IVN.us http://ivn.us Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Peters, DeMaio Race in Calif. Reflects Current State of Politics in America http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/peters-demaio-race-calif-reflects-current-state-politics-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=peters-demaio-race-calif-reflects-current-state-politics-america http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/peters-demaio-race-calif-reflects-current-state-politics-america/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:33:32 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652429 Peters, DeMaio Race in Calif. Reflects Current State of Politics in America

Students, community members, faculty, and news stations filled La Jolla Country Day School on Monday. The private school's Advance Placement Government and U.S. History classes led a forum between Republican Carl DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council, and U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D). Both are seeking to represent California Congressional District 52.

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Peters, DeMaio Race in Calif. Reflects Current State of Politics in America

Students, community members, faculty, and news stations filled La Jolla Country Day School on Monday. The private school’s Advance Placement Government and U.S. History classes led a forum between Republican Carl DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council, and U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D). Both are seeking to represent California’s 52nd Congressional District.

George Mitrovich, president of the San Diego City Club, called the forum to order and encouraged the audience to become active participants in the “Athenian ideal of democracy.” The two-hour event showed that though the coverage of the race has been displayed as divisive and dirty, it can ultimately be a resilient process.

Though both candidates fell folly to modern-day politics of personal attacks and partisan gridlock, the students willfully continued the conversation with substantive questions. Ensuring that the candidates stayed on topic with their answers, the students gave each candidate an opportunity to fully discuss their platform, and how their efforts are in the interests of their constituency.

According to Jonathan Shulman, who teaches the AP Government and History class, the purpose of the forum was to address audiences and issues outside of those covered in the mainstream media. For the candidates, it was a chance to answer the questions and not be diverted by their opposition’s commentary.

DeMaio answered every question with ease and confidence: Russia needs stronger economic sanctions; immigration reform needs to be done in a series of single-subject bills; securing the border starts with better funding and the use of drones.

“These politicians can’t balance a checkbook, why are they telling us how to live our lives?” He said on the subject of personal freedom.

The theme that colored most of his answers, however, were pointed attacks on his opponent.

Peters’ answers, though not as well-delivered as DeMaio’s, offered explanation and insight about issues and policies, like the necessary foundation for a social security safety net, the balance of the county’s ability to carry a certain amount of debt, and the Ebola scare.

On his support for Senate Bill 744, the immigration reform bill, and how he would garner support from the Republican Party, Peters said:

“What we need is a compromise — the Senate bill is a compromise. Its a compromise between Republicans and Democrats. It had 69 votes in the Senate that would deal with all those issues. It would provide permission slips, if you will, to let people into the county; it will amp up border security way beyond what Democrats say they wanted. It is a compromise.” – U.S. Rep. Scott Peters

“The CBO — the Congressional Budget Office — has indicated that [the bill] would lead to 5.4 percent economic growth over the next 20 years and it would lower the deficit by $800 million and help social security funds,” he added. “So, I am asking for your help to advocate that we at least get a vote. I was a city council president and we voted on things — and I never thought that for political reasons, those things would be held up.”

The first-term congressman stated that it is partisanship that has held up regulation on Internet service providers, produced lackluster progress on the deficit, and has encouraged ignorance on climate change.

Both candidates were then asked about their slew of negative campaign.

“I am proud of the fact that I ran positive ads talking about my work in city hall, saving the city from bankrupcy, reforming the city, and putting money back into community service programs — after school programs and libraries,” DeMaio said. “We made government work in San Diego and isnt that what it is all about? So my ads has been focusing on my record as a reformer.”

"Continue to participate, and be a model for the rest of the county to follow."U.S. Rep. Scott Peters
He blames the negative campaign atmosphere on the power of Super PACs.

Peters said it was okay for campaign attacks to be about disagreement on policies or legislation he was involved in; what is not okay is attacks on his personal integrity and the integrity of his family.

In closing, DeMaio addressed the students by saying, “This is your county and your future, demand action from both parties.”

Peters thanked the school for being engaged in politics and challenging the nation’s lack of participation.

“With your participation, we can talk about issues like the climate in a louder way,” he said. “Continue to participate, and be a model for the rest of the county to follow.”

Both candidates call for voter participation as they continue into the political wringer that has left those staying up-to-date on the race following a thread of back and forth partisan attacks — a social obstacle course that is too commonly displayed and covered in American politics today.

As both candidates acknowledged, and as exemplified by the successful structure of the forum, it is up to students, voters, and the media alike to be intelligently engaged in democracy — for the future of American politics and the ideals of democracy.

Image: U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (left), Carl DeMaio (right)

 

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Looking to the Founders: Politicians Have Always Played Dirty Politics http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/looking-founders-politicians-always-played-dirty-politics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=looking-founders-politicians-always-played-dirty-politics http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/looking-founders-politicians-always-played-dirty-politics/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652473 Looking to the Founders: Politicians Have Always Played Dirty Politics

The television, Internet, and radio ads are a constant barrage of negative campaigning and mudslinging, making many long for a simpler time of honest campaigning. But did that really exist? Or perhaps mudslinging has been with us from the very beginning.

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Looking to the Founders: Politicians Have Always Played Dirty Politics

We’re in the home stretch of an important mid-term election. The Senate looks to be in jeopardy — the balance of power for the rest of the Obama administration seems up for grabs.

The television, Internet, and radio ads are a constant barrage of negative campaigning and mudslinging, making many long for a simpler time of honest campaigning.

But did that really exist? Or perhaps mudslinging has been with us from the very beginning.

Phocion

Publius, the pseudonym used for the Federalist Papers, will be immortalized in history classes. Yet, Hamilton was known by other pseudonyms as well. Phocion, in honor of one of Athens’ most honest statesmen, was Hamilton’s pseudonym during the Adams/Jefferson election of 1796.

