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State Senate Candidates Switched Parties

Morrison began as a Republican and Friedman started as a Democrat.

An ideological evolution for West and came close to a direct collision more than 20 years before they decided to try to replace retiring .

Friedman is seeking the Republican nomination in the March 20 primary for the 29th State Senate District seat and Morrison is after the Democratic nod. No other Republicans are running at this time.  

From Democrat to Republican

Friedman began life as a Democrat growing up in Highland Park. His father, attorney Gene Friedman, ran unsuccessfully for Congress against former Rep. John Porter (R-Wilmette) in 1988. 

Arie Friedman started embracing Republican values at the University of Chicago and then went silent about his ideas for seven years when he served as a naval aviator. By the time he returned to civilian life, he was a full-fledged Republican. 

“During my youth I was whatever my family was,” Friedman said. “The University of Chicago stresses individualism and the Republican way started to look a lot better.” 

From Republican to Democrat

Growing up in downstate Beardstown, Morrison was ready to go to Knox College in Galesberg before graduation from high school. Her parents sent her to the town lawyer, who wanted to make sure she had a high school diploma. The attorney, former state Rep. John Knuppel (D-Petersberg), suggested she volunteer for his campaign. She did and was bitten by the political bug. 

After college she learned the Illinois Democratic legislative staff wanted help. She applied, was interviewed and did not get an offer. Then her phone rang and her political affiliation changed. 

“I got a call from the House Republican staff,” Morrison said. “They asked, ‘Any chance you would work for the Republican staff?’” 

Morrison wanted to work in the legislature and took the job. 

“That’s how I became a Republican.” 

Voting history

Among other positions, Morrison served on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Children and Family Services during the administrations of former Gov. James Thompson and former Gov. John Edgar. She also worked as Porter’s field director from 1992 to 2000. A few years earlier and she would have been working to defeat Friedman’s father. 

Morrison supported former Sen. Robert Dole (R-KS) for president over former President Bill Clinton in 1996. She was not involved in the campaigns of former President George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004 and does not remember who she voted for. 

Virginia Isherwood of Wheeling, Porter’s field coordinator working for Morrison remembers she was a Bush supporter in 2000. 

“Of course she [supported Bush]," Isherwood said, "We all did.”

Learning 'individual accountability'

After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1987, Friedman wanted to fly and serve his country. He learned something about leadership when he became a naval aviator that stayed with him in medicine. 

“When you fly 150 miles ahead of the battle group to find out what’s out there you learn about individual accountability," Friedman said, "You have a real responsibility for people’s lives."

Friedman graduated first in his class from the University of Illinois Medical School in 1998, did a residency at the University of Chicago and started his practice in Lincolnshire. 

Friedman has learned to combine the ethics of medicine with the needs of a small business owner. 

“Every doctor who owns a practice has to be a hard working businessman or you can’t make it," he said.

Making the switch

While Friedman was becoming a doctor, Morrison was elected West Deerfield Township Supervisor as a Republican in 1997. She was reelected twice on the Republican ticket. In 2008, she officially became a Democrat and was reelected in 2009. 

Morrison said she switched in 2008 because her values remained constant while those of her party changed. 

“I don’t share their values anymore," she said, "Particularly about a woman’s right to choose and gun control."

West Deerfield Township was also changing. Republicans had long controlled township government, but in 2005 the Democrats chose to run a slate for the four trustee slots, according to 10th Congressional District Committeewoman . The four Democrats won.

As they begin preparing to face off against each other, Morrison and Friedman have set their current political course. Friedman wants to bring about policy changes while Morrison is more concerned with constituent services. She is proud of efforts she has made to help the homeless and hungry become more self sufficient. 

When it comes to a woman’s right to choose, there is no difference between the two candidates. 

“I would not vote for a law to outlaw abortion,” Friedman said. 

Tony Tighman October 20, 2011 at 08:49 PM
It sounds like Mr. Friedman changed parties due to his principles while Ms. Morrison changed parties due to political expediency. She applied for a political job with the Democrats, and when she didn't get it, she became a Republican to get a political job from them. When her township's gov't board control switched from Republican to Democrat, she became a Democrat. She says “I don’t share their (Republicans') values anymore....Particularly about a woman’s right to choose and gun control." Yet, she supported Republican Bob Dole over Democrat Bill Clinton in 1996 even though Dole was pro-life, pro-2nd amendment and Clinton was not, and this has been the case with every GOP and Democrat nominee in every Presidential election since Reagan vs. Carter in 1980. (Did she support Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis since she didn't share Ronald Reagan's or George H.W. Bush's values anymore?) And then she says she CAN'T REMEMBER who she voted for President in 2000 and 2004. If she's elected to the state legislature, will she remember how to vote on issues that are divisive or unpopular in her district or will she simply forget? I may not agree with Mr. Friedman on every issue but at least I'll know where he stands and why - unlike Ms. Morrison.
Joan Blum January 06, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I'm confused. I thought State Rep. Morrison was pro-life with no exceptions for incest or life of the mother?
G S Friedman January 06, 2012 at 05:45 PM
As someone who knew Dr. Friedman very well during medical school and residency, I have to say that he is one of the most ethical persons I have ever met. I have always admired his commitment to fight for what he believes is right, especially when the issue is important, even if he finds himself the lone voice of reason in the room. I'm a Democrat, and we have different viewpoints on most issues. But I would always be interested in hearing Dr. Friedman's opinions and analysis. I would know I was getting some arguments worth thinking about, and not just the same old political rhetoric.

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