Remember the Maine Township Republicans?
If dysfunctionality were a compensable disease, virtually every politician in northwest suburban Maine Township would be eligible for social security disability, and be spending hours in Obamacare-mandated psychological therapy focusing on anger management.
There are more political factions in the township than in the Israeli Knesset, more personal animosity and hatred than that between the Shi’ites and Sunnis, and more deceit, duplicity, stupidity and despair than can be found in the Halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Maine Township, which encompasses Park Ridge, Des Plaines, and parts of Niles and Mount Prospect, is a microcosm of political ambition run amok. The prevailing mentality is me first, me first, everybody else second as long as they put me first, and disembowel everybody else who stands in my way.
The township’s once-vibrant and dominant Republican organization is in tatters. First-term Democratic state representative Marty Moylan in 2012 won a seat that had been held by the Republicans since the 1860s. Rosemary Mulligan, elected Republican committeeman in 2010, was so inept that she couldn’t even procure enough nominating petition signatures to get on the ballot in 2012 for re-election as state representative, and she lost a primary write-in bid. Republicans in Springfield so detested Mulligan, a fervent booster of abortion rights, that they staffed and funded the write-in campaign of Susan Sweeney, who topped Mulligan in the primary.
Mulligan, as a payback, then endorsed Moylan, the Des Plaines mayor, who beat Sweeney 19,087-16,802 (53.2 percent). Moylan, whose campaign was managed by Speaker Mike Madigan’s (D) operatives, spent over $500,000, while Republicans poured $300,000 into Sweeney’s race. Sweeney and her ally, Jim O’Donnell, who ran in 2012 for state senator against incumbent Dan Kotowski (D), blame the “township bunch” for their defeat, specifically pointing to township road commissioner Bob Provenzano and supervisor Carol Teschky, claiming that they made negligible effort to defeat the Kotowski-Moylan slate. The fact that Moylan and Provenzano are best buddies, and often vacation together, was a subtext. And then; lo and behold, in 2013, the township’s Democratis organization, led by committeeman Laura Murphy, but actually dominated by Moylan and Kotowski, made no effort to defeat Provenzano and Teschky, leaving them unopposed.
“That’s the deal,” observed Mark Thompson, former township supervisor (1989-2001) and former Republican committeeman (2002-2010). “They,” meaning the Provenzano-Teschky cabal, “give Moylan and Kotowski a free pass, and, in turn, they get a free pass.”
Thompson knows of what he speaks. He’s been double-crossed, as they say, more ways than Sunday. In 2001, as supervisor, he was dumped in favor of Bob Dudycz in a putsch led by then-committeeman Bill Darr. In 2002, he beat Darr for committeeman by 153 votes, and beat Provenzano in 2006 by 319 votes. In 2009, he ran for Des Plaines mayor, but got no support from the township crowd, who were aiding Moylan, then a Des Plaines alderman. Moylan won, with Thompson finishing third, with 23.2 percent. And then, in 2010, Mulligan, his erstwhile ally, whom he had supported in a plethora of intra-party fights, betrayed his loyalty, and ran against and beat him for committeeman by 604 votes. And then she ran the party into the ground.
And newly-elected Des Plaines mayor Matt Bogusz, a onetime protégé of Moylan, is reportedly estranged from Moylan, who thought he would be his puppet.
Can you follow this “me-first” non-sense? In Chicago, this would be called Amateur Hour, or maybe even “Dancing with the Dunces.” The underlying premise of political success is addition, not exorcism and expulsion. Republican activists, however few, want to battle Democrats, not fight other Republicans. After bungling an attempt to take over Park Ridge, Democrats have been similarly inept. So the
purported antagonists are all retreating to their beachheads, gearing not for Armageddon, but rather for an Appomattox;
For 2014, the Republicans’ divisions have re-crystallized. Once, it was all about abortion: The Mulligan-Thompson pro-choicers versus the Dudycz-Provenzano pro-lifers. Now, with Mulligan endorsing Teschky, it’s basically Tea Party-versus-establishment. Mulligan is quitting as committeeman, and Teschky is seeking that job, opposed by Charlene Foss-Eggemann, backed by the Sweeney-O’Donnell faction. Foss-Eggemann, a former president of the Park Ridge Republican Women, was Sweeney’s 2012 campaign chairman. Her faction is backing Mel Thillens, a Park Ridge park board member who spearheaded a successful 2013 referendum to issue bonds to buy the youth campus property on Prospect and construct a swimming pool. “He raised taxes” in Park Ridge, said Moylan. “That will be an issue.”
