Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Eye on the Prize, State Rep. John Fritchey eyes the Mayor’s chair

Next week’s suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Rep. John Ftitchey [D- Chicago], who is in his ninth year as a state representative, chairs the House Civil Judiciary Committee and is Of Counsel with the 400 attorney Detroit based [but largest office now in Chicago] law firm of Dykema Gossett.

Although Fritchey, 41, appears to have fairly good credentials with the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party [as Chairman Howard Dean describes his base], Rep. Fritchey seems to view himself as a Democratic Party centrist. Many others might agree with Rep. Fritchey’s self-assessment. The centrist Democratic Leadership Council named him twice as “one of the 100 rising stars to watch” [2001 and 2003], and John proudly notes that that constellation also includes Illinois’ brightest political star of all, it’s junior senator Barack Obama.

Being the diplomat that he is, Rep. Fritchey took pains to point out that the DLC constellation of stars also included two term State Comptroller Dan Hynes, whose luster is not quite so radiant these days.

Fritchey very much fits the model for the thirty something [or, in his case, the forty something] modern, successful Democratic pol in the early 21st Century in upstate Illinois.

In terms of background, Rep. Fritchey is well-educated and well-credentialed [graduated from the Latin School (as did Illinois AG Lisa Madigan), University of Michigan [as did Democratic media message campaign consultant Pete Giangreco] and Northwestern University Law School [as did former U. S. Attorney Scott Lassar], good family ties [Step father was Sidney Swibel (whose brother, of course, was connected to Mayor Richard J. Daley), father-in-law is Sam Banks (whose brother is influential Ald. Bill Banks).

In terms of image, Fritchey is viewed as an articulate, intelligent center left pol—but not so centrist as to stop him from having good support from the Lakefront Liberals.

In terms of demonstrated accomplishments- as we recruiters might say- Fritchey has a demonstrated strong work ethic, demonstrated knowledge of public policy, demonstrated success at working the levers of power [for example, he helped pass a "negotiated" Born Alive Infant Protection Act ["BAIPA"] bill out of his Civil Judiciary Committee and the Illinois House passed it unanimously yesterday, as noted today in Rich Miller’s Capitolfax; Miller characterized the legislation as “protecting infants ‘born alive’ after botched late term abortions.”

Fritchey predicted on "Public Affairs," on Sunday, that the BAIPA legislation, supported by both pro-choice and pro-life groups, would become law within a week, or so and Rich Miller noted today in Capitolfax that the bill is “expected to fly out of the Senate.” Fritchey bragged, a bit, on Sunday that the Born Alive legislation is the first "negotiated" abortion legislation to come out of the Illinois legislature.

Well, enough of the pleasantries and fluff [which is probably enough to last me for a year]. Getting down to brass tacks, what specific offices [or at least office runs] are in Rep. John Fritchey’s future? I asked Chairman Fritchey that question on Sunday:
Jeff Berkowitz: …We have as our guest, State Rep. John Fritchey, who is rumored to be running for a number of offices, and we are going to find out, which, if any [he might pursue]… People are talking…as to whether Judy Baar Topinka who is the Republican State Treasurer will seek the office of Governor, thus opening up an opportunity for somebody to run against a non-incumbent, so…are you running for State Treasurer in the Democratic Primary?

State Rep. John Fritchey: I am honored to have been talked to and approached about a number of different offices. I am content with all of our Democratic incumbents, so if I were going to look at something statewide, it would have to be where there is a vacancy. The only potential seat that would be [such] is the Treasurer’s office. We’ll take a look at it.

Berkowitz: When do you suppose you will decide that?

Fritchey: We’ve been having discussions actually during the break. We had a couple of weeks off [legislative recess]. I am meeting with some people. We may be putting an exploratory committee together.

Berkowitz: When you say we, who is we?

Fritchey: My campaign staff, some of the volunteers. People who know the work I do and what it is I would like to continue to do.
Jeff Berkowitz: Would you look at running for Mayor in 2007 if the Mayor [Daley] decides not to?

State Rep. John Fritchey: If the Mayor decides not to run in 2007, I think that being Mayor of Chicago would be a dream come true. I think that we are a city-- [on a hill?]

Berkowitz: So you might run, …is that the answer? You might run?

Fritchey: If the Mayor does not run, I would absolutely take a look at it, absolutely.

Berkowitz: What about City clerk, would you give any thought to running for Jim Laski’s position [in 2007] if Laski vacates it [as it is rumored he will try to do in 2006 with a] run for State Treasurer].

Fritchey: I don’t want to run just for running. And nothing against [Chicago City Clerk] Jim Laski [but] that is not an office that has the policy considerations that I would like to take on. The Mayor’s office absolutely does. A number of statewide offices do. Again, it’s about doing the best job you can in whatever office you’re in.
State Rep. John Fritchey [D- Chicago], recorded on April 10, 2005 and as is airing on the Suburban edition of Public Affairs next week [week of April 18] and on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs on Monday night, April 25 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. See, the end of the blog entry discussing the “Public Affairs” show with Senator Brady, immediately below, for a detailed suburban airing schedule.

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at