Are Chicago Democrats at War & Will It Affect the
Elected Chicago School Board Process?
At a mid-January Chicago Republican Party Central Committee meeting, attendees heard first-hand about the battle brewing between the more moderate Democrats (led by Senate President Don Harmon) and the Progressives, DSA's, Marxists and the CTU. Here's an article that appeared in CRAIN'S the following day, detailing the battle:
Plan to elect Chicago school board
hits political land mines
By Greg Hinz - Crain's
Chicagoans have been expected to vote for the first time this fall to elect members to the Chicago Board of Education. But the transition from a mayoral-appointed school board to a fully elected one has been complicated and may be at least partially stalled by political maneuvering in Springfield and by a high-stakes Democratic primary fight for control of a Northwest Side Illinois Senate seat.
The twin battles pit the Chicago Teachers Union and progressive groups against Senate President Don Harmon and more centrist Democrats, with Mayor Brandon Johnson potentially playing a key intermediary role. Until a deal is reached, the rules that guide board elections mandated by a 2021 state law are uncertain — including whether all 20 board members and the chair will be elected this November, or whether voters will elect only 10, with Johnson temporarily selecting another 10 plus a chair for a hybrid board that would run schools until another election in 2026.
Before they broke for the holiday season, the Illinois House approved a bill to enact the hybrid plan. The bill is strongly backed by the CTU, even though the union for at least a decade has lobbied for a fully elected board.
The Senate has not called the House bill for a vote. Instead, it passed its own measure, awaiting action in the House, that would elect the entire board in November. The Senate did so even though Harmon in the past has advocated for a hybrid board.
Amid that standoff, a fight for a state Senate seat now held by appointed Harmon ally Natalie Toro has turned red-hot. Toro was named by Democratic ward committeemen to replace Cristina Pacione-Zayas, who resigned to take a top job with the Johnson administration, where she has, among other things, overseen the city's migrant response.
Now that Toro's Senate seat term is ending, progressives badly want the position back. They’re backing CTU organizer Graciela Guzman in the March primary.
The CTU has made the race a top priority, with progressive groups stepping up precinct work and big checks from teachers unions beginning to arrive in Guzman’s warchest. Harmon in turn dropped $500,000 into Toro’s campaign earlier this week — and according to Guzman is responsible for an internet push poll that asserts, “Guzman’s political organization is attempting to stall Natalie Toro’s plan to fully elect the school board now and wants to keep the school board out of the hands of voters.”
CTU confirms that it backs the House version of the bill and in a written statement called on the Senate to quickly approve it in the General Assembly’s spring session.
“The billionaires, charter school operators and bureaucrats that fought against an elected school board every step of the way still hope to see this process sidelined, stalled by the courts or, barring that, create opportunities for them to buy the elections at the expense of Chicago's parents and students,” the statement said. “We look forward to working with the Senate to pass a bill next week that ensures families in every Chicago community are on track to have the representation they've already been promised.”
Chicago GOP: While the written word tends to soften the battle, be sure that his is an incredibly contentious fight for power within the Democrat party in Chicago. Harmon's drop of $500,000 into Toro's campaign is no small gauntlet at the feet of the hard Left Progressives, DSA's, Marxists & the CTU.