“This is a Republican town.” “Freeport is a conservative place.” “Democrats cannot win in Freeport – just ask [2018 Democratic Illinois House candidate] Nick Hyde.”
There’s a common refrain you’ll hear from just about anyone who follows politics in Freeport, and it goes something like this: A Democrat cannot win in Freeport, because Freeport is a conservative town. This mental block has caused local Democratic efforts to stagnate. Our local Illinois House seat is left uncontested by a Democrat. Freeport’s city government has been almost entirely surrendered to the Republican Party. This is mainly because our local Democratic Party fails to recruit candidates to run in Freeport races. More discussion on that later.
It might be natural to wonder if Democrats don’t run because there just aren’t very many Democratic voters in Freeport. But the numbers show this is far from the case.
The Voice digitized Freeport’s election data going back to 2016. Since 2016, there have been 12 federal and state-level races Freeporters could vote in. The election results for each candidate within the city of Freeport are shown here.
Of these 12 races, the Democrat won 75% of the time. You might be surprised to hear this, but Hillary Clinton won Freeport in 2016; JB Pritzker won in 2018. US Senator Tammy Duckworth eked out a close victory in 2016; US Representative Cheri Bustos ran circles around her 2016 and 2018 opponents.
You might be tempted to wonder, but what about local Illinois races? Can Democrats really beat locally-known politicians like IL Representative Andrew Chesney? Well, a look at the results shows that in 2018 Nick Hyde, a previously unknown Democrat from Galena, actually beat Andrew Chesney in his own city.
Are you questioning your own beliefs about the political make-up of this town? You should.
Freeport supports Democrats as moderate as Cheri Bustos and as liberal as JB Pritzker. We have voted for Democrats as popular as Secretary of State Jesse White and as historically unpopular as Hillary Clinton. Can you read this data and tell me with a straight face that Freeport doesn’t vote for Democrats?
There is a real opportunity in our town to recruit and vote for Democrats who will fight for racial equity and social justice in our town. They not only have a chance at winning office; they should be considered the favorite to win.
Nick Welch is a student at Northwestern University studying political science and sociology. In his free time, Nick reads the news and obsesses over college football.