Untruths prove effective in local primary races
by RUSS STEWART
With the March 15 primary imminent, there are convolutions, permutations, contradictions and fabrications aplenty. They’re more commonly referred to as lies. So what else is new?
In the 15th Illinois House District, where incumbent Democrat John D’Amico is defending his seat, House Speaker Mike Madigan has demonstrated yet again that lying works, that bigger whoppers work even better, and that just a few molecules of truth transform a lie into a "fact." When it comes to "creativity," Madigan’s political staff is without peer. That’s why he’s been the speaker for 32 years.
In a deluge of direct mail, averaging three negative pieces per week, D’Amico’s opponent, Jac Charlier, is being accused of being a Tea Party supporter, of embracing the Republicans’ so-called "War on Women," of being a "Rauner Democrat" and of being antagonistic toward police and firefighters. The proof?
First, Charlier, a former parole officer and military reservist and an anti-jet noise activist who blames D’Amico for Illinois’ $45,000-per-person indebtedness, has a Web and blog site on which he encourages people to get involved in civic matters. Some years ago he posted this exhortation: "Go Tea Party. Go Occupy," a reference to the Wall Street anti-"2 percent" demonstrators.
Second, Personal PAC is a pro-choice political action committee run by Terry Cosgrove which funds candidates who support abortion rights and which works seamlessly with Madigan to defeat anti-abortion Republicans. Asked how is Charlier is waging a "war on women," D’Amico said, "He didn’t return the questionnaire." D’Amico said that Personal PAC endorsed him because he returned the endorsement questionnaire and Charlier didn’t. "That’s an absolute lie," Charlier said. "I returned the questionnaire. I’m pro-choice."
There’s a lesson to be learned here. I just sent a $10 donation to the National Organization for Women. Now nobody can accuse me of being a sexist misogynist or being a warrior against women. In Madigan’s world, that might even make me a feminist. It’s the little details that matter.
Third, the Chicago police and firefighter unions have endorsed D’Amico. No surprise there. So I asked D’Amico how that makes Charlier "unsupportive" of police and firefighters? "Well, they didn’t endorse him," D’Amico said. Finally, I get it.
Fourth, the mailers hype the fact that Governor Bruce Rauner and his well heeled allies are "spending millions of dollars" in furtherance of their "dangerous agenda," which, of course, D’Amico opposes since, according to Charlier, he’s a "puppet" of Madigan. Never mind that Charlier has raised a meager $22,000, compared to D’Amico’s $300,000-plus, and that none of Charlier’s funds came from any Rauner or Republican source. However, Charlier is running against a "Madigan Democrat," so that makes him an anti-Madigan Democrat and a "pro-Rauner Democrat." That’s logical, isn’t it?
What is not a lie is that Madigan and D’Amico will spend close to $500,000 to beat Charlier.
The 15th District includes all of the 39th Ward, where D’Amico’s aunt, Marge Laurino, is the alderman, plus a few precincts in the 41st Ward and a scattering of precincts in Niles, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge and Skokie, with the bulk in Glenview. Charlier is running a joint campaign with Robert Murphy, who is seeking the Democratic committeeman’s post as a prelude to a 2019 aldermanic rematch. Murphy got 43 percent of the vote against Laurino in 2015. The Laurino/D’Amico machine is backing Pat Molloy. D’Amico is a "liar and a puppet," Charlier said, but being outspent 25-1 means that Charlier’s message is not being heard. D’Amico will win 55-45.
Here are other predictions and observations:
Illinois presidential: Is the Donald Trump phenomenon for real? According to early voting data from the 41st Ward, which has lots of union members and city workers, turnout has been averaging more than 225 per day, and the breakout has been 2-1 Democratic. As of March 5 there were 1,290 ballots cast, of which 414 were Republican, which is slightly above the ward’s 25 percent base Republican primary vote. In the more Democratic 38th Ward, according to sources, Republican ballot taking also is about a third. Democrats are not flocking to Trump, but there is movement.
"There’s minimal enthusiasm for Hillary (Clinton), and there’s absolutely none for Bernie (Sanders)," one Democratic insider said. Turnout is being driven by the nasty contests for state’s attorney and Circuit Court clerk, but it won’t approach 2008 levels, the source said. If Clinton does not win with 60 to 65 percent of the vote, it will be an embarrassment and proof that 2016 is not going to be the "Year of the Woman." Symbolism is no longer in vogue.
On the Republican side, lassitude is the norm. As Pat Buchanan demonstrated in the 1990s, there is a hard-right Republican base, but it doesn’t exceed 25 percent. Nevertheless, Trump will carry Illinois with about 40 percent of the vote, with Marco Rubio at 34 percent.
