Poll: Voter support for Stroger, Daley fading

April 24, 2009 4:21:26 PM PDT
Cook County Board Pres. Todd Stroger's chances of re-election are falling, according to a new poll commissioned by the largest union of county employees.The poll also indicates that Mayor Daley's support among Chicago voters is fading.

Five hundred Chicago residents were surveyed by telephone during the Progress Illinois poll, commissioned by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and conducted during the last week of March with a 4.3 percent margin of error.

The news was not good for Stroger, who has announced his intent to run for re-election in the February 2010 Democratic primary.

If the vote were held last month, 23 percent of the respondents said they would vote for Stroger. Eighteen percent selected 4th Ward Chicago Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, effectively splitting the African-American vote with Stroger, while 28 percent chose Forrest County Commissioner Forrest Claypool.

Claypool lost the city vote to Stroger in the 2006 primary while running up overwhelming majorities then in the suburbs, which were not included in last month's poll.

Perhaps the worst news for Stroger was that the poll was conducted before news of his hiring of convicted felon Tony Cole, which led to the resignation of county Chief Financial Officer Donna Dunnings, the board president's cousin who bailed Cole out of jail twice.

Friday, Stroger blamed his personnel department for not noting convictions on Cole's criminal background check when it was delivered to the county late last year.

"Upon further review, we find that there were other convictions that were not on his application," Stroger said. "This is someone who I hired in good faith to do a job. It turned out that it was a bad hire. He wasn't truthful, and that's really the end of it. I would never ask anybody to do anything that was illegal, and I wouldn't do anything illegal to get anyone hired."

The Progress Illinois poll also put Mayor Daley's approval rating at an all-time low: 41 percent.

The sponsoring union SEIU represents mostly public employees, the same class of worker from which Daley wants contract concessions to help resolve the city's worsening deficit.

" The federal, state and local employees have to realize that your neighbor pays your bill. You don't. Your neighbors are doing it. That's why we're sitting down with the union. No one wants to get laid off," Daley said.

Stroger's support for an increase in the county's portion of the sales tax to maintain the public health system actually helped many SEIU keep their jobs.

Now, Stroger has proposed reducing the county sales tax share by one-quarter of 1 percent.

"Under the Obama administration, they are sending us more money than last year. So, that gives us the ability to ask for this reduction," said the board president.

Of perhaps more political value to Stroger than a tax cut would be an agreement by Alderman Preckwinkle to abandon her candidacy. A source close to commissioner Claypool, who has not announced candidacy, was encouraged by the recent poll results.

Stroger will be a guest on ABC7 News Views Sunday morning during the 8 a.m. newscast.


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