As this week begins, I’m stuck with a choice of writing about either St. Patrick’s Day, or the 2014 Primary Election in Illinois. The luck o’ the Irish got plenty of coverage in my columns during previous years, so how about giving the primary election its due? Only around 30% of voters actually vote in the primaries, while the remaining 70% complain about the choices they’re stuck with in the November election.
How should we vote as faithful Catholics? About a decade ago, Catholic Answers put together a “Voting Guide for Serious Catholics” that tried to answer that question. Rather than tell you who to vote for, Catholic Answers gave us a booklet that focused on what types of issues are important to the Catholic faith, and how we should weigh them. Obviously there are many important issues that play a factor in voting: jobs, the economy, the environment, immigration, taxes, and so forth. But according to Catholic teaching, there are five specific issues that are “non-negotiable”. This means that they are ALWAYS considered wrong and immortal, and politicians should not support them under any circumstances. The five non-negotiables are: 1) Abortion, 2) Euthanasia, 3) Embryonic Stem Cell Research, 4) Human Cloning and 5) so-called Homosexual "Marriage". Let’s take a look at all the statewide races in Illinois this year, and get an idea where the candidates stand.
There are at least six choices for Governor in the primary: two Democrats and four Republicans. Our incumbent Governor, Pat Quinn, claims to be a “proud Catholic” but has taken the wrong position on virtually every one of these issues. His opponent in the Democrat primary is Tio Hardiman, the former director of CeaseFire Illinois. According to Illinois Citizens for Life, Hardiman is not as pro-abortion as Governor Quinn (Quinn is rated a “4” for “Totally opposed to pro-life issues) but neither is he in fully pro-life. Hardiman also has some baggage in his background, being charged with domestic violence and having a restraining order against him. On the Republican side, three of the candidates are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. Unfortunately the fourth candidate, Bruce Rauner, is openly pro-abortion and said he was fine with Illinois passing homosexual marriage, and he is ahead in the polls. For the remaining three, Dan Rutherford is solidly pro-life and anti-gay marriage, but voted for gay civil unions, and has called on Republicans to not focus on social issues. Kirk Dillard has been pretty solidly pro-life and he was outspoken against Illinois legalizing same-sex marriage, but he voted in favor of human embryonic stem cell research and appeared in an Obama campaign ad, praising Obama’s record (which he now says he regrets). Bill Brady has been reliable on all these issues, and was the Republican nominee against Quinn last time, but lost and raised doubts about whether he can win this time.
For U.S. Senate, there are at least three candidates in the primary. The incumbent, Democrat Dick Durbin, has a similar record as Pat Quinn – he claims to be a practicing Catholic, but has been on the wrong side of every one of the non-negotiable issues. In fact, he may be even worse than Quinn, and over the years has morphed from a centrist downstate Democrat to a rabid partisan who was rated more extreme than Obama on social issues. On the Republican side, there are two candidates. Jim Oberweis is the first and better known of the two, having run unsuccessfully for major office five times previously, before finally being elected state senator in 2012. Although Oberweis was against overturning Roe v. Wade and compared pro-lifers to the Taliban in 2002, he has since changed his views and has been consistently good on pro-life and pro-family issues since then, and helped lead the fight to oust Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady after the latter used his spare time to lobby for homosexual marriage. The lesser known of the two candidates, Doug Truax, is a first time candidate who also holds the correct view on all non-negotiable issues, and has expert knowledge on Obamacare since his private sector career involves helping people evaluate health care plans. He has also been married to the same women for 21 years, and is a west point graduate and army veteran.
For Treasurer, the incumbent office holder (Dan Rutherford) is running for Governor, so this is an open race with three candidates. On the Democrat side, State Senator Michael W. Fredrichs is unopposed, and unfortunately it’s the same case as Quinn and Durbin – he has been totally hostile to Catholic social teaching and is strongly pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage, with a voting record to prove it. (There are no “Lipinski type” pro-life Democrats running statewide, it seems) On the Republican side, there are two candidates: the first is Tom Cross, who served as Minority Leader in the Illinois House for many years until stepping down to run for Treasurer. He is rated a “4” by Illinois Citizens for Life, meaning “Totally opposed to pro-life issues”. Worse, he claimed to be against same-sex marriage for years, then flip flopped at the last second and voted in favor of it when the bill came up for a vote, and also voted for numerous other things totally against Catholic beliefs, such as Planned Parenthood’s “Comprehensive” sex education bill that would teach grade school children how to use artificial birth control. The second candidate, Bob Grogan, lives in Downers Grove with his wife Beth and their three children. He currently serves as Auditor of DuPage County, where he was elected twice, and is fully pro-life and pro-family. Bob is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), so he is also well qualified for the position he is seeking. From a Catholic standpoint, this seems to be the most clear cut race to me, since only one of the candidates believes in Catholic values and is well qualified for the job.
So, that’s a brief overview of some of the contested statewide offices on the ballot in Illinois, and where the candidates stand on non-negotiable Catholic moral teachings. Sometimes we have 2 or 3 candidates running for the same office that uphold Catholic values, but sometimes we have only one. In each case, I will vote for the candidate that I think best upholds the values I believe in. How will you vote?