Monday, January 16, 2006

What's Cooking?

Okay, I'm back from a couple of days of R+R, and (I think) ready to get back into the thick of things. I have received a number of requests for a thread on the Cook County Board President race between incumbent John Stroger and Commissioner Forrest Claypool. And in light of Laura Washington's article in Monday's Sun-Times, today is as good a day as any to open the blog up to people's thoughts on the race.

She starts off by taking what I thought to be an unnecessary cheap shot at Claypool, , and then proceeds to set forth her assertion that Claypool is going nowhere fast. "A reform campaign that doesn't have significant black, Latino and gay support can forget it", says Washington.

What I find interesting is that the overwhelming media sentiment had seemed to be that with Claypool and Commissioner Mike Quigley both in the race, Stroger was golden, but that once Quigley honorably stepped out of the race, Stroger was in big, big trouble.

Washington's article paints quite a different picture, one in which the race card still looms large.
To the voters, clout and loyalty count more than newspaper endorsements, white papers, and blue-ribbon committees. The mood in the 'hood says that once an office goes black, it never goes back.
to those who asked for this thread, and anybody else wanting to weigh in here, let me pose a few questions:
How do you see the race thus far?
What issues is it going to turn on?
Who prevails on those issues?
At the end of the day, is race going to trump everything else?
And if so, and on the heels of Dr. King's birthday, what does that say about where we are as a society?
I think that the outcome of this race will make for some fascinating fodder for the present state of politics in the City and County.


At January 17, 2006 at 10:09 AM, Blogger Yellow Dog Democrat said...

John -

I found it interesting that Washington chose to spend her ink on MLK Day flaking for John Stroger -- a man who has consistently supported Richard Daley's white machine candidates over black leaders, including Barack Obama, Roland Burris, and of course Harold Washington.

Stroger leaves little doubt that he would have given Dr. King a chilly reception to Chicago back in the day, and sided with Mayor Daley against Dr. King.

There is no doubt that Claypool is getting behind-the-scenes help from many black, latino and gay leaders, people who are afraid to oppose Daley-Stroger head-on.

However, this presents a problem for Claypool as he battles the perception that his is a white lakefront campaign. His campaign clearly needs to reshape its public image, and not simply by putting "Visit black churches" on his checklist for black history month. Some of those people working behind the scenes need to come out of the closet, and Claypool's campaign needs to have a constant presence in the black, latino, and gay communities.

At January 17, 2006 at 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well said, after repeatedly deserting the black community for 'the man', Stroger is now trying to ride on their backs to re-election. Just not right. But will the community get it?

At January 17, 2006 at 12:10 PM, Blogger Levois said...

It takes a lot more than getting it. Some blacks just don't know. We may not be as in tuned to politics as we could be. Or at least who our leaders truly support. He doesn't have to support let's say Barack in the primary but he can ust turn around and support Barack the ultimate nominee as an example.

At January 17, 2006 at 2:19 PM, Blogger Making The Wheels Turn said...

1. How do you see the race thus far?

Way too early, budget wars will have an effect, corruption scandals will have more.

2. What issues is it going to turn on?


3. Who prevails on those issues?

Patrick Fitzgerald & the different Federal Special Grand Juries.

4. At the end of the day, is race going to trump everything else?

See #3 above.

At January 17, 2006 at 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that it sounds naive, but it would be great, and better for all communities of interest, if we could get past skin color and look at substance.

At January 18, 2006 at 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Washington is so incredibly racist, it is disgusting. If a white man said those things, he would be crucified. We need to hold mouthy blacks accountable for their racism.

At January 18, 2006 at 4:51 PM, Blogger Sammy Esposito said...


I think Washington took a couple of cheap shots at Claypool, but her analysis is pretty good.

I agree with Washington's "a-reformer-can't-win-without-minority-support" thesis. I'll take it one step further and say it is very difficult to beat and African-American candidate who is being supported by key "machine" ward organizations.

I left a lengthy post on Illinoize making this point a few weeks ago. You can check it out in the December archive. (Dec. 29th, to be exact.)Based on my numbers crunching, if Stroger gets more than 25 percent of the white vote, he's gonna be real tough to beat.

After Stroger won the '94 primary, an old political pro told me that "the number one rule of Chicago politics is when the Irish and blacks get together, they don't lose."

Barring a bombshell from 219 S. Dearborn, I think Stroger might prove that rule right again.

At January 19, 2006 at 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You hit on something I've been thinking about for a while with the "when the Irish and blacks get together" comment.

Senator, Lt gov, Sec'y of State, AG, Comptroller, House spkr, Senate Pres, County Bd Pres, Court Clerk, Recorder, Mayor, City treas, Finance Comm Chmn....(Durbin (is he Irish?), Rod and Orr are the only exceptions that come to mind)...what the hell is going on?

At January 21, 2006 at 5:33 PM, Anonymous Elder said...

I would not count Claypool out. Did anyone closely watch his campaign against Ted Lechowicz? I live in the district, and it was relentless, devastating, and funny as hell.

The guy is a natural at politics, generates goo-gobs of free publicity, understands how to create controversy around the issues, raises lots of money, and knows how to run campaigns. And he has made lots of friends over the years. (Pat Quinn and Barack Obama, to name two.)

Maybe he will get clobbered, but I doubt it. I predict he wins the suburbs and most of the Northwest side as well as the lakefront. I would not be shocked if he wins a surprising percent of the SW side either. Laura is probably right about the African American community closing ranks around Stoger.

But Claypool will run a strong, credible campaign. Stroger's coalition is a weakened house of cards, and at least Claypool's got the guts to challenge the Chicago "Combine".

At January 29, 2006 at 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Challenge the combine?

Claypool IS the combine.

Do you think there is a Claypol in this race without a Daley? Do you think Axelrod gets the green light to work on the campaign without Daley's blessing?

Was Claypool dispatched to "fix" the park district, or to clear out everyone's else's people there for the Mayor's people (including HDOers)?

Please stop trying to make this a reform-regular race. This is about white suburbanite-lakefronters attempting to take control of County government for their own special brand of "consultants" and "experts."

Washington was on to something. It's hard to see Claypool as a credible reform candidate--not because of who isn't supporting him, but becasue of what HE isn't.

There is no way the 2X Chief of Staff to anyone named Daley is a "reformer."


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