Straight-talker Gollin for Dems

Straight-talker Gollin for Dems

Physics Professor George Gollin has made an impressive political debut and is our recommendation as the Democratic Party's candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 13th District.

Democratic leaders like U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin believe — correctly — that they missed a great chance in 2012 to pick up a U.S. House seat from the state's 13th Congressional District.

Determined to correct that mistake this year, they've painted a bulls-eye on the back of Republican Rep. Rodney Davis and focused all their efforts on defeating the first-term incumbent. Davis, who barely eked out a win over Democrat David Gill, is certainly vulnerable. But the key for Democrats to defeat him is to find the right challenger.

Just as they did in 2012, party leaders have focused on an individual they believe can win, retired Madison County judge Ann Callis, and anointed her as their choice. But just as they did in 2012, they failed to clear the field of party challengers.

In 2012, Gill defeated the establishment's choice in the primary election. This year, two local Democrats, University of Illinois physics Professor Gollin and university policy analyst David Green, hope to knock off Callis in the March 18 Democratic primary.

Of the three Democratic candidates, Gollin is best suited to represent his party in the fall election. A physicist by profession, he has the intelligence to understand complex issues. Now a politician by choice, Gollin has shown that he's both comfortable on the platform and willing to clearly articulate his positions on the issues. Although he's certainly more liberal than the politically divided 13th District, it would be our expectation that Gollin would pursue practical solutions to serious problems rather than fall back on liberal orthodoxy. After all, he condemns what he calls the political orthodoxy of tea party conservatives.

Our enthusiasm for Gollin is heightened by our disappointment in Callis. Gollin has enough respect for the voters to state his positions in a clear and informed manner. She uses her intelligence to shape vague responses to important questions. While he has been forthcoming, she has been willfully nonresponsive.

It's not enough for Callis to fall back on her resume and promise that she'll determine her congressional votes the way she formed her judicial opinions — by examining all aspects of the issue and then deciding. That's just a dodge, not even a particularly clever one. It's hard to imagine that even Callis' most enthusiastic supporters get excited listening to her non-answers.

Having said all that, it's our clear expectation that Callis would follow the lead of her Democratic patron, Durbin, and be a reliably liberal vote if she is elected. She just won't say; her campaign strategy is to say as little as possible for as long as possible to avoid alienating various groups of voters.

As for the third candidate in the race — Democrat Green — he's been entertaining to watch. Like the libertarian candidate in the three-way GOP House primary, Green offers a rigidly ideological point of view that is highly critical of both foreign and domestic policy under Democrats and Republicans. While that extreme left-wing point of view makes him interesting to hear and watch, Green would be hopelessly ineffective as both a party nominee and a member of the U.S. House.

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