Madison County Democrats hold Gubernatorial Caucus
by Mark Von Nida, Chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party, @MadCoILDems

On September 18, Democrats in Madison County were among the first in the state to express their choice of candidates in the Gubernatorial 2018 primary election. Although the Democratic Nominee will not be selected until the March 20th Primary Election in 2018, all Democratic voters were invited to take part in a caucus style straw poll.

“The Madison County Democratic Party was excited to host a ‘straw poll’ where voters met other Democrats and voiced their preference for one of the Democratic Candidates for Governor,” Democratic County Chairman Mark Von Nida said. “Our caucuses were be based on the same rules as the Iowa Presidential Caucus, the results were released to the media. Since no candidate received a majority of caucus goer’s support, no one became the endorsed candidate.

The caucus took place in seven locations across Madison County.  Undecided voters were welcomed. Caucus goers had an opportunity to discuss issues and the merits of each candidate.

“This was a great opportunity for rank and file Democrats to have a voice in the election.  Instead of wooing a few party leaders, candidates had to concentrate on the type of retail politics that emphasizes making a connection to regular voters.   On Caucus night, Democrats got to hear from voters from a cross section of industrial, suburban and rural parts of the County. The diversity of Madison County will say a lot about which candidate should represent the Democratic Party in next year’s election.”  Von Nida added. “The presidential straw poll was a great success last year.  The event drew hundreds out to show support for their preferred candidate.”

Party officials were pleased to have drawn even bigger crowds after changing their by-laws to make the outcome of the straw poll the official endorsement by the party in next year’s primary election. According to Von Nida; “We had participation from most of the campaigns drawing nearly 700 voters to our meetings.”  The campaigns targeted supporters and worked to turn them out as an early test of organization.  Participants were asked to fill out volunteer cards with email and cell phone information so the party could follow up afterwards.

 

The candidate with the most to prove was hometown favorite, Bob Daiber who wanted to show decisive downstate support.  While he won a plurality of voters, Daiber missed getting endorsed because he failed to get a majority. JB Pritzker, Chicago entrepreneur and philanthropist had an opportunity to demonstrate early spending translated into wide spread appeal.  Showing strong support among urban and union households, Pritzker virtually tied with the local candidate. State Senator Daniel Biss registered a third place showing by concentrating his support in one location.  No other candidate was able to overcome the viability threshold of 20% in any location. Chris Kennedy, Chicago businessman and the son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, was showed limited support and decided to combine forces with Daiber.