Monday, January 22, 2007

Where's the Party (Going)?

The contest to replace the recently departed Tom Lyons as Cook County Democratic Party Chairman has taken some interesting twists and turns. First, a number of likely candidates made it very clear that they had no interest in the position.

Then, Board of Review Commissioner Joe Berrios emerged as leading (only?) contender for the post. Things heated up when west side powerhouse Alderman Ike Carrothers, who had reportedly thrown his support behind Berrios, announced that he too was vying for the spot.

And amidst some very active lobbying on behalf of Berrios and Carrothers, and some potential tension between African-American and Latino committemen, Rep. Lou Lang, who recently became the Niles Township Committeeman, is announcing that he too is seeking the post.

The contest certainly gives the committeemen something to think about. The biggest point of discussion has been why anybody would want the job. Many organizations are in disarray, and any County infrastructure is essentially non-existent. Accordingly, a lot of people envision the job as being a thankless one consisting of fundraising and headaches.

The latent enemy of a local Party organization has been various competing personal agendas and a certain level of distrust among many committeemen. But as the traditional (by Chicago terms) Democratic apparatus continues to erode, the focus needs to turn to ideology and methods to identify, attract and energize Democratic voters.

This would be a great opportunity for a discussion about what the County Party should look like and what it should be doing to help generate interest and expand the base in these changing political times in which we find ourselves.

It will be interesting to watch how coalitions come together or fall apart leading up to the selection of the new chairman. It will be more intriguing to see what happens to the County Party in the future.

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