thoroughly understand and appreciate the concept
of "personhood," the latest skirmish in
the battle over abortion. Opponents of abortion
rights are putting referenda on various state
ballots to mandate that a human being -- or person
-- exists at the moment the sperm inseminates the
old hat in the Windy City and the Cook County
suburbs. The analogous concept of "officehood"
has long been prevalent. What emanates from the
loins of the mighty has long been the swiftest
avenue to political power. DNA matters. Future
politicians are created at the moment of
conception, or shortly thereafter.
latest manifestation of this phenomenon is Patrick
Daley Thompson, a Bridgeport lawyer and one of
three slated 2012 Democratic candidates for the
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. He is the
son of the daughter of the late Mayor Richard J.
Daley and the nephew of former mayor Richard M.
Daley, his mother's brother.
for Thompson, his mother providentially inserted
her surname as his middle name. He's not Patrick
David Thompson. You read it here first: Thompson,
age 42, a real estate and zoning attorney since
1999, is on a fast track to be Chicago's mayor.
wait. Isn't Rahm Emanuel going to be mayor for
life? His popularity is stratospheric, his power
is undisputed, and his ego is unrestrained.
Compared to Emanuel's energetic comportment as
mayor, Rich Daley was a bundle of lassitude. That,
however, is typical. Emanuel, who sniffed the
heady power of the White House as chief of staff,
is initially enjoying his job and exercising his
clout, but how long will he operate at a 24/7
level and tolerate just being mayor?
not Illinois governor in 2014? Or president in
2016 or 2020? The point is this: For Emanuel, the
mayoralty is a steppingstone to higher office, not
a career culmination. For the "Daley
Clan," being mayor is the end-all and the
be-all. This is "their" city. From 1955
to 2011, a period of 56 years, a Daley was mayor
for 43 years.
to Democratic sources, the grooming of Thompson is
based on a simple reality check. The offspring of
"Daley Generation II" are all in their
60s and politically exhausted: Rich Daley was
mayor for 22 years; Bill Daley, the White House
chief of staff, made millions as an investment
banker and eschewed bids for mayor, governor and
senator; John Daley, the 11th Ward Democratic
committeeman, a county commissioner and the
chairman of the Cook County Board's powerful
Finance Committee, will rise no further. As for
"Generation III," Rich Daley's son
Patrick has distinguished himself in the military
and has not yet immersed himself in Chicago
"Daley Clan" nephews, like Richard
Vanecko, have been accused of using their family
clout for personal gain and are not politically
viable. Vanecko, in fact, was the subject of an
investigation by the Cook County State's
Attorney's office into the death of David Koschman
that leaves Thompson as the successor-in-waiting.
His ascension is a four-step process: validation,
then promotion, followed by introduction and
finally coronation. Getting elected as a water
district commissioner, an obscure post, is his
validation. The media will pounce on any character
flaws, but the March 20 primary is essentially a
beauty contest. In a field of unknowns, voters
will be swayed by name, gender, ethnicity, media
endorsements and Democratic organization backing.
along with incumbent Debra Shore and South Sider
Kari Steele, the daughter of a former alderman and
current Appellate Court justice, the word has
descended from Bridgeport and "Daleyville"
to committeemen: Get on board now. Deliver a
sizable vote for Thompson, because if you don't,
we will remember, and if "Daley III"
makes it to City Hall, you will be sorry. For
2012, watch the money. The former mayor's campaign
account still has $962,129, and John Daley has
$51,210 in his account. Thompson will raise and
spend $1 million and pour an obscene amount of
dollars into the coffers of Democratic ward and
township organizations. Their sample ballots and
primary day palm cards will highlight Thompson,
and nobody else, in the water district race.
filing deadline for county races is Dec. 5, and
the water district primary will include Barbara
Moore, the wife of 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore,
and others. Shore, of Evanston, who is gay, will
get substantial support from the North Shore and
Lakefront as well as media endorsements. Steele
will be on the "black ticket" in the
primary. Moore will run as an environmentalist.
