Thursday, October 19, 2017

Only the rich can run for office – is that our political trend of the 21st Century?

I remember once hearing a debate of sorts (it was actually just a couple of political operatives being cranky and arguing amongst themselves) over the appropriateness of would-be government officials paying for their own campaigns.

KENNEDY: The political pauper of 2018 cycle?
One was all for it – feeling that it was somehow wrong for a person to expect other people to come up with the cash for them to afford all the trappings of a successful campaign.

WHILE THE OTHER was convinced that something essential to our existence was being lost if we relied on big money guys for political candidates. “Do you really want a system where only the rich can run for office?,” he asked.

For better or worse, it seems that is the direction we have turned to.

Take our state’s upcoming election cycle for Illinois governor – where we’re more than a year away from Election Day, yet the candidates have already spent some $102 million collectively on their efforts to put their own names forward while also taking down the reputations of the people daring to challenge them.

With some 12 ½ months remaining before the Nov. 6, 2018 elections, who’s to say how much the final total spending will amount to? The academics who devote their attention to politics and government already are calling this the most expensive election cycle in U.S. history, with candidates acting as though they think the election is this November rather than next.

PRITZKER: Entirely self-funded
THE SITUATION IS so outlandish that Chris Kennedy, a member of the not-quite pauperish Kennedy political family, is going around semi-jokingly saying he “thought” his family was wealthy – until he saw the kind of money his would-be opponents for governor were putting in on their own behalf.

Consider that the $3.4 million Kennedy has come up with for his own campaigning thus far buries all the other fringe political candidates with dreams of being the “big shot” of the Statehouse Scene.

But Kennedy himself gets lumped into the fringe candidate category because he doesn’t even come close to the kind of money the top two candidates for the gubernatorial post offer up.

RAUNER: Practically funding entire GOP
J.B. Pritzker, of the family that includes amongst its financial assets the Hyatt Hotels chain, has come up with some $28.2 million – all of which comes from his own money. He’s not raising anything from the public.

WHICH IS WHY the Democratic Party political bigwigs (including state party Chairman Mike Madigan) like him – he makes it possible for them to focus their fundraising efforts in support of other candidates – including the state attorney general fight that it seems Republicans are focusing their efforts on in order to win something, anything, come the November 2018 elections.

But before one can go around saying the Democrats are the big-money guys out of touch with the “real people,” one has to contemplate Gov. Bruce Rauner – who has some $70.9 million available for his campaign. With the bulk of that ($50 million) being his own money.

Personal donations he has made to himself to bolster his chances of re-election, and the election chances of other Republicans wishing to run for seats in the General Assembly.

The state Legislature has been the entity that has kept Rauner from implementing his alleged “reform” agenda – most of which really is nothing more than measures meant to whack at the influence of organized labor within government. Rauner hopes he can buy a more favorable Legislature to support his political desires.

ALL OF THAT money is the reason that Rauner can’t be counted out, despite the fact that he has peeved a significant segment of the Republican electoral base with issues they perceive as violating their social conservative principles. Rauner hopes he can buy enough votes come Election Day to win “four more years” in office.
Times have changed since Daley & Uncle John

While Pritzker hopes he can spend enough to overwhelm any potential competition, then take advantage of the significant number of Illinoisans (most of whom admittedly live in and near Chicago) who are thoroughly disgusted with the 2 ½ years we’ve had of the Rauner Administration and want him gone come January of 2019.

Which reminds me of that long-ago quarrel at the Statehouse. “Do you really want a system where only the rich can run for office?”

It seems that is exactly what we have – at least for the top posts. Perhaps someone without personal wealthy can still run for city Clerk or Illinois treasurer. In the end, it seems the wealthy can be just as much political hacks as those without.


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