Berrios is biggest loser in primary election vote


In politics, there are varying gradations of losers: actual, collateral, contingent, peripheral and psychological.

Actual means the candidate on the ballot.

Collateral means the politicians and entities (such as unions) that coalesced behind and used their political organization, contacts, money, manpower and political capital to support the candidate.

Contingent means those who had a vested personal interest in the candidate’s success, as a mentor, sponsor or successor.

Peripheral means those similarly situated, in a political environment not unlike the candidate’s, who take comfort or terror from the candidate’s fate.

Psychological means the unexpected. The candidate was supposed to win and didn’t. Hence, the candidate and his or her supporters defied the odds and lost, sending shock waves among the political universe.

The "Biggest Loser" in the March 18 primary election — in all five categories — indisputably is Joe Berrios, the county assessor, county Democratic Party chairman and 31st Ward committeeman.

As a corollary, the temporary non-losers are the taxpayers of Chicago and Cook County. As of March 18, total of 13 members of the "Berrios Clan" were on the state, county or city payroll, and two were drawing pensions. In January Berrios’ daughter, state Representative Toni Berrios (D-39), will be at least temporarily off the public payroll, having been defeated in the 39th Illinois House District primary by Will Guzzardi, but she needn’t fear being destitute. She’ll land a job somewhere, probably in "Big Daddy’s" office, where she can daily socialize with her brother, her sister and her aunt.

Joe Berrios’ plight is a source of bewilderment, wonderment and amusement in political circles. How could he, with all his and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s resources and clout, let his daughter be defeated? Toni Berrios topped Guzzardi in the 2012 primary, with a turnout of 7,917, 4,021-3,896, a margin of 125 votes. On March 18, in a turnout of 8,753, Guzzardi romped to a 5,293-3,460 victory, getting 60.5 percent of the vote and winning by a margin of 1,833 votes.

Chicago voter turnout in the primary was an anemic 19 percent. Joe Berrios, his ward organization, his ally Alderman Ray Suarez (31st) and his daughter had more than $2.4 million in their campaign accounts as of Jan. 1, and Madigan spooned more than $125,000 into the race for nasty mailings depicting Guzzardi as being a defender of sexual predators, and she still lost.

The cascade of negative mailings were counterproductive. Turnout in the district was up by 836, Guzzardi’s vote was up by 1,3,97, and Berrios’ vote was down by 561. In 2012 "Big Daddy" carried his 31st Ward for his daughter with 64.1 percent of the vote; on March 18 she got 53.9 percent in the ward. Likewise in the wards of his allies, who were collateral losers. Alderman Ariel Reboyras delivered 46.6 percent of the vote in the 30th Ward, Alderman Roberto Maldonado delivered 49.1 percent in the 26th Ward, and state Representative Luis Arroyo (D-3), who brokered a "Son Swap," whereby Luis Arroyo Jr. got a Cook County Board seat in exchange for the elder Arroyo not running for 36th Ward alderman in 2015, delivered a glorious 35.7 percent in the six 36th Ward precincts where he resides. Even the ubiquitous U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-4) weighed in, proclaiming that the Hispanic-majority district "deserved" Hispanic representation. Some day, when Gutierrez runs for mayor, somebody should ask him if a city in which the largest segment of the population is white deserves a white mayor.

Toni Berrios was the actual loser, but "Big Daddy" was the collateral, contingent, peripheral and psychological loser. His grip on the Democratic county chairmanship is at serious risk. He’s lucky no one ran against him for assessor in the primary.

If Democratic city and county committeemen were to award a "Rodney Dangerfield Trophy," Joe Berrios would be the unanimous choice for the award. He’s lost all respect. In 2012 Alderman Ed Burke (14th) easily managed to get his brother Dan renominated as state representative in an overwhelming Hispanic district against credible Hispanic opposition. Even the outgoing alderman Pat Levar, with a decrepit and dispirited organization in the 45th Ward, got Rob Martwick nominated to replace Joe Lyons in 2012. On March 18, former alderman Dick Mell (33rd), despite blowback from naming his daughter Deb to be his aldermanic replacement, got his choice, Jaime Andrade, nominated for her 40th Illinois House District seat with more than 52 percent of the vote in a five-candidate field.

Arrayed against the vaunted Berrios machine were such perceived lightweights as Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th), but they delivered. Guzzardi got 67.1 percent of the vote in the 12 1st Ward precincts, 79.3 percent in the nine 32nd Ward precincts, 70.1 percent in the four 45th Ward precincts, 70.9 percent in the four 38th Ward precincts, and 70.3 percent in his Logan Square base, consisting of seven 35th Ward precincts.

