Photo: Loweforcongress.comBen Lowe is a 25-year-old first-time candidate getting whomped in a suburban Chicago congressional race. He’s being outspent 16-to-one by Republican incumbent Peter Roskam. The biggest publicity the campaign drew came when Lowe, who is half-Chinese, claimed racial profiling after a Cicero, Ill., police officer pulled over him and three friends. The Democrat has, by Nate Silver’s calculation, a 0.2 percent chance of winning. Thank you, come again.
But Lowe’s an intriguing candidate, coming from the nearby evangelical bastion of Wheaton College. He speaks in the evangelical language of restoring a “moral compass” in Congress, but his moral compass points toward clean-energy investment, compassionate immigration reform, “restraint in military spending,” and scrubbing corporate money from politics. He refused campaign donations from corporations, lobbyists, and interest groups (whether or not they were offering).
Last year, he published Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation, an account of the growing “creation care” movement on Christian-college campuses that links environmentalism with Biblical stewardship values. It’s a passionate if slightly scattered story of Lowe’s coming-to-conscience, written with an enthusiasm that suggests he’ll be making a mark one way or another after the election.
Here’s one more exchange from the campaign worth calling out: Lowe deliberately sought out local vendors to print his campaign materials. Roskam, in contrast, “spent almost $300,000 for direct mail and telemarketing services with firms in Utah and New Hampshire. Another $57,000-plus went to a Florida-based accounting firm for financial services,” according to the Daily Herald. Roskam’s spokesperson defended the out-of-state purchases by saying “Congressman Roskam practices the same frugal budgeting for his campaign that he expects the federal government to follow with taxpayer dollars.”
For the Republican, the price tag is the only factor that matters. He wants the federal government to take the same singular focus. Lowe seems to have a broader understanding of “value,” even though he’s running on a shoestring budget.
Lowe told the Herald he stands by his decision to scrape by without money from special interests: “I live in a low-income part of Wheaton and it’s very hard for me to think about raising and spending $3 million on a campaign when I walk out of my front door and see my neighbors struggling to find money to pay for groceries.”