By MILTON RAKOVE Author of the book Don't Make No Waves...Don't Back No Losers, Rakove is professor of political science at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus.

Sen. Adlai

Stevenson III

Staking out his role in Illinois and Washington


WHEN ADLAI Stevenson III ran as a Democratic candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives in 1964 in the at-large election, everyone knew why he was on the ticket. He was heir to a distinguished name in Illinois politics son of a former governor and two-time presidential candidate who was still the idol of the liberal, intellectual Illinois Democratic constituency; grandson of a former Illinois secretary of state, and great-grandson of a former Illinois congressman and Vice President of the United States. What the Adams family had been to the Republic in its early days, the Stevensons have been to Illinois for nearly a century.

Stevenson did not come to politics only by familial backgroung, however, but rather through a concatenation of heredity, ambition and political circumstance. "I can never remember being interested in any other line of work," he told me in an interview. "I studied government and political theory in college, went into the Marine Corps during the Korean War, and then went to law school. But every action in my life was aimed at a political career."

He was also the beneficiary of political circumstance in 1964. Because the General Assembly and a special commission could not reach agreement on reapportionment, all House candidates, by constitutional mandate, were listed on one ballot for election statewide or at-large instead of by district. Both parties looked for strong candidates to head their lists. The Republicans had slated President Dwight Eisenhower's brother, Earl Eisenhower, to head their ticket of 1.18 at-large candidates for the House. Mayor Richard J. Daley, ever mindful of a good name on the ticket, asked Stevenson to run. Daley, taking no chances, asked Adiai 111 directly. Two years earlier, unbeknownst to young Stevenson, Daley had called the elder Stevenson to ask him, if he had any objection to Adlai III running for Congress in Congressman Sidney Yates' district in 1962 when Yates ran for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Everett Dirksen. The elder Stevenson had rejected the opportunity for his son, thus depriving Adiai 111 of a sure seat in Congress.

Legislator, treasurer
In the 1964 election, Stevenson led the ticket, coming in first of all 236 legislative candidates, thus establishing himself as a political asset and a formidable vote getter. But he was not a particularly effective campaigner. "I always approached campaigns with some diffidence," he said. "I wasn't very good on my feet. I really felt uncomfortable in that job of campaigning. It didn't come naturally. The personal contacts with people were enjoyable and fairly easy, but public speaking did not come naturally to me."

Stevenson's two-year stint in Springfield was an educational experience, although he was not a particularly effective legislator. "It was a great experience for me," he said. "'I loved it. I

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learned more about politics and government in those two years than in any other two years. It was a humbling experience, and I acquired a great deal of respect out of it for people in politics."

In 1966, Daley slated Stevenson for state treasurer and he won again, the only Democrat to win that year in an off-year state election. In 1968, Stevenson had his first falling out with his political godfather, Daley. The mayor asked him to run for the U.S. Senate against the formidable Dirksen. Stevenson told Daley that he wanted to run for governor of Illinois, and that he could not support President Lyndon John- son's Vietnam policy under any circumstances. "The roof fell in," Stevenson said. "The mayor was really quite upset. I was dumped from the slate."

But Stevenson's independence and vote appeal and Daley's practicality and need were conjoined two years later when Dirksen died suddenly and a special election for his seat was called. Daleydrafted Stevenson. Stevenson defeated Ralph Smith for the seat in 1970 by a plurality of 545,336 and defeated George Burditt in 1974 by a plurality of 726,612.

U.S. senator
What kind of a senator has Stevenson been?

He came to the U.S. Senate as a relatively unknown quantity, son of a famous father, with a somewhat obscure background in his six years in Illinois state government. He did his homework, worked hard and was, in general, regarded as a competent but rather undistinguished member of the world's most exclusive club. In 1972, he challenged Daley for the chairmanship of the Illinois delegation to the Democratic national convention, but was outgeneraled easily by the Chicago machine boss, even though Daley was later thrown out of the convention. And in 1976, Daley's attempt to use him as a front man, that is, as Illinois' favorite son and stalking-horse for the presidential nomination, fizzled out when Jimmy Carter locked up the nomination before the convention. Daley's push to get Stevenson on the ticket as the vice presidential candidate also collapsed.

But, despite what appears to be a relatively undistinguished and unpromising record and future, Stevenson has clearly begun to stake out an important role for himself, both at home in Illinois and in Washington. He has steadily moved away from his original familial power base and is gearing his political career to his own ambitions and abilities and the realities of contemporary and future political circumstance.

In Washington, Stevenson has begun to develop a significant role in the Senate. He was an early backer of Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D., W. Va.) in his successful fight to become majority

Stevenson has steadily moved away from his original familial power base and is gearing his political career to his own ambitions and abilities and the realities of contemporary and future political circumstance

leader. He was in the forefront in recognizing the energy crisis and played a major role in developing a policy for dealing with it. He sponsored a study of the Senate's archaic committee structure and was the major force in developing and pushing through a reorganization of the committee system which is the most far-reaching reform in many years. He is chairman of three major subcommittees and was entrusted by Byrd with the chairmanship of the new Senate Ethics Committee, a political hot potato which will not make him too popular with many of his colleagues. And Byrd has also put him on the important Senate Policy Committee.

Experienced politician
His new relationship with Byrd and the Senate leadership is clearly not so much a turn to the right ideologically, as it is a maturation of an attitude toward government which is geared more to practicality and effectiveness than to political philosophy. He opposes the Humphrey-Hawkins full employment bill and is lukewarm on President Carter's welfare reform, not so much on philosophical grounds, but rather as a hardheaded political analyst who believes that neither program goes to the core of the long-term problems. Stevenson may have studied political theory at Harvard, but he is now an experienced politician with over a dozen years of training in the crucible of Illinois and national politics.

