George W. Dunne (February 20, 1913 - May 29, 2006) was an American Democratic Party politician from Chicago, Illinois. He was President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners from 1969 to 1991; the longest service of anyone holding that office.
He was born in the Near North Side of Chicago, one of eight children of John and Ellen Dunne. His father died when he was twelve years old. He graduated from De La Salle Institute and attended Northwestern University for a year but dropped out. He became active in Democratic politics and was employed by the Park District, an agency in which many Democratic precinct captains were given patronage jobs.
He was appointed to a vacant seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1955, and was re-elected in 1956, 1958, 1960, and 1962. After eight years he became floor leader for the House Democrats.
In 1963 Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley appointed him to a seat on the Cook County Board.
In 1969, he became President of the County Board, succeeding Richard B. Ogilvie, who had been elected Governor. Despite periodic revelations of questionable financial dealings, (Dunne owned and operated an insurance agency throughout his career in elected office), Dunne was re-elected in 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, and 1986. He was seen as a potential successor to Mayor Daley. In 1976, after Daley's death, Dunne did replace the late mayor as Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Committee. However, he did not become the party's choice for Mayor and never exercised the despotic power Daley had enjoyed as party chairman. In 1982, Dunne lost the party chairmanship to Alderman Edward Vrdolyak, an ally of Mayor Jane Byrne. Dunne was aligned with Chicago's first African-American Mayor Harold Washington during the Council Wars period and was re-elected to the party chairmanship after Vrydolyak resigned following his defeat by Washington in the 1987 Mayoral election.
Pushing 80 and yet enmeshed in a scandal in which he admitted having sex with female county employees who alleged they were pressured into providing sexual favors to him, Dunne did not seek re-election to the County Board Presidency or party chairmansip in 1990. However, he stayed on as Democratic Ward Committeeman of Chicago's 42nd Ward, a post he had held since 1961. Dunne was repeatedly re-elected to this position, which with the decline of patronage had declined in importance, until he resigned in 2003. He died in his farm in Hebron, Illinois on May 29, 2006.
- Bettergov.org, Pol who ruled Cook County for decades dies.
Richard B. Ogilvie
|Cook County Board President