Monday, March 3, 2014

EXTRA: Now if Karen Lewis endorsed Dillard, then I’d be swayed something significant was happening here

I feel like I’ve already written this commentary. In fact, I have.

DILLARD: Teachers love him (not really
The fact that the Illinois Federation of Teachers formally decided to back the Republican primary candidacy of Kirk Dillard for governor doesn’t mean much. Certainly no more than when the Illinois Education Association gave Dillard their backing.

THE GOP FRONT-RUNNER for governor, Bruce Rauner, has made it clear that a major focal point of his campaign is to mess with organized labor. He wants to undo the influence they have with government.

So the fact that the teachers’ unions do not want Rauner to become governor next year means they want to undermine him now.

Hence, they’re backing the Rauner primary challenger whom they find least offensive.

It is telling that federation officials made it clear their endorsement – while one of the few times they have ever gotten involved in a GOP governor fight – is purely for the primary.

AFTER MARCH 18, all bets are off. In no way does this mean the teachers’ union would want Dillard to actually be governor. They’re just hoping that some of their influence can help undermine Rauner’s chances of winning the big political prize.

It’s not like this hurts Gov. Pat Quinn within the Democratic primary, because the challenger he has is one so weak that even all the endorsements in the world likely would not give him a credible chance of achieving victory two weeks from Tuesday.

LEWIS: Would Kirk want support?
The federation’s endorsement also isn’t all it could be because of the fact that the most significant local within that union – the Chicago Teachers’ Union – is separate from this action.

I suppose it is possible that union President Karen Lewis could decide to hold her own press conference in coming days to announce that she, too, is backing Dillard and is instructing the teachers of the Chicago Public Schools to do the same.

BUT I JUST don’t think that there will be such an action. Not the least of which because I suspect Lewis' mind is more preoccupied these days with thoughts of teachers boycotting the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests.

RAUNER: The primary favorite?
Because I suspect most Chicago teachers, along with teachers in school districts across the state, will just keep their mouths shut publicly and go into the polling place on March 18 (or sooner, if they use Early Voting) and vote the way they would have even if no endorsement had been made.

I also suspect that the last thing Dillard would want is any kind of public appearance by Lewis – whose gruff persona would probably scare away even more potential voters than it would attract.

Dillard already is having to live down the fact that he regarded Barack Obama as something of a friend when the two served (and occasionally played poker) together (1997-2004) in the Illinois Senate.

DILLARD MAY BE the guy who has gone out of his way to spew some right-wing rhetoric to make it appear he’s not really some sort of liberal-to-moderate guy (in hopes of gaining votes from the socially-conservative elements of our society), but he doesn’t have the campaign cash to try to buy that image amongst the electorate.

2014 is going to go into the books as an election cycle that was able to be bought.

QUINN: Does he have 'dirt' on Bruce?
Past candidates who tried to use their personal wealth wound up having some personal stink about their lives become known to the point where it became impossible for them to continue.

Ultimately, that is going to be what decides whether Rauner has a chance of actually winning. Will the Quinn camp succeed with its finances where the underfunded GOP-types could not in terms of staining the image that Rauner has bought for himself?

IT’S POSSIBLE. THERE will be another eight months to go before this is over. All it takes is one moment that we don’t yet know about.

Which means that in the end, all this babble about teachers’ union endorsements probably won’t factor into the end result one bit!


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