There is one candidate in the primary this March 20th, Dan Patlak, who demonstrates the conservative qualities the Republican Party should always embody; as the sole GOP commissioner on the Cook County Board of Review, he’s conscientious, articulate and experienced.  But unfortunately, he’s being challenged in an expensive, viciously personal, and divisive primary. And in addition, the campaign has become tangled in the weeds of the good old Illinois Republican/Combine swampland, a.k.a. North Cook Co. vs. South Cook Co. Never heard of that particular battleground? Well, it’s the Land of the Chicago Way – so plan on getting to know the Saul Alinsky model for political campaigning before you come to the end of this story, a few paragraphs down.

Patlak (R-Wheeling) was elected to the Cook County Board of Review in 2010, and now his two-year term is up. Before becoming a commissioner, Patlak put in a couple of decades supporting local GOP causes. He worked for Maureen Murphy when she was on the Cook Co. Board of Review, and later he became the Wheeling Twp. assessor. Since his 2010 election to the Board of Review, Dan has been a hard-working representative of his constituency; most property taxpayers around here (northern Cook Co.) are proud to endorse his reelection campaign.

But hold on, there is that one other factor: Dan Patlak is a conservative, and worse than that he comes out of a faction of the Illinois GOP that has a stubborn streak. Read that to mean they don’t make deals; they don’t pay-to-play; they aren’t ones to “take one for the team.” Maybe it won’t be surprising to hear that his opponent, Sean Morrison (Orland Park), comes from the team on the other side of the swamp – that would be, for example, the territory where some folks countenance bribes for phony drivers licenses, or replace conservative candidates for the U.S. Senate with sure losers from out of state, or maybe sell their votes on the Cook County Board for . . . whatever.

Dan Patlak is friends with Wheeling Twp. Committeeman Ruth O’Connell, another hard-working local conservative who labored behind the scenes for decades, not cooperating with the “team,” and finally got elected to a position where she is making a difference. Her nemesis is Cook County Board member and Orland Park Committeeman Elizabeth Doody Gorman. Now there’s an example of a Chicago Way wheeler-dealer who would do ACORN et al proud. (Just ask the mavericky former Cook Co. Board member Tony Peraica how it felt to get undercut by his GOP compatriot, Liz Gorman.)

So, let’s say an Illinois GOP “team” player wants to make sure the team on the Board of Tax Review is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Illinois Combine; what would Saul Alinsky do? How about this plan: the challenger invents a bogus personal attack theme, uses the press and social media to demagogue the opponent about it, and confuses voters into believing it matters. Case in point: Sean Morrison has focused his entire campaign on one issue: attacking Dan Patlak for accepting (100% legal) campaign contributions from attorneys who may or may not try real estate reassessment cases. Never mind that there is a First Amendment that allows campaign contributions; never mind that there is no real likelihood of corrupt practices in the Board of Review job description. Morrison’s team created the issue out of thin air, publicized it to death, and hopes to win the primary with just that one argument.

Welcome to business as usual in Illinois. Take a clear look at Dan Patlak and choose your side.

Listen to the Illinois Review interview with Sean Morrison here.