Primary ends 3 local political dynasties

February 3, 2010 2:51:55 PM PST
Tuesday night's loss for incumbent President Todd Stroger ended a long run for the Stroger family at the head of the Cook County Board. Stroger called his loss "a bump in the road" and said the last three years have been good but exhausting. Stroger's father held the president's position for more than a decade. The changing of the guard is the latest end of a string of political dynasties.

Primary night brought an end to some local political dynasties. Stroger took the lowest percentage of the four Democrats competing for board president. Stroger took over the post from his father, John Stroger, a powerhouse in county government.

In the 14th District west of Chicago, Ethan Hastert lost his bid for Republican nominee. Hastert is the son of the former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

And Dan Hynes appears to be just short of getting the Democratic nomination for governor. He followed his father's footsteps into politics. Tom Hynes is a former alderman, state senate president and Cook County assessor.

"You got into office because your old man's organization helped you get out the vote into office and gave out a bunch of jobs," said Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times columnist. "Well things are a bit more complicated now. People actually expect good government. They're looking for reform and change, and that has made a difference in these races."

Washington said she sees incumbents having trouble and pedigree not holding the clout it once did, as in the case of Todd Stroger.

"Even though he got into office largely because of his father, he wasn't his father, and he didn't have the kind of political clout and management and political skills that his father had. And I think that was his downfall," Washington said.

"It gets into your blood, and you can't help yourself," said Paul Green, director, Roosevelt University Institute for Politics. "For some of these families, campaigning is part of life."

Green says while some of the familiarly named candidates lost, they got where they were in part due to their names.

"If it wasn't for those family names, the people who lost yesterday probably would not have gotten into politics at all," Green said.

Green says it's not the end of political legacies. Names still help get attention, but more is demanded of politicians now, no matter the family history. Some examples of politicians and their families still in play include the Madigans and Daleys. Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan ran unopposed Tuesday night, and Mayor Daley is in his a sixth term, with his brother, John Daley, on the county board of commissioners.