Friends of Juliana Stratton
A still shot from Stratton's campaign ad
We're heading into that stretch of the political campaign season when everything's getting a little goofy.
How else to explain President Obama's decision to endorse Juliana Stratton over Ken Dunkin in the race for state rep of the fifth legislative district?
It's not that he chose Stratton over Dunkin, as opposed to the other way around. It's that he felt compelled to choose anyone at all.
I mean, we're talking about the leader of the free world taking time out from his busy schedule to weigh in on a rather insignificant south side legislative race.
Talk about shooting a fly with a howitzer.
To determine if there's any precedent for this, I asked several political junkies over the age of 55 if they could recall another presidential endorsement quite like it.
They could not. So it either never happened, or my baby boomer friends are getting forgetful as they head into their golden years.
Of course, this race is not really about Dunkin or Stratton so much as it's about their political sponsors: governor Bruce Rauner and house speaker Michael Madigan.
Rauner and his cronies
—a gaggle of rich Republicans—are basically footing the bill for Dunkin's campaign. And Madigan's pulling out all the stops for Stratton.
Boiling it down to the basics, a Dunkin win weakens Madigan and a Stratton win weakens Rauner.
The stakes are higher for Madigan since this is a Democratic primary and, as the chairman of the state's Democratic Party, he's supposed to be in charge of such things.
He can't very well let Rauner—a gazillionaire—waltz in and buy a Chicago legislative election like it was a chain of nursing homes
Speaking of operations—in addition to our public schools
—that Rauner's managed to screw up.
The presidential endorsement says one of two things is going on in the final days of the campaign:
One, Stratton's falling behind, and her team's desperately throwing the ultimate Hail Mary.
Or two, Stratton's pulling ahead and it's like—let's crush this dude once and for all!
I'm not sure what Dunkin/Rauner can do to combat the Obama commercials for Stratton.
I suppose they could try blasting the president—which would be a really effective tactic if they were running a legislative campaign in, say, Tennessee.
But don't feel too sorry for Rauner or Dunkin.
If Dunkin loses, I expect Rauner and his gang will take care of him, somehow or other.
C'mon, Governor Bruce, don't be cheap with Ken—the guy really stuck out his neck for you.
And win or lose, Rauner still has his billions—so he's free to go out and buy another election whenever and wherever he wants.
Actually, the real loser in this latest development may be yours truly.
In the last few weeks, I've made a bunch of bets that Dunkin would win.
I went with Dunkin largely because he's a tenacious campaigner whose campaign strategists seem smarter than Stratton's.
At least smarter about running a campaign in the fifth legislative district.
If Obama's endorsement is a game changer, I'll be buying lunch for, like, half the politicos in Chicago.
Maybe I can get Rauner to pick up the tab.