Monday, October 24, 2005
Peraica: A Tough Man for a Tough Job
Thirty-six years ago Richard Ogilvie, running for president of the Cook county Board, was touted by his ad agency as The Right Man for a Tough Job. He was the right man, all right, but didnt stay long enough to complete the job, running for governor two years hence and taking no position on whether or not he would slap on an income tax (which he did, after which he was defeated for reelection). Ogilvie was the last Republican to hold the presidency. Now another Republican is running for the jobmuch tougher than Ogilvie. Everything about Tony Peraica spells tough from his sledge-hammer rhetoric, his staccato statements of condemnation of President John Stroger, his rapid-fire barrage of statistics punctuated with verbal exclamation points. He tries valiantly but sometimes unsuccessfully to rise above slugging his intra-party opponents but pound for pound hes indisputably the master of details for the job he seeks.
As guest on my radio show yesterday, Peraica was, with one slight deviation, at the top of his game. He scored Stroger masterfully, defended his ally Judy Baar Topinka, pointed out that he mistakenly endorsed gay rights with four other Republican board members before he withdrew his name, declared he is pro-life. He announced his choice for governor is Topinka; if she takes herself out of the race (as is expected to happen today) he favors Steve Rauschenberger. He didnt flinch under the barrage of powerful questions from one who is probably the most astute political interrogator since the era of John Dreiske (remember him, anyone?), Jeff Berkowitz whose CAN-TV and blog is requisite for political followers. On only one question, ironically, did Peraica stumble: that was a question on which he has stumbled before and rather astounding that he should do so. After he inveighed against patronage abuses, Berkowitz asked, at the tail end of the show, about his own son who is working for the county. All Peraica had to do was say that he is qualified for the job hes doingbut he went uh, uh, uh at programs end. Beyond that though, he is indeed A Tough Man for a Tough Job and turned me from somewhat tepid to fairly hot supporter. If Tony cant do it nobody can.