Hamilton didn’t really have a vested interest in seeing Adams win the election — his political aims were just to undermine his long-time political adversary, Thomas Jefferson.

Hamilton would accuse Jefferson of having fathered numerous children from slaves, claimed that Jefferson would free the slaves if elected, and that civil war would break out if Jefferson was elected. Hamilton had little to no proof, but just wanted to undermine Jefferson’s credibility. And it worked — even Martha Washington was quoted calling Jefferson one of the “vilest creatures” to ever walk the earth.

The media was pretty limited in early America, with fewer than 200 newspapers in the entire country — the ability to control what was in the papers was critical. Bad press tends to sell far more papers than public interest stories, something that hasn’t changed throughout our history.

Jefferson lost by one of the smallest possible margins, but wouldn’t forget Hamilton’s actions in the next election.

Jefferson Retaliates

The next election, Jefferson hired an attack dog in the form of James Callender to spread bad press about Adams — everything from calling him a hermaphrodite to accusing him of warmongering and quietly planning an attack on France.

"Choosing Callender highlights Jefferson's belief that Hamilton and Adams were working together against him."
Callender had a past with Hamilton, accusing him in 1797 of public corruption and adultery, charges that at least temporarily derailed Hamilton’s political career. Choosing Callender highlights Jefferson’s belief that Hamilton and Adams were working together against him, and he was definitely trying to “kill two birds” by hiring Callender.

Jefferson’s strategy won the election, but cost him (and Callender) quite a bit.

Callender wound up serving time in prison for slandering Adams, and he left prison in 1801 with the distinct impression that Jefferson “owed” him something. Jefferson no longer had any use for him and gave him the cold shoulder — big mistake when dealing with an angry journalist.

In a series of articles, Callender continued Hamilton’s claims that Jefferson had fathered a number of children with Sally Hemings, one of his household slaves, even suggesting that she was hiding in France to spare Jefferson embarrassment while raising his illegitimate children.

While Jefferson denied the allegations, they would haunt him for the rest of his life and beyond, and it wasn’t until modern DNA testing that it was in fact confirmed that Callender’s story was true.

Today’s Campaigning

This is one of those unfortunate times when we really can’t look to the Founders for guidance, because they liked to stoop to the lowest levels in dirty campaigning. Many of the earliest campaigns capitalized on the opponent’s drinking habits, extra-marital affairs, and/or religious beliefs (true or not).

Throughout our political history, many of our greatest and most revered politicians have been drug through the mud during elections: Andrew Jackson was accused of cannibalism and John Quincy Adams was called a sexual deviant and a pimp in the election of 1828 — yet both are considered great presidents by most accounts.

When Barrack Obama is caricatured as a devout Muslim or Sarah Palin as a hate-filled idiot, we are only continuing a long tradition that has been laid out before us.

In some ways, we need to know how our leaders will react to the harshest of criticisms — true or not — because dealing with adversity is a hallmark trait of leadership. Within reason, I’m far more interested in seeing how a politician squirms under the pressure of allegations than whether or not they actually did it — because I want to see what will make them crack before they are elected, not afterwards.

Image: Alexander Hamilton

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Proposition 1 To Authorize Billions for Calif.’s Water Infrastructure http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/proposition-1-to-authorize-billions-for-californias-water-infrastructure/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=proposition-1-to-authorize-billions-for-californias-water-infrastructure http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/proposition-1-to-authorize-billions-for-californias-water-infrastructure/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:30:37 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652167 Proposition 1 To Authorize Billions for Calif.’s Water Infrastructure

After three years of drought, Proposition 1 will authorize $7.12 billion and reallocate $425 million of unused bonds to support water quality, storage, treatment, and supply through the development of a better supply infrastructure. The sale of general obligation (GO) bonds will fund the proposition’s projects only after a majority vote since each bond requires “full faith and credit” and an increase in taxes in order to repay.

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Proposition 1 To Authorize Billions for Calif.’s Water Infrastructure

After three years of drought, Proposition 1 will authorize $7.12 billion and reallocate $425 million of unused bonds to support water quality, storage, treatment, and supply through the development of a better supply infrastructure. The sale of general obligation (GO) bonds will fund the proposition’s projects only after a majority vote since each bond requires “full faith and credit” and an increase in taxes in order to repay.

The drought, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, is a symptom of reduced snow-pack that normally feeds runoffs which in turn becomes useable groundwater — the implications of which affects crop yields, livestock, and potentially consumers, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Proposition 1 will allow for the implementation and testing of pipelines, canals, and storage centers to support these needs. Ratified by the Assembly and the State Senate on August 13, 2014, AB1471 – or Proposition 1 — was brokered by Governor Brown as part of his Water Action Plan.

Within the California’s state legislature, votes in favor of the proposition were nearly unanimous across party lines with the only opposition from two assemblymen, Wesley Chesboro (D-Eureka) and Tim Donnelly (R-Hesperia). Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) highlighted the bipartisan nature of the bill in a comment to the Desert Sun.

“The pitch now is you’ve got a united front. You got Northern, Central, South. You got Republicans, you got Democrats. You’ve got the Senate leadership, the Assembly leadership- both, you know, Republican and Democrat- and you got the governor.”

Individuals such as Sean Parker (co-founder of Napster) and organizations like the California Farm Bureau Federation have contributed funding over $150,000 on average for the support of Proposition 1 — totaling $6.6 million. The opposition’s contributors, such as the Jack Klein Partnership, have raised considerably less money with most donations averaging under $5,000 and totaling $71,000, as reported by Ballotpedia.

