By: Mark Glennon*
Jan Schakowsky won’t get another free pass this November when she seeks reelection for an eighth term in Congress.
She’ll face a committed newcomer, Joan McCarthy Lasonde — a fiscally sensible, socially moderate, pro-choice Republican.
After an initial career in marketing, Lasonde has been active in a range of community, political and advocacy groups. Most recently, she was a founding member of The Policy Circle, an intriguing and influential new women’s organization we’ll be writing more about shortly. She is now devoting full time-plus to her campaign. She knows the district well, having grown up in the part that’s in the city. Her parents were both Chicago public school teachers.
Disclosure: Joan Lasonde is a friend whom I deeply admire. I’ve volunteered on her campaign team. She’s been successfully lining up major support and her campaign will begin rolling out shortly. Her website is at JoanForCongress.com and Facebook page is linked here. She has a casual event scheduled in Wilmette for February 4.
By traditional measures, Lasonde is an obvious underdog. A map of the horribly gerrymandered Ninth District, mostly just north of Chicago, is on the left. It’s heavily Democratic, and particularly liberal in Evanston and parts of the district that spike down through Rogers Park in the city and along the Lakefront to about Diversey Parkway. Lasonde has no campaign experience and is running against an entrenched incumbent.
However, the district includes suburbs north of Evanston up to Glencoe, and jutting west through Arlington Heights. Voters in most of those suburbs are mostly moderates like Lasonde and have voted for candidates from either party.
And Schakowsky is universally rated among the most extreme leftists in Congress: too far out to get anything done and too far out for most any Congressional district, perhaps including the Ninth. Dissatisfaction seemed evident in her last election where her Republican opponent, who was basically a non-candidate, still got 72,000 votes — about 34%. At age 71, with 17 years in Congress and eight years earlier in the Illinois House, Schakowsky has zero to show for concrete results. She has no record challenging any element of the Cook County Democratic Machine, in which she has been a career gear. November is shaping up to be the most unusual election in memory — nationally, and especially in Chicago. Whether her status with the far left can carry her again is doubtful.
Lasonde will have no GOP primary opponent in March, one potential opponent having lost a petition challenge and the other having announced he will run as an independent. Schakowsky is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Given my friendship and volunteer work with Lasonde, I’ll limit my personal comments to three things, for now:
- As a resident of the Ninth District myself, I sense voters here have finally gotten fed up with Cook County Democrats purporting to be champions of the working class, who in fact just peddle the left’s worst list of divisive, failed ideas.
- Lasonde means business and will get big time support. She’s totally energized in her role as an underdog and already has lined up key backers who want to knock out Schakowsky. She’s an exceptionally fast learner, which is rapidly overcoming her inexperience as a candidate.
- She’s a fantastic human being. She’s terrified about the nation’s direction and appalled that Schakowsky is representing part of Illinois in Washington. A mother of three daughters including a foster child, she’s deeply compassionate, wonderfully upbeat and totally dedicated to winning.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.