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.”
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.