|Look out. Vallas is back in town.|
No sooner had I finished posting about how the Working Families Party and allies were running Paul Vallas out of Bridgeport, than I get the news that he has been selected as Gov. Quinn's running mate here in Illinois. Yes, the master of the disaster from Philly to New Orleans and from Haiti to Chile, the buster of teacher unions, the school privatization guru himself, is back with a vengeance.
Sun-Times political reporter Fran Spielman and David McKinney call it, "a stunning political move that puzzled many African-American politicians."
What was Quinn thinking? friends ask. Is this a way of sticking it to Rahm? Madigan? To the state's unions? Doesn't he need those unions to defeat the Republicans? Maybe not. Or maybe they will support him anyway. After all, they (including the teachers unions) were probably going to overlook his role as pension buster and turn out their members for him.
Quinn is most likely hoping that Republicrat Vallas will bring him badly-needed votes in the white collar suburbs or in cities like Rockford where his ed consulting firm has been successful in bringing in privately run charter schools to replace neighborhood schools. He might also see Vallas as a fundraising link to corporate "school" reform groups and their PACs. Finally, Quinn who's on the outs with Madigan, Rahm and others in the Chicago machine, might see Vallas as an ally in the state's back-ally faction fighting. After all, despite his declaration of support for Quinn, the Mayor and his friends are quietly backing Republican pal Bruce Rauner in the race.
Remember, Vallas, was dumped by Mayor Daley in 2001. It was Daley who had invented the position of schools CEO for him in 1995. But Vallas who had his own battles with then school board President Gery Chico began trying to upstage the Mayor himself in the media. This led to an irate Daley firing him. Then he ran for governor and was defeated by the machine boys in his run for the Democratic nomination in 2002 against Quinn's predecessor Rod Blagojevich. Vallas answered with an endorsement of Gery Chico in the mayor's race against Rahm. Vallas' brother even worked as an insider on Chico's campaign. After Quinn replaced Blagojevich, he appointed now Vallas ally, Chico to lead the Illinois State Board of Education, a post that often puts him into confrontations with Rahm.
PV, as savvy political infighter and former Chicago machine soldier, would like nothing better than to take advantage of current faction fighting and get back into the game here. There was even talk recently about him jumping into the mayor's race.
The same could be asked about party liberals and even the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, since it was Vallas who launched corporate "reform" in Chicago which began the large-scale removal of black principals and teachers from CPS. In picking Vallas, Quinn passed over several black and Latino possible running mates who could have helped the ticket in those communities. Like the unions, Quinn probably figured he has those groups in his back pocket anyway. We'll see.
"It’s amazing to me. I’m extremely disappointed in his decision, as I know the caucus is,” said Ald. Latasha Thomas, chairman of the City Council’s Education Committee.“There’s already backlash. I don’t know what it’s going to mean in March or, better yet, November. But there is some backlash. Absolutely…In the primary, he has no challenge. So, it’s the November election. He’s got some work to do. That is why I am so disappointed in him because we are taken for granted.”In a comment in the Tribune, African-American schools activist Valerie Leonard writes:
Where's the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus now? We need them to voice outrage about Pat Quinn selecting Paul Vallas as a running mate...He used Hurricane Katrina and charter schools to break unions and destroy the public school system in Louisiana. He did the same thing in Philadelphia. The folks in Bridgeport, Connecticut had the good sense to kick this non-educator out of the superintendent's job. So, Governor Pat Quinn selected him to run as Lieutenant Governor?Yes, he's back.