|KASZAK: A Chico backer|
Nancy Kaszak has kept herself fairly quiet during this election cycle. Until Sunday, when she joined a group of assorted political people in giving their endorsements to mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel’s most significant challenger – Gery Chico.
Kaszak, of course, is the former Park District legal counsel and state representative from the Northwest Side (although those with good memories might also remember her as one of the leaders of the ultimately unsuccessful 1980s effort to keep the Chicago Cubs from erecting lights at Wrigley Field) who twice had her dreams of serving in Congress crushed. The latter time was in 2002 when she took on Emanuel in the Democratic primary that year.
SHE GOT SIGNIFICANT financial support from women’s activists, including the EMILY’s List group, along with Polish activists, and tried making an appeal that Emanuel was an outsider, while she was just a good Polish girl from the neighborhood.
The campaign spending in that election cycle was so intense that it set records for money spent on a political post in a primary – although looking at its totals compared to the most recent political record setters is amusing in the same way we think it cute that one-time star baseball pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter was once considered a “big-money” ballplayer for having a contract totaling $3.75 million over a five-year period.
She got respectable voter support, but not enough to win. Now, the legislator who was a fairly dependable member of the progressive faction of the state Legislature when she served there in the mid-1990s is aligned with one of the most establishment-oriented officials in Chicago government.
None other than Edward Burke, the Southwest Side alderman who is one of Chico’s biggest backers and whom some people will forevermore be convinced helped to orchestrate that Illinois appellate court ruling that actually knocked Emanuel off the mayoral ballot for about 24 hours last week.
IT SEEMS KASZAK is still using the neighborhood appeal in trying to make Emanuel out to be an outsider who isn’t really a part of the Northwest Side – regardless of how his home ownership and voter registration status complies with the relevant laws on the issue.
“Gery Chico is clearly the most eminently qualified candidate to lead this city,” she said, during a campaign rally held Sunday in Eckhart Park near the Wicker Park neighborhood. “Gery never lost touch with the community and the people he served in public life.
“Every time Gery accomplished big things for Chicagoans, he always made the community part of the process,” she said. “This distinguishes him from his opponents.”
For what it’s worth, Burke himself made the trip up from his 14th Ward to the 27th Ward – where local Alderman Walter Burnett is among the officials who had an interest in having a coalition candidate to help an African-American person get elected as mayor, although the park where the Chico backers converged lies just outside of the 1st Ward, where Alderman Joe Moreno is a solid Chico backer.
I SUSPECT BURKE thought the trip up to an alien (to him, at least) part of Chicago was to see that the collection of characters put together to endorse Chico did so by sticking to the script and without saying anything that could be misconstrued as truly interesting/newsworthy.
By all accounts, Kaszak played her part in Sunday’s Burke mayoral sermon perfectly.
Which means city voters can now go forth beginning Monday and show up at the early voting centers that will be open through Feb. 17 – for those who just can’t wait until Feb. 22 to cast their ballots for the new mayor of Chicago.
And as for those suburban Chicago residents who don’t have any municipal elections three weeks from Tuesday, I wonder if they’re going to make the mistake of assuming that means there aren’t any elections at all for them. Could it further depress their voter turnout when suburban municipal elections are held April 5?