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Living in denial

Friday, Mar 28, 2014

* Sun-Times

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios said the defeat of his daughter, Rep. Maria “Toni” Berrios, to a self-styled reformer in the recent Democratic Statehouse primary isn’t a referendum on what critics call his old-school approach to politics.

“I don’t see it that way,” Berrios, the powerful chair of the county Democratic Party, told the Sun-Times on Thursday, when asked whether Toni Berrios’ landslide loss diminished his political power. […]

Ultimately, Joe Berrios said, Toni Berrios lost the election because of the changing racial makeup of the district — a demographic shift anchored around the hipster-centric neighborhood of Logan Square, which was once a Hispanic stronghold.

“The district completely changed. It went from 64 percent Hispanic down to about 52 percent Hispanic,” Berrios explained. “She worked hard. We did everything we could to win that election and it didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but, you know, you move on.”

I don’t think Berrios is as “evil” as the Sun-Times and others constantly make him out to be. But there’s no getting around the fact that his family name has been poisoned.

Yes, Will Guzzardi walked precincts non-stop for almost three years. And, yes, the district did change. But smart politicos change with the times and with the districts.

…Adding… From a commenter

I checked out the recent Democratic primary vote totals for unopposed candidates, like Joe Berrios, who were on the Chicago and Cook County ballots. Nobody had to vote for these candidates, so people were making conscious choices if they voted for some but not for others.

Joe Berrios only got 200,992 votes, far behind Jesse White’s 252,005, Lisa Madigan’s 240,674, and Dick Durbin’s 239,348. Even Mike Frerichs, a non-incumbent from Downstate, got 212,827 votes, almost 12,000 more than Berrios. That’s a lot of dedicated Democrats deciding to skip voting for Berrios. It doesn’t really have any immediate effect, as he still wins office for four more years. But it does show a fair amount of discontent.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

49 Comments
  1. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    All politicians live in denial when being forced to explain why they were proven wrong.

    It is always shocking when a politician flat-out speaks an unspun truth.


  2. - Stones - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Pure and simple Joe Berrios is old school. All this publicity regarding hiring and promoting his relatives is starting to take its toll. I completely agree with your last sentence.


  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    The federales haven’t laid a glove on him yet, which is impressive, and surprising.

    You know they have to be so far up his tukkus that he can smell the Brylcreem.


  4. - AFSCME Steward - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    “The district completely changed. It went from 64 percent Hispanic down to about 52 percent Hispanic,” Berrios explained. “She worked hard. We did everything we could to win that election and it didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but, you know, you move on.”

    So if her only qualification for office is her ethnic background, maybe that’s why she lost.


  5. - Walker - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Everyone I talked to about Guzzardi, called this an “anti-Berrios vote” , including Joe in that label.

    Unfair to Toni, perhaps.

    Hard to swallow by Joe.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    Maria Berrios paid for the “sins of the father”, and couple that with a “second bite at the Apple” and learning from losing, and Wil running a race that seemed “smarter” while Berrios, the HDem Crew, and even the Ward Orgaization Crew just ran a “tired” ideal, and the District, this time, ran past all the “tiredness” and bought into Wil.

    I still feel that the Maria Berrios loss is the most significant loss of the Primary Season, having the ripples through the Cook County Democratic Party, and being a wound Joe Berrios will not likely heal for quite some time, locally, and maybe being a a fatal wound County-Wise.

    The defeat is a MJM apparatus defeat as well, given the manner the race was run with the mail and Ground Game soundly defeated, but HDems will recover far easier than Joe Berrios, and Wil can either come to Springfield and learn and be very effective, or think he was sent to “teach” and will get to be the next Drury or Ives. All up to Wil.

    There was a referendum feel about Maria running on the “Berrios” name, as well as her own. Chairman Berrios better “learn” that too.


  7. - LizPhairTax - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    There are a lot of people who have mixed emotions on this one. It’s nice to see Joe take a hit, but tough to see Toni be the vessel. She is a very likable person. I’m guessing she ends up with a government job that pays more and lets her stay in Chicago.


  8. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    –LizPhairTax–

    Hilarious handle. Well done.


  9. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Is Guzzardi really not going to vote for Madigan as Speaker?


