Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Casting the election cycle ’12 ballot

I’m not really someone who has undying faith in the political establishment. Yet I couldn’t help but notice the trend established when I cast my ballot on Monday for the upcoming primary elections.
THEIS: Should neighbor cost her election?

Yes, I used a couple of free hours I had during the afternoon to run some personal errands – including a visit to one of the early-voting centers so I could earn my right to complain about our government for the next four years.

SO OUT OF my continuing sense of giving you all a clue as to where I stand on assorted issues, I will confess to requesting a Democratic Party ballot. Those of you who were hoping I’d help you pick a Republican for president will have to figure that one out for yourself.

I couldn’t possibly bring myself to vote for any of them – even if a part of me thinks the concept of a “President Newt” would provide for high entertainment when it comes to political reporting.

Instead, I cast my vote for the 11 individuals on the ballot from my congressional district (the Illinois first) who want to go to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., to formally make Barack Obama the nominee for U.S. president.

In my district, those delegates include Kwame Raoul, the Hyde Park neighborhood state legislator who took over for Obama when he left the Springfield scene to be a U.S. senator for four years.

BUT THOSE WERE the predictable votes. No one else appeared on my ballot to run for president, other than Obama and his 11 delegates.

Which means the real votes “of interest” were the ones where there was a sense of choice. And I found myself, by-and-large, picking the incumbent out of a sense that none of the other choices had done or said anything to indicate that we should take them any more seriously than we do the current politico.
MUNOZ: A replacement?

That certainly goes for the five Democrats challenging Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., for his seat in Congress. If anything, somebody looking for a serious challenger to Rush ought to shift attention to the Republican ballot, where perhaps Blue Island Mayor Donald Peloquin has the background and ability to be a credible challenger.

But no one on the Democratic primary ballot deserves to be thought of in that class. So I picked Bobby for a term that, if the one-time Black Panther activist-turned-alderman gets it, would have him start his third decade of service on Capitol Hill.

THAT WAS MY same attitude when it came to picking someone for a seat on the Supreme Court of Illinois.

Mary Jane Theis is one of four Democrats and one Republican who wish a 10-year term on the state’s high court from the district that represents Cook County. If you’re a legal geek familiar with Cook County judges, some of the names might seem familiar.

But my guess is that to the average schmoe (of which I myself can be one), this is the campaign between Theis and Aurelia Pucinski.

She’s the daughter of one-time Congressman and Alderman Roman Pucinski who eventually worked her way up to being Cook County Court clerk before getting her current post on an Illinois appellate court for the Chicago area.

BUT SHE’S ALSO one of those political people who has swayed from the Democratic to the Republican parties – although political reality in Cook County has caused her to once again be a Democrat.

If it reads like I’m not sure what to make of people who swing around all over the place politically, that might be part of the reason I didn’t vote for her. But it is more because I haven’t heard anything to indicate why we should dump Theis – except some partisan rhetoric that is just too hard to take seriously.

Such as the claims that Theis should not have participated in the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that reinstated Rahm Emanuel to the ballot for the 2011 mayoral election. Both Emanuel and Theis live on the same block.

I’m not swayed.

ALTHOUGH IT DOES shock me to learn that there is one thing Pucinski says that could be construed as me agreeing with her.

For Pucinski has gone so far as to make an endorsement for the county court clerk position. She’s backing Ricardo Munoz for the office, using a forum by the Anti-Defamation League to say that incumbent Dorothy Brown has “made a mess of that office” – which Pucinski ran for 12 years.

Of course, Brown has accused Pucinski of being “vengeful” and claims she is the one who made a mess of the office that she has spent three terms trying to fix.
RUSH: No challengers, yet!

Yet I can’t help but think that, if after three terms, there is still a sense that the office is messed up, perhaps it comes down to a question of whether someone else should be given a chance.

THAT IS WHAT caused me to cast a vote for Munoz – who is giving up the City Council seat he has held for nearly two full decades to try to get himself a county-wide political post.

I’ll even be willing to forgive Munoz for that knuckleheaded vote of a few years ago when he went along with the plan to privatize the city’s parking meters – depriving city government of potential income for the future. It certainly didn't stop such prominent public officials as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle from formally endorsing his campaign.

Oh, and by the way, I also cast votes for Barack Obama for president and Anita Alvarez for state’s attorney.

But considering that both are running unopposed, what choice did I really have?


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