As fun and intriguing as it is to speculate about political “what ifs," let's focus a bit on a couple of contested primary elections soon to be facing voters of the 49th Ward.

For starters, let's draw our attention to the contested race (actually races), for the position of (drum roll please) ….... 49th Ward Committeeman.

Drum roll?

Most of us know little about the race of Committeeman.

Do we care?

Perhaps I read too many Mike Royko articles back during his hey day, but thoughts of a Chicago Committeeman conjure in my mind images of smoke filled rooms, deal making and political patronage.

Is this still true?

From what I've learned, certain important federal lawsuits and consent decrees in the past thirty years have gradually changed the tone of Chicago politics. Chicago elections are no longer conducted with the same degree of predictability and manipulation, when a Committeeman could anticipate precisely how many votes each of their precinct captains could deliver, and the head of the local party confidently predict the vote tallies brought in by each Committeeman. (Suggested reading: The Boss, by Mike Royko.)

I am not saying that modern day Chicago elections are squeaky clean, but they considerably different now then they were decades ago.

And with these changes, so, too, has evolved the role of a Committeeman.

I could speculate about how that job has evolved, but I really have no idea.

Better to present that question to the existing candidates for 49th Ward Committeeman (both Democrat and Republican – yes, there is a contested race for Republican 49th Ward Committeeman as well)?

Three questions come to my mind:

a) What does a Committeeman do?

b) Why are you the most qualified?

c) Why should we care?

Please submit your answer on or before Wednesday, February 8, 2012, and we will post it on the Home Page, perhaps in several installments. Remember: this is web based reading, so try to be succinct, perhaps offering us a link to your campaign websites for those of us hungry for more.

State Rep Candidates?

You are next.