Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dolar's Deepening Dilemma

The next 44 days offer a big test to Naisy Dolar and her campaign. The biggest test of all comes in the next two weeks. Dolar needs big fund-raising numbers to send a message that she is a credible candidate. The threat of a massive infusion of cash from the Asian-American community is the greatest asset that Dolar has going into the run-off. But she has to deliver in time for the next report. It's the only opportunity that she has to attract city-wide attention and the help of Chicago's alternative political institutions.

How much does she need to have on her next report? Probably about $40,000.

Dolar's problem is that there will be twelve run-offs, and she is at the bottom of that list. It doesn't help that she didn't have union support going into February. The unions, specifically SEIU and the CFL, are likely to preserve their commitment to those they have already endorsed first. So Joe Moore, Joann Thompson, Leroy Jones, Toni Foulkes, Pat Dowell, Michelle Smith and Paul Stewart all get first crack at union money and workers. That's a big list, for those who didn't count. Many people expected no more than a handful of run-offs. Organizations will prioritize in the process of deciding who to support. Dolar is not only running against Ald. Stone, but against all the other challengers seeking to unseat an incumbent in Chicago this April.

Dolar doesn't look good in comparison to the rest of the run-off challengers. Joann Thompson (16th) and Bob Fioretti (2nd) start out with the distinct advantage of having received more votes than their incumbent alderman. In the open seat in the 15th Ward, UFCW member Toni Foulkes was the top vote-getter, with a spread of 7.18 percentage points over the next contender. Pat Dowell (3rd) came within 4.82 percentage points of Dorothy Tillman. SEIU member Leroy Jones (21st) came within 12 percentage points of Howard Brookins. And Michelle Smith (43rd) came just within the all important 15 percentage point spread considered essential to be successful within a run-off.

Naisy Dolar was behind Berny Stone by more than 20 percentage points. She has no previous connections with SEIU or the CFL. In fact, we hear that the CFL has moved their organizer over to the 49th to help Ald. Moore. This may be because Dolar spent the last days of the campaign taunting him and the CFL with a pre-election stunt. In terms of spread, Dolar wound up tenth out of twelve, and well outside the 15 percentage point spread. She has to raise significant money immediately from the Asian-American community to have a shot at Stone. In a few weeks, we will know if she is up to the challenge.

All of Chicago is watching.

16 Comments:

At March 04, 2007 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GO BERNIE !!!!

 
At March 04, 2007 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So JS/Jay, for all your anti-Stone talk, you'd prefer to post about Dolar's uphill battle than contribute by rallying your readers against Stone?

Yes Dolar has an uphill battle. No it is not only up to her Asian American fundraising - though expect that community to turn out in her support. I think you will also see an upsurge of support for Dolar from unexpected corners, including the unions. Remember, they supported Reilly against Natarus despite Reilly's anti-big box stance - they enjoy punishing people who have done them wrong even if it creates a future risk. Similarly, expect them to support Dolar as punishment to Stone for his anti-labor comments.

 
At March 05, 2007 1:10 AM, Anonymous Jim in Chicago said...

Jay,

All I will say is that you, like many others, already underestimated Naisy's campaign once before. EVERY serious analysis of the race I saw assumed Brewer was going to come in second. Certainly the Brewer campaign thought that way: the only concern I heard expressed on election day was whether they could keep Stone under 50%.

I'm done underestimating Naisy. Starting next weekend, I plan to begin canvassing for her, just as I did for Brewer in the first round -- as will other members of my DFA group, which just endorsed Naisy in the runoff.

 
At March 05, 2007 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So JS/Jay, for all your anti-Stone talk, you'd prefer to post about Dolar's uphill battle than contribute by rallying your readers against Stone?

