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TODAY

Tuesday, December 11

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Airbags

Wow. Ever since a very public fight with his father-in-law Alderman Richard Mell helped kickstart a precipitous decline in Governor Blagojevich's popularity a year and a half ago, political pundits, talking heads and the nattering nabobs of the 'net over at the Capitol Fax Blog, among other places, have been salivating over this primary. Someone was sure to come hard after Blagojevich, some conjectured, and even if they didn't the acrobatic positioning of the rest of the Democratic Party would cause no shortage of pulled groins and moderately displaced hips. Prepare for fireworks, we all hoped...

And that didn't even begin to touch on the GOP primary, which was sure to be a bloodfest of the Geriatric Old Party cannibalizing itself as overzealous conservatives tried to "take back" a party they never had and the Edgar-Ryan moderates (or "Thompson-Edgar" as they prefer to be known) would make their final desperate play to rescue the suburbs from the creeping Democratization that threatens to turn Illinois into Massachusetts. It's gonna be an old-time Illinois political brawl, we all thought, our betting slips in our hands champing at the bit.

Well, all that stuff could have happened. And should have. But it didn't really. And I'm not quite sure why. Everybody just kept... waiting. It was almost as if everybody expected an exciting primary season so much they just figured somebody else would kick it off. What the hell happened? The last month has been like an eighth grade dance, where all the boys are on one side, and all the girls are on the other, and nobody's willing to step out on the floor. And we all know you'll never get any action that way, cousins.

GOP Gubernatorial Primary

The GOP primary for governor has been an utter disappointment. Oberweis, although true to form with his wooden commercial where he reads a book in a kitchen for some reason, provided a bit of excitement with his Phony Headline commercial, which used some facts from news stories and mixed them with some innuendo and molded them into "truthy" headlines that were never written. He didn't apologize. Then he dug up a former employee of Baar Topinka's who alleged that she ordered him to shred documents in the face of a corruption investigation. Topinka beat back the allegation but it was kinda ugly. Kinda — if it had come from anyone other than Oberweis, who at this point could flap his genitals at his opponents with a tiki mask on and people would just kinda shrug. I mean, this is the guy who kinda subliminally suggested we round up Mexicans and put them in a stadium. We get it, buddy, you wanna be elected to something. End it.

Can we just quickly put together a list of now-infamous Oberweis commercials?

1. "I Like Horsies." Oberweis illustrates how pharmaceuticals are cheaper in Canada by standing next to a mountie on a horse.
2. "Round Up The Mexicans!" The infamous helicopter ad.
3. "Meet Me In The Kitchen, Where You'll All Stand While I Sit and Read From This Comically Oversized Book That May Or May Not Have Been a Prop From a Lilly Tomlin One-Woman Show."
4. "Remember When These Newspapers Wrote These Things About Judy? Psych! We Made it Up!"

And the other candidates? Ron Gidwitz has used his millions to smear Baar Topinka, but he's also done a pretty good job of creating an image for himself so Topinka's defensive ads, starring Jim "Jimmy Cleanface" Edgar came off as a little whiny. It also didn't help her image that rather than herself addressing the attacks she has a man come in and do it for her. Baar Topinka is still the prohibitive favorite to win, but she seems to be feeling her own hype on that a bit too much, because her ads are pretty light on gravitas and have become increasingly defensive. She should be outlining what exactly she plans on doing, rather than reminding people she's the person whose been occupying the second-least important constitutional office for the last few years. Oh, and Brady is there too.

Blagojevich v. Eisendrath

The biggest disappointment has been one Edwin "Just Call Yourself Ed, Dammit!" Eisendrath. First of all, Jesus man just call yourself "Ed" wouldja? The fact that you're a Lakefront zillionaire with a last name like Eisendrath went far enough in alienating you from the average Illinoisan. But sticking with "Edwin" over "Ed" would have been like Harry Truman asking people to call him Give 'em Hell Hieronymous. Seriously, bro.

