Jonathan Greenberg, 38, of Northbrook intends to seek the Republican nomination in the March 20 primary to earn the right to oppose in the November 2012 general election.
No other Republican candidates have indicated they will run. she would seek reelection and no Democrat has said they will oppose her. She looks forward to debating Greenberg.
“I welcome him to the debate,” Nekritz said. “I look forward to the opportunity to thrash out the issues.”
Greenberg, an ordained rabbi who has been the Midwest political director for the since 2008, decided to join the race because he has become increasingly concerned with Illinois’s financial condition.
Particularly disturbed with spending on Medicaid and public employee pensions, Greenberg fears those programs are not sustainable if changes are not made. Medicaid currently eats up 40 percent of the state’s general fund according to Greenberg.
“Medicaid is designed for the poorest of the poor,” Greenberg said. “The program is going to implode and won’t be there for those who need it. We can fix it now or wait until a crisis forces our hand.”
Greenberg takes a similar approach to the income tax increase the General Assembly passed in January. He thinks the legislature should have been dealing with the increasing budget deficits over the years rather than let it get to the point members felt higher taxes were necessary.
“People who dug us into this hole are not the ones to trust to get us out,” Greenberg said. “Raising taxes 67 percent in a recession is not what you want to do. The state has been supporting deficit spending and running up debt for years.”
Nekritz considers herself one of the few members of the General Assembly who started pushing for budget cuts three years ago but found little enthusiasm or support from either side of the aisle.
“I was shot down by Republicans and Democrats alike but set the tone for the debate we had this session,” Nekritz said. “We cut $2 billion from the governor’s proposed budget. I led on this issue. As one of 118 I felt I had a big impact.”
Greenberg explained the legislative district that was in May is one that favored Republicans like Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park) and Democrats like Dan Seals who lost to Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth).
“People here will pull the lever for a Republican if you give them a good reason,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg began his political career as a Democrat working on the campaign staff of former Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN) in 1998 after earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana University. He later tried to help former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) earn the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2000.
He evolved into a moderate Republican as he describes himself during his time as a rabbinic student and then with AIPAC, a lobbying organization working to strengthen the American Israel relationship. While at AIPAC he was required to keep his personal political beliefs to himself.
“I was in Jerusalem on 9/11 for the first year of my rabbinic studies,” Greenberg said. “My feelings about national security were impacted in Jerusalem. People whose politics had not been mine were saying things I liked. I started reading their social positions too.”
As Greenberg studied to become a rabbi his ideas started to change. After being ordained and graduating from the Hebrew Union College in 2006, he went to work for AIPAC in Washington before moving to Chicago in 2008 to become midwest political director.
“I realized I wasn’t playing with the house’s money anymore,” he said. As he and his wife became homeowners he realized it was his funds government was spending. “It had a direct impact on me.”