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Partisans and PartnersThe Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society$
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Josh Pacewicz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402550

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402727.001.0001

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The Ben Denison Campaign: How Partners Failed to Colonize Politics

The Ben Denison Campaign: How Partners Failed to Colonize Politics

(p.166) Six The Ben Denison Campaign: How Partners Failed to Colonize Politics
Partisans and Partners

Josh Pacewicz

University of Chicago Press

This chapter tracks the ascendance of partners within River City’s post-1980s public sphere and focuses additionally on constitutive exceptions to partners’ avoidance of politics: cases in which partners take political positions that ultimately aggravate tensions between those engaged in community governance and grassroots parties. The chapter first employs archival documents and oral histories to show how partners sidelined traditional leaders: by persuasion, allowing traditional leaders to exit gracefully from public life, placing competitive pressure on them to remain in the public limelight, and—failing this—systematic ostracism. Yet despite their officially nonpartisan persona, most of River City’s partners were privately Democrats, and encountered incentives to adopt this identity to index solidarity with their supporters (especially in the case of union leaders), discredit their opponents, and run for public office—aims that were all evident in a reoccurring case study of the failed congressional campaign of Ben Denison, the head of River City’s development corporation. In this case and others, partners’ stewardship of public life generates bitter conflicts, but ones that partners themselves, their opponents, and other denizens understand as being between those who embrace community-oriented consensus and those engaged in divisive partisan politics.

Keywords:   community elites, economic development, public sphere, constitutive exceptions, Democratic party

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