Nov. 02, 2010
Text and photos by Ted Regencia
EVANSTON, Ill — After a long and heated campaign season that saw candidates trade barbs on issues from abortion to taxes to support for Israel, the 2010 Election Day comes early in the 9th District as polls open at 6 a.m.
In Evanston, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is facing a strong challenge from Harvard-educated Skokie resident Joel Pollak, cast her vote at 6:25 a.m. at the Nichols Middle School.
“I feel pretty confident that I will win,” Schakowsky said. “The question is the margin.”
The six-term Democratic congresswoman said it is her “routine” to vote early and spend the rest of the day going around to other precincts.
Nichols Middle School election judge Robert Wilson said there was a “rush in the beginning” of the voting. He expected it to “slack off” after a couple of hours and pick up again in the evening.
Like all the others statewide, the polling station is open until 7 p.m.
Schakowsky said she is hoping voters will remember her “service to the community” when they step before the voting booth.
“I want to make it very clear that the 9th District is not a place where Tea Party-endorsed candidates are gonna get a foothold,” added Schakowsky, who is a senior member of the liberal-leaning Progressive Caucus in Congress.
Republican Pollak is considered Schakowsky’s strongest challenger in many years. Green Party candidate Simon Ribeiro is also vying for the seat.
Schakowsky has represented the district since 1999. It covers Skokie, Evanston, Niles, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Norridge, and parts of Wilmette, Northfield, Glenview, Golf, Rosemont, Des Plaines as well as the North Side of Chicago.
While her seat is considered by experts as “safe,” polls suggest Democrats will lose their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Schakowsky acknowledged being “concerned” about other Democratic candidates on ballots in Illinois and elsewhere.
“I fear that in the House [that] we will be in a holding pattern if the Republicans take over the House,” she said. “I am hoping that we can still pull it out today.”
Schakowsky said the outcome of the midterm elections will depend on voter turnout.
For her district, Schakowsky said “hundreds of people” are being dispatched to encourage people to vote. As of last weekend, campaign volunteers have knocked on 50,000 doors, she added.
Meanwhile, Schakowsky said she is still hoping to push for Democratic-backed legislation on taxes and appropriations, during the lame-duck session of Congress following the elections.
“There’s a lot of things that I’d like to see get done, including repealing of [the military’s policy of] Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and immigration reform,” she said. “But we’ll see what will be decided with what happens today.”