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Open Letter to Democrat County Chairmen, Ward and Township Committeemen

Phil Krone 31 January 2010 11 Comments

First of all, I commend each and all of you for your hard work. Most of you are honest and hardworking serving as party leaders in an era where television commercials have greater weight than you.

I have been privileged to have been active in politics since 1948 when I was seven years old. I can still remember standing on the corner of Pine Grove and Sheridan Road (more than 100 feet from the polling place which was the now defunct Essex Theater where the Saturday matinée consisted of two features, generally Roy Rogers, Gene Autry or Hopalong Cassidy followed by a serial and three cartoons followed by the Marx Brothers or Abbott and Costello, and the tickets were seven cents if you were under 12). The captain of the 19th precinct was Jack Goldberg. and he held a good government patronage job sponsored by his committeeman Joe Gill.

Over these past 61 years I have had the honor to be a U.S. Senate Page by appointment of Paul Douglas and to really know many of the truly great men and women of politics in both parties. Now that my wife has been elected to a responsible position under her own maiden/professional name I have no personal ambitions.

Having been to more than 100 countries (I don’t intend to see them all) and all 50 states I have a great appreciation for our country and the world. I also care about a responsible two party system free of malice, invective and duplicity. I also like to win. Being a realist I have always supported candidates who are not only honest, intelligent and effective but electable as well. When I make exceptions to that rule the person has to be of such giant qualifications that I think they can win in spite of not having a great ballot name or being gorgeous.

In Tuesday’s election (and I hope all future gubernatorial year primaries are held in late April, May or early June) Democrats have some important choices.

Under normal circumstances I would have supported Alexi for U.S. Senate. I did support him for Treasurer in 2006 because Barack Obama was for him. Both of us and everyone else, frankly, were deceived. I hope he has a good future, but not in public service. Mark Kirk or Pat Hughes will have nine months to pick him apart. I don’t want to see that happen. I’d rather nominate someone who can win. Cheryle Jackson is a person of high quality but she has liabilities which Democrats ignored, and frankly should have. She is a weak candidate for November, though having supporters such as Mellody Hobson (who herself would have been a much better candidate) might pull an upset. David Hoffman is clearly the most electable candidate for November, and should either be openly or quietly supported.

The gubernatorial race is a no brainer. I’ve known Dan Hynes since 1971 when he was three years old and his father (whom I did not support in his first election in 1970) was a freshman state senator. I didn’t meet Pat Quinn until two years later when he was an assistant to an assistant of Gov. Dan Walker and I was a paid consultant to Lt. Governor Neil Hartigan. Its strange to hear Pat Quinn speak so reverently about Paul Simon, when he was a leading operative for Dan Walker who beat Simon in the 1972 gubernatorial primary.

Senator Tom Hynes (Dan’s father) was a strong supporter of Simon (I at the time worked for Dick Ogilvie).

I won’t go into details but Pat Quinn at that time was opposing a very important public works project for Metro East. He was later overruled by his boss Vic DeGrazia but the timing was off and ultimately we lost the 6 billion dollar project — the Republicans know about this issue). The bottom line is that Pat Quinn is unelectable in November. Dan Hynes whom I support will have a very difficult time getting elected. If Alexi is our Senate candidate he will be a drag on Hynes. With Hoffman and Hynes the Democrats will have the best ticket since Douglas and Stevenson, the first campaign I remember. Right now the election is too close to call. But to paraphrase the tired old cliché, “Now is the time for all good Democrats to come to the aid of the party by supporting and working hard for Dan Hynes, openly, privately, any which way.” Make sure your top captains and precinct committeemen are working for Hynes on election Day. Otherwise in November the only candidates who will win statewide will be Lisa Madigan and Jesse White.

For Cook County Ward and Township Committeemen Only:

The third major office is President of the Cook County Board. I have a personal regard for all four candidates but only Toni Preckwinkle is guaranteed of winning the election. I remember 1966 and 1970 well when Republicans won county offices. Trust me on this. Moreover, a weaker candidate for County Board president will be a drag on the state ticket.