As far as the Provenzano-Teschky faction is concerned, Thillins is DOA. The outsiders have now become the insiders, and control of township government has become their beachhead. Provenzano earns $80,000 annually to maintain 25 miles of non-state, non-municipal roadways, and Tecshky earns $50,000; Republicans also hold the assessor’s, clerk’s and four trustee posts. With an annual budget of $4 million and 30 jobholders, they are the party base. The township has 98 precincts.
“We need to rebuild the (Republican) party” said Teschky, supervisor since 2009, when Dudycz resigned, and a Republican precinct worker for 30.years.
Another faction is the Park Ridge Republican Women, once the lair of anti-abortion zealot Penny Pullen, who Mulligan beat in the 1992 primary. The eminence gris is Gerry Butler, widow of former state senator, Park Ridge mayor, and township committeeman Marty Butler, who died in 1998. They are closely aligned with Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt, who was re-elected comfortably in 2013, and have no use for the townshippers..Foss is their choice.
“The party disloyalty of Provenzano, Mulligan and Tecshky directly contributed” to Sweeney’s loss “and the Democrats’ supermajority” in the Illinois House,” Foss-Eggemann said. “I am running so that we can beat back the Democrats who have infiltrated our township and jeopardized our state.” She added that it is “unacceptable” to have a Republican committeeman who supports a Democratic state representative.
In 2014, the tempestuous Republican gubernatorial will draw a significant turnout. In 2002, Thompson beat Darr 4,520-4,262 in a 8,,882 turnout; in 2006, Thompson beat Provenzano 3,947-3,627, in a 7,574 turnout; in 2010, Mulligan beat Thompson 3,964-3,360, in a 7,324 turnout. Thompson was viewed as the pro-abortion “moderate,” and the conservative base was about 3,700. Now the Eggemann-Sweeney-O’Donnell faction are the anti-establishment, anti-spending conservative hardliners. So who do the “moderates” back?
The outlook: Republican township turnout in the 2010 governor primary was more than 100,000, with Tea Party right-wingers Bill Brady, Andy McKenna and Andy Andrzejewski aggregating 61,000 votes and “moderates” Kirk Dillard and Jim Ryan getting 49,000 votes.
Teschky has superior name recognition, and more money and manpower than Foss-Eggemann. She’s running, said Thompson of Teschky, “because Provenzano is too polarizing.” Being Maine Township Republican committeeman is sort of like driving an Indy 500 racecar without wheels. It’s a vehicle to nowhere. Teschky is a solid favorite.
9th County Board District: Arithmetic is the key to 20-year county commissioner Pete Silvestri’s (R) re-election, and the numbers are getting a bit precarious.
First elected in 1994, Silvestri, Elmwood Park’s village president, built and nurtured bi-partisan support. His backers included Democrats from the Galewood-Montclare 36th Ward, including Bill Banks and Jim DeLeo, as well as Republicans from the district’s north end, including the 41st Ward’s Brian Doherty and Mike McAuliffe. All but McAuliffe are now nestled in retirement.
Silvestri retired as Elmwood Park’s boss in 2013, handing off the job to his ally, defeated state representative Skip Saviano, who won with 54 percent. The group allied with Joe Ponzio, who lost to Saviano, are backing Frank McPartlin, an aide to Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle, and son of a former state representative, as his Democratic foe.
The district runs from North Avenue to Golf Road, takes in Chicago’s 36th, 38th and 41st wards, the western suburbs of Elmwood Park, Schiller Park, Franklin Park, Northlake, Norridge and Harwood Heights, and pushes north through Park Ridge and Des Plaines. “It should have a Democratic commissioner,” said McPartlin, who added that Silvestri’s “mismanagement” of Elmwood Park will be his major issue.
In 2010, Silvestri won 26,977-13,199 (63.5 percent) over Cary Capparelli, and in 2006, he defeated Jody Bianalana with 60.9 percent). Those are not intimidating numbers. But that begs the question: Is McPartlin an intimidating opponent?
Silvestri’s alliances have surely crumbled. But can McPartlin, a total unknown, build a winning coalition? He claims he will be endorsed by Aldermen Mary O’Connor (41st) and Nick Sposato (36th), and state senator John Mulroe (D-10). But expect Silvestri to define McPartlin as the “Preckwinkle candidate” – an insider who will vote with the board’s Democratic majority, not with his constituents.
My prediction: Silvestri’s “shelf life” has grown stale after 20 years. But he will squeeze out one more term.
Russ Stewart is a political analyst for the Chicago Daily Observer