May 14, 2006

Wooten provides perspective

Don Wooten, long the wise man of local politics, writes an interesting opinion piece about the fractious process embroiling the 17th District.
The unfortunate timing of Evans' retirement has exposed some of the arcana of party politics, and it's not a pretty picture.

Unless they are unusually well-informed, citizens voting in a primary, often encounter names on the ballot they don’t recognize. The least familiar one is likely to be that of the precinct committeeman. The primary is his or her final election, but most voters are barely conscious of the office or its function, and often skip over it.

Frequently, no one is listed on the primary ballot for the office. But precinct committeemen elect the county chairman, so it is important to fill all those positions before that election takes place.

That's why the big push to get those precinct offices filled comes after the primary, rather than before. It is the rare county chairman of either party who isn't careful to get those posts flled by his supporters before his own election comes up.

No one knew that Lane would feel compelled to retire after the primary, so there was no sense of urgency in getting those precinct offices filled in the primary. Even so, it is unlikely that there would have been an argument against letting both appointed and elected committeemen vote, except for the rift which has developed in the local Democratic Party.

When Stu Winstein was State Central Committeman for the 17th Ddistrict, he and county chairmn John Gianulis worked as a team. But the man who replaced Stu, Don Johnston, has formed an alternate power center and the competition between him and Gianulis is real and can be ugly.

Johnston feared that Gianulis would appoint allies to those vacant posts and thus control the selection of Lane's replacement. That's why he obtained a legal opinion that only precinct committeeman actually elected in the primary be allowed to vote.

So, here we are, caught in a tussle between local party officials, and more subject to the outcome of that competition than to the will of the voters.

In truth, there is no way, save for calling another primary election, for this contest to be resolved in the interests of the voters. Even were that possible, the 17th Congressional District is such a grotesque creation -- a giant fishhook tying together Democrats with disparate interests and loyalties -- that it’s hard to imagine how one might manage to run an effective campaign in it.

The district was stitched together after Republicans despaired of ever beating Lane. They created solid Republican districts all around the 17th by slicing off pockets of traditional Democratic votes and lumping them together.

But will those "dependable" Democratic voters remain loyal after this fiasco? It's possible. But it's also possible that Republicans may have been given a gift; that Andrea Zinga may pull off the longest of long shots.

Primaries are always tough. Most party members shy away from naming their choice publicly or ahead of time, lest that person lose and they be out of favor with the winner.

With several people competing to replace Lane on the Democratic ticket, it’s especially hard. No one candidate is known from one end of this district to the other and none of us has had time to evaluate all of them.

I have believed for years that Lane's logical successor would be Mark Schwiebert. I have had no doubt that he would appeal to the majority of voters in the district, however it might be drawn.

But voters are out of the picture now. It’s up to the committeemen. Whom will they choose? And why?


At 5/15/2006 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wooten is an idiot and this proves it. He knows that this is the process that is the law. It is the way that this appointment process takes place. He sates thatthere is a tussle between these the party powers when nothing could be farther from the truth. Everything in the process has gone down without a hitch. John G. doesn't want the appointed committeemen to vote as Wooten leads to believe. He likes the votes just the way that they are. Hare and Evans have this thing wired. They have the necessary votes to get the job done. Many from the southern part of the district are going with Hare out of respect to Lane Evans who has done so much for the area. Wooten is upset because Schwiebert cant even garner enough support to be a spoiler to Hare. Schwiebert will be injured from this beating and will have a tough time keeping his seat when he is up for mayor again after this beating. Thank goodness that we have done such a great job of getting strong party leaders like John G. to get us through these tough times.

At 5/15/2006 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's the idiot again?

I don't know what planet you're on, but to suggest there's no animosity between Gianulis and Johnston is the talk of a fool and/or a liar.

You sound exactly like the person who yammered on and on saying that the appointed committeemen just HAD to vote because it was what Evans and Gianulis wanted and was legal and if they didn't, why, people would be "disenfranchised" and all the rest of that drivel.

Now you've suddenly changed your tune and are trying to re-write recent history by saying that Gianulis never cared if his stooges voted or not, blah, blah blah.

You're a clown. Do you even realize what you're saying? Does the truth or consistency mean anything to you?

Have a nice day.