And another thing, Ed. No, you know what, I'm calling you "E." And another thing, E. Your family has sick money. We're talking, you know, Giannoulias ducats. What the hell took you so long to go into your own kick? What's the fun of having millionaire outsider candidates if they're not going to spend their money like M.C. Hammer? Remember Blair Hull? Guy outspent all the other candidates by December. That was a millionaire candidate. And he didn't show himself standing in his cavernous Gold Coast loft apartment, either, by the way. What the hell was that!? It looked like you were filming your campaign commercial on the set of a '90s NBC sitcom. You might as well have put a bumper sticker across your chest that said, "My Track Lighting Cost More Than Your Roof."

Spend that money, Cousin! C'mon, I know you got it in you. We're a week out—start buying up those valuable pre-10 O'Clock slots like they were personalized miniature license plates that say "Edwin" on 'em!

Giannoulias v. Mangieri

The treasurer's race on the Democratic side has featured some interesting turns: for example, the Party's slated candidate, Paul Mangieri, may or may not have forgotten to run for the office. The only reason I say that is because here in Chicago, there has been almost no Mangieri presence, with the exception of the occasional random sign on a far southwest side fence. Mangieri has an enormous organizational advantage on his opponent, Chicago banking family scion Alexi Giannoulias, but has failed to make his presence felt in Chicago. Giannoulias for his part has been popping up everywhere where three or more registered voters are congregating, including a completely inappropriate appearance at the Schenklemann Bat Mitzvah last weekend.* Organizational sentiment that Giannoulias is a bit of a frat boy notwithstanding, its doubtful that anybody is going to be fighting to hard to make sure Mangieri pulls enough Chicago votes to compliment his presumptive advantage in the rest of the state. However his endorsement by west suburban boss Gene Moore could place the margin of difference in the inner ring Cook suburbs. You realize we're talking about the primary for State Treasurer, right?

*This is a joke.

Claypool v. Stroger

This all becomes a lot more interesting with Cook County Board President John Stroger's hospitalization on Tuesday for what may have been heart trouble.

So here we go. Cook County Board President John Stroger is facing the first real test to his rule in nearly a decade from Goo-Goo extraordinaire Forrest Claypool. Forrest Claypool, huh? Does he have the right county board? Shouldn't he be running for the East Baton Rouge Parish Board in, oh, 1896? Just not a very Chicago-y name. (Unlike Boguslaw "Bogie" Stefanski, who is running for WRD). Claypool's slogan of "It's Your Money. Vote Like It." and Stroger's clumsy campaigning to date has done the unthinkable: made people actually take time to consider what the hell the Cook County Board does. Because seriously, what the hell do these people do? Why do we let them tax us as much as they do? My point isn't that they don't do a lot (the County does do a lot) but that nobody is quite sure what they do. The only contact most of us have with the County is to pay them: our property taxes, liquor, cigarette and excise taxes, gasoline taxes, and the occasional something to the sheriff's office. And for what? One free hospital? I mean, whether you live in Chicago or the suburbs, you don't ever see Cook County streets and sanitation guys filling potholes or plowing roads. So if the municipalities are doing all the work, why is John Stroger always raising our taxes?

Cook County is the second-largest county in the country and remarkably diverse, from Chicago's inner city to the mansions of Inverness. Whatever the hell it does do, it is expensive and difficult.

Claypool's own success in bringing attention to the fact that nobody really knows what Cook County does may be a good way to cast himself as the good-government reformer who means business, but it isn't a good way to govern: because if he were to win, and he is trailing the latest polls by 10 points or more, he's going to have to start with the premise, "We waste a whole lot of money, and I'm going to cut taxes and improve services." Good luck with that. Claypool still hasn't specified where he would make cuts once he became President. I got news for ya: unless you think laying off County employees (and maybe you do) is "good government," I highly doubt Forrest Claypool is going to do anything for you that John Stroger didn't. Claypool is a good guy, but sometimes reform for reform's sake becomes a system just like machine politics.

In any case, Stroger holds a solid lead over Claypool, who may or may not be suffering from the fact that he shares his first name with a well-known Hollywood imbecile and his last name with the lead singer of Primus. Stroger will enjoy pretty solid organizational support in the city and much of the inner-ring suburban townships, and those votes will go a considerable way to tamping down the anti-Stroger tax revolt vote that is likely to come up in the Lakefront and conservative white ethnic wards and the airport suburbs. Unfortunately for Strogey (that's what I call him), he succeeded in pissing off the service employees union enough that they more or less ended all of their work on his behalf, not one month after endorsing him.

