Progressive David Gill Beats Dick Durbin’s Corporate Shill
by John Laesch
As we sat down to watch election results Tuesday night, I wrote David Gill a quick text that said, "You're going to do what Cegelis and I couldn't. Pullin 4 ya."
In 2006, Dick Durbin and Rahm Emanuel pushed a corporate Democrat down the throats of Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, derailing grassroots progressive, Christine Cegelis. Cegelis lost by 1%.
In 2008, Durbin/Rahm backed multi-millionaire, corporate Dem, Bill Foster against me in a close election for Illinois' 14th Congressional District. We lost by half of a percent.
In 2010, the Democrats in Illinois and around the country lost badly because they failed to deliver any hope, change, or jobs. In two short years of governing, they joined Republicans in bailing out the banks and passed a healthcare bill that was written by the insurance industry, not doctors and patients. Even after the Wall Street occupation and the 2010 apathy-driven tsunami, corporate Democrats still don't get it.
In 2012, Durbin pushed progressive Dave Koehler out of Illinois' 17th Congressional District in favor of Cheryl Bustos. He was successful and Koehler backed out.
But the one man who wouldn't back down and finally defeated Durbin's corporate shill was Dr. David Gill. Tuesday night, David Gill beat corporate Democrat, Matt Goetten by a narrow margin of 143 votes. There is not a finer, more deserving progressive hero than Doc Gill.
David Gill first ran for U.S. Congress in 2004. I remember the sincerity in his voice when he explained that he made the decision to run the day after Paul Wellstone died in a tragic plane crash. David felt that if 100 progressives stepped up to run for public office, that we could somehow fill Wellstone's shoes. With very little political experience under my belt, I managed Gill's 2004 first campaign against Tim Johnson. In the following years, Gill lost his first wife to cancer and lost his 2010 campaign against the same winds that threw Democrats out of the majority in Congress. Most people would have quit trying, but David Gill is persistent. Gill is a fighter who truly believes that we can change our broken political system. He understands that inspiring people to volunteer on a campaign is more valuable than a contributor who can write a $2,400 check.
Gill has been an inspiration to a large number of people, including myself. For $400/month and a campaign office couch to sleep on, I spent seven months of my life working with all of the other people that he had inspired. Gill's volunteers are willing to go door-to-door in the snow, and they will walk in the blistering heat for a mile-long Fourth of July parade. Not only do they volunteer, they dig deep when they can't afford to. A month ago I got laid off. After paying the bills, we sent our last $38 to Gill’s campaign. When working for Gill, a woman who had health issues and was struggling financially on a meager Social Security check came in to make a similar $25 contribution. She wanted a better healthcare system and she spent the next 4 months volunteering. Students would make a $10 contribution and give up their weekends because they believed that Gill offered significant change to our broken political system.
In writing this piece, I thought I would interlace some of my own stories because anybody who has interacted with David Gill has one. Gill's progressive values are part of what inspires volunteers. The other category of die-hard Gill supporters know him as a compassionate doctor who treats people equally. When I ran his first campaign, past patients wrote glowing letters to the editor about how David Gill offered compassion to an aging parent or how he treated someone without insurance as an equally deserving human being. Gill is able to build strong bonds with people. He inspires trust and sets a high bar, encouraging others to achieve their full potential.
Gill inspires volunteerism because he himself has volunteered so much. Nobody volunteers more time than a candidate and, after running back-to-back campaigns myself, I can't imagine what 3 campaigns for U.S. Congress feels like on a physical and emotional level. What I do know is why David Gill does it. He kept running because he feels that Americans deserve better than what we have been getting out of our government. He does it because he understands the consequences of not standing up. Gill understands that both political parties have been bought and paid for by the 1% and he knew that his Democratic opponent, Matt Goetten, would follow in Durbin's footsteps and sell out to Goldman Sachs.
The final weeks of the election were telling. With a poll showing Gill in the lead, Goetten quickly started filling his campaign coffers with cash from corporate Democrats and their friends on Wall Street. He used that money to run a negative campaign against Gill. Goetten had no problem taking money from a corporate Democratic group that serves Chamber and banker interests. JOE PAC is cynically named, Jobs, Opportunities and Education PAC.
Goetten made it clear that he would join the corporate Democrats if elected when he accepted $10K in contributions from the New Democratic Coalition PAC. Follow the link to explore the long list of corporate sponsors and pharmaceutical companies behind the New Democrats.
Unfortunately, some labor groups also contributed. It is sad that labor keeps getting duped into supporting corporate Democrats like Goetten. As a member of organized labor, I keep thinking that labor would be better served if they spent some serious time and money trying to beat Rahm/Durbin instead of helping them.
Labor is not the only group of people who should be re-calculating how to make the best use of political resources. Gill could have used the support of the PCCC, DFA and Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots. I keep scratching my head wondering how these folks make their political decisions. Regardless, it is now time for progressives to line up and support David Gill's recount effort.
With Gill's narrow 143 vote lead, progressives should expect the corporate Dems to encourage Goetten to seek a recount. For those who were not in Illinois on Election Day, all of the ballots were printed on paper that was slightly larger than the machine. While most election officials manually trimmed the ballots and sent them through the machines, Macoupin County (in IL-13)
election officials chose to hand count all of the ballots. In the precinct that I worked Tuesday (not in IL-13), election officials tabulated the election results before discovering a ballot that was stuck in the side of the machine. It is likely that this sort of thing happened elsewhere in Illinois.
For those who are evaluating the Gill race and wondering how and why he was successful, I have a parting thought that will hopefully help Mr. Sheyman. Myself, Christine Cegelis and now David Gill all have one thing in common. We ran more than once. For all of us, it took an entire election cycle to build name recognition and relationships throughout the district. I guess the only irony in this statement is that Dick Durbin himself ran for U.S. Congress three times before winning. You would think that someone with this background would be more supportive of grassroots progressives. Oh wait, there is that Goldman Sachs thing...
Postscript From Howie
So now that Dr. Gill has won the Democratic primary, the Democratic Party will step up and make sure he gets all the support he needs to win this swing district from vulnerable Republican Tim Johnson, right? Sure... and Steny Hoyer and Steve Israel will deliver that help on the back of a white unicorn. Wednesday Israel couldn't wait to add all the Illinois corporate shills the Machine had delivered to the DCCC's Red to Blue program. Every winning Democrat was added but one-- David Gill, the one progressive, the one anti-corruption candidate, the one candidate insisting on single-payer and insisting on thinking for himself instead of parroting the Beltway Democrats' claptrap. If we're going to get a Prairie State progressive into Congress this time, we won't be counting on DC Dems. This is something progressives and reform-minded citizens will have to step up to the plate for.