Tuesday, November 23, 2010



Yesterday was the last day on which candidates for mayor of Chicago could file their nominating petitions. Two surprises emerged from that day’s late entries. First, Rahm Emanuel’s tenant filed enough signatures, at least before challenges, to appear on the ballot. Second, representatives of a “draft Burris” movement filed enough signatures, again, before challenges, for former Senator, Attorney General, et. al., Roland Burris to run for the chance to add “Mayor of Chicago” to his already formidable and wordy tombstone.

I’ll leave the first of the aforementioned developments for a later blog post. The second is far more interesting. I would remind voters that this may be a rehash of recent history. Recall that in 2002, a young, ambitious, hirsute congressman named Rod Blagojevich was running in the Democratic primary for governor of Illinois with the help of his father-in-law, 33rd Ward Boss, and consummate Chicago politician, Dick Mell. The race was neck and neck between former Chicago School Superintendent Paul Vallas and young Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Vallas’s strength came primarily from the black community due to his more than passable job with the long neglected Chicago Public School system. Well into the campaign though, one Roland Burris, one heck of a nice guy but little more than a minimally competent cog in and front man for the Chicago Machine (two characteristics that, by the way, often cohabitate in the same person; see two excellent books on the subject, The Chairman, A Novel of Big City Politics, and its sequel, The Chairman’s Challenge, A Continuing Novel of Big City Politics, by the ever insightful Mark M. Quinn.) entered the race. Enough of the black vote swung to Mr. Burris to tip the primary to Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Blagojevich went on to beat the inaptly surnamed Jim Ryan in the general election, and the rest is history.

Now I’m not necessarily saying that Mr. Burris is acting as someone’s perhaps unwitting stooge to siphon votes from James Meeks, Danny Davis, and Carol Moseley Braun, the other serious (Well, perhaps in Ms. Braun’s case, that’s too laudatory an adjective. She has, however, helped raise money for La Rabida Children's Hospital, which counts for a lot in the Quinn household. But I digress.) black candidates in the race. But this is Chicago, after all.

Don’t you just LOVE the politics of our town? I sure do.

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