>REACT: Machine vs. Machine

>The election is over and the ancient Chicago political machine, tuned up by Mayor Daley, is still purring along. The most contested race pitted old-time machine candidate John Stroger against the young whipper-snapper machine candidate Forrest Claypool. Last minute sympathy, the possibility of committeemen hand picking the next county board president and low turnout seem to have combined to deny Claypool the victory.

Of course, on the eve of the election, Stroger supporters and hangers-on made it sound like the incumbent would be bounding out of bed at any moment. That is not only not the case, but Stroger is not likely to be seen sitting in the presidents chair for some time – maybe never again. If he is as seriously ill as rumor has it, a resignation could come sooner than later.

There has been understandable whispered speculation regarding a successor. However, that eventuality can be affected by the person who will serve as interim president. With or without Stroger at the helm, there WILL be a person making all those contract and patronage decisions. Who will that be? If scandal does not zap his shillelagh, it could be the Daley Dynasty sibling, Commissioner John Daley, the board’s current finance guy. In that case, the absent Stroger may be kept in office regardless of his condition for as long as the public will allow. Or maybe the narrowly defeated Claypool is elevated by the mayor – sort of like the runner up getting the Miss America title if the winner cannot serve. Either way, the machine prevails.

In all the other races, the machine carried the day – without the faux drama that ultimately meant so little. Difference is not reform, and only “difference” was on the Democrat ballot.

Even as the dark clouds of scandal may be gathering over City Hall, the recent election results must have put a wry smile on the face of Mayor Daley, the Mechanic-in-Chief.

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