State’s Attorney: As detailed in an earlier column, there are tipping points in any political contest, at which time negativity becomes so opprobrious as to guarantee non-electability. That’s where incumbent Anita Alvarez is now. Alderman Nick Sposato (38th) predicted that Kim Foxx will get 90 to 95 percent of the black vote, but Alvarez won’t offset that by getting 70 to 75 percent of the white and Hispanic vote. Donna More is inconsequential, but she drains votes from Alvarez. Foxx will win with 42 to 40 percent of the vote.
Clerk of Court: Incumbent Dorothy Brown hasn’t been indicted, so she can be renominated, even though she was "dumped" by the slatemakers. As detailed previously, black voters rally around perceived "victims," and slated candidate Michelle Harris is going nowhere. The "upset special" will be Jacob Meister, a white lawyer running as a "reformer" for an office desperately in need of reform. He will squeak out a narrow 43-42 percent win over Brown, who will be buried in the predominantly white wards and suburbs. Like Alvarez, Brown’s time has passed.
40th House District/33rd Ward: Jaime Andrade replaced Deb Mell who replaced Dick Mell. This year is Dick Mell’s "Last Hurrah," and he’s running for re-election as the Democratic committeeman, a post he has held since 1976. Aaron Goldstein, who was lead defense attorney in Rod Blagojevich’s retrial and who lost badly to Andrade for state representative in 2014, is challenging Mell in order to position himself to run against Deb Mell for alderman in 2019. Harish Patel, a self-described "serial social worker," is challenging Andrade, and Madigan is pouring money and mailings into the district. In fact, many of the cookie-cutter, anti-Charlier pieces are being used to slam Patel, whose political philosophy makes Sanders look conservative. He’s a "Tea Partier"? If the Mell machine cannot exceed 60 percent in both races, bad times are ahead.
40th Ward: 33-year Alderman Pat O’Connor surely senses that the end is near. He is the mayor’s City Council floor leader, and he will be out the door in 2019. Dianne Delaiden, who was unknown and under-funded, got 43 percent of the vote in the 2015 aldermanic race, and she is challenging O’Connor for committeeman. Her goal is to be the 2019 anti-O’Connor candidate.
41st Ward: Three candidates are competing to be the Democratic committeeman. It is very easy to tell who is lying. If they say, "I am a Democrat," they should have their mouth washed out with soap.
The "Big Lie" in the contest is that Alderman Anthony Napolitano "has declared himself to be a Republican." That is not true. Napolitano has declared himself to be anti-Emanuel, and he voted against the mayor’s budget and tax plan.
Before he upset pro-Emanuel alderman Mary O’Connor in 2015, Napolitano had voted in several Republican primaries, but the aldermanic election is nonpartisan. O’Connor, the ward’s Democratic committeeman, is retiring. The aspirants for her unpaid job are Andy DeVito, Tim Heneghan and Goran Davidovac, and all have voted Republican in past primaries.
Napolitano is backing DeVito, a retired union official. Heneghan, a firefighter who works in Elmwood Park, is backed by O’Connor and Democratic state Senator John Mulroe. Heneghan is a good friend of Republican state Representative Mike McAuliffe, the ward’s Republican committeeman, who is a good friend of Mulroe, who is unopposed. Mulroe reciprocated, and he and Madigan made sure that McAuliffe has a patsy Democratic foe. In 2015 McAuliffe covertly supported O’Connor. The Democrats consider Napolitano to be a fluke, and this election is round one in the 2019 "Oust Napolitano" derby. Napolitano beat O’Connor by 715 votes.
The Federation of Police and Firefighters’ Local 1 have endorsed Heneghan, even though Napolitano is a former cop and an on-leave firefighter. The reason is clear: Local 1’s president is Tom Ryan, who is the husband of O’Connor’s former aldermanic chief of staff, and he wants to run for alderman in 2019.
"It’s an ethnic war," DeVito said. He said Mulroe/Heneghan precinct workers are going to Irish-American households and telling them that "the Italians are taking over" the ward. Heneghan said he will not run for alderman in 2019, and he undoubtedly will back Ryan. DeVito said that if he wins, "we’re going to take out Mulroe."
The 41st Ward is not really part of Chicago; it’s part of a different solar system. If anyone says that he knows what is going on in the ward, he’s a certifiable liar.
U.S. Senator: "It’s an afterthought," one Democratic politician of the Duckworth-Zopp-Harris Democratic primary said. Tammy Duckworth will win, and the Kirk-Duckworth contest will be a battle of the bland and the boring.
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.