President Preckwinkle

Path clearing for county board prez

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009  |  Updated 10:04 AM CDT
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Chicago's Political Players

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The Democratic primary for Cook County board president once looked to be a crowded affair, but Ald. Toni Preckwinkle may be the last candidate standing long before the race even arrives.

The latest developments: Cook County Commissoner Larry Suffredin is out, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is wavering, and incumbent Todd Stroger's resolve to run again is reportedly weakening.

Forrest Claypool, the expected Stroger opponent, is long gone.

Besides Preckwinkle, that leaves Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O'Brien.

In other words, that leaves Preckwinkle.

Of course, the central figure in all of this is Mayor Daley.

Daley already has pulled his support from Stroger, if Michael Sneed is to be believed, an iffy proposition, sure, but it does appear that Preckwinkle has at least the mayor's tacit approval.

Dem leaders now appear to be persuading Stroger to go quietly; if he does, look for him to be set up in a nice, cushy position somewhere out of the way.

Brown dared to oppose Daley two years ago in a campaign that didn't get any traction, and the mayor will make sure the results are the same this time out. Any hope of Brown igniting an anti-Daley movement will be tempered by the fact that Preckwinkle, too, is an African American woman with independent credentials.

O'Brien is a non-starter.

Davis is a mystery, but he too is looking for a soft landing and may be trying to leverage the best deal he can make for himself. He doesn't appear to want to go back to Washington, but he's hedging his bets by circulating petitions both for Congress and the county board.

The path for Preckwinkle is looking clearer with each passing day. She won't even have to run against the toughest potential Republican candidate, Paul Vallas, who has bailed as well.

It's still early, but it looks like the pieces are falling into place for a President Preckwinkle.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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