Monday, January 7, 2019

Re-elect Burke? Tough, but the Chicago ‘Rules’ won’t rule out possibility

Call them, if you will, the “rules” by which the Chicago electorate tends to operate when it comes to Election Day behavior.
BURKE: Could he still win Feb. 26?

It’s not wrong to cast a ballot for someone who faces some sort of indictment or other criminal charge. We literally take that “innocent until proven guilty” staple and want to see a criminal conviction before we’ll believe the worst in political people.

TO THE POINT where some people even try arguing that a public official ought to be able to remain in office right up to the day they’re carted off and sent to ‘da slammer.’

The other rule might not be a Chicago rule as just a good rule of thumb for understanding the concept of Latino political empowerment and why the number of Latino elected officials doesn’t equal their share of the population. It’s that the Latino Election Day turnout often stinks to the point of embarrassment.

It also helps to understand that despite what conservative ideologues want to believe, Chicago is NOT some politically radical place. Our Democratic majorities often consist of people who are fairly neutral minded – except to those ideologues whose idea of “moderate” is somewhere to the right of Atilla, the Hun.

It is so unlikely that our city would ever produce a pseudo-radical such as New York City’s new member of Congress, Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez. The woman whose very presence offends the right likely would have been too offensive to Chicago voters, IF she lived here rather than in the Bronx.

THIS LITTLE COLLECTION of pithy comments is the basis of why I’m not prepared to write off the chance of Edward M. Burke getting himself re-elected to another term in the City Council that would give him the beginning of a second half-century as a Chicago alderman.

GARCIA: Can his influence beat Burke?
Now as to whether he can survive long enough to finish out another four-year term running through 2023, I don’t know!

Burke may well be in a deep-enough legal predicament that he won’t be around come that year. He may have to resign himself in ways more significant than giving up the Finance committee chairmanship – the title that allowed him to bop about City Hall like a Lord and treat the rest of the aldermen as his minions.

Personally, I wonder about the legitimacy of the charges, but I also know many people will be swayed by the very fact that the federal government is proceeding with the process that eventually will put Burke on trial – OR pressure him into pleading guilty to something ominous sounding.

WHILE OTHERS ALSO are so eager to see Burke “taken down” for something sounding criminal that they’ll believe it just has to be – even if they really can’t explain it or comprehend why it ought to be illegal.

But whether Burke is guilty of a federal offense or not is really a completely different question from whether he can win re-election.

I can’t help but notice the significant amounts of campaign cash he already has, combined with the fact he had a fundraising event recently to add to the $12 million total he already had. There are many people in the legal community who are now on the record as being willing to offer the greatest act of support they can give a politician – a campaign contribution.

There will be those who will view the growing number of Latinos who live in that particular ward (nearly four of every five residents) as some sort of threat, and Burke’s re-election as maintaining of tradition.

AS TO HOW he tries to appeal to Latinos to not view him as the enemy, it literally has me wondering if he’s out to position himself as a modern-day descendant of the San Patricios. That being the 1840s unit of Irish immigrants who came to this country, enlisted in the U.S. military, then responded to intense anti-Catholic/immigrant prejudice by switching sides during the Mexican/American War.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Too radical to win Chicago?
Traitors to the ideologues, they are heroes to the Mexican people – viewed as Irish allies to the idea of their independence. Which is how I’m sure Burke would like the Mexican/American populace of his ward to think of himself.

Even before the indictment, Burke was going about as making himself a backer of people offended by use of the Gary/Chicago International Airport (funded partially by the city Department of Aviation) as part of the process of deporting people from this country.

Will it work? I don’t know. Just another of the many questions that will make this particular aldermanic race a battle – rather than the usual shoo-in – for Burke. But not, so sayeth the Chicago Rules, an improbability.


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