Carol Marin is the latest to try to make us all feel sorry for poor little Forrest Claypool and his quixotic attempt to worm his way onto the ballot as an independent for Cook County assessor.
She likens Mike Madigan to Tony Soprano, supposing Madigan has called all over town telling the heavyweights to line up with Mike on this one, freezing out Claypool and making his quest to get 25,000 signatures, valid and ballot-worthy, nigh impossible.
Her premise is correct, although I don't think Madigan or anyone else in town is dumb enough to have to make or take those kinds of calls. This is a smart bunch. They take cues. They know which side of the bread has butter. The freeze is most assuredly on.
But the hand-wringing on this one is too precious by half.
Marin warned us about Berrios before the primary, that is true. She had a great line: When it comes to conflicts of interest, she said of Berrios, he has it all.
But for whatever reasons the voters, Marin's warning notwithstanding, went with Berrios in February when the party made its selections for who will run in November.
And that's the point, really.
If Claypool thought Berrios' candidacy was so egregious, he kept his own counsel all through the process. He was publicly silent. Marin sobs that it is so unfair to Claypool to ask him to collect 25,000 signatures now when Berrios only had to gather 8,000 to get on the primary ballot. I have a solution for that: He should have run in the primary. How's that for a level playing field?
For Claypool to show up at this late moment in the process, cloaked in indignity atop a freshly white-washed steed -- as an independent, no less -- is a little too much.
It's akin to a late hit.
Even Pat Quinn, about as outsider as it gets, never to my recollection forsook the 'D' designation in all of his crusades.
For Claypool and Scott Lee Cohen and any other wannabe out there to decide to rewrite the rules of the process at this point is unacceptable. Second-guessing the primary voters is a dangerous precedent, regardless of how little we may like the winners.
It's interesting, in researching this piece, to see how reporters such as Marin and Greg Hinz boom people such as Claypool. It's interesting to see Hinz's publication, Crain's Chicago Business, bemoan the fact that 'top talent' such as Claypool decided to take a pass on the '10 races (for the record, Claypool went to breakfast with Marin about a year ago and picked at his waffles with agony on his face as he told her he had decided to sit this one out). It's interesting to see Crain's make a tepid endorsement of Toni Preckwinkle as the least objectionable of a B-team cast of candidates in a race without Claypool and his magic cape.
Like it or not, the people have had their chance to speak on this one.
I look forward to Claypool's independent campaign for whatever office he hopes to reform in '11 or '12.