Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Kennedy for Illinois? At the very least, it would bring Joy to the state

I’m sure some political operatives are going to say I threw my vote away. They may argue I cost the Democratic Party in Illinois any chance the party had of deposing Bruce Rauner as governor.

Will Kennedy need more family help to win?
But I’m not going to regret that I went to an Early Voting Center on Monday and cast a Democratic ballot for the gubernatorial campaign of Chris Kennedy and his lieutenant governor running mate, Ra Joy.

I DIDN’T RULE out the possibility of backing the officially preferred candidate of the Democratic Party establishment, J.B. Pritzker, until the last minute. In fact, about the only Dem who I gave no consideration to is that of Robert Marshall – the perpetual fringe candidate who always finds something to run for.

All you’d have to do is get him an “Uncle Sam” suit and he could be Lar Daly – the perpetual candidate of the Chicago past who always ran for something so he could spout off his isolationist “America First” ideology.

But back to my choice of a gubernatorial candidate who will take on the winner of the Republican primary to be held March 20. Whether it be Rauner or Jeanne Ives, the state senator from Wheaton, my preference would be for a part of the Kennedy clan (the son of Bobby) to take a shot at living in the Executive Mansion in Springfield (which Rauner and first lady Diana have spent so much of recent years having remodeled).

It’s not that I’m enamored with the Kennedy “aura,” or that I feel some need for our political scene to become a part of the Kennedy legacy (there are several legislators and Congress members of the family who hold office in other parts of the country – along with the big three of JFK, RFK and Teddy).
Is Marshall the modern-day equivalent?

BUT MY ATTITUDE is the fact that a large part of why I never thought much of the prospect of Bruce Rauner as governor is that he is one of the “big money” interests to whom the political establishment turned to provide the campaign donations that enable people to run for office.

Much of what Rauner had in mind when he ran for governor in 2014 (taking advantage of a weak Republican primary with no real front runner) was that he was eliminating the middle-man, running for office himself so he could attempt to just bark out orders and impose policies that would benefit business interests.
PRITZKER: Too similar to Rauner?

In that sense, I see Pritzker as being the equivalent – even if his ideological leanings on social issues is such that he generally prefers Democratic candidates. I'm not swayed by the J.B. advertising spots showing people flashing "five" fingers (as in the number of tuition increases at the University of Illinois system that Kennedy was a part of approving).

I don’t know that I believe the “solution” to the “Rauner Years” in Illinois is to come up with a Dem version of Bruce.

LOOKING AT THE other candidates, I see in Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber and Tio Hardiman specific knowledge in a single area (Hardiman is most serious on issues related to urban violence), but not enough knowledge overall that I would think they could oversee all of state government.

Which leaves Kennedy, who has appropriate stands on the social issues for all except those deluded enough to think Ives is what Illinois is all about.
A 3-1 GOP ratio

I do see one potential problem – yes, I saw the Chicago Sun-Times’ front page Monday morning. The big story about “Illinois’ Big Spenders” who provide more than one-quarter of all the cash available to all candidates seeking political office.

Those four include Rauner and Pritzker themselves. With the other two being Illinois’ wealthiest resident, Ken Griffin, who will be a solid Rauner backer, and Richard Uihlein – who has had a political falling out with Rauner and is now focusing his attention on finding a conservative ideological replacement.
Can his son do the same for Illinois?

WHICH MEANS THAT a Kennedy campaign, if it were to prevail beyond the March 20 primary, likely would have all the big money going against it. He’d probably have to turn to Kennedy money in order to remain competitive – and I can already hear the “carpetbagger” allegations that will be tossed out against him (even though he has lived and worked in Illinois for more than three decades).

Since I doubt a defeated Pritzker would suddenly turn into an enthusiastic Kennedy backer willing to help fund him. And even if J.B. tried speaking out in favor of Kennedy, I can already hear the “hypocrite” allegations that would be used against him.

But as some have speculated, this may be an election cycle in which the incumbent is so deep in doo doo (because the ideological right is so rigid in its own attitudes) that this may be an election where Rauner’s financial edge (the roughly $50 million of his own money he’s promised to pledge) might not be enough to ensure his victory.

If that is the case, then perhaps a Rauner vs. Kennedy brawl for Illinois governor come the Nov. 6 general election will give the “Land of Lincoln” a real choice – rather than just a pick between two rich guys trying to buy a political post to assuage their egos.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The Chicago Argus "management," which in reality is little more than me, myself and I, is under no delusion that this "endorsement," so to speak, will sway anyone's vote. It's more about explaining my own political leanings and biases so that one can place other commentary published here in a proper context. Although I doubt I'm alone in Chicago or Illinois in being wary of the thought of a Rauner/Pritzker political brawl.

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