Thursday, May 2, 2013

EXTRA: At least Penny didn’t faint

President Barack Obama reinforced the Chicago presence in his White House when he nominated Penny Pritzker (of the family that gave us the Hyatt Hotel chain) to be his replacement for Commerce secretary.

PRITZKER: Gaining a govt. title?
Of course, the real reason that Pritzker is getting the nomination is because she has been a prominent fundraiser for Obama and other Democratic causes – willing to write out checks of her own money, along with encouraging wealthy friends to do the same to create the large amounts of cash that enabled Obama to bury John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney just last year.

YES, WITH A value of about $185 million (according to Forbes magazine), she is considered to be among the wealthiest people living in the United States.

But it will be interesting to see how the Senate reacts when it is asked to confirm her nomination.

Hyatt has had its disputes with labor unions, who might try to rile up their alignment of senators against hers. Let’s also not forget that Pritzker served a stint on the board of education for the Chicago Public Schools. Which means that the face of the teachers union – Karen Lewis – could soon find herself getting national attention if she wants to try to hang the union’s grievances against the schools on Pritzker.

There may even be those who want to dredge up the story of the suburban Hinsdale-based Superior Bank, which was co-owned by the Pritzker family. It collapsed financially over a decade ago, and is easy pickings for anyone who wants to engage in political cheap-shots against Penny.

WHICH MEANS THAT Obama really wasn’t joking when he pointed out that for her birthday on Thursday, Pritzker learned that she was going to have to go through the Senate confirmation process. Oh joy!

But her professional life has its share of successes, particularly in business, which is reportedly why Obama is interested in having her among his top advisers.

It will be interesting to see just how well she holds up to the political gamesmanship that some will try to put her through (for their own politically-partisan kicks as much as any real concerns they might have about her). Although it was nice to see Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., quickly support her -- even though he has nothing to do with the committee that could put Pritzker through the political wringer.

Although let’s be honest. At least she didn’t give us the same image that William Daley did back when then-President Bill Clinton named him to head the Commerce Department back in December of 1996.


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