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Proviso Probe

Thursday, September 10, 2009

does Davis wonder, "Could I have been a contender?"

A source who had a conversation with Mayor Richard M. Daley said Daley is annoyed at Rep. Danny K. Davis. Daley claimed strings were pulled to get Davis on the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee is considered quite powerful because of the wide portfolio which includes taxation, Social Security unemployment and Medicare.

So, Davis is kinda a ungrateful schmuck if he walks away from the House Ways and Means Committee to run for President of the Cook County Board, right?

How's the situation look from Davis' perspective?

Davis is aware that he's served on committees of low import. The most important committee project Davis got was beating back Republican attempts to undercount Blacks, immigrants and poor people in the 2000 Census. And that wasn't the kind of “bring home the bacon” project that makes him a superstar with constituents.

I heard one story... and it was just a story, not an interview, so I'm a little sketchy on the details... A guy who claimed to be in the car with Davis and Dick Gephardt, who then led the House Democrats, claimed that Davis was promised improved committee assignments after the next election. Gephardt never delivered.

From the perspective of Democratic leadership, they don't like to give plum committee assignments to members who represent heavily Democratic districts. The theory is that the best committee assignments should go to members who are vulnerable to being defeated by Republicans. So, in theory, Melissa Bean, Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster are more likely to get plum committee assignments than Mike Quigley, Jan Schakowsky and Dan Lipinski.

However, Lipinski did get a plum assignment from the beginning, the Transportation Committee. His father Bill Lipinski was chair of that committee.

If I may speculate, Davis probably sees the Ways and Means placement like this. Davis figures if Daley could get Davis the Ways and Means assignment now (and Dan Lipinski the Transportation Committee from the beginning), Daley was probably pulling strings to keep Davis from getting better committee assignments earlier in his career.

Now that Davis is pushing 70—and impotent to challenge Daley for Mayor—he gets a plum assignment. Gee thanks.

If Davis got a better committee assignment from the beginning, would this have elevated his profile? Could he have run for Mayor of Chicago? Did Daley make sure Davis got crap assignments to keep Davis down?

I expect every time someone reminds Davis of how good he has it on the Ways and Means Committee, he thinks about how Daley in a conspiracy aided by “White” Democrats in Congress—people Davis trusted, like Gephardt—kept Davis in shit jobs for over a decade.

From Davis' perspective he played the game by the rules and he got screwed. He was weak and ineffective in Congress because “White” people stacked the deck to keep him weak and ineffective. He trusted the Democratic leadership and they pretty much lied to him and screwed him. So he's not in the mood to be a party loyalist as one of the most junior people on an important committee.

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