This blogger owes Joe Berrios an apology.
On March 21, I wrote that Berrios had a bad election night, because his daughter, a five-term incumbent state representative, was nearly defeated in a primary by Will Guzzardi, a 24-year-old former Internet journalist who moved to Chicago two years ago.
As Russ Stewart points out in the Chicago Daily Observer, Berrios, the County Assessor and chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, actually had a very good election night. The party’s slated candidates won 21 out of 24 races. Dorothy Brown was re-elected as Clerk of the Circuit Court. Mary Jane Theis was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court. In both those races, Berrios’s candidate beat the candidate of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. Preckwinkle, a good-government reformer, has enormous personal popularity but is ineffective as a political fixer. Berrios, who embodies the grotesqueries of Machine politics by hiring as many friends and relatives as he can stuff on the public payroll, is the most loathed politician in the county. Even in Berrios’s own neighborhood, his name is so toxic it almost cost his daughter her job. But he knows how to do the one thing a Machine boss is expected to do: win elections.
Stewart writes that Berrios is particularly adept as screwing over politicians who’ve screwed over his daughter. He successfully defeated Appellate Court Justice Rudy Garcia because “back in 2004, Garcia had the temerity to rule against an attempt to knock Toni Berrios’s primary opponent off the ballot.”
Now, the Godfather of Cook County is out to whack all the Northwest Side politicians who either a) supported Will Guzzardi, or b) didn’t work hard enough for Toni.
“He (Berrios) gets results,” said [a] Democratic strategist. “And he also gets even.” Already in Big Daddy’s cross-hairs are Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st), Rey Colon (35th) and John Arena (45th), who face voters in 2015.
Moreno actively and enthusiastically backed Munoz, Garcia and Guzzardi. Colon’s incompetence got him removed from the ballot for ward Democratic committeeman, and the Logan Square-based 35th Ward went for Guzzardi by 1,131-781 (59 percent). And Arena’s “sin” was that his 45th Ward sanitation superintendent, Adam Corona, spent an egregious amount of time working with Moreno to elect Guzzardi, and Guzzardi won the 45th Ward’s four 39th District precincts by 260-200 over Berrios. All three can expect consequences.
And Big Daddy cannot be pleased with the performance of 38th Ward Committeeman Patti Jo Cullerton, sister of Alderman Tim Cullerton. Of the 38th Ward’s 17 precincts in the 39th District, centered on Portage Park southwest of Six Corners, Guzzardi won 1,013-916. If Patti Jo hankers for any future slating for countywide office, those hopes are now Dead On Arrival.
Such are the contradictions of being Joe Berrios. If he weren’t so blatant about bending Cook County government to meet the interests of the Berrios Family, his daughter’s reformer opponent would not have been so well received in the 39th District. But if he weren’t such a tyrant, he’d be a less effective party boss. We’ll see whether the latter quality allows him to get revenge for an electoral embarrassment that was the fault of the former quality.
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