Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To dominate Dem gubernatorial field now, could Pritzker hurt himself later?

There’s no doubting that as of this point in time, J.B. Pritzker (of, amongst other financial interests, the Hyatt Hotels fortune) is the front-runner for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor in next year’s election cycle.
PRITZKER: Union 'love' now short-sighted?

Heck, he’s the one who’s drawing all the criticism at this early stage of campaigning. No one seems to be getting worked up over Daniel Biss or Ameya Pawar no matter how many self-serving press releases the latter issues that compare his thoughts to the "New Deal" – and the entry of state Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, isn’t about to change the campaign dynamic.

IT’S PRITZKER WHO is the focus of that Chicago Tribune report claiming that tape recordings exist of the FBI catching J.B. talking with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich about possible future political appointments for himself.

Now the notion that’s supposed to be spread by the existence of such recordings is that Pritzker was doing something clandestine with none-other-than the man who now is serving his 14-year prison term and is making last-ditch appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States to try to find a sympathetic judge who might reduce his length of sentence.

We’re supposed to jump to the conclusion that Pritzker himself must have done something sleazy.

Although to actually listen to the tape, Pritzker rejected the notions that he’d make campaign contributions to Blagojevich in exchange for future considerations. And in fact, the position that Pritzker was interested in (Illinois state Treasurer) didn’t wind up becoming vacant.

SO IN THE end, Pritzker got nothing. As far as the notion that he is tainted by talking to Blagojevich, I’d argue that Rod WAS the governor at the time. He was THE MAN to talk to as far as possible government posts were concerned. Who else was he supposed to talk to?

My point is that these recordings do reek of a certain sense of desperation by Republican political operatives eager to find anything they can use to taint J.B. Even though I realize that Tribune-types insist Gov. Bruce Rauner (the likely suspect) is NOT their source.

But it doesn’t necessarily take much to stir up trouble on the campaign front. Which is probably the reason why Pritzker is so eager to get the endorsement of the interest group that usually is the Democratic Party’s most loyal friend – organized labor.

Specifically, Pritzker-types were pressuring the Illinois AFL-CIO to make a formal endorsement of J.B. for governor – even though we’re 10 months away from the actual Election Day. As it turns out, the labor union gave in. They're now officially Pritzker people

IT SEEMS RIDICULOUSLY early to take a stance, and some union officials were taking that attitude – claiming they don’t want to get locked in right now when we don’t know yet what is capable of developing in coming months.

Although on the short-term, Pritzker probably thinks this is a way to make these tapes go away. Not that it won’t cause other problems.

Consider that the Illinois Republican Party already is using the AFL-CIO indecision as material for criticism – they say it is Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who is strong-arming an organized labor endorsement so prematurely.

Which plays right into their “Blame Madigan!!!” strategy that they have so desperately used in several election cycles to try to garner votes for their own candidates.

PERSONALLY, I REMEMBER the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary when organized labor wound up endorsing the bid of Glenn Poshard – who as a member of Congress from Southern Illinois had a record of being friendly to unions. Particularly the ones connected to coal mining in his part of the state.

The other Democrats running in that primary also had reasons to think they could appeal to organized labor. But in the end, union leadership strong-armed a Poshard endorsement – which wound up creating enough ill-will amongst the rank-and-file that the overall sentiment amongst would-be voters became apathy -- which is how we wound up with the concept of "Gov. George Ryan."

Pritzker might gain something in the short-term by using this endorsement now. But what happens if a bigger controversy develops come November and he no longer has the option of a fresh labor endorsement to help overcome it?

In trying to clinch victory now, J.B. may wind up hurting his chances later. Besides, there’s always the likelihood that the other gubernatorial candidates will peter out so weakly that it would be ridiculous for the unions to back anybody but Pritzker come Election Day!


No comments: