State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Republican candidate for governor, speaks in January 2018 at a VFW hall in McHenry County. She has submitted legislation to stop Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial city ID card. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)
Jeanne Ives, the conservative candidate for governor of Illinois, gets to the heart of policies that are cynical, subversive and designed to blur the distinction between the citizen and noncitizen:
Those polices are Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial city ID card that will be issued to citizens and noncitizens alike in his sanctuary city; and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signing of sanctuary state legislation.
“They’re two parts of the same issue,” Ives told me in an interview Wednesday. “They’re both about pandering for votes. Rauner betrayed the Republican base with his sanctuary state signing and the taxpayer-funded abortion bill. And with the city ID, Mayor Emanuel opens the door to vote fraud while pandering for Hispanic votes for his re-election.
“My campaign believes in the rule of law. We believe in following federal immigration law. The others (Rauner and Emanuel) don’t. So these are fundamental incompatible beliefs. And that’s the problem here.”
Republican state Rep. Ives, of Wheaton, has submitted legislation to stop the mayor’s ID program. Democrats in control of the Illinois House dumped it into the black hole of the Rules Committee.
Yet the issue is still alive, because it is fundamental, and it resonates with voters going into the March 20 primary.
Democratic candidates for governor must step carefully. Latino activists favor the mayor’s ID card idea, while many old-line white ethnic neighborhoods are opposed.
Interestingly enough, African-American voters — whom Rahm must reclaim to win re-election in 2019 — are ambivalent at best about the mayor’s ID card proposal, and many are downright hostile, judging from the people I’ve talked to and anger over the topic on WVON-AM, a black talk radio station.
It’s one of those topics, perhaps considered taboo, left largely uncovered by Chicago media. But competition between Latinos — including those who are here illegally — and African-Americans who worry about being pushed to the back of the political and economic line is real.
African-American aldermen who support the mayor tell me they understand the political problems with his CityKey ID. They listen to WVON. They pay attention.
If the animosity among black voters toward the mayoral ID continues, then look for this scenario:
Emanuel’s handpicked city clerk, Anna Valencia, could get a strong challenge from an African-American candidate in 2019, backed by black and white wards on the Northwest and Southwest sides.
“She should just take her Trump rhetoric out of the city,” he said. “It doesn’t reflect our values.”
It doesn’t reflect his values, either, or least, those he expressed for years while working for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Then, Emanuel was all for the rule of immigration law. He implored Clinton to stage immigration raids at businesses to convince Americans he was serious about illegal immigration.
Yet these days, running for re-election, reaching out to Latinos, he’s become Mayor Zorro.
“African-Americans get it, many legal Hispanic immigrants, and non-Hispanics get it, the children of European immigrants get it,” Ives said. “Pandering is what these policies are about.”
Emanuel’s CityKey ID cards will be issued to citizens and noncitizens alike and are expected sometime in spring. They will help allow cardholders to register to vote. Only U.S. citizens are legally allowed to vote. But voters are not required by state law to prove citizenship and simply need two pieces of identification, and to attest they are citizens.
Those ambiguities have spurred this debate.
“The mayor’s CityKey ID plan is about suborning voter fraud,” Ives said. “And City Hall, which has made Chicago a sanctuary city, knows it.”
Supporters of the mayor’s plan scoff at the notion that the card would be used for vote fraud, saying immigrants here illegally don’t want to draw notice.
Critics, however, aren’t so sure. Either way, political control ultimately resides in election law and election bureaucracies.
And when it comes to politics, Illinois isn’t exactly the Garden of Eden.
“There’s no doubt the city ID card will be used for voter registration,” Ives said. “You need two pieces of identification, and one must be a picture ID. … Not all registrars are well-trained, many are political, and they must ask the question, ‘Are you a U.S. citizen?’ If they don’t ask it, trust me they’ll assume they’re a citizen and they’re going to register them to vote.
“The mayor’s policy counts on people who aren’t government employees to follow the correct procedure,” Ives said. “And I have zero confidence they’ll do this correctly.”
In these last two weeks of her campaign against the wealthy, if weakened, Rauner, Ives has had to contend with his ads portraying her as a creature of Democratic boss Mike Madigan.
Rauner’s campaign took her comments at a Tribune Editorial Board debate and twisted them to make it appear as if Ives were defending Boss Madigan.
It’s disingenuous at best, at bottom a lie. Still, it has had an effect.
“Rauner can continue to lie, and he knows he has the money to run his Madigan bogeyman ads against me,” Ives said. “I’m going to address the Republican Party. The Republican base knows what he’s about. He betrayed them. They know it. And without the Republican base, you can’t win a general election.”
There are less than two weeks to go until the March 20 party primaries.
Listen to "The Chicago Way" podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin — at http://wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.
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