Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Winning Cook County Won't Win You The Governorship

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If carrying Cook County were enough to win a Democratic primary in Illinois, then Roland Burris and Paul Vallas would have been governor.

    State Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg, who co-wrote the state’s conceal carry law, is accusing Gov. Pat Quinn of “politically pandering” to Cook County by adding amendments to ban firearms in taverns and limit gun owners to carrying one weapon.

    Phelps not only plans to override the governor’s changes, he’s talking about the possibility of a Downstate candidate jumping into the primary to challenge Quinn and former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley. Quinn and Daley, both Chicagoans, are competing for the gun control vote in Cook County. Daley has the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Neither spends much time Downstate. The third likely candidate, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, was the defendant in the case that led to the conceal carry ban’s invalidation by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "Right now, (Downstate Democrats) see the choices and it's two Chicago guys," Phelps told the Tribune. "I think there might be some other people who will get into this race."

    Even though Cook County casts nearly 60 percent of the votes in Democratic primaries, in two of the last three contested governor’s races, the candidate who won Cook County lost. In 1998, Rep. Glenn Poshard finished third in Cook County, but won the nomination by running up margins of over 90 percent in Southern Illinois counties. In 2002, Rod Blagojevich finished behind Paul Vallas and Roland Burris in Cook County, but won the nomination.

    Here are the results:

    1998

    Cook County vote: 551,519

    Total vote: 950,307

    Cook County Results

    Roland Burris 234,222

    John Schmidt 160,418

    Glenn Poshard 114,227

    Jim Burns 37,489

    2002

    Cook County vote: 747,410

    Total vote:  1,252,516

    Cook County Results

    Paul Vallas 268,514

    Roland Burris 265,868

    Rod Blagojevich 213,028

     

    2010

    Cook County vote: 570,675

    Total vote: 920,812

    Pat Quinn 304,254

    Dan Hynes 264,175

    Phelps is telling Quinn and Daley not to ignore Downstate, particularly rural sentiment on guns. Based on these results, they should listen.