With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The struggle continues

Cook County machine boss,"Big Daddy" Berrios
"Big money talked — big. The Chicago Democratic Machine still lives." -- Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business
It wasn't a great day for ed progressives. But after making the rounds of last night's election funerals parties, I felt disappointed but not disheartened by losses for Rudy Lozano, Jr. (in an amazingly close race) and Ilya Sheyman, who hung tough but lost to a blue dog in the 10the Congressional Dist. race. Rudy was targeted by both the machine and by the anti-union group, and largest PAC contributor, Stand For Children.  

Will Guzzardi made a surprisingly strong showing and is still alive and still waiting for a final vote count in a district loaded with drunk election judges, misshapen ballots, and voter machine breakdowns. As of this writing, Will trails machine hack Toni Berrios by only 72 votes with one precinct not reporting. Berrios is the daughter of machine boss Joe Berrios.  According to election data, Guzzardi held majorities in all of the district's seven wards except for two -- the 30th Ward in Irving Park and the 31st Ward in Hermosa. Guzzardi's showing was most strong -- 58 percent of the vote -- in the city's 35th Ward, which includes the heart of the city's Logan Square neighborhood  (Yikes--that's my ward. How could we no have turned out 72 more votes?).

I predict that all three of these young guys have great political futures ahead of them.

Progressive candidates depend on high voter turnout in working class and black and Latino communities. That didn't happen in 2010 when Republicans rebounded after getting crushed by the '08 Obama juggernaut. It didn't happen again yesterday in these local elections. It was the lowest primary election turnout in history so I wouldn't draw too many big conclusions about future political trends based on this one. Progressive candidates had almost as many endorsements as they had votes. Problem is, the endorsing organizations can't mobilize their own base on election day.

But you may be surprised to learn that there were more votes cast in the Democratic primary for president (even though Obama was running unopposed) than in the Republican primary.

Congrats to Jesse Jackson, Jr. who has recently taken a strong stand against Chicago school closings and the mayor's turnaround schemes, and who won by a landslide yesterday.

I'm sure that this morning, candidates and staffers will be summing up the lessons learned yesterday -- tactical and strategic. How do these campaigns, both successful and not, contribute or detract from building the progressive movement? Who is our base and how do we educate and energize it? How does the rapidly changing demographics in our communities influence the way we do politics in these times?

All I can be sure of now is that when it comes to elections, we win some and lose some. But the struggle still continues.


  1. Mike,

    Last night was not fun.

    In Illinois, progressive congressional candidate Ilya Sheyman lost to Brad Schneider by 8% -- 47% to 39% -- while other candidates got 14% of the vote. Honestly, a lot of people were scratching their heads asking, "What happened?" The best answer is actually a quite simple one: Only 8% of people voted, so progressives lost.

  2. These PACS--especially Stand for Children--are enraging me!
    But, there's alwys the fight ahead.



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