Arguments in Favor

  • Allocates resources for critical water infrastructure
  • Expands water storage
  • Helps the state prepare for future drought years
  • Provides funding for clean drinking water in contaminated areas

Arguments Against

  • Wastes taxpayer dollars on pet projects and special interests
  • Primarily benefits corporate farmers
  • Offers no incentives to wean off of water-heavy crops like berries and nuts which strain the system.
  • Doesn’t place new restrictions on industrial practices that require large quantities of water like hydraulic fracturing.

Across many major Californian metropolitan areas approval remains only slight, with San Francisco and the Inland Empire at the highest — 64 percent and 62 percent, respectively. Other areas, such as the Central Valley, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego, hover between 51 percent to 55 percent approval.

PPIC Poll: Would you vote yes or no on Proposition 1?

Democrats - Yes

68%
68%

Republicans - Yes

44%
44%

No Party Preference - Yes

59%
59%

Currently, the ballot measure has the support of 58 percent of likely voters with 29 percent against and 14 percent undecided, as reported by the Public Policy Institute of California.*

During the PPIC’s survey, participants were asked whether or not the sale of bonds would affect voter opinion. Sixty-seven percent affirmed a yes vote regardless of an added bond measure to the ballot.

Financially, the sale of $7.1 billion in GO bonds will cost taxpayers $360 million a year for the next 40 years. The drought has cost the state millions in lost revenue with lost farm revenues ($810), livestock and dairy loses ($203), and increased pumping fees ($454). The sale of bonds will reduce the cost of water-related projects for local governments, determined by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Yes or no Californians will determine how California’s most vital resource, water, is handled. The burden that remains on voters’ shoulders is whether or not the expenditure now is worth the price later.

*Editor’s note: The numbers quoted are an accurate representation of the PPIC report. PPIC, to our knowledge, has not updated its survey since publication. 

Photo Credit: Eddie J. Rodriquez / Shutterstock.com

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Peters and DeMaio Find Common Ground At Open San Diego http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/peters-and-demaio-find-common-ground-at-open-san-diego/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=peters-and-demaio-find-common-ground-at-open-san-diego http://ivn.us/2014/10/22/peters-and-demaio-find-common-ground-at-open-san-diego/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652252 Peters and DeMaio Find Common Ground At Open San Diego

While the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District is gaining national notoriety for the heated contest between incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D) and Carl DeMaio (R), the two candidates took time out last week to discuss emerging technology and open government issues. Open San Diego, a group committed to furthering the technology environment in San Diego through collaboration, hosted a “Meet the Candidate” series. The two candidates came on separate nights, Peters on Wednesday, October 15, and DeMaio on the following Thursday.

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Peters and DeMaio Find Common Ground At Open San Diego

While the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District is gaining national notoriety for the heated contest between incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D) and Carl DeMaio (R), the two candidates took time out last week to discuss emerging technology and open government issues. Open San Diego, a group committed to furthering the technology environment in San Diego through collaboration, hosted a “Meet the Candidate” series. The two candidates came on separate nights, Peters on Wednesday, October 15, and DeMaio on the following Thursday.

The “Meet the Candidate” series is a friendly gathering that brings elected officials and candidates together with San Diegans to discuss the role of technology in government. According to Open San Diego, “It is a chance for these candidates to learn more about how technology can improve government and for us to learn about their stances on critical issues.”

Ben Katz, political director for Open San Diego, interviewed Peters and DeMaio on their respective nights, asking them the same questions so as to provide a comparative insight into their stances on technology and open government issues.

As divergent as Peters’ and DeMaio’s political ideologies may be, they appeared to share some common ground on issues of technology. Both admitted they are not experts in the field and could use support and direction from the IT community.

In response to a question about San Diego City Council’s support for the Open Data Policy, Peters said, “They probably don’t understand it very well. Some of us are over 30.”

Along similar lines, DeMaio expressed his willingness to work with people in the technology sector.

“As you see things in the federal government, either on a technology basis or open government basis that you think that I can be helpful in being a champion on — don’t assume I know about it,” said DeMaio. “Probably I don’t. So bring it to my attention. Let me know. Tweet at me, email me, and I’d be happy to take the idea under consideration.”

Open government became a main topic of discussion both nights, and both Peters and DeMaio expressed concern for government secrecy.

When asked about NSA surveillance on Wednesday, Peters grappled for a way to both confront the reality of threats and the concerns about privacy and constitutionality. Katz asked Peters where the appropriate line is drawn on the issue of surveillance.

“We’re still looking for it….and I don’t think we’re going to get the answer,” Peters responded.

Peters acknowledged that former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden did reveal important things about the NSA, but he does not ascribe any heroism to Snowden because of the nature of government secrets he revealed.

“We have to give some latitude for law enforcement to prevent some of these attacks,” he said.

DeMaio came across as slightly more eager to denounce government surveillance. When asked about mass surveillance DeMaio quickly jumped in, “[I'm] opposed to it. You have a constitutional right to due process.”

He stated the government should be required to obtain a search warrant before looking at someone’s emails.

Closed door deals have a long history in United States’ politics and are usually referenced to disparage policy outcomes. When asked if some level of secrecy in politics is required to produce substantive results, both Peters and DeMaio agreed when it comes to matters of government –the process should ultimately be transparent to the public.

Peters responded:

“Secrecy should be rare…we shouldn’t be fearful of people developing personal relationships and trust…but in terms of doing the business of the government, that should be public.”

Peters stressed the importance of getting to know fellow members of Congress, and of getting to know where they come from.

The next night, DeMaio agreed with Peters and said the real issue to moving forward with legislative action are the current rules in Congress. He would lower the threshold to floor consideration.

