To my shame, I've held my nose and supported the Democrat -- I walked around nearby swing counties for John Kerry on Election Day just like a lot of other people -- but I try to scrap bad plans as soon as I see they don't work. Not so with U.S. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and therefore decides which candidates will benefit from Democratic Party largesse. A few websites, including Counterpunch and Ecrasez L'infame!, have been closely following the Illinois 6th District race. In 2004, actual progressive Christine Cegelis, who still calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, won a surprising 44% of the vote against 15-term incumbent Henry Hyde. An impressive showing given the circumstances, but apparently Emmanuel doesn't want to take any chances -- this time around, with Hyde retiring, Emmanuel favors Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth over Cegelis, though Duckworth isn't from the 6th District, is another bet-hedger on Iraq though the war robbed her of both legs, and says she cares about progressive issues without supporting any progressive solutions in particular.
Don't believe me? Then check out the DCCC "Races to Watch" website, where you can see which Democrats plan to run against Republican incumbents. Click on the state of Illinois, and check out the 6th District list. Click on Cegelis's name, and you'll get pointed to her website without any further notation; click on Duckworth's, and you'll get a two-paragraph biography in addition to being pointed to her website. It doesn't take a professional semiotician to figure out who they want you to vote for. (The other two listed candidates for the 6th District, Peter O'Malley and Lind Scott, get the Cegelis treatment.) Likewise with John Pavich, the lone challenger to incumbent Jerry Weller in the 11th District; Emmanuel has favored the former CIA operative with a one paragraph biography. Though Pavich supports alternative energy research (though not development, I notice, and we are, frankly, more in the "development" stage with solar and wind at this point), most of his other positions are the sort of economic band-aids we've come to expect from Democrats.
Then check out District 15, currently held by Tim Johnson (no, the other one!), and click on a challenger named David Gill. Gill doesn't get the Cegelis treatment from the DCCC website, but his candidacy still only merits a short note: "Dr. David M. Gill is challenging GOP incumbent Timothy Johnson." After looking at Dr. Gill's website, I think I know why: he supports universal single-payer health care (which is far more popular than Democrats seem to think), wants to fight terror cells and not nation-states, supports the Employee Free Choice Act, and wants to withdraw from NAFTA. Likewise District 18, where Steve Waterworth also gets one sentence of support as the lone challenger to Rep. Ray LaHood. Waterworth, a 24-year vet of the Air Force, calls the Middle East situation a "quagmire," supports Universal Health Care, opposes faith-based initiatives, and suggests that the real solution to the abortion question is to "work harder to take the glory out of sex." Hallelujah! It's true that Waterworth also ran in 2004 and picked up only 30% of the vote. But that hardly means that 70% of the 18th District loves Ray LaHood. A lot of voters, there as anywhere else, stay home on Election Day, and could it be that they stay home because the Democratic Party is too scared to stand for what people want?
All in all, the DCCC website is a wonderful tool for figuring out whom to support in the 2006 House races: if the DCCC pushes a candidate, then you want to support someone else.