Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Make up your mind, Todd

I’m sure some political watchers choked on their own phlegm when Todd Stroger, the one-time Cook County Board president who has become the ultimate example of someone who got into politics due to family connections, said he plans to seek re-election to the post that he lost some seven years ago.

STROGER: Changing his mind
Stroger, who also served as a state legislator before becoming the county’s chief executive, told WFLD-TV he will challenge incumbent Toni Preckwinkle come the March 20 primary.

IF STROGER REALLY does take such actions, he will be one of three people in the Democratic primary next year. Since one-time Alderman Robert Fioretti also has said he wants to run for the post.

And like Fioretti, Stroger indicates he plans to beat up on Preckwinkle over her effort to impose a “pop tax” that caused a massive public stink. The tax that will cease to exist at the end of next week was capable of boosting the price of a can of Coca-Cola by a notable amount.

Yet Stroger is the guy whose own political unpopularity rose to ridiculously high levels when he tried balancing the Cook County budget many years ago with a sales tax increase – the one that when piled on with all the sales taxes that local governments charge rose the overall tax to over 10 percent in Chicago.

It will be interesting to see just how capable either Fioretti or Stroger will be in terms of challenging Preckwinkle.

BOTH OF THEM are convinced that she is so unpopular because of the pop tax that anybody can beat up on her.

I don’t doubt that Toni could be defeated by the right challenger. But I’m skeptical that either of these guys is capable of filling that role.

In the case of Stroger, his unpopularity is so intense even now. The thought of Stroger running for any government post is usually enough to outrage political watchers – particularly if they have their hang-ups over the way that Todd got into office to begin with.

PRECKWINKLE: Seeking a third term
His father, John Stroger (the namesake of the Cook County Hospital) was the county board president when his own health took a turn and he had to step down. He orchestrated his son being chosen to replace him in a way that made many feel Todd was forced down their throat.

OF COURSE, IT should be noted that the Chicago political scene has had so many multi-generation families holding elective office so that it shouldn’t have been strange that John would turn to Todd to replace him.

I don’t doubt that for some people, the fact that John Stroger was a black public official somehow aroused their ire. As though white pols can get away with semi-sleazy behavior while we expect our black pols to be on the straight-and-narrow.

But that’s the situation we’re going to be in – that is, if Stroger really winds up getting himself on the ballot to run for Cook County Board president. I’ll be curious to see if he can get the necessary nominating petitions filed by the Dec. 4 deadline.

And let’s not forget that Stroger for a while was the guy talking about a political comeback by running for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Not the most public of posts, but it would put Stroger on a public payroll and give him a title that would allow him to think of himself as a government official again.

WE’LL SEE WHICH post Stroger winds up running for. Will we really get a three-way fight for the Cook County Board’s boss?

FIORETTI: Seeking a political comeback
And if so, will it be truly competitive? Because a part of me wonders if Fioretti and Stroger will be the long-shot guys who take votes from the Anybody But Toni voters, while a plurality of more sensible people will wind up picking Preckwinkle – who until the pop tax came along was regarded rather highly by the electorate.

Largely, of course, because she wasn’t Todd Stroger. Does anybody seriously think that voters would return to Todd to replace Toni?


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