Updated: April 3, 2014 6:49AM
It might surprise you to learn that Carol Burnett, the legendary comedian and actress, is interested in the March 18 Illinois primary.
It surprised me, anyway.
Trolling through the state board of elections records of campaign contributors, there was Burnette listed as giving $1,000 to Will Guzzardi, a candidate for state representative.
What’s that all about?
Turns out, as DNAinfo first reported, Guzzardi’s father, Peter, is a book editor who worked on “Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story,” Burnett’s memoir of her late daughter who died of cancer.
A few months ago, Guzzardi’s dad emailed friends and family to say his kid was making a second run at becoming a state rep. And some of those friends, including Burnett, quickly wrote a check.
It’s nice to have friends.
Especially friends who send money.
But Will Guzzardi’s opponent, incumbent Maria “Toni” Berrios, has truckloads of family and friends. And a dad well-practiced in tapping them for cash for his own political war chest. And most certainly for his daughter’s.
This race is the single most important legislative contest on the ballot. It pits the forces of the all-powerful Speaker of the House Mike Madigan who supports Toni Berrios against an army of union teachers and state employees who are backing Will Guzzardi.
It’s true, as the Reader’s Ben Joravsky has so hilariously pointed out, that Rep. Berrios, 36, has suddenly been acting more like a progressive than a Madigan rubberstamp. But that’s because Guzzardi, who came within 125 votes of beating her the last time, is a genuine threat to the Madigan establishment.
Toni’s dad, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, has built a patronage empire, putting an estimated 15 members of his family on government payrolls. His “friends,” the real estate interests that count on Berrios’ office — and Madigan’s law firm — to reduce their property tax bills, may lack the star power of a Carol Burnett, but they’ve collectively got a ton of cash to dump into the campaign of Joe’s kid.
How concerned are Madigan and Berrios about the 26-year-old Guzzardi? Worried enough that glossy mailers have papered the Logan Square/Humboldt Park neighborhoods charging, among other despicable things, that Guzzardi is in favor of protecting sexual predators.
“The more we know, the scarier it gets,” reads the mailer. To reinforce the point, the words “sexual predators” are directly adjacent to a picture of a man wearing what looks like a Guzzardi mask.
The charge, of course, is patently untrue. And utterly shameless.
But shamelessness is a virtue in the hardball world of Madigan politics. Remember the speaker is also supporting another incumbent, state Rep. Derrick Smith, who shortly after being appointed to his West Side seat in the General Assembly was caught on an FBI wire allegedly soliciting a $7,000 bribe. In short order, Smith was indicted, impeached, removed, returned to office, and endorsed for re-election.
By Madigan. Who can always count on his vote.
So, fellow citizens, raise your voices and repeat after me:
The more we know . . .
The scarier it gets.