Monday, November 3, 2014

Illinois Elections 2014--A Brief Guide to the Candidates

Election Day is tomorrow, and here in Illinois there are a number of races being contested that will shape the policy landscape at the local, state, and federal levels for years to come. But where do the candidates stand on policies that matter to postdocs, regarding science, education, and the like? We’ve put together this guide to help postdocs understand how their elected officials might approach science-related policy, based on previous actions and the stated positions from the candidates’ own websites. Please note: this is not an endorsement of any candidate, nor a comprehensive guide on their positions. For more in-depth information of the platforms each person is running on, we recommend visiting their websites.

We hope you’ll find this helpful. Don’t forget to vote!

Governor: Pat Quinn (D, incumbent) vs Bruce Rauner (R)  
by Ann Fitzpatrick

The race for Governor of Illinois is as close as it can get with polls putting Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner both on 50%.  Both candidates are strongly campaigning on job creation and the importance of education, but what does this mean for science funding? That is far less clear and neither candidate’s website addresses research or science policy directly. Governor Quinn’s website states that everyone should have the opportunity to get a higher education and puts a figure of $6 billion for increase in classroom spending.  Healthcare and the environment are also issues Governor Quinn is campaigning and these need the support of science research to flourish. Bruce Rauner is also running on education as a key issue although this is focused on high school and early education.  As Rauner is the newcomer, with no previous government experience, perhaps it isn’t shocking that the main issues he is campaigning on are spending, taxes and government reforms. Yet there are few specifics about what this would entail, other than repealing some taxes introduced by Governor Quinn.


U.S. Senator: Dick Durbin (D, incumbent) vs Jim Oberweis (R)
by Cara Froyd

Dick Durbin
   Supports strengthening the Clean Air Act as a mean to counteract climate change
   Introduced the American Cures Act, which would provide an 5% annual increase over inflation for biomedical research, in 2014
   Chairman of Appropriation Subcommittee on Department of Defense
   On Appropriation Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (includes NIH budget)
   Supports programs promoting math and science education and increasing an emphasis on technology and engineering skills development

Jim Oberweis
   Is not convinced climate change is caused by humans

Illinois 1st Congressional District: Bobby Rush (D, incumbent) vs Jimmy Lee Tillman (R)
by Kyle Dolan

Bobby Rush has represented the 1st District of Illinois since 1993. He currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. According to On The Issues, Rush “strongly favors” increased funding and development of clean energy.

Jimmy Lee Tillman II is “a political strategist,[…] talk show host, and historian” according to his campaign website. He is focusing on urban social issues including tackling homelessness among youth and improving reintegration of former prisoners into society, particularly female prisoners.

Illinois 2nd Congressional District: Robin Kelly (D, incumbent) vs. Eric Wallace (R)
by Elizabeth Little

Although little is publicly known about either candidate’s views on biomedical issues, this race could have broad implications given that Representative Kelly currently serves on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and the subcommittee for Research and Technology.  Most notably, looking at Healthcare Reform, both appear to tow their respective party lines – with Rep. Kelly voting against both House Amendment 450 (requiring Congressional approval for changes to Affordable Care Act) and HR 2009 (preventing the IRS from enforcing penalties under the Affordable Care Act) while Dr. Wallace calls for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Representative Kelly was voted into office in the 2013 special election to fill the seat left open by Jesse Jackson Jr.’s resignation.  She previously served in the Illinois House of Representatives and as Chief of Staff for the Illinois State Treasurer.   She holds a PhD in Political Science.  Dr. Wallace earned a PhD in Biblical Studies and worked as President and CEO of Wallace Publishing.  He has recently served as co-Chairman of the Cook Country Republican Party and on the African American Advisory Board for the Republican National Committee. 

Illinois 11th Congressional District: Bill Foster (D, incumbent) vs Darlene Senger (R)
by Kyle Dolan

Bill Foster was re-elected to represent the 11th District in 2012, two years after losing his seat in Congress to a Republican challenger. He holds a Ph.D. in physics and formerly worked at Fermilab. He is also a businessman and co-founder of Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc. He serves on the House Committee on Financial Services. Foster’s legislative record shows consistent support for science, including sponsorship of several bills aimed at increasing science budgets and improving STEM educational programs.

Darlene Senger is a state legislator representing District 41 in the Illinois House of Representatives. Prior to her political career, Senger worked in the financial industry. According to her campaign website, she is focusing on lowering taxes, reforming economic regulations, and scaling back or repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).