Fourth Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, a relatively independent and highly respected voice on the City Council, is throwing a wrinkle into the 2010 campaign for Cook County board president: She’s running.
“That’s the plan,” she told Greg Hinz of Crain’s earlier this week in a story that has otherwise floated under the media radar.
"I like Todd Stroger as a person, but I think this is not the job for him,” Preckwinkle said. "The kindest thing you can say is, he's inept."
Surely the incumbent Stroger isn’t happy about facing a challenge from another African American, but commissioner Forrest Claypool could end up the biggest loser. Claypool hasn’t announced whether he will run again and try to avenge his loss in the Democratic primary last time out to Todd Stroger’s father, John; when John Stroger fell ill, party bosses transferred the nomination to Todd.
A Preckwinkle candidacy could undercut Claypool by offering a viable, reform-oriented campaign that some African American voters loyal to Stroger could support without feeling like they were being disloyal.
At the same time, Preckwinkle and Stroger could split the black vote, creating an opening for Claypool or another candidate to slip through.
Then again, Claypool could just as easily be a candidate for another office, depending on the landscape.
It’s not clear how Preckwinkle will translate into a countywide candidate; the Reader calls her “utterly humorless.” But there’s no question that, like Claypool, she has the policy skills to make more of the job than any of the hacks who have traditionally held the job – including those named Stroger.