At 5/15/2006 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You suggest that I am someone that said something else. You are parranoid Dope. I didn't suggest there's no animosity between Gianulis and Johnston. I said on this issue Dope. Read it and try and understand. Neither man wants appointed committeemen. The numbers are good just the way they are for Hare. Don't try and wrapp everyone into the same blanket Dope. Wooten is a bitter old man trying to stir up problems for the democrats.

At 5/15/2006 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about paranoid. Why do you think anyone who calls you on something must be the Dope? You think no one else disagrees? Think again.

OK, you're talking about this issue only. But you'd still be screaming bloody murder if Gianulis and you thought that Hare wouldn't make it without the appointed stooges vote.

There'd be chairs flying and armies of attorneys and you'd be saying every crazy thing that popped into your head about Johnston, which you have all the way up until the past few days, and you and anyone else who reads here knows it.

Now, that you feel you'll get your way, you finally stop your whining and crying. Well, at least that's a postitive in all this.

We all know what tantrums some seem to throw unless they get everything their way.

At 5/15/2006 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I know is that Schwiebert is NO Democrat - not today, or yesterday.

At 5/15/2006 11:04 AM, Anonymous RobertDaleAllen said...

Wooten hasn't seen ball since kick-off!

Chairman Johnston and Gianulis on same page. They play appointment of Hare as fiddle.

If you don't see FIX, not watching. Why no fuss? Why no law case? Why no protest about disanfranchment? Do I spell it for DOpe?

Chairman Johnston be Hare's Chief of Staff. Get needed time to maximize federal pension.

Why DOpe don'tt see, I don't understand?

Evans, Gianulis and Jacobs are work in concert, and now so too Chairamn Johnston. They has the votes and ready to vote them.

Time will pass and you will see!

At 5/15/2006 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The light has been shown upon Phil Hare. He has the votes. The machine has crushed the southern part of the district. People thought that Sullivan had a chance. The southern part has bowed down and have annointed Hare as their congressman. The joy that this will bring to Evans will be the best gift that can be given to Lane Evans.

Thanks to everyone for their support. Especially those in the south that have agreed top support Lane and Phil.

At 5/15/2006 12:53 PM, Anonymous Common Sense said...

Does Wooten even read the paper? The comment 'Johnston feared that Gianulis would appoint..." is exactly what he did do. There have been several quotes from John in the Dispatch/Argus to that exact effect. His appointments were based solely on their voting for Phil Hare. If the appointments were made so that every precinct had a vote then fine. BUT, John has said to the press that his appointments were made solely to vote for Hare. That is democratic or even fair? This is exactly why only those who ran in the primary should be voting. I don't care who wins so long as the process is as fair as possible.

At 5/15/2006 2:13 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Did Robertdaleallen have some kind of head injury?
I like these folks like Wooten and Sweibert who have done little or nothing for the Democratic party for the last 25 years and now they know just what to tell us Dems to do!

At 5/15/2006 2:37 PM, Anonymous paladin said...

You know I love ya, Dope, but you have some really scary commenters here.

But whatever. I mostly agreed with Wooten. Unfortunately, he framed the gerrymandering as a Republican plot, rather than a Republican and Democrat plot to carve up the districts to their advantage, but I wouldn't really expect Wooten to be non-partisan.

But I'm wondering why Democrats won't come out and denounce Evans for his weaselly ways. Sure, Evans may be a god to The Faithful, but to the rest of us, he is a symbol of politics as usual. We might have bought into the fantasy that Lane didn't know he was incapable of running for another term until AFTER the primary (a stretch) until he immediately came out and endorsed his crony Hare, who was on nobody's radar screen as Lane's successor.

People of good conscience need to come out and denounce Lane's back room tactics, and by extension, the poster boy for Democrat cronyism and corruption, Phil Hare.

At 5/15/2006 3:21 PM, Anonymous robertdaleallen said...


You say Phil don't have vote?

What you say?

You make no senses.

At 5/15/2006 3:41 PM, Anonymous havinfun said...

Let's face it, Lane did a 'job' on everyone - as he knew that Hare never had a chance in an open primary. Lane really did a job on his 'friend', Schweibert (who, oh my goodness, of course is a Democrat - he is likely 'left of Lane' (if that is possible), it's just that Schweibert might not have the blessing of the real Democrat leadership (the Unions).

