ranks right up there among the worst political
campaigns of the decade, which include Alderman
Pat Levar's disastrous bid for clerk of the
Circuit Court in 2000 and county Treasurer Maria
Pappas's fizzled campaign for U.S. senator in
2004. Add to that Alderman Howard Brookins' (21st)
embarrassingly inept bid for Cook County state's
attorney on Feb. 5.
now have a triumvirate: dumb, dumber and dumbest.
2008 Democratic primary was supposed to be the
"Big Black Blowout," with black
Democrats sweeping every county office in the wake
of a Barack Obama love fest for president. Indeed,
Obama crushed Hillary Clinton in Cook County,
amassing 708,276 votes (70.7 percent of the total)
to her 301,747 votes, but the city and county
black vote was not as expected, monolithic.
Brookins received an astounding 542,492 fewer
votes than did Obama.
didn't show his face," said one Democratic
observer. "He had lots of yard signs -- Obama
and Brookins. He had lots of ads on black radio,
but he didn't have pictures anywhere. He needed to
show two black faces, and he needed to have
added another Democrat, "He needed to
demonstrate crime-fighting credentials. He should
have talked about how he fought crime in his ward.
He had no plan, no program. He thought he would
win just because he was black."
Chicago's 20 black-majority wards, Brookins got
105,818 votes, compared to Obama's 246,043 votes.
That means that roughly 140,000 black voters voted
for Anita Alvarez, Tom Allen, Larry Suffredin, Bob
Milan or Tommy Brewer. Citywide, Brookins had
120,905 votes, which means he won only 15,000
votes outside the black wards, while Obama had
459,039 votes citywide, getting about 213,000
votes outside the black wards. Brookins had
338,134 fewer votes than Obama in Chicago.
suburban Cook County, Brookins got a pathetic
44,879 votes, finishing fourth, while Obama got
270,335 votes. Brookins had an astounding 225,456
fewer votes than Obama.
another observer: "Obama was the change
candidate. Brookins was the unknown
that the dust has settled, this much is clear:
the Democratic primary, countywide and statewide,
was an "estrogen election," as female
voters outnumbered male voters by close to 3-2.
The discrepancy was most pronounced among blacks
and Hispanics, where men are disinclined to vote.
The 2008 election was the "Year of the Woman,
Part II," with the 1992 election being
more women run in 2008, more would have won.
Alvarez won the state's attorney primary in a huge
upset, topping Alderman Tom Allen (38th) by an
unofficial 9,946-vote margin and getting just 25.8
percent of the vote to Allen's 24.7 percent. You
can blame that on Mayor Rich Daley. Had Daley
endorsed Allen, as Allen expected, Allen would
judicial primaries, countywide and in subcircuits,
women won 15 of 19 contested races. In the
eight-candidate contest for three Metropolitan
Water Reclamation District nominations, featuring
four women, two black candidates and one Hispanic
candidate, the winners were the incumbents: Frank
Avila (a Hispanic), Kathy Meany (a white woman)
and Cindy Santos (a white woman with a Hispanic
astounding numbers of liberal and independent
voters opted for the Democratic primary. The 2008
primary turnout was a record 1,981,307 statewide,
compared to 862,326 for the Republicans. That
means 69.6 percent of the Feb. 5 voters were
Democrats. In Cook County, turnout in the state's
attorney primary was 917,737 for the Democrats and
133,052 for the Republicans. That means 87.3
percent of the voters in Cook County voted
operative question is: Why would any Feb. 5
Democratic voter support any Republican in
comparison, in 1992, when Carol Moseley Braun ran
for U.S. senator, statewide Democratic primary
turnout was 1.63 million, and in 2004, when Obama
ran for U.S. senator, turnout was 1.3 million. So
in 2008 turnout was 300,000 higher than in 1992
and 600,000 higher than in 2004. That
"surge" of voters was motivated by a
combination of Bush revulsion, Obama love,
get-out-of-Iraq sentiment and
new voters, having only a vague notion of who was
on the ballot, voted for anybody who was
"different" -- such as Alvarez and women
Obama scored surprisingly well among white voters
in Chicago and the suburbs. He beat Clinton
459,039-159,595 (with 72.8 percent of the vote) in
Chicago, carrying 36 of 50 wards, and
270,335-149,613 (with 64.3 percent of the vote) in
the Cook County suburbs, carrying 22 of 30
townships. Obama won the Collar Counties
247,997-150,409 (62.1 percent), and he won
Downstate won 325,629-206,485 (61.1 percent).
