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The [Thursday] Papers

"Daley receiving 22 percent of 1.4 million registered voters is no mandate. Instead, it is a symptom of profound illness."

- John Kass, who finally endorses Daley this morning

More observations from Daleyland.

* The low turnout was by design. The last thing the mayor wanted was to whip up an actual campaign. He visited privately in the living rooms of his benefactors, threw up a couple feel-good TV commercials, and otherwise worked to suppress turnout by creating an aura of inevitability - one that the media merrily went along with.

That's also one reason why the mayor didn't lift a finger for a host of incumbent aldermen in trouble. The last thing he wanted to do was ignite further interest in those races if it meant more votes against him.

* Daley received 318,578 votes. Brown/Walls received 128,993.

* Take note that underfunded city clerk candidate Diane Jones won 18 wards and 141,772 votes (34%) against mayoral appointee/incumbent Miguel del Valle, a relatively well-known former veteran state senator for whom the mayor campaigned. Jose Cerda, who left the mayor's office to also run (hmmm . . . ) notched just 8 percent of the vote.

* A Feb. 22 Trib story about the clerk's race had only this to say about Jones: "[she is] an assistant to Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Patricia Horton. Jones, 45, acknowledged that she is a long shot, having raised only about $1,000 for her campaign."

* Daley was not the biggest vote-getter in the city. That designation would go to unopposed city treasurer appointee/incumbent Stephanie Neely (368,715).

* Unopposed 13th Ward Ald. Frank Olivo won more votes than anyone other city council candidate (10,789).

* "I'm boggled by the disconnect between your editorial opinion that 'Citizens who went to the polls evidently saw no reason to demand - no reason to risk - change,' and your own endorsement of Mayor Richard M. Daley on the same page not long ago," Keith Ammann of Chicago writes to the Tribune.

* The analyses of campaigns always leave out one important factor: media coverage. If the media didn't think their coverage mattered, they wouldn't provide it. But when the smart guys offer up their sophisticated explanations of voter behavior, they never include the impact of media coverage - or lack thereof.

* "When I moved to Chicago in 2001, I considered myself a Democrat, but I would not claim an allegiance to my party now," Troy D. Varney of Chicago writes to the Tribune. "The Daleys have created a culture of complacency."

* There really isn't a Democratic Party in Chicago anymore than there is a Republican Party. Democrats in Chicago represent the government machine, not any coherent ideology.

* It's funny, though, how hopes for an opposition always rests with "independents," not Republicans or even Greens. "Independents" in Chicago are still always Democrats.

* While pundits attack voters for their seeming disinterest in 18 years of rampant corruption in this administration, I heard nary a word about Barack Obama's endorsement of the mayor. Why is he immune to the same criticism? Ironic that Obama might be the most cynical voter of us all.

* Longtime mayoral observer and radio veteran Bob Crawford said on Chicago Tonight last night that Daley's opponents simply have not made the case against him. Actually, all of Daley's opponents going back to 1991 have made the case against Daley - and it's the same case: He is a corrupt captive of downtown interests who bungles one big project after another and has failed to deliver a professional police force, affordable housing, decent public transportation or better schools. It's not that the case being made is wrong - it's who's making it, and if it's being heard.

* But that's not all. As Eric Zorn pointed out on John Williams' show on WGN-AM yesterday, the victories of Brendan Reilly and Sandi Jackson show what can happen when strong candidates with money run: You get a better brand of alderman - and you'd get a better brand of mayoral candidate. One of the geniuses of Daley's political strategy has been to co-opt would-be opponents while absolutely crushing those who dare oppose him, thereby instilling fear that shuts down competition. I have no doubt that, for whatever her weaknesses as a candidate, Dorothy Brown is correct when she says some people were just too scared to contribute money to her.

I have never been a fan of term limits, but if you believe that power corrupts, especially over time, and that incumbency bestows unfair advantages, it's something that ought to be looked at in Chicago. Public financing of campaigns or spending caps would also level the playing field. National Dem strategist Paul Begala said last week that Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack won the battle of ideas, but not the battle for money. I'm not so sure about that, but it would have been nice to have a chance to find out.

Wouldn't you rather live in a city, state, and country where an even playing field allows the best candidates to win, not just (generally) the richest? Just imagine if, say, Brown and Daley had an equal amount of money to spend. Then we would have had a campaign. Let the best candidate win. And how is it not a conflict of interest for the mayor's campaign to be funded by the very folks who benefit from his decisions? It's inherently corrupt to the core.

* Do voters tolerate corruption? Hard to tell. But you know who does? Civic leaders like Pat Ryan and Jerry Roper and Judd Malkin and all the rest - as well as the editorial pages. Why not dump on them instead of voters, who are rarely presented with good choices and indeed are most vulnerable to retribution in a vengeful city.

* The ouster of Burt Natarus was hardly an anti-Daley vote. Daley outpolled Brown and Walls 8,249 to 880 to 450 in the 42nd Ward.

* Likewise, Daley outpolled Brown and Walls 6,060 to 3,548 to 1,646 in the 7th Ward, where Sandi Jackson won.

* How 'bout that? Turnout in the 7th (11,254 votes) almost matched the 42nd (11,653).

* And yet, I'm surprisingly unimpressed with Sandi Jackson - just as I was surprisingly (relatively) impressed with Darcel Beavers. Not that I was pulling for Beavers - voters in the ward clearly were unhappy with city services. (Jackson also focused her campaign on crime - but not corruption.) But I have dramatically downzoned my expectation that Jackson would immediately become a dynamic force on the city council.

* Zorn is still mystified by Forrest Claypool's primary loss to John Stroger. Claypool had money, experience, media support galore, and made the case - more or less. But a county post is a different animal. How many of us even know our Cook County Commissioner? I'm a political junkie and I can tell you very little about mine, except that he's a hack. I really don't know the details. Claypool also lacked troops on the ground that a machine has built up over decades, and failed to overcome wholly reasonable suspicions among African-American voters. (Again, Obama didn't exactly go to the mat for Claypool in the primary, and then endorsed Todd Stroger in the general.) And it often takes more than one election cycle for the memes to sink in with voters. Look at Bush in 2004 vs. now. Same guy. Same war. Same issues. I suspect that Kerry (or Gore) would win that race today. Hell, Dean would win it. And Obama and Hillary would merely be senators supporting their president's re-election bid.

* Carol Marin chided Phil Ponce last night for suggesting that residents should get equal city services regardless of whether their alderman is on Daley's team. Of course they should. And in other cities they do. Just one more way the Daley reign is partly structural.

* Another example: the mayor should not be allowed to appoint aldermen (or city clerks and treasurers) to vacancies instead of holding special elections.

* Sandi Jackson and new 20th Ward. Ald. Wille Cochran both said last night on Chicago Tonight that CTA chief Frank Kruesi ought to be fired. Daley calls reports that Kruesi's departure is imminent "the biggest lie in Chicago." I'm sure Frank will want to spend more time with his family pretty soon though.

* I don't think Rich Daley has faced a white opponent since Jane Byrne challenged him in the 1991 primary.

* "It took only eight years in the city for the Machine to strip my soul from me," Steve A. tells Kass.

Trade Bait
Yesterday I mocked the Sun-Times for not only using a Chicago trader's quote that the drop in the Dow "felt like a plane hitting a buliding again" but using it in a headline too - as it clearly isn't true, and is in bad taste anyway. Beachwood reader Tim Howe points out: "He's only been on the floor for 3 years, so he wasn't even in the business on 9/11!!"

The Beachwood Tip Line: Restore your soul.


Posted on March 1, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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