33 years of writing a weekly "analysis and
opinion," here's something completely
different - a "gossip with analysis."
political landscape, both in Illinois and Chicago,
is in the throes of turmoil and uncertainty. How
many more Hired Truck indictments will hit City
Hall? How much blame will attach to Mayor Rich
Daley? Will a Daley connection be poison in 2006?
And will voter revulsion cause Daley to lose in
that the U.S. Attorney's Office is intensively
investigating state hiring in the Blagojevich
Administration, will the epitaph
"scandal-plagued" soon attach itself to
this governor? What if some indictments hit in
2006, in the midst of Governor Rod Blaogjevich's
re-election campaign? Can the Republican candidate
for governor exploit the "corruption"
maneuvering abounds in certain key races, and some
interesting primaries are developing. Here's the
latest political insight - which might also be
construed as gossip - complete with subtitles:
Manny-Man." Many have awaited Republican Judy
Baar Topinka's decision. Now that her state
treasurer's post is open, a stampede of Democrats
will run. Topinka was first elected treasurer in
1994 by 77,018 votes, with 50.4 percent of the
votes cast, and she was re-elected in 1998 by
62,279 votes, getting 50.1 percent of the vote. By
2002, having entrenched herself and having built
significant name identification, Topinka was
re-elected handily, by 396,965 votes (54.8
percent). It was generally conceded that Topinka,
age 61, would have won a fourth term had she run.
to seek the Democratic nomination for treasurer
are Alderman Manny Flores (1st), state Senator Jim
Clayborne (D-57) of East Saint Louis and 1998
loser Dan McLauglin, the mayor of south suburban
Orland Park. City Clerk Jim Laski is not running.
On Oct. 2 the state Democratic Party slated Knox
County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri for
early outlook: Mangieri is unknown in the Cook
County media market, and his pro-life views on
abortion will estrange him from liberal voters.
He's going nowhere.
candidate to watch is Flores, age 33, who in 2003
ran as an insurgent and upset pro-Daley Alderman
Jesse Granato in the 1st Ward runoff by 1,573
votes, getting 59 percent of the total. Flores was
one of only three aldermen elected in 2003 who
were opposed by Daley's forces. He has been
supportive of the mayor in his City Council votes,
but he has not been welcomed into Daley's circle.
In 2004, when Flores wanted to run for Granato's
job as 1st Ward Democratic committeeman, Daley's
organization prevailed upon U.S. Representative
Luis Gutierrez (D-4), the former 26th Ward
alderman and committeeman whose home had been
remapped into the 1st Ward, to seek the job.
Gutierrez announced, and Flores promptly withdrew.
2006, a treasurer's race is a win-win situation
for both Flores and the Daley machine. By running
statewide, Flores will generate greater exposure
and name identification, which will aid him in his
2007 re-election bid in his ward, and if he wins,
it gets him out of Chicago politics and onto the
statewide track, which aids Daley and enables him
to appoint a new 1st Ward alderman.
Clayborne runs, he will have solid backing from
his black base, in both Chicago and Downstate. If
Clayborne beats Flores in the primary, the
alderman's credibility will take a huge hit, which
could make him vulnerable in 2007. However,
Clayborne's Senate term is up in 2006, so a
treasurer's bid is an up-or-out proposition.
In-and-Out Man." It may not be a record, but
Eric Leys' candidacy for state senator in the
northwest suburban 34th District is noteworthy for
its brevity. Incumbent Dave Sullivan of Park Ridge
resigned in September, and the Republican township
committeemen from the district thereafter
appointed Cheryl Axley, the Elk Grove Township GOP
committeeman, as his successor. Leys, the
25-year-old president of the Maine Township High
School District 207 Board, promptly announced his
candidacy, brandishing support from Maine Township
Supervisor Bob Dudycz and Highway Commissioner Bob
Provenzano, who head the party's more conservative
faction in the township.
nasty, bitter, ideologically and geographically
divisive primary loomed. Provenzano is challenging
Committeeman Mark Thompson in the 2006 primary,
and Thompson is backing Axley. This strife would
have helped Dan Kotowski, the Democratic
candidate. But in late October Leys pulled the
plug and endorsed Axley, who likely will be
unopposed in the primary.
to rumor, Leys will not run for state
representative against incumbent Rosemary Mulligan
(R-65), a strong pro-choicer. The major
beneficiary of Leys' decision is Provenzano.
