ain't what they used to be. In the days of yore,
Chicago Democratic ward committeemen ruled their
domain like czars, commanded legions of precinct
workers, doled out a plethora of city and county
jobs, and either dictated the occupant of the
alderman's job or took it themselves.
more. Most are now eunuchs, completely impotent in
the harem of Chicago politics. The committeeman's
post has barely more prestige than a notary
public, and a lot more aggravation. Here's why:
committeemen can't get their minions onto the
payroll or get promotions for those already hired.
The Shakman decree and federal investigations into
clout-influenced hiring have rendered insider
"clout" obsolete. Hence, those seeking
city jobs ignore their committeeman, and those on
the job need not repay the debt by working
precincts or contributing to their sponsoring
with Mayor Rich Daley's departure, and with 16
aspirants contending for the succession, the magic
elixir is money, not manpower. Face time on
television, not at a voter's front door, is the
route to victory.
third, many white Democratic committeemen were
allied with Daley since the 1980s, and those who
are aldermen have backed him in the City Council.
Their "clout" has evaporated. The new
mayor will have no such indebtedness. New people
will occupy key positions, and dispensing city
contracts, not city jobs, will be the new coin of
a number of 2011 aldermanic races, the
committeemen will be toast if they or their ally
fail to win. Any alderman elected over a
committeeman's opposition in 2011 will take on and
take out that committeeman in February of 2012,
when all 50 committeemen are elected. Here's an
Ward: Alderman Pat Levar is retiring and backing
obscure union official Marina Faz-Huppert for his
job. Levar has been the ward committeeman since
2007, when Tom Lyons died. Lyons backed Daley in
the 1983 mayoral primary, and he carried his ward
over Jane Byrne. When Daley was elected, he made
Lyons the county party chairman, and the flow of
patronage jobs never ebbed in the 45th Ward. Levar
was a Daley toady as alderman.
to ward sources, Levar has just 38 captains in 53
precincts, and many longtime captains are incensed
that Levar, who quit the race abruptly for
"health reasons," didn't let the
captains pick his replacement. They dutifully
circulated petitions for Faz-Huppert, after having
done so for Levar, but they're not going to bust
their humps to get her elected.
was unopposed for committeeman in 2008, and he got
9,259 votes. Faz-Huppert faces seven opponents,
and she will benefit from union money and some
workers. But she is Levar's creature, and she is
totally dependent on Levar's organization. The
alderman is looking to move onto a county payroll
(to pad his pension) or a union payroll after his
term expires in May of 2011. If Faz-Huppert loses,
Levar will be blamed, and there will be no
Ward: A Cullerton was first elected an alderman in
1871, before the Chicago Fire. Since the 38th Ward
was created in 1931, a Cullerton or a Cullerton
relation has been the alderman for 75 of 79 years.
Jo Cullerton, who spent her entire career on the
public payroll, retiring in 2007, has been the
Democratic committeeman since 1993, succeeding her
late father, Tom Cullerton. When Cullerton died,
he was replaced as alderman by Tom Allen, an
in-law of Cullerton's children, Patti Jo and Tim
resigned to become a judge, and Tim Cullerton, age
61, who spent his adult life on the city payroll,
retiring in 2003, is now the "Next Cullerton."
Cullerton faces 11 opponents. A runoff is assured.
It is possible that there will be no Cullerton in
the next City Council. If so, Patti Jo Cullerton
will be toast as committeeman in 2012.
Ward: Longtime Alderman Bill Banks (1983 to 2009)
quit the aldermanic post but kept the
committeeman's job, which he has held since 1981.
John Rice, Banks' chief of staff and driver, is
the new alderman, and he faces a field of seven
ward contains 56 precincts, and in the Nov. 2
election the Banks organization proved its mettle,
carrying the ward for Democrat John Mulroe over
Republican Brian Doherty in the Illinois Senate
race by 5,526-4,011, with Mulroe getting 57.9
percent of the vote in a turnout of 9,537. In
2007, against firefighter Nick Sposato, Banks was
reelected by 8,094-2,572, getting 75.8 percent of
the vote in a turnout of 10,666. Banks can deliver
about 6,500 to 7,000 votes for Rice.
chairmanship of the zoning committee enabled him
to raise $300,000 annually, and he still has
$784,113 in his committees. He was a close Daley
ally. Banks, like Levar and Cullerton, is
supporting Rahm Emanuel for mayor. If Emanuel is
not elected, Banks will be in the wilderness, and
if Rice loses, Banks will be in Siberia.
