* Carol Marin interviewed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle about her refusal to endorse Lance Tyson, the opponent of indicted former state Rep. Derrick Smith…
You might assume that because Preckwinkle has earned a reputation for reforming government that she would be in Tyson’s corner. Especially since she never endorsed Smith and regards him as “incompetent at best, a crook at worst.”
But no. She is not.
“I would tell you, I’ve spent the last two years of my life trying to clean up after Todd Stroger,” said the president, referring to her ill-fated, much criticized predecessor.
Tyson was Stroger’s first chief of staff. A former lobbyist for the Daley administration, Tyson took on the job in a muscular way. Or as former county Commissioner Mike Quigley expressed it to the Tribune, in the manner of “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”
But after 18 months of playing defense, Tyson must have known Stroger’s brand of governance was indefensible. He left for private practice. But he kept giving and raising cash for many Democratic politicians, including Preckwinkle, as recently as April of this year.
But when Tyson asked for Preckwinkle’s endorsement this summer, she declined.
“There is no way for Lance to disassociate himself from the past I inherited,” she told me. “We’re in terrible budget shape, they didn’t do any long-range planning, and given how little attention Todd gave, I would guess Lance was running it.”
Tyson disputes that. And he calls Preckwinkle’s rejection “stunning,” arguing that she should want “to support an attorney” in a race against someone “who needs an attorney.”
* Eric Zorn also interviewed Preckwinkle about the situation and came to this conclusion…
First, Tyson does try to dissociate himself somewhat from Stroger, who all but inherited the seat from his father, John. Tyson told me he tried to keep Stroger focused on battling the tough financial challenges the county faced, and pointed out that he gave up in frustration less than halfway through Stroger’s term.
Second, whatever Todd-stink still lingers on Tyson is mild compared to the foul cloud in the West Side legislative district that envelops his opponent, Derrick Smith.
I agree fully. Preckwinkle is making a serious mistake here. Tyson tried to do right in that office. He took the job thinking he could help. Some folks, myself included, thought Tyson would keep Todd Stroger in check. But Stroger was beyond help. And Preckwinkle ought to be ashamed of herself here.
And the same goes for Speaker Madigan, who is also refusing to endorse in this race. He presided over Smith’s ouster, voted for that ouster, and now won’t work to prevent Smith from returning to the House?
Madigan’s operation is spending tons of dollars blasting away at Republicans over minor issues, or even over issues that have no relation to state government (Medicare and Social Security). But he has no cash to keep Derrick Smith from coming back to the House? Really?