Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) should know by now how to properly put in the fix.
His father is ailing Cook County Board President John H. Stroger Jr., who has not been seen in public since suffering a stroke days before the March 21 Democratic primary, which he won.
Most everyone -- press, potential rivals, chatter on political blogs -- had been silent about Stroger's condition since he was renominated. Because there are still months until the November election, out of respect for Stroger and his bedside win, people were putting aside the obvious question of, if elected, could the 76-year-old Stroger serve?
It's now time to get some answers. Todd Stroger and his family -- no one else -- put the issue of his father's capacity on the table. Now, somehow, John Stroger has to find a way to say he wants to and has the ability to serve.
Todd Stroger opened a Pandora's box when he tried to set the stage to replace his father on the November ballot. He told my colleague, City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, that he was qualified to be Cook County Board president and his mother, Yonnie, wanted his father to retire.
Spielman's story in the Wednesday Sun-Times reveals that Todd Stroger now expects his father to recover and that he withdrew the apparent offer for his father to vacate his nomination.
That happened once it became clear that the most powerful Democratic Cook County ward and township political bosses and two potential mayoral candidates, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, were behind U.S. Rep. Danny Davis for board president if John Stroger retired, not his son.
If he knew how to do it right, this is how the Todd Stroger story would have unfolded.
He would have quietly gotten the rock-solid support of enough Cook County Democratic committeemen to replace his father on the ballot. Then he would call a press conference to announce that he would accept a draft for the job. Poof! Done.
If young Stroger needed some tutorials in how to do it, he could look no further than the fast one pulled by Anne Burke in April. Burke, wife of the powerful Ald. Ed Burke (14th), filled the vacancy no one knew existed when she arranged to succeed Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow. Poof! Done.
Need more examples? Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan passing the baton to deputy Tom Dart -- who barely had a primary fight -- in an insider deal made possible with the element of surprise. Sheahan kept his retirement plans to himself until he wired the politics for Dart. Poof! Done.
Young Stroger could have taken a lesson from former Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.), who lied about his intention to retire until he greased the passing of his nomination to his son, Dan, imported from Tennessee. Poof! Done.
''I, like most Chicagoans, have no idea of the condition of the County Board president,'' Jesse Jackson Jr. told me. "I hope he is capable of recovering.''
But he said what he does not want to see is a repeat of history -- the backroom deals after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley and the traumatic wrangling over which African American -- Eugene Sawyer or Timothy Evans -- would replace Mayor Harold Washington after he suddenly died.
Gutierrez usually is never at a loss for words. I asked him his thoughts on how to proceed if John Stroger stays on the ballot.
He was quiet for a few moments. "It leaves me almost speechless. I think everyone is going to give a certain amount of time.
''How much time that is, I am not ready to say here. Still a little more time. But ultimately we are going to have to make a decision on whether he has the capacity to run on the ticket and to be a viable candidate -- or he doesn't. He is going to have to make that decision,'' Gutierrez said.
". . . At some point, and I don't believe we have reached it yet, we are going to have to gather together as a Democratic Party of Cook County and have a conversation and a dialogue about that, I think that is a very important one. In the meantime, I am still hoping, I still have hopes that he will come back. . . . I haven't given up on John Stroger.''
Neither has Davis, a former Cook County Board member.
Todd Stroger's announcement that his father's health is improving is "the most wonderful thing I've heard in a long time. That would just be fantastic.''
But Davis also takes it as "an indication that probably in a relatively decent period of time, people probably will see and hear from him.
''There are instances where people miraculously, seemingly, their conditions change, and so maybe this is the case. And if it is, there could not be anyone more delighted than me.''
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