The party slated three different people, but if you’re lucky Todd Connor will sneak through for Water Reclamation. He will join Debra Shore as a progressive environmentalist. You can’t openly support him but if I were a committeeman I’d have my 10 top captains push him and him alone.

For Appellate Justices:

Arnette Hubbard was not endorsed by the party and she is opposed by two very able individuals, but Arnette should be the nominee for many reasons.

Aurelia Pucinski will be the only name of Polish descent on the November ballot if she wins her race. She too is opposed by a well qualified person. I’ve only known Aurie for 45 years, and I am biased, but her efforts for seniors, battered women, neglected children are much more important to me than the endorsements of lawyer associations which I generally follow if possible.

Sebastian Patti is a sitting appellate court justice but he is running against another well qualified individual with an excellent ballot name and he is not first on the ballot. This will truly test the ability of committeemen, to get him nominated.

William H. Hooks who is first on the ballot, and who has won all the endorsements is perhaps the most qualified candidate running for any judicial office and he has been endorsed by the party. If he isn’t nominated than the party designation is totally meaningless.

The real test for committeemen will be in nominating Diann Marsalek. Second on the ballot running against a very qualified man with an Irish surname, this is the true committeemens’ test. She has been endorsed by the party. She sought endorsement last time, was named an alternate, but did not run. She is probably Cook County’s most loyal Democrat and every committeeman should deliver for her. Frankly stated ahead of time, any ward or township she fails to carry either demonstrates ineffectiveness or a doublecross.

I have a personal choice in another race. The endorsed Democratic candidate is a Republican sponsored by former Gov. Thompson and appointed by my favorite Supreme Court Justice. I don’t expect you to assist Bonnie McGrath but I know her to be a very special person, one whom I would want to stand before if I were on trial. (If it were me she would recuse herself.) But you understand what I mean.

Good luck to all of you. I will be interested in the results. But remember, the key races are Hynes for Governor, Preckwinkle for President of the County Board and Hoffman for U. S. Senate. Two of the three were not endorsed by the party led by Chairman Berrios. Committeemen should not be held liable for the key offices. The people make their choices. If there ever was a time to ditch the endorsed candidates it is now.

Hoffman and Hynes are what’s best for the party, the state and our nation.


Phil Krone is a Political Analyst for the Chicago Daily Observer.  The opinions and endorsements are his own.


  • Vic in Chicago said:

    Mr. Krone:

    Hoffman, Hynes, and Preckwinkle.

    3 for 3. You nailed it, sir!

    Vic in Chicago (a proud Hoffman volunteer worker)

  • Bonnie Carol McGrath said:

    Phil–once again, your smooth, sincere and heartfelt prose has touched me deeply. For you to have made your feelings so public on my behalf is worth the cost of admission to this election, an election contest which I am going to miss come Tuesday night when it’s all over–come what may. What a journey I have had for the last few months–and traveling it with you as a firm and undaunted supporter has been a true joy in my life. Thank you–you are a true friend!




  • spm said:

    “If there ever was a time to ditch the endorsed candidates it is now.” Mr. Krone, you are very right. Judges make important decisions about people’s lives and we want only the most qualified people in that position. Terry MacCarthy (#154) is clearly the most qualified candidate as determined by the Bar Associations, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun- Times, IVI-IPO, Chicago Federation of Labor, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Hispanics For Judicial Fairness, and many other groups that are genuinely concerned with the quality of our judges. Incidentally, Terry MacCarthy is a lifelong and loyal Democrat, while the candidate you refer to as “Cook County’s most loyal Democrat” has a long, demonstrated and consistent history of supporting (financially and otherwise) REPUBLICAN politicians, including Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General. It certainly can not be said that a committeeman that does not deliver for your friend has committed “ineffectiveness or a double cross.” Rather, it should be noted that as a society, we want the best candidates elected to the judiciary, and Terry MacCarthy, who is running on a distinguished 19 year legal career, is hands down the best and most qualified candidate in his race.

  • Pat Hickey said:


    This essay holds wonderful historical context to your prognostication! Nicely doen, Sir!