  10. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Ironically, the real losers will be the residents of that district who traded tangible results for a pyrrhic victory. Good luck having a freshman rep who is going to go out of his way to prove that he’s an outsider actually get meaningful funding for local projects or other results for the district.

    It’s like the so-called progressive alderman who deliver no results for their constituents other than seeing their aldermen in countless grandstanding press conferences. But hey, whatever floats your boat.


  11. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    It must be nice living in the alternate universe Mr. Berrios resides in.


  12. - SAP - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    –LizPhairTax–
    Hilarious handle. Well done. You might even say it’s Whip Smart.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    –LizPhairTax–,

    It’s Extraordinary!


  14. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    The media likes to hold up one race every cycle and say it’s a contest between good/independent/reform and the corrupt Machine insiders.

    Joe Berrios is no saint, but I doubt his game is substantially different than a whole bunch of others.

    I would add the observation that Chicago political journalism is awfully dominated by White guys considering the demographics of the city. And when these journalists decide which politician to make the symbol of corruption for the election cycle… it often ends-up being a Black or Latino pol and not a Polish, Irish or Jewish pol.


  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    ===… it often ends-up being a Black or Latino pol and not a Polish, Irish or Jewish pol. ===

    I think MJM would disagree with you.


  16. - AFSCME Steward - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Walker

    “Unfair to Toni, perhaps”

    But is it really unfair ? The only reason she got elected in the first place is because of her father.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    ===The only reason she got elected in the first place is because of her father.===

    I am glad that is NOT unfair too…


  18. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    Guzzardi worked hard.

    Within a year, MJM will have Guzzardi giving pep talks to state rep candidates about the importance of walking one’s district.

    It’s not smart for Guzzardi to fight with MJM just to fight. And it’s not smart for MJM to fight with Guzzardi.

    Both Guzzardi and MJM are smart and talented. They’ll find ways to work together. They’ll find common interests.


  19. - AFSCME Steward - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    Carl Nyberg

    “journalists decide which politician to make the symbol of corruption for the election cycle”

    So you’re saying the concerns about Joe Berrios’ ethics are not real but are the result of journalists making him the symbol of corruption for this election cycle ?


  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    So Carl, you’re saying that Will’s whole demonization of Madigan and his operation was just a ploy to get elected? And that once he’s in, he’s going to become a team player? Fascinating…


  21. - Will Caskey - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    Talking my book here and my op ed which you very generously posted Rich, but just to follow up:

    According to the data there was simply nothing Toni could have done. The positives polled flat and as I frequently pointed out, Guzzardi’s positions were identical or not substantially different from her own.

    This was about the last name and nothing else. In retrospect the 2012 primary was a ceiling for Toni and nothing comes to mind that would have changed that.


  22. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    Fair counter example, Rich. But I would argue MJM is unique b/c of the total package.

    Of the pols attacked by the media for being the epitome of corruption who were defeated in elections, what were the ethnic backgrounds?

    Toni Berrios
    Todd Stroger
    Bill Shaw

    The media did turn on Blagojevich, but not in time to swing the election.


  23. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    I knocked on doors for Guzzardi. I used multiple scripts. I don’t remember MJM, the Speaker, “Chairman” or DPI ever being part of the script.

    The scripts always mentioned Toni Berrios was the incumbent and some of the scripts mentioned she was daughter of Joe Berrios.

    Guzzardi ran on a positive message that emphasized education and other things. The first election had more “safe streets” stuff. Also the emphasis shifted from jobs to tax fairness and accountability for corporations from the ‘12 cycle to the ‘14 cycle.


  24. - Just Observing - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    And Toni Berrios, Todd Stroger, and Bill Shaw are just total victims of their reputation? It’s all about race and not their candidacy?

    There are plenty of black and latino candidates that have been crowned darlings by the media.


  25. - Union Man - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    I’m sure JB will find a job for his daughter some where in his office. MJM will help as well.


  26. - Just Observing - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    I don’t think the Guzzardi/Berrios race was just a referendum on Daddy Berrios… I think it was a factor, but I think there were several other factors too.


  27. - Daryl - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    As someone from this district, blaming the racial makeup is just a copout.

