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Yes, There Are GOPs Running for Cook County Board President

By Prescott Carlson in News on Feb 1, 2010 8:00PM

Even though you have to go all the way back to Richard Ogilvie in 1966 to find the last Republican voted in as Cook County Board President, each election cycle there are always members of the area Republican Party willing to at least give it a shot, so with all the attention being focused lately on who's going to end Todd Stroger's political career we thought we would take a glance across the aisle.

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica was the last Republican to try in 2006, and came within a respectable 8% points from winning -- but that was amidst odd turns of events that gave off the stench of backroom politics at its worst, which certainly gave Peraica a boost. But while it's unlikely a race against current Democratic frontrunner Ald. Toni Preckwinkle will have the same sort of drama, it might not be a runaway victory for her, either.

First of all, Preckwinkle is sure to find the Daley Machine apathetic about supporting her run -- expect a tepid endorsement, at best. She's stood up to the Mayor on a number of occasions, most notably being a consistent "no" vote on the Mayor's budgets, and she was against the parking meter lease. Now that the hopes of Chicago 2016 are no more, her support for the Olympic Games is no longer going to curry her much favor. She's also a yawn as a politician. Add those factors in with a lack of incumbent advantage, an expected low voter turnout, and Republicans eager to take back the U.S. Senate seat they lost when Peter Fitzgerald decided not to run for re-election, while still a long-shot, it seems as good a year as any for the Republicans to make an earnest go at it. Certainly stranger things have happened.

2010_02_01_garrido.jpg So who are the two optimistic GOPs hoping to be on the ballot in November?

Like Peraica, John Garrido, 42, doesn't fit the stereotype of a Washington-style Republican. While he has the seemingly prerequisite law degree, he's also been an officer with the Chicago Police Department since 1991. Currently a tactical lieutenant, Garrido previously worked violent crimes and homicides, was an "undercover narcotic buy officer," and a patrolman, mostly on Chicago's West Side. Garrido and his wife live on the Northwest Side. His run for Cook County Board President is his first try at a political office, and while Garrido is trying to sell not having political connections as a positive thing in Cook County, that combined with not having any managerial experience puts him decidedly in the unfortunate underdog position. At least he takes good care of his teeth.

2010_02_01_keats.jpg The likely candidate, and the one that picked up the local media endorsements, is Roger Keats. Keats, 61, is currently a political consultant and financial adviser, but is not a rookie when it comes to politics -- Keats was elected as an Illinois State Senator in 1978 representing the North Shore's 29th district, and he held that office for 16 years. Keats seems fond -- for surely not-so-subtle reasons -- of touting the fact that in 1989 he had a "role in pushing the legislature to adopt judicial sub-circuits for Cook County" which "cleared the way for minorities to hold judgeships." Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation Push praised his work at the time but they're not exactly lining up to endorse him now. Who is endorsing Keats, however, are the three major Chicago area newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, and the Daily Herald.

Both have said they want to roll back the recent remaining sales tax increase, as well as expand the the county health system independent board (which, ironically, Stroger begrudgingly agreed on to get support for the tax hike they want to now roll back), and possibly even apply the same idea to other areas of county government.