Two trade charges in 20th House District race
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Incumbent Republican Michael McAuliffe, who is seeking his 11th term and who is facing Democratic challenger Merry Marwig in the 20th Illinois House District, said that this has been one of the most negative political races that he has been a part of thanks in part to a large influx of campaign cash from both parties.
Many costly prime time network television ads have run, and numerous mailers have flooded residents’ mailboxes, with both candidates linking the other to the political leaders who have donated millions to their campaigns.
Governor Bruce Rauner has given money to the Republican Party that is funding McAuliffe’s re-election bid, and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has given cash to the Democratic Party that is funding Marwig.
"This is the most negative race that I have ever been in," McAuliffe said. "It’s one thing after the next, and there are so many untruths being thrown at me.
"She said that I’m worse than Donald Trump, but that’s what you get when people get desperate. It’s just attempted character assassination that is simply not true."
McAuliffe, age 53, refers to mailers paid for by the Democratic Party that feature a picture of him and the Republican presidential nominee that states that "extreme politicians like Mike McAuliffe and Donald Trump are trying to silence women." The mailer states that McAuliffe’s views on women’s health are more extreme than Trump’s, that he opposes a woman’s right to choose and that he has opposed funding for women’s health services.
"I’ve never seen so many untruths coming at me," McAuliffe said. He said that he must be doing something right because of all of the attention. "The people must like what I do because I keep getting elected by them," he said.
The mailers state that he wants to let sexual predators out of prison early and that he voted against giving prosecutors more time to lock up sex offenders. McAuliffe said that Marwig’s campaign is playing "gotcha" and the accusations are untrue.
McAuliffe said that he opposed marriage equality in the past but that he is pro-life "except for the life of the mother." He said that has been an advocate for seniors and for women’s health.
"The Democrats have dumped all this money in the race and Madigan is behind it because he wants to pick up a seat in the House and that’s why this race is getting so much attention," McAuliffe said. "He thinks that he can pick up the seat by running her against me. It’s a 50-50 district so he came at me early."
"I heard numerous people in Springfield tell me that I better watch out because he was going to come after me," McAuliffe said. "I’m the only Republican from the Northwest Side of Chicago, so I think he came at me so strongly and I knew that this was going to be a tough race.
The district contains 48 Chicago precincts, 41 in the 41st Ward and seven in the 38th Ward, and 43 suburban precincts, scattered in Park Ridge, Rosemont, Harwood Heights and Norridge.
Marwig, age 31, said that she took a leave from her job at a software company to concentrate on her campaign.
"I’m running because I am fed up with the financial dysfunction in our state, and we have been going door to door and talking to the constituents, because that’s where it matters the most," Marwig said. "A lot of the people that I have talked to are complaining about their property taxes and schools not being properly funded, flooding issues as well as quality of life issues such as airplane noise."
Marwig said that she is tired of the "squabbling" of career politicians who are more interested in protecting their jobs and pensions than fighting for the middle class.
"He has been in Springfield for 20 years, and you can’t undo 20 years of bad decisions and questionable values because that’s indicative of poor leadership," Marwig said. "The people tell me that they can’t live in this district any more because the costs are going up and that the tax burden that is falling on them is becoming so massive that it’s eroding the middle class and they are outraged by that."
In a letter sent to residents, Marwig said that she is not a politician but a concerned resident who thinks that "we deserve better leadership for our community."
"I think lawmakers should lead by example when the state is in such financial disarray," the letter states. "That’s why I will block salary increases for lawmakers and require voter approval before legislators ever see a raise. I also will not take a pension if elected, because I believe that pensions should be reserved for those who have truly earned them, like teachers and first responders, not part-time politicians.
"The difference between my campaign mailers and his is that I have been critical about his record," Marwig said. "There are some very disturbing votes that he took, and people should know what he has been up to. He is not being held up to the votes that he takes."
"It’s evident that he has stopped listening to the people a long time ago," Marwig said. "He voted 16 times against a property tax freeze. It’s evident he stopped listening.
"Common sense dictates that you vote the way the district wants to vote and not through some personal agenda. He has turned his back on the working families in the district. They tell him what to do and he doesn’t listen to them."
Marwig said that the race is between her and McAuliffe and not Rauner and Madigan. "No matter what my opponent is saying about me, or who he ties me with, I am not concerned what he has been doing in this election," she said. "I am concerned what he has been doing in his career."
Marwig said that McAuliffe disrespects women and that he disrespected her when they spoke to the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times.
"One thing that has upset me the most is that he refers to me as a ‘girl’ when he talks to people," Marwig said. "I’m an independent woman. If you say things like that in a demeaning way you are taking pointers from the Trump playbook."
"He has been attacking me on my college record, saying that I didn’t graduate from the top of my class," Marwig said. "Well, I have a 3.9 GPA from Urbana-Champaign, so how is that not in the top of my class?
"It’s a double standard. Why do I have to prove that I am better qualified than Michael McAuliffe when he doesn’t have to prove to voters that he is qualified?"
Marwig said that she would work for more education funding, address flooding issues, try to get more resources for police and work on gun control issues.
"I’m in favor of some gun control," Marwig said. "I think that some people should not be allowed to have guns. Even some law enforcement agencies agree with that statement. My opponent has received an A-plus from the NRA."
"Flooding is a huge problem, especially in areas like Des Plaines or Niles, and petty crime is going up in the district everywhere," Marwig said. "We need to get some more resources for police out here because in many cases they have been shifted to other areas of the city while crime continues to increase here.
"My priority is to hold the line on taxes. People are being forced out of the district because they can’t afford to live here anymore."
"The whole ‘girl’ thing has been blown out of proportion," McAuliffe said. "What happened was that I’ve seen somebody with her sign and sort of said in passing, ‘I see you have the girl sign up,’ and I have apologized for that."
McAuliffe said that he did not vote to cut senior services and that he does not support property tax increases.
"I’ve had tough races before this, but I’m a target because I’m from the Republican Party," McAuliffe said. "I haven’t changed. "People tell me that they don’t like either of the presidential candidates but that they will still support me in the local race.
"I want property tax relief because that is a big issue for my constituents. I don’t want to vote for the tax increase that the Democrats want. They want to hammer you."