Mayor’s Allies Vote To Oust Vrdolyak As City Party Chairman
CHICAGO (AP) _ Democrats loyal to Mayor Harold Washington ousted his City Council nemesis, Alderman Edward Vrdolyak, from the chairmanship of the city’s Democratic Party for running for mayor on a third-party ticket.
Organizers of the ouster, approved by 13 of 50 city party committee members at a special meeting Friday, said Saturday it was perfectly legal. But some politicians called Vrdolyak’s removal a charade likely to be challenged in court.
Vrdolyak, who for three years has led City Council battles against the mayor and says he would support any mayoral candidate over Washington, denounced the vote.
″I’m the chairman. I’ve been the chairman. And I still am the chairman,″ he said Friday.
A small band of Democratic committeemen loyal to the city’s first black mayor called a meeting Friday to discuss a possible censure of Vrdolyak for filing in the mayoral race as an Illinois Solidarity Party candidate, said 43rd Ward Committeeman Ann Stepan.
But only eight of the 16 committeemen who signed a letter calling for the meeting arrived on time, said Ms. Stepan. Vrdolyak convened the meeting and adjourned it within minutes, citing a lack of a quorum.
When committeemen began appearing shortly after the adjournment, Washington’s City Council floor leader, Alderman Timothy Evans, called it back into session, said Ms. Stepan.
The 13 committeemen present voted to censure Vrdolyak and remove him from his party chairman position, then elected Cook County Commissioner John Stroger to lead the committee until the April 7 election.
The 50-member municipal party committee is an arm of the 80-member Cook County Democratic Party, which Vrdolyak also chairs.
Ms. Stepan said voting out Vrdolyak ″was almost a stunt, a charade. ... I do believe we ought to have a new chairman, but that’s not a professional way to run the party.″
But Evans insisted the vote was legal.
″If Vrdolyak wants to go to court to challenge, then it’s up to him,″ he said. ″We had the right to conduct the meeting. There is no rule that sets the number for a quorum.″
Evans said the mayor ″cast no vote and played no role″ in removing or censuring Vrdolyak.
The Illinois Solidarity Party was begun by Adlai Stevenson to distance himself from two supporters of Lyndon LaRouche who had won spots on the Democratic slate. After he lost the governor’s race, Stevenson said the party should be dissolved.
Besides Washington, former mayor Jane Byrne and Cook County Assessor Thomas Hynes also have filed to run in the Democratic mayoral primary.