Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Paul Green Report: Democratic Primary for Cook County Board President: John Stroger vs. Forrest Claypool as “Black Media and Political Elite Turn Stroger into a Near Harold Washington II.”

[Further analysis and views from the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University whose director is Dr. Paul Green].

The Democratic Players.

John Stroger, the incumbent and long-time supporter of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Stroger an African American considered old-school by rising black politicians—a religious man, Democratic party man—commander of the top-vote producing ward in Chicago, the mighty 8th.

Forrest Claypool, the challenger, former top assistant to Mayor Daley, Daley’s choice to head the Chicago Park District; never considered a reformer but who became one when elected county board commissioner. A friend of many of Mayor Daley’s top political operatives.

The Supporting Cast.

Mayor Richard M. Daley who tried to stay out of the battle between two allies but who finally stood with long-time ally John Stroger.

Chicago’s black media and political elite, on the sidelines for most of the primary but participating in one of the greatest political plot twists in Chicago history , turned John Stroger nearly into Harold Washington II.

Old guard white committeemen who supported Stroger and refused to turn the clock back to the 1980s racial politics (to be sure, Claypool was not one of their guys and Stroger was a known quantity and longtime ally.)

The Plot Twist.

A week before primary election day, Stroger suffered a major stroke, was hospitalized and was not seen or heard from for the first of the campaign. Green: “Whether Stroger’s illness flipped the election in his direction will be debated for years to come, but one fact is certain: movie director Oliver Stone, on one of his good days, could not create a cast or plot to top this political battle.”


Stroger’s city percentage was only slightly greater than Forrest Claypool’s Suburban 30 percentage—but Chicago had a higher voter turnout; thus Stroger won the election. Stroger carried 30 city wards. His home base on the south side of Chicago came through big-time for their local leader. Three wards—18th, 21st and 6th—all south side middle class black wards, gave STroger 10,000+ margin victories. All eight of his top ten margin wards were from this same region while two were west side black wards: 29th and 24th.

Percentage-wise, half of Stroger’s winning wards (all black) gave him over 80 percent of their vote. Five others were over 70 percent and still five more were over 60 percent. In the 60 percent group were the 14th (Ed Burke), 11th (John Daley) and the 13th (Michael Madigan). Among reasons these influential committeemen supported Stroger was jobs, t he upcoming 2006 and 2007 elections, a dislike or fear of Claypool but also loyalty to a real party man. Claypool ran well on the north lakefront and also in wards that border these wards—putting up impressive number in several far northwest side wards. His best marginward was the 47th , a fast-growin gand gentrifying area neighboring the lakefront wards, also part of his county board district.

Two wards gave him over 80 percent+ --the 47th and 44th –while seven others came in at 70 percent + for Claypool. His city campaign was impressive but his solid numbers in his best areas were no match for Stroger’s balck-led, multi-racial coalition.

Suburban Cook.

Claypool carried 23 pf thirty suburban townships—most of them by sizable percentages. Only five of his winning townships gave him less than 70 percent of their vote. Four—New Trier, River Forest, Northfield and Riverside—gave Claypool over 80 percent, demonstrating his appeal to suburban voters.

North suburban township gave Claypool his best margin of victories. Niles led the margin march while other townships gave him 5000+ margins. Claypool’s suburban strength stretched from the north to the west and the southwest. It was only in the suburban suburbs and a couple of western areas that Stroger slowed down Claypool.

Stroger won 7 townships. One of the seven was Thornton, which provded him a 10,599 victory margin. The other Stroger winning margin townships were Proviso, Rich, Bloom, Bremen, Calumet and Cicero. Stroger did best in areas with significant African-American populations: no surprise. Although beaten in the Suburban 30, Stroger won enough support to allow his Chicago margins to carry him to victory. Green: “This was not a replay of 1980s Chicago style racial politics—Stroger running against an attractive and articulate white candidate was able to win over 25 percent of the vote in a majority of the suburban townships.”

[Monday: analysis of the Republican primary for Governor]

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