  • Lawyer Lisa said:

    I strongly encourage your readers to do their own research concerning the judicial candidates. Rather than encouraging your readers to vote for the most qualified candidates for judge, it is apparent that you are endorsing candidates based on your personal relationships with them. You have called into question the judicial screening process, I suppose because for the most part the process wasn’t entirely kind to your friends. Any good attorney knows that if you are found qualified by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, you are truly a qualified judicial candidate. Your readers should go to any number of websites including the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times to review the “grid” that shows each candidate’s ratings race by race. You have also referred to Attorney Marsalek as a loyal Democrat which is a bit of a joke if again you do your research. If you go to the Illinois Board of Elections website and look at her contributions, you will note that of the 45 contributions, only 11 were to Democratic candidates or organizations, all the rest were to Republican organizations and candidates. Those 11 contributions were probably made in an effort to get the Democratic party backing since clearly Attorney Marsalek is a Republican. Lastly to your readers, please remember that Judges will affect your life more than any other candidate you will be voting for tomorrow. Please vote for the most qualified candidate in the respective races.

  • John Powers said:

    The idea that reading the Sun Times or Tribune recommendations somehow qualifies as “research” on candidates is complete nonsense. The type of “research” provided by the Tribune (Axelrod) got us one completely unqualified Senator who went on to be one of lamest first year Presidents in US History.

    Read Krone. He shows his bias like a large tattoo on his forearm while wearing a short sleeve shirt. The thoroughly conflicted garbage coming from the Sun Times and the Trib got us the goonish politicians we have today.

  • Philip S. Krone said:

    I just received an angry phone call berating me for the headline on this column. First of all, I do not write the headlines. Also, I don’t get my panties in a bunch when conservatives call us the Democrat Party as opposed to the Democratic Party. I just don’t like it when they call us socialists or communists.

    I am grateful for Mr. Powers’ comments. You will notice that he didn’t accuse me of having a hammer and sickle tattoo. What a gent!

    I wish spm would use his or her real name. I have no quarrel at all with Terry MacCarthy. If he is nominated and elected I think he will make an excellent judge. As far as contributing to Republicans is concerned, that is any person’s right. I know Diann Marsalek to be a Democrat. She may have Republican friends, but two years ago she supported the ticket. In almost every race there are several qualified, even very qualified candidates. Thank goodness. And yes I do make my evaluations on personal experience. I prefer my judgment to others, but in the absence of knowing the candidates I do follow a combination of bar recommendations and newspapers, but no one has the right to absolute veto power.

    Also, no one, is paying me anything. Is it fair to assume that Lawyer Lisa is not our attorney general. Please vote your conscience, your knowledge or take the recommendations of others.

    As far as Hoffman is concerned, whether he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a sheep in wolf’s clothing, he won’t be a drag on the ticket.

    And thank you Pat Hickey. Whther you praise me or denounce me you believe in what you say and I applaud that as well as using your own name (which by the way is a great ballot name).

    Is there anyone who I haven’t offended yet? Can I at least mark you down as undecided?

  • Mary Tobin said:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Phil. As usual, I agree in part and disagree in part. I agree that David Hoffman will make an excellent senator. Your selections for judges, however, appear to be based on characteristics/qualifications other than what would make good judges. Your statement that Arnette Hubbard is a good choice for “many reasons” while failing to name a single one smacks of party loyalty. Ignoring Tom Hogan and his obvious contributions as a Law Division judge likewise suggests a choice based on something other than his record. We can agree to disagree about Dan Hynes. Nevertheless, you have spent a lot of time and made a great deal of effort to explain your selections. We’ll see where the cards fall tomorrow night. Hope all is well and that you enjoy your time in Florida!

  • Mary Tobin said:

    BTW, I understand that Dan Hynes is running for governor. Apologies for not being more clear.

  • Philip S. Krone said:


    You’ll be happy to know that you and the Hynes’ agree on Tom Hogan; I have never met the man and if you and the Hynes’ are both for him, he must be terrific. Neither Judge Arnette Hubbard nor Judge Pucinski were endorsed by the party. My selections were totally made on my personal relationships, and I admit my biases. All of the judicial candidates I took the time to recommend were excellent people in my mind and all those who failed to win were defeated by others who were excellent. I leave for Florida tonight. Thanks for your good wishes.

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