Saturday, February 27, 2016

A “Battle of the Mayoral Rejects?” Or is Bob Fioretti that desperate for a job?

Believe it or not, the residents of the Illinois Senate 5th District (based on the city’s West Side) has the potential to be a battle between candidates who once tried – and failed – to become Chicago’s mayor.

FIORETTI: He needs a job!
Robert Fioretti, the one-time 2nd Ward alderman, got his share of city-wide attention when he was one of the dreamers who tried to depose Rahm Emanuel as mayor in last year’s election cycle.

BECAUSE HE DOESN’T like the idea of being just a former alderman with no current political post, Fioretti has decided to run for a seat in the Illinois Legislature.

VAN PELT-WATKINS: Wants to keep hers
I guess he figures serving in Springfield is better than being a political nobody – even though most people view the Statehouse Scene as the place where you go to get some training and experience before running for higher office in Chicago proper.

In Fioretti’s case, he’s decided to run in this year’s election cycle for an Illinois Senate seat – making him one of the people who votes “aye” to the idea of keeping John Cullerton in his position of authority by supporting him for another bid as Senate president.

To do that, he has to take on the incumbent legislator, who happens to be state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, D-Chicago, a woman who got elected to that post in 2012 – one year after losing her own bid for Chicago mayor in the 2011 election cycle.

YES, SHE WAS one of the half-dozen people who had dreams of replacing Richard M. Daley when he decided not to seek re-election to a seventh term in the post.

Yes, she got her clock cleaned in that election cycle. Then again, Fioretti didn’t exactly inspire voters when he decided to take on Emanuel last year.

He may have had fantasies of capturing the support of those people whose passion was aroused into anger against Emanuel. But he couldn’t even qualify for a run-off election. Jesus Garcia was the legitimate opposition candidate to Rahm. Fioretti was barely more credible than Willie Wilson.

Actually, that’s probably an insult to the reputation of Wilson, for which I owe HIM an apology – not Fioretti.

FIORETTI IS TRYING to make an issue out of what appears to be a Van Pelt-Watkins gaffe – one in which she implied she supports the idea of “right to work” laws being enacted in Illinois. She now says she mis-spoke, and I’m actually inclined to believe her.

Because there have been many instances in my time as a reporter-type person writing about government when I suspected the public officials themselves didn’t truly comprehend what it was they were doing while passing or rejecting new laws.

There’s also the fact that my own memories of Fioretti as an alderman consist of a public official who liked the sound of his own voice.

I really wonder if much of the rants he used to go on about Daley, then Emanuel, were more inspired by the fact that he liked to hear himself talk. Many of his opposition tirades seemed a little too knee-jerk, as in he knew his answer was “no” but wasn’t always sure about why he was in opposition.

THE ONE-TIME LEGISLATIVE correspondent in me thinks the absolute last thing the General Assembly needs is another political blowhard.

It actually reminds me of Rickey Hendon, the one-time West Side alderman who later served several terms in the Illinois Senate. He developed a reputation as an outspoken goof, and we’d jokingly wonder how long it would be until then-Senate Democrat leader Emil Jones would try to have him whacked for his many outbursts.

Is that really the fate that Fioretti aspires to? Because he really comes across as one who is eager to have a government post – any post – to run, just so he can think of himself as a public servant and have a place to go during the day.

Either that, or perhaps his spouse Nicki, wants him out of the house more often.


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