The Illinois 8th congressional district, covering the western portions of Chicago, may become one of the more unique races in 2016.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, leaving the 8th district seat open. The district has been represented by two Republicans and two Democrats over the last dozen years. Voters went with Obama in the last two presidential elections, but with no candidate benefiting from incumbency, there could be a surprise winner.
One potential surprise comes from independent Bill Fraser. A high school teacher in Schaumburg, Fraser is running on a uniquely succinct platform. Promising to serve only a single term in the U.S. House, Fraser will not reveal his own political positions because, as far as his service as a congressman is concerned, they are irrelevant. Fraser pledges to hold referenda in the district on major legislation and cast his congressional ballot according to the results.
In an exclusive interview for IVN, Fraser explains that the point of his campaign is to return politics to the people.
"I want to base my operations in the 8th district and fly to Washington to vote the way the majority of my constituents vote regardless of the outcome," he explained.
Although Fraser does not plan to hold his referendum and fly back to Illinois for every single resolution that appears in the House, he asserts he will only vote for major items.
"The Patriot Act and health care type stuff will all be decided by the district," he said.
Fraser's platform is a novel approach that aims to eliminate the influence of lobbyists and big party bosses. In a campaign website that is correspondingly concise, Fraser appears in short YouTube videos humorously skewering Republicans and Democrats as literal clowns.
While the videos are not professionally produced and perhaps a little low-brow, they are intended to speak to voters who are rankled by the current state of politics.
Although the 8th district voted twice for Obama and is currently represented by the outgoing Democrat Duckworth, Fraser believes this is the optimal place for his type of campaign.
"The district goes back and forth on its ideology," Fraser explains, noting that prior to Duckworth, the district was represented by Republicans Joe Walsh and Phil Crane and Democrat Melissa Bean since 2004. "Most people in the district are probably more independent" than partisan, Fraser argues, "they're more down the middle."
As with most outside-the-paradigm campaigns, Fraser is likely to face impediments to getting on the November ballot."The only obstacle in a congressional race is signatures," he remarked.
Fraser will need to collect at least 7,705 signatures compared to the few hundred needed for the major parties. When his campaign can begin collecting signatures in March, he is confident he can reach the mark.
"We should be able to get 20,000 signatures," he said.
Though the seat is open, there are no declared big name candidates except for a state senator, Martin Noland, on the Democratic side. So, there could be an opening for independent Bill Fraser to leave his mark on the race.
"People are fed up," he says. "This is their time to stand up and make a change."