The unions that backed Guzzardi, particularly the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union, were collateral victors. The unions’ March 18 targets were state Representatives Christian Mitchell, Andrade and Berrios. Only Berrios was eradicated.
A final thought: Toni Berrios’ excuse for her narrow 2012 win was that there were new areas added to her district. She had 2 years to cultivate those new voters, but it was to no avail. She lost because of her association with her father. Guzzardi’s pro-tax, pro-union, anti-charter schools pitch was buttressed by the voters’ implacable determination not to vote for anybody who was related to somebody.

Ironically, big collateral and contingent winners on March 18 were Suarez, Maldonado and Arroyo. In the 8th County Board District primary, incumbent Eddie Reyes lost to the younger Arroyo 8,042-6,537, getting just 44.8 percent of the vote. The 8th District overlaps the 39th House district, but Reyes lacked the money and manpower to prevail. The Berrios machine delivered 60.3 percent of the vote in the 31st Ward, 56.7 percent in the 30th Ward, 63.3 percent in the 26th Ward and 63.5 percent in the 36th Ward — all better than Toni Berrios’ showings. Now Willie Aquino Jr., the son of Suarez’s best buddy, can grab the 36th Ward aldermanic seat in 2015.

The third loser, although that is debatable, is Governor Pat Quinn. It is often said that you should be careful what you wish for, you may get it. Quinn got as his opponent the Republican with the most attackable record but with the deepest pockets.

Quinn defeated the unknown and unfunded Tio Hardiman in the Democratic primary 305,727-120,563, getting 71.2 percent of the vote in a turnout of 428,290. Quinn won Downstate by an anemic 75,517-56,421 — a clear message of dissatisfaction. Quinn faced stiff opposition in the 2010 primary from state Comptroller Dan Hynes and won 462,049-453,677, with 50.4 percent of the vote in a turnout of 915,726, which was more than double the turnout in this primary. The presumption is that the unions, fearful of Bruce Rauner as the Republican nominee, encouraged Democrats to take a Republican primary ballot and support Kirk Dillard.

The unofficial tally in the Republican race has Rauner with 326,953 votes (40 percent of the total), Dillard with 303,934 (37.3 percent), trailing by 23,019 votes, and Bill Brady with 123,051 and Dan Rutherford with 61,605 far behind. Turnout was 815,553, which is not that much more than the 767,485 in 2010 or the 735,810 in 2006. It appears that about 48,000 past Democrats may have taken a Republican ballot.

Dillard is the actual loser, despite late union endorsements and an influx of $5.8 million for television ads. Rauner is the collateral and psychological loser. He expected to get around 45 percent of the vote and top Dillard by 200,000 votes. Rauner’s "bounce factor" is the peripheral loser. Rauner spent somewhere around $14 million to get 326,953 votes, which computes to $43 per vote. He emerges from the primary weaker than expected, amid serious questions about the viability of his anti-union theme, he and faces the prospect of spending at least $50 million to get elected.

Rauner has two upsides. First, both he and Quinn fared poorly Downstate, with Dillard carrying every county south of Interstate 80. Downstate is more anti-Quinn than anti-Rauner. There are 7.5 million registered voters in Illinois, and the turnout in November will be about equal to the 3.8 million in 2010. Turnout will be about 1.4 million in Chicago and Cook County, 925,000 in the Collar Counties, and 1.5 million Downstate. To prevail, Rauner has to lose Cook County by fewer than 500,000 votes (Brady lost it by 500,553 in 2010), carry Downstate by more than 400,000 votes (meaning 950,000-550,000), and top Quinn in the Collar Counties by close to 200,000 votes.

Second, Rauner has adequate time to retool and refashion his message. He had a four-track media plan for the primary: proclaim his intention to "shake up Springfield" and to impose term limits (positive), rip his foes as "career politicians" (negative), blast Quinn as a failure (negative), and rebut attacks (positive). Unlike past nominees Brady and Judy Baar Topinka, who lacked the funds to maintain a media presence and went dark for 5 months after the primary, Rauner has the cash to maintain his visibility, and he will subtly shift from portraying Quinn as a captive of the unions to a captive of the "special interests."

The contest can be summarized as, will Quinn’s failures outweigh Rauner’s flaws? Illinoisans will face the edifying choice between the worst and the more worst. Rauner will pound Quinn as the nation’s worst governor. Quinn will retort that if he is elected, Rauner will be more worst.

Analyses will follow in coming weeks of specific races.

Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www.