Tuesday, February 2, 2010

EXTRA: It’s all about the $$$$$$

If state Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago, manages to defeat challenger Rudy Lozano, Jr., in Tuesday’s primary election, the rhetoric to be spewed will consist of how the voters managed to put aside ethnic sympathies for the good of the district.

This is the campaign that has attracted attention because the Southwest Side district in the past two decades has gone from a majority white population to one that is overwhelmingly Latino – who account for about two-thirds of the registered voters living there.

BURKE, WHO IS the brother of 14th Ward Alderman Edward Burke, may try to claim some sort of moral victory in that he fought off a challenger who was trying to make a serious issue out of the fact that a political district with such an overwhelming Latino population ought to have a Latino public official representing it.

Excuse me for not buying it.

If Burke manages to win the Democratic primary for the Illinois House of Representatives 23rd district seat (as I write this, the polls will remain open for about another four hours), it will be a combination of low voter turnout (where I sit, there is a chill in the air and a light snowfall coming from the sky) and the advantages of campaign cash that make it possible for a candidate to get his message out and ensure that he gets the “right” people to go to the polls to support him.

That was the impression I got from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform study released Tuesday morning – one that totals up the amount of cash the campaigns raised from Jan. 1, 2009 through Monday.

DURING THAT 13-MONTH period, Lozano (the son of the late Latino activist of the same name) raised $87,652.46. That’s not a huge amount of money for a legislative campaign, but it is not that far off the mark what most credible candidates manage to raise. He had sufficient funds.

But Burke, it seems, put together one of the largest campaign warchests for any legislative official this election cycle.


As far as I can tell, only state Rep,. Michael J. Zalewski, D-Summit, (at $912,239.96) had more funds.

WITH THAT KIND of money, he had the potential to bury Lozano in a mass of campaign activity, which means the true factor for determining whether this legislative district has truly changed is how close a campaign it turns out to be.

With that kind of funding, it should be a blowout for Burke. If Lozano manages to win anyway, then Burke will become one of those guys who spent so much money on a losing campaign.

If Burke wins, then we get to see him literally go around with the bulls-eye on his back for the next two years when yet another Latino challenger will invariably take him on.

One other fact from the campaign’s study caught my eye.

IT SEEMS THAT when the largest financial contributors overall were determined, Dan’s brother, Eddie, is one of the big-bucks guys who is willing to spread his campaign’s cash around ($313,500) to help other politicos in need.

I don’t know for sure how much of Dan’s money came from older brother Eddie. But considering that part of Burke’s influence in Chicago politics comes from the fact that he has a direct connection to the state Legislature in the form of his brother, it wouldn’t shock me to learn that he was more than generous in trying to keep Dan Burke at the “Statehouse in Springpatch” for another two years.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Are Chicago's changing demographics evidence that the composition of its politicians (http://chicagoargus.blogspot.com/2010/01/will-campaign-racialethnic-appeals-work.html) needs to change?

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