Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why Does Forest Claypool Love the Tea Party?

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    The best compliment she could muster for Berrios? He’s a “fat-cat lobbyist and party kingpin, ‘Exhibit A’ in hackdom.”

    But privately, Republicans would be thrilled to see Claypool defeat Berrios, the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

    Claypool’s anti-tax message “is on the clipboard when folks are at Cubs games or Sox games,” Bowen told Ward Room today. “This talk about Democratic Party values seems to be a deliberate attempt to not focus on the real issue: Mr. Berrios giving tax breaks to his corporate buddies and making regular property owners pay more.”

    Among Claypool’s petition signers was Roger Keats, the GOP candidate for Cook County Board president. Keats is officially supporting the Republican candidate for assessor: the no-name, no-money, no-chance Sharon Strobeck-Eckersall.

    Claypool would be thrilled to have Republican votes.

    “We see equal opportunity to appeal to voters in a message of tax fairness among Democrats, Republicans and independents,” Bowen said. “This focus on it being one party vs. the other misses the point. It’s about reaching out to as many people as possible.”

    And with the Democrats certain to challenge Claypool’s petitions, his campaign needs to reach out for as many signatures as it can get.

    Is his quest to become Cook County Assessor, is Forrest Claypool getting in bed with the right wing?

    That’s what regular Democrats are suggesting, after seeing Claypool’s supporters circulate petitions at Friday’s Tea Party Rally in Daley Plaza.

    Scott Cisek, who recently left Toni Preckwinkle’s employ to become political director of the Cook County Republican Democratic Party [ed. note: pardon the error] called Claypool a “Mad Hatter” on his Facebook page (Cisek's no stranger to Facebook battles).

    “Is this his idea of a ‘big tent,’” Cisek wrote. “Do NOT circulate petitions for third parties and do NOT sign for them.”

    Claypool canvassers were holding placards that read “Are your taxes too high? Vote for Forrest Claypool.” Democrats took that as further evidence of teabaggery.

    “Begging Tea Baggers to help you get on the ballot with an anti-tax message?” Cisek went on. “THAT is desperate.”

    Tom Bowen, a spokesman for Claypool’s campaign, says Democrats are appealing to slavish party loyalty because they can’t sell their candidate for assessor, the unappealing Joe Berrios. Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington attacked Claypool today as a latecomer to the assessor’s race.