Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Cegelis v. The Machine"

"It's about time for Congressional leaders like Christine Cegelis." -- Cindy Sheehan

From OpEdNews:
Cegelis opposed the war before it started. She supports single-payer health care and a strong transition to renewable energy.

She's pro-choice, and anti-CAFTA. And she has a strong grassroots following in her district. In short, Christine Cegelis is exactly the kind of candidate that the Democratic Party needs.

On top of that, in 2004 Christine took on the thankless task of running against arch-conservative Henry Hyde (R-IL). You remember Henry Hyde—the man whose name is on key right-to-life, the man who led the impeachment fight against Bill Clinton, the man who now chairs the International Relations Committee in the House and routinely buries antiwar Democrats' attempts to investigate the lies that took us into the Iraq War that then took Casey.

Surprisingly, Christine racked up 44% against Hyde, despite being outspent by 4-1. She immediately announced that she would run again, and faced with her continuing strong grassroots opposition, Hyde decided to retire.

What was her reward for this service? Not an infusion of money to help her win an open seat against a former Tom DeLay aide—No! Instead, DCCC head Rahm Emanuel went out and found a candidate to run against her, a woman who did not even live in the district.
There is more here

UPDATE: Some folks question the very existence of a Chicago Democratic machine. As I've said, I'm just a 6th District Dem so I don't know about the mechinations in Chicago.

But Michael Sneed of your Sun-Times may:
It's no secret in Dem circles that a David Axelrod alliance with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) is a powerful tool for getting Dems elected.

*Why? Dave & Rahm are this/close to Mayor Daley, and this/close to former Democratic National Committee chief David "Bigbucks" Wilhelm. They are also this/close to Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who is running against Board of Commissioners President John Stroger in the Dem primary.
That might not be a political machine, but you can see how some folks might mistake it for one.


ArchPundit said...

You got this one wrong--Axelrod is the opposite of the machine. The Machine operates by giving you a specific benefit for voting their way---Axelrod convinces you to vote for a candidate by showing how they share your values and he's one of the best hands down at getting what motivates a voter.

This is one of my frustrations with the discussion--one might disagree with Axelrod in an instance, but he's one of the best campaign guys Democrats have specifically because he knows how to appeal to voters who are independent minded.

So-Called Austin Mayor said...


I guess I am not making myself clear.

My point was, and remains, that the IDEA of a Chicago Machine -- i.e. an unofficial Democratic organization that uses large sums of money to pull strings on politicos who answer to their funding masters and not the electorate -- is powerful and repulsive in the suburbs.

Like I said, I don't know any more about the mythical Machine than I read in the papers. But I do know that, while the "Chicago Machine" may or may not exist*, the perception of the Machine is very powerful in the suburbs and the "Machine menace" will serve as a fierce weapon for Peter Roskam, among independent and undecided voters, in the fall should the DC/Chicago-funded candidate win.

By the way, even if Christine wins, I would fully expect Prince Pete to try to tie her to the Machine boogie-man, such is the distain of the so-called Machine.

Anyway, my point is not that L. Duckworth is the political puppet of a shadowy DC-Chicago cabal. Rather, I believe that allegation will be central to the GOP general election campaign should she be the Dem nominee. And that that message, regardless of its basis in fact, will be tough to beat because it opperates from preconceptions already held by many suburban voters.

And you don't have to sell me on David Axelrod. Doubtless, he is one of the three most effective people in the Democratic party. (Although that may be damning him with faint praise.) I just think that he really missed the boat on this one.

*I'd say that J. Stroger's struggle to remain in power as Cook County chief calls into question whether the Machine still exists in any meaningful form.

Thanks for reading (and commenting).

ArchPundit said...

There are still remnants of the machine, but they only exist in relatively small areas--like Mike Madigan's ward. The Stroger issue is interesting because while Claypool is running as anti-machine, he's not entirely separate of it.

Stroger's efforts are based on union jobs and African-American patronage. I wouldn't argue the machine is gone, but it's not what it used to be--there simply isn't that neighborhood connection from voter to precinct captain in most places.

How Claypool is very different from the machine is he's relying on independent voters who vote based on what they perceive to be their values. Stroger is relying almost solely on patronage.

But while many people worry about the "machine" the thing is most of them don't vote on that--they vote on who they believe share their values--and that's how a campaign would be different.

Regardless of who the Dems nominate, Roskam is limited because of where his money is coming from--he's a national money guy more than anything. He may have a proportion from the District, he's going to get ahuge chunk from outside.

And regardless of who the Dem candidate is, they better hope they can get large chunks from outside because the low level of infrastructure in the Dem Party in 6 means any candidate needs lots, and lots of national money.


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