In preparation for the November 7 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other Democrats stumped for votes at one of the monthly meetings of Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers’ New 29th Ward Democratic Organization at the Columbus Park Refectory.
Danny K. Davis spoke briefly before introducing Blagojevich. In his remarks, Davis referred to the scandal surrounding former Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida, who was booted from Congress for sending sexually explicit Instant Messages to teenage Congressional pages as young as 16-years old, and allegations that the Republican leadership concealed Foley’s actions.
“Washington is in a state of turmoil,” Davis said. “The recent events are going to help Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives.”
That statement and Davis’ next were met with the most enthusiastic applause of the evening. “I am going to be chairman of a subcommittee,” Davis predicted. “I will be in charge of the committee.”
Davis introduced Blagojevich by saying the governor needed no introduction because “his accomplishments established his credentials.”
“If you get all children in Illinois health care, you don’t need an introduction,” Davis remarked. “If you can raise the minimum wage, you don’t need an introduction. If you can tell me you’re going to help us get a four-year college on the West Side like Chicago State or Northeastern Illinois University, you don’t need an introduction. He has made believers out of those who didn’t believe.” Davis added that Blagojevich was Illinois’ “best governor in 20 years”.
Blagojevich used his background to connect to the audience. He mentioned his childhood growing up near Cicero and Armitage (1900 block of LaCrosse), and playing sports at local parks and facilities. He boasted that he is the only Illinois governor who played basketball at Austin Town Hall or boxed at Amundsen Park.
Rather than attacking his Republican opponent, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, directly, Blagojevich contrasted being a Democrat with being a Republican.
He recounted explaining the All Kids program to a Sun-Times editor who thought the program made sense. The editor, Blagojevich recalled, responded by saying, “Who could be against this?”
“I thought about it for a few seconds. And then I said, ‘Republicans, that’s who’s against this,’ Blagojevich responded.
Blagojevich went on to list the accomplishments of his first term: expanding health care, raising the minimum wage, holding the line on tax increases and creating jobs.
He then explained his vision for the next four years, adding that he wants to implement universal health care, ban assault weapons and increase money for schools. The increased education spending will be for all-day kindergarten, reducing class size to 20 students or less for kindergarten through third grade, and lengthening the school day and school year for schools not succeeding.
Before Blagojevich took to the stage, Carothers introduced three other politicians.
Cook County Assessor James Houlihan passionately argued for changes to the property tax system. In the short-term he called for renewing the 7 percent cap on assessment increases. Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature failed to renew the law. Houlihan argued the case for shifting to other taxes to fund schools as a long-term solution to increasing property taxes.
Carothers introduced 29th Ward resident and judicial candidate Carol Howard who promised, “I will be a fair judge. I will give everyone a fair trial.”
Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins made the case to vote for Alderman Todd Stroger to be the next president of the County Board.
Collins explained that Cook County is, “one of the largest blocks of Democratic votes in the country.”
“We cannot afford to have a Republican as president of the County Board if we want to get the Bushes out of office,” Collins insisted.
Davis and Carothers, the sometimes rivals despite both being Democrats, also urged listeners to support Stroger in spite of any reservations they harbored. Davis said that he would be campaigning with Stroger in Proviso Township, the western part of his 7th Congressional District.
“We need Todd Stroger more than he needs us,” Davis said.
Davis predicted that Commissioner Tony Peraica, Stroger’s Republican opponent, if elected would, “Cut, cut, cut; downsize, outsource and privatize.”
Carothers recounted how his father, former Alderman Bill Carothers (28th Ward), who was in attendance, handled questions about his qualifications for elected office. “When you vote for me, you qualify me,” said Carothers.
Carothers went on to say, “we’re gonna qualify Todd Stroger. The 29th Ward is going to give him more votes than the Eighth Ward (Stroger’s ward).”
In the past, Davis and Carothers have opposed each other in elections through proxies. In 2000, Carothers defeated Davis for Democratic committeeman of the 29th Ward, which heightened the antagonistic rival.
In Davis’ 2004 reelection campaign, he defeated Anita Rivkin-Carothers, a Chicago attorney and Ald. Carothers’ sister-in-law, in the Democratic Primary. Davis had previously backed the Rev. Marshal Hatch’s run against Carothers for 29th Ward alderman.
However, for this meeting Davis arrived early and spent about 10 minutes talking to Carothers as they welcomed people arriving to the Columbus Park Refectory. Carothers and Davis talked in a friendly manner and laughed with each other. About 110-150 people attended the meeting at the Columbus Park Refectory.