Lane has circumvented the process and left the Democrat voters out of the game, solely to pay off his buddy (and screw another). And all you cool-aid drinkers just keep speaking of him with such awe...

At 5/15/2006 4:21 PM, Anonymous paladin said...

"Phil don't have a vote"? Please elucidate.

At 5/15/2006 5:51 PM, Anonymous RobertDaleAllen said...

Sullivan's poor showing and a well placed jobs equal big victory for Hare. People win!

At 5/15/2006 7:00 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...


Are you enjoying your silly untruthful comment about Schwiebert being a Dem?

Ha ha.... Schwiebert sure has a funny way of showing it. Never attends any events or fundraisers except Chamber functions and mandated city meetings and trips. Mark S won't support Dem incumbants in any election or primary. The only event I ever saw him at in 25 years was John G's free Xmas gig and that was usually only in a year when Mark was up for election soon.

HE has a tendancy to be arrogant, talk down "to" people not with them and again - he is a Republican sure as the sun is yellow and the sky is blue.

I have personally seen him sit on a fence and say he would support "whomever wins" Republican or Democrat - or in non-partisan elections -- anyone no matter who the Dems are supporting.

Never once has Schwiebert lifted a finger to help Dems in this town and now he has to pay for his inaction with lack of support when he wants it most!!

At 5/15/2006 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Sullivan's poor showing and a well placed jobs equal big victory for Hare. People win!"

Ummmm, don't go getting ahead of yourself. The South may still revolt which could include a Hare lose in Nov.

At 5/16/2006 6:52 AM, Anonymous havinfun said...


You need to appreciate the facts. Schweibert is a Mayor of a City and continues to win reelection with great percentages - specifically because (1) the races are non-partisan, and (2) he has done a nice job of not making his personal stances known. This is extremely wise of him as a Mayor, extremely unfortunate for him as a Congressional candidate - for the reasons that you state.

However, I have visitied with him and heard his rhetoric and not only is he a true Democrat, but he is a bleeding heart Liberal (one that would make Lane Evans himself proud). Let's face it, no Republican, regardless of how open-minded he was, would ever admit to being a good friend of extreme liberal Lane Evans.

You believe what you will, however, I have spoken to Mr. Schweibert specific to issues and he is VERY LEFT (although he does understand economic development from a City perspective).

At 5/16/2006 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sullivan doesn't even live in the district. Where I come from that is called a carpetbagger!

At 5/16/2006 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be so silly. People do as Machine says!

At 5/16/2006 10:44 AM, Anonymous Common Sense said...

I agree with "maybesomeday". Schweibert has never been a "party" guy. I have never seen him support or actively work for a candidate especially if that demo candidate had any real opposition. And he is a mayor in a city that has non-partison elections. Anyone ever seen him advocate for party elections? He also is a mayor in a city that has a City Administrator run the show. He cuts ribbons and glad hands the dignataries but he has no real power as mayor. His city has the highest crime rate and poverty rate in the county. Anyone ever seen/heard him come up with a master plan on how to alleviate either problem? The republicans tried 3X to run a pretty-boy( Mark Baker). Both Mark's are alike- they look good at a photo-op but they stand for nothing.

At 5/16/2006 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Schwiebert is a solid Democrat. You bloggers are way off the "mark", so to speak.

At 5/16/2006 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never Schwiebert at so much as a $5 pancake dinner for Democrats. Btw, good comparison to another blow-dried Mark...Baker.

At 5/16/2006 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get a kick out of these RI Democrats who just can't help themselves. They can't help themselves from applying litmus tests on fellow Democrats like Mark Schwiebert, who has liberal bones throughout his body.

But in our insulated little fiefdom of cliques, if a Democrat like Schwiebert doesn't pass someone's test, he's branded a Republican. It's really pretty sad and pathetic, really.

At 5/17/2006 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or it's the truth. He may be ableading heart but he is not part of the group that we call democrats. He has never helped anyone of them. Not so much as a pancake breakfast. Now he wants us to help him.

At 5/17/2006 11:05 AM, Anonymous Common Sense said...

