of the constants of both political and military
strategy is the presumption that the enemy of
one's enemy is an ally and friend.
Republican officials in Chicago and Cook County
are intent on disproving that supposition. For
some, the (Republican) enemies of their enemy (the
Democrats) are their enemies. With scandals rife,
indictments legion and disarray epidemic among
Democrats in Chicago, Cook County and in state
government, Republicans are taking advantage of
the political opportunity by doing what they do
best, namely, fighting each other.
date, there have been 44 convictions in the
federal Hired Truck Program scandal, and the March
indictment of former city Department of Streets
and Sanitation commissioner Al Sanchez brings the
proverbial noose closer to Mayor Rich Daley's
neck. In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office is
engaged in investigations of alleged misdeeds in
county and state government. If there's corruption
in government, it's the Democrats who are corrupt.
Republicans are offering a feeble, if not
an early look at contests in 2008 and 2010:
(2010): Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich
proposed a $7 billion tax hike, including a new
gross receipts tax and a payroll tax increase.
Republicans are supposed to be the party that
opposes tax hikes and spending increases, but,
with a 52-66 minority in the Illinois House and a
22-37 minority in the Illinois Senate, they are
irrelevant. Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan
will take credit for killing the Blagojevich tax,
and thereby reap a flood of business
legislators are now pondering a "no
growth" 2008 budget, which means no
additional spending for health care, education and
pensions. Black and white liberal Democrats are
already grumbling. Blagojevich has pledged not to
increase the state's income tax or sales tax, and
there will be no spurt in revenue unless the gross
receipts tax, a payroll tax, pension obligation
bonds or a lottery lease are passed. We may soon
be treated to the spectacle of Blagojevich and the
liberals berating Madigan for "balancing the
budget on the backs of the poor" -- rhetoric
usually reserved for Republicans. Ed Vrdolyak's
recent indictment highlights corruption in state
government, and it may foreshadow more scandals.
in Springfield is all about 2010, when state
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the speaker's
daughter, will challenge Blagojevich in the
Democratic primary for governor. The
governor's proposals, if passed, would generate
$33 billion in new revenue, of which $26 billion
would go to state pensions, with $1.5 billion for
education and $1.5 billion for road construction.
That would make the teachers' lobby and organized
labor very happy, and they would reciprocate with
money and endorsements for Blagojevich in 2010.
the speaker doesn't want Blagojevich to succeed
and be flush with money. A state fiscal meltdown
means a Blagojevich political meltdown. As the
newly minted "pro-business" speaker,
Madigan will run his daughter as the pro-business
candidate for governor in 2010.
for the Republicans, they have one fervent prayer:
Let Blagojevich be the 2010 Democratic nominee. An
election with an incumbent is always a referendum
on the incumbent, and Blagojevich is far more
beatable than Lisa Madigan.
Republican field for 2010 is distinctly
unimposing, containing four losers: state Senator
Bill Brady (R-44) of Bloomington, who got 18.4
percent of the vote in the 2006 governor's
primary; state Senator Dan Rutherford (R-53) of
Pontiac, who got 33.1 of the vote percent in the
2006 contest for secretary of state; wealthy
businessman Ron Gidwitz of Chicago, who spent $7.2
million, loaned himself $4 million and got 10.2
percent of the vote in the 2006 governor's
primary; dairy magnate Jim Oberweis of Aurora, who
lost primaries for senator in 2002 (31.5 percent
of the vote) and 2004 (23.6 percent) and for
governor in 2006 (31.8 percent); and Illinois
House Republican leader Tom Cross (R-84) of
Plainfield, who has been neither seen nor heard in
the current tax hike debate.
and Gidwitz currently are active in Rudy
Giuliani's presidential campaign.
outlook: The 2010 Republican nomination may be
worth having. If Madigan and Blagojevich each
spend $25 million ravaging each other, and if an
unpopular Democrat is in the White House, a
Republican could be elected Illinois' governor.
County State's Attorney (2008): Cook County
Commissioner Tony Peraica got 547,225 votes (46
percent of the total) in his 2006 race for Cook
County Board president in 2006, losing to Democrat
Todd Stroger. He carried 12 Chicago wards and 23
suburban townships, and he got 31.5 percent of the
city vote and 59.6 percent of the suburban vote.
