I was at the Cook County Democratic Committee meeting today where Todd Stroger, son of County Board President John Stroger, was elected to succeed his father on the November ballot after President Stroger's stroke and withdrawl from office this spring.
There were about 80 voting members of the committee--50 ward committeemen from Chicago and 30 from the suburbs. There were also plenty of media and probably 60-80 public spectators.
House Speaker Michael Madigan presided over the meeting. Two candidates were named: Stroger and U.S. Rep Danny Davis. (IL-7) Each candidate was given a few minutes to speak, then committeemen were invited to speak on their behalf.
Davis went first. Man was this guy good. Ph.D. in Health Administration, 26 years in elected office, served on the County Board for 6 years, great speaker. On the nepotism of nominating Todd Stroger, Davis said, "We all have lineage, heritage, and ambition. But family ties and pedigree should not trump experience."
Davis also alluded to some of the Cook Democratic Party shenanigans of the past, saying, " I don't want my children growing up, feeling that they have to move to another part of town in order to work in city government."
Finally, he hinted that he knew he would lose the battle, but warned the party that their actions were being watched. "I have a strong feeling that your decision today may not be with the people. You should listen to the beating of the not-too-distant drums. There are indeed rumblings."
The crowd in the gallery was nearly 100% for Davis -- he received great applause during and after his speech.
Alderman Stroger then spoke. Stroger seemed to say all of the right things, laying out all of his experience bit by bit. He took care to list every committee and task force he took place in while in the Illinois House, which seemed a little like resume padding, but not too objectionable. Stroger was not nearly as impressive a physical presence as Davis, but he didn't screw anything up. He left that to his supporters!
Davis' supporters spoke very well. Stroger's supporters made some dubious arguments. Especially bad was that of Ald. Burt Natarus, who said that when he talks to constituents about what's wrong with government, they say the Post Office, and since Danny Davis is on the subcommittee for the Postal Service, "Actions speak louder than words. He didn't deliver." Natarus then went on to say that "afro-Americans" have good jobs at the Post Office, and that "they can go ahead and have it - they're good jobs."
One suburban speaker made an interesting point: "Who better to carry on the Stroger legacy than Todd Stroger?" Kind of speaks for itself. Other speakers did their best to avoid giving any compelling reason to vote for Stroger, instead seeming more obsessed that electing Stroger was not part of some sort of "back-room deal," in a "smoke-filled room."
The final speaker on Stroger's behalf said it best, however.
"Todd Stroger has what it takes. He has the experience. As for acadmically, I don't even want to talk about that. We have elected a Board President before who only got it because he had the money!" What a compelling argument! LOL.
The final vote was 50-10.
Here are the committee members who voted for Davis:
7, 15, 16, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 33, 35, 37, and 48.
Peg Roth of 43 voted "present"
Suburbs: Evanston, New Trier, Northfield, Oak Park, Palatine, Proviso, and Wheeling voted for Davis. Riverside voted "present"
All others voted for Stroger. Find your committeeman at http://www.cookcountydems.com/