Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Claypool for President; Cook County Democratic primary ballot

I voted yesterday. I have moved since the 2004 general and decided that I'd take advantage of the grace period (that ended today) to register to vote at my new address. After registering, they gave me a ballot (a large, two-sided optical scan) which I filled out and turned back in. I'm curious to find out how many people took advantage of the grace period this first time out -- and I'll bet far more will in November.

I had been a little bit torn over the Cook County Presidential election ever since SEIU endorsed the incumbent John Stroger. Some of the Stroger-supporting legislators also made a case that without Stroger's leadership, the new County (Stroger) hospital would never have been built, and that the capital investment had really paid off for poorer people. Yes, the county might have been an ossified mess, but was I somehow not sufficiently valuing the contributions that Stroger had made on health care over the last decade?

Nothing assured me more than Dr. Quentin Young's endorsement of Forrest Claypool. Dr. Young has been a fierce, relentless advocate for universal health insurance in Chicago for decades. He spent decades at County Hospital and he loves the institution. If *he* believes that a Claypool Administration would deliver more health services to the people of Cook County, then I believe it too.

That's the huge disconnect (that actually got to me for a while) on the Claypool message. Somehow, the common sense view that cutting wateful middle managers and modernizing county operations leads to more and better services, especially for poor people, doesn't intuitively resonate. It feels like wasting money on patronage bureaucrats means more health care for poor people. Most of the Stroger supports back Stroger because they believe that Claypool will cut services for people -- or they have equated 'lots of county jobs' with 'lots of health care for poor people.'

I'm proud to have voted for Forrest, and when I did so, I thought of Mike Quigley, who took one for the team and withdrew from the race in order to give the reformers one shot at the presidential race.

I'm predicting a Claypool victory. I sense a shift over to Claypool among people who are paying attention, and I also sense a lack of enthusiasm for Stroger. I think there's a strong sense of duty and loyalty to John Stroger among his supporters, but very little passion for the man or the campaign. It's a little bit like Bob Dole running for president in 1996 -- his loyal followers are limply raising the flag for an old battle-scarred veteran, not because they really want to, but because they feel they must.

I do think that this one will be close, so if you live in Cook County, you really ought to vote for Claypool.

The rest of my ballot was like this:

I voted for Tom Dart. He'll be a great sheriff.

I voted for Terry O'Brien, Debra Shore and Patricia Horton for the Water Reclamation District. O'Brien has been a very solid President of the District, Debra Shore will be a fantastic addition as a strong conservationist (check out her website at www.debrashore.org) and Patricia Horton got my third vote because Senator Rickey Hendon has been pushing for her so hard and the rest of my ticket was all white. (I would have liked to have cumulative voting rights so I could have cast all three of my votes for one candidates if I wanted to. And did you know that at one time the Water Reclamation District used cumulative voting rights when it was known as the Chicago Sanitary District? Check this out if you don't believe me).

In the state treasurer's race, I voted for Mangieri over Giannoulias. I buy the Speaker's argument that we really ought to have one Downstater on the statewide ticket, and while Giannoulias might be a touch sharper than Mangieri, Mangieri is an elected official and that matters. There's something a little wierd about running for statewide office without serving as an elected or appointed official -- or even a staffer. However, this one felt a little empty, because I think Christine Rodogno is going to be a very strong candidate for the Republicans (and probably the only GOP who wins this coming November).

And for Governor? Well, I was in a quandry. It was the last race I voted for. I looked at Blagojevich's name, and looked at Eisendrath's name, and just didn't know what to do. I know that Eisendrath is not a serious alternative, and I know that I want Blagojevich to get re-elected in November. I thought about AllKids and FamilyCare and KidCare and a ton of great Democratic-sponsored bills that Blagojevich signed. And so I planned to vote for him.

And then I remembered the No New Taxes pledge -- a ridiculous pledge made in the middle of a totally uncompetitive primary election that essentially guarantees that we won't raise the 3% state income tax and that locks us into regressive sales and property taxes as well as poor kids in poor school districts not getting a fair shot at life. I wondered whether I'd somehow weaken Blagojevich by voting for Eisendrath. No way. So, with an angry little mark of my pen, I voted for Eisendrath.

Ultimately, that's the fuel of the Eisendrath vote: Democrats who are mad at Blagojevich and want to formally express their disapproval before working to help his re-election campaign in November. Maybe a higher Eisendrath vote will help signal to the Blagojevich team that they can find a way to raise the state income tax but not raise taxes "on the hard-working people of Illinois" by significantly raising the personal exemption while raising the overall income tax rate to 5%, so that most people actually pay less, but the people who are making a lot of money pay more (since they can most afford to do so). I hope so.

Now, why am I disclosing who I voted for and opening myself up to some backlash? (And I'm having second thoughts about laying it all out there right now, as a lobbyist and political hack/operative...) I believe that the Democratic Party (and democracy) works best with honest conversation about policy and politics. It bothers me when people won't tell me who they vote for or which political party they support, because "that's private" or "you're not supposed to talk about politics." Democracy is public. And if I'm going to press people to share who they vote for in order to try to create a more civic culture (and try to convince people to vote for better candidates), I've got to walk the walk myself. I mean, I think government should be ever-more transparent, so as a citizen, I should try to be as transparent as possible. (I'm trying to talk myself into keeping this post on the internet...)

