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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

Gapers Block

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It must be hard being the least important man in America.

Gary Skoien, the supposed Chairman of something called the "Cook County Republican Party," recently made headlines for putting a political bounty of $10,000 on Mayor Daley's head, to be rewarded to anybody who can provide evidence leading to the Mayor's indictment.

Provided, of course, this "Cook County Republican Party" is able to raise $10,000. As of their last filing, they did not have $10,000 cash on hand.

The uproar has caused Skoien to lose his day job, with commentators from all over the spectrum denouncing Skoien's injection of partisan politics into an on-going investigation, trying to garner a bit of attention for himself and setting a dangerous precedent of cash-for-crimes vigilante muckraking by political parties. Skoien has demeaned the legal system for a bit of dramatics in pursuit of partisan gain.

In this baggy-pants farce, Skoien stars as the role-playing game nerd, self-importantly issuing orders and conjuring up powers that disappear the minute mommy calls him out of the musky basement for dinner. As the Official Chairman of the Ramsin Canon Democratic Party, membership 1, I am actually more powerful than Gary Skoein. Actually, that's kind of a fun game. Hey! I just founded the Cook County Flarnywidget Party. And I'm the Chairman! Maybe I'll have a press conference next week.

The disgusting bit of political assassination by Skoien is in the great tradition of another sufferer of delusions of grandeur, Charles Guiteau, assassin of President James Garfield. Guiteau was a nobody hack who for some unknown reason felt he deserved to be Ambassador to France, repeatedly writing letters and badgering White House staff with demands of being given the plum post "or else." Of course, the biggest difference is that Guiteau followed through, whacking Garfield and living in infamy forever. Skoien can't even back up his threat, and more often than not people forget him before they're done shaking his hand.

Skoien is literally beneath contempt: he leads the most irrelevant and least effective political organization in the history of the United States. This is literally the case: in 2004, Cook County was the "bluest" county in the United States, providing Senator John Kerry the largest vote margin of any county in the country.

Now, don't simply shrug this off: Cook County isn't only Chicago. Remember, Cook County includes the south suburbs, most of the North Shore suburbs, a handful of the southwest suburbs, and much of the northwest suburbs: among the towns are Kenilworth, Wilmette, Deerfield, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, and parts of Barrington.

Less than $10,000 cash on hand. Who the hell does this guy think he is? With a resume like his, he may as well have announced he was issuing a billion dollar bounty on the head of Sasquatch.

Skoien and this supposed "Cook County Republican Party" are so impotent, in fact, that I started to become suspicious: Maybe they don't really exist at all.

So in the spirit of Gary Skoien — or, rather, "Gary Skoien" — I'm going to go ahead and make a pledge, too. A beer and a shot at Richard's on Grand, on me, for the first person who can prove Gary Skoein actually exists.

Is Gary Skoien a real dude? I'm beginning to doubt it more and more. I mean, sure, most Cook County residents probably couldn't name the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party off the top of their head — it's Tommy Lyons, by the way — but they sure as hell could name the people who, you know, run Cook County and/or serve in its assorted elective offices. People like John H. Stroger (Democrat), Richard M. Daley (Democrat), Michael Sheahan (Democrat), Maria Pappas (Democrat), John Houlihan (Democrat), Richard Mell (Democrat), Gene Moore (Democrat), John Daley (Democrat), Michael Madigan (Democrat), Ed Burke (Democrat), etc. You may also know the products/beneficiaries of this organization who have gone on to some success on the statewide level: Rod Blagojevich (Democrat), Lisa Madigan (Democrat), Jesse White (Democrat), Dan Hynes (Democrat), Dick Durbin (Democrat) and Barack Obama (Democrat).

If this "Cook County Republican Party" and its "Chairman" really exist, what the hell have they been doing the last, oh, 15 years or so? Where are their candidates, their platforms, and their public campaigns? And how come this "Gary Skoien" just kind of popped up in time to take public heat off of the Mayor?

But there is an even more damning question.

How could anybody heading up such an ineffective organization keep his job? The answer — he couldn't. If anybody in a position of responsibility had such a hysterically bad a track record, surely they'd have been recalled, fired, sacked, possibly slapped around for a while, right? Right. They must've.

I mean, the last guy to be this bad at a job he was elected to do was President — well, I guess he won reelection, too.

But not with any help from Gary Skoien, that's for sure.

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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