Saturday, September 8, 2018

How quirky can partisan politics be? Consider possible outcome for Toni P.

It was just a year ago that political speculation was wondering about how Toni Preckwinkle, the one-time alderman from Hyde Park and two-term Cook County Board president, was finished.

PRECKWINKLE: Changing from county to city seal?
The voters, these speculators claimed, were going to cash Preckwinkle out on her behind – all because she had the nerve to try to stabilize Cook County government finances with that pop tax of a penny per ounce that offended so many people who they felt compelled to purchase their carbonated beverages.

WHAT WOUND UP happening was that Preckwinkle won the primary to run for a third term with ease – largely because the opponent she had was Robert Fioretti, a former alderman of no particular skill who couldn’t give voters a reason to pick him instead of her.

That means she’s up for re-election come Nov. 6. Yet Preckwinkle won’t be focusing much attention on being in charge of Cook County government much longer.

For it seems that Preckwinkle plans to make a formal announcement – the creation of an exploratory committee. As in she’s going to study whether the voters of Chicago would love her so much that they’d take seriously her bid to become mayor.
Could Fioretti again challenge Preckwinkle?

Yes, I write that with a touch of sarcasm. Because creating such a committee usually is evidence that the candidate, in her own mind, wants to run for the higher office.

“MAYOR TONI PRECKWINKLE” is a concept that I’m sure will grossly offend certain people – the ones who really wanted her to go down to political defeat on account of the pop tax that boosted the overall cost of a bottle of Coke (or whatever other flavor one chose to drink) by about 21 cents.

Instead, she’s got the potential to become the city’s (and arguably, the state’s) most important government official. Because hardly anybody thinks the governor is more important than “da Mare,” no matter who occupies either office.

With Rahm Emanuel making it clear he no longer plans to seek re-election to a third term for himself, it creates an opening. One that none of the dozen or so people who for months have tossed about their names amidst the political speculation have been able to fill.
Could Toni P. make McCarthy dreams fizzle?

Which could well lead to people like Preckwinkle, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and soon to be retired Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., getting into the mayoral campaign.

ALL HAVE SAID in recent days they are considering getting into the campaign mix (although soon-to-be former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has specifically said she’s NOT thinking of running for mayor).

I guess the idea of a McCarthy/Vallas campaign for City Hall come 2019 just doesn’t sway anyone into being interested.

It will be interesting to see how quickly a new political presence can get themselves into the electoral mix. Particularly since there are some candidates who already are in the process of gathering the nominating petition signatures that would get their names on the ballot for the February election (which could lead to an April run-off if no one takes a clear-cut majority).

One thing that political people always get wary of is trying to do a rush job in piecing together those petition signatures. Because, all too often, the lack of time causes short-cuts to be taken that result in flawed petitions – which can get candidates kicked off the ballot even before Election Day.

SO AS FOR Preckwinkle, she could have the potential to bring an organized candidate to the Election Day mix. She could make the upcoming election cycle intriguing.
GUTIERREZ: Also may add to mix?R

Particularly if it means she has to address the issues that her critics wished they could have used against her in this year’s election cycle. Which they couldn’t because not only did she have a token Democratic opponent, the Republicans couldn’t even put up that much of a challenge.

Toni for Mayor? I’ve already heard the speculation about how Chicago could be one of nine cities in upcoming elections that choose to put African-American women in charge of their municipal government. A first – although one that I’m sure will grossly offend those kind of people who believe in this Age of Trump we’re now in.

Will they be the ones screaming “Pop Tax!!!” the loudest? While also screeching in the future about how much “Crook County” isn’t meeting its financial obligations due to a shortage of funds.


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