Though you did the sensible thing in a timely manner and removed from your first election results post the paragraph about how you would remain undecided between Stone and Dolar, it is apparent, Jay, that you're still bitter about Brewer's defeat. (Disclosure: I don't live in the 50th, but I support/ed Naisy due to an acquaintance with her and her work in Chicago's community-based organizations. And she's a pragmatic gal, which means she's got a level head about what can and what cannot be accomplished.) I'm sorry your candidate lost. However, if it would help you get past your anger over the election results so that you can commit yourself to kicking out of office that arrogant, corrupt thug who is your alderman, let me offer several explanations for Naisy's success.

First, Naisy has a big, lively, and loyal organization for her campaign. Most of her volunteers and contributors (at least the ones listed on her Web site) participate in Chicago's Asian-American and immigrant community-based organizations, in which Naisy has been active for over a decade. These trusting and long-standing relationships inform her immediate support.

Second, several folks running her campaign are veterans of other political/social movements, including the protests at Northwestern U. for an Asian-American studies program and especially the SEIU-funded voter registration, education, and outreach drives that targeted immigrant communities for the 2004 elections (see http://www.icirr.org/ ). So some of these activists have been cultivating voters in the 50th Ward for over two years! Maybe its time to revisit the conventional wisdom that immigrants with little education and a weak grasp of English don't vote.

Third, Filipino American families are among the most affluent and professionalized of any ethnic/racial group in Chicago/Chicagoland. (Filipinos in other U.S. states see Chicago as the bastion of Filipino doctors and nurses.) However, their political representation is zilch, and over the past five years (at least as I've observed at local and national meetings of Filipino American organizations) they've become determined to correct this absence.

Fourth, national Asian-American political interest groups are aware that Chicago, for all its boasts of immigrant pride, has never had an Asian-American alderman. THough there are Asian-American state-wide politicians in the Midwest, a victory for Dolar in the global city of Chicago would make her instantly one of the most visible Asian-American officeholders in the country. And in an off-election year, these groups have some extra time and resources to do something about it. Hence, the massive success of Dolar's fundraising event with Tammy Duckworth, the Thai-American U.S congressional candidate/Iraqi War veteran from Chicagoland, and Mike Honda, the SF Bay Area U.S. congressman.

And, finally, since all politics is local, there was the issue of the illegal 24-hour parking meters on Devon Avenue, which was driving South Asian business away to the suburbs and making life more difficult for cab drivers. The businessowners and residents around Devon approached Stone, who did nothing; then they approached Dolar in her then-capacity as Asian Affairs liason for Daley's office, and despite the inherent weakness of her position she got the 24-hour meters removed. Whether the majority of 50th Ward voters were affected by this issue isn't as significant as what it did for the image of Naisy Dolar, Citizens' Advocate: It gave her a compelling story about how she improved the ward for its residents in a concrete, meaningful way and how, after Stone told her police officer-husband to tell her to "stop acting like an alderman," she was inspired to run for office and represent one of Chicago's most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Whether or not you supported Naisy, you got to admit that's a captivating political narrative, one that she can tell voters over and over again to pull them to her side.

Now, having said all that, I still don't understand *who* voted for her. Perhaps those who actually live in the 50th and know how to interpret the precinct returns can enlighten us. But the broader picture shows that Naisy is going into the runoff because she had a bigger and (despite its low visibility among Brewer supporters) more effective ground game, a wider (if, again, imperceptible to the mainstream) network for financial support, and The Story. It's not that Brewer didn't have some version of these elements for himself, it's that Naisy had more of them.

Now, the $64K. question: Can all this plus the All-But-Stone momentum compensate for the 20-point gap between Dolar and Stone? Given what grassroots support has done for Dolar's campaign, it will be people like you, Jay, who can make a really big difference.

Hope that gives you some insight and makes you feel better :-)

 
At March 05, 2007 11:03 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I still believe every word I said (it's still up, so I'm unclear what you meant). But you point out the exact reasons I don't support Dolar. She's engaging in ethnic politics at a time we need a uniter not a divider. My words, repeated:

"If I vote this April, it may be for Stone. It may be for Dolar. Or I may not vote at all. I haven't decided.

