Thursday, April 19, 2018

How far are Ill. ideologues out-of-touch

It’s official. Toni Preckwinkle is now the Democratic chairman for Cook County; despite the fact that – not long ago – people were speculating she was “history” and a cancer on her political party.
PRECKWINKLE: New 'firsts' for her resume

How much you want to bet that come next week, Michael Madigan will remain in place as the Democratic chairman for all of Illinois?

IT’S VERY LIKELY that the people who go about clamoring for the demise of Madigan from positions of authority will find their hostile views rather irrelevant. About as much as those who wanted to believe that Preckwinkle was doomed because of the “pop tax.”

Remember that? The penny-per-ounce fee that was charged every time you bought a bottle of a sweetened drink (about $0.64 added to the price of a two-liter bottle of pop).

People were supposedly so offended by the charge (which used to add about 21 cents to the cost of whenever I picked up a can of Coca-Cola) that they were going to vote Preckwinkle out of her post as Cook County Board president.

Actually, it was the lobbyists for the carbonated beverage industry who were p.o.’ed about the tax, and it was their lobbying effort that ultimately swayed the county board to repeal the tax despite Preckwinkle’s continued support of the need for the revenues it generated.

MADIGAN: 3rd decade as Dem chair?
BUT THAT DIDN’T happen. Preckwinkle won her re-nomination in the March primary and doesn’t even have a Republican opponent come the Nov. 6 general election. She enhanced her political power on Wednesday when the Cook County committeemen convened and picked her the party chairman.

She’s now the first woman and first black person to ever hold the position and can now put her name in the same category as Richard J. Daley – who himself was the county Democratic chairman who used that position to make himself all-powerful.

Rather than just another “joe schmo” mayor.

Not that I expect Preckwinkle to become the next Daley who single-handedly picks the candidate who beats up on Donald J. Trump come the 2020 presidential election.

FIORETTI: Reduced to defending Harvey
BUT SHE’S NOWHERE near the level of political death that her partisan detractors wanted to believe. Although if she had faced a more credible opponent than Robert Fioretti in the Democratic primary, things might have been different.

Not that Fioretti hasn’t been in the news in recent days. He’s the attorney defending suburban Harvey – the community whose share of state revenues were being garnished by the Comptroller’s office for failing to make payments toward the pension benefits they’re supposed to provide to retired police officers and firefighters.

Not exactly a high-minded cause, to be sure.

Although at least Preckwinkle had a couple of challengers for the party chairman post. Which is much more than the opposition Madigan will face when the state central committee meets on Monday in Springfield.

ALL THE PEOPLE who privately rant and rage about Madigan being all-too-powerful don’t have the nerve to come forth and challenge him. He’s been state Democratic chairman for 20 years and is likely to continue that reign (along with being Illinois House speaker) for the time being.

RAUNER: Covering up own unpopularity?
Not even a token challenger, like Preckwinkle had for county board president in the primary earlier this year.

Republicans may want to believe the nonsense-talk that Gov. Bruce Rauner is going to spew for the next few months that Madigan is all-evil and everything that is wrong with electoral politics. But I’d have to say that we make a mistake if we presume that he speaks for the majority of Illinoisans – just the people who are so desperate for an Election Day victory that they’ll keep engaging in the same “Dump Madigan” rhetoric that hasn’t succeeded for the last few election cycles.

For the reality may well be that many of us have real lives to live and know better than to get wrapped up in partisan political trash talk.


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