‘Done Deal’ for Stephens, but not yet for Martwick
Analysis and Opinion by RUSS STEWART
“It will be a done deal” before Democratic ward and township committeemen meet to pick State Senator John Mulroe’s (D-10) replacement, said State Representative Rob Martwick (D-19), the 38th Ward Democratic committeeman.
No deal has yet been struck. But it will be at noon on June 28, when the committeeman will meet at the Roden Library, 6083 N. Northwest Hwy.
Martwick, despite his earlier insistence that he “wants to stay in the (Illinois) House,” where he “can make a difference,” now wants the seat of Mulroe, who resigned June 21 after being appointed Circuit Court judge. State law gives the committeemen of the party of the person who vacated the seat the power to choose. That means those from Chicago’s 41st, 45th, 38th, 39th and 29th wards, plus those from suburban Maine, Leyden, Norwood Park and Niles townships, will do the choosing, based on their proportional weighted-vote, as reflected by Mulroe’s 2016 Democratic general election vote in their jurisdiction. There are a total of 168 precincts and a total weighted-vote of 63,145.
“I have strong support” among the committeemen for the Mulroe seat, said 41st Ward Democratic committeeman Tim Heneghan. According to sources, Heneghan has the backing of Maine Township’s Laura Murphy, a state senator, and Leyden Township’s Barrett Pederson, Franklin Park’s mayor. Add that to Heneghan’s own 41st Ward, which has 32 precincts. Martwick’s core base is his own 38th Ward, plus the 45th Ward and Norwood Park Township, where allies John Arena and Frank Avino, respectively, are committeemen, and Lou Lang, the committeeman from Niles. “It’s about 49-49” percent, said one Democratic insider, with 29th Ward Alderman Chris Taliaferro, his ward’s committeeman, now in a position to cast the deciding votes. His ward has 3 precincts and 789 votes.
Going into June 28, Martwick has the 38th (11,867) and 45th (13,219) wards, Niles (757) and Norwood Park townships (5,843), and Heneghan has the 41st (15,368) and 39th (1,695) wards and Maine (9,218) and Leyden (4,571) townships. That puts it at 31,504-30,852.
The committeemen will meet and the deal will be done on June 28, said Heneghan, and a notary and judge – probably Mulroe – will be present. All applicants for the seat will have the opportunity to appear and present their credentials, after which the committeemen will go into executive session and make their pick.
CONVERSELY, it is already a DONE DEAL in the Illinois 20th House district, which comprises the west half of the 10th Senate district. Longtime state Representative Mike McAuliffe (R-20) abruptly resigned on June 17, and his replacement WILL BE Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens, a longtime ally and Leyden Township Republican committeeman. “He (Stephens) has declared that he wants the seat,” said McAuliffe, the 41st Ward Republican committeeman. “I will support him. He will be chosen.”
The 20th District comprises all or parts of Chicago’s 41st and 38th wards, plus parts of Maine, Leyden, Norwood Park and Niles townships. The combined McAuliffe/Stephens weighted-vote is about a 55 percent majority, so Stephens will be chosen. The Republican committeemen will meet the first week of July to do the deed.
The weighted-vote is arrayed thusly:
19TH DISTRICT: Martwick, age 53, way back in 1996 ran for state senator against Wally Dudycz (R), losing 41,218-38,900, a margin of 2,318 votes. He is the son of Norwood Park Township Democratic committeeman Robert Martwick, elected to that post in 1964, who happened to have gone to law school with Richard M. Daley, and tutored the future mayor on the bar exam, which Daley passed on his third try. With that kind of clout, the elder Martwick’s law firm, which specialized in property tax appeals, prospered quite nicely.
Norwood Park Township, which includes Norridge and Harwood Heights and adjacent unincorporated areas, has long been the “Land of Milk and Honey,” with lots of elected township and village officials making lots of money for jobs not requiring lots of work. Young Martwick got elected a township trustee and then a Norridge trustee while in law school, the township gig paying $1,000-a month for a job requiring attendance at one 2-hour meeting per month. Dudycz sent out a devastating 1996 mailer claiming Martwick’s actual pay was $1,037 per hour because he didn’t show up for half the meetings.
The township was accommodation heaven, as for decades Ray Willas was Harwood Heights’ mayor and Joe Sieb Norridge’s mayor, and Martwick’s Democrats and the Republicans split the township offices. After losing in 1996, Martwick got a job as an assistant state’s attorney in Democrat Dick Devine’s office, where he could burnish his prosecutor credentials. I often saw him in the 2nd District (Skokie), where he handled misdemeanor matters. He lost a county board race to Pete Silvestri (R) in 2002. After leaving the state’s attorney’s office, Martwick became an associate in his dad’s firm, where he remains to this day.