Traditionally, Republican speakers have followed the Hastert Rule, which requires a majority of the majority party to support a bill in order for it to receive a floor vote — even if the majority of Congress would pass it. DeMaio would lower the threshold for floor consideration to 25 percent support with 15 minutes of time on the floor before a vote. He claimed that the House would pass more bills if they were allowed to vote on them.

In Peters’ interview, he also expressed dissatisfaction with the proceedings of the House.

“One criticism I have of the speaker is he doesn’t work us very hard,” he remarked.

In a typical month Peters spends 3 weeks in D.C. and 1 week in San Diego, but comes home almost every weekend, he explained, because Congress gets lots of three and four-day weekends.

It became obvious through talking with both Peters and DeMaio that each agree the government needs to do much better with effectively utilizing technology. Peters postured the lack of a sharing mentality in Washington handicaps the government from embracing technological advances — “it won’t come naturally to bureaucracy.”

DeMaio added to this sentiment by saying, “Because we don’t have Darwin helping us out in government, constantly pushing us to compete and be more efficient, good management is hard in government.”

Only briefly did both candidates acknowledge the hotly contested race for Congress.

Photo Credit: Open San Diego

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UC-San Diego’s ETC Conference Focuses on Youth Engagement in Politics http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/uc-san-diegos-etc-conference-focuses-youth-engagement-politics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uc-san-diegos-etc-conference-focuses-youth-engagement-politics http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/uc-san-diegos-etc-conference-focuses-youth-engagement-politics/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:33:38 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652413 UC-San Diego’s ETC Conference Focuses on Youth Engagement in Politics

With just 25 percent of college students paying “very” or “fairly close” attention to news about the 2014 elections, UC-San Diego's ETC Conference aims to examine why in a series of three panel discussion on Ethics, Transparency, and Civility.

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UC-San Diego’s ETC Conference Focuses on Youth Engagement in Politics

Leaders from the public, private, nonprofit, and university sectors gathered at the Great Hall at UC-San Diego on Thursday, October 16, for a conference on the state of politics in America today. The ETC Conference – Ethics, Transparency, and Civility Conference – focused on ways to increase youth engagement in political discourse.

“UC-San Diego is gathering together extraordinary minds—including community leaders, elected officials, faculty and students—to spark an important dialogue about engaging our society members, especially students, in political discourse and decisions,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

ETC Conference

Photo: Avril Prakesh (left), Congresswoman Susan Davis, Dan Howle, Professor Steve Erie (right) / IVN

The ETC Conference began with a panel discussion about the state of ethics in American politics, with panelists providing historical context, exploring ethical dilemnas they have faced in office, and exploring the impacts and costs of unethical behavior on today’s youth.

Panelists included U.S. Representative Susan Davis (D-Calif), Assemblymember and Republican Minority Leader Kristen Olson, dean and professor of law Stephen C. Ferruolo, Independent Voter Project Co-Chair Dan Howle, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, executive director of UCSD’s Student Organized Voter Access Committee (SOVAC), Avril Prakesh, and business leader Robert Price.

 

Click Here for More on the Ethics Panel

UC San Diego's ETC Conference

Image: Assemblymember Brian Jones (left), Sam Schuchat (middle), Don Wilcox (right) / IVN

The second panel of the ETC Conference was on the issue of transparency – an issue that has risen in popularity since the revelations of the NSA surveillance programs and scandals within the California capitol.

To shape the discussion, Professor Forman presented the panel with three aspects of transparency: accountability, or otherwise holding those who shape the political dialogue responsible for their actions, accessibility, meaning how voters engage with the government and their elected official, and agency, the process whereby information translates into action.

Panelists included Don Wilcox – former legislative chief-of-staff, Sam Schuchat – executive officer for the California Coastal Conservancy, Assemblymember Brian Jones – District 71, Darrel Steinberg – former president pro tem of the California State Senate, representing Senate District 6, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein – District 77, and Kyle Heiskala — UCSD student and former executive director for SOVAC.

 

Click Here for More on the Transparency Panel

Civility Panel, Moderated by Professor Thad Kousser / IVN

Civility Panel, Moderated by Professor Thad Kousser / IVN

The last panel focused on themes of integrity and responsibility, calling on panelists to address the state of civility on our nation’s civic affairs today and the costs incivility has on society.

Panelists included Robby Boparai, UCSD Associated Student President, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, Chad Peace, legal counsel for the Independent Voter Project, National Conflict Resolution Center Director Steven Dinkin, Senator State Marty Block, Assemblymember Marie Waldron, and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

Panelists sparred on some issues discussed, but agreed that media sensationalism is partially to blame for the perception of incivility in politics.

Click Here for More on the Civility Panel

The program closed with a reception hosted on the Asante Patio, inviting students to engage with panelists over food and refreshments.

Featured Image: Alan Cordova, Flickr

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‘Fixed Political Convictions’ are Hurting Kansas Schools http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/fixed-political-convictions-hurting-kansas-schools/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fixed-political-convictions-hurting-kansas-schools http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/fixed-political-convictions-hurting-kansas-schools/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:30:49 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652359 ‘Fixed Political Convictions’ are Hurting Kansas Schools

[A]long with less spending for K-12 education, Kansas is now looking at a $300 million revenue shortfall, an increased poverty rate, more applicants being denied for welfare assistance, an economic expansion of 2.3 percent (adjusted for inflation) over two years — “half the rate of its four neighbors” -- and a credit downgrade.

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‘Fixed Political Convictions’ are Hurting Kansas Schools

According to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a think tank based in Washington, D.C., Kansas had the fourth biggest drop in per-student funding (total dollar amount) for schools in the United States since the beginning of the recession. In terms of overall percentage, Kansas is tied with Wisconsin for fifth largest decrease at 14.6 percent.

The three states with larger spending cuts to K-12 education were Alabama, Wisconsin, and Idaho.

