My State Fair story
Monday, Mar 19, 2012
* Last summer during the State Fair, a group of us was sitting in a Springfield beer garden talking politics. Some of the folks at the table were from Chicago, so they had to be briefed a bit when talk turned to Springfield ‘tics.
One topic they couldn’t quite get their heads around was Springfield Ald. Sam Cahnman. He’d recently been accused of inappropriate contact with a woman, and some of the locals at the table were recounting their own Cahnman stories. His history isn’t pretty, but he’s one of those “never been convicted” people.
In case you don’t know who Sam is, the SJ-R’s Bernie Schoenburg did a column recently on some direct mail attacking Cahnman, who’s now running for the Illinois House…
* I’ve known Sam Cahnman for over 20 years. We’re not exactly friends, but we’ve always gotten along well enough. We once bumped into each other in Memphis at 3 o’clock in the morning and had a fine time. He’s always been honest and straightforward with me on official stuff. I bear no personal or professional ill will against him.
It’s no secret, however, that he has a certain reputation.
* Let’s get back to my State Fair story, shall we?
As I was saying, we were trying to explain Sam to the Chicagoans. They thought we must be joking. But then I made a half-joke by saying something like, “Pretty much every woman in this town who spends any amount of time in a tavern has a Sam Cahnman story.”
They told me to prove it.
So, I rose from the table, walked to another part of the beer garden and asked an attractive 30-something woman if she lived in Springfield. She said she did. I asked if we’d ever met before. She said we hadn’t. I asked her to come with me.
I escorted the woman to my table and asked her the same questions again. She assured them we didn’t know each other and she was indeed from Springfield.
Then I asked: “Do you have any Sam Cahnman stories?”
“Do I?!!!” she exclaimed, and then proceeded to tell a story about what she said was an unwanted and what she thought was a particularly overly forward romantic advance.
* I am not totally kidding when I say that just about every decent-looking woman I’ve asked in this town has a Sam Cahnman story. I was talking to a female lobbyist last week who mentioned that she’d heard Cahnman’s new radio ad. “Sam Cahnman admits he’s far from perfect,” she said was the spot’s opening line. She laughed about the ad and when I asked if she had a Sam story she sighed and said, “I have so many I can’t even remember them all.”
I was telling my State Fair story a few weeks ago while sitting at a bar and I could see out of the corner of my eye that the female bartender was listening intently and had a scowl on her face. After I finished telling the story, she related her own Sam Cahnman story.
This has happened time and time again. I have no solid proof that Sam has done everything he’s been accused of, but how many times can I hear these stories and not wonder about him?
* The local Springfield media has bent over backwards to be fair to Sam during this campaign. That’s their job. I get it. I’m not complaining. Candidates should always get a fair shake. And I am usually viscerally opposed to delving into a candidate’s private life. Their private lives are their business, not mine. I’m far from a moralizer and am in no way a pure person myself. I have more faults than I care to admit.
But in my opinion an important story about this race has been ignored. Yes, it’s not your usual political story, but, heck, I’m sure even Sam would admit that he isn’t your usual politician.
* I asked Sam for a response to this story last Thursday. I sent him a rough draft of this post and we talked on the phone and texted each other about whether he’d reply. He then sent me an e-mail at about 4:30 this morning…
I don’t disagree. Sam has managed to get a lot of things done. Like I said, he’s not your ordinary politician. But like he admits in his own radio ad, he’s far from perfect.
Keep your comments clean, please. Thanks.
* Meanwhile, Cahnman has filed a defamation suit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against two of Speaker Madigan’s campaign committees. From a press release…
Read the lawsuit by clicking here.