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Philip S. Krone, 1941-2010

Thomas F. Roeser 26 August 2010 7 Comments

It’s with a great deal of sadness that I note the death of a good friend of mine, Phil Krone. He died Sunday of liver cancer. I knew Phil for 46 years, when he was a young volunteer for Chuck Percy…through his colorful attempt as Republican ward committeeman to name himself to the state House to succeed Pete Granata…past his rejection for that post, his subsequent resignation and his turning to the Democratic party where he became an enduring friend of the original Mayor Daley, his son, Neil Hartigan, Tom Hynes, Tom’s son Dan…and also a host of Republicans including me.
Phil and I were on the radio weekly beginning in 1980 in a kind of cult program, “Inside Politics with Bruce DuMont” on WBEZ. He was a most unusual guest, endowed with an eerie sense of premonition of things that could well come true in politics. I remember particularly when Gov. Jim Thompson was running for reelection against former U. S. Senator Adlai Stevenson III. Stevenson had almost defeated Thompson in 1982. In fiscal and spending matters he was more conservative than Thompson. He stressed Thompson’s insincerity: that on the campaign trail Thompson would oppose tax hikes and after election would change his mind: complete duplicity.

As he made his case, it seemed for a long time that Stevenson would win the election. As I was chairman of Project LEAP an anti-vote fraud organization, I had first-hand knowledge that for the first time, the mayor of Chicago was secretly calling the shots on The Squid for Thompson’s victory. But it was destined to be close.

Indeed, I am among those who firmly believe that Stevenson did in fact win the governorship… because he came in behind Thompson by 1/7th of 1 percent—which meant that a relatively small amount of voter fraud magic had decided the outcome.

Following the paper-thin margin, everybody expected a recount. But then, a quirky Illinois law was invoked that maintained the state Supreme Court would have to order a recount. The Supreme Court failed to do that by one vote…that of Democrat Seymour Simon who was a dissident of The Squid. Later Thompson made a favorable hire that, it could be argued, pleased Simon and his allies.

Four years later, Stevenson challenged Thompson again. Stevenson seemed to have all the best arguments on his side…the tales of Thompson vowing not to raise taxes before election and then finding suddenly that he had to after election. Stevenson had a devastating argument. We were on the radio and Phil said something that we all laughed at. It was this:
“You’re all talking about a Stevenson victory this second time around. Ah but there is one thing that can reelect Thompson. As you know, Lyndon Larouche has a field of candidates running in the Democratic party against Stevenson’s slate. If some of those candidates were to get through—particularly the candidate for lieutenant governor, Mark Fairchild—Stevenson would be in a terrible bind. He would have a choice of either running with a decided nut for lieutenant governor…someone who says that the Queen of England is engaged in a lesbian love affair with Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel…or having to leave the Democratic party and run as a third party candidate which would surely cause him to lose to Thompson.”

We all sat transfixed at the theory but were highly skeptical.. Most of the supposedly alert media was reporting that Stevenson’s choice for lieutenant governor, State Rep. George Sangmeister of Frankfort was unopposed. He was a fine lawmaker and his name was well-known to Illinois Democrats. Similarly, Stevenson’s choice for secretary of state was Aurelia Pucinski, the daughter of Roman Pucinski a longtime congressman and alderman and a leader in the Polish community. We dismissed Phil’s analysis as fatuous.

We laughed it off only to find out on election night that Mark Fairchild had indeed won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, defeating Sangmeister, entitling Fairchild to run as a teammate with Adlai Stevenson III, both sharing the same ballot designation, meaning that if Stevenson were elected governor Fairchild would be lieutenant governor and logical successor to the governorship if something were to happen to Stevenson. A Larouche candidate for secretary of state, with the Anglo-Saxon name of Janice Hart pummeled Aurelia Pucinski, qualifying Hart to run for a major post in state government. It was a fluke of flukes.

Phil Krone was eerily prescient. Just as he mentioned, Stevenson had no choice but to leave the ticket and run on a third party ticket—the Solidarity Party. That third party confusion caused Stevenson to lose one more time to Big Jim—this time by a big margin.

In all my years either covering or working in politics and government, I have never seen a long-shot prediction like Phil’s come true. And I haven’t seen it happen since.

On this issue and on many others, Phil Krone was indubitably right. Since that historic prediction in 1986 I have never failed to recognize and testify to Phil’s innate genius. Toward the end of his life…while afflicted with liver cancer…he would write for John Powers and me in The Chicago Daily Observer. .

He was not always right but many, many times he was. And always right or wrong or as a charming conversationalist at a lunch table, he was an intriguing, amusing and brilliant friend whose death I mourn greatly. Rest in Peace, my old friend. I always wanted you to become a Catholic. I tried and missed: instead you became an Episcopalian. Anyhow, you are in my prayers—and heaven’s doors are open to Episcopalians too: especially those who are good men like you, Phil..


