Monday, November 1, 2010

Chicagoland Syndication 11-01-10: Stroger name most vilified name in this week's election

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Poor Todd Stroger was everyone’s enemy in this election
By Ray Hanania
Chicagoland Syndication/Permission to reprint in full

It’s never easy for the children of powerful politicians.

Even Rich Daley, who will surpass his father’s record as mayor when he steps down from office next year probably in May, had it rough.

He was immediately marked as the person to prevent from becoming mayor. His father’s closest allies ended up becoming his chief obstacle. But Daley never gave up and the battle to survive made him a tougher person.

That was not to be the case of Todd Stroger, whose father was the affable president of the Cook County Board. Todd’s succession to his father was far smoother and too easy.

In the end, that was probably his fatal mistake.

Stroger was easily defeated in his bid to win the seat he was appointed to take, heading up the multi-billion dollar Cook County government his father had a hand in crafting.

But if that were not shame enough, to lose the job to his father’s former allies and friends, Todd Stroger became the number one person vilified in this week’s elections.

There were three names thrown around in the negative attack ads. President Barack Obama on the state and federal level, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the state level, and Todd Stroger on the county level.

In fact, I would say that more abuse was heaped on Todd Stroger than on any one individual political figure in the tsunami of election advertising that saturated our television, radio, newspapers, mail boxes and home telephones.

In a way, I do feel sorry for Todd Stroger. He was destined to stumble in to controversy, although he was always well meaning. When he tried to help someone, that someone usually got into trouble and Todd Stroger took the blame.

His name was thrown around like it was mud, far from the stature that it once carried when his father walked in to meetings of the state and county Democratic organizations of the contentious county board room.

Tragically, the battle for Tuesday’s elections really had nothing to do with Todd Stroger. But it was his name most voters will remember as having been the problem. From taxes to bloated spending, to searing political rivalries, Stroger was more in this week’s elections than he ever dreamed he would be after losing his bid to keep his father’s job.

People won’t remember the Todd Stroger that I once knew many years ago as a young kid being ushered into the Illinois legislature. He always had a smile, like his father, and was more of a centrist and moderate than a contentious extremist.

I once wondered if he might decide to run for mayor of Chicago in the February elections. There is still a few weeks left to file the nominating petitions.

But I imagine this election has done so much harm to his name that maybe he might just decide to fade in to a less controversial and more lucrative position in private business.

I wish him luck.

(Ray Hanania is a morning radio talk show host. He can be reached at

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