The Year In Sanity: Rich Whitney, IL Gubernatorial Candidate
Rich Whitney (right) rallying supporters outside of ABC7 Chicago studio as the League of Women Voters, a civic organization committed to informing voters, excludes IL voters from hearing from Whitney, an established Green Party candidate for governor of Illinois. | Photo by Kevin Gosztola
Rich Whitney earned national media attention about a week ago when it was revealed that his name was misspelled in voting machines being used for early voting in Chicago. His name was spelled correctly on machines when the voter was casting the vote, but when it was time to review votes and submit the ballot, the vote showed up as a vote for a "Rich Whitey."
The Chicago Board of Elections was originally not going to fix the problem or said they couldn't. But, Keith Olbermann selected the Board as a "Worst Person" and the error received a good amount of national coverage and was featured in a segment on The Rachel Maddow Show.
So, Whitney now says, although the campaign is still having problems with getting the Board to straighten things out, the Board is going to fix the problem hopefully before Election Day.
The candidate formerly known as "Rich Whitey" doesn't deserve a Sanity Award for weathering this incredible error and continuing to campaign vigorously for the election. He deserves it for what he is trying to do in Illinois: Restore sanity to Illinois politics.
Rich Whitney earned 10% of the vote in 2006 when he ran for governor, which meant he or another Green Party candidate had automatic ballot status for the gubernatorial election. He managed to earn a chance to debate the two candidates from the Democratic and Republican Parties---Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican State Senator Bill Brady---something that is surprising since Democrats and Republicans usually refuse to appear on stage with candidates who are not Democrat or Republican.
In the debate he managed to get into that was held at Southern Illinois University, Whitney pointed out how Quinn and Brady were using "fantasy economics":
"I agree we need a governor with a heart but we also need a governor with a plan. And, in this room, I'm the only one that's presenting one here. We're hearing fantasy economics. Where have we heard where the revenue's going to come from? Gov. Quinn proposed in his Fiscal Year 2011 Budget the largest single-year cut to education in Illinois history. He just cut it by $261 million in July. And, Sen. Brady is talking about a dime on the dollar spending cuts when you need forty cents. And, if you literally tried to balance the budget by cutting spending alone during a recession it would cost us 128,000 jobs. This is ridiculous. When are we gonna hear real numbers that make sense? Real addition and subtraction so that we know we're going to have revenues that are gonna equal the expenditures that both the Republican and the Democratic candidates are talking about." [emphasis added]
Whitney is a first-class candidate working to actually address the problems and not just let his campaign devolve into one rife with attack ads and generalities that will benefit few voters in Illinois. It's gotten so bad that the race has gained international attention for Gov. Quinn's recent attack ad alleging Brady supports putting dogs in gas chambers.
The Guardian's Richard Adams wrote, "There's a standing joke in politics about running an ad saying "Vote for me or the kitten gets it," but this is perhaps the first time anyone has actually done it."
Whitney is battling machine politics, the same machine politics in Illinois that has led to Gov. Rod Blagojevich going to trial and being convicted on one charge of lying to the FBI. It's the same politics that led to the previous governor, former Gov. George Ryan, going to jail for steering contracts worth millions of dollars to friends, taking payments and vacations in retur, lying to the FBI about his conduct, and going out and doing it again and, instead of ending the practice, trying to end the investigation that had uncovered this misconduct.
That machine politics is likely behind the League of Women Voters' decision to exclude him from an ABC-televised debate on Oct. 20th. The Democratic machine in Illinois doesn't want Whitney interrupting their day-to-day operations, which have no doubt benefited them but led to a $13 billion deficit in Illinois, one of the worst state deficits in the country.
"Look, the Democratic Party has had complete control of Illinois state government for the last seven years, both houses of the general assembly and the governorship. What do you have to show for it?" asks Whitney. "If you are afraid of Bill Brady because you think he is going to systematically destroy education and the public sector in the state, what do you think Pat Quinn’s already been doing? He’s been doing it. He even brags about the $3 billion he’s cut so far. He won’t do anything significant to restore revenue to our schools and the public sector."
Voters in Illinois now expect that if recent debates are any indication the remaining debates will simply feature more insanity. Brady will accuse Quinn of "releasing 1,700 inmates early" and risking public safety. Quinn will hit back saying Brady "voted against a bill that would have barred child abusers and spouse abusers from having guns." Quinn will claim that if Brady "perish the thought" became governor "there would be a natural rise in property taxes." Brady shoots back, "Perish the thought you'd ever tell the truth. I've never talked about raising property taxes and you know it."
The two will spend the debate arguing over who will result in the death of more puppies in gas chambers and who is more connected to former Gov. Blagojevich. The truth is both have connections and both will probably have an equal impact on the well being of Illinois' puppy population. Perhaps, both should do voters and puppies a favor and rescind their campaigns now.
Illinois is, as Whitney says, dealing with two corporate-sponsored parties. And, as much as he can say their "fantasy economics" is a result of "bad math," the truth is they probably know exactly what they are doing. The interests that finance their campaign have probably given them "marching orders" to "keep taxes low for the wealthy and the rest the best that they can."
Whitney's presence in the election demonstrates why there should be more choices and more voices in elections. If elections are left up to the two parties, they quickly become pissing matches.
Sadly, I fear the interests that have controlled politics in Illinois (especially in the city of Chicago) will show the voters no mercy. Their agenda of redistributing the wealth upward to the top 1% in Illinois will continue with no regard for the 99% of voters they beg, borrow and steal from.
On October 30th, Whitney will be in Grant Park in Chicago where the "Restore Sanity" rally will be showing on big screens in the park. He'll be asking Illinois voters to help him restore sanity to Illinois politics. General disgust with both parties leads me to believe people at the rally will appreciate his presence at the event.
The following is video of Rich Whitney outside of the ABC7 Chicago studio Oct 20th delivering a statement on being excluded from a televised debate: