Joe Berrios won election to the Cook County Assessor's seat in November, fending off a heated challenge from Independent Forrest Claypool, a longtime reformer who was supported by many prominent Democrats.
As Berrios also serves as the Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, he's in a strong position to make those who were disloyal in November suffer the political consequences. And Alderman Eugene Schulter may be the first to pay the price.
According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Schulter has expressed interest in vacating his seat in the 47th Ward, and taking over (of all things) Joe Berrios's old seat at the Cook County Board of Review, which handles property tax appeals. The vacancy left by Berrios will be filled by the county's Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, in consultation with top Democratic leaders.
And as the Early and Often blog reported last week, Berrios isn't too pleased with the prospect of Schulter moving up in the world, as the alderman bucked the party to support Claypool in the Assessor's race.
"I think you're going to have people within that district who are mad at Gene for not supporting the Democratic ticket and for going against it," Berrios told Early and Often.
"Whoever the judge chooses, [the Democratic party] will have an opportunity to decide whether the chief judge's appointment is a gentleman the Democratic party can support and is a gentleman the Democratic party can get behind to win an election."
Even if Evans chooses Schulter for the position, the County Democrats, with Berrios at the helm, could well choose to support a different candidate in the 2012 primary, when the seat will be up for election again.
In short, it looks like Schulter's backing of Claypool in the Assessor's race could stunt his political ambition in the near term.
Judge Evans is set to make his decision early in the new year.