State Rep. Chris Welch (D-7th) believes he has found his “mission” as a state representative over these past three years representing a portion of River Forest, Forest Park and much of Proviso Township. And in the contested Democratic primary for his seat on March 15, he makes the case that the three years of seniority he has already accumulated in Springfield is not to be overlooked in a system that is fueled by time served.
In most years this might be a compelling argument for voters. But not this year. This is the year when everything about Illinois state government has putrefied. There’s no budget after nine months. Social service agencies are laying off workers and shuttering essential programs. Political leaders — both Democratic and Republican — are weak, stubborn and failed.
So voting on the basis of incumbency has limited allure for voters who watch our long-mismanaged state self-immolate. And voting for this incumbent, Emanuel Chris Welch, has less appeal still, given his longtime role as president of the school board at the grossly mismanaged Proviso Township high schools. And in that debacle, Welch was not some casual onlooker. These schools, long troubled, toppled into state financial oversight, during a period of self-dealing by Welch.
Having said all that, we’d like to offer up more hopeful words for Chris Harris, the challenger in this Democratic primary. Yes, we offer him our endorsement. But it is not without doubts. Like Welch, we know Harris from our coverage of his village council service in Forest Park, where we publish the Review. Now, as then, we find him a hard man to figure. He’s no traditional pol, and for that he gets points.
But in this political year, he has gotten himself tangled in the support of some sort of Rauner-backed PAC that is about nothing but deception and lies. Harris proclaims he is innocent and that this PAC is a “chess game for rich people.” We’d be more ready to offer a pass if Harris were willing to acknowledge that one inevitable part of the solution to Illinois’ financial failure is a permanent increase in personal and corporate taxes. But he won’t, yet. That verges on disqualifying.
Mike Madigan, the evil henchman on the Dems side, is investing heavily in Welch, hence the barrage of mailed pieces flooding the district.
Taken in total, the Rauner PAC and the Madigan money machine, we see the giant mess of Illinois government being played out intensely in one small suburban district. Nothing edifying here.