Terrence J. O'Brien
“Terry O'Brien could save Cook County,” Cook County Buzz Examiner Mike Houlihan told his readers last summer, praising on high the virtues of the little-known president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. (Most of us still call it “the Sanitary District.”) O'Brien, after all, was running for one of the most powerful offices in Illinois: President of the Cook County Board.
It seemed so obvious at the time. A nice-looking Irishman (this is Chicago, after all) with a great resume and a lot of his own money to spend in the campaign, running to replace disgraced incumbent Todd Stroger. Terry O'Brien was also the only Democratic primary election candidate – in a field of four – who is not African-American.
Todd H. Stroger is also running in what most pundits predict is an ill-fated re-election bid, while veteran Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy A. Brown round out the field.
O'Brien is spending his money well. One great campaign commercial, running all hours on all channels. Without bad-mouthing a soul, O'Brien graphically promises to “straighten out Cook County” and repeal Stroger's dreaded sales tax increase that, last year, pushed the retail tax in the county beyond 10 percent, making it the highest in the nation.
According to Conventional Wisdom, early in the campaign, it wouldn't even be a horserace . What could be more obvious? Only one white guy running, with three blacks splitting the African-American vote. As far as CV was concerned, a win for O'Brien was all but a sure thing!
So why is Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown leading in most of the polls?
We'll try to answer that question in this column during the next two weeks, as voters prepare to go to the polls, on Feb. 2, in what is perhaps the most highly contested Democratic primary election in the last 50 years.
After that, we'll take a look at November's general elections for U.S. Senate, state, county and local offices and see how voters in Cook County will be affected by it all.
Stay tuned... and for a peek at my take on national and international issues of the day, please continue to follow my rantings by visitng my columns at the "Chicago Obama Administration eXaminer."
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