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The Papers Just Play Along

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 11, 2006 3:30PM

You remember that poll in the Sun-Times yesterday? Yeah, that one. Well the race for Cook County Board President got a little, well, hot yesterday.

In a noon debate at Chicago's Union League Club, the once and future king of Cook County took shots at Peraica, trying to paint him as both a right-winger and a crook associated with disgraced (and convicted) former Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese; Peraica accused Stroger of being absent for votes in the State Senate.

Ultimately none of this is really about the issues, whatever those are. Illinois is based on the weak-executive model of governance, so whomever is in charge of a particular unit of government has no real power without the consent of the legislature. Unless the executive can build a big enough power base that he wields his influence over the legislature, he won't be able to get anything done. And that's why losing control over the Cook County Board President's seat is so terrifying to the machine. William Beavers is the real force behind this, because by installing Todd Stroger he can shore up his base on the South Side, effectively deliver the black vote to Blagojevich, and hand Cook County over to Daley. And that means that A.) someone owes him a lot of favors, and B.) he can get whatever he wants done on the county board.

While the real pundits haven't yet weighed in on how all of this went, Chicagoist has a few opinions of our own. Tony Peraica needs these debates, and he needs the press coverage. Unlike Judy Baar Topinka, who has pretty much played into the hands of Blagojevich, Peraica has been front and center when it comes to calling out the establishment on the issues. Every chance he's had, he's taken the opportunity to attack Stroger on the issues, while letting the Cook County GOP do the dirty work for him. Peraica must feel that he has a shot at getting people energized if he released that poll to the press like that. Especially considering that it skewed slightly to suburban voters, who are more likely to support him. Ultimately, Peraica is going to have to beat the Beavers-Stroger-Blagojevich trinity on voter turnout if he has a shot. And all of that is going to come back to the issues.

Thanks to Beatriz for background on this post.