While state lawmakers and Governor Sam Brownback point to figures that say they have increased the total dollar amount being allocated to education, the claim does not account for inflation and includes spending on teacher pensions. It also doesn’t account for whatever growth there was in the K-12 student body.

The CBPP report adjusts the figures for inflation and does not include spending on teacher pensions.

The CBPP identified 4 main consequences from spending cuts to K-12 education:

  • Cuts in K-12 education at the state level “mean that local school districts have to scale back educational services they provide, raise more local tax revenue to cover the gap, or both.”
  • While more local tax revenue is an option, property values plummeted during the recession. This made it difficult for local school districts to raise additional revenue to cover the gap left by state spending reductions.
  • Many school districts have not been able to return to the employment levels they had before the recession, which can have a serious negative impact on the economy, especially in a state like Kansas where smaller, rural communities rely on the local school district to provide jobs.
  • Although many states and school districts have implemented reform measures to improve the quality of education they can provide to children and better prepare students for the future, implementation of these reforms has been hindered by deep spending cuts.

The spending cuts in Kansas are part of a larger effort by Governor Brownback to push a purely conservative agenda — one that staunchly adheres to the principles of a single political ideology.

According to The Washington Post, Brownback quickly and successfully consolidated conservative power after he was elected in 2010 by challenging moderate Republicans. He promised a legislative agenda that would boost economic growth, spur job creation, and stabilize the economy.

However, along with less spending for K-12 education, Kansas is now looking at a $300 million revenue shortfall, an increased poverty rate, more applicants being denied for welfare assistance, an economic expansion of 2.3 percent (adjusted for inflation) over two years — “half the rate of its four neighbors” — and a credit downgrade.

“To listen to school officials, teachers, parents and social service agencies talk about the cuts is to hear growing alarm about whether Kansas will be able to educate its children and help the poor as in the past,” the Post article reads.

The policies adopted in Kansas are a result of what Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus calls “fixed political convictions.” In an article published on Friday, Marcus criticized independent candidates Greg Orman, running for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, and Larry Pressler, running for the Senate in South Dakota, for not publicly committing to vote with Republicans or Democrats if elected to the Senate.

“I’m fine with running for office as an independent — there’s enough orthodoxy in both parties to make your head explode — but that’s different than running as a cipher,” she writes. “The ideological chasm between the two parties has grown so large that someone with fixed political convictions — other than that he should wield maximum influence — can’t plausibly waver between the two.”

In her article, Marcus fixed an Orman response to reporters after a debate on Wednesday so she could say he gave a non-answer to the question of whether or not he believed he owed Kansas an answer about what party he would support if elected.

While Marcus acknowledges that Orman says he would caucus with the majority party, a smart move for lawmakers not associated with either major party as it can help them obtain influential committee positions, she fails to mention that Orman also addressed the question of what side he would choose if neither party has a clear advantage after Election Day:

“If I get elected and neither party is in the majority, then what I’m going to do is I’m going sit down with both sides, propose a pro-problem solving agenda, and ask both sides whether or not they’re willing to support that agenda. And we’re going to be likely to support the agenda and the party that’s most likely to embrace a pro-problem solving agenda.” – Greg Orman

For people who use a traditional partisan paradigm to look at the political and electoral landscape in the United States, this is a non-answer because it doesn’t fall into the “red-versus-blue” model they think politics should be.

Independent voters and candidates confuse political commentators, analysts, and consultants. Independents scare them, because partisans can’t see beyond what is “red” and what is “blue.” To them, independents couldn’t possibly have political convictions because they refuse to pick between two sides.

"The prospect that neither party could have clear control over the Senate scares partisan-minded commentators and analysts. "Shawn M. Griffiths, IVN Editor-in-Chief
Marcus says it is now impossible to waiver between the two parties, but being independent-minded is not about wavering between the Republican and Democratic parties; it is about thinking outside the parties altogether. People who cannot see beyond “red-versus-blue” politics can’t understand this.

To the partisan-focused, the answer to any problem must lie with one of the two major parties and voters or candidates who think otherwise must be confused, uninformed, or secretly partisan and just want to say they are independent or deceive voters with the “I” next to their name.

In the 2014 midterm elections, as Republicans and Democrats fight to gain control over the U.S. Senate, the prospect that neither party could have clear control over the Senate scares partisan-minded commentators and analysts even more. Independents, though small in number, may be able to control the dialogue in the upper chamber and so people want to be able to fit them in a red or blue box, and if they can’t do that then the problem must not be with them — it must be with the candidate or the independent-minded voter who supports them.

Someone who has “fixed political convictions” can easily be labeled — they can easily fit inside a red or blue box.

However, maybe, just maybe, these politicians are the problem as we have seen in states like Kansas. “Fixed political convictions” have exacerbated the hyper-partisan environment in Washington, which has prevented anything from getting done at all. “Fixed political convictions” prevent real, pragmatic solutions from being discussed.

Voters are tired of politics as usual. A majority of voters now say neither major party represents America or its interests, and a growing number of Americans are simply choosing not to affiliate with either major party, and those who look at American politics as only a contest of “red versus blue” do not know how to respond to this. Because of their fixed perception of how things should be, they fail to see how things really are.

Check Out This Related Story

Mounting Evidence Suggests Kansas May Not Be The Same ‘Red’ State It Once Was

Learn More

Image: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback / Source: AP

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Mass. Independent Candidate Chris Stockwell Lays Out Full Platform in New E-Book http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/mass-independent-candidate-chris-stockwell-lays-full-platform-new-e-book/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mass-independent-candidate-chris-stockwell-lays-full-platform-new-e-book http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/mass-independent-candidate-chris-stockwell-lays-full-platform-new-e-book/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:00:23 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652271 Mass. Independent Candidate Chris Stockwell Lays Out Full Platform in New E-Book

Stockwell just authored the e-book, Forward Together: Moving Beyond Polarization and Gridlock in Washington, DC. The introduction by journalist and author Linda Killian describes Stockwell’s candidacy as “an effort that is worthy to be remembered.”

