Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's showing in Tuesday's democratic primary will go down as one of the worst defeats in local political history for any incumbent running for re-election. Stroger finished fourth in the four-candidate field with 78,205 votes, only 13.6% of the ballots cast.
But look inside the numbers and it gets worse. In the 8th Ward on Chicago's southside where Stroger is the democratic committeeman, check out the finish:
Yeah, the president may have won a plurality in the 8th Ward...but ask any seasoned Chicago democrat and the word you'll hear most often is "pathetic" to describe the political strength of an elected official who is also a committeeman who can't get a majority of the primary vote in his own ward. The bottom line is that 59% of the voters in the 8th chose a name other than Stroger, whose late father dominated ward politics there since the 1970's. And the 8th, mind you, has been the most consistently high-turnout African-American city ward for the democrats.
Mayor Richard M. Daley, for one, has depended on a loyal, lockstep 8th Ward organization in every Chicago election since the early 1990's and needs the ward more than ever if Daley runs for re-election in 2011. Tuesday, it appeared most voters in the 8th were "freelancing". Todd Stroger surely wasn't in control. (And for the record, Stroger is p.o.'d at the Mayor for not supporting his re-election effort)
Stroger will remain Cook County Board President for another nine months as a "lame duck". He'll have administrative power at the county building...but when it comes to political clout, you may as well stick a fork in him. He's done.
And he should watch his back.
His cut-throat buddies at the democratic central committee need a strongman (or woman) in the 8th Ward.
Right now, they've got a weakling in charge.