By: Mark Glennon
Ed Burke wasted no time getting to why he should be reelected. The indicted Chicago alderman began his pitch at a candidate forum last week by saying simply, “Just look around.” Then he ticked off the goodies he has brought to his ward, reported the Sun-Times, everything from the Chicago Park District headquarters moving soon to Brighton Park to a pair of new warehouse facilities under construction.
He’s not stupid. In office for 50 years, he knows what works with voters. He confidently predicts he will win again. If he does, it will be because that simple pitch is enough to overcome the corruption charges against him.
It’s not just his ward in Chicago. The teachers’ union openly demands a chunk of every new revenue source on the table to fund a list of new benefits, including a housing allowance. Crony capitalists want somebody they can deal with in the standard Chicago manner, so another Daley “has far and away the most business backing in the field running for mayor,” as Crain’s summarized it. Voters in Michael Madigan’s Chicago district routinely tell reporters why they continually reelect him – he brings the bacon home to his district. Getting a fair share for one’s voters is legitimate constituent politics, but in Chicago, getting the lion’s share is everything.
When columnist Mike Royko coined Chicago’s unofficial motto decades ago — “Ubi Est Mea” (Where’s Mine?) – he was referring to politicians themselves. Credit Burke for seeing past that to the roots of how Chicagoans vote.
Why would voters care if a candidate is taking all he can when they’re doing it, too?
–Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.