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Tom Carey, Strategist For Cook County Democrats, Dies At 62

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Tom Carey, a longtime political strategist for the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, has died. He was 62.

The Southwest Sider worked on John Stroger's campaign for Cook County board president in 1994 and for former Mayor Richard M. Daley's campaign for Cook County state's attorney in 1980.

Carey's interest in politics blossomed with his family, which often talked politics at dinner. His father was an accountant and his mother worked in a doctor's office.

He was the seventh of nine children. His sister Eileen at one time was the commissioner of the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation.

Carey said he did not put much stock in polls, especially early on in races.

"People don't focus on presidential campaigns until after the World Series — that's always been a traditional rule of thumb in American politics," he said in 1994.

Both the Daley and Stroger campaigns were come-from-behind victories.

In Daley's race, Carey targeted suburban precincts, and he crafted Stroger's image as one of a law-and-order candidate, focusing on his work at the Cook County Jail.

"Stroger and [his advisers] rejected a narrow black-focused campaign in favor of a campaign that reached out to voters in all parts of the county," Carey said after the victory. "They knew that we needed a multiethnic, broad-based coalition to win a countywide election."

After Daley won the state's attorney race, Carey was offered a governmental job but declined, as he preferred campaign work.

Longtime 19th Ward political operative James "Skinny" Sheahan knew Carey for more than 40 years and said he was "a most colorful character" and "a savant with numbers."

"He knew the numbers but he also understood what they meant," Sheahan said. "He was the best, period."

Sheahan added that Carey never showed much interest in material things, instead placing value in people.

"He had a very big heart and he was very, very loyal," Sheahan said.

Visitation will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, followed by Mass at 11 a.m. at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, located at 9837 S. Throop.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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