Ward: Like Lyons, longtime Southwest Side
powerhouse Tom Hynes, a former assessor and a
current Democratic national committeeman, has
guzzled at the trough of Daley patronage for 30
years. He backed Daley in 1983, and he ran for
mayor in 1987. He got his 30-year-old son, Dan
Hynes, elected state comptroller in 1998.
19th Ward's Daley connection resulted in a
plenitude of jobs. The ward's Democrats have
controlled the sheriff's office since 1987, and
they raked in plenty of cash from the assessor's
office, run by Hynes and Jim Houlihan from 1978 to
2010. The new assessor, Joe Berrios, who is from
the North Side, will end those glory days.
Alderman Virginia Rugai, who was appointed in
1990, has been reelected easily five times. The
ward's "Three Wise Men" -- Tom Hynes,
Jeremiah Joyce and Mike Sheahan -- have ridden off
into the sunset. Dan Hynes lost the primary for
governor. Sheriff Tom Dart declined to run for
mayor. Jeremiah Joyce's son Kevin, who was a state
representative and Rugai's heir apparent, quit the
General Assembly and will not seek the alderman's
last man standing is Matt O'Shea, a veteran Rugai
staffer who was elected committeeman in 2008.
O'Shea is running for alderman, and he faces five
much is certain: In the post-Daley era, the 19th
Ward won't be what it used to be. O'Shea will win,
but the clout spigot will be dribbling, not
Ward: The "Man Show" used to be a
popular cable TV show, featuring girls on
trampolines. One of the show's truisms is
memorable: If you want a job done well and done
quick, let your wife do it.
what state Senator Ira Silverstein (D-8) is doing.
Silverstein thrashed Alderman Berny Stone in the
2008 Democratic committeeman's race by
5,482-2,588, getting 61.9 percent of the vote. Now
Silverstein is running his wife, Debra, against
the 83-year-old Stone, who has been an alderman
since 1973. There are four other candidates in the
race, including Mike Moses.
Silverstein and Moses were proteges of Stone, but
they've been estranged since the mid-2000s. The
Democratic organization has evaporated. Stone's
Jewish contemporaries, who worked precincts, are
dead or retired. Stone's caustic criticisms of
Daley didn't get him any rewards. Silverstein's
base is among Orthodox Jews.
ward has a Third World population majority, but
Jews are still a majority of the registered
voters. With Stone, Silverstein and Moses
splitting the Jewish vote, and with none getting
more than 30 percent of the vote, it is possible
that a non-Jewish candidate such as Greg Brewer,
Tom Morris or Ahmed Khan could make the runoff.
The "Energizer Berny" is no more. It
also is possible that Chicago will have no Jewish
aldermen after 2011. If that occurs, many will
blame Ira Silverstein for not running himself.
Ward: John Fritchey married into the "Banks
Clan" and was rewarded with Rod Blaogjevich's
Illinois House seat in 1996. He lost a 2009 bid
for Congress, but he won a Cook County Board seat
in 2010. He was elected the ward's Democratic
committeeman in 2008.
alderman is Scott Waguespack, an anti-Daley
independent who Fritchey helped elect in 2007 in
the Bucktown-South Lakeview ward. Waguespack has
no city patronage jobs, and the Daley
Administration has done its best to sabotage ward
services. Fritchey and Waguespack have been
feuding, and Fritchey is backing Brian Gorman for
alderman. Three others are running.
won by 121 votes in 2007. Fritchey can't depend on
his in-laws or ally Alderman Dick Mell to send
troops to Gorman's rescue. If Fritchey can't get
Gorman elected, his reputation as a paper tiger
will be irrefutable.
Ward: Carol Ronen's reputation as a liberal
reformer became laughably hypocritical after she
resigned her state Senate seat in 2008, took a job
on Blagojevich's staff to increase her pension,
and then quit after 3 months. As the committeeman,
she chose Heather Steans as her Senate successor.
Steans and her husband had donated liberally to
Ronen and Blagojevich.
Mary Ann Smith, who was appointed in 1989 and
reelected since, is retiring. State Representative
Harry Osterman, whose late mother was elected
alderman in 1987, is the odds-on favorite to win
Smith's seat. He faces four opponents. Ronen is
toast. The next alderman will replace her as
committeeman in 2012.