November Peraica has been Stroger's most
vociferous critic, voting against his budget and
claiming that "one family" -- meaning
the Daleys -- "run the entire operation"
in the city and the county. "I am a majority
of one, and I will continue to fight for the
taxpayers," Peraica said.
maintain his visibility and to give himself a
platform to continue to criticize county
government, Peraica is going to run for state's
attorney in 2008, challenging incumbent Democrat
Dick Devine. "There is corruption throughout
county government, but there is no
prosecution," said Peraica, who will rip
Devine as oblivious to the corruption. Peraica
doesn't expect to win, but he'll keep his name
before the public.
County Board President (2010): Peraica and fellow
Commissioner Liz Gorman are positioning themselves
to run against Stroger in 2010. They detest each
other. Gorman is the Orland Township Republican
committeeman, and Peraica is the Lyons Township
committeeman. Gorman was elected the Cook County
Republican chairman in February after Gary Skoien
resigned. Peraica backed Tom Swiss for the job.
Peraica said that in county board budget votes,
Gorman "is in Stroger's pocket."
is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic
Party," Peraica said. "She will not end
the practice of Republicans shilling for
Democrats," meaning nominating Republicans
who wage non-campaigns against Democrats. Peraica
also accused Gorman of trying to defeat him for
re-election as county commissioner in 2006 in the
16th District (Berwyn and western suburbs):
"She and her ally, Vrdolyak, funded and
backed my opponent," said Peraica, who
defeated Democrat Bill Gomolinski by 845 votes,
with 50.6 percent of the total. "That's a
lie," Gorman responded.
voted for a $3 billion county budget, which erased
the $500 million deficit without raising taxes and
eliminated 2,193 positions," retorted Gorman.
"Tony voted against that budget, and had no
alternative to offer. He is nonsensical, ill
spirited and forever grandstanding. Tony is
concerned only about advancing Tony, not building
the Republican Party." Gorman said that she
has been a lifelong Republican, while Peraica ran
for office three times as a Democrat.
her election as chairman, Gorman quickly ousted
two Chicago ward committeemen appointed by Skoien:
Eloise Gerson in the Gold Coast 42nd Ward and Kent
Griffiths in the Wicker Park/Bucktown 32nd Ward.
Both backed Swiss, and both are Peraica allies.
Under party by-laws, an appointed committeeman can
be removed at any time by the chairman.
graphic example of Republican idiocy is the 42nd
Ward. Gerson replaced Rich Gordon, who resigned.
Gordon ran for 42nd Ward alderman in 2003 and got
44 percent of the vote. The 42nd Ward delivered
11,696 votes to George Bush in 2004, his
second-best ward in the city, and it produced
10,972 votes for Bush in 2000, again his
second-best. According to Gerson, Gorman asked her
for her vote for chairman but she demurred, saying
that she was committed to Swiss.
said that her "unappointment" was
punishment for opposing Gorman. "She told me
that the numbers in the ward have declined,"
Gerson said. "That's absurd. They've
improved." According to a Gorman spokesman,
Gerson was ousted because the ward's "vote
count was down and there were no precinct
captains, no events and no organization
meetings." Responded Gerson:
"That's an absolute lie. She spoke at our
meetings. She knows we have a viable
replacement is Susan Simmons, the wife of Craig
Simmons, a disgruntled Gordon supporter who was
defeated by Gordon for committeeman in 2004 by
1,124-754. "She (Gorman) said that she wanted
party unity (for the February election),"
Gerson said. "She is fomenting party
disunity. She is trying to destroy our
had a recent open house at her headquarters, is
president of the 42nd Ward Republican
Organization, and will run for committeeman in
2008 against Simmons. Gorman has done what 42nd
Ward Democrats have been unable to do: permanently
divide the ward's Republicans. Instead of battling
Democrats, they battle each other.
squabbling is all about 2010. Gorman wants to
build a base to defeat Peraica in a Republican
primary for county board president. Republicans
can ill afford, among themselves, to divide and
conquer. There's not much to divide.
Understandably, Democrats sneer at the