Is Men­doza be­ing mea­sured for the may­oral throne?

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NEWS - Jskass@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @John_Kass

Not a day goes by with­out some­one telling me they’re glad that I am such an en­light­ened man. Yes, re­ally.

What can I say? As many of you al­ready know, the study of pol­i­tics, sci­ence and cul­ture are like meat to me, rather like braised lamb with wilted greens in a zesty egg/le­mon sauce.

Tasty? In­deed.

And so, with the elec­tions in Illi­nois over, with Democrats in com­plete con­trol un­der House Speaker Michael Madi­gan and the Chicago’s may­oral cam­paign un­der­way, let’s wrap up some pol­i­tics.

And let’s con­sider a ques­tion of pol­i­tics, sci­ence and cul­ture:

What if Boss Madi­gan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got to­gether and con­ceived a daugh­ter. What would she look like?

Su­sana Men­doza.

Don’t say it couldn’t hap­pen. Don’t you dare tell me it’s sci­en­tif­i­cally im­pos­si­ble. That’s small-minded of you, and I might file hate-crime charges. What counts is whether it is po­lit­i­cally pos­si­ble. And it is.

She’s the Latina Demo­crat who won re-elec­tion as Illi­nois comptroller Tues­day, and be­fore that she recorded a TV spot that was leaked about a may­oral run.

She’s got spunk. And per­son­al­ity. And, as she’s be­ing mea­sured for the may­oral throne, as the oil of anoint­ing is pre­pared by the es­tab­lish­ment while it builds a me­dia buzz around her, she doesn’t have just one po­lit­i­cal daddy.

She’s got two, at least.

I’ve been telling you for some time that she’s Madi­gan’s can­di­date. Now Emanuel seems to be mov­ing her way.

It’s no stretch to think of Su­sana Men­doza as the Chicago may­oral can­di­date of both Madi­gan and Rahm. She’s been close to Madi­gan for years. And Rahm’s money guys have emo­tion­ally in­vested in Madi­gan for some time now.

Back in Septem­ber, the mayor de­cided to quit and not seek re-elec­tion. He had about $10 mil­lion in his po­lit­i­cal fund, and he ter­ri­fied oth­ers, but Emanuel was suf­fer­ing from an in­cur­able po­lit­i­cal dis­ease: Laquan McDon­ald Videoitis.

And he said those can­di­dates who had the guts to chal­lenge him when he was strong, peo­ple like for­mer Chicago Pub­lic Schools CEO Paul Val­las and for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor Lori Light­foot, didn’t im­press him.

“My view is … the list is not done,” he was quoted as say­ing. “It’s go­ing to shake out for about a month, and then the vot­ers will make a smart de­ci­sion of who can fill that of­fice.”

But he has is­sues with many of the late-ar­riv­ing may­oral can­di­dates as well. Bill Da­ley and the rest of the Da­ley fam­ily can’t stand him. And he’s had a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle.

Nei­ther Madi­gan nor Emanuel has made an en­dorse­ment, but you can see their peo­ple qui­etly shad­ing closer to Men­doza. Rahm’s al­der­men say nice things about her, walk­ing the Men­doza line. Sev­eral may­oral can­di­dates pri­vately con­sider the Madi­ganE­manuel-Men­doza pact a done deal.

Demo­cratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker told re­porters last week that he won’t for­mally get in­volved in the Chicago may­oral race.

A wise and pre­dictable move. He’s al­ready spent about $170 mil­lion to be­come gover­nor of an eco­nom­i­cally failed Demo­crat-dom­i­nated state, with mid­dle-class tax­pay­ers mak­ing plans to flee like Balkan refugees of old.

If Pritzker is go­ing to spend more cash, he might want to think about build­ing a pri­vate wall around Illi­nois — to trap tax­pay­ers here so Democrats can bleed them, slowly, over time.

“Well, I’m not get­ting in­volved in the may­oral race here,” Pritzker told WGN-Ch. 9. “I’m go­ing to work with who­ever the next mayor of the city of Chicago is.”

No en­dorse­ments then?

“I’m not get­ting in­volved in the race,” he said.

But his sup­port­ers are a dif­fer­ent story.

Now, it is pos­si­ble that an en­light­ened man such as me, a soon-to-be­mas­ter of braised lamb fric­as­see, could be all wrong on this one.

I’m not per­fect. I’m not some om­ni­scient Truth Teller. And you can make mis­takes when you make your liv­ing tak­ing po­lit­i­cal Carte­sian leaps. But on the Men­doza thing, I’ve got a feel­ing.

I’ve also got a feel­ing about Illi­nois Repub­li­cans.

After last week’s elec­tions, with out­go­ing Gov. Bruce Rauner be­tray­ing his base and drag­ging the Repub­li­can ticket down to get skinned alive by Pritzker and Madi­gan, here was what I was left feel­ing about the state GOP. Noth­ing. Zip. Nada. Demo­cratic Boss Madi­gan has re­gained his 71-seat veto-proof su­per­ma­jor­ity in the state House. He is mas­ter of all (our taxes). For­mer Repub­li­can Gov. Jim Edgar, who put the state GOP on the road to hell, is now on Pritzker’s tran­si­tion team.

And all those sub­ur­ban Democrats who were elected Tues­day, talk­ing pas­sion­ately about #MeToo and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and the im­por­tance of good govern­ment, will kneel be­fore Madi­gan, touch their fore­heads to the floor and make him speaker once again.

Oh, there are few Repub­li­cans who re­main, and still stand for some­thing. But many of those who won nar­row vic­to­ries in the sub­urbs will kneel be­fore Madi­gan’s awe­some power and let him bleed us.

Illi­nois Repub­li­cans are now rem­i­nis­cent of an­other ex­tinct species, Steller’s sea cow, a fat beastie that once floated aim­lessly, and is now for­got­ten.

So, does the Illi­nois GOP have a fu­ture?

I asked this of my wise Tri­bune col­league Kris­ten McQueary on my pod­cast, “The Chicago Way.” “Fu­ture?” she said with a shrug. She’ll be a pan­elist on the fu­ture of Illi­nois Repub­li­cans at the City Club of Chicago on Nov. 19. And I plan to at­tend and watch.

McQueary will be joined by con­ser­va­tive Dan Proft and es­tab­lish­men­tar­ian Pat Brady. The ti­tle of the panel dis­cus­sion?

“Illi­nois GOP: Now What?” That’s just per­fect. Now what? You know what. You don’t need to be en­light­ened. Get ready, Illi­nois.

Lis­ten to “The Chicago Way” pod­cast with John Kass and Jeff at www.wgn­ra­dio.com/cat­e­gory/wgn-plus/ thechicagoway.

ARMANDO L. SANCHEZ/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Su­sana Men­doza seems to have two key power play­ers ush­er­ing her to­ward the Chicago mayor's of­fice.

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