Independence Day is a time to consider, among other things, our right to vote in a democracy. “Hit pieces” attacking political opponents sometimes proliferate more at election times than ads promoting the given candidate. I spent several days last month in Illinois, teaching a MAG-40 class of 32 in the Kankakee area at the excellent Illinois State Rifle Association range. Hotly contested primary races were all over the TV.
Anti-gun Illinois Governor Pritzker, a Democrat, is running for re-election. A Democrat hit piece on one of the Republicans running for the gubernatorial nomination in the primary went after candidate Darren Bailey, on the theme of “He’s Too Conservative for Illinois.”
They pounded on the two most controversial issues in America today: abortion and guns. They pointed out that he was totally pro-life, and 100% committed to preserving the Second Amendment. They narrated the latter in a breathless, horrified tone of voice, the way the narrator of a monster movie might have uttered, “And he is a worshipper of Satan!”
Of course, this didn’t turn off a single liberal from voting for Bailey; they obviously wouldn’t vote for him anyway. What it did do is ignite the passions of two sets of one-issue voters, pro-life and pro-2A, to vote for Bailey.
Which they did, and he won the nomination. It’s him against Pritzker in the November election now.
This wasn’t stupidity in and of itself. Huffington Post and other left of center sources have postulated that the Democrats did this intentionally to win the Republican primary for Bailey because they think it gives them an opponent they can easily defeat in November. And therein may lie their mistake. When “too conservative for Illinois” is their theme, it shows they have spent so much time in their own echo chamber that they think the voters consider “conservative” to be a dirty word. Perhaps they missed the canary in the mineshaft of San Francisco, one of the few cities “bluer” than Chicago, where voters there recently dumped their super-left district attorney. Perhaps they’re over-confident that people furious about the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade will vote Democrat automatically.
But perhaps they’ve also overlooked the fact that since Illinois offers abortion on demand and Dobbs leaves the matter to the states, it doesn’t directly affect Illinoisans. Perhaps they’ve overlooked the fact that in the last two years, the combination of riots, “defund the police,” and Chicago DA Kim Foxx turning bad guys loose to prey on the public has created a situation where more of their voters want to protect themselves with guns…
Let me be clear: Bailey would not have been my own choice. On the gun owner’s civil rights issue, however, he’s the only pro-gun choice in this particular race. Come November, we’ll know whether the “don’t vote for him because he’s pro-gun” strategy worked for his opponents, or not.