Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More on Emil Jones' bait-and-switch

In the spring of 2004, longtime Chicago Democratic congressman Bill Lipinski easily won his party's primary. Then he decided to retire. Lipinski engineered it so his son, then a University of Tennessee political science professor, would be his replacement on the fall ballot.

On the Republican side, the party of course figured the elder Lipinski would be a shoe-in for re-election, so they did not field a strong candidate.

Lipinski the Younger won that race, and has represented Illinois' 3rd District since then.

Two years later, Cook County Board President John Stroger faced a tough primary challenge from reformer Forrest Claypool. A week before the primary, Stroger suffered a massive stroke and was never seen in public again. Stroger squeaked by and won the primary. In July, Stroger withdrew from the race, and he was replaced by his son, Todd. Republican Tony Peraica put up a spirited challenge in the general election, but particularly in Illinois, 2006 was a bad year for the GOP. Stroger the Younger prevailed, and two years later slapped county residents with the "corruption tax."

In February, State Senate President Emil Jones' name appeared on the Democratic Primary ballot. He easily won. But now Jones is "jonesing" for retirement--and a hefty state pension. And it appears he is "pulling a Lipinski," announcing his retirement so he can handpick his successor. And the person he has in mind is his son, Emil Jones III.

Jones the Elder is one of Barack Obama's mentors--it was Jones who placed the Cult of Change leader's name on a plethora of legislation in Springfield--so Obama would have a record to run on as he campaigned for the US Senate.

The Chicago Sun-Times has more:

"His preference, yes, would be to see his son serve," said Cindy Davidsmeyer, Jones' spokeswoman. "But it's the committeemen's choice."

That's true. But given Chicago's political history, Emil Jones III's candidacy appears a done deal that's stirring up old questions about politicians who retire near election time and then use their clout to pass on their jobs as family heirlooms.

"It isn't a good thing for the community," said state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago), who has had a chilly relationship with the elder Jones despite him being her state senator. "Just because it's your son doesn't mean he'll do a good job for the 14th senatorial district. I don't think people have an opportunity to express their choice because this person wasn't in a primary."

Emil Jones III, 31, has kept a low profile. He worked for the state between May 1999 and November 2006, when he briefly left the payroll.

Let's repeat Davis' words, "It isn't a good thing for the community."

This is not change I can believe in.

And this is what one-party rule does to the citizens of Cook County and Chicago. Primogeniture, not a healthy democracy. But hey, we've got something no one else has: a corruption tax.

UPDATE 2:30PM CDT: I just heard Rep. Monique Davis, who says that "I do not know Emil Jones III, I wouldn't know him if I saw him." Keep in mind Davis is one of two representatives who make up part of Emil Jones' Senate district. And Jones' son will probably soon be her State Senator.


Related posts:

UPDATED: Obama mentor Emil Jones to announce retirement today

Update on Cook County, America's worst governmental body

Obama's state legislative record--he got a lot of help

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