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Politics rev up in dog days of summer

Updated: September 13, 2013 6:10AM



It’s mid-August, the traditional dog days of summer.

Not this time around. Look for plenty of action in the never-never land of Illinois politics. From the Washington Beltway to Spring Patch to Crook (er, Cook) County, it’s going to be wild.

First thing Wednesday morning, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., is expected to hand down sentences to a once-royal family of Chicago politics. Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and former Ald. Sandi Jackson will learn if, and for how long, they are going to the slammer.

It’s been a long time coming. The personal stakes for the Jacksons are high. They could spend years in a federal prison, temporarily lose custody of their children and their homes, and be forced to pay hundreds of thousands in penalties and fines. If their sentences are light, some snitching could be in play, with more indictments to come.

On Wednesday, the Illinois State Fair will be in full swing in Springfield, with plenty of can’t-miss entertainment in store. If the livestock beauty contests or Budweiser Clydesdales aren’t your thing, check out the bacon-wrapped caramel apples and all things fried.

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is set to perform with her bluegrass band, “Loose Gravel.” Her signature song: “How I Threw My Boss Under the Truck.”

For decades, the fair’s marquee political act was the annual “Governors Day,” when the state’s dominant party “leadership” gathers to rally and troll for voters and pose for the cameras.

I was looking forward to hearing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn croon the 2-millionth rendition of his own signature tune, “Everybody in, nobody out.”

Then on Friday, Quinn abruptly canceled his own day, saying he preferred to focus on family-friendly activities. His critics say he’s afraid he’ll be booed by disgruntled union activists as he was at last year’s fair. Or heckled by onlookers as he was recently at the Chicago Blackhawks’ victory rally.

The show will go on. The Dem bigwigs will be dodging reporters’ questions about the Jackson scandal.

In between, they will be taking jabs at each other. And Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, gubernatorial candidate William “Bill” Daley and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are pols who want Quinn “out.”

They will all be watching their posteriors, and for the glint of razor sharp knives in the afternoon sun.

(Though someone may have to go looking for Daley. He may miss the turnoff on the drive down from Chicago).

The Illinois GOP is still planning its own “Republican Day” on Thursday. They have their own unity issues, but this week they can just stand on the sidelines and cackle at the Dems.

This fair’s theme this year is, “Where Illinois Comes Together.”

I hope they didn’t pay a consultant to write that.

Meanwhile, the big show up in Cook County will be this upcoming slating session, when Democratic party leaders meet to make endorsements in the 2014 statewide races.

You know what that means. Voters be damned. Only patronage hacks and career politicians need apply.

Now that’s a “dog” day. Woof.



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