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Vallas to run for county board prez as Republican

Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009

* I didn’t think he’d pull the trigger, but he apparently will

Paul Vallas is ready to run again. “Cook County is broken, and I like fixing things that are broken.”

The speed-talking, reform-minded maverick who was CEO of Chicago Public Schools under Mayor Daley, then lost the 2002 gubernatorial primary to Rod Blagojevich by just 25,000 votes, went on to make a national name rescuing school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans.

Now, he told the Chicago Sun-Times, he is coming home for good at the end of the year to run for president of the Cook County Board in 2010.

Not as a Democrat, which he has been all his life, but as a Republican.

Go read the whole thing. Interesting column by Marin.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - You Go Boy - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 7:42 am:

    What an upcoming field of candidates for Governor. He appears to be the “anti-Blago” antidote. He’s relatively young, has an outstanding resume of success, and opportunistic/ambitious to realize the Republicans need a star badly. They have no farm system or bench, but would greatly benefit by this inclusion. It’s only a matter of time before he goes for Gov

  2. - Linda - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 7:54 am:

    I wish him luck, because it doesn’t look good in the public eye when you switch parties. When candidates switch parties and then they run for office they pray upon the people who don’t follow politics. I saw some state reps do that in this last election, and to me that is sad. I wish there was a way to show on the ballot when some one switches parties.

  3. - South Side Mike - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 7:57 am:

    YGB, I don’t know about that right now. I think that it would take more than one term to really fix Cook County. I think it would need two terms, and it might be tough to get that second term. A the end of one term, Vallas might be in the middle of reforming the County, but the process would not be pretty or clean. I don’t know if the reform “success” would be broad enough or sufficient after one term to get a statewide nod as governor, yet the turmoil from fixing decades of neglect and patronage would certainly lead to a lot of negative stories for opponents. After two terms, it would be 2018, and by then Vallas might be considering retirement from public service.

    I’m not declaring absolutely that he won’t run for it at some point, but I don’t know that it’s quite the direct ascension that you predict.

  4. - interesting - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 7:57 am:

    Any body want to do the analysis on what this means to Forrest Claypool? Will disaffected suburbanites do the smart thing and pull Dem ballots in the primary, or will they stick to the GOP side and ensure another four years of Todd Stroger?

  5. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:01 am:

    From a purely political perspective, this is a brilliant move by Vallas.

    There is no way he could win a Dem Primary, but in a general election, he has the potential to driven an enourmous wedge into the Democratic voter base.

    The machine will close ranks, but in the first post-Blago, post Todd Stroger election (and in a likely bad economy to boot) Vallas could be an incredibly compelling candidate.

    And if he wins, he is immediately the savior of the GOP in Illinois.

    And given the way things have gone with Blago and Stroger in Illinois, few can fault him for making a switch based on his long established record of wanting to clean things up.

  6. - RMW Stanford - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:21 am:

    Wow this is a big surprise and a big coup for the Illinois GOP. I would think that Vallas will stand a good chance of winning.

  7. - South Side Mike - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:22 am:

    But wait, before he takes on Stroger, Vallas would have to manage to beat the formidable Tony Peraica in the primary, and that’s a tall order.

    Okay, I could almost post that with a straight face.

  8. - SangamoGOP - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:26 am:

    This isn’t a coup for the IL GOP…this will be another reason NOT to organize an actuall re-build of the party. They will, once again, be spread way too thin with not enough resources and instead of focusing on party building and picking off a couple seats and a couple seats there, they will be caught up with this race along w/Gov and US Senate and not accomplish anything.

    If Vallas wants to help, come back now, take a vacant precinct slot and work to elect Republicans in Cook Co. during the muni elections going on right now! Choppering in a year from now won’t help anything.

  9. - Stayathomemom - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:31 am:

    Isn’t switching parties a normal thing to do in politics. I think switching parties is smart for political gain, but it can backfire once the public goes to the polling place. If you have the Madigan machine working with you they can help you gets some votes.

  10. - Captain America - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:34 am:

    I predict a Vallas victory in November 2010. People are fed up with the total institutional corruption of the Cook County Democratic Party. But I expect that Democratic power brokers will put pressure on Todd Stroger to step down rather than run for reelection.

  11. - RMW Stanford - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:35 am:

    With the proper resource and strategy a Vallas candidacy for Cook Country President could compliment the GOP governor/US Senate candidate and help them pick up a some extra votes out a normal Democrat strong hold

  12. - Bill - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:36 am:

    ==take a vacant precinct slot==
    Good advice. I bet he would have more than a few to choose from in Cook County.

