Monday, January 22, 2007

Where's the Party (Going)?

The contest to replace the recently departed Tom Lyons as Cook County Democratic Party Chairman has taken some interesting twists and turns. First, a number of likely candidates made it very clear that they had no interest in the position.

Then, Board of Review Commissioner Joe Berrios emerged as leading (only?) contender for the post. Things heated up when west side powerhouse Alderman Ike Carrothers, who had reportedly thrown his support behind Berrios, announced that he too was vying for the spot.

And amidst some very active lobbying on behalf of Berrios and Carrothers, and some potential tension between African-American and Latino committemen, Rep. Lou Lang, who recently became the Niles Township Committeeman, is announcing that he too is seeking the post.

The contest certainly gives the committeemen something to think about. The biggest point of discussion has been why anybody would want the job. Many organizations are in disarray, and any County infrastructure is essentially non-existent. Accordingly, a lot of people envision the job as being a thankless one consisting of fundraising and headaches.

The latent enemy of a local Party organization has been various competing personal agendas and a certain level of distrust among many committeemen. But as the traditional (by Chicago terms) Democratic apparatus continues to erode, the focus needs to turn to ideology and methods to identify, attract and energize Democratic voters.

This would be a great opportunity for a discussion about what the County Party should look like and what it should be doing to help generate interest and expand the base in these changing political times in which we find ourselves.

It will be interesting to watch how coalitions come together or fall apart leading up to the selection of the new chairman. It will be more intriguing to see what happens to the County Party in the future.


At January 22, 2007 at 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing that I know will happen in Cook County is that Green Party precinct committeemen will be appointed, and a county central chairman will be chosen. I'm hoping that Democrats have the insight to get to work on a form of majority elections in Illinois, either using a system of traditional runoff elections or Instant Runoff Voting, eliminating the spoiler effect.

At January 22, 2007 at 10:54 AM, Blogger Levois said...

When I saw this story about a Latino county chairman it seemed a lock a few weeks ago then he got competition. What happened?

At January 22, 2007 at 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might be time for a push into the future with a true leader, like Lang. He embodies all the needs of the turning system. Leadership, maturity, no overbearing allegence to any one, specific side, and an unparalled grasp of the nuance of government on all the different levels are just a few of the characteristics that Rep. Lang holds. I believe that he can weather the storm of the changes that are coming Cook County's way.

At January 22, 2007 at 10:04 PM, Blogger respectful said...

John says the Democratic base in Cook County needs to be broadened further. Considering that Democrats hold every single countywide office, that the last Republican to win countywide was in 1992, that the subcircuits designed to elect Republican judges now elect Dems, and that Dems hold 70.5% of the county board seats, where's the fire? How big can one party get and still call it a two-party system?

At January 22, 2007 at 10:11 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


My comments about expanding the base refer to an ongoing exercise that needs to be engaged in by all parties.

It is not solely about winning offices, it is about espousing a set of ideals and the means by which to achieve them.

As the 'machine' dwindles, I believe that voters are going to look more closely at the substance of candidates than they do today. Taking these voters for granted is short-sighted.

At January 23, 2007 at 8:50 AM, Blogger respectful said...

Isn't it fair to say that Cook County effectively has a one party system? If so, is a one-party system in the public interest?

At January 23, 2007 at 9:33 AM, Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

The best county chairman will be able to straddle the fence between the patronage-based political organizations and the new people that have joined the party since Bush took office, many of them activated through the Internet.

Additionally, the chair should be able to socialize comfortably with the big donors.

Oak Park Democratic Committeeman Don Harmon seems like a pretty good fit to me.

As one person put it yesterday, the Berrios-Carothers vision seems to be explicitly about taking the party backwards to some past glory days. It has calculated the harm Daley has done to the ward organizations by giving the patronage to non-ward-based organizations, like the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

Powerless aldermen suited Daley fine because they were designed to be rubber stamps to provide constituent service and give the illusion of representation.

However, the toady aldermen that don't have significant patronage can't be a base for rebuilding the Dem Party even if they wanted to be.

At January 23, 2007 at 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of majority elections, any ideas on why Madigan hasn't allowed previous IRV bills to come out of the House Rules Committee? Is there some sort of unspoken agreement that the spoiler effect will not be eliminated?

At January 23, 2007 at 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Matt O'Shea or Zucharelli should be the President. They get the vote out.

At February 2, 2007 at 6:20 PM, Anonymous Lady Day said...

Oh, yeah Zucarelli the Democratic committeeman that supported Judy Baar---surely you jest!


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