Rampant insincerity fills meeting for Mulroe Pick
Political Analysis and Opinion by RUSS STEWART
It has been said that if one wants a friend, especially in politics, one should get a dog.
As 41st Ward Democratic committeeman Tim Heneghan discovered to his immense chagrin on June 28 when he attended a meeting at the Roden Library to pick John Mulroe’s replacement for the 10th Illinois Senate District seat, he would have been much happier had he gone to an animal shelter.
"I really got screwed," Heneghan said. He previously used more colorful language, but that’s not something that belongs in a family newspaper. Heneghan coveted the Mulroe appointment, and worked for 3 months to assemble a weighted-vote majority among his fellow Democratic committeemen.
He had commitments from Maine Township’s Laura Murphy, a state senator (with 23 precincts), the 39th Ward’s Robert Murphy (with 5 precincts), Leyden Township’s Barrett Pedersen, Franklin Park’s mayor (with 13 precincts), and his own 41st Ward, which has 40 precincts, and the largest weighted-vote. That entitled Heneghan to call and chair the meeting.
As of June 24, he was shy of having 31,574 votes – and the seat – and all he needed was the support of Alderman Chris Taliaferro (29th), who has three precincts in his Austin-area ward.
And then things changed and the new senator instead is former state Representative Rob Martwick (D-19), who was chosen by what meeting chairman John Arena termed "acclamation," defined as an "enthusiastic approving vote without an actual vote." That, according to Heneghan, "did not happen. The fix was in (for Martwick). To say otherwise is a lie. There was a vote." A disingenuous individual is defined as "a person who is not straightforward, not candid, and/or insincere." In short, it is somebody who lies or changes position according to self-interest.
According to Heneghan, "disingenuous" describes Martwick and Robert Murphy. When it became known in April that Mulroe wanted Tom Allen’s vacant 10th subcircuit judgeship, Heneghan contacted Martwick, who he said "encouraged" him to run for senator. I also spoke with Martwick twice during April and May, and he emphatically denied "any interest" in being senator, gushed about his "growing influence" and "seniority" (7 years) in the House, and added that he did "not want to start all over again" and be the senator with the least seniority. Heneghan said Martwick told him the same at the time.
Martwick also noted that he was chairman of the Pension Committee, a trustee of the state Board of Investments, sponsored the elected Chicago school board bill, and proposed a graduated income tax back in 2018, which then evolved into J.B. Pritzker’s "Fair Tax" plan. He also got into a tense argument last winter with mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot over his plan to make the county assessor an appointive office. The confrontation went viral. Some even said it helped Lightfoot come into prominence.
So why give all that up? And how, I asked him on June 28, can anybody now trust your word? Martwick’s answer is that he responded to a clarion call from Democratic leaders to run for the senate, and that he "changed his mind 13 days ago," on June 15, after an "incredibly productive" 2019 legislative session.
"I have always been moving mountains" for the Democratic Party, Martwick said, noting his 1996 state senate loss to Walter Dudycz (R) and his 2002 county commissioner loss to Pete Silvestri (R), both uphill battles.
"That is a total lie," retorted Heneghan, who said he had three conversations with Senate president John Cullerton (D) during April and May, and that Cullerton assured him that it was his policy and party policy not to intervene in the vacancy-filling process, leaving it to local party officials. "The only clarion call that he (Martwick) heard was from his own trumpet," said Heneghan, who added that the district is solidly Democratic and that Mulroe was unopposed in 2012 and 2016. "He’s not running to ‘save’ the seat," Heneghan said.
Heneghan is bitter about Robert Murphy, the self-proclaimed anti-machine reformer who he said "betrayed" him.
"He was with me until Thursday (June 27). Then he flipped to Martwick. "I confronted him," said Heneghan, "He wouldn’t give me an explanation. He wouldn’t even look me in the eye." Murphy lost his bid for 39th Ward alderman on April 2, and was particularly incensed that Martwick had donated to Casey Smagala.
Smagala received 27.5 percent on Feb. 26, and then endorsed Samantha Nugent, who beat Murphy 56-44 percent in the runoff on April 2. After the meeting at the library, Murphy bolted out the door, and did not respond to any of my three later phone inquiries.
