Do you know why the cops who were on the street during the NATO summit are getting free tickets to see the White Sox? Because, unlike the owners of the Cubs, Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf knows how to play the political game.
Joe Ricketts, patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs, was prepared to spend $10 million on a campaign to undermine President Barack Obama’s character by replaying the speeches of his intemperate pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Reinsdorf would never do anything that partisan. A look at the Federal Elections Committee website shows that Reinsdorf does his best to be bi-partisan. Just in Illinois, he has donated money to Republicans Mark Kirk, Jerry Weller and Henry Hyde, as well as Democrats Dick Durbin, Dan Hynes and Dan Lipinski.
When Reinsdorf asked the state for $200 million to build a new Comiskey Park, he got it. In fact, House Speaker Michael Madigan even bent the rules for Reinsdorf, stopping the clock in his chamber so he could claim the vote had taken place on June 30, 1988, instead of July 1, when it would have required a wider majority. A Republican governor, Jim Thompson, then signed the bill.
That’s The Chicago Way, cornhuskers.
But the Rickettses aren’t the only sports owners whose conservative activism has put them on the wrong side of Illinois Democrats.
According to Capitol Fax, Gov. Pat Quinn wants a ban on political contributions from gambling interests before he will allow slots at racetracks:
It’s widely believed that Quinn has opposed slots at tracks and wants the contribution ban at least partly because of heavy Republican contributions by Craig Duchossois in the 2010 campaign, including several to Quinn’s GOP opponent. Duchossois is the son of Arlington International Racecourse (sic) chairman Dick Duchossois.
After Arlington Park burned down in 1985, Dick Duchossois decided to rebuild it only after the General Assembly passed legislation reducing the tax on parimutuel wagering and allowing each racetrack in Illinois to open two off-track betting parlors. Dick Duchossois is also a major Republican contributor, but he’s given money to the Illinois Democratic Party, too.
That’s The Chicago Way, son.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!