The Ripple: DPOE members, state representatives endorse presidential candidates

Jacob Fulton, Assistant City Editor

EAMON KELLY: And this is where I want everybody to stop again and think about how you’re going to make your plan. How are you going to make your plan to make sure that we throw out the current person occupying the Oval Office?

JACOB FULTON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Jacob Fulton. This is The Ripple, a podcast about the effects of state and national politics on the Evanston and Northwestern community. In this episode, we’ll unpack the DPOE’s, or the Democratic Party of Evanston’s, 2020 endorsement session for the U.S. presidential race, as well as the races for Illinois Supreme Court, the Cook County State’s Attorney and the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

DANIEL BISS: We’re all going to do everything we can as soon as this primary is over to unite the party and defeat Donald Trump regardless of who our nominee is. In the meantime, a ranked choice voting system will give us a different way of expressing our preferences, so you get to experiment voting that way today. And I would urge you to think over whether this would be a better system for an election like this.

JACOB FULTON: That was former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss, explaining ranked choice voting to the crowd at the event. Biss represented Evanston from January 2013 to January 2019. At the event, the DPOE used ranked choice voting for the presidential race. Here’s what that looks like.

Voters ordered their choices for president from first to eleventh. Based on each round, the candidates with the lowest support had their votes redistributed to the next highest ranked candidate still eligible on their ballot. But, the DPOE only bases its endorsements on the first round of voting, and a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of the total vote to gain an endorsement. Before they voted, attendees had the chance to hear from different community members and local representatives about why they should support each candidate.

JOHN FITZGERALD: Women can do it. Only women can do it. We need Amy.

ROBERT PETERS: This is a campaign and a fight about the future. And we can win that future together. We deserve that future.

JILL WINE-BANKS: So that’s why I really want to see him be the nominee of our party and take us forward to win and to take 45 out of office.

JACOB FULTON: In the first round of voting, no candidate received enough votes to win an outright endorsement from the DPOE. However, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders came in first place in the first round of voting, winning 102 of 249 votes. Former state Senator Robert Peters spoke in support of Sanders.

ROBERT PETERS: What we’ve seen over the past 30 years is that we feel more and more isolated. I’ve seen this personally impact me and my adopted mom. After the Great Recession, she passed away due to alcoholism and mental health issues. She died $300,000 in debt. She never felt comfortable being able to talk to anyone about what she was going through. When I look at Bernie Sanders and I look at this campaign, it’s not about him — it’s about each and every one of us. When we each go through a struggle, that we don’t go through it alone. When there is a trying time, that we know that there is a hand in each and every one of us that lifts us up. And I ask for you to endorse Bernie Sanders so that the next 30 years is an era of mass liberation, where we reimagine what community and dignity and society can look like and to know that each and every one of us can do this together.

JACOB FULTON: Representative Jan Schakowsky endorsed Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who came in second place in the initial vote. However, in the final round of ranked choice voting, Warren ended above Sanders, winning 118-114. Schakowsky spoke in support of Warren.

JAN SCHAKOWSKY: I have known Elizabeth Warren for a long time. I knew her first when she had no title. She was not elected to anything, but she came to my office because she was fighting for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau — an idea to give ordinary people protection, not just for the big guys. She went office to office. I helped her reach Barack Obama, who bought the idea, and it happened. This was her plan. She has a plan for all of these issues that she can make happen, and I want to tell you something. I don’t want a candidate who’s going to tell me to lower expectations, who’s going to tell me to lower expectations, who’s going to tell me to cool down and make sure that we invite a middle-of-the-road person to be the president of the United States. DPOE, this is our moment. We are a progressive, grassroots organization, and I believe that Elizabeth Warren is our candidate that represents our values.

JACOB FULTON: In third place was Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who performed above expectations in Iowa last week. Klobuchar received 29 votes in the first round, and was the last candidate eliminated before the final round of ranked choice voting. Rogers Park resident John Fitzgerald spoke in support of Klobuchar and her broad appeal.

JOHN FITZGERALD: We have to beat Donald Trump. He will be formidable. Any of our top six candidates can win California, Massachusetts, Illinois. They can win the coasts, New York, easily. We have to win the heartland; we have to win the Big Ten states. Amy Klobuchar can do that. She speaks to women. She speaks to minorities. She’s the only one on the campaign trail who has been talking about voting rights and how important that is to our system. She finds common ground with people. She wins in Minnesota — the rural Trump counties. She scares nobody.

JACOB FULTON: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in fourth place in the initial tally with 22 votes. Debra Shore, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, said she believes Buttigieg is the best candidate for the job.

DEBRA SHORE: I’ve known Pete for about four and a half years, and I can tell you he is a remarkable talent. Not only is he whip-smart and substantive, but he’s sunny. He has a unique range of experiences that I think is perfectly suited for this moment. He speaks with heartland values, and I think we saw in Iowa last week that he can bring independents and what he calls future former Republicans into the Democratic tent. It’s time for a new era of leadership, of vision, of energy and purpose. Friends, all we are asking is that you give Pete a chance.

JACOB FULTON: Rounding out the top five was former Vice President Joe Biden, receiving 17 votes. Speaking for Biden was MSNBC contributor Jill Wine-Banks. She acknowledged Evanston’s progressive lean, but said she still saw Biden as the best presidential candidate.

JILL WINE-BANKS: He is the one who can unite all of us. He has the experience. He is a moderate, which is not appealing to this audience, but is to the nation. In order to win, which, I think we’d all agree that winning is the most important thing ever in this election. In order to win, we need to chip away at the electoral college in places like the middle of the country — like our neighbors. Michigan, Pennsylvania, all of those places. And it’s going to take someone like Joe Biden to do it. He is someone who really sees this election as an existential threat to democracy and understands how important it is to unite us all.

JACOB FULTON: In other races, the DPOE voted to endorse the incumbent Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney. Michael Cabonargi won the popular vote for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and Daniel Epstein won the popular votes for State Supreme Court Justice. But, Foxx was the only candidate to cross the two-thirds voter margin and the only one to receive a formal endorsement.

No presidential candidates received an endorsement either. Despite wide-ranging support for a variety of candidates, the DPOE said its main goal is unity in support of the final candidate after the primaries, whoever that may be. The Illinois primary is March 17, and the Democratic National Convention is from July 13 to July 16. This is when the official nominee for the Democratic Party will be declared and the general election will begin.

JACOB FULTON: Thanks for listening. We’ll see you on the next episode of The Ripple.

This episode was reported and produced by myself, Jacob Fulton. It was edited by Kalen Luciano and Heena Srivastava. The Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Northwestern is Troy Closson.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @jacobnfulton1

Related Stories:
The Ripple: Northwestern students canvass for presidential candidates in Iowa
‘This is not what democracy looks like:’ Northwestern students travel to Iowa to canvass for candidates, attend historic caucuses