Who are you planning to vote for and why?


Anonymous said...

Good for you on the Mangieri vote. I wondered how the Obama supporters who blasted Hull in '04 could rationalize now voting for a sheltered rich kid whose only experience is working 5 years in daddy's bank. Your consistency by saying "no" to this clear ego candidate is commendable. I'm voting the same way as you up and down the ballot.

Anonymous said...

Commend you for disclosure, but the Mangieri vote is beneath you. He is NOT the downstate choice, he is the machine candidate, only with a different zip code. I prefer at least a little independence on my ticket. You'll get none with Mangieri, which may be moot as you acknowledged, since if he wins, Radogno will likely be the next Treasurer.

Anonymous said...

It's always nice to see/hear someone rationalize their voting patterns. I have rarely voted along party lines because I have a very difficult time reconciling candidates points of view against my own. I have been told more than once that good politics is good government, which begs the question, do we have good government right now?

As a true moderate (i think that makes people unconcomfortable,)I have to pair progressive agendas with fiscal responsibility. I support many of this administration's progressive policies, yet conservatives make a very legitimate argument that these programs will be difficult to pay for, not to mention there are several programs/organizations that contract with the government that are in desparate need of increased funding in order to continue to provide services that the state can't otherwise provide itself.

I think government exists to provide services for the people, especially the citizens that would otherwise have difficulty tending to themselves. This view typically drives my vote and will continue to do so in the future.

Anonymous said...

----I think government exists to provide services for the people,---

Just to be clear, you are NOT a moderate if you think that. You're an old-fashioned liberal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing a very difficult but honest assessment of what will likely go thru the hearts and minds of many who enter the voting booth to cast their March 21st ballots. Not many people would be so forthcoming; I am sure MANY will do exactly what you did after considering the latest embarassing antics of the Blago administration. As for the Treasurer's race...you are on point. Chris Radogno is hands-down the most seasoned and qualified candidate in this race.

Anonymous said...

You know, no one is stopping you from paying more than 3% of your income to the state if you so choose. But some of us would like for Illinois's economy to grow.

Anonymous said...

A bullet vote is not quite as good as cumulative voting, but it does help. So if you wanted to vote 3 times for someone, why didn't you bullet instead?

Bill said...

Your Mangieri vote is the only one that I agree with. Alexi should get involved in politics for a few years before he tries to buy a state constitutional office... Maybe work a precinct or something?
For MWRD I'm going to bullit for Barret Pederson, a competent, qualified,hard working candidate who has earned the support of the party by waiting his turn.
If you were worried about ethnic diversity, why not vote for Stroger? He is being sandbagged by the mayor's people and everyone is laughing about the "endorsement" of da mayor who after endorsing John in one sentence talked for about 5 minutes about what a great guy Forrest Gump was and how he would do a great job, etc.
The voters need to teach Axelrod, et al a lesson and go with a guy who has earned their vote.
I hope that your vote for Eddie doesn't backfire. He was on PBS last night advocating a two tiered pension system for new state employees and talking about how a tax increase would hurt business. He sounded like a Republican. He did refuse to take the tax pledge, however.
You really should leave personalities out of it and look at the progress we blues have made in the last 3 years in this state and vote for more of the same in the future. Eddie has no chance to win, now or in Nov.
Somewhere Sid Yates is laughing his ass off!

Anonymous said...

I think you might be reading the winds wrong on the President's race.

Claypool is spending heavily on TV to trry and push up turnout, while the rumor is that the only northside committeemen backing Claypool are Dick Mell and Bernie Stone. On his own Claypool has no troops for election day.

Meanwhile, black committeemen and Latinos are pushing Stroger hard. It's the one race that matters this year.

Low turnout, a little snow and 30% of the white vote and Stroger is in.

Anonymous said...

OK on Shore and Horton for the Water Reclamation District, but Terence J. O'Brien's Illinois State Board of Elections Campaign fund contributor list looks like a City of Chicago Contractor's list. How about Marigos instead?

Nathan Kaufman said...

any input on basketball?

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Thanks all for the comments. I do take the point that I could have bulleted for one candidate on the Water Rec race, but that feels like throwing two of my votes away. I've got three votes -- why can't I cast them all for one candidate? And on Mangieri, I was impressed with his work on the Maytag issue (working to get back corporate tax breaks when they shut the place down). On the President's race, I'm still calling a Claypool win.

Carl Nyberg said...

Tom Dart is fond of blaming the county board for the Sheriff's Department problems.

If Dart is such a great legislator--and he's obviously a Dem insider--why hasn't he been able to convert his skill and connections into getting the county board to spend the money necessary to fix problems?

Also, when challenged by Peter Garza about patronage hiring Dart gave an answer I didn't like.

Dart said he'd fire screw-ups no matter what their connections.

You notice he didn't say that he was going to professionalize hiring, he merely offered to cull the people who screw-up. But I've been around long enough that a pol offering to cull the screw-ups translates into offering to fire the people who screw-up bad enough to make it into the media.

