Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Most Important Race You Never Heard Of

in chicago, there are really two classes of alderman: alderman who are merely alderman and alderman who control their wards (and play a role in chicago and cook county politics). those who fall in the latter, more powerful category, serve as their ward committeeman.

being the democratic (or republican or, now, green party) committeeman is a thankless task. it's an unpaid position, with substantial expectations, and probably more (in my mind, useless) meetings than you can imagine. but there's also a lot of power in the position -- although less than there used to be under patronage regimes. committeeman have the power to slate candidates in their wards, they fill partisan positions inside the polls, they are the central organizing point for regular party activists in their wards, and they get to fill elected positions that become vacant before their terms end. as we all know, they also can fill empty positions on their party's ballot if no one runs or they resign their place on the ballot. they get a weighted vote in cook county democratic party decisions (determined by the partisan turnout in the last primary in comparison to the county partisan vote).

on february 5th, 2008, wards in chicago will be electing ward committeemen for their four year terms. township committeemen (outside of chicago) elected their's in march, 2006.

there has been talk of challenging as many ward committeemen as possible, both within progressive circles and union circles. but it's hard to get people, even candidates, excited about something most people never heard of. it has been a long tradition that democratic committeemen, especially, had employment within either the chicago city or cook county government. this is still largely the case. but there looks to be more contested races for ward committeeman than in march 2004.

40% of the committeeman running are incumbent committeemen AND alderman in their wards AND uncontested in 2008. they are:

4th Toni Preckwinkle
5th Leslie A. Hairston
6th Freddrenna M. Lyle
9th Anthony A. Beale
10th John A. Pope
14th Edward M. Burke
21st Howard B. Brookins
23rd Michael R. Zalewski
29th Isaac "Ike" Sims Carothers
33rd Richard F. Mell
34th Carrie M. Austin
35th Ray Colón
36th William J.P. Banks
37th Emma M. Mitts
40th Patrick J. O'Connor
44th Tom Tunney
45th Patrick J. Levar
47th Gene Schulter

two of these are incumbent committeemen AND alderman in their wards who face no opposition candidates BUT have curiously had their filings challenged:

1st Manuel "Manny" Flores
30th Ariel E. Reboyras

there are 12 incumbent committeemen running without opposition but who do not serve as their ward's alderman:

8th Todd H. Stroger (Alderman: Michelle Harris)
11th John P. Daley (Alderman: James Balcer)
12th Antonio "Tony" Munoz (Alderman: George A. Cardenas)
13th Michael J. Madigan (Alderman: Frank Olivo)
19th Matthew J. O'Shea (Alderman: Virginia A. Rugai)
26th Roberto Maldonado (Alderman: Billy Ocasio)
27th Jesse White (Alderman: Walter Burnett, Jr.)
38th Patricia J. Cullerton (Alderman: Thomas R. Allen)
39th Randy J. Barnette (Alderman: Margaret Laurino)
46th Tom Sharpe (Alderman: Helen Shiller)
48th Carol Ronen (Alderman: Mary Ann Smith)
49th David Fagus (Alderman: Joe Moore)

none of these incumbent committeemen were challenged.

in total, that is 32 wards where the incumbent committeeman is running without opposition in 2008.

five incumbent committeemen/alderman are running against challengers (astrisk marks incumbent):

17th Ward
Latasha Thomas *
Yvette Williams

both candidates faces objections to their paperwork.

22nd Ward
Ricardo Munoz *
Jose M Gutierrez

jose gutierrez faces a challenge to his filing.

25th Ward
Daniel S. Solis *
Ambrosio Medrano
Joseph Mario Moreno
Cuahutemoc Morfin
Robert Martinez

danny solis, next runner-up (in the february aldermanic race) temoc morfin and robert martinez all face objections.

28th War
Ed H. Smith *
Carol G. Johnson
Velda Brunner

both challengers, carol johnson and velda brunner were challenged.

50th Ward
Ira I. Silverstein
Bernard L. Stone *

surprisingly, stone did not challenge state senator silverstein's paperwork. he may regret it. you may have noticed that this is the only challenged incumbent who did not win the lottery to get his name first on the ballot.

there were two wards where the incumbent committeemen who are not their ward's aldermen who are running in 2008. both drew challenges:

