Planting politics in some local primary races
By Jeff Ward For The Courier-News February 12, 2012 6:38PM
Updated: March 14, 2012 8:06AM
Class, let’s talk about plants. And I don’t mean that rhododendron growing in your bay window, nor will we be discussing those massive buildings in the Elgin Industrial Park off Big Timber Road.
What we’re really talking about here is the kind of plant that always seems to pop up around election time — folks who jump into a race to act as spoiler by drawing votes away from a political opponent in return for a favor to be named later.
Another newspaper went full speed ahead with Dundee Democratic Township Chairman David Reece’s contention that 22nd District State Senate challenger and Streamwood businessman Tim Elenz ain’t nuthin’ but a Republican plant.
Claiming Elenz’s candidacy is only intended to knock incumbent Mike Noland off kilter, Reece told reporters, “It’s a typical Republican dirty trick, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
First, considering that Noland was thrown out of a Carpentersville polling place by the police and was caught plagiarizing a JFK speech on the Senate floor, it doesn’t take all that much to throw him off kilter. He does a fine job on his own.
Second, when you remember that Reece’s regular antics make Noland look reasonable by comparison, as my sainted mother used to say, consider the source of an allegation before you consider the allegation.
And third, I know Tim Elenz, and he’s what we call a “blue dog Democrat.” The Washington Post political glossary defines that term as, “A group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats who believe their opinions were ‘choked blue’ by their party in the years preceding the 1994 congressional election.”
This, of course, explains why Elenz voted Republican in four out of the last seven elections. No one in their right mind could consistently pull the lever for any of the Democratic mopes currently occupying Springfield. I didn’t vote for Gov. Quinn, but that doesn’t make me a Republican — it just makes me look really smart.
Not only that, but Elenz has a Democratic track record 10 miles long. He worked for former Chicago 45th Ward Alderman Gerry McLaughlin, former 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller, former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, and many others.
Please note that, despite what some of his detractors are saying, Alderman Shiller and Mayor Washington weren’t exactly known as machine operators. It’s funny how, in the same breath, insiders claim Elenz is a GOP plant and then dismiss him as a Chicago politician.
As my mother also used to say, you can’t have it both ways.
So Messrs. Noland and Reece, while you can certainly call Tim Elenz many things, and I frequently do, the one thing you cannot call him is a Republican plant.
On the other hand, if we’re talking former St. Charles Mayor Sue Klinkhamer, who’s running for the Democratic Kane County Board chairman nod, then you can indeed use the word “spoiler.” She is such a plant that I’m surprised her campaign logo isn’t a ficus tree.
You can always tell a plant by the way they don’t campaign. While Elenz puts forth a real effort, Klinkhamer’s self-described “anti-campaign” includes no fundraising, no door knocking, no phone calls, no yard signs and, of course, no winning. She described how horrific it was to have to serve as mayor and actually said this; “If I lose, I win.”
This means she’s either a plant or she’s completely lost her mind.
At least Reece managed to get the plant part right, but for all the wrong reasons. You see, he harbors the absurd notion that political ally and former Carpentersville Village President Bill Sarto, whose term was accompanied by unending turmoil, can actually win another election. But anyone with two connected brain cells knows he doesn’t stand a chance of pulling that off.
No, Klinkhamer, a staunch Karen McConnaughay ally and confidant, wasn’t planted to derail Sarto. She was enlisted to keep state Sen. Chris Lauzen from sitting in that soon-to-be abandoned county chair. The McConnaughay combine’s last hope is for Klinkhamer to pull enough independent votes away from Lauzen to give Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns a real shot.
Hey, don’t look at me. I never said they were smart.
So don’t be surprised that if McConnaughay somehow prevails in the 33rd District State Senate race, Klinkhamer moves into the same role she played for former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster — chief of staff.
So class, now that you know exactly what a political plant is, please feel free to brag about it to all your friends. You’ll be the hit of the neighborhood.
You can reach Jeff at