"But even if Stone wins, I probably won't shut down this blog. It's time for someone to speak truth to power in the 50th. Berny Stone has very few friends (including among the Jewish residents) left. Mostly, he is just an embarrassment. His time is over."

February 28, 2007 7:09 PM

 
At March 05, 2007 12:42 PM, Anonymous willow9 said...

To: Jay
Re: "Dolars Deepening Dilemma"

> This may be because Dolar spent the last days of the campaign taunting him and the CFL with a pre-election stunt.

What stunt? Could you explain this?

> The threat of a massive infusion of cash from the Asian-American community is the greatest asset that Dolar has going into the run-off.

Why would this be a threat?

You say we need a uniter, and that is exactly what Naisy's campaign is all about. She strongly encourages EVERYONE to be a part of the community and to decide for themselves what they want for the 50th. She asked what our concerns were for the ward. Stone never asked, he just assumed that we were satisfied with the status quo-and some people were. WE already know what Stone has to deliver, and many of us want change. Isn't that what this election is all about?

 
At March 05, 2007 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you point out the exact reasons I don't support Dolar. She's engaging in ethnic politics at a time we need a uniter not a divider.

Since you brought it up, let's explore the flip side of the difference between Dolar's and Brewer's campaigns: Brewer's failure to engage the immigrant, non-white community groups in the 50th Ward. One aspect of Brewer's Web site, for example, that I found stunning was the absence of non-white faces or non-European names. And he wants to represent the ward that Chicago boosters love to display as one of the most ethnically/racially diverse in the city? Even the Web site of a some-time Republican like Stone has at least one photo of him with a Pakistani group. I don't doubt at all that the broader community values of immigrants and non-whites -- Americans who historically have been shut out of the political process -- are Brewer's, as well; there's no reason why he could not have united with those beyond the DFAs and labor unions. But, if his Web site is any indicator, he didn't even try to.

Your divider-not-uniter criticism of Dolar would be correct if she were, for example, targeting a particular voting block with flyers that preyed upon their deepest fears (sound familiar?). But there's a difference between working from a base of supporters, be it Dolar's among Asian-American CBOs or Brewer's among liberal whites, and campaigning to/governing for all citizens, regardless of background. Yes, Naisy's campaign worked hard to bring out immigrant voters. But if she had confined herself to them, Naisy's endorsements would not have extended beyond the CBOs to the Tribune and the Sun-TImes, IVI-IVO, Chicago NOW, and Chicago DLC.

At first, Jay, I read your anger as a disappointment over your candidate's loss. However, your dismissal of Naisy's outreach to immigrants as playing the race card make me wonder if your framing of the Dog Fight in the 50th is driven by other, less politically correct resentments. (BTW: Your calling Dolar a "mini-Stone" is below the belt. If she was opportunistic, heartless, and ravenous for power like Stone, there's no way the CBOs would have her back, Asian-American or not.) If that's the case, then regretably I'll have to agree with your observation that Stone wants a runoff with Dolar: Stone can peel off the white voters who thought they were "all but Stone" until presented with the alternative of a Filipina American candidate. Never mind her endorsements from the two major newspapers and a diverse range of groups. Never mind the real improvements she did for Devon Avenue and the absence of suspicion that she wouldn't do so for anywhere or anyone else in the ward.

That's too bad...

 
At March 05, 2007 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't really want the support of Greg's voters, do you?

 
At March 05, 2007 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Anonymous said, "And, finally, since all politics is local, there was the issue of the illegal 24-hour parking meters on Devon Avenue, which was driving South Asian business away to the suburbs and making life more difficult for cab drivers."

Let's try to describe this a little more accurately: The 24-hour parking meters affected overnight parking only, and had no impact on area businesses. Naisy's work did not result in any parking meters being removed, but she did get enforcement reduced to the properly approved normal day and evening hours.