But the senior Martwick’s clout never waned, and Mike Madigan’s 2011 remap reconfigured Joe Lyons’ Northwest Side 19th District which included a few precincts in Norridge (and Rob Martwick’s home), as well as the 45th Ward and most of the 38th Ward. Lyons retired in 2012, and Martwick got slated for and won the seat. He won against desultory Republican opposition in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and allied himself with the much-reviled 45th Ward Alderman John Arena. In the meantime, Martwick relocated into west Portage Park and when Alderman Nick Sposato resigned as committeeman in 2017, got himself appointed to the post.
In Springfield, while Republican Bruce Rauner was governor, Martwick championed tax reform which would have put more of a tax burden on middle-class taxpayers than J.B. Pritzker’s “Fair Tax” scheme. He also chaired the pension committee. But Martwick’s major faux pas was his acrimonious confrontation with Lori Lightfoot early in the 2019 mayoral campaign. Lightfoot was having a press conference at which she opposed eliminating the county assessor as an elective office, and making it appointive by the county board president, a measure that Martwick sponsored. Martwick happened to be in proximity at the conference and confronted Lightfoot, and the ensuing exchange went viral on social media, with Lightfoot rebuking Martwick, and Martwick coming across as a bully. “That’s why you’re unfit to be the mayor of Chicago,” Martwick said.
“It helped make her (Lightfoot) mayor,” said Sposato, giving her stature and credibility. Needless to say, at least for political insiders who make a lot of money from securing tax reductions (like Ed Burke, Mike Madigan and Martwick’s law firm), and who donate heavily to the assessor and Board of Review commissioners, Martwick’s idea was a bad idea.
Martwick, as of March 31, had $193,912 on-hand, compared to Heneghan’s $1,455. It is quite normal for a state representative to run for or be promoted to a senate seat. According to district sources, Heneghan, who got less than 30 percent in his 2019 aldermanic race against Anthony Napolitano, had promised Martwick that he would not seek the Mulroe appointment if Martwick wanted it (Heneghan strongly denies this). But Martwick stalled and equivocated for months after it became known that a subcircuit vacancy – and Mulroe appointment – was imminent, and Heneghan began assembling commitments.
The outlook: Taliaferro is a former cop and is a tough-on-crime alderman. He is also close to Lightfoot, no fan of Martwick for obvious reasons. Lightfoot also made Taliaferro the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety. Expect Heneghan to be chosen.
20TH DISTRICT: There will be no 20th District after the 2021 Madigan-crafted remap. It will be dismembered and parts appended onto the adjacent Democratic-held districts of Marty Moylan, John D’Amico and Martwick’s. That was only one of the reasons for McAuliffe’s bail, along with the fact that he has maxed-out on his pension, getting 80 percent of his salary after 20 years, has a young family, has just $6,458 on-hand, and has no Rauner backup, as he had in 2016; in that race against Merry Marwig (D), into which Madigan pumped nearly $2 million, sources and interests close to the then-governor pumped in $3 million to the state Republican Party, which spent it on McAuliffe, who won 25,739-20,142. Poised for a 2018 rematch, Marwig withdrew after the primary, leaving McAuliffe unopposed.
McAuliffe’s father, Roger McAuliffe, won the district’s ancestral seat in 1972, when there were multi-member districts. He then beat fellow incumbent Roman Kosinski (D) in 1982 by 607 votes after the Legislative Cutback Amendment created single-member districts. McAuliffe, the 38th Ward Republican committeeman, began moving his organization northward, electing protŽgŽ Brian Doherty as 41st Ward alderman in 1991, and his son as 41st Ward Republican committeeman in 1996. When Roger died in a mid-summer boating accident that year, the weighted-votes of the 38th and 41st wards made Mike McAuliffe the appointee and nominee. He then rebuffed a strong challenge by Tom Needham (D) 20,666-18,771, a margin of 1,895 votes. McAuliffe then went on to win tough contests against fellow incumbents Bob Bugielski (D) in 2002 and Ralph Capparelli (D) in 2004.
Stephens enters 2020 as a prohibitive favorite. He can raise whatever he needs from the restaurant, hotel and gaming industries, which prosper mightily in Rosemont. And he will be a placeholder until 2022. Stephens became mayor in 2007, when village founding father (and biological father) Don Stephens died; he became mayor in 1956. Stephens earns $260,000-a year.
Democrats will likely concede the 2020 race to him. As McAuliffe explained, the job is now “44/7,” the social media is everywhere, and being a Republican in the 74-44 Madigan-run House is to be totally inconsequential.