Saturday, August 17, 2013

Whodathunk we’d see day when Cook Dems wouldn’t blindly back a Daley

I’m sure there are some people scratching their heads and wondering why the Cook County Democratic Organization would give its official backing for Illinois governor to a candidate with approval ratings in the mid-20s.

QUINN: The officially preferred Dem
Because that is what happened Friday. The Democratic Party’s 50 ward committeemen and 30 township committeemen officially slated Gov. Pat Quinn for re-election.

PARTY OFFICIALS WILL be required to tout the campaign of Quinn, even though William Daley (the son and brother of former Chicago mayors) is also in the running – and there is speculation that Kwame Raoul (a state legislator from the Hyde Park neighborhood) may get into the primary race.

This is the same Pat Quinn who has had approval ratings of about 25 percent. There are those who are determined to believe that Quinn is beatable by anybody who challenges him.

Yet most of those people have their own partisan interests. They WANT to believe Quinn is a loser.

When one erases those people from the equation, the fact that the strongest Democratic Party organization in Illinois would decide to throw its lot in with the incumbent is such an obvious decision.

IT IS THE reason that Bill Daley (the former Commerce secretary and White House chief of staff) didn’t even bother showing up for the slating session held Friday morning.

He can save face by saying he wasn’t even interested in getting the support of the organization that was the reason his father, Richard J., was “the Boss!!!” of local politics. It allowed him to decide just who even got to run for office – knowing full-well that the committeemen of his era would rubber-stamp his choice.

Things are different today. The party slating doesn’t mean what it used to. And I’m  sure the people who are eager to dump Pat Quinn are going to ignore what happened on Friday.

DALEY: Not about to give up campaign
But the reality is that political parties always prefer to endorse an incumbent. The idea being that picking somebody else is an admission that somebody screwed up in voting for the incumbent to begin with.

AS FOR THE fact that Quinn has such low approval ratings, I don’t get as shaken up by those low levels the governor receives.

Because the fact is that most people these days don’t think highly of any government official. Anybody currently in office these days seems to draw these record-low levels of support.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is the guy who has had approval ratings as low as 16 percent. The “Daley” name is in one of its lulls when it comes to support (although I won’t be surprised if the next generation produces a politician or two).

I suspect most people don’t have a clue who their state legislator or member of Congress is. Because if they did, those officials would have lower approval ratings.

SO THE IDEA that Cook County Democrats went for Pat Quinn? Not surprising. As one south suburban state legislator told me recently, “At least Pat Quinn listens to us and sort of has the right idea.”

Compared to Daley, who is developing a reputation amongst some people as being so business-oriented (he likes to boast that his stints as chairman of JPMorgan Chase and on the Fannie Mae board are more significant than his political posts) that people wonder if he wishes he could really be a Republican.

If there really was serious support for Daley and a split in the Cook County Democrats, what would have happened on Friday was a lengthy debate behind closed doors – with an eventual public announcement that the party was not going to slate either candidate.

It would have remained neutral – which would have allowed the committeemen to publicly support whomever they wanted come the March primary election.

INSTEAD, IT MEANS the official Daley support will be muted. Unofficial support will continue (people do, after all, have a right to express themselves). But for the official backing of party officials, Daley is going to have to turn to the other 101 counties.

Slating not the same as when HE was in charge
And the fact is that those Democratic Party organizations don’t have the numbers or the strength to turn out the vote the way the Cook Dems do.

Not that I’m convinced Quinn achieved a significant plus in his desires to serve another four years as Illinois governor. There may be a Republican field of candidates to offer an alternative, but I’m convinced this election cycle is really one where the winner will be the candidate whom the voters despise the least.

That may well be Pat Quinn. You never know.


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