Illinois House District 62 and openly gay incumbent Rep. Sam Yingling ( D ) faces a second, heated fight against Republican challenger Rod Drobinski which Yingling narrowly won in 2014.
With voter dissatisfaction across the state over the budget impasse at a peak, Yingling's 2016 battle to keep his seat promises to be even tougher.
Yet, Yingling believes that a vote for Drobinski is a vote for an extreme right mindset which puts everything from LGBTQ civil and women's rights to the working and middle classes in jeopardy.
Yingling spoke to Windy City Times concerning his opponent and why voters should send Yingling back to Springfield for another term.
Windy City Times: You've accused your opponent of having extremist views on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. Can you go into more details?
Sam Yingling: Drobinski subscribes to extreme, right-wing social views. He was opposed to marriage equality even when the majority of Americans were in favor of it. Had he been in the legislature at the time, he would've voted against the marriage-equality bill.
As far as women's health rights, he is part of the extreme organization Lake County Right to Life. They oppose a woman's right to choose even in the cases of rape or incest and go even further to the point where, if a woman were to put her child up for adoption, she would have to publish her sexual history in the newspaper. This policy is built around an actual law that went into place in Florida a number of years ago,and Drobinski has said that he was inspired by the people who brought that law into existence.
WCT: Would you call it an alt-right candidacy?
SY: Absolutely. He has been a supporter of Donald Trump; he will vote for Donald Trump. I think your description of him being an alt-right supporter is absolutely correct. I would go as far as to say that he's an extreme, social conservative fanatic.
WCT: His criticism of you seems to hinge on your support of House Speaker Mike Madigan. In this election, there are a lot people who are upset about the state of the budget and looking at inaction in Springfield. How do you defend your support of the speaker and would you be prepared to oppose him to get a budget passed?
SY: As it pertains to voting for Michael Madigan for speaker, I've always been more than happy to vote for a different Democrat. Butand this is what's so importantI will not vote for a Republican for the office of speaker in the absence of another Democrat opposing Mike Madigan. If we elect a Republican speaker, these extreme, right-wing social issues will start to be voted on such as trying to limit a woman's right to choose, trying to implement laws ( that Drobinski supports ) to have a woman publish her sexual history in the newspaper. I don't think the public fully understands the adverse ramifications that will come from someone having an extreme, right-wing policy within the legislature.
When the budget first got proposed in May 2015, I voted against all of the proposals, with the exception of education funding, because I thought more work needed to be done. I never dreamed that we would have gone nearly a year without a budget. I anticipated that, within a couple of months, there would have been a negotiated budget agreement. So I already have a record of showing that I'm happy to vote whichever way I think is best for my district and the State.
But, moving forward, I think it's important to highlight that Rainer does not care about these issues. Bruce Rauner doesn't care about anybody but Bruce Rauner. When you are a billionaire and you can sit around and have a $100,000 bottle of wine with your friends over dinner, you are not living in the world that everyone else is living in. He does not care about the ramifications of a budget stalemate on social service agencies. What happened to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois was absolutely appalling, but it doesn't affect Bruce Rauner and his political and economic class. They're not reliant on those services.
Bruce Rauner doesn't care whether we have a budget or not. He is interested in acquiring things. Right now, he is in the process of trying to acquire a legislature. He would then shove through Neoconservative financial policies which exacerbate the globalization of the world's economy and continue to make the rich richer and decimate the low and middle classes.
WCT: But, at the moment, we're stuck with him. So there has to be some kind of middle ground in order to get the budget settled. How do you see that happening?
SY: I see it happening once he separates his non-budgetary demands from the budget. Right now, he is saying "you pass all of these alt-right, Neoconservative economic policies first and then I will sign a budget." That isn't how governing works. If you're the CEO of a corporation, then you can probably make those demands, but not when you are the CEO of a governmental body.
We could have a budget in 48 hours. That's not the problem. The problem is that Rauner refuses to sign anything without his extreme-right fiscal policies being signed ahead of time.
It's also worthwhile to note that the General Assembly did vote on a number of Rauner's issues: Right to Work overwhelmingly failed. We passed a property tax freeze which Rauner wanted but then he proceeded to criticize it and said it didn't go far enough. So the General Assembly has voted on issues that Rauner wanted us to vote on. The only problem is that the General Assembly didn't approve them because the people back in the districts of the legislators didn't want them. In fact, when we voted on Right to Work, none of the Republicans voted for it. So there isn't a whole lot of willpower within the legislature and I think within the population of the State of Illinois to support Rauner's extreme, right-wing financial policies.
WCT: Since the Orlando massacre, the LGBTQ community has coalesced around gun violence. In July, [Cook County] Sherriff Tom Dart held a join press conference and said there were a lot of guns flowing between Cook and Lake counties. How do you start to address this issue and fight the NRA?
SY: I've had a chance to really look at this issue, especially as it pertains to Lake County. In the emotion of dealing with gun violence, people have forgotten that we can pass all the gun restriction laws we want but, at the end of the day, people who want to get a gun to use for violent purposes will get one. What is leading to gun violence? What is leading to people using firearms for wrongful reasons? The majority of it is rooted in economics and goes to a greater picture of what we're facing nationally. People cannot move up the economic ladder and a lot of that has to do with neo-conservative financial policies that have been implemented across the nation and the state.
We need to start looking at economic policies that no longer give everything away to the rich, but provide middle- and working-class families the ability to move up. Once we do that, we're going to see a substantial reduction in violence.
WCT: In terms of LGBTQ and particularly transgender equality and stopping the violence against them, youth homelessness and hiring discrimination, is there an interest in Springfield in tackling these issues in a post-marriage equality state?
SY: I do, and I think a lot of people felt that marriage equality was the apex of the LGBTQ movement. Once it passed in Illinois and throughout the country, many people felt that the movement was done and we've done everything we can. But people outside the LGBTQ community did not fully realize that, no, we still have a lot of work to do especially as it pertains to transgender rights.
It's something we're starting to see emerge on a national level and it is something we're going to start seeing at the state level. I know, in Illinois, there is an ongoing discussion about what we need to do to make sure that the transgender community has equal protections and equal opportunity and we're going to start to see that emerge nationwide. I'm not convinced that the LGBT movement and the fight for equal rights for LGBT people and families is over by any means. I think everyone stopped to celebrate marriage equality, took a deep breath and now we're going to be moving on to the other issues that affect our community.
For more information about Sam Yingling's campaign, visit SamYingling.com .
Windy City Times reached out to the Drobinski campaign on a number of occasions, and received no response by the press deadline.