Long before he became a congressman, federal judge or presidential adviser, a young Abner Mikva walked into the 8th Ward committeeman’s storefront office to volunteer for the 1948 election.

When Mikva had no political connections to speak of, the ward heeler responded with a now-infamous line that sums up the clout and cronyism of the city’s vaunted Democratic machine: “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

A look around the Chicago political landscape these days, however, shows the nobodies are faring quite well.

The last two Cook County Democratic Party bosses suffered embarrassing losses to political newcomers for county assessor and mayor. A congressional seat held for decades by a powerful establishment family now belongs to a progressive outsider. Several longtime white machine politicians have been defeated by first-time candidates of color.