It’s that time of year when people who want to be in public office start approaching the “powers-that-be,” some times at the suggestion of others who would rather not see them run.
When I was thinking about running in the Republican primary for McHenry County Treasurer in 1966, my father’s advice was to come home and visit with the prospective opponents. I did.
One was a man who had married the bankers’s daughter, supposedly, a horse trader by profession. The other was the police chief of Harvard.
After meeting with them, I was not intimidated.
In my case, it was an all or nothing situation. I quit my civil service job in the United State’s Budget Bureau in Washington, took my $1,800 in savings and came home to run.
Visiting precinct committeemen, I got the, “It’s not your time. Wait a while,” line. I think that was from the township supervisor reputed to be part of a bookie operation.
My favorite was from a man who predicted I would “be eaten alive by the lions” in the courthouse.
I admit to having met some folks in Woodstock who could have been characterized as animals—a bull(y) in a China closet comes immediately to mind–but the lion analogy didn’t fit any of them.
So, some advice to prospective candidates, who will have to file their petitions between Dec. 12th through the 19th:
Power is held quite tenuously in McHenry County.
Get many more than enough signatures and leave a leaflet about yourself at every door you knock on. Remember to number your petitions and staple them together. And, if you know an attorney, have him or her look at your petitions before you file.
Do be intelligent enough to run as a Republican, however. The Democrats may talk a good game, but their strength and ability to smell and act on potential “wedge” issues is underdeveloped. It takes someone who has Sangamon River fever like Jack Franks to crack the mold that was set in Lincoln’s time.
If a 23-year-old (actually, the primary was two days after my 24th birthday) kid could win a three-way contest for county treasurer, you can win, too. The Republican Party is much weaker today than it was then when one Woodstock bank backed its favorite son and the other one backed the police chief and allowed this newcomer to get just over one-third of the votes in a virtual statistical dead heat.
You just need to knock on a lot of doors with an attractive message. You can expect at least 2-3 mailings being sent out for whomever you oppose, if you run for county board. But, don’t be discouraged. Insurgents like the late Dick Hoover, who was well known in McHenry, can and do upset the wishes of the “powers-that-be.”
And, anyone can be beaten for Republican precinct committeeman. Just remember to get at least 20 signatures on your petition, because the regulars are into that stage of insecurity that any marginal petition will be challenged..