Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Way too early for real people, but not politicos, to think about ‘14 elections

Speculation that Toni Preckwinkle is already being considered for higher office – even though she’s barely finished the first year of her term as Cook County Board president – bothers me, although it doesn’t surprise me.
PRECKWINKLE: Governor, someday?

For the record, Carol Marin used her column for the Chicago Sun-Times to include a tidbit that the Illinois Legislature’s leaders (Michael Madigan and John Cullerton) are trying to encourage Preckwinkle to run against Gov. Pat Quinn when the position is up for election again in 2014.

MEANWHILE, THE CAPITOL Fax newsletter used its website to follow up with a statement from Cullerton (the Illinois Senate leader) saying it’s not true, and that it is “irresponsible” to think about such things right now.

After all, how should Quinn react to the idea that the two legislative leaders who are supposed to be his political allies are already searching for his replacement? I can’t even recall former Senate President James “Pate” Philip doing anything like that to then-Gov. Jim Edgar!

Personally, my guess would be that it is too strong to say that Madigan and Cullerton are backing Preckwinkle for a future gubernatorial bid – which allows them to “deny” the story at this point.

But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been discussed, and that there aren’t some people trying now to figure out what would have to be done to prepare for such an electoral bid to take place three years from now.

THAT IS THE reality of electoral politics. People who run for government positions have to constantly think forward. Personally, I compare them to sharks – who have to keep moving at all times or else they can’t breathe properly and they’d die.

I’m sure some of you will think of other ways in which government officials and sharks are similar, but I’m not going there. Not today.

But that is also part of why many of us feel that disconnect between the people who run government, and those of us who expect government to operate to our benefit (those of you who like the Grover Norquist image of “drowning government in the bathtub” are a unique breed who should best be considered at a different time).

I personally am not really even in the mood to have to think about who should be president in 2012, or who should win election to Congress or the state Legislature (the big posts that will be up for grabs in this year’s election cycle).

I CERTAINLY DON’T want to have to think about who should be the new Illinois governor (since a part of me hasn’t really recovered from the ugliness of the 2010 elections for governor). A part of me reads these tidbits being reported in recent days about Preckwinkle and shudders in disgust.

It’s too early to be thinking of any such effort to depose Quinn – almost as though the powers-that-be have already determined they’re not going to accomplish much of anything during the next couple of years. So they’re shopping for a leader with whom they’d rather work.

Which makes me wonder (at least in part) if the hard-headed attitude that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich used to take in dealing with the legislative leaders may have been justified.

Madigan recently used a speech at Elmhurst College to say that Blagojevich’s goals as governor seemed more motivated by trying to make him look noble for a future run for higher office. In short, they were about himself, not the people!

BUT COULD IT just be that Blagojevich knew he was working with legislative leaders who had their own agendas, and that he’d have to get tough if he weren’t to get pushed around? Which takes on some more credibility because of the oft-expressed complaint by Democratic political people that Quinn is weak and lets himself get pushed around.

Perhaps the reality is that he’s not getting pushed around enough to appease the legislative leadership. So they want to dump him?

I don’t know what to think. Personally, I have no problem with the concept of Toni Preckwinkle. She has been effective in her current post. And it wouldn’t shock me to see her try to run for some higher level office at some point in the future.

Maybe even in 2014.

THAT’S JUST TOO far in the future for me to want to contemplate at this time. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way.

The only problem is that we’re now forced to have to consider it on some level.

Because if we’re not careful, the political powers that be will work some sort of deal behind the scenes, and then they’ll try to impose it on us in a couple of years in such a way that perhaps they’ll make us think it was our idea to begin with and they're just following our will.

Which sounds, to me, like the sequel to the film “Wag the Dog” will be set in Illinois.


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