|OBAMA: Reminding us he's a Chicagoan?|
So anyone who is surprised that the president of the United States would get himself involved in a state senate campaign from a district representing the part of Chicago that Barack Obama himself used to live and work in doesn’t comprehend the ways of partisan politics – particularly locally.
I’M SURE THE fact that Obama is publicly supporting Juliana Stratton for the Illinois House seat now held by Ken Dunkin is merely the president’s way of saying he hasn’t forgotten his long-time home city – and still has interests there.
Although some people are acting all shocked and appalled (and the Chicago Tribune itself took an editorial stance almost tsk-tsking Obama) at the fact that the president produced campaign ads praising the merits of Stratton.
I haven’t seen any spots where Obama trashes Dunkin – although the implication is that the president’s refusal to give a knee-jerk endorsement to the incumbent is, in and of itself, a trashing.
One more public than that moment a month ago when Obama publicly singled out Dunkin during his address to the Legislature in a moment interpreted by many as the president publicly holding Dunkin up to ridicule.
|DUNKIN: Spanked publicly by president|
NEWS REPORTS INDICATE that Obama got involved in the campaign at the request of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who hasn’t been the least bashful about bashing Dunkin – particularly since Dunkin hasn’t hesitated to publicly criticize Madigan on so many issues.
All of which has resulted in the desire to dump Dunkin from the Democratic caucus in exchange for someone who will be more supportive of the caucus’ larger goals.
Admittedly, the president usually doesn’t get this involved. Usually, his endorsement for a local post goes as low as the governor (Obama backed Pat Quinn in 2010 and ’14) and the mayor (letting it be known in 2011 and ’15 that we should back his one-time chief of staff).
Now I’m sure Dunkin is telling himself the voters won’t be swayed. They’re local people who will see this as some sort of meddling, and perhaps they will turn on Obama himself.
|GARCIA: Got similar treatment as a senator|
BUT DUNKIN WOULD have to be kidding himself if he doesn’t think this could have some harm.
Because it reminds me of the 1998 election cycle when Jesus Garcia sought re-election to a third term in the Illinois Senate. Only to lose the Democratic primary to Antonio Muñoz – who took a solid 54 percent of the vote.
In that case, it was then-Mayor Richard M. Daley who decided he’d rather have a more compliant individual in the state Senate than Garcia – who established back when he was an alderman that he wasn’t going to be a Daley lackey.
The then-existing Hispanic Democratic Organization (a group of Latinos that did Daley’s political bidding) would up working the legislative district so intensely that they turned out the vote for Muñoz, leading Garcia to a loss and his period out of electoral politics until he won his current Cook County Board post back in 2010.
NOW I’M SURE some will point out the fact that several HDO officials were later indicted, convicted and did prison time for some of their political activities. To my knowledge, there’s nothing as sinister involved with Obama’s willingness to back Dunkin.
|STRATTON: A presidential beneficiary|
Although some of the intimidation tactics being employed in that South Side legislative race aren’t the sorts of things people like to talk about in polite company.
But as author Finley Peter Dunne’s bartender character Mr. Dooley oft said, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” Perhaps the outspoken Dunkin shouldn’t be surprised that the president himself would feel compelled to give him the back of the hand in response.
And as for the president getting himself involved? There’s always the words of “wisdom” of one-time House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who informed us that, “All politics is local.”