"He (Murphy) was bought-off" by Martwick, said Heneghan, speculating that the deal-maker was Murphy’s campaign indebtedness of $76,525, which included a $45,000 2019 loan.
"I know nothing about that," Martwick said following the meeting. Upcoming D-2s, which are quarterly campaign disclosures, will tell the story. If Murphy’s debt magically evaporates, we will know why.
Martwick had the weighted vote of his 38th Ward (33 precincts), Arena’s 45th Ward (36 precincts), and Norwood Park Township (14 precincts), where Martwick protege Frank Avino succeeded Martwick’s father as committeeman in 2018. That bloc, along with fractional votes from Leyden and the 29th and 39th wards, sealed the deal. Martwick in the initial vote got everybody’s except Heneghan’s, who voted for Patti Vasquez, and Laura Murphy’s, who abstained. Martwick "told her (Murphy) that I had promised to ‘step aside’ if he ran. Another lie," said Heneghan. Taliaferro, who asked Martwick a question about whether he would represent his constituents as senator, hinted to me later that he intended to back Heneghan, but voted for Martwick because "there was no other choice."
Martwick told me "it will be a done deal" before the committeemen "even meet." Indeed it was. "He (Martwick) sent out (a message) on Friday (June 27) inviting friends and supporters" to a post-swearing-in party at 2 p.m. on June 28 at a nearby bar. Heneghan showed me that message.
Heneghan convened the meeting as chairman, but then made a speech warning the party to refrain from "making backroom deals" and relinquished the chair to Arena. There were four presenters besides Martwick for the seat: Andrew Lawson, a disabled man who said that the disabled need an advocate in Springfield; Vasquez, who until recently was a WGN radio talk show host who said she got energized and politicized several years ago when the Rauner administration began cutting social service spending; Tom Kelley, who was once an assistant counsel to House Speaker Mike Madigan, and then a committee parliamentarian. He is now an administrative judge for the Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals from the Board of Review; and Lindsey LaPointe, a "justice reform project senior manager" and Arena protege who earned Heneghan’s ire when she endorsed Martwick for the seat and was appearing because she "really wants to be appointed" to his House seat.
She then apologized to Heneghan, claiming that she "didn’t know the process," as she had moved to Portage Park from Maine in 2012. She said there should be "more women in politics."
Heneghan called the whole process "a farce."
19TH DISTRICT: Round two begins. Martwick resigned his House seat coincident with his senate appointment. The district is the east half of the 10th District, containing 124 precincts, with the 45th (39 precincts) and 38th (28 precincts) wards – Arena and Martwick – having a huge weighted-vote majority. The pick must occur within 30 days, so expect a meeting around sometime in July called and chaired by Arena.
LaPointe wants the appointment, as do Vasquez and Kelley. Another name floated is John Garrido, who lost to Arena in 2011 and 2015. But the post is Arena’s for the taking, as Martwick owes him. Arena lost on Feb. 26 to Jim Gardiner, getting 36.2 percent and a majority in seven of the ward’s 48 precincts. His 2020 nomination chances are problematic. I asked Arena, who has not yet gotten a city job, if he wanted the seat. He muttered a "no comment" and walked away. If, at the upcoming meeting, Arena cedes the chair to Martwick, then the fix is in.
20TH DISTRICT: This is the west half of the 10th District. 23-year Republican incumbent Mike McAuliffe resigned June 17, citing fatigue and frustration with the job. McAuliffe is the 41st Ward (38 precincts) Republican committeeman and Rosemont mayor Brad Stephens is the Leyden Township (13 precincts) committeeman. They have the weighted-vote majority, and together picked Stephens to fill the seat on June 29. Given his access to campaign cash, Stephens will be tough to beat in 2020. Heneghan said he would not run for that seat.
NORRIDGE: In yet another bail, popular 6-year mayor James Chmura announced his resignation on June 27. The village’s trustees are expected to meet this week and choose fellow trustee Dan Tannhauser for the job. Tom Benigno, Illinois’s deputy Secretary of State, who lost to Chmura in 2013 and 2017, is expected to run again in 2021.
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