Chicago Sun Times: Jan Schakowsky serves 9th District well

Chicago Sun Times: Jan Schakowsky serves 9th District well 

October 1, 2010

Jan Schakowsky deserves to be re-elected to Congress from the 9th district because:

1) She best represents the left-of-center political inclinations of her North Side and north suburban constituents.

2) She has proved to be an excellent representative, effective both in the district and in Washington.

Jan Schakowsky is the easy choice for us on Nov. 2.

Even in these anti-incumbent, conservative-backlash times, it's hard to see how Schakowsky has much to worry about in this election, although she's running hard against a highly organized Republican challenger, Joel Pollak, who is trying to tap into Tea Party disgruntlement and nervous concerns for Israel to score a major upset.

The 9th District has voted solidly Democratic for more than 60 years, mostly recently going 72 percent for Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 68 percent for John Kerry in 2004. The district has sent Schakowsky to Washington with similar landslide support since 1999.

Schakowsky was a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, a strong advocate for health-care reform -- assuming a leading role in the fight not to use the bill to restrict abortion rights -- and a consistent critic of policies by both the Bush and Obama administrations that compromise civil liberties and human rights.

In her district, Schakowsky is justifiably proud of her constituent services program, solving problems for thousands of residents on such matters as Social Security, Medicare and immigration.

In Pollak, Schakowsky's opponent, we see a young man -- only 33 -- with energy and smarts who has a promising future ahead. This is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School who has studied environmental issues in Alaska; tutored poor kids in South Africa; earned a master's degree in Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town and -- though an Orthodox Jew -- lived with a Muslim family for two years while studying Arabic.

Our gut sense, however, is that Pollak's politics are still evolving. While he sounds like a true believer when he talks conservative economics, his right-wing scornful rhetoric on other matters, such as Michelle Obama's child nutrition campaign, strikes us as forced and opportunistic. We can't help but wonder if he's trying to compensate for his more moderate views on social issues such as gay rights -- he favors civil unions -- and immigration.

Where Pollak, a legal researcher and writer, completely runs afoul of the truth, however, is in his effort to portray Schakowsky as insufficiently pro-Israel. What nonsense.

Schakowsky, who is Jewish, calls the insinuation "hurtful." She has been an unwavering friend of Israel, with an overwhelmingly strong pro-Israel voting record.

With enthusiasm, we endorse Jan Schakowsky.