Endorsement: Schakowsky for Congress from Illinois Dist. 9
In politics as in anything else, there is always a place for satire and humor, but we should never forget that the selection of candidates to represent us in Congress, or any public office, is serious business. The Republican candidate seeking Illinois' 9th Dist. congressional seat has violated this maxim with an act of deception that is a disgrace to the process, the voters, the party he represents and Congress.
Before we get to the heart of this endorsement for his opponent, Democratic incumbent Jan Schakowsky, the candidate's actions need to be described and condemned. They represent the very nadir to which a divisive and disrespectful attitude toward our system of government and its duly elected representatives can sink us.
As with nearly all electoral races in which we endorse, we invited the two major-party candidates for Congress to a joint interview via Zoom with our editorial board to discuss the serious issues in the race. Both candidates agreed, but when the interview began, the person who had been allowed entry under the candidate's name, Max Rice, was not Rice. He was someone engaged as a joke by Rice, and in the brief time it took us to remove him, the stand-in managed to assail Schakowsky with a shower of reprehensible schoolyard taunts making vile insinuations about her appearance and her personal life.
We finished the interview with Schakowsky alone. Afterward, we complained in an email to Rice, who responded that we lack a "sense of humor," proving why this prank, which later was posted on the stand-in's YouTube page, was "funny."
Maybe so, in some quarters. But not when coming from a candidate for the United States Congress -- or for public office at any level.
The Daily Herald is as valid a target for criticism or ridicule as any other public figure or agency, but to attempt to hijack a serious, legitimate discussion in the public interest as a cheap campaign stunt is behavior beneath consideration for elected office.
Schakowsky, we should say, accepted the insulting behavior with the grace and dignity befitting someone who has served in Congress for 24 years. Anyone who has followed our relationship with her knows that we have had a mixed record of support -- even withholding our endorsement as recently as 2018 and 2020, out of concerns that she leans uncomfortably liberal for what had been a generally centrist to left-centered district. The newly drawn 9th District is heavily weighted toward the liberal-leaning North Shore, but also winds into Lake and even McHenry counties.
Fortunately, Schakowsky takes her responsibilities to her constituents and the country seriously, and, while she has not particularly moderated her positions over time, she has become more active in working with Republicans on issues she considers important. She took pains to note in our interview that even if the House majority turns over to Republicans this fall, she plans not just to advocate for positions she holds dear on matters such as women's rights, gun control and climate policy but also to work with the opposition party to produce legislation that is good for the country and her district.
So, we feel comfortable endorsing her for this election, not merely because her opponent is so woefully unqualified, but also because she demonstrates a strength of character and insight that will be valuable regardless of which party controls the House for the next two years.