Thursday, October 29, 2009

What would Lars Daly think?

Robert Marshall is a physician from suburban Burr Ridge, and he once served a four-year stint as a village trustee in his hometown.

Yet to political observers, Marshall will be remembered for something else. He’s a perennial candidate. Every four years, his name turns up as he runs for an elective office.

WE, THE PEOPLE of the great state of Illinois, have had the chance to choose Marshall to be our state’s governor, our senator in Washington, and one of our congressmen (if we happened to vote in the west suburban district that includes Burr Ridge).

Marshall has not even limited himself to a single political party. Most of his campaigns have sought the Republican Party nomination. Yet of late, he calls himself a Democrat. Perhaps he sees the same trend that most other Illinoisans do and doesn’t see a point to being a Republican.

This election cycle won’t be any exception.

Marshall is one of several candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, wanting to replace Roland Burris after his term ends next year.

SO THOSE PEOPLE who are so disgusted with the mainstream candidates that they can’t bring themselves to vote for any of them (in this case, Cheryle Jackson, David Hoffman and Alexi Giannoulias) can now pick Marshall, whose views on social issues are somewhat to the right of center, but apparently not so far right that he identifies any longer with the GOP.

This isn’t even the first time Marshall has sought the Senate. He ran in the Republican Party primary in 1996, getting 5 percent of the vote in losing to Al Salvi, who ultimately lost the general election that year to now-Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

Admittedly, Marshall has his bragging moment – the one time he ran in a general election (1998 for Congress from the Illinois 3rd District), he got 27 percent of the vote. Now-retired Rep. Bill Lipinski, D-Ill., took the remaining 73 percent.

But Marshall is likely to run the same type of campaign this year as he has in the past. He’ll pop out of the woodwork on a couple of occasions to claim that our elected officials are negligent on certain issues, and he will serve to hold the more serious political candidates accountable.

PERSONALLY, I’M CURIOUS to hear what Marshall will say about the bumbling manner in which officials are handling health care reform. I’d expect it will be his chief talking point as he works his way to another 5 percent of the vote come the Feb. 2 primary election.

Not that Marshall is the only perennial candidate who filed nominating petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections to get a place on the 2010 primary ballot.

William “Dock” Walls III is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor, for those of us who don’t like the idea of Pat Quinn or Dan Hynes.

His actual experience was a job on the Chicago city payroll (“Confidential Assistant to the Mayor” was the actual title) back in the days of Harold Washington as mayor.

IN RECENT YEARS, he has run bids for Chicago mayor and for Congress, challenging Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. Rush kicked Walls’ butt, which means that Walls has one thing in common with Barack Obama – who also once got an Election Day beat down from the one-time Black Panther.

Candidates like Marshall and Walls are on the ballot every year, using the access to Election Day ballots to give themselves a chance to express their views on the issues. Once the election passes, they go back to their daily lives until the next election cycle.

There’s also another type of perennial candidate – one who takes on the same opposition every Election Day.

That is the category in which one should place Rev. Anthony Williams. The resident of suburban Dolton has run several campaigns against Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. He has run in Democratic primaries and as a Republican.

THIS TIME, HE has filed nominating petitions to be the Green Party’s nominee for member of Congress from the Illinois 2nd District.

Williams’ line has been consistent through all his campaigns. He does not like the idea of Jackson as his member of Congress, and he wants to give people who live in the far South Side and surrounding suburbs district a chance to vote for somebody else.

It helps that in past elections he had the support of the Shaw brothers, of whom Bob is now running for Cook County assessor in the next election cycle. He claims to no longer have their active support, but he’s still an outspoken Jackson critic.

Another potential perennial is someone like Daniel Seals of Wilmette, who in recent elections has challenged Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who has indicated he wants to move up this time to the U.S. Senate. Seals, who gave Kirk a competitive campaign last time, now wants the to-be-abandoned seat, but faces a serious challenger in the form of state Rep. Julie Hamos, D-Evanston.

THEN, THERE ARE candidates like Patrick J. Ryan of Chicago, who is running for an Illinois House of Representatives’ seat from the Southwest Side. He has run for the same seat in several recent elections.

The occupant of that seat? Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago.

Which means that Ryan is likely to remain a perennial candidate even after the 2010 elections, just like Williams and Marshall and all the rest.

But of course, all of these people pale in comparison to Lars "America First" Daly, the Illinois native who ran for so many offices during the mid-20th Century, including president, usually on the Tax Cut Party ticket. None of the 21st Century perennial candidates is about to don an "Uncle Sam" suit on the campaign trail like ol' Lars used to.


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