Saturday, October 17, 2009

New political campaign will take token opposition to Olympic heights

There are times when people do things politically just because they think the “time” is right, and that waiting for a more opportune moment would be waiting for something that will never occur.

That is the blunt way to view the political campaign of Tom Tresser.

HE’S THE GUY who led that whole “No Games Chicago” activist bid that drew a lot of public attention to the fact that there were people around here who were more than content to not have the summer Olympic games of 2016 be held in Chicago.

The fact that the International Olympic Committee ultimately rejected Chicago’s bid (actually, that of the United States) puts Tresser in a position of success. It may very well be the biggest success of his professional life – the line that leads off his obituary when he departs Planet Earth some three or four decades from now (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he will lead a long, healthy life).

But it also puts him in a position where some of the afterglow of that success will cause people to bother to listen to him.

That’s about the only reason I could think of for him to think that he ought to run a political campaign for “high local public office.” That’s his phrase. He won’t say what he’s running for, although his campaign logo of “TOM 2010” uses the Cook County seal in place of the “O” and he has registered his “Friends of Tom Tresser” committee with the Illinois State Board of Elections to support a county board Presidential bid.

COULD TRESSER THINK that Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is so incapacitated politically and all of his declared challengers are so bumblingly inept that all those people who hated the thought of the Olympic Games in Chicago could turn out and vote him into office?

Or at the very least, enough of those people to get the roughly 26 percent that it could take to win what has shaped up to be a five-person Democratic primary (six, if Tresser gets into the campaign)?

In a typical election year, I’d think that Tresser’s campaign was a waste of time. I wouldn’t bother giving it any thought.

But this is not a typical election year.

EVEN THOUGH THE Republicans appear to be planning to run a slate of candidates who are ideologically conservative as any of the other GOP contenders of recent Election Days who lost, they seem to think that screeching the name “Blagojevich!” will take them to victory.

And it will have some influence. I expect it to be a close general election day in November, and I expect the primaries to be complete chaos.

So under these circumstances, perhaps a guy who gained some experience and feel for the city by traveling to all 50 of those sessions the Chicago Olympics committee held in each ward so he could toss out some opposition information might be able to gain some attention.

There are those who think the Cook County Board race has the potential to be a racial battle, with Stroger and three black challengers running against a white guy from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

SOMEHOW, I THINK in this battle, Tresser just might be able to take them on. If not by winning, he could bloody them up a bit to make this particular primary campaign just a bit more intriguing.

For all we know, 2010’s election cycle could very well turn out to be the “Year of the Outspoken Crackpot” in Illinois.
For the Republicans have running for the GOP nomination for governor Dan Proft, the media consultant with the knack for “shooting from the lip” (to use an overworked cliché) and a willingness to hurt his opposition’s feelings.

Proft is the guy whom observers of the gubernatorial primary want to “write off” as unelectable, but they don’t because they’re unsure if this year’s dynamic might just be the one time that he can seriously get the nomination.

I CAN’T HELP but think the same is true about Tresser.

Of course, his big challenge will be raising money. He may have put together quite a list of supporters while running “No Games Chicago,” but it’s not like that group raised money for its own efforts in amounts high enough to sustain a county-wide campaign.

But, he’s going to try to feed off the “free media” as an alternative to “paid media” (news coverage, versus campaign commercials) and hope he can push the image of being a reformer and fighter to some success on Election Day.

This is a guy who helped “take on” City Hall when he worked with others to help kill a deal by which the Park District would have paid to develop an athletic field whose primary user would have been the private Latin School of Chicago (they wanted a nearby field for their soccer programs).

NOW, TRESSER IS the guy who “took on” the world – specifically, the IOC, and got them to put the Olympics somewhere else.

Does this mean Tresser is the guy who will now “take on” Cook County by seeking its top post? He might be a long shot, but this is the time in the election cycle for long-shots to dream broadly, just as big as those people who used to dream about the Olympics being held in Chicago – only to have Tresser come along and squash them.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Olympics opponent-turned-political candidate Tom Tresser will begin campaigning ( Saturday, but he’s already managing to tick off some of the people ( who didn’t want the Olympics in Chicago.


Anonymous said...

You should look more carefully at Tresser's petition, which is posted at his site. It indicates that he's running for the Green Party nomination

Anonymous said...

Greg, you column went on and on. Like they would say in any writing class, "Get to the point!" After reading a long, boring and anchorless blog posting, I often ask myself, "What was he/she trying to say?" You apparently had nothing better to do and decided to waste some time. Mission accomplished!