Friday, October 29, 2010

Which election deserves priority?

Dart: Too impatient?
It is a complaint I have heard from a few people during the past 24 hours. Would it have killed Tom Dart to wait a week before announcing that he has no intention of running for mayor of Chicago?

It seems that it would have, since Dart, the sheriff of Cook County who likely will be re-elected to four more years of that post in Tuesday’s elections, made his mayoral announcement on Wednesday.

THE CAPITOL FAX newsletter noted that his announcement came at virtually the same time that independent Cook County assessor candidate Forrest Claypool had an announcement to make that was to give his electoral bid against Democrat Joe Berrios some serious political juice.

Instead, Dart gets the big play, while Claypool got ignored.

There are those people who think that all the attention being paid now to the 2011 municipal elections of Chicago that will result in a new mayor for the city is somehow disrespectful to the current election cycle for state government and Cook County positions, along with that U.S. Senate seat from Illinois that Barack Obama once held.

None other than former Illinois Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch has said that people should focus on the current elections now because they have the potential to pick government officials who will be openly hostile toward Chicago city interests.

WHILE I PERSONALLY have an interest in the activity of state government and the way it can be used to bolster the city’s political clout (a concept that offends rural Illinoisans who think that state government should stand for something in and of itself, rather than being supportive of the city’s interests), a part of me fully appreciates why Dart did what he did.

Quinn: too dull?
I noticed in the reports that came out Wednesday that Dart said he made up his mind Tuesday night not to be a mayoral candidate. I also got a kick out of his line that he told his two oldest children of his decision, but decided that it wouldn’t mean anything to his three younger ones (who are all under 5 years of age).

The question becomes one of could word have held for one week. Could everybody who knew be trusted to keep quiet for that long a time period? The honest answer is, probably not.

Not that I’m saying that Dart’s oldest son (he’s 9) would have ratted out his father to the Chicago Tribune. But it would have slipped out. Then, we’d be engaging in a line of rhetoric about why is Dart not just being open about his intentions.

WHY WOULD HE let people continue to think of him as a mayoral hopeful, and possibly go about the work to try to build up support for a potential campaign against former White House Chief of  Staff Rahm Emanuel, if he already knows he’s not going to run.

Brady: anxious backers?
Putting an end to it and letting the Dart backers know that he’s not going to be anything more than the county sheriff for the next few years likely is the honest thing to do. It also lets those people start figuring out what they will do come Election Day next February, if their primary pick isn’t on the ballot.

Insofar as the idea that Dart is somehow dumping on his Democratic colleagues, whether it be Claypool (who’s really an establishment Democrat, no matter how much “independent” talk he spews these days) or Pat Quinn or anyone else, that thought is silly.

Because if the Quinn campaign were fully legitimate, it wouldn’t have to worry about these kind of things. It would be drawing eager people anxious for Election Day to arrive so they could show their support.

THAT IS WHY Quinn opponent William Brady has a serious chance of winning come Tuesday – he has that segment of the electorate that wants to dump on Chicago interests anxious for Tuesday to come and go so they can have an official they perceive will support their view of what Illinois should be, no matter how narrow that view is.

It’s almost like Democratic partisans are being made to feel like they’re obligated to vote this time around (so that a Democrat is governor when political people redraw legislative and congressional boundaries), rather than candidates giving us any worthwhile reason to want to vote for them.

A lot of it also comes down to the fact that city elections get priority among city voters – in part because the General Assembly is where we send our young political aspirants for training before they return to Chicago to do serious governing  (such as former legislator-turned-sheriff Tom Dart).

Which is why a Dart non-campaign announcement drew more attention than any other. It was a campaign that hadn’t yet been drawn into a morass of dullness.

MY BOTTOM LINE is that if a campaign running for election on Tuesday can seriously be derailed by the fact that Dart chose to make his announcement this week rather than next, it likely had enough serious problems regardless of what Dart would have chosen to do.

Whining about Dart’s timing is nothing more than seeking an excuse.


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