Wednesday, November 08, 2006

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, CHI POLITICS EDITION

There are a lot of things that can be said about the elections on Tuesday. They will mostly be said elsewhere. What is interesting is the change the election wrought on politics right here in the Chi.

See, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Luis Gutierrez are both Congressmen representing districts that are partially in Chicago. They both have made noise in the past about running against Richie for mayor, and this looked like a particularly good time to be doing so. Richie's administration has been beset by a few scandals and convictions, and it is not clear whether the taint of corruption makes it (literally) into the mayor's office. Of course this report says that Richie is still viewed positively, and he is expected to have an $8 million war chest for the election. Nevertheless, there may never be a better time to go after him.

Like many people, I had considered it a foregone conclusion that Jesse, Jr. would run for mayor in 2008. However, in the wake of the elections on Tuesday he expects to

become a 'cardinal'—the powerful chairman of a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Gaining that spot would “exponentially” increase his ability to bring money and projects to his South Side/south suburban district, Mr. Jackson said.

Meanwhile Gutierrez expects to be a powerful member of the banking/finance committee structure. Now neither seems interested in giving up life in the majority for an uphill fight in which they will be outspent by roughly 8 to 1. Said Jackson about his ability to raise money "'If Chicago isn’t willing to fund an effort to have a conversation about our future, it’s very difficult' to run." Because it's our fault that he can't raise money. Anyway, suddenly Richie looks likely to be almost unopposed instead of having to battle solid local politicians. Who knows what the ripple has been for people planning to run for Jesse, Jr. and Gutierrez's seats.

As an aside, there are a lot of things you can say about Jesse, Jr., many of which are negative, but he knows why he was sent to Washington. He actually has this page on his web page that touts the exact amount of pork he's brought to the district each term he's been in Congress. Of course, even in touting his pork he is full of crap. In 2004 he claims to have brought home $80 million in pork. Of that $29,000,000 was for the Deep Tunnel project reservoirs, and $21,000,000 was for reconstructing the lake front. Neither Deep Tunnel, nor the Lakefront Reconstruction are Jesse, Jr. programs. That's over half the total! They just happen to happen (in part) in his district. What an ass.

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