    Now, supporters of the Berrios campaign trying to play the race card by suggesting a vote against Toni would “silence Latino voices”-that probably turned off non-Latino voters.

    Suggesting they only voted for Guzzardi because he looks like a hipster is ridiculous.


  28. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    People in the media tend to be a bunch of Heathers.

    If one outlet starts doing stories on a politician, sometimes other media outlets jump on the same politician. It becomes a feeding frenzy that makes one person look substantially different from the others.

    Think of Blagojevich.

    There’s probably a case to be made Blagojevich was substantially more corrupt that other pols. How long did it take for the media to internalize this and incorporate it into the narrative about Blagojevich?

    If the media accurately reflect who was corrupt, they would have been on Blagojevich earlier. But instead there’s a social aspect to media people deciding which politician is in the barrel.


  29. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    One of the limitations of Berrios playing the Latino card was a story told by Alonso Zaragoza. As a teen Alonso volunteered w/ the Berrios organization after being shot on his porch.

    The Berrios organization (Puerto Rican, citizens) told Zaragoza (Mexican) to ignore people who weren’t registered or didn’t vote.

    Well, a bunch of Mexicans aren’t citizens. So, if a Puerto Rican political organization spent decades telling it’s workers to ignore Mexicans, it’s a little unconvincing to wrap your daughter in the flag of Latino solidarity when she’s in a tough election.


  30. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    ===Well, a bunch of Mexicans aren’t citizens…===

    I can’t remember a political organization that didn’t focus on registered voters as a top priority versus non-citizens, who can’t vote.

    I fully understand the nuance and symbolism and even the rift it could cause, however, in the solely political realm of voters to win elections, you focus on people who can vote. Otherwise, why have anything targeted, and waste resources towards those who will have no impact at the ballot box?

    Just a thought.


  31. - AFSCME Steward - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    Carl Nyberg

    “How long did it take for the media to internalize this and incorporate it into the narrative about Blagojevich?”

    My recollection that Blagojevich corruption stories started within a year of his being elected. They certainly went on for years before he was indicted.


  32. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    In 2006, when Todd Stroger and Rod Blagojevich were up for election, who was portrayed as more corrupt by Chicago media outlets?

    Who was more corrupt?


  33. - just me - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    She will be the most lucrative lobbyist in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois. I’m sure the offers from the large business interests are being made. Big $$$$$$$$$$$ for Toni.


  34. - dave - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    **Guzzardi ran on a positive message that emphasized education and other things.**

    Not sure how you say that, right after saying (and I too can confirm this) that most of their scripts for the doors made sure to emphasize that she was the daughter of Joe Berrios. It was the lede of the script.


  35. - Citizen Carl - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Will Caskey,

    Not saying the last name didn’t play a part, it would not have been in the script otherwise, but Toni, Bauer, Joe, the whole machine got out smarted and out worked.

    Guzzardi almost won the 31st ward! Highly Latino and guess who the committeeman, Joe.

    Guzzardi speaks Spanish and his Field director was Latino. They went out there and fought for every vote, including the Latino vote.

    But the real show of the superiority of Guzzardi’s campaign was in the swing area Portage Park. He crushed her there.

    Finally Will, the bombastic negative mail failed. Why cannot you and the rest of the Madigan hacks stop making excuses and just admit you were out campaigned, that you lost, you are the losers, plain and simple.


  36. - Rod - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    I think that the turn out in the still Hispanic part of district 39 was very weak. That reflects on the inability of the regular Democratic party to mobilize its key constituents.

    But Berrios is not the only Hispanic who believed that demographics played a role in that election. See this op-ed from the Sun Times http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/26415892-452/redistricting-hurt-latinos-in-berrios-race-state-primary-elections.html


  37. - Upon Further Review - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    Rod Blagojevich was shady from Day One. As long as he was doing nothing in the General Assembly or the US Congress, he could have avoided close scrutiny and had a lengthy tenure, but he chose to run for an office where accountability was a job requirement.

    I can remember when Blagojevich was leasing a vacant office from his father-in-law on Kedzie, next door to the 33rd Ward office. The place was completely empty, but when the late Don Wade asked a single question about the lease Alderman Mell insisted that the office was in regular use and filled with campaign materials.