Overall Obama won 92 of Illinois' 102 counties --
an amazing performance.
the Northwest Side, Clinton beat Obama in the
36th, 38th, 41st and 45th wards, but not by much.
Clinton won the 36th Ward by 433 votes, the 38th
by 261, the 41st by 807 and the 45th by 83. When a
black candidate wins overwhelmingly white ethnic
wards, something is afoot. But the Clinton vote
also shows white resistance. If Obama is the
Democratic nominee, many of those Clinton votes
will go the Republican John McCain.
also won 10 other wards with a large Hispanic
population or a Hispanic majority: the 10th, 11th,
12th, 13th, 14th, 22nd, 23rd, 30th and 31st.
Hispanic voters resist voting for a black
the state's attorney's primary, the final
unofficial tally was 237,220 votes (25.8 percent
of the total) for Alvarez, 227,246 votes (24.8
percent) for Allen, 202,828 votes (22.1 percent)
for liberal suburbanite Suffredin, 165,784 votes
(18.1 percent) for Brookins, 53,450 votes (5.8
percent) for Bob Milan, who was endorsed by
outgoing State's Attorney Dick Devine, and 31,199
votes (3.4 percent) for Tommy Brewer, who is
was all about negativity, and Alvarez was the
candidate who was perceived most positively,"
the presidential race, Clinton didn't trash Obama
before the primary. Knowing Illinois would go
heavily for its senator, she ignored him and the
state. But Allen spent more than $1 million on
television ads, trashing Alvarez and Milan,
Devine's two top assistants, as "status"
and "quo" and ripping Suffredin as a
lobbyist. Suffredin slammed Allen as a political
"insider." Milan, Devine's first
assistant, hyped the endorsement of his boss,
while Allen, Brookins and Suffredin trashed Devine
for not pursuing corruption in city and county
news media unearthed a bunch of alleged ethical
lapses by Brookins, including nonpayment of rent
and employee withholding taxes, delinquent child
support, property code violations and putting his
wife on the payroll of a development company.
Brookins issued plausible denials, but the damage
was done. His "deadbeat" image estranged
him from both black and white women.
running claimed to be a "reformer" and
promised "change." Everybody ripped
Devine for not investigating official corruption.
The Jon Burge scandal, with Chicago police torture
and abuse, was supposed to be a huge issue.
Instead, the month-long negative campaign soured
voters on everybody but Alvarez.
21-year prosecutor and Devine's chief deputy,
Alvarez's ads stressed her prosecutorial
achievements. Because Devine endorsed Milan, she
was distanced from the beleaguered incumbent.
Alvarez is of Mexican-American heritage, but most
of the Hispanic "establishment" ignored
her. U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-4)
caught three key breaks. First, her husband, a
physician, loaned her campaign $600,000, which
enabled her to be up on television. Second, the
fact that she was once the supervisor of Devine's
public integrity unit, during which time she
failed to prosecute official corruption, was
ignored. Her "do nothing" record was
ripe for trashing. And third, she got solid
support in Hispanic wards and townships, ran ahead
of Allen in white liberal areas such as Evanston,
Oak Park and the Lakefront, and finished a close
third, just behind Suffredin, in black areas.
Alvarez won 16 wards and 10 townships.
won a majority in Cicero, Berwyn and Chicago's
10th, 12th, 14th, 22nd, 25th, 30th and 31st wards,
but she got only 44,446 of her 237,220 votes in
those Hispanic areas. Clearly, a huge number of
first-time, younger white voters backed Obama and
and his supporters have reason to be furious. He
was well funded by labor unions, and he won all
the Northwest Side wards but still got only 27.5
percent of the vote countywide. The South Side
11th, 13th and 14th wards, run, respectively, by
John Daley, Mike Madigan and Ed Burke, were won by
Alvarez. Where was the mayor when Allen needed
proclaimed her victory to be the "end of the
good ol' boy" network in Devine's office, but
she is a "good ol' girl," and she holds
the number three job. Her Republican opponent,
Tony Peraica, is sure to attack her record and rip
her as an "insider" who is part of the
Alvarez has one key credential: She lives in River
Forest, so she won't be running for mayor of
Chicago. That, plus her make-no-waves record on
public corruption and the upcoming November
Democratic landslide, will be enough to elect her.
the hapless Brookins, Alvarez is the right
candidate at the right time.