: 10th District congressional candidate Dan Seals. Dan Seals appears to be one of the only Democrats to stand by Washington for the primary election next Tuesday, noting at the December opening of the new Washington campaign headquarters that Washington was an early supporter of Seals in his 2006 campaign to unseat Congressman Mark Kirk.
"Last time, when the Democratic party wouldn't help me out, when nobody knew who I was, guess who was there for me?" Seals said. "He's a good man to have in the trenches." (News-Sun article dated December 10, 2007, available in News-Sun online archives for a fee).
A good man to have in the trenches??? Maybe if the goal is to promote a religious war. Not only does Seals come down on the side of "peace" in a war between Israel and Iran, but he also supports an elected official that is willing to say, "My God is Allah, My God and your God is at war, and my God is going to win." Of course, Seals' endorsement of Washington was made before the Reed article came out, but as far as we can tell, Seals has not repudiated his support of Washington. In fact, Washington's endorsement of Seals is still touted on Seals' website. Washington's checkered past and sometimes bizarre legislative initiatives (anyone recall his ill-advised push to re-name the Amstutz Expressway?) also should give voters reason to question the wisdom of this alliance from Seals' perspective.
We're all judged by the company we keep, folks, and if Seals stands by his endorsement of Washington, it appears the voters of the 10th District have some serious questioning to do as to Seals' own judgment.