Republicans are MIA in Cook County Races
by RUSS STEWART
In sports, just like in every other endeavor in life, you can’t win if you don’t show up. Quitters forfeit the game and deserve no respect.
Now that the baseball season is thankfully culminating and the Cubs and the White Sox are fiercely striving to be among the half-dozen worst teams in Major League Baseball, it’s time to move on and identify other losers. No, not the Bears — at least not yet.
How about the Cook County Republican Party? At least the Sox and the Cubs show up to play, albeit to sparse crowds. In the Nov. 4 election, county Republicans are missing in action. They didn’t show up. The county’s two-party system is dead. In a county with the population of 5,194,675, the Republicans couldn’t find anybody sufficiently stupid, masochistic or delusional to run for countywide office. For the first time since the party was founded in the 1850s, the Republicans are conceding all but three countywide offices.
There is no 2014 Republican candidate on the ballot for Cook County Board president, sheriff, clerk, assessor or treasurer; there are, however, three candidates for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner, along with Green Party nominees. There is a rationale: If no Republican running countywide gets at least 5 percent of the total vote, the Republican ballot line will be eliminated in 2016. That means that Dan Patlak, the only countywide Republican office holder as a Board of Review commissioner representing one-third of the county, mostly the suburbs, would have no ballot line when his term expires in 2016. A top aide, analyst Herb Schumann, is running for water district commissioner in 2014, solely to get the necessary 5 percent. Also running as Republicans are Cary Capparelli, the son of former Northwest Side Democratic state representative Ralph Capparelli, and Jim Parrilli, the Southwest Side 19th Ward Republican committeeman. None of them had any party support to get on the ballot. Call them the "No-Q Boys," as in "No Quit."
In addition, no Republican filed for any of the 10 countywide judgeships.
Back to baseball: As of Sept. 14, the worst baseball team is George Bush’s Texas Rangers, with a record of 56-92, and a winning percentage of .378. In a 162-game season, Texas is on a pace to lose 100 games. The Sox’ winning percentage is .459, and the Cubs’ is .439. By comparison, the county Republicans’ winning percentage is an abysmal .064.
Here’s how that figure is computed: From 1960 through 2012, a span encompassing 26 election cycles with a total of 202 offices on the ballot, a Republican has been victorious in 13 races. That’s .064. It makes the 2014 Cubs and Sox look like titans. The Republicans wouldn’t even make the cut in Little League.
It required 2,600 nominating petition signatures to get a spot on the 2014 ballot, but what was the incentive? A Republican last won the powerful county board presidency, occupied by Toni Preckwinkle, in 1966, and before that in 1946 and 1950. The Republicans last won the sheriff’s post, occupied by Tom Dart, in 1962, 1966 and 1986, the treasurer’s job in 1966 and the clerk’s and assessor’s posts back in the 1920s.
In 2010, a reasonably favorable Republican year, Governor Pat Quinn, the weakest Democrat on the ticket, won Cook County 900,838-400,285, a hefty margin of 500,553 votes. His opponent, Bill Brady, got 30.7 percent of the vote in the county and 276,472 of his votes in the county suburbs (39.7 percent of the total). Other statewide Democrats won by an even bigger margin. Attorney General Lisa Madigan by 833,444 votes, and Secretary of State Jesse White won by 915,907 votes. The Republicans fielded a slate of county candidates, but the highest non-incumbent, non-Democratic vote getter was Forrest Claypool, now the CTA chairman, who ran for assessor as an independent and got 420,622 votes. The combined Claypool/Republican/Green Party vote was 689,386, more than that received by winner Joe Berrios, who got 633,142 votes. Clearly, a flawed Democrat can be beaten for county office, but not by anybody with Republican next to their name. The top Republican was water district candidate Paul Chialdikas, with 374,807 votes. The three Democratic water district winners averaged 654,000 votes, and the three Green Party candidates (one of whom was a former Democratic commissioner) averaged 106,115 votes.
The 2014 water district Democratic slate consists of incumbents Frank Avila and Cynthia Santos and Rich Township Committeeman Tim Bradford. In addition to the Republican "No-Q Boys," there are three Green Party candidates, who will siphon votes from the Republicans (or vice versa).
