Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=228901
Story Retrieval Date: 12/24/2014 8:16:01 PM CST
Hardiman-Donald Campaign/Rauner-Sanguinetti Campaign
In a world of partisan politics, Evelyn Sanguinetti and Brunell Donald couldn’t seem more different by appearances.
Sanguinetti sits on the Wheaton City Council and is running for lieutenant governor with millionaire businessman Bruce Rauner. She’s a Latina and a staunch Republican who believes in small government.
Donald, a Democrat, is a criminal defense attorney who’s partnered with community activist Tio Hardiman, to challenge incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn. An African-American who describes herself as “of the people,” Donald says her priority is serving working-class voters.
They are among six candidates running in the primary for lieutenant governor. The GOP roster includes State Rep. Jil Tracy (running with state Sen. Kirk Dillard), former Long Grove Mayor Maria Rodriguez (running mate to state Sen. Bill Brady), and Attorney Steve Kim (tapped by State Treasurer Dan Rutherford). On Gov. Pat Quinn's ticket, Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools chief, replaced Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who is running for state comptroller.
Despite sitting on opposite ends of the political party spectrum, Sanguinetti and Donald actually have a lot in common. Both attorneys by trade, they are active in public service, wives, and mothers to three children.
They also take pride in being political “outsiders” in an election that hinges on their ability to sell reform to a state in desperate need of economic revitalization.
Meet two of the five candidates running for lieutenant governor in 2014. They tell their stories and why this election should be more important than ever to Illinoisans.
Meet the GOP Favorite
Evelyn Sanguinetti’s Republican values were forged by fire.
“My mom came from Fidel Castro's Cuba,” Sanguinetti says. “I've always been a Republican because it allows me personal freedom. My family has known what it is to be on the other side where no freedom has been allowed.”
Sanguinetti’s father emigrated from Ecuador; so growing up she saw her parents work long hours in search of the American dream. She also saw her fair share of food stamps and free lunch cards—two things of which she’s not ashamed.
When it comes to running Illinois though, she says it’s not enough to offer up social safety nets to families in need.
“We also need more in the way of sound jobs and opportunities, in the way of a fine education, so that people like me could get out of the safety net and become all that we could be,” the 43-year-old Sanguinetti says.
Now an attorney, adjunct professor of law, Wheaton councilwoman, and lieutenant governor hopeful, Sanguinetti says her accomplishments are the result of hard work: “It's the true story of the American story.”
Her running mate, Bruce Rauner, another self-proclaimed American success story, is both a venture capitalist and target for critics who say he’s using his personal wealth to buy the election.
“The attack that's been most unfair is an attempt to differentiate between the classes,” Sanguinetti says, “trying to make it seem like there’s some sort of class warfare, when nothing could be farther from the truth.”
Despite a recent endorsement by the Chicago Tribune, the ticket is facing increasing heat as a challenger Kirk Dillard tries to emerge from his second-place position. The latest round of political attack ads against Rauner were so relentless that a recent Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed his unfavorable rating doubling from 10 to 21 percent.
“Bruce is all about bringing jobs to the state of Illinois, restoring our financial posture, and school reform,” Sanguinetti says. “If we're being attacked it’s because our message has been the true message of reform.”
Meet the Democratic Challenger
Reform is also something Chicago attorney Brunell Donald says she knows all about.
She became a ward of the state as a child after she saw her mother stabbed to death 31 times. Two foster placements and a group home later, she still managed to graduate from Aurora West High School, and eventually enrolled in Northern Illinois University.
“The state took care of me and I want to give back to the state,” Donald says.
Donald, 38, says seeing the inner workings of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services, or DCFS, helped her understand broken governmental systems—the inspiration for her work today.
“We know first hand what people are going through,” she says, referring to her running mate Tio Hardiman. “You’re meeting so many people who are choosing between food and gas, and not many people running for office understand that.”
Donald says if elected, she would prioritize an overhaul of DCFS, creating jobs for youth and the “poor” working-class and rebuilding the southern part of Illinois, which she says looks like a “war-zone.”
This leads Donald to have choice words for politicians of all backgrounds who she says “sellout.” Her Twitter account is rife with criticisms of Gov. Pat Quinn and her frequent challenges to a debate have gone unanswered thus far.
Until January, Gov. Quinn’s campaign attempted to remove Donald and Hardiman from the Democratic ballot, accusing Donald of listing incorrect voter registration information on her candidate petition. Attacks on Hardiman’s character have also cast a cloud over the campaign after charges of misdemeanor domestic battery against his wife emerged—charges which she later dropped.
“He’s a good person and he’s a man of the people,” Donald says. “If I believed in any way shape or form that he did anything to his spouse, there is no way I would be running with him.”
As the only Democratic ticket challenging Quinn, Hardiman and Donald would be the first African-American male and female gubernatorial ticket in history, according to Donald.
But Donald says the race isn’t about race:
“It’s about class. It’s about the haves and have-nots. We represent the people that have been used to level our state.”
This will be the first statewide election where governor and lieutenant governor candidates will be listed together on a ballot.
The last official day to register to vote was February 18, but a “grace period” has been extended to March 15. Interested residents will be required to register and vote immediately in person at the Board of Elections.
Voting for the general primary begins March 18th.
You can visit http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections to learn more.