Four 2013 Races are Harbingers for 2014
Bring on the guillotine. In the 2013-14 election cycle, heads will roll. Voter anger and disgust with the existing political ruling class is rising to a crescendo.
Mark this well. Over the next two years, every self-serving, decision-avoiding, mealy-mouthed, do-nothing, ethically-challenged, long-entrenched incumbent is at acute risk. That covers just about every officeholder.
Voters are approaching the conclusion that their government, at every level, is dysfunctional. That their so-called “leaders,” of both parties, are just a bunch of opportunistic charlatans. That politicians don’t seriously want to fix problems, but instead want to exacerbate them, so as to polarize the electorate, demonize their opposition, motivate their political base, foment dissension, spike their fundraising, and get re-elected. In short, contemporary politicians don’t want to solve problems; they want to exploit problems.
In 2010, voters reacted negatively towards the Obama Administration’s profligate spending and borrowing. In 2012, voters reacted negatively towards the Republicans, and their troglodyte intolerance. In 2013-14, votes will react negatively towards all incumbents not perceived as problem-solvers. The political carnage will be epidemic.
There will be at least four elections in 2013 which will be harbingers of 2014, just as Massachusetts’ January 2010 U.S. Senate election, to fill Ted Kennedy’s vacancy, was predictive of the Republican/Tea Party November 2010 anti-Obama sweep. They are:
* Massachusetts: With Senator John Kerry (D) replacing Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State, there will be a 2013 special election. Interestingly, legislative Democrats passed the special election law to prevent then-Governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican should Kerry have been elected president in 2004. In 2010, Scott Brown (R), an obscure state senator, scored a 1,168,107-1,058,682 upset over the state attorney general (D), in a 2,226,789 turnout, largely because Brown promised to oppose Obamacare.
In 2012, Brown faced Elizabeth Warren (D) for re-election. Barack Obama beat Romney in the state 1,900,575-1,177,370, and Warren topped Brown 1,678,176-1,449,039, in a 3,127,215 turnout – 900,426 higher than in January 2010. Brown received 500,806 more votes than Romney, and 280,932 more votes than he got in 2010; Warren had 451,536 votes fewer than Obama, but 619,494 more than the 2010 Democrat, also a woman.
Clearly, Brown had cross-over appeal, as about 500,000 Obama voters opted for him; to have won, however, he needed about 615,000 Obama voters.
To fill Kerry’s vacancy, Democrats have trotted out 66-year old U.S. Representative Ed Markey, of Malden, in north suburban Boston. Markey has been in Congress since 1976, and votes the liberal line on every issue. He and his wife, who is employed in Washington, D.C., own a home in Chevy Chase, Maryland; he bounced over 90 checks at the House bank in 1992; and he is the kind of political and institutional relic, and insider, that voters now revile. Markey has been on the public payroll since 1972, when he was elected state representative at age 26.
According to press reports, Brown will run again. By the time of the mid-summer election, much will have transpired in Washington. The national debt has risen from $10.626 trillion when Obama took office to $16.433 trillion today. The president will seek a $1 trillion rise in the debt ceiling in March. Republicans will oppose it, perhaps shutting down the federal government. Markey will vote for it.
Markey also supported – as did Brown – the “fiscal cliff” compromise, which raises taxes on the “wealthy” by $62 billion annually. That is far short of what is needed to balance the budget.
If Brown frames the issues right, and demonizes Markey as a coddled and clueless insider; and if turnout is at 2010, not 2012 levels, Brown can win again. And that victory will be a template for all 2014 aspirants.
Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District: The “Jesse & Sandi Show” has finally folded. One has to wonder: Did they not know that spending campaign contributions on lifestyle enhancements was a federal crime? Did they think themselves immune? Did they seek any legal advice?
Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) is no longer congressman, and wife Sandi Jackson is no longer 7th Ward alderman. Both have resigned. Both might be indicted. And their squalid legacy hangs heavy over the Feb, 26 Democratic congressional primary.
Of the 22 candidates, 17 are Democrats, and none have any current or past association with the Jacksons. In fact, any Jackson taint would be fatal. The top tier includes state senators Toi Hutchinson and Napoleon Harris; former state representative Robin Kelly, who lost a race for state treasurer in 2010; Alderman Anthony Beale (9th); defeated 2004 U.S. Senate primary candidate Joyce Washington; and former U.S. Representatives Debbie Halvorson and Mel Reynolds. All except Halvorson are black. Beale and Reynolds, an ex-con, are the only Chicagoans.
