|Gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker meets with St. Louis-area Dems who now endorse his political bid.. Photograph provided by Pritzker|
SO IT’S NOT absurd that J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire whose family fortune originates from the Hyatt Hotels chain, is making a big deal of the fact that he got the political support this week of the Democratic Party organization of St. Clair County.
For those of you Chicagoans who don’t know of anything beyond your own ward or suburban township (and may not even know what ward number or township name you reside in), St. Clair is one of two counties on the Mississippi River that are part of the St. Louis metropolitan area.
It is an area, along with neighboring Madison County, that can lean Democrat, and could be significant in turning out a significant number of votes. Unlike many other Southern Illinois counties where there are so few people living there that the number of ballots cast aren’t enough to boost the vote total – even if you win!
Which is the problem with the line of thinking of those who prefer candidate Chris Kennedy. They were claiming on various Internet sites that some 20 Southern Illinois Democratic organizations prefer the “Son of Bobby” to J.B. – but many of those counties in recent elections have shown a willingness to back Republicans and may wind up being in the Rauner camp come November 2018.
|DAIBER: Wishing he had St. Clair support|
PRITZKER WANTS US to think he’s the guy who can dominate the rural vote, while also taking a portion of the urban Illinois vote, to be the successful candidate next year. The sooner he can be perceived as the winner, the quicker he can began focusing on ripping Rauner, rather than bashing fellow Democrats – whose support he’s going to need once the primary election is over.
There is some history in the not-distant past indicating that people in places like Peoria and East St. Louis can determine the outcome.
There was the 1998 election cycle in which three Chicago-based candidates slugged it out for the city vote, while former Congressman Glenn Poshard of Southern Illinois managed to win by dominating the rural vote. Of course, that produced a whole lot of bitter urban voters who either sat out the general election – or actually cast votes for Republican George Ryan (who actually won the north lakefront wards of Chicago that year).
|POSHARD: Won primary w/ rural strategy|
Then there was 2002, the cycle that saw Rod Blagojevich rise from an anonymous member of Congress to the state’s governor.
BLAGOJEVICH ACTUALLY FINISHED third in Cook County in the Democratic primary behind former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris, but won so many rural counties by such large margins (where people were voting against whomever they perceived was the Chicago favorite) that he won.
He then went on to defeat Jim Ryan in the general election that year because of the perception that 26 years of Republicans as governor was long enough.
Could Pritzker be having similar thoughts in hoping that voters next November come to believe four years is long enough for Bruce Rauner and they vote against his re-election – no matter how many millions of HIS own dollars he pumps into his GOP campaign?
There is one bit of significance in that Pritzker’s move may be meant to discourage those people who prefer the idea of Bob Daiber (“Who??!?”) as the Democratic nominee for governor.
DAIBER IS THE regional superintendent of schools for Madison County, and he’s hoping that as the lone non-Chicago-area resident running for governor, he can appeal to the non-urban population. He wants to win the Democratic primary via the Glenn Poshard route.
|KENNEDY: Some still think he's in the running|
What is the significance that the largest county Democratic organization for Southern Illinois is backing Pritzker rather than Daiber? Could it be that the St. Clair Dems are showing a lack of support for Daiber because they think he’s just too unfunded compared to the millions that Pritzker could put into his own campaign to take seriously.
Voting for the “hometown boy” (or in this case, the guy from the neighboring county) only goes so far. Those people who are suffering from the political infighting now taking place within Illinois state government are most concerned with wanting to win.
Supporting the local favorite doesn't feel good if it results on Election Day of 2019 with your preferred candidate sitting in an anonymous seat buried in the middle of political spectators – rather than taking the oath of office and preparing to dance that night with his spouse at the Inaugural ball!