  13. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:45 am:

    This really is a test for Mike Madigan. He has to craft a ticket that will win.

    If it’s Roland Burris, a force fed Lisa Madigan and Todd Stroger


    Mark Kirk, Peter Roskam and Paul Vallas

    the GOP will be back in play.

  14. - oakparker - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 8:54 am:

    If Vallas wins, wouldn’t the County Board (with a big Democratic majority) change the rules before he takes over so that they can easily override a presidential veto? This would effectively place John Daley in the position of running the county. Unless there is a Republican/reform Democratic majority on the board, what’s in it for Vallas?

  15. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:18 am:

    South Side Mike, thanks for the laugh. I always liked Vallas. If there were any justice, he would be in DC instead of Arne Duncan

  16. - Scooby - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:21 am:

    Though two years ago Vallas considered running again for governor against Blagojevich, his residency was raised as an issue. His allies say fellow Democrats were behind court efforts to stop him. As Vallas wryly points out, “Nobody tried that with Alan Keyes,” a Republican who ran for Senate in 2004.

    Is he saying he should have had the same treatment Alan Keyes got? He’s about to find out what that’s like.

  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:22 am:

    He’s an interesting candidate. I remember him when he was the wiz kid running the Economic and Fiscal Commission. Smart guy.

    Lord knows the GOP needs a shot in the arm. I just saw Andy McKenna on Fox this morning. Did his daddy give him that job for his birthday? What does he bring to the party? Dull and uninspiring.

  18. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:26 am:

    So Vallas, Burris and Blago all back in the news. How things have changed since 02.

  19. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:26 am:

    “Interesting” raises the most interesting issue.

    What will happen with the two primaries? If there is another serious GOP candidate (and I consider Peraica a serious GOP candidate), will Dems pull that GOP ballot to get Vallas nominated? And if they do, will that mean Stroger defeats Claypool?

    I can say flat out and without reservation that if the choice is Vallas v. Stroger, the choice is simple. No way Stroger gets any support from me. Vallas v. Claypool is more interesting. I like both of them. It would be a great race.

    Which leads to a last strategic issue: Will polls be released shortly before the primary showing Vallas in a close fight for the nomination? That would be a great strat. for the GOP, which would have to prefer Vallas v. Stroger to Vallas v. Claypool.

    I don’t think any of it will happen though. I expect that the GOP will do the usual circular firing squad and nominate somebody other than Vallas.

  20. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:30 am:

    Wow, the 2010 Dem primary is going to be fun to watch! If Vallas is serious about running, I hope Matt Murphy does not run against him in the primary.

  21. - Amy - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:44 am:

    well John kass will be happy. vallas thinks very highly of himself.

  22. - Nixon Gnats - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:44 am:

    Can Vallas get past all the GOP wing nuts?

  23. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:47 am:

    I have never seen a successful GOP election for Cook County president. I don’t even remember a close election for a GOP candidate for Cook County president. So I’m skeptical.

    I’m from Cook. Lived there most of my life. I don’t see Cook willing to switch to a GOP-anything. I think I saw a couple of Cook County GOP Sheriffs for a term or two, but I have seen about as many GOP Cook County presidents, as I’ve seen GOP Chicago mayors: 0.

    Election trends don’t show a switch. Blagojevich still finds support, even after being impeached. A majority of voters in Cook County are die-hard Democrats, and have never voted for a GOP candidate in any race. I just don’t see them switching.

    Vallas will have to overcome being a Republican in order to win. He will have to stir beloved memories from parents and teachers when he was in charge of Chicago schools. It will have been eight years since he left his mark in Chicago.

    Vallas can beat Stroger, but everyone knows this. If polls show a strong Vallas pull, the Toddler will be booted and replace by Claypool. A Stroger/Claypool primary will be ugly and racial. The Democrats in Cook will be watching Stroger challenged, and Burris. So whoever wins the Democratic primary will need a lot of bandages. I just don’t see at this point that African American voters are going to stand by and watch both Stroger and Burris go down and enthusiastically support the winners.

    But even with unenthusiastic Democratic voters, Cook County voters are Yellow-Dog Democrats, and I don’t see them voting for a Republican under any circumstances.

  24. - Lakefront Liberal - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 9:59 am:

    My question is who would he be running against? If Todd, Toni Preckwinkle and Forrest Claypool all run in the Dem primary for Cook County Board President, who do people think would most likely win? And does a competitive primary on the Republican side change that? In other words, are there suburban R’s that might have pulled a Dem primary ballot to make sure Stroger wouldn’t win the primary who will now vote R so they can vote for Vallas or Peraica?

