Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kelly to get more attention as observer than he would have got as candidate

One of the unofficial rules of reporting I have operated under is not to go about reporting on threats of lawsuits. If they’re serious, let them file the suit.

Perhaps we should have taken the same attitude toward William J. Kelly.

HE’S THE PUNDIT of a conservative ideological bent who during the summer went on and on about how he was going to run for mayor in the Feb. 24 elections. He went so far as to come up with $100,000 of his own money toward his campaign fund – which under state law blows the limits placed on the mayoral candidates to try to restrict campaign finances.

There’s just one thing. Kelly isn’t going to run for mayor after all.

Monday’s deadline for filing nominating petitions to get a place on the ballot came and went without Kelly being among the 10 candidates who plan to run for mayor.

He did issue a statement saying he plans to take the $100,000 in his “William J. Kelly for Mayor” fund and spend it to try to rebuild a Cook County Republican Party structure – which this year couldn’t even come up with token candidates to run for Cook County government positions in this month’s elections.

I DON’T KNOW how much $100,000 will help the party, which was so weak that it wasn’t able to do much of anything to bolster the recent election of Bruce Rauner as governor. The governor-elect had to rely on his own $27 million to get himself elected, without help from the political party whose label he used.

But it’s a start, I suppose. Perhaps it means Kelly can go about claiming he’s the head of the Chicago Republican Party, which reminds me of the old Mike Royko line about being the “tallest midget in the circus.”

He already was claiming that GOP leadership label, of sorts, on account of the fact that he would have been the only mayoral candidate willing to identify himself as a Republican.

Instead, we have 10 Democrats running for mayor – and the breakdown of candidates will be amongst those named “Emanuel,” those who hate the idea of an Emanuel mayorality, and those running because they wish to represent the interests of Chicago’s African-American population.

KELLY AS MAYORAL candidate would have got lost in the shuffle of candidates – particularly because the perception would be that he wouldn’t stand a chance of taking more than 1 percent of the Feb. 24 vote.

He certainly wouldn’t be amongst the Top Two candidates who would be in an April 7 election run-off – presuming that Emanuel (or any other candidate) can’t take a majority in February.

Not that being a Republican would have mattered in the mayoral election.

We in Chicago have had non-partisan municipal elections ever since the mid-1990s when the then-Republican dominated General Assembly approved the change away from political parties to overstep their authority over local matters.

JUST THINK HOW different the 1983 elections would have been if Harold Washington’s 36 percent of the vote had not been enough to win the Democratic nomination, but had merely qualified him for a run-off against Jane Byrne?

Kelly this year would have been as irrelevant as Bernard Epton would have been in ’83 under a non-partisan electoral system.

Which is why it makes sense for him to take his campaign money and try to invest it into building up an alternative political party – which on the surface is a completely noble goal. People are better off if they have choices on Election Day.

And Kelly may actually get a phone call or two of press attention in coming months as a local Republican big-wig, instead of being ignored completely as a mayoral fringe candidate.


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