Greek-Americans have a proud and long tradition of electing many of our own to office. Spiro Agnew and Michael Dukakis came close to putting a Greek-American in the Oval Office. Paul Sarbanes, Olympia Snowe, Paul Tsongas, Phil Angelides, Alexi Giannoulias and now Eleni Kounalakis have all held statewide elected office.
We have a proud tradition in the US House of Representatives as well with John Brademas, Nick Galifianakis, Mike Bilirakis, John Sarbanes, Dina Titus, Gus Bilirakis, Zack Space and now Chris Pappas among the many who have served.
Most of these officials managed to make their candidacies a cause celebre in their local Greek community and most have gotten a lot of traction in the national community. The fundraising track record of the Greek-American community in particular has led almost every candidate with even a bit of Greek heritage to attempt to cash in on their ethnic background.
This phenomenon played out again in Chicago this year, as there were several Greek-American angles in the race to succeed Rahm Emanuel as Mayor of Chicago. Paul Vallas jumped in first, but when Emanuel decided not to run for reelection, he was followed by his former colleague at the Chicago Public Schools, Gery Chico, who emphasized his ¼ Greek roots when soliciting the support of Chicago’s Greek-American community. Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas briefly flirted with a run just after having demolished her opponent for Treasurer by a convincing 88%-12%.
Vallas tried the hardest to play the “Greek card,” working every Greek media angle he could in an attempt to attract Greek-American dollars. No matter what Vallas’ efforts produced in dollars, they certainly did not produce votes: he finished 9th among 14 candidates with 5.43% of the vote.
Of course, supporters of any candidate feel bitter after electoral defeat. Those who narrowly lose often place blame on multiple individuals and factors.
Last week however, one of Vallas’ chief cheerleaders – Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, whose own paper did not support his preferred candidate, decided to place the blame for Vallas’ anemic showing at the feet of two individuals.
As reported by Shia Kapos in Politico, Kass assailed local Greeks that:
“didn’t give money or endorsements, he said on his “Chicago Way” podcast on WGN radio. Kass, who’s Greek, called out two people in particular. “I’ll just say their first names: Endy and Maria. They’ll know who I’m talking about.” We all did. He was referring to Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (a national lobbying group) and Maria Pappas, the Cook County Treasurer.”
No matter how convinced Kass was that Vallas ever had a shot at winning the race, veteran political analyst and strategist (and Managing Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council) Georgia Logothetis wouldn’t have any of it.
Twitter take downs have become more creative and entertaining in the age of Trump, but Logothetis’ demolition of Kass may be the best of 2019 so far.
Logothetis challenges Kass’s unsupported assertion that Vallas would have won had Greek-Americans just opened their wallets a little further, when he referred to Zemenides and Pappas as the “Ephialtes” twins.
The takedown that ensues by Logothetis is masterful. Pull up a chair, she suggests… This is going to get good.
For Logothetis, who has been responsible for digital strategy for advocacy efforts and campaigns, Vallas really suffered from “not knowing how to run a modern, competent campaign.”
This included devoting a large part of his campaign budget to a questionable technology consultant and using a mass text message program that was characterized as “spamming” and “annoying” and led to a class action lawsuit.
Perhaps the most entertaining portion of Logothetis’ takedown of Kass was when she argued that his “overblown, faux righteous indignation of ‘traitors’ of fellow Greeks should have won him Best Actor in his Own Drama.” She proceeded to point out Kass’ “glowing ode to life under authoritarian Erdogan’s regime” and his failure to chastise Vallas when he chose to endorse David Hoffman over Alexi Giannoulias for US Senate.
Kass – already feeling sore over Vallas’ decisive loss – will probably be smarting for a while over the equally decisive beating he took on Twitter.
Georgia’s Tweet by Tweet Takedown of John Kass follows:
Oh boy, looks like @John_Kass haz a mad over Paul Vallas coming in 9th in the Chicago mayor’s race. Pull up a chair, folks…
He calls out a couple Greek community leaders, @Zemenides and @CookCountyTreas Maria Pappas, claiming Vallas lost b/c of a lack of money and that those two dried it up.
Let’s be clear where the blame for a Vallas loss falls. Right at the feet of Vallas himself. First off, Kass is wrong that Vallas wasn’t a contender because of a lack of money. Fact is, Vallas performed worse than a candidate that raised substantially less.
He raised almost double what Amara Enyia raised but got only 68% of her vote total. Meanwhile, let’s not forget that Daley raised $8.3 million, $2 million MORE than the top two runoff winners COMBINED, yet he placed #3.
Here’s a guy who spent nearly 1/3 of his money on a firm called Link2Tek which “provides the application of advanced technologies…to improve political campaign strategies & communications” but has a website that looks like it was loaded from an AOL free trial CD…
…and has a whopping 59 followers on Twitter…
And though the Oscars are over, I think Kass’s overblown, faux righteous indignation at “traitors” of fellow Greeks should have won him Best Actor in his Own Drama.
This is, after all, the same Kass who went to Turkey and penned a glowing ode of life under authoritarian Erdogan’s regime
And, on a final note, I tried to find his column chastising Vallas when Vallas chose to endorse David Hoffman over fellow Greek Alexi Giannoulias in the ’06 Senate race, but came up empty.
So all of this leaves us with one pressing question: is it possible for John Kass to give himself the Moutza of the Month?
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