Friday, August 11, 2017

Can Stratton help Pritzker jump ahead of pack to take governor’s post in '18?

I’ve always had my own theory about Illinois state government posts – Democrats win them when Chicago city voters are motivated enough to care about who wins.
STRATTON: Illinois' next lieutenant governor?

Which can be a challenge. Because the city perspective is that the mayor and aldermen are all-important, while there’s some attention as to who gets sent “up and out” to Washington.

BUT AS FOR the clowns in Springfield? It’s easy for those elections to become after-thoughts to Chicagoans, while they’re way more significant to those in the rural parts of the state. Whichever one of the half-dozen or so Dem candidates dreaming of becoming governor needs to do something to get city residents to care, or else we'll get "four more years" of Gov. Bruce Rauner -- regardless of how much that thought appalls some urban voters.

Which is the reason why candidate J.B. Pritzker’s announcement Thursday that he will have state Rep. Julianna Stratton, D-Chicago, run with him as a lieutenant governor makes any sense.

It’s actually way too early to be thinking about running mates. Besides, the lieutenant governor candidates actually runs separately during the primary election cycle. So anyone who votes for Pritzker in the March ’18 primary could easily decide to ignore his choice of a running mate.

But Pritzker is trying to give Chicago voters, particularly that segment of the city that lives on the South and West sides, a reason to care about whether or not he winds up winning the election.
PRITZKER: Trying to jump to head of Dem pack

THERE MAY BE some city voters who will be motivated merely by the fact they want to dump Bruce Rauner as governor. But their contempt for the governor and the alternative being yet another rich billionaire who thinks it’s a strength he can pay for his own campaign is a perfect recipe for voter apathy!

Stratton is the legislator who has already been through a tough, big-money campaign. She was the woman who defeated Ken Dunkin, the South Side legislator who got challenged for his Illinois House seat because House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was disgusted with Dunkin’s continual undermining of his authority. She’s also the one who can claim a personal endorsement from Barack Obama himself in that election cycle.
RAUNER: Counting on rest of Ill. to back him

Plus, she is a black woman – which could have an impact in making the African-American segment of the electorate care enough to vote for somebody. Would they really care about two rich white guys?

There are those political observers who think former Gov. Pat Quinn’s biggest mistake in his failed re-election bid of 2014 was dissing black voters by picking a white guy (former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas) as his running mate instead.

SO COULD THIS be a move to try to make Pritzker stand out further in the Democratic field? Then also to stand above Rauner come the November 2018 general election?

At this point, anything that gains him attention over the crowd could help. Because I sense many voters just see a mass of candidates, with nothing that really distinguishes them.

I recently had a conversation over dinner with relatives about the upcoming election, and the consensus was that Chris Kennedy was kind of flaky, Daniel Biss might have some potential and everybody else was kind of bland. Except for Ameya Pawar, of whom I was the only person who even knew who he was.
BISS: Maybe?

Stratton could be the jolt that helps Pritzker leap above being bland.

NOT THAT IT should be thought I’m saying she’s unqualified. She may have only one term in the Illinois House of Representatives. But she’s a former head of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Public Safety and Justice, and also with the Cook County Justice Advisory Council and Justice for Children.

She certainly has qualifications for a public post, and it is the lieutenant governor’s position – where she is the person to be on-call in the event that a “Governor Pritzker” were to become incapacitated. Take the current lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, whose qualifications prior to the post were being a municipal official in suburban Wheaton.

So now Democratic voters have a ticket of “Pritzker/Stratton” to consider, along with a batch of other stray candidates. I’m sure Pritzker will want us to think that means he’s better organized than his opponents.

As to whether the voters believe that sentiment, we’ll see come March and November following Election Day.


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