In the Senate, he has no illusions about the nature of the game and the ability of the players. "They are a remarkable group of men," he told me in the interview. "Tough, shrewd, principled and, with some exceptions, with a very high order of intelligence. You never know how skillful they are as debaters and politicians until you've crossed them on the Senate floor. And you have to be careful. Before you know it, your head is just gone, and you haven't even felt it." But he is not easily out maneuvered on his own grounds. When his reorganization plan was under heavy criticism from some powerful committee chairmen, Byrd arranged a meeting with them, and Stevenson held his ground fairly well in a three-and- one-half-hour session.

Illinois Democrat
At home in Illinois politics, his longtime recognition of his value as a vote getter has led him to continue to maintain considerable independence of the leadership of the Chicago Democratic machine. While Daley was alive, both the mayor and Stevenson recognized the mutuality of interests and the requirements of the relationship. Daley needed Stevenson at the top of the ticket to help carry the all-important local candidates, and Stevenson needed Daley's blessing for the high office he sought. And, under the rules of Democratic machine politics in Illinois, a liberal or independent senator or congressman can go his own way in Washington

as long as he supports legislation which benefits Chicago and does not interfere in local political situations. Since those are usually irrelevant to a senator's problems in Washington, the arrangement can be easily worked out.

Daley's death and the coming of a Democratic administration to Washington have created a new situation for Stevenson and the men who have inherited the Chicago machine and the city government. Patronage is the lifeblood of the Cook County Democratic organization, and there are some high-level federal appointments which are subject to senatorial courtesy. From

22 / November 1977 / Illinois Issues


1961-1966, when Paul Douglas was in the Senate and John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were in the White House, Daley made sure he was consulted on all major federal appointments. Until this year there was no conflict between Stevenson and the Chicago machine over such matters, since Republican Sen. Charles Percy exercised appointment prerogatives while Nixon and Ford were in the White House.

His leadership
With Daley's death, and with a Democratic administration in Washington, Stevenson has served notice to the party leadership that he means to exercise his prerogatives. His appointment of Thomas Sullivan to be U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois was made without prior approval from the Bismarck Hotel party headquarters. And Stevenson's-recommendation of Nicholas Bua and Stanley Roszkowski for the federal bench was his, not the party's decision.

The appointment of Sullivan, Bua and Roszkowski, all able men, was an indication of Stevenson's development as a politician. Bua, an Italian, and Roszkowski, a Pole, are members of two major Chicago area ethnic groups which have grown increasingly restive and even hostile to the lack of sensitivity to their interests on the part of the Irish dominated Chicago machine. Stevenson got the best of both the political and governmental worlds with the appointmerits. He served notice that he was going to exercise his prerogatives, he put three good men in government and he played good ethnic politics in anticipation of an 1980 campaign for reelection, which may present him for the first time with a tough fight. Donald Rumsfeld is back in Illinois, serving at present as board chairman of G. D. Searle and Company. But Rumsfeld, a lifelong politician, may seek the Republican nomination for Stevenson's seat in 1980 as the next step toward a run for the presidency himself one day. Rumsfeld would be a formidable opponent, well-financed, well-organized and highly experienced in both politics and government.

Stevenson's development as a senator and politician is also helping him to free himself of something which was one of his greatest assets and yet one of his worst handicaps his relationship to his family name and tradition. It is doubtful if Stevenson could ever have got off the ground on a political career without being his father's namesake; his initial appeal to the electorate was clearly linked to that relationship. But he also suffered from the inevitable comparison. "Since no public figure of our time measured up to his standards, especially his eloquence and humor," he told me, "I never have come off too well by that kind of comparison." But Stevenson has come to terms with that, too. "It took awhile to learn to live with that and be philosophical about it," he said, "to be my own self and try to establish my identity in other ways."

It may well be that Adiai Stevenson III, senator and politician in his own right and heir to the Stevenson name in Illinois, may turn out to be, not the Charles Francis Adams or the Henry Adams, but rather the John Quincy Adams of the Stevenson line. And even if he does not become president or vice president of these United States, he may well become a great senator.


Have you heard?

The 1976-77 edition of the Illinois Issues Annual is now available. It offers the best articles reprinted from Illinois Issues magazine during the last year of the Walker administration and the first months of the Thompson administration. The articles provide detailed accounts and analyses of the major issues faced by our state and local governments, ranging from legislators on trial for bribery to questions on energy and welfare programs. Although primarily designed for classroom use, the Annual is of great value to anyone who wants cogent commentary and information on the problems and processes of state and local government in Illinois.

Here is a sampling of the contents:

"Survival for city managers" by John Rehfuss, political scientist and former city manager.

"How to lobby" by Richard Lockhart, a professional lobbyist.

"Computers and privacy" by Philip Koltun, mathematics professor and lecturer.

"Student trustees: Should they have full voting rights on university boards?" a debate between Lilburn H. Norton, Jr., Kankakee Community College president, and Mary McDonough Brady, former executive director of the Association of Illinois student governments.

SPECIAL FEATURE. The Editors of Illinois Issues magazine have written a special introductory chapter, "The ABC's of Illinois Government," which provides a concise outline of the powers of the governor and other executive officers, the process for passing a bill in the General Assembly and a description of our three-tiered judiciary.

The price of the 120-page Annual is $3.25 a copy. Orders should be sent to Illinois Issues, 226 Capital Campus, Sangamon State University, Springfield, IL 62708. The Annual will also be available through most college bookstores, which can obtain them at the standard textbook discount.

November 1977 / Illinois Issues / 23

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