Both Capparelli and Schumann stress that, with a water district budget of $1.6 billion, some checks and balances are needed. Schumann, a former county commissioner from southwest suburban Palos Heights, said that with eight of the nine commissioners being from Chicago and the ninth (Debra Shore) from Evanston, the district has a "Chicago-centric agenda." "We need a healthy two-party system, and we don’t have one," Schumann said. He said that flooding issues, lack of transparency in budget allocations and million-dollar projects are all geared to Chicago’s needs, ignoring the suburbs.
Capparelli, of Edison Park, ran for county commissioner as a Democrat in 2010, but he said that he now is a Republican because the Democrats have "shifted to the far left," with spending and taxing "out of control." Capparelli said that "single-party domination is not conducive to good government," where the "politically connected" get contracts and jobs.
Can a Republican win what is now a habitually Democratic county? Capparelli, whose father was a state representative for 34 years, is using his remaining contacts for his son’s benefit.
My prediction: Barack Obama won Chicago in 2012 853,102-148,101, with 84 percent of the vote, and the suburbs by 599,572-326,996, with 64.7 percent. To be sure, the president is a black Chicagoan, but Mitt Romney and his philosophy were well known, and his 475,097 votes in Cook County were a putrid 24.6 percent of the two-party total. Voter turnout will drop from 1,927,771 in 2012, of which 1,001,203 was in Chicago and 926,568 was in the suburbs, to about the 1,424,959 in 2010, a drop-off of almost 500,000. It’s inconceivable that the "No-Q Boys" will get more than 30 percent of the vote, with 5 percent to the Greens.
U.S. Senator: Republican Jim Oberweis has made a career of being unlovable, inflexible and unelectable — and never a quitter. He lost Republican primaries for U.S. senator in 2002 (with 31.5 percent of the vote), U.S. senator in 2004 (with 23.5 percent), and governor in 2006 (with 31.7 percent). He then, despite his huge name recognition, a large part emanating from his dairy and chain of ice cream stores, lost two congressional elections in 2008. He limped into a state Senate seat in 2012 from south suburban Kane County, and he has a 4-year term and a free shot at senator this year.
Given Oberweis’ previous tempestuous and polarizing campaigns, he has waged a surprisingly tepid effort against incumbent Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Oberweis, who can easily self-fund, has raised only $1,434,215 in the 2013-14 election cycle, to $8,137,764 for Durbin.
In prior races Oberweis hammered on such issues as blocking immigration amnesty, not allowing undocumented aliens and their offspring to remain in the country, no asylum for minors, opposing gay marriages, abortion rights and enhanced gun control, and repealing "Obamacare." To date, the old Oberweis has been MIA, with his mouth tightly zipped. Given the fact that Obama won Illinois 3,019,512-2,135,216 (with 58 percent of the vote) in 2012, waging an anti-Obama campaign and tying Durbin to Obama may not be astute for Oberweis.
Recent polling has not been overly averse to Oberweis. A Sept. 1 Chicago Sun-Times/We Ask America poll had Durbin up 48-41 percent. A Sept. 7 CBS/New York Times poll had Durbin up 50-38 percent. An incumbent should be over 50 percent, so Oberweis’ television ads demanding "reform" in Washington could resonate.
Durbin, who was first elected in 1996, has been a mentor and a cheerleader for Obama and his liberal agenda, and he is well positioned to be the Democrats’ next leader if Harry Reid loses in 2016, but his present crop of "feel good" ads do not mention Obama once. Durbin "provides services to Illinoisans," his commercials blare, not addressing Obama, "Obamacare," social issues, spending cuts or any other controversial issue.
Durbin is a bare-knuckle campaigner, as was demonstrated in 1996. In that race he exuberantly and maliciously hammered Republican Al Salvi as an "extremist" and won 2,384,028-1,728,834 (with 56.1 percent of the vote), a margin of 655,204 votes. Durbin, of Springfield, won Cook County by 664,461 votes. In 2002, in a much lower turnout against Jim Durkin, Durbin won 2,103,766-1,325,703 (with 60.3 percent of the vote), a margin of 778,063 votes, winning Cook County by 587,889 votes. In 2008, riding the "Obama Wave" to a third term, Durbin won 3,615,814-1,520,621 (with 67.8 percent of the vote), a margin of 2,095,223 votes, and carried Cook County by 1,281,913 votes. Is this guy not more popular than sliced bread?
The way to beat an incumbent is to make the race a referendum the incumbent’s record. Oberweis’ problem is that, in a referendum on Obama/Durbin, he gets creamed. Oberweis will lose Cook County by 500,000-plus votes, which means that Capparelli/Schumann/ Parrilli also will bite the dust.
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.