Endorsements

So, in carrying on the tradition of Revenge of the Second City, my endorsements for next Tuesday:

Governor

Democratic: Rod Blagojevich. The guy has bungled a lot, but he's done a lot, too, including the AllKids plan, strengthening collective bargaining rights, and holding the line on taxes, which I don't necessarily agree with but which he promised to do. The fact of the matter is, Illinois is better off with Blagojevich in office than it was four years ago. He hasn't been great—heavy borrowing and the pension skim are major issues—but Eisendrath hasn't shown he can run a campaign, much less a state.

GOP: Oberweis. Seriously, why not? Eight more months of this dude would be priceless. Okay, that isn't really fair. Republican voters should really consider giving their vote to Ron Gidwitz and Steve Rauschenberger.

Treasurer

Democratic: Alexi Giannoulias is undoubtedly a young man in a hurry, but he's independent and shown a real passion for the issue, whereas Mangieri has been acting as though he's owed this office. My nod goes to the Greek pro-basketball player.

GOP: Christine Radogno is unopposed.

Cook County Board President

Democratic: Well, it is most publications' policies to make an endorsement where there is a contested primary, but the reality is this one is a push. After sixteen years of Stroger it may seriously be time for a new approach to County government. But Claypool may end up being a prisoner to his promises. The pick is Stroger.

GOP: Tony Peraica is unopposed.

6th Congressional District

Democratic: Christine Cegelis won 44 percent of the vote against Henry Hyde in 2004, building an impressive volunteer organization in the meantime. It should be noted that she underperformed John Kerry in that district, which is a troubling sign. Despite building an impressive volunteer organization in 2004, Cegelis has not translated that into a proven ability to run an effective campaign or fundraise well. Despite a legion of very hardcore supporters, Cegelis will not have the advantage of an unpopular very long-term incumbent in Hyde: instead she'll be facing the hard-right wing Peter Roskam, who nonetheless has plenty of money and is an adroit campaigner with GOP establishment support. For that reason, the Democratic primary voters should consider giving their vote to Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran drafted to run by Senator Dick Durbin. Duckworth has raised a considerable amount of money with help from the Democratic Party establishment. Duckworth is no patsy but has a great handle on the issues and has the personal story and toughness to duke it out with Roskam.

GOP: Roskam is unopposed.

8th Congressional District

Democratic: Melissa Bean is unopposed.

GOP: Four hundred and fifty very conservative Republicans are in the race to oust Bean in this Republican district. It hurts my soul to endorse any of them, but I'll go ahead and say Kathy Salvi, because you can never have too many Salvis.

Water Reclamation District

Terence O'Brien has the respect of his colleagues and with this esoteric office, that's enough for me.

Debra Shore really, really, really cares about the water in this reclamation district. Give her a shot.

I heard Frank Avila give a speech about water reclamation district issues once and it was as if the guy was running for Pope. Either he really cares about these issues or he is history's greatest sociopath. I'm banking on the former.

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Comments

Naz / March 15, 2006 8:38 AM

Nice rundown Richard.

Oberweis though?

Shylo / March 15, 2006 9:39 AM

Stroger had a stroke. Are you cool with Claypool now?

spence / March 15, 2006 10:31 AM

I can't believe you didn't endorse the paranoid schizophrenic rantings of Andy Martin? Just think how interesting the next 8 months would be with him as the GOP gubernatorial candidate.

w / March 15, 2006 11:05 AM

Can we bring back Alan Keyes and make him talk about gays and abortion? That was fun.

Kenzo / March 16, 2006 11:40 AM

I have a "Declared History's Greatest Sociopath" pool with some guys at the office. Thanks for the tip, Richie. I just omitted Dave Coulier and added Frank Avila. Shatner stays, though.

clompy / March 16, 2006 2:58 PM

i just want to say that i hate gidwitz, i hate salvi, and i am sick of david sweeny's "fake talking couple" ads on wbbm.
fucking republicans...

Mister C / March 18, 2006 12:07 AM

I'm Jim Oberweis (FLAP FLAP FLAP) and I approve this message!

 

About the Author(s)

Richard F. Carnahan is a true South Side Sox fan who's played a bit part in Chicago politics more than once over the years. Contact him at .

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