Tom Roeser is Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer


  • Gerald Pechenuk said:

    This is Gerald Pechenuk; I was the Campagign Manager for the LaRouche Democratic Candidates in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
    Phil impressed me as a wise person in the times I heard him speak in various settings, so your report on his forecast of victories by LaRouche candidates certainly shows he had his ears to the ground, and detect a pulse that others, such as David Axelrod, Stevenson’s Campaign Manager at that time, could NOT “SEE,” or “HEAR!”
    One irony to be noted in light of a recent trial of an impeached Governor.
    Suppose, let’s just suppose for a minute, Adlai, who is still alive and kicking, could add to this picture, suppose Adlai had taken the advice of Sen. Alan Dixon, and Cook County Democratic Chairman Ed Vrodolyak and STAYED ON THE TICKET of the Democratic Party in 1986. HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ELECTED GOVERNOR!!!! (I know some would disagree with that, but I KNOW EXACTLY HOW HE WOULD HAVE ELECTED).
    Then Jim Edgar, and George Ryan, and Rod Blagojevich WOULD NEVER HAVE BECOME Governors of Illinois!!!!
    And, probably most consequential of all, Adlai Stevenson would have been the Democratic Nominee for US PRESIDENT in 1988 or 1992, and probably gone on to become PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!

    So, the threats that were delivered to Adlai to drop off, by Sen. Paul Simon, among others, (again Adlai could be asked to fill in more of the picture here) changed the course of US and World History.

    I wonder if Phil Krone can ask a few people from his present vantage point about that!!!!

  • Catherine Bertini said:


    Your desciption of Phil is spot on! I got to know him as an occasional guest on your WBEZ show. More recently, I had the pleasure of spending time with him this last year, listening to and learning from his analysis of national and state poltics – in Illinois and New York. My condolences to his family, to you, and to his legions of friends.

  • Margaret Fairchild said:

    My husband, Mark Fairchild, (a Catholic of German descent like the author)is a brilliant engineer and political organizer, and would have made a great Lieutenant Governor, and then maybe Senator, etc. I am sure you are grossly misquoting him in your article above-regarding the Queen’s relationship to Golda Meir, that is. Furthermore, Janice Hart, the former LaRouche candidate you refer to above, with the “Anglo-Saxon name”, is of Eastern European Jewish parentage.

    Now, to the point: Gerald Pechenuk is right:(see above comment)Adlai Stevenson WOULD have become Governor of Illinois, and probably President of the U.S. had he remained on the ticket with Mark, and the nation would be MUCH BETTER OFF for it! The people of Illinois voted for Mark and Janice because they were promoting policies that would rescue the economy of the United States, which economy is now at death’s door. It’s that simple. So, rest in peace, Mr. Krone, but the rest of us had better use our lives now to work with LaRouche and his youth movement to save the nation!

  • Bill Wheeler said:

    Phil was a wonderful man and all who knew him will miss him. He was entertaining and fun but yet he was always working on many serious projects, getting things done in his own special way. He never met a stranger and he made friends around the world. I was privileged to know Phil for more than 20 years and will always remember him as a great man.

  • Basil Talbott said:

    Phil was a standout in the Runyonesque (shall I say Roykoesque) cast in the transformational era of Chicago politics from Daley to Daley that I was fortunate to cover as political editor of The Chicago Sun-Times.
    A Renaissance man, Phil relished ballet as well as ward politics. He was early in seeing the arts were a ticket to a stronger Chicago future. It was Phil’s ubiquitousness at almost every juncture and twist of the city’s politics that brought him to my attention. He showed up in the inner circles of Democratic machine politics, reform movements, Republican circles, high society,on LaSalle Street and elsewhere in the city’s layered society,usually as a lone operative armed solely with with, brilliant inventiveness and a certain mischievousness.
    Occasionally, his creativity would away from him, prompting one politician admirer to tell me his ideas and strategies “could make or break you and you never knew they would turn out.” No challenge was too great. I recall when he took on the notorious cab companies as a client after Jane Byrne, as consumer commissioner, turned them into pariahs.
    Phil’s deep understanding of the ways the news media in the hey day of city newspapers made him a valuable ally in any cause. I remember him dropping by The Sun-Times city room either early in the morning when it was empty or late at night seeking to plant and idea or drop an educated insight at a critical time for a columnist or reporter. He beat out all the 9-to-5 consultant firms that sent out tons of press releases that ended up on a spike.
    One thought he wanted to plant was that he was an urbanologist, not merely a media manipulator. He earned that title with his dedication to the city. He put his body there. While many of us lived in the suburbs or fashionable neighborhoods, Phil plunked his family down on Jackson Boulevard in the then chancy West Side. Phil was a Chicago original.

  • Héctor Martínez Morales said:

    Phil was also a great supporter of contemporary concert music. I met him in Paris, France in 2001 and he commissioned me to write the ‘Royko Sonata’ in memory of Mike Royko which went on to be premiered at The Cliff Dwellers with everyone from Carol Royko to Sam Sianis in attendance. Phil then commissioned me again in 2002 for a work for John and Theresa Yeh of the CSO. He was a great man.

  • Jeanette said:

    Fan va drygt, nu lämnar jag sidan och fÃ¥r väl Ã¥ka till Uppcon nästa Ã¥r isllttÃe¤, där kanske dom är mer vänliga.

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