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Joe Berrios gets fifth term as Cook County Democratic boss

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios was re-elected to another term as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party on Wednesday, despite the March primary defeat of his daughter, which some saw as a referendum on his power.

Berrios won with the support of all 80 committeemen, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, in his bid for another 2-year term.

Berrios couldn’t remember exactly how many terms he has been elected to.

“Four or five, I think,” Berrios said when asked about how many terms he’s won.

Preckwinkle, who is 4th Ward committeeman, could not be reached for comment. But Ken Snyder, a Preckwinkle political operative, said it was no surprise the highest-ranking woman in Cook County politics once again supported Berrios.

“He’s done a lot to open up the party to women and minorities and she respects that,” Snyder said.

While Berrios won the unanimous support, he said there was some dissent – fallout from last month’s primary election.

His daughter, State Rep. Toni Berrios (D-Chicago) just lost a landslide election to challenger Will Guzzardi.

Sources said Ald. “Proco” Joe Moreno (1st) was scouting around for a challenger to Berrios at the April 2 City Council meeting. He apparently got no takers. Moreno could not be reached for comment on Berrios’ re-election.

Nobody said a word in opposition during the meeting. In fact, half of the ward bosses didn’t even attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Asked to explain, one committeeman said, “It’s like being captain of the Titanic. How do you keep people in line?

“In the old days, you kept people in line by either giving them jobs or stripping them of jobs. You can’t do that anymore. As a result, everybody goes their own way. There are not too many committeemen who go with everybody on the slate.”

Without naming names, Berrios chalked the unrest up to several committeemen who were upset that party bosses withheld a crucial campaign resource known as the “voter file.”

Those committeemen who refused to toe the party line in some primary contests complained before the March 18 primary that the bosses denied them highly useful data on the voting histories of Chicagoans in state House districts. Those challengers were thought to threaten the favorites Berrios and House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago.

“We had some people complaining about the [voter file], that we haven’t given them complete access,” Berrios said. But explaining why those committeemen were denied access to the file, he added: “There are rules.”



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