Sugar, spice and Midwestern nice: Evanston voters consider Midwestern values in potential candidates


Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar speaks at the “2019 We The People Membership Forum” on April 1, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, has emphasized Midwestern values in her campaign.

Isabelle Sarraf, Assistant Campus Editor

With the Illinois Democratic primary one month away, many Evanston voters are still deciding who to vote for in the 2020 presidential race.

There are still many primary elections to come — including the Super Tuesday states of California and Texas — before Illinois residents cast their votes.

The two Midwestern candidates, Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), have been adamant about how they’re bringing Midwestern values to their campaigns.

Not many candidates have begun campaigning in the Chicago area, but Evanston residents and representatives have already started making their cases for their preferred candidates.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) attended last week’s Democratic Party of Evanston endorsement session in support of presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). She said she stands by her November endorsement of the Senator because she believes in Warren’s progressive views and bold plans of action.

Schakowsky cited income inequality, universal preschool, tackling pharmaceutical companies and Medicare for All as some of the many reasons why she believes Warren would be the most suited for the office of the presidency.

“This is the richest country in the world,” Schakowsky said. “It’s outrageous that we don’t have healthcare for all, like every other industrialized nation.”

Debra Shore, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, said she supports Buttigieg. Coming from the Midwest, she said he has shown the ability to speak to “heartland values with heartland messages.”

Citing Buttigieg’s success in many rural counties in Iowa, Shore said Buttigieg has demonstrated the ability to attract independents and former Trump supporters which can turn the tide of the general election.

“Pete has a unique set of skills and experiences that matches no one else in the field,” Shore said.

Ginny Darakjian, former president of the Democratic Party of Evanston, said the Midwestern values held by a presidential candidate do not play a role in her decision on who to vote for in the primary. The way in which candidates can earn her vote, she said, is by aligning with the same principles and values she holds, and how they uphold those values.

Calling this year’s Iowa Caucus a “fiasco,” Darakjian said she doesn’t believe the Iowan population accurately reflects America, let alone the state of Illinois. She said she hopes Illinois will make a “rational” choice in the March primary, and that the state’s diverse population and values are shared across the country.

“The overarching question,” Darakjian said, “is who is going to be able to bring an end to this national nightmare and get a Democrat into the White House.”

FiveThirtyEight projects U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to win nearly one-third of the vote in the Illinois Democratic Primary, with the moderate vote split among Buttigieg, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden. Still, with Klobuchar’s unanticipated third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, her broad appeal to moderate Democrats has resonated with Evanston residents.

Chicago resident John Fitzgerald, who advocated for Klobuchar at the DPOE endorsement session, said it is imperative that the Democratic Party’s nominee wins the American heartland in the general election in order to beat President Donald Trump. He emphasized that galvanizing women to vote could be key to Democrats winning the election.

“(Klobuchar) is a very accomplished senator,” Fitzgerald said. “She speaks to women, she speaks to minorities… She finds common ground with people.”

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