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The importance of party backing, or lack thereof

Thursday, Aug 29, 2013

* Years ago, I asked House Speaker Michael Madigan how his precinct captains were able to get majorities for all of his ward’s Democratic candidates in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won the 13th Ward.

Madigan said his captains were ordered to not talk to people about the presidential race. Voters, he said, like to make up their own minds about top of the ticket contests, so it’s best not to ever argue with them.

The race for governor is pretty much the same. A captain who gets into a long discussion at the doors over the governor’s race is not gonna be able to convince those voters to go along with the ward’s choices for judge, or some other obscure elected office.

That being said, in some wards, townships and suburban and Downstate counties, party leaders can have an impact. The late John Gianulis of Rock Island County was one of those guys. There are a few others.

Mostly, though, the party structure just isn’t all that effective. I remember when Dan Reitz ran his first election for the House. Local county chairmen actually complained that Reitz was walking too many precincts. Clueless much?

* The bottom line here is that Gov. Quinn’s slating by the Cook County Democrats will have some impact, but only in certain wards and with certain types. Same goes for his support by the vast majority of Downstate and suburban chairmen and chairwomen.

In a close race, that backing might prove crucial. But slating for top offices is a bit overrated, so I tend to at least somewhat agree with Bill Daley here

While father Richard J. Daley perfected a political machine and controlled the slate-making process, the son opted to forgo seeking the endorsement of Cook County Democratic leaders this month and viewed it as a foregone conclusion that it would go to Quinn as the sitting governor.

Quinn’s strong reception at the annual downstate Democratic county chairmen’s State Fair breakfast two weeks ago also is viewed by Daley as a show of thanks from job-dependent political leaders.

“The path to victory is not on paper with committeemen. It’s getting out there,” Daley said.

“This race in January, February or March is going to get all the publicity in the world. This is the big race,” he said. “If I am able to raise the money I need to raise, they’ll see plenty of messaging from me. That’s where voters for the big races get their information. They don’t get it from the precinct captain ringing the doorbell in Eddie Burke’s ward.”

Again, in a close race, it might turn out to be crucial. Maybe. It just depends on the reaction the captains and committeemen get at the doors, if they even walk precincts.

Daley needs to figure out how to crush Quinn, and all the door-knocking in the world won’t turn those votes around. It’ll be all about the paid media.

And, by the way, I’m still not convinced that Daley can actually turn those votes around. The path just isn’t all that clear to me.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

8 Comments
  1. - jake - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    Daley and Quinn will be so tarnished by each other and by their respective weaknesses that party people at the door will be eager to talk about almost any other race. In fact, they won’t get out during the primary. The only candidate I can see generating any significant positive buzz is Kwame.


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 12:48 pm:

    The Cook County Democratic “Machine” is a boogie-man for excuse-making losers.

    There hasn’t been a real machine since Richard J died.

    What was the last win “The Machine” put over in a big race statewide? JFK?


  3. - Downstater - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    Republicans will be licking their chops, whether its Quinn or Daley.


  4. - Lil Enchilada - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    They broke the mold when they made John G. No one will ever replace him in Rock Island County.


  5. - unclesam - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 1:22 pm:

    The door for Daley has become “slightly ajar” with the news of the released prisoner committing murder. MGT almost cost Quinn when running against Hynes. A second round of this issue could cost Quinn this time.


  6. - unclesam - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    Sorry…”charged with murder.” The individual has not been convicted. Still…bad optics for Quinn.


  7. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    Absolutely correct Rich. People know who they want to vote for at the top of the ticket; Pres or Gov or US Senate. The shoe leather pays off from the 3rd or 4th race down. I don’t even indicate choices on the very top of my sample ballots on the top couple of races for fear, if they don’t agree, that they won’t take advice on the races they know little about.


  8. - IrishPirate - Thursday, Aug 29, 13 @ 2:10 pm:

    Rich,

    the path isn’t clear to you?

    What you need to realize is that even though Bill Daley is running as a Democrat at heart he is a socially moderate Republican.

    Even among such Republicans science and math and paths are irrelevant.

    I imagine at some point some Daley sycophant will write something like this:

    “All the vibrations are right. Something old is roaring back. Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us.”

    If anyone is wondering we’re I gleaned this here’s a link to Peggy Noonan the day before the last Presidential election.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/peggynoonan/2012/11/05/monday-morning/

    In my scenario Daley is playing the Romney role. Another privileged moderate rich guy who really isn’t comfortable campaigning and doesn’t quite realize that family pedigree,executive experiene and money can’t always win elections. Life isn’t always unfair and sometimes the individual from the “lesser” background wins.

    Pat Quinn may not have the family or executive background of Bill Daley, but he does know something about campaigning and while he doesn’t always win he always fights hard and closes well.

    Daley just doesn’t get it. A statewide campaign isn’t NAFTA and voters aren’t congressman who can be cajoled and bought off individually.


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