Glenn DavisIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Mass. Independent Candidate Chris Stockwell Lays Out Full Platform in New E-Book

Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District comprises a wide swath of the North Shore of Boston, an eclectic mix of wealthy, exclusive towns, working class areas, and fishing villages. Rich in history, it includes the home of the infamous Salem witch trials, centers for the shoe and leather industries, shipbuilding, and whaling, as well as claims that the area was the birthplace of both the United States Navy and Coast Guard.

Traditionally a Democratic stronghold, the 2014 race includes Democrat Seth Moulton, who upset incumbent John Tierney in the September primary, Republican challenger Richard Tisei, who lost a close contest in 2012 to Tierney, and independent candidate Chris Stockwell, who has gained ground to make the race even more interesting to watch.

Over half (55%) of the district’s voters are registered as unenrolled in a political party. Stockwell, a newcomer to the political scene, is counting on their support in the rapidly approaching election.

Stockwell just authored the e-bookForward Together: Moving Beyond Polarization and Gridlock in Washington, DC. The introduction by journalist and author Linda Killian describes Stockwell’s candidacy as “an effort that is worthy to be remembered.”

A key ingredient in Stockwell’s platform, as laid out in his book, is economic recovery. He says growth has been stymied by polarization and gridlock due to divisiveness between the two parties.

“The failure of our politicians in Washington to lead has hurt so many Americans in so many ways,” he states. He claims that electing independents is crucial to reinvigorating democracy in America.

“Washington is the problem. Change must start from the outside,” he adds.

Stockwell offers voters his own unique talents. As an experienced business leader, he plans to create the Sixth District Economic Transformation Council, what he calls the 6D-ETC.

“We’ll help local businesses launch and expand, and recruit overseas businesses to locate here in Northeastern Massachusetts. We’ll develop and carry out this plan, and I will be its leading proponent,” he asserts.

Stockwell understands the growing impact of the millennial generation and how Congress has failed to provide job opportunities for the young, or to assure them of economic security for their future and the future of the planet.

Millennials, Stockwell says, “feel disenfranchised, powerless, and don’t see why they should vote because nothing ever changes.” But he adds that the world is ever-changing.

“New generations replace old. We seek to create a better tomorrow, without fear of what tomorrow will bring.” – Chris Stockwell

Climate change is a critical issue for the coastal communities of the 6th District. Stockwell supports action to find solutions to the short-term and long-term challenges of extreme weather and rising sea levels (SLR), “particularly in the waters off New England and the Northeast, where SLR occurs three times faster than any other region on earth.“

Stockwell seeks an energy policy which includes a broad mix of clean and renewable energy sources, favoring gradual movement away from fossil fuels over the next two decades. He also pledges to advocate for dramatic increases in federal funding of fisheries and to work to find common ground between environmentalists and fisherman in regulatory issues.

On health care reform, Stockwell says that the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) “is a flawed program that experienced a highly flawed introduction and needs to be overhauled in key areas, including cheaper plan levels and alternative coverages for small businesses.”

He advocates continuation of the ACA through 2018 while Congress works to improve it through an independent and nonpartisan review.

Stockwell believes in a path to citizenship for law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, yet he also favors policies to secure the border and address the issue from the source. Partnerships with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Stockwell says, can be formed to improve infrastructure, public safety, and economic opportunity for their citizens. Such policies will result in “a more peaceful hemisphere, grow stronger trading partners, and reduce illegal immigration from Central America.”

"It is insanity to keep sending Democrats and Republicans to Congress, expecting a different result."Chris Stockwell
On social issues, Stockwell favors a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality for gay couples, quality public education and federal college debt funding. If all of this sounds like a typical progressive liberal agenda, read on.

Stockwell’s plans also include specific routes to reducing harmful government regulations on businesses, comprehensive tax reform, and balancing the federal budget though sacrifice and compromise. In Forward Together, Stockwell covers these and his other platform positions in great detail, and explains why he is the right choice at this time.

He proclaims that, like Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, “it is insanity to keep sending Democrats and Republicans to Congress, expecting a different result.”

Some would contend that a vote for an Independent is a wasted one. Stockwell responds that if change is desired, the only wasted opportunity is a vote for a party candidate. He believes that only a rise in independents in Congress can bring about progress on the myriad of issues the nation is facing.

“We do not wish for things to remain as they are or move backwards,” Stockwell asserts. The desire for progress, he adds, is the singular issue that brings people together, and the answer is to elect gifted leaders who will solve problems, not strive for their own personal ambition.

Stockwell identifies with the majority of Massachusetts voters who are not affiliated with either party. He appeals for support of other moderate, centrist-minded voters, who he describes as people who “do not agree on everything, but are able listen, understand, seek common ground, and gain compromise to create progress on many fronts.”

“Elect the Independent,” pleads Stockwell, and return the seat from the control of the parties back to the people where it belongs. Once again, history can be made in Massachusetts by leading the rise of Independents across the nation. On November 4, voters of the 6th District will decide whether to be part of that movement.

Glenn DavisIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Q&A With Calif. Controller Candidate Ashley Swearengin http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/qa-calif-controller-candidate-ashley-swearengin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-calif-controller-candidate-ashley-swearengin http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/qa-calif-controller-candidate-ashley-swearengin/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:30:44 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652367 Q&A With Calif. Controller Candidate Ashley Swearengin

If elected as California's next controller, Ashley Swearengin would be one of only a handful of Republicans elected to a statewide office in recent memory. She is trying to change the face of a shrinking California Republican Party.

