Members of the Illinois General Assembly paused for a rain delay in their bitter partisan budget feud March 8 for a special proclamation honoring the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
In honor of Chicago Cubs World Champion Day, legislators snapped selfies with their phones in front of the World Series trophy, carried in by team owner Tom Ricketts and his retinue. Each seat in the House chamber was draped with a “W” “Cubs Win” flag.
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), who represents Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood, introduced the resolution.
“We’ve been members in this house with fans of the Chicago White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, so we know how it feels,” she said. “So, I beg your indulgence today.” World Series trophies for the Cardinals and the White Sox have visited Springfield in the past.
Feigenholtz said the team was an economic engine in her district and the city of Chicago. She pointed out that the Nov. 3, 2016 Cubs win in the seventh game of World Series paused November electioneering so everyone could cheer for the underdog baseball team which had not won a World Series in 108 years.
“In the midst of a divisive presidential campaign, the team brought youthfulness, diversion and grit,” she said. “Forty million people watched Game 7 and 5 million people came to the parade and rally from all races and income levels, independents Republicans and Democrats,” she said.
Feigenholtz summarized Team Manager Joe Maddon’s formula for success in a way that might have been advice to her own fellow legislators: “To convince players and fans to look forward, not backward, to think positively and to do simple, better.”
Nostalgic legislators shared their personal memories of family members, especially those Cubs fans who kept the faith, never seeing the team win a world championship.
Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said his grandparents had honeymooned in Chicago in 1947 and taken in two Cubs games. Rep. Camille Lily (D-Chicago) said her 102-year-old mother had attended two recent games for the first time.
State Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) remembered “taking the bus down Belmont Avenue with my grandmother.”
Illinois politicians and the Cubs have a mutually beneficial relationship. The Chicago Cubs have donated $9,870 to Feigenholtz’s campaign war chest since 2004.
Documents filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections show how local politicians buy tickets as gifts for campaign workers and volunteers. PAC committees purchase tickets for raffle items and rent Wrigley Field suites for $11,500 a pop to host legislators and their friends for events such as the “Cubs Caucus” held in August 2016.
Legislators also use campaign committee funds to buy game tickets for donors and host fundraisers, where they rake in even more campaign committee funds. In 2016, the campaign committee Friends of Michael Madigan spent more than $140,000 on Cubs tickets. Senate President John Cullerton’s campaign committee spent $61,550. All told, $377,386 was paid to the Chicago Cubs in 2016 by Illinois politicians and political action committees, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In the House Chambers, some fans of rival teams could not resist some gentle mockery of the Northside team. Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside), a White Sox fan, grudgingly admitted the World Series was “riveting baseball.” Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) said, “See you in another 108 years.” But Comiskey family descendant Rep. Patty Bellock, (R-Westmont) summed up good will for the team when she said, “The love of the game of baseball is what it’s all about.”
— Cubs World Series trophy brings goodwill to General Assembly —