Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

GOP has no chance with Morrison

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By Ray Hanania

The headlines were encouraging for Republicans back in July. The Cook County GOP organized one of its largest candidate slates to challenge Democrats in November.

It all sounded good on paper, and came at the right time, as the Republican Party was coming apart not just in Cook County in recent years but in Will and DuPage, too.

There was a time when Republicans had a strong voice on the Cook County Board.

Today, only two Republicans remain on the 17-member board: Sean Morrison, who is also the Cook County Republican chairman; and Pete Silvestri, who saw the writing on the wall and retired.

RayHanania 1

Ray Hanania

Rebuilding the Republican Party in Cook County would restore a two-party system that forces accountability and prevents people like Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, with her pro-criminal and anti-law-abiding citizen platforms, from winning office.

It would also help Darren Bailey in his fight to undermine Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker, or “Daddy Warbucks,” who doesn’t really run in elections. He buys elections.

Illinois is ranked as among the worst states on almost every criteria. Dumping Pritzker for Bailey could bring change.

Morrison bragged in July about slating the “highest number of candidates in more than a generation.”

But Morrison doesn’t really have the skills to save the Republican Party. He didn’t slate Republicans in the primary because he was too busy dealing with his own scandals. So, he waited until after the primary to fill November ballot vacancies.

Morrison began with what the Chicago Tribune called two “party switchers” to fill gaps in the November GOP ballot. Bob Fioretti, a Democrat and former alderman of Chicago’s 2nd Ward who served two terms from 2007 until 2015, was chosen to revive his career as Republican in a suicide challenge against Democrat County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Morrison tapped former Democrat who turned Republican Tony Peraica to challenge incumbent Democrat Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, who like Preckwinkle, is very popular.

Peraica is known more for his headline grabbing than winning elections. He ran as a Democrat in 1994, then as a Republican in 1998 for treasurer against the Democrat’s most popular County official, Maria Pappas. Peraica lost in 2002 for the County Board in 2002, and lost for board president in 2006. He lost for County State’s Attorney in 2008. He lost a board return in 2010.

But Morrison’s real problem isn’t slating weak has-been candidates. It’s his ineptness as a party chairman. He can’t even get the candidate paperwork right.

Seven candidates Morrison slated for various races with no Republicans in the June 28 primary all had problems that could have been avoided.

Two withdrew while five others were tossed from the Nov. 8 ballot for an assortment of avoidable issues, like improperly filed petitions and failure to submit enough signatures. One was disqualified for becoming a Republican after voting Democrat in the June 28 election, a legal no-no.

These were all stupid mistakes a skilled leader could avoid. But Morrison isn’t very skilled at politics. He defeated Gorman, one of the Republican Party’s best and most qualified elected officials, by using lies and distortions to deflect from his own scandals.

In November, Morrison is being challenged by Democrat Dan Calandriello, who has a strong chance of winning.

Four years ago, Morrison barely clung to his seat against unknown Democrat Abdelnasser Rashid, who lost by only 1,377 out of 121,767 votes cast. Rashid has moved to the center and easily defeated incumbent Mike Zalewski to become the candidate in the 21st Illinois House seat.

There are only two incumbents remaining on the Cook County Board’s 17 seats. Morrison has an uphill fight to hold the seat and Silvestri’s is a toss-up brawl between Democrat Maggie Trevor, who ran for the seat before and is known to voters, and Republican Matt Podgorski, a newcomer.

Morrison’s leadership is bad news for Republicans. But there is still time for Bailey to reverse Morrison’s downward spiraling trajectory.

Bailey should force Morrison to resign, replacing him with someone with better GOP credentials, someone like the late Maureen Murphy, the first woman to head the party (2002-2004). It was Morrison’s pal, Peraica, who led the campaign to unseat Murphy.

Murphy died in 2008. Murphy’s ally, Liz Gorman, who helped ensure Rauner’s 2014 victory over Pat Quinn, chaired the county GOP (2007-2008).

Morrison’s GOP fiasco would never have happened under Murphy or Gorman or even Lee Roupas, who was Morrison’s predecessor as Palos Township GOP chair.

Morrison’s backing of Peraica is a double shame for the GOP.

Republicans have no chance of rebuilding the party or restoring accountability in Cook County with Morrison or Peraica at the helm.

Check out Ray Hanania’s columns and political podcasts at hanania.com.

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