Cadee Condit GrayIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Q&A With Calif. Controller Candidate Ashley Swearengin

If elected as California’s next controller, Ashley Swearengin would be one of only a handful of Republicans elected to a statewide office in recent memory. She is trying to change the face of a shrinking California Republican Party.

Mayor Swearengin is campaigning as an independent, nonpartisan problem solver. Swearengin serves as the Mayor of Fresno, the fifth largest city in California. She fought hard to keep Fresno out of bankruptcy during the recession.

As mayor, Swearengin has focused on public safety, homelessness, and the unemployment rates in Fresno. She has never held a partisan office. Her refusal to endorse the Republican nominee for governor has ruffled the feathers of partisan Republicans.

IVN submitted the following question to the Swearengin campaign.

 

IVN: What is your strategy on connecting with Decline-to-State Voters?

Swearengin: “We’re working to connect with all voters, regardless of partisanship. Our message is consistent across the board:  California needs sound finances and a strong focus on economic development. As controller, I’ll audit state government to eliminate waste and inefficiency. The controller is meant to be the “independent” watchdog of the treasury. That means the controller shouldn’t be a longtime government insider like my opponent, who has spent her entire career in state government. Rather, the controller should be an independent set of eyes looking over state government and identifying where we can be more efficient and more effective with our tax dollars.”

 

IVN: How do you plan on winning in a blue state?

Swearengin: “As a mayor, I serve in a nonpartisan office, and that’s all I know in public service. Our campaign is not about partisanship, but rather about reforming how the state does business, eliminating waste and inefficiency, and focusing on economic development. That’s a message that spans across all partisan lines.”

 

IVN: Are you in favor of California’s top-two primary?

Swearengin: “I believe the “top two” primary system was a positive change for California and, while it will take another election cycle or two to truly evaluate whether it has the intended effect on our political system, I think the voters made the right decision to implement this reform.”

 

IVN: How do we make it less expensive for candidates to run for statewide office?

Swearengin: “I’m not entirely sure, because California is such a large state. However, I believe we have to do a better job putting forth candidates who talk about solutions that matter to people’s situations. One of the reasons why campaigning is so costly is because so many voters are disinterested. If we restore that interest by talking about things that really matter, then we can engage in a discussion of ideas without having to spend so much just to get people’s attention.”

 

IVN: What are your thoughts on why the Republican Party’s registration has been on the decline? Do you have a strategy to reverse that trend? 

Swearengin: “Well, We as Republicans need to do a better job presenting our solutions to the voters, showing them why our ideas work. For example, our ideas for economic development and job creation are exactly what California needs, not only to provide more opportunities for families, but also to provide more revenues to the state so we can cover our obligations.”

 

IVN: What are the key differences between you and your opponent? 

"I’m a mayor and someone who will bring a fresh, independent perspective to government."Ashley Swearengin
Swearengin: “There are many, but probably the biggest is how we approach the job. My opponent is a life-long government employee and ‘insider.’ She doesn’t believe anything is wrong with the system.

By contrast, I’m a mayor and someone who will bring a fresh, independent perspective to government, looking for solutions to the problems that have plagued our system. By definition, the controller is the watchdog of the treasury and should be that set of independent eyes looking over state government.

The other major difference is our track record. As mayor, I inherited a city close to bankruptcy. We cut spending, reformed the budget process, and now have a balanced budget and healthy economic outlook.

My opponent was Governor Gray Davis’ deputy of finance, where she worked on budget issues. She inherited a state budget that was balanced and had long-term stability. Four years later, when she left, the state was $35 billion in debt, and had huge, structural budget imbalances.”

 

IVN: How has serving as the Mayor of Fresno prepared you to serve as California’s next controller? 

Swearengin: “Being mayor of a 3,200-person agency and overseeing a $1 billion budget teaches you a lot about being a good executive. The state controller is an executive position. My opponent has no executive experience. We can’t have on-the-job training at the state level.”

 

IVN: What has been your biggest accomplishment as mayor of Fresno?

Swearengin: “When I was first elected, Fresno was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. We cut spending – deeply – and reformed the budget and planning process. Now, the city has a balanced budget and is building a reserve. At the same time, we also reformed how the city approaches economic development. That includes rewriting the 65-year-old development code and creating infrastructure plans that support private sector growth. This year, several reports have come out showing Fresno to be a leader, both state and nationally, in job creation. It’s all working together, and our city is definitely on the rise.”

Cadee Condit GrayIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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ETC Conference: Media Has Tainted Political Civility in the U.S. http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/etc-conference-media-tainted-political-civility-u-s/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=etc-conference-media-tainted-political-civility-u-s http://ivn.us/2014/10/21/etc-conference-media-tainted-political-civility-u-s/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652372 ETC Conference: Media Has Tainted Political Civility in the U.S.

With less than a month until the general elections, community and political leaders came together to discuss the environment of political discourse at the University of California-San Diego’s Ethics, Transparency and Civility Conference. Shorten to E-T-C, these three pillars found in politics, business, as well as education, left the audience and participants thinking about integrity, responsibility, and commonalities in everyday life.

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ETC Conference: Media Has Tainted Political Civility in the U.S.

With less than a month until the general elections, community and political leaders came together to discuss the environment of political discourse at the University of California-San Diego’s Ethics, Transparency and Civility Conference. Shortened to E-T-C, these three pillars found in politics, business, as well as education, left the audience and participants thinking about integrity, responsibility, and commonalities in everyday life.

The civility panel moderator, Thad Kousser, a UCSD professor of Political Science, explained that “this conference will advance the dialogue about key issues in the health of our democracy.” In assessing the health and context of civility, the panelists found a common theme: the impact of the media and how it affects participation.