Without a state Senate primary to boost voter
interest, and without abortion as an issue to
bring out Mulligan backers, the turnout in the
Republican committeeman's race will be light.
Thompson won in 2002 by 153 votes in a turnout of
8,857. If turnout is under 7,500 in 2006,
Provenzano will win, and if the Provenzano-Dudycz
forces control the township Republican apparatus,
Leys will be in an excellent position to challenge
Mulligan in 2008.
Stealth Man." Larry Andolino is a young
lawyer in a hurry to grab some judicial robes. The
36-year-old Andolino, who has been an attorney
since 1995, works for the Vrdolyak Law Group,
headed by controversial former alderman Ed
his sparse credentials, Andolino ran for judge in
2004 in the 11th Judicial Subcircuit, which
encompasses the Northwest Side 36th and 38th
wards, Leyden Township, Oak Park and some West
Side precincts. He was slated by the Democratic
committeemen in the sub-circuit - conclusive
evidence that Vrdolyak still has considerable
clout among Democrats.
will be recalled that Vrdolyak, as 10th Ward
alderman, led the opposition to Mayor Harold
Washington from 1983 to 1987. He retired in 1987
and ran for mayor as the Solidarity Party
candidate. In 1988 he switched to the Republicans
and ran for Circuit Court clerk. Despite that
odyssey, Vrdolyak is still a key behind-the-scenes
player in local political and legal circles.
opponent in 2004 was Paula Daleo, a Chicago
attorney backed by U.S. Representative Danny
Davis' organization. Because Andolino had not been
an attorney for at least 10 years, he was found
"unqualified" by every bar association.
Committeemen Bill Banks (36th) and P.J. Cullerton
(38th) delivered 60-40 margins in their wards for
Andolino, but he lost by more than 2-1 in Oak Park
and the predominantly black wards, and he barely
won Leyden Township. Overall, he triumphed by 36
votes, but Daleo filed a challenge, alleging fraud
and intimidation by Andolino-supporting precinct
captains in absentee ballot procurement. With
subpoenas out for many of Banks' captains and with
a trial looming, Andolino conceded, thereby
avoiding the possibility of a finding of fraud.
is running again in 2006, and he is sweating out a
possible primary. His worst nightmare: A female
candidate from Oak Park. Bettina Gembala, who was
an aide to Aurie Pucinski when she was clerk of
court, was appointed an associate judge in 2003
and lives in the sub-circuit. If she runs, using
her incumbency and court system experience, she
would reap most media and bar association
endorsements. All it would take to put her over
the top is one negative mass mailing to Oak Park
and black voters with six magical words:
"Larry Andolino works for Ed Vrdolyak."
Andolino will get on the bench only by stealth,
which means having no opponent.
New Man." Cal Sutker, age 82, has had a long
and distinguished career. He has been Niles
Township Democratic committeeman since 1973, was a
state representative for 5 years, and was a county
commissioner for 8 years. During his long reign,
Republicans have essentially vanished as a
political factor in the township.
Sutker lost his bid for re-nomination for
commissioner in 2002 to Larry Suffredin of
Evanston by 4,427 votes. Sutker carried his
township with 60.4 percent of the vote, but
Suffredin won Evanston with 75.2 percent. Sutker
has announced his retirement from the post, and he
is backing state Representative Lou Lang (D-16) as
his replacement. Lang explored a 2006 race for
governor against Blagojevich, and he is the
president of Sutker's organization. Lang is part
of the House Democratic leadership and, at age 55,
has a long career ahead of him. Rumors abounded
that a Suffredin-backed candiate would run against
Sutker, but Lang will be much more difficult to
No-Petition Man." Frank Coconate, the
chairman of the Northwest Democratic Organization,
who is backing Jesse Jackson Jr. for mayor in
2007, will soon be opening a campaign headquarters
in Jefferson Park. Coconate claims to be fielding
2006 Democratic primary candidates for state
senator, state representative, county commissioner
and state central committeeman. "There's
nobody out there (passing petitions) for
him," said state Senator Jim DeLeo (D-10),
who Coconate promised to oppose. Is Coconate all
talk, and no action? We'll soon find out.