Democratic Machine revives in election as big names are pushed under
J.B. Pritzker defeats Kennedy who runs 3rd behind Daniel Biss for Governor. Kwame Raoul holds a lead over former Governor Pat Quinn for Illinois Attorney General. Congressman Dan Lipinski holds a tight lead over liberal challenger Marie Newman. Fritz Kaegi unseats Joe Berrios as Cook County Assessor. And Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas slams her challenger winning the largest total vote of any single candidate in Cook County, more than 540,000 votes.
By Ray Hanania
J. B. Pritzker won the Democratic party nomination after outspending all of his 5 rivals while his chief rival, Christopher Kennedy fell into 3rd place behind State Senator Daniel Biss whose small budget was augmented by slick commercials.
Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, had a powerful name.
Pritzker’s victory demonstrated that money and the backing of the Chicago-dominated Democratic Machine remains as potent and powerful as ever in Illinois. Kennedy’s loss brought the curtain down on Camelot.
Clearly, name recognition played far less of a role in the Democratic primary. That included long time powerhouse names like ‘Lipinski,” which held the congressional seat in Chicago’s Southwest Side and suburbs for more than 36 years as father and then son succession.
Although Dan Lipinski (who served 14 years) succeeded his father Bill Lipinski (who served 22 years), he appeared to be clinging to a thin lead late into Tuesday night. The numbers flipped back and forth most of the night between Lipinski and rival Marie Newman.
Newman demonstrated that anti-Trump Democrats and liberals could shake the district’s conservative Democrats deflating the once powerful “Reagan Democrat” label.
The Lipinski-Newman contest, also for the first time, introduced the growing strength of Arab American voters who accounted for nearly 40,000 of the 3rd District’s registered voters. The 3rd Congressional District has the largest concentration of Arab American voters in any congressional district. Both Lipinski and Newman attracted strong coalitions in the Arab American community although Lipinski managed to win support from the Arab Muslim leadership and from Arab Christians, who both embrace conservative family values. Newman carried strong among secular and far left-leaning Arab American voters.
As of this deadline, Lipinski was hanging on to a slim lead over Newman of only 1,600 votes with 26 precincts remaining out of 500.
Another big name that took a major drubbing was that of former Governor Pat Quinn whose name has been a part of Illinois politics for more than 40 years. An independent voice outside of the traditional Democratic Machine in the 1980s, Quinn rose up within the Democratic Party to become the lieutenant governor and later governor in 2009 when Governor Rod Blagojevich was ousted in the face of Federal conviction. But Quinn was himself ousted by Republican Bruce Rauner in November 2014.
According to unofficial results, State Senator Kwame Raoul, the Democratic Party endorsed candidate for Illinois Attorney General, beat Quinn in a crowded field of eight contenders in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary. Raoul focused his campaign ads directly at the County’s large African American voters who easily gave him the plurality needed to win, emphasizing that he filled the shoes of State Senator Barack Obama who rose to become a U.S. Senator and then America’s first African American president.
Cook County voters also decided to forgive, or forget, Toni Preckwinkle’s heavy handed efforts to impose oppressive taxes and managed to maintain a strong lead over challenger Robert Fioretti.
Preckwinkle, who imposed and was forced to rescind a one cent per ounce sales tax on soda pop and sweetened drinks in 2017, sold herself as an anti-Trump advocate of healthcare while Fioretti’s campaign message was both garbled, difficult to identify and carried by TV commercials that were ridiculed as amateurish.
Taxpayers especially in Suburban Cook County were shuddering in fear late Tuesday worried that a vindictive Preckwinkle would use the victory to try again to whack taxpayers with new and even worse tax increases.
Another stalwart Machine incumbent fell to a leftwing challenge, stung by news media revelations of poor leadership as the Cook County Assessor. Joseph Berrios, a longtime Cook County Democratic powerhouse as unseated by newcomer Fritz Kaegi.
Kaegi also sold himself as an anti-Trump candidate taking on corruption, and aligned himself tightly with the same far leftwing liberal Democrats who backed Newman, speared the heart of the “Reagan Democrats,” but failed to carry their message loud enough to save Kennedy.
In nearby Will County, despite the vicious attacks from local news media, Will County Board member Lauren Staley-Ferry managed to easily defeat challenger Lockport Township Clerk Denise Mushro-Rumchak in the race for Will County Clerk.
The media hacked away repeatedly and with vicious zeal at Staley-Ferry for an incident 18 years ago in which she had taken $500 from a former boss. Despite Staley-Ferry’s repeated apologies for her youthful indiscretion, the Will County media continued to pummel Staley-Ferry and biasedly favored Mushro-Rumchak.
Ironically voters in Will County did not take the media’s bait, nor their eyes off of the more important issues of fiscal responsibility and youthful energy that Staley-Ferry promised to deliver as the Democratic Party’s candidate for Clerk.
Staley-Ferry won more than 58 percent of the nearly 49,000 votes cast. Mushro-Rumchak won only 41 percent. Staley-Ferry will face Republican Laurie McPhillips who ran unopposed and took only 33,537 votes in a bid to succeed retiring clerk Nancy Schultz Voots.
The strongest Democrat in Cook County however may be County Treasurer Maria Pappas who has spent the past 20 years reforming the Cook County Treasurer’s office, easily defeating challenger Peter Gariepy.
Pappas won more votes than any other official in Cook County, more than 543,000 and rising in the county’s unofficial Count. The only candidate in Illinois to get close to or slightly surpass Pappas was Pritzker who spent tens of millions of dollars for statewide office to only get a few thousand more than Pappas.
Preckwinkle only won barely over 400,000 votes.
Clearly Pappas is the diamond in this nerve-racking election contest. The Democrats might want to turn to her in redefining a bruised election ego and performance.
But, in a final shocker, Governor Rauner seemed barely able to hold on to a lead over Jeanne Ives, making him an easier target for Democrats to unseat in November.
The real problem for Rauner is that even if all of Ives votes rally behind him in GOP Patriotism, the brutal Democratic governor’s race attracted more than 1.1 million total Democratic votes.
In the hotly contested 6th Cook County District, Patricia Joan Murphy lost the seat once held by her late mother Joan Murphy to rival Donna Miller. Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta ran a very distant third. Murphy did win the office of Worth Township committeeman, unseating
For updated unofficial election results, visit the website of WLS TV.
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.
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