Columns | Northwest Herald

Eye On Illinois: Let other states deal with early presidential primary attention

It’s OK to be not SC. Or MI.

That’s my take on Illinois getting no special treatment as Democrats proposed juggling their presidential nominating calendar, removing the Iowa caucus from the top spot. After 50-plus years, South Carolina now would go first and Michigan would be the earliest Midwestern state.

I was a college student in Iowa in 2000 and a daily newspaper reporter in 2004. My enduring memory of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is not “the scream” from his concession party put flipping pancakes in the Washington Middle School gymnasium during a Saturday morning fundraiser and stump speech.

Scott T. Holland

Iowans still will caucus – both parties do so every even year anyway – and Republicans plan to keep Iowa in the top spot. And while the novelty of that format is far superior to a simple private ballot, a year-long campaign cycle wouldn’t confer the same benefits on smaller Illinois communities as is seen in Iowa. Des Moines is by far the state’s biggest city, but there’s no fair Hawkeye analogue to the geographically concentrated political muscle of Chicago and the collar counties.

Despite fond memories of caucus coverage, I’m fed up with the top-down infusion of national politics into local discourse. A prominent primary would only inflame those passions at a time where voters would be better served giving more attention to Springfield, not to mention school boards, city councils and county boards.

A NOVEL IDEA: Last month I praised Secretary of State-elect Alexi Giannoulias for getting ahead of his inauguration by launching, a website intended to glean public and professional input about a wide range of topics under his new office’s purview. Now comes additional kudos for offering his November opponent – state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington – a spot on the transition team.

Brady deserves equal credit for accepting the spot, giving both men a chance to demonstrate bipartisanship, especially important for an office with so many administrative responsibilities that needn’t be tinged with politics. Giannoulias is a staunch Democrat, as is longtime predecessor Jesse White, but keeping libraries well funded and efficiently issuing driver licenses and vehicle registrations are core government functions. Brady showed through the campaign a solid understanding of the job, meaning Giannoulias and taxpayers can only benefit from his transition contributions.

ON THIS DAY: Author and editor Cornelia Meigs was born Dec. 6, 1884, in Rock Island. Much of her writing for children and adults is widely available, but the highlight of her rich professional career was a Newberry Medal for “Invincible Louisa,” her 1933 biography of novelist Louisa May Alcott, in which she penned some of her best known words: “Life goes on after sorrow, in spite of sorrow, as a defense against sorrow.”

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at