Designed by Springfield Democrats as a “majority-minority” district, it has a black population of 55 percent. It extends from Hyde Park in Chicago to the southern border of Kankakee County, encompassing all the south Cook County suburbs east of I-57. It has 194 precincts in Chicago, 263 precincts in the suburbs, 27 precincts in Will County, and 85 precincts in Kankakee County.
Halvorson, of Crete, was Hutchinson’s predecessor as state senator when elected to Congress in 2008 from the old 11th District, which was centered in Will County. She lost in 2010 to a Republican. The 2011 remap absorbed a third of Halvorson’s district (and Halvorson) into Jackson’s 2nd District. Halvorson challenged Jackson in the 2012 primary, and got thumped 56,130-22,678 (71.2 percent), in a 78,808 turnout. Roughly 70 percent of the 2012 primary voters were black.
The contest will be determined by race, gender and geography, and by the clout of white Thortnon Township committeeman Frank Zuccarelli, who controls 123 precincts in a township with 103,130 voters. Zuccarelli had been backing state senator Donne Trotter until his arrest on gun charges. The freshest face in the race is Harris, a college gridiron standout and NFL linebacker, elected in 2012. Beale and Hutchinson are relative newcomers. The rest are veteran officeholders and/or rejects.
With four credible women running, the gender vote will be diluted; had just one woman run, she would have won. So, too, will be the black suburban vote among Harris, Hutchinson and Kelly; and the overall black vote among the six black aspirants. Turnout will be around 40,000. The frontrunner is Halvorson, whose base is in the 7,000-8,000 range, comprised of white voters. She got 22.6 percent of the Chicago vote, and 25.6 percent of the suburban primary vote in 2012, half of which was an anti-Jackson vote.
With six credible blacks fragmenting the 30,000-plus black base, and with another ten minor candidates drawing 100-500 votes apiece, it’s hard to envision a Halvorson loss. Her win would be a racial win. But if either Harris or Hutchinson surge and get 40 percent of the black vote, it would be proof positive that even pro-Obama, Machine-dominated blacks are weary of the Same Old, Same Old. My prediction: 2nd District voters will find and elect the least conventional, least connected, and least tainted candidate..
Cicero: Jokes abound about the west suburban town, which is now over 85 percent Hispanic. That Cicero’s motto is “grab all you can”; that Cicero’s seal is a greased palm; that clownish Town president Larry Dominick is another Kim Jong-il; that if God were going to give the world an enema, he would insert it…well, you get the point. Dominick’s predecessor was the infamous Betty Loren-Maltese, who spent time in federal prison; at least 20 of Dominick’s extended family are on the payroll. Dominick is seeking his third term.
Cicero’s population is 83,891. Fat employee salaries, lifetime benefits, generous perks, rampant nepotism, and hefty outside legal and public relations vendor contracts, are epidemic. P.T. Barnum once proclaimed that “there’s a sucker born every minute.” Most of them, it seems, now live in Cicero, and tolerate this sham.
In 2009, Dominick was re-elected 6,608-3,628. His methodology is elemental, reminiscent of the bygone days of the Chicago Machine: Put Hispanics on the payroll, make them work precincts and promise voters whatever is necessary, deliver votes, and stay on the gravy train. Juan Ochoa, a former McPier executive officer, is running as a “reformer.” If he wins, it will prove that a voters’ throw-off-the-yoke mentality is mushrooming.
Niles: Tranquil and obscure – that described this north suburban city of 29,803, with a large Polish ethnic population. But disgraced former Mayor Nick Blasé put it on the map in 2009 when he pled guilty to mail and tax fraud. The Blasé Machine controlled Niles since 1961. His ally, Trustee Bob Callero, won in 2009 with 50.1 percent.
This year, with Blasé a distant memory, the insiders are hoping for voter amnesia. 24-year Trustee Andy Przybylo, a cog in the Blasé Machine, is endorsed by Callero. Chris Hanusiak, who got 22.2 percent against Callaro in 2009, elected trustee in 2011, is running on a slate with two current trustees, making him a cog in the “Trustees’ Machine.” If voters want a “change,” they’ll need a magnifying glass. The lesson: When in trouble, hope voters are too stupid to remember.
Russ Stewart is a political analyst for the Chicago Daily Observer
E-mail Russ@russstewart.com or visit his website at www.russstewart.com.