County Dems slate Giannoulias for U.S. Senate

No decision in county board contest
Sept. 11, 2009 (CHICAGO) Party leaders slated Alexi Giannoulias in the race for U.S. Senate Friday, and they decided not to slate a candidate in the Cook County Board president contest.

The candidates in many races spent the last two days making their pitch before party leaders. It's the new-age version of the political "smoke-filled room," with an open door and no smoking.

The county's biggest Democratic heavyweights assembled to pick their favored candidates in next February's primary election.

"I'm asking you to vote 'no endorsement' today," said Comptroller Dan Hynes, a Democratic candidate for governor.

Unlike during his past campaigns, Hynes wants the Dems not to endorse him or anyone else. That includes the man Hynes is challenging, sitting Gov. Pat Quinn.

"[You] just heard from somebody who wants to be the governor of Illinois. I am the governor," Quinn said.

During most of his 30-plus years in politics, Quinn has opposed slate-making by party insiders. Not so anymore.

"I ask for everybody's support, whether they be in politics or not in politics," said the governor.

And so it went for all of Thursday and most of Friday, candidates cajoling party leaders for endorsements that could mean extra troops on primary election day.

"The machine's gone. Let's be honest about it...I'm positive," said Cook County Democratic Chairman Joseph Berrios.

"Everyone remembers when I first ran for state treasurer, I ran as an independent, an outsider. I don't think much has changed," Giannoulias said.

The state treasurer came inside the Allegro Hotel Friday to make his pitch, as did two of his U.S. Senate opponents, other self-described outsiders Attorney Jacob Meister and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Robinson Jackson. She asked the party not to meddle in the race.

"I'd like to see the people be able to make the decision," she said.

A fourth U.S. Senate candidate, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, shunned the slate-makers.

"Hoffman is more interested in talking to everyday voters than to the political insiders," read a statement from a campaign spokesperson.

But Bill "Dock" Walls, another candidate for governor, says, even if you don't get a primary election endorsement, you have to show the Cook County bosses respect.

"Because at the end of the day, when the general election is played, we're going to need their support," Walls said.

Party leaders promised a complete list of their endorsed candidates late Friday afternoon or night.

There has been no official confirmation on what the Democrats will do in the race between Gov. Quinn and Dan Hynes. That will be the most interesting call because of the long relationship between the party and the Hynes family.

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