With six days remaining in the primary election cycle, it couldn’t be any easier to find analysts deriving meaning from any available information: early voting totals, mail-in ballot requests, campaign contributions, rally attendance, yard signs and beyond. Perhaps the biggest data point of all comes this Saturday, when former President Donald Trump visits Southern Illinois to stump for U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, engaged in a primary battle with five-term U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis.
I’ve definitely contributed to this fray, taking stock of the gubernatorial primary as developments allow, while trying to remain focused on the small percentage of the overall voting population who actually will take time to cast a ballot for one of the six tickets.
It seems impossible to win a GOP primary in 2022 by being openly anti-Trump, who has given no indication of retiring from the national stage and may not be far off from formally launching a bid to reclaim the White House. State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, is openly courting a presidential endorsement, but Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine has plenty of his own Trump bona fides, from hosting fundraisers with Donald Trump Jr. to Mar-A-Lago photo ops to being deeply invested in Turning Point USA, one of the most vocal pro-Trump organizations in all the modern right wing.
Whether or not Trump formally backs Bailey, national wonks shouldn’t draw too much meaning from the primary result. Candidates have waged this feisty campaign over several months with tens of millions of donor dollars at play. Clearly Trump matters to party loyalists, but Illinoisans also are focused on the state’s own issues and many are chiefly concerned with which man is best suited to apply Republican solutions to those problems.
ON THIS DAY: This week marks a grave observance, 100 years since the Herrin Massacre. In the third month of a United Mine Workers of America strike, Southern Illinois Coal Company owner WJ Lester hired nonunion workers to his Williamson County facility. He also hired armed guards, and although historians differ on the finer details, the generally agreed upon facts are a small fatal skirmish June 21, which ginned up an angry mob of locals who on June 22 rejected the offer of surrender and killed several nonunion workers. Nearly two dozen people died altogether with several more seriously injured.
Historian Scott Doody published a book about the massacre in 2013, with special focus on his efforts to locate the victims’ lost graves in the Herrin cemetery. Last week National Public Radio’s Sean Crawford interviewed author Jon Musgrave to mark the grim centennial for a segment on the “Statewide” program. These and other resources are excellent entry points for revisiting one of our state’s darkest chapters.