Monday, March 26, 2018

Could Toni P. someday be head of local regular Democratic organization?

It was just one week ago that some people were convinced that Toni Preckwinkle was a political has-been.
PRECKWINKLE: Soon to be the new boss?

The Cook County Board president, after all, was the woman whom the electorate was going to revolt because of the “pop tax” – that penny-per-ounce fee on sweetened beverages that she lobbied for, but that the county commissioners eventually repealed.

IT SEEMS THAT Cook County residents weren’t as worked up about that tax as some ideologues wanted to believe. Either that, or the fact that she ran against a political mediocrity like Robert Fioretti gave her a victory in last week’s Democratic primary.

With her fate assured for the next four years (there isn’t a serious Republican challenger for the Nov. 6 general election), the long-time alderman from Hyde Park turned eight-years-and-running county president wants to strengthen her post.

Such as her public statement Friday that she wants to become the new chairwoman of the Cook County Democratic Party – a post that some local political watchers believe is more significant than that of the Illinois Democratic Party chairman (because local is ALWAYS more important than state).

The post is open because of another electoral result from Tuesday – the defeat of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios. He’s the man who has been county Democratic boss since 2007.
BERRIOS: Will Toni friendship last?

BUT HIS DEFEAT as assessor undermines his ability to keep the Democratic Party post. Why should the Democratic Party’s local organization keep as its boss a guy who couldn’t even win re-election?

Which has Preckwinkle publicly saying she’s willing to challenge Berrios for the position that enhances his political party.

Consider Richard J. Daley, who may have committed many significant acts toward the long-term future of Chicago as mayor. But it was the fact that he doubled as the Democratic Chairman that gave him the power to keep getting re-elected as mayor, and also to have an influence that caused national Democrats to care what he thought.

In short, it wasn’t the “Mayor of Chicago” that John F. Kennedy sought out when he ran for the presidency in 1960 – it was the “Democratic chairman” who turned out all those hundreds of thousands of votes that resulted in Illinois’ electoral college going into the JFK column, rather than for Richard Nixon.
Would JFK have sought Daley if he weren't chair

HECK, IT CAN be argued that it was the fact that Edward R. Vrdolyak served as Democratic chairman from 1982-87 that gave him the power to influence a council majority to openly defy Harold Washington during much of his mayoral term.

Other significant names to serve as Democratic chairman for Cook County include George Dunne, Jacob Arvey, Edward J. Kelly and Anton Cermak – the latter of whom used the party chairman post to rise to being Chicago mayor.

This will be the class of politicos that Preckwinkle would elevate herself to – IF she can become the Democratic chairwoman for the county of Cook.

She’d be the first woman to hold the post, although she’d be replacing the man who was the first Latino to ever hold the post. Depending on how strongly Berrios would want to hang onto political power, this could become an ethnically-inspired political brawl.

ALTHOUGH IT COULD wind up that the political elements wishing to elevate the number of women holding political posts could rise up to fight for Preckwinkle. It would be something of an achievement if the el jefe of Cook County Democrats became a la jefa.
CERMAK: Used post to become mayor

Kind of odd, since Preckwinkle herself was a Berrios backer. She constantly spoke out on behalf of retaining Joe as county assessor; even when others were bashing him about for all the family members on his government payroll and allegations that he gave tax breaks to his political donors.

So now, by saying she wants to replace Joe Berrios, Toni Preckwinkle is turning on him at his lowest moment. Which may illustrate a reality of electoral politics.

Political allies are friends so long as they can do something for your – and no longer! Not bad for somebody who some people wanted to believe would be political history by now.


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