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Mike Sneed had an interesting item in Friday’s Sun-Times. She said Cook County commissioner Forrest Claypool is thinking of running for county assessor as an independent. If he makes the race, he’ll be taking on Joe Berrios for an office an independent might conceivably win because voters pay attention to it.
Berrios campaigned as a reformer to win his party’s nomination, and the Tribune editorial page laughed out loud. “This is the same Joe Berrios who, as a Cook County Democratic Party official, helped deposit Todd Stroger onto the general election ballot in 2006. Later, no county politician more enthusiastically endorsed Stroger’s unneeded sales tax hike than Berrios.” The Tribune wondered, “Why would any voter want such a certifiable rewriter of the truth in charge of Cook County property assessments — the make-or-break valuations on which citizens' property taxes are calculated?"
Here’s an even better question. “Doomsday is here,” says the president of the Civic Federation as Illinois faces a $12.8 billion budget deficit this year, and why would any voter believe that either Governor Pat Quinn or hard-right Republican challenger Bill Brady can restore the state to solvency? It would be tough enough for a CEO with no one to answer to but a board of directors to rescue a corporation so far in the hole. The next governor will have to deal with Illinois' self-serving legislature.
So what I’m asking is why no movement has organized itself to draft someone of demonstrated competence and stature to run as an independent for governor against Quinn and Brady on a platform of leading Illinois out of bankruptcy? It would be a ticket of two — a candidate for governor and a running mate for lieutenant governor — and I believe millions of voters throughout Illinois who don’t want to see the state collapse would welcome it. For that matter, it could easily be a ticket of three — as there's also no visible enthusiasm for the two Senate candidates — Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk.
It’s astonishing that the candidates at the top of the two state tickets could be so unappealing. It’s as if someone pulled a plug and the state’s political talent disappeared down the drain. Illinois needs leadership and it’s nowhere in sight. It's certainly not on the ballot. And it's not visible as a gathering storm of citizen difference-makers who have decided the present situation is intolerable and they must do something about it. As for Forrest Claypool — he's Quinn's buddy, says Sneed, and maybe that's why he's not thinking bigger.