will not run first countywide. To win, however, he
needs to run first or a close second in Chicago's
white-majority wards and the suburbs. This much is
clear: If a vote for Thompson is a vote for
"Daley III," a lot of people -- blacks,
liberals, Hispanics, Emanuel supporters -- will
not vote for him in the primary. Stealth and
obfuscation are the key.
next phase is promotion. The water district is not
a source of great visibility. The outgoing
district president, Terry O'Brien, ran an abysmal
race for county board president in 2010, when as
the only white candidate in a field of four, he
got an anemic 23 percent of the vote, and Toni
Preckwinkle won the primary. But the Daleyites
intend to quickly advance Thompson to 11th Ward
current Bridgeport alderman, James Balcer, age 61,
has served since 1997, basically at the sufferance
of John Daley. He reportedly was eager to retire
in 2011. Presuming that Thompson wins the primary,
he would have the credentials and credibility to
be appointed alderman if Balcer were to resign or
to run to succeed him in 2015.
in the City Council, the next phase is
introduction. Thompson cannot be a cipher like
Balcer, unseen and unheard. He would need to
emerge quickly as a player, either as an advocate
of specific issues, a budget economist or a critic
of Emanuel. He would need to identify himself with
a cause, such as TIF district reform or school
choice, and earn credibility as a thoughtful
there is the coronation. As was obvious in the
lead-up to 2011, there were a plethora of mayoral
aspirants, but few had the intestinal fortitude
and financing to run. Thompson, guided by John
Daley, won't have those shortcomings when the time
date, no alderman has surfaced as an Emanuel
critic. The mayor deftly positions himself as a
cut-the-fat fiscal conservative. His 2012 budget
is $6.3 billion, and his technique is to slash
severely, engender an outcry from those slashed,
then "compromise" by slashing slightly
public remembers the grousing and applauds the
mayor, while those slashed are ever so grateful
that he relented somewhat and also applaud the
mayor. For Emanuel, it's a win-win situation.
age 52, has plenty of future competitors in his
late 40s/early 50s peer group. There are Sheriff
Tom Dart, former state comptroller Dan Hynes,
county Commissioner John Fritchey, City Clerk
Susanna Mendoza and Alderman Ric Munoz (22nd),
provided Munoz wins the 2012 primary for clerk of
the Circuit Court. Among black hopefuls, U.S.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife,
Alderman Sandi Jackson (7th), loom large, but they
have baggage. Aldermen Leslie Hairston (5th) and
Will Burns (4th) will be future black leaders, as
might Roderick Sawyer, the son of the late mayor
who was elected alderman in 2011, but only Dart,
Hynes and the Jacksons have access to major money.
goal of the "Daley Clan" is to keep
Emanuel around long enough to burnish Thompson's
credentials, which means at least through 2019,
but not so long that the luster of the Daley name
will fade or that John Daley will no longer be a
powerful county commissioner.
abound that Emanuel will run for Illinois governor
in 2014, when the feeble incumbent, Pat Quinn,
surely will retire. That would put him on a
trajectory for a White House bid in 2016 or 2020,
but it also would put him on a collision course
with Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, the 13th
Ward Democratic committeeman, who will run his
daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, for the
Quinn slowly self-destructs and the state fiscally
implodes, Emanuel's leadership qualities shine,
but taking on Lisa Madigan in a gubernatorial
primary is a daunting and risky proposition.
Emanuel raised $14.5 million for his mayoral run,
and he could raise $10 million for a statewide
race, but so, too, could Madigan. The race would
be brutal, with the speaker whipping up
anti-Chicago sentiment Downstate and Emanuel
relying on black, Hispanic and suburban voters.
Emanuel lost, his credibility would be shattered,
with proof positive that he is using the mayoralty
as a steppingstone.
Emanuel won the primary and then beat the
Republican candidate, the City Council would pick
a caretaker mayor to serve for the final months of
the term and the 2015 mayoral election would be a
the "Daley Clan" want to retake City
Hall, they must get Thompson in place quickly.
That means the water district in 2012, an
aldermanic appointment by Emanuel in 2013, and
Emanuel's elevation to the governorship in 2014.