04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Political Newcomer, Water District Candidate Todd Connor Is on a Roll

Political newcomer Todd Connor is on a roll.

Connor, who is seeking a seat on the nine-member Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board of Commissioners as a Democrat in his first ever bid for public office, has picked up another batch of big-time Democratic and newspaper endorsements.

In the past couple weeks, Connor, a former Navy Officer and Gulf War veteran, has won the backing of House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest), 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Rielly, the powerful Provision Township Democratic Organization, and the 43rd Ward Democrats.

And the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald have put their editorial pages behind Connor, too.

The Tribune endorsement perfectly captures the tenor of Connor's appeal:

Todd Connor is exceptionally well-versed in MWRD and water policy issues. His background -- U.S. naval officer in the Persian Gulf war, Illinois inspector general's investigator, Northwestern- and University of Chicago-educated management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton -- gives him a superb skills set for a seat on this board. Connor supports stronger stormwater management measures that would help to reduce flooding, and he is open to transferring surplus MWRD land to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County or to municipalities.

Meanwhile, Currie, Raoul, Crotty, and Riley add themselves to a bulging roster of progressive Democrats and organizations backing the political neophyte.

They include:

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (D-4th), U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, State Senator Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), State Senator Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest), State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), Alderman Tom Tunney (D-44th), former State Senator Carol Ronen (D-Chicago), State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), Northfield Township Committeeman Mike Kreloff, and Cook County Commissioner Roberto Moldonado (D-Chicago), Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood), Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough, State Rep. Will Burns (D-Chicago), and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.

Illinois Sierra Club, Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO), Citizen Action, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the Northfield Township Democrats, and the Evanston Democratic Party, have lined-up behind Connor, too.

You get the idea.


Connor is likely the hottest candidate who has stormed onto the 2010 Cook County political stage.

At 31, Connor combines the ideal balance of boyish-good looks, brains, charm, and genuine earnest that has persuaded political personalities and editorial boards across multiple demographics to give him their support. These Obama-like political skills have also inspired a fiercely loyal group of volunteers and staff--such as campaign manager Leslie Fields and field director Sean Kennedy--to round up 22,000 petition signatures to get Connor on the ballot and to put $120,000 into his campaign war chest.

Capturing a seat on the nine-member Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is no easy quest. Despite Connor's list of backers, he still needs to capture roughly 200,000 votes throughout Cook County for an office which is virtually invisible and unknown to voters. And he must overcome the Cook County Democratic machine, which is backing Michael Alvarez, Babara McGowan, and Mariyana Spyropoulos for the three seats in contention.

But it can be done.

Four years ago, Debra Shore, an environmentalist, a progressive and openly lesbian candidate, beat the Democratic machine and won a seat on the board, a board desperately short of progressives.

Shore needs an ally.

And Connor is it.