Author: Wendy Rosen
The Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th (CBIL6) presented Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) with a “Certificate of Adoption” Saturday after she led a town hall meeting at Fremd High School in Rep. Peter Roskam’s 6th congressional district. Seven hundred people swelled beyond the high school auditorium’s capacity and filled an overflow room, according to CBIL6. The town hall was also live-streamed on Facebook, with 17,000 views and counting.
“I want to thank Donald Trump,” said Schakowsky. “Because I think that what he did was awaken a sleeping giant – a giant that knows its power.”
Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, who hasn’t held a large town hall meeting in the 6th district since he was elected in 2007, never responded to the invitation to attend. Roskam calls town hall meetings, “big circuses.”
But this was no circus. Schakowsky responded to questions about Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, DeVos’ proposed education cuts, racial and religious harassment, freedom of the press, health care cuts, and the Trump-Russia investigations.
Schakowsky encouraged the audience to combat their fears by staying informed and engaged. “I have never seen a mobilization like this before – ever,” said Schakowsky. “And I’m talking larger and more powerful than when the Tea Party was at its height … this is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen. You call a town hall and it’s standing room only, so we just have to keep it up.” Schakowsky encouraged concerned citizens to run for local office and get involved in local elections.
Roskam, a high-ranking republican who votes in line with Trump’s positions nearly 97 percent of the time, will be facing strong headwinds in 2018. The CBIL6 is a network of 20 grassroots groups who are laying the groundwork now to elect a democrat in their district in 2018. They are organizing voter registration drives, door-to-door canvassing, and phone banks which will begin this summer. Given the mobilization of democrats as evidenced by the turnout at this town hall, and the fact that Clinton carried the district in the recent election, a strong democratic candidate could turn Roskam’s seat blue.