Panelists included Robby Boparai, UCSD Associated Student President, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, Chad Peace, legal counsel for the Independent Voter Project, National Conflict Resolution Center Director Steven Dinkin, Senator State Marty Block, Assemblymember Marie Waldron, and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

“The lack of civility is exaggerated. Media portrays individuals in government as constantly disagreeing and turns off voters,” Boparai said, kicking off the panel.

He explained that the media’s exaggeration of conflict creates a disparity for young voters, saying,

“I speak to a lot of young people, and it is very interesting to me that by in large they don’t have a great deal of respect or interest in politics because they think it is a dirty business. They see this conflict that is portrayed to them and they don’t want to be involved in it. And yet, they are deeply involved in their communities in community service and engagement.” – Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council President

In a 2014 survey of American college students, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy concluded “that only 25 percent of college students say they are paying ‘very’ or ‘fairly close’ attention to news about the 2014 elections.” The Institute also found that “gridlock between the political parties” concerns over 50 percent of students at U.S. colleges and universities.

Mr. Peace touched on the relationship between politicians and political consultants and how that has had the worst impact on civility in politics.

“Most people in office really are civic people. So why do we have incivility? Political consultants,” he said.

“There is an advantage to incivility when you made a process about a competition between left and right. We have artificially created a discussion where there is one answer on the right and one answer on the left. An election shouldn’t be able wining a particular argument, it should be who can discuss that argument the best and who can listen the best.”

Senator Block added that campaigns are set up to be uncivil, even same-party races are hostile. Assemblymember Walden agreed.

“There is a failure to listen,” she explained. “So many people want to speak and worry what they are going to say next, and they are not listening to what the other person is saying.”

In conclusion, whether or not civility has been tainted by passive aggressiveness and campaign attack ads, or misunderstood due to cultural and personal differences, the panel found a common thread in the current state of civility — media. Because so much time is spent focusing on close votes, partisan leads, and campaign mudslinging to reach Americans as consumers and not as voters, a majority of Americans are disenchanted by the political process.

Boparai closed out the panel saying, “What sells papers is not what gets people out to vote.”

Nancy PhungIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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New Poll Suggests Independent Voters Will Decide Ill. Governor’s Race http://ivn.us/2014/10/20/new-poll-suggests-independent-voters-will-decide-ill-governors-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-poll-suggests-independent-voters-will-decide-ill-governors-race http://ivn.us/2014/10/20/new-poll-suggests-independent-voters-will-decide-ill-governors-race/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:34:15 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652309 New Poll Suggests Independent Voters Will Decide Ill. Governor’s Race

Commissioned by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, incumbent Governor Pat Quinn holds a slim lead over Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, 41 percent to 39 percent among registered voters. However, likely voters favor Rauner 42.4 percent to 40.7 percent.

Carl WicklanderIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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New Poll Suggests Independent Voters Will Decide Ill. Governor’s Race

A new poll in the Illinois gubernatorial race has some good news for both major party candidates, but shows the race is in flux and is likely to be decided by independents.

Commissioned by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, incumbent Governor Pat Quinn holds a slim lead over Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, 41 percent to 39 percent among registered voters. However, likely voters favor Rauner 42.4 percent to 40.7 percent.

Both results are within the poll’s margin or error. The poll also shows Libertarian Chad Grimm receiving at least three percent in each scenario.

Grimm may end up playing a visible role in the race as a candidate who has the ability to receive votes that might otherwise go to one of the major candidates. GOP supporters have sensed this and begun spreading a message, partly aimed at Republican and Republican-leaning independents, that a vote for Grimm is really a vote for Quinn.

Adding to this consternation was the revelation that Grimm received a donation of $30,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers. As the only other option on the ballot, Republicans have seen this as the propping up of a candidate who could attract votes from Rauner.

"The Illinois gubernatorial race has provided an opening for outsider candidates and independent voters to make the difference."Carl Wicklander, IVN contributor
According to the poll, Republicans have higher voter enthusiasm than Democrats, with 50 percent saying they are more enthusiastic than usual compared to the Democrats’ 31 percent. However, voter enthusiasm is difficult to measure or determine if it will actually benefit Rauner.

Nearly all early polls showed Rauner with modest, but steady leads over Quinn, but his leads have all disappeared. One poll showed Rauner with a high of 51% in August and the 42% he received in the Simon Center poll is the same as the Real Clear Politics average of all polls, casting questions on the levels of GOP enthusiasm.

Rauner has attempted to differentiate himself from Quinn in an attempt to gain crossover voters and independents. He has done this largely by saying he will roll back the state’s temporary income tax increase, which Quinn is seeking to extend.

However, Rauner has announced plans to increase state revenue through increasing the state sales tax and adding fees to certain services. He has also offered qualified support for a statewide $10-per-hour minimum wage. In contrast, in a survey for the Campaign for Liberty, Grimm took a stance against all tax and fee increases.

But polls in past years have shown Illinois politics can be highly fluid and unpredictable.

In 2010, nearly all polls showed Quinn losing by an average of five points, but he narrowly prevailed by about half a percentage point. A constant concern among Democrats in this year’s election has been whether the unpopular Quinn might be a drag on other candidates.

Races are closely contested in the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 17th congressional districts, where Democrats won in 2012, but the GOP might claim this year. Yet, Democrats lead in the generic ballot.

With Illinois roughly split between the Republican south and Democratic north, the gubernatorial race is closely divided along those lines. With neither major-party candidate truly capturing enthusiasm, the Illinois gubernatorial race has provided an opening for outsider candidates and independent voters to make the difference.

Image: Republican Bruce Rauner (left) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (right)

Carl WicklanderIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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