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Getting Out The Vote, the Chicago Way


On Monday night, my opponent Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) delivered this speech to Democrats at a restaurant in Chicago–with U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Governor Pat Quinn in attendance:

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All around the country, people are trying to replicate what we do in Chicago. They–we have a tradition of knockin’ on doors, of pulling people out–you know, people, they talk about “message” and “persuasion.” Here’s our message: “I don’t get off your doorstep until you get out to the polls and vote.” That’s our message! That’s our message!

There’s nothing wrong with going door-to-door and urging people to vote. There is something wrong–and illegal–with “pulling” people out of their homes, or threatening that you won’t leave until they do what you tell them.

It’s called intimidation, and it is a felony under Illinois law–even if it is, in Jan Schakowsky’s experience, a “tradition” in Chicago politics.

There are two reasons to be concerned about Schakowsky’s exhortation. One is that it may be part of a national strategy for desperate Democrats in this election cycle. Indeed, her husband, Washington insider and convicted felon Robert Creamer, gave the same advice (almost word-for-word) in a recent Huffington Post column. (And repeated it. And repeated it again. And again.)

The other reason is that Schakowsky and Creamer are ardent supporters of Card Check (euphemistically called the “Employee Free Choice Act”), which will take the secret ballot away from workers in elections to form unions. Schakowsky’s method of campaigning will be exactly the sort of pressure that workers will suffer if Card Check ever passes: “I won’t get off your porch until you sign up.”

Our campaign intends to press charges against anyone who tries to intimidate voters. Others across the country should be aware of what some Democrats may be up to. And voters should think about whether they really want to re-elect people who are prepared to use thuggery to hold onto power.

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