  25. - TaxMeMore - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 10:13 am:

    Vallas should run as an independent candidate. Oh wait. In Illinois, its practically impossible for anyone to run for County Board as an independent. Rich, how about highlighting the requirements for Vallas to get on the ballot as a D, an R, and as an independent. Educate some voters for us please so they better understand why the two political parties are completely selfish and corrupt in Illinois.

  26. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 10:19 am:

    PEracia made a fool of himself and he will run for anything open, as displayed int eh last 2 eletion cycles. If anyone else were foolish enough to run, the Cook COunty Pres would be GOP. Peracia was polarizing enough to lose o Stroger.

    Vallas, if he does run against Claypool, will simply position him self as an outsider. He was not there when Patronage ran wild, the 10.25% tax rate came into effect, etc. He will do better among AfAms than anyone would imagine…even if Stroger does somehow win. If it is Claypool, Vallas will pull an unprecedented number of Blacks. His story is as good as Jack Ryan less the deer in the headlights look, lack of political experience and without the sex clubs.

  27. - The Pug is on the Prowl - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 10:26 am:

    how is this not a good thing? thre are clear imperfections, but it will increase money, earned media, and national attention. the down ballot impact is enough reason for this to happen.

  28. - scoot - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 10:33 am:

    If it’s Vallas vs. Stroger..I put my money on Vallas everytime.

    This is a huge plus for the GOP, especially in Sub Cook where the party is all but gone. If your a Republican and you don’t like the idea of Vallas running….then seriously get a clue!

    The 2010 GOP ticket has the potential to be a good one
    Vallas County Board Prez
    Kirk for Senate
    Whitley for Gov
    Birkett for AG

    …although I’m not 100% on who the Gov candidate should be…

  29. - blue skyer - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 10:52 am:

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

  30. - Ann - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 11:10 am:

    He’d get the vote of this Democrat.

  31. - R.A. - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 12:17 pm:

    This is an extremely risky move for Vallas. A leap of faith that depends almost entirely on Stroger winning the Democratic Primary — which is becoming less and less likely every day.

    Yes, Vallas would crush Stroger, but he would be an underdog against nearly any other candidate in the general election. There is no worse fate in Cook County politics than having the word “Republican” appear next to your name on a ballot. The political landscape in the suburbs has changed radically since Jack O’Malley was the last GOPer to win countywide in 1992. Rock solid Republican bases in Bloom, Cicero, Lyons, and Maine Townships are long gone.

    What’s more, Vallas and his advisors are exhibiting short memories when it comes to electoral turncoats in Cook County. The political graveyard is filled with the likes of Ed Vrdolyak, Aurie Pucinski, Bernie Stone, Tom Hynes and others who joined the Republicans or formed third parties and lost. And each one of those turncoats had the benefit if running during racially polarized times that should have helped their candidacies – a benefit Vallas is not likely to have.

    I actually think Vallas would have a better shot at getting elected Governor as a Republican.

  32. - Bubs - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    Paul Vallas was an unusual Democrat to begin with. I have heard his reasoning on why to change parties, and it is quite rational, given the state of Cook County and the Democratic Party (though I will leave it to him to state it in pubic.)

    Tony Peraica is not running for Cook County Board President in 2010. So all can get past that.

    One who might run is Matt Murphy, the Republican State Senator from Palatine. But with Vallas entering the race, Murphy may now chose to aim higher and go statewide in 2010, cashing in on his positive media exposure in the Blago mess.

    Vallas has name recognition, respect in minority communities, and the competence to actually begin remedies for the current disaster known as Cook County government under Machine rule.

    Plus, running as a Republican he will be mainly free of the political handcuffs put on every county Democratic candidate, who has to appeal to ward bosses, Mayor Daley, Speaker Madigan and the unions for strong support. That support comes with a stiff price tag, which greatly restrict any possibility of fundamental change.

    The handcuffs are why Vallas is better than Claypool, though I personally like and respect Forrest Claypool. Vallas is simply more likely to deliver.

  33. - Niles Township - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 4:46 pm:

    Wouldn’t it be something to have Quinn in Springfield and Vallas at the County at the same time. Talk about shaking things up.

  34. - Jill - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 4:47 pm:

    I agree with those who’d switch parties to vote for Vallas. It’s a brilliant move because even though everybody hates the Toddler, I’m sure he’ll handily win the primary. If Papa Stroger could win the primary when he was incapacitated by a stroke, Todd can surely win it again.

