If there was any doubt that Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool was planning on challenging Cook County Board President Todd Stroger in the 2010 Democratic Primary, let there be no doubt: It’s on.

Claypool was “all over” WLS-890 (AM)) radio Tuesday morning, according to the Sun-Times, criticizing Stroger’s 2009 budget proposal — a document Stroger has yet to release to the public.  At 10 a.m., Stroger called in to Mancow’s show to confront Claypool.  What followed was a fiery exchange:

Stroger said his ears were burning more than when my friends are messing with me,” Muller said. “He seemed like a man who couldn’t take it anymore. I’m not a huge fan of his politics, but I have to commend the guy for walking into the lion’s den.”

What followed was the first unofficial broadcast debate between Stroger and Claypool 14 months before their highly anticipated — but not yet confirmed — showdown for board presidency in the 2010 Democratic primary.

According to the Sun-Times, the two shouted over each other “as if voters were headed to the polls any day now.”

Claypool attacked Stroger’s plan to borrow millions to pay for “normal operating expenses” — payments to self-insurance and pension funds — after raising taxes to record levels just six months ago. He called it a move to “cover up” Stroger’s management mistakes until the next election.

Stroger struck back with venom: “Either you didn’t read the budget or you don’t understand government.” Stroger went on to suggest Claypool is nothing more than a do-nothing politician seeking higher office.

Ah, wonderful irony of Todd Stroger calling another elected official a “do-nothing politician.”  Of course, none of this public shouting and  juvenile name-calling speaks well for either board official.  As we make our way further into the murky waters of the Bush Recession, we need elected officials who inspire confidence.

Well, we’re 14 months out from this primary election, and I’m ready.  I hope you are as well.  Cook County residents deserve smart government.  Submitting a secret draft budget riddled with bad math only intensifies our doubts about county government.