 
At March 05, 2007 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naisy does have a little problem with the truth. 'Nuff said.

 
At March 05, 2007 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naisy's work did not result in any parking meters being removed, but she did get enforcement reduced to the properly approved normal day and evening hours.

That's what I meant when I referred to the "24-hour meters." Thx for the clarification.

You don't really want the support of Greg's voters, do you?

Well, I was trying to offend just Jay, not the rest of Brewer's supporters ;-)

Seriously, though. If it's true that Stone wants a runoff with Dolar, the non-white, immigrant challenger, it's easy to imagine the kind of negative campaign he could wage to separate her from various groups: keep dropping little seeds of suspicion and nasty lies about the challenger until voters are too disgusted to show up on election day. The incumbent (and there's no advantage like incumbency) has every incentive to fracture Brewer's support and keep it from Dolar. An easy & dirty way to do it is to be Jay's definition of a divider, not a uniter.

Brewer supporters should see some ugly campaign literature from Stone in the next few weeks. But because they're motivated to change how politics is done in their local community -- didn't Howard Dean inspire ALL of us back in 2004? -- they'll recognize what Stone is trying to pull off and persuade their friends & neighbors not to fall for that trick. Hopefully, they'll also turn out for the candidate who has proven she can respond to the concerns of everyone in the 50th Ward.

 
At March 05, 2007 6:59 PM, Blogger Jay said...

Willow9 asks if I could explain Dolar's stunt? Not really. I only heard about it. Naisy's husband walked into the Brewer campaign office and took a picture of the CFL organizer and put it on their website. They included several taunts, trying to embarrass the CFL.

Anonymous says that he/she was just trying to offend me. You'll have to try a lot harder, though. Remember that this blog is moderated, in part because there have been really vicious posts, many of them aimed squarely at me (or who posters believe I am). I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have annoyed or angered every single campaign in the 50th. That tells me I'm being as impartial as I possibly can, while trying to write as much as possible. I'm not Lorraine Swanson, but at least I've provided a forum where interested activists can argue on behalf of their candidates.

 
At March 05, 2007 9:14 PM, Anonymous willow9 said...

To Jay:

Whether or not you post this is up to you (obviously). No matter who you vote for, I think maintaining this blog has been very important for us posters. It has allowed me to vent and endorse and discuss issues that I would not otherwise have been able to do. May the best candidate win.

 
At March 05, 2007 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous says that he/she was just trying to offend me. You'll have to try a lot harder, though. Remember that this blog is moderated, in part because there have been really vicious posts, many of them aimed squarely at me (or who posters believe I am). I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have annoyed or angered every single campaign in the 50th.

Thank you for allowing me, an interested outsider, to air my speculations on this lively electoral race. American sociologists note that Chicagoans' loyalty to their neighborhoods is remarkable among the global cities -- compared to residents of other U.S. urbanities, its citizens are the least geographically mobile, meaning that once they make their homes, they stay for a long time -- such that this city of 2.8 million is indeed America's biggest small town. That commitment to the 50th Ward is evident in your blog. I wish you the best in your work to make your neighborhood a better and more inclusive place. Sweet home, Chicago!

 
At March 06, 2007 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To:Willow9
Yes willow9 you have been able to vent and most of your venting have been personal issues. This blog is for the election and please stick to those issues.We dont need to hear you hate on the Stone family.
Thanks

 
At March 06, 2007 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WILLOW9 SAID .MARCH 04, 2007 5:26 PM
If STONE HAD WANTED IT DONE BELIEVE ME, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE!!
GOES TO SHOW YOU THAT SOMEONE WORKING ON THE DOLAR CAMPAIGN KNOWS STONE CAN INDEED GET THE JOB DONE.SOME THINGS DO TAKE TIME !!
THANKS FOR THE POST WILLOW9

 

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