  35. - With Liberty For All...... - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 5:31 pm:

    Hey gang, I don’t know much about Vallas but what little I have heard has been very positive. I love my former city and county, they deserve someone like Vallas. He would be a huge improvement! He could win.

  36. - Hmmm - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 6:11 pm:

    I think Vallas running in Cook County in 2010 will assure the GOP that a moderate is picked as the Gubernatorial candidate. Many dems will cross over to vote in the primary and if a moderate/liberal republican is running for governor, they’ll pick up those votes and then the election.

  37. - HydeParker - Wednesday, Feb 4, 09 @ 7:24 pm:

    It would be virtually impossible for Vallas to defeat Claypool in a general election — Claypool has higher name recognition from the more recent campaign, and Vallas would have no message against him. Claypool would run strong in Chicago and would still manage to receive significant support in the suburbs. Finally, in the case that the Democrat is not someone toxic — and Claypool is quite clean — it is very hard for someone with an R by their name to win.

    I also think it is very unlikely that Stroger can win renomination. His approval rating is likely in the teens, and if Claypool could get 47 percent against John Stroger, he can easily get 51 percent against Todd. And Toni Preckwinkle will certainly hurt Stroger more than Claypool; she is reformist, yes, but she has zero name recognition and the only area her message will gain traction is on the south side and in the south suburbs. It’s also unlikely she can raise enough money to get onto TV and challenge Claypool’s message in places like the north side of Chicago, the north suburbs, and the west suburbs. In sum, it’s Claypool in a landslide because of Preckwinkle’s dividing Stroger’s base, and then Claypool easily defeating Vallas by locking up the vast majority of the Democratic vote in the general. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised is many Republicans still support Claypool in a general against Vallas — he has long been identified with fiscal reform, a solid Republican issue, whereas education reform is more non-partisan, or even Democratic.

  38. - anon - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 12:10 am:

    Don’y underestimate the power of the black vote in Cook County. If they rally around Stroger and get the vote out, then he will be hard to beat. Dont believe all the newspaper hype..this is politics. Even if Daley dumps Stroger, Midigan has to be careful because Stroger can still deliver 400,000 or so votes to any other candidate. And yes as a black citizen we rally behind Todd, and make sure someone looks out for us. He is fighting against that borad that is trying to cut our services.

  39. - lebowski - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 2:53 pm:

    If Stroger wins the primary, Vallas will defeat him by at least 60-40 in the general. In 2006, Peraica (a divisive and mediocre candidate in a huge Democratic year) lost to Stroger 54-46. Peraica won the suburbs 61-39, but lost the city 31-69. Vallas can increase both of those totals considerably by winning the white suburbs 90-10, white Chicagoans and Hispanics 70-30, and he might be able to get 15-20% of the black vote.

    If Claypool beats Stroger in the primary, it will be more competitive. White Liberals will soundly support Claypool over Vallas, but Vallas would do a lot better with the white ethnic vote. After a bloody Stroger-Claypool primary and with his CPS history, if Vallas could get 30-40% of the black vote, he would defeat Claypool.

    Oh yeah, and Peraica would have no chance against Vallas in the GOP primary. Most officials and leaders in the party want him out of any position. Look for a competitive primary race for his county board seat.

  40. - Teve - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 3:57 pm:

    I find it funny that Forrest Claypool, the guy who helped Harold Washington become the city’s first African-American mayor and the guy who was intregal in helping Barack Obama win election the U.S. Senate and more importantly win the nomination for the President, is being counted out by everybody. Some say Claypool can’t beat Stroger because of a “bloody” and racial primary. Last I checked, I don’t think African-Americans like Stroger’s tax increase any more than anyone else. I find it funny that Paul Vallas is now the “great reformer.” All I know is that Claypool ran a hell of a race in 2006 and guess what, has been the most outspoken and consistent opponent against Todd Stroger. By switching parties Vallas is more opportunist than reformer. Claypool never raised taxes at the Park District and never supported any tax increases as commissioner, Vallas can’t make that claim. Go ahead and underestimate Claypool.

  41. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 5, 09 @ 4:47 pm:

    ==I find it funny that Forrest Claypool, the guy who helped Harold Washington become the city’s first African-American mayor and the guy who was intregal in helping Barack Obama win election the U.S. Senate and more importantly win the nomination for the President,==

    Wow, you give Claypool a lot of credit. Washington and Obama were political comets. I suspect they might have done okay without Claypool.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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