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Toni Preckwinkle, Backsliding Independent?

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Toni Preckwinkle, Backsliding Independent?

Now that she’s the Democratic nominee for county board president, Toni Preckwinkle is making accommodations with the Machine that don’t quite jibe with her independent image.

Today, her campaign manager, Scott Cisek, left to become Political Director of the Cook County Democratic Party. Preckwinkle is headed for an easy victory, so Cisek’s talents are needed to help weaker candidates.

“I truly fear what will happen to the Democrats in Illinois if we head into November with a divided Cook County Democratic Party,” Cisek wrote in a post on the party's blog. “From this position, I will work night and day to ensure that ALL of our Democratic nominees win in November.”

ALL Democratic nominees means candidates who make independents retch. Like Alexi Giannoulias. Or Joseph Berrios.

After Forrest Claypool announced he’d be running for county assessor as an independent, congressmen Mike Quigley and Jesse Jackson Jr. jumped on his bandwagon. Preckwinkle stuck with her endorsement of Berrios.

(She’s not the only independent who’s shouting “Berrios!” through gritted teeth. Ald. Ricardo Munoz has to do the same thing, since he’s committeeman of the 22-nd Ward.)

So what's going on? Is this the same Preckwinkle who saw Barack Obama as a social-climbing ingrate, but supported him for the U.S. Senate because a black senator was important to her community?

Same Preckwinkle that bucked Mayor Daley to oppose the parking meter deal, then called it “the smartest vote I ever made”?

Yes. Toni Preckwinkle has been an alderman for nearly 20 years. In that time, she had learned to make a distinction between candidates she likes personally and candidates who can help her politically.

And she knows that running an entire county is different from running a ward. You can’t be a free agent.

For the sake of party unity -- and for the sake of not starting her new job as an enemy of the county assessor -- Preckwinkle is becoming what her most ardent supporters dislike most: a Party Regular.

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