    Joe Berrios inherited the remains of the 31st Ward organization when former Alderman Tom Keane, State Senator Nedza, and the replacement alderman wound up in Club Fed. I do not think that we need to hold a tag day for him or Toni.


  38. - Will Caskey - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    Citizen Carl, Guzzardi is no doubt very happy about his campaign efforts. I laid out my reasons for being unimpressed in my election-day column and stand by that.

    By late last year the outcome was not in question and the efforts of both sides was basically irrelevant.


  39. - Citizen Carl - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Rod

    I am pretty sure Joe Berrios drew the district himself. Madigan was completely in charge of the map and it was still a majority Latino district, so I am not buy yet again another excuse.

    Say it with me, the machine hacks were out smarted and out worked. Guzzardi had better mail, better TV and a better ground game. The hacks lost, they are the losers no excuses.


  40. - justbabs - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    In my section of Portage Park is was the Berrios name. Their support of legislation was almost identical.


  41. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Citizen Carl,

    If Will goes down there with your tone and tenor, don’t expect too much from him. Being a Lone Wolf poking Bears usually means a lonely existence.


  42. - Wumpus - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    I blame the 5 minute interview she gave WGN. It clearly showed she had not the slightest clue about anything. Also, is he saying democrats are racist?


  43. - Smoggie - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    Carl,
    Regarding your list –
    Bernie Stone and Burton Natarus come to mind as people who were considered corrupt and lost election.

    And then we have Rich Daley who was considered corrupt and saw the writing on the wall.


  44. - Smoggie - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:58 pm:

    “In 2006, when Todd Stroger and Rod Blagojevich were up for election, who was portrayed as more corrupt by Chicago media outlets?

    Who was more corrupt? ”

    Both, equally.

    The primary issue in the gov. election that year was whether JBT was just as corrupt. Remember the ads with her dancing with Ryan?


  45. - Citizen Carl - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    Oswego I like your commentary generally but do you not think Will Caskey would be bragging how right he was if Toni won and calling Guzzardi a loser.

    I do not feel sorry rubbing it in that Caskey’s analysis was wrong because he would do the same thing, he even did it in his incorrect op-ed.

    Plus I do not have a lot of respect for hacks that suppress voter turnout, not only is his strategy out dated, it is wrong and Un-American


  46. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    ===I do not feel sorry rubbing it in that Caskey’s analysis was wrong====

    1) His analysis was actually right.

    2) If you continue with this idiocy, you will be banned.

    3) If you don’t believe me, ask around.


  47. - Maurice - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 3:25 pm:

    State senator Willie Delgado’s TV ad and endorsement made a difference this time around too..


  48. - OldSmoky2 - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    I’m coming in a bit late to the conversation, but two comments: The media did write about Blagojevich and corruption before his re-election. I worked for one newspaper that almost always endorsed Democrats but instead endorsed Topinka, specifically citing corruption, along with dishonesty and incompetence, as a reason for not endorsing Blagojevich.
    Two, to the post, I was curious so I checked out the recent Democratic primary vote totals for unopposed candidates, like Joe Berrios, who were on the Chicago and Cook County ballots. Nobody had to vote for these candidates, so people were making conscious choices if they voted for some but not for others. Joe Berrios only got 200,992 votes, far behind Jesse White’s 252,005, Lisa Madigan’s 240,674, and Dick Durbin’s 239,348. Even Mike Frerichs, a non-incumbent from Downstate, got 212,827 votes, almost 12,000 more than Berrios. That’s a lot of dedicated Democrats deciding to skip voting for Berrios. It doesn’t really have any immediate effect, as he still wins office for four more years. But it does show a fair amount of discontent.


  49. - Wally - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:28 am:

    Representative Arroyo ran his son against Cook County Commissioner Reyes and got the support of Jose Berrios, the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. Arroyo’s son won the election and Berrios daughters lost. Representative Arroyo cleared the path for more control of the north side. Joe Berrios made a big mistake supporting Arroyo’s son. After the elections Rep Arroyo and Alderman jJoe ‘Proco’ Moreno had dinner together celebrating Arroyo’s son victory. Interesting.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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