So, Dart's pledge seems to be a pledge of maintaining the status quo.

That shouldn't be a surprise. Sheahan announced retirement at the last minute and tapped his chief of staff to run. This sounds like the closest thing possible to continuity.

So, don't kid yourself. A vote for Dart is a vote for business as unsual.

I'm voting for Baker. If he's a complete screw-up, someone competent will run against him in four years.

And I'm not convinced that electing a total screw-up will result in diminished services. From my point of view the Sheahan/Dart team seem pretty close to utter screw-ups now.

Aakash said...

I was about to post a comment here, but then my roommates started running out the door, due to the tornado threat that we were facing. The power went out, and my roommates quickly left our townhouse (and didn't even bother to knock on my door, or tell me exactly they were going!). I left at that time also. Though damage was extensive, no one here in Springfield was killed... But some others were not so fortunate.

Now, I'm not even sure of what I was going to write, in this comment post. Possibly something about asking if you knew of a website that compiled the 'early voting' and absentee voting procedures for each county of our state.

In the midst of crises, things like that suddenly seem so much less important. It certainly puts things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the Mangieri vote. Alexi is too sheltered professionally and unproven in public service. He is very pretty though.

I do not understand everything you write on Claypool-Stroger.

"Somehow, the common sense view that cutting wateful middle managers and modernizing county operations leads to more and better services, especially for poor people, doesn't intuitively resonate"


Does this mean Claypool would be more likely to cut wasteful middle managers?

Anonymous said...

I am of the opinion that state income tax rates should be raised to 5% with a sunset provision (the tax raise would expire in a certain number of years and require additional legislative action to keep at 5%).

The current federal income tax rates have come way down from Clinton to Bush. This is a chance for the state of IL to raise extra revenue (without killing supply of capital for new biz) and use it to make long-term investments.

Divided govt at the state level (dems control one branch and repubs the other) might improve the effectiveness and efficiency of govt spending and budgeting.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I do not think Dan has a "big" mouth. Everyone that votes has to pick candidates and has some sort of reason - even people with small mouths. So I think it may be 'you and your "transparent" mind'.

Kids who get jobs due to parents can be disasters. Sometimes it works. However, sometimes it is really bad and junior does not know what he is doing or appreciate how hard it is to be successful. Alexi can always run again to show how serious and persistent he is, and he can bolster his resume with public service in the meanwhile.

And analogies can be dangerous. Alexi played ball in Europe, not the NBA. Illinois is the major leagues.

Anonymous said...

Kudos DJW for sharing your vote. I was nearly afraid of what you were going to disclose (you have moderated yourself in recent years, as have I), but I am most pleased by your selections.

I especially salute you on choosing Edwin Eisendrath and Forrest Claypool. There is clearly a tug between being "loyal" to the Democratic Party (who get the issues and priorities right, by and large) and being an advocate for prudent public policy.

Alas Stroger and Blagojevich have not been good stewards. They fly in the face of gains made by Democrats nationally for being good fiscal stewards while Republicans expand government and spend money hand over fist-- for fat cats and special interests, to boot!

May I suggest a line of conversation? I am bewildered by how institutions can be named after people (that is, politicians) while they are still living. What it Stroger's money that built the hospital? Why the heck should it be named for someone who spends other people's hard-earned money? Give anyone billions of dollars and they too might choose to re-build a hospital that already existed. And they might do a better job at it, too!

Shine some light, DJW!!!!!! Thanks and nice column!!!!!
Go EE and Run Forrest Run !!!

Anonymous said...

I did not know about the naming of the building. I can see how this rubs people the wrong way. You should not name a building after yourself unless you pay for it, and it is clear to everyone who paid for it - fair and square. I suppose people naming a building or something for you after you are dead is a very nice compliment, and probably better than using your influence to get a building named for you while you are still alive and did not pay for the building.

People do build stuff. Look at Icahn and others.

Anonymous said...

It is no secret in the patch that everyone thinks Dan is annoying.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Dan is annoying. He is smart and well-educated. It is interesting to see what he has to say. Illinois Democrats should appreciate that someone with Dan's smarts is willing to help them.

You need to not make things personal. You need to say things like "I think Dan's ideas or words on xyz are annoying" ... You should not tell a person that he or she is inherently annoying.

Anonymous said...

There is something to be said for standing up for organized labor. Unions have been on a long downturn for decades now. Workers face a lot of insecurity and uncertainty. Job transitions are expensive.

Employers do things to suck resources out of organizations for senior management at the expense of workers.

Nathan Kaufman said...

It would be interesting to hear more from candidates and policy leaders about emergency management in Illinois.

Lazerlou said...

Hey Anon, Dan isn't nearly annoying as you are cowardly. Don't be such a cowardly loser, and let us know who the man or woman behind the useless accusations is. Loser.

Anonymous said...

it is long after the march primary and i have been pondering claypool's loss at the poll. i have decided to vote for claypool as a write in candidate in november and several other people have told me they plan to do the same. do hear rumblings to that effect anywhere else?