Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Preckwinkle campaign, like watching a slow-motion train wreck

Berrios & Preckwinkle...breaking up is hard to do. 
I realize, despite my best intentions, I'm a little preoccupied with this mayor's race. I've never really had a handle on it. I admit, I expected a Daley/Preckwinkle or Daley/Mendoza runoff and was amazed by Lori Lightfoot's come-from-behind charge in the opening round.

I loved it that the big-money guys like Daley and Chico turned into big losers. I was a little disappointed that Paul Vallas didn't make the cut. He couldn't even get out of single-digits. But only because over the years of battling his influence peddling in the field of education reform, I have so much unused op-research filed away on PV that I was itching for a chance to use it all.

But in the end, I was overjoyed to see two African-American women, one openly gay, and both with progressive credentials, make the cut. The inevitability of a black, woman mayor taking charge of what Carl Sandberg called, the city of "stormy, husky, brawling...big shoulders" still leaves me high as a kite -- Harold Washington high.

All the post-op pain killers I've been taking have also helped.

But another reality, not opioid-driven, is now setting in. With election day only a few weeks away, and Lightfoot apparently pulling far ahead, internecine warfare has broken out among the progressives to such a degree it's going to be hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again when the election madness is over.

While both campaigns are going negative in their TV ads, (as Harold used to say, "politics ain't bean bag") I mainly put the blame for this on a self-righteous, dispirited and angry group of Preckwinkle supporters who can't believe they are losing and that the rest of the progressive left doesn't see Lightfoot in their one dimensional way.

Now I'm likely overreacting. I know it's probably just a small group of Facebook lefties that are portraying former Police Board chief and former prosecutor Lightfoot as a "cop" or "defender of killer cops". But the tone of the official campaign ads is nearly as negative and reactionary.

This isn't necessarily the case with the CTU leadership, which endorsed Preckwinkle when it looked like she was the only alternative to a Daley victory. I likely would have voted "strategically" for her if it came down to Toni/Daley as well. My god, I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

CTU leaders while still strongly backing Toni, seem to be taking a more savvy and seasoned approach while still showing leadership where it really counts, in community battles, like stopping plunder of the city by Sterling Bay Corp. around Lincoln Yards.

They must realize that in three weeks there's going to be a new mayor on the fifth floor at City Hall and whoever wins, it will be a mayor who, in sharp contrast to the current one, the union can work with, one who opposes school closings, charters and vouchers, and favors an elected school board.

The union will also need its school/community base to stay unified if it is to keep the pressure on whoever's elected, especially with contract negotiations coming up and possible strike on the horizon.

FINALLY, I'M STUNNED at the ineptitude of the Preckwinkle campaign. Every day, I feel like I'm watching a slow-motion train wreck. It's not just about the reactionary overreach of anti-Lori negativity in their propaganda, which can't help but backfire. It's the daily miscalculation, the ducking a dodging, and misreading of the depths of anti-machine hostility directed at Preckwinkle on the part of voters.

"Change agents", White, Burnett and Preckwinkle
Take the past two days which saw the campaign accept official endorsements from Sec. of State Jesse White and and Ald. Walter Burnett. No matter what you think of this pair, it's impossible for most of us to consider them as change agents. Yet, the campaign pitched them both as "representatives of change".

S-T's Fran Spielman writes:
The state’s leading vote-getter and his political protege stood with Toni Preckwinkle Wednesday to help her make the case that she is the candidate for change in a change election because she has already delivered it.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) endorsed Preckwinkle, but that was hardly surprising. Both men are longstanding Preckwinkle allies and stalwarts of the Cook County Democratic Party she chairs.
 On Wednesday, Burnett made a dramatically different argument. He argued that Preckwinkle’s decision to succeed her longtime ally, former Assessor Joe Berrios, as chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization would pay handsome dividends for Chicago taxpayers if she becomes mayor.
Then, the second shoe dropped...
Never mind that White’s office hired Joe Berrios’ sister and friend when newly-elected Assessor Fritz Kaegi fired them.
As the Tribune reported in December...
 The secretary of state’s office, which has around 3,700 jobs, has long been known as a patronage haven under both Democrats and Republicans. The two women will each make $37,992 a year as public service supervisors in the Vehicle Services Department, said Dave Druker, White’s spokesman.
Yes, change agents.

These latest endorsements are going to make it even tougher in the final three weeks, for Preckwinkle to unhook from her own ties to Burke, Berrios and the rest of her old machine pals in the eyes of the voters.

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