I don't care if Schweibert is liberal or not. My biggest priority is whether a democratic candidate who runs at a State or National level has paid his dues to the party. Has he supported the party by ACTIVLEY supporting other democratic candidates? Has he attended and/or financially supported local cadidates? Has he been involved in local Democratic politics, even as a preceint committeeman?
The answer to all those questions when you mention Mark Schweibert is NO!!!! That is why he does not deserve the nomination, not whether he is liberal enough or not.

At 5/17/2006 11:29 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon and Common Sense above.

There's been many comments left here and elsewhere which goes so far as to condemn people as "Republicans" or "not Democrats" at the very least for the supposed sin of not attending pancake breakfasts and the like.

I find this rather extreme and unfair.

As to a candidate not serving as precinct committeeman or being sufficiently "active" for one's tastes, I find that dubious as well.

Sure, if someone wants support from the party, it would be nice if they at least showed that they acknowledge the party by participating.

But how do you know that they haven't contributed financially, or in other less visible ways?

If our rigid standard for candidates are whether they attend pancake breakfasts or serve as precinct committeemen, then the pool is VERY VERY small. Take away all those who fit this catagory who have no desire for higher office, and you're down to what? One person?

Perhaps that's the idea behind such sentiments. I think it's not a very progressive nor practical outlook.

At 5/17/2006 2:17 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Ok Havin fun, which Mark Schwiebert did you get to meet with?

I have never met the person you describe. Read the newspaper description of the position on issues for all the candidates and see how very wrong you are on Schwiebert's positions on everything. Mark S is very right wing I'd say......

At 5/17/2006 2:22 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Dope, I can't help but laugh at your last comment.

Schwiebert has said time and again he will "support whomever wins" Republican or Democrat" when asked for some help by his supposed fellow brethern in the Dem ranks... and it irks me that he can't lift a finger to help others yet wants us to rally for him?

Heck, Schwiebert said in public we need to support Denny Hastert -- just as soon as Haster's district included Geneseo! I have wondered since then if he wrote a campaign check under the radar for old Denny H.

I think it's a little more than lack of attendance at Democrat events here Dope!

At 5/17/2006 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am starting to wonder just what side of the isle that you stand on dope. This is getting to be very questionable where you stand. D or R.

At 5/17/2006 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta disagree, Dope. I wouldn't get too hung up on the pancake breakfast thing, it was a metaphor for how measly Schwiebert's participation has been in the Democratic party here. His backers can talk all this non-partisan mayor stuff they want, but there have been plenty of ways for him to involve himself ON OCCASION with the party. He has done little to impress the rank and file who know, those 300 plus fools that WILL come out and be seen at a pancake breakfast.

He may be a great ribbon-cutting mayor and the best qualified for congress. But for someone who's salivited for this slot to open up for years, he may kick himself now for not making the slightest gesture towards promoting Democrats and the party in the past. It wouldn't have take a helluvalot of effort to quiet his critics on this matter....and it's been the talk about him for years....not just now. He's going to be embarrassed by the party, and he will only have himself to blame.

At 5/18/2006 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You pancake breakfast fanatics are incredible. Get a life, would you.
If the measurement of a true Democrat is how much Democratic syrup he's poured on his pancakes, then I guess our choice isn't Mark Schwiebert. But if you want a progressive Democrat who can take it to the Republicans in the fall and win by a big margin, who can take it to the GOP on tax cuts for the wealthy, who can roll up his sleeves and help create jobs for the district, who can stand up for a woman's right to choose -- then your choice is Mark Schwiebert.

He's the most electable and the most progressive.

At 5/18/2006 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you read. It isn't the pancakes. It is the amount of time and energy Schwiebert has spent on what I can't even call his democratic brothers. He supports no one but Mark. Have you ever heard him droan on about himself. It is like the guy in the airplane movie that talks until you want to kill yourself.

At 5/18/2006 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock Island can't afford to lose Mayor Schweibert! We need Mark right here to deal with all the problems we have!

At 5/18/2006 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look for a major endorsement on Friday for Mark Schwiebert. This will completely turn the race upside down!

At 5/19/2006 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one cares what Jerry Lack does at this point. His endorsemnt of Schweibert will be less important than Posedal, as people actually like Jerimiah!

At 5/19/2006 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I hear Jerry Lack is upset he didn't get to run for Congress. Give me a break. He's been on Lane's gravy train since graduating from high school, earning $80,000 a year. Not gonna get any sympathy here, Jerry.


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