This is interesting, mainly because it’s happening in the Congressional District in which I live (the 8th District of IL). Randi and Bill Scheurer (Bill ran under the Moderate party against Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean in 2006) will be competing against each other in the 2008 Democratic primary. The Tribune article mentions that they are both campaigning for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, an issue about which they claim Bean has ignored the community. It does not mention the differences between their platforms, or why they feel compelled to run independent campaigns against one another, but it ought to make for some interesting dinner conversation!
I don’t know anything about the Scheurers or their policies, but I do know that Bean has been somewhat of a disappointment since unseating 35-year Republican incumbent Phil Crane in 2004 (I personally contributed to Bean’s campaign that year through doantions and volunteering). She leans fiscally conservative, for example, voting in May 2006 to extend about $70 billion in tax cuts (she was one of just 15 Democrats to back the legislation); voting to permanently reduce the estate tax; and voting in favor of a presidential line-item veto, among other things. Although the right wing crazies of the district tried to convince everyone that she was running through the streets with a wire hanger personally administering random abortions (their photo display of aborted fetuses along Hwy. 12 was particularly classy), she was still supported by a majority of socially sane, like-minded conservatives in the area in her last two successful campaigns. This may have been in spite of, or because of, the Republican’s 2006 candidate, the smarmy David McSweeney. He bombarded our mailboxes with a blitzkrieg of glossy, “family-oriented” post cards featuring his smug bleached grin and his squeaky clean family (or, alternately, a photo of a cute, innocent baby, presumably about to get shipped to Bean’s baby grinder if you didn’t vote for him). The message seemed to be: if you thought Phil Crane was conservative, just wait!
Yet, do we have a viable, truly Democratic alternative? Certainly not on the issue of Iraq. In March, Bean refused to vote for a bill that included specific language for troop withdrawal. Who does she represent? Certainly not me, or any other Democrats I know. And although the 8th District has wealthy pockets (Barrington), it also has average working class pockets as well (Schaumburg). Does she represent those people with her procilvity toward Republican-Lite financial policies? And how many times can we rationalize support for people like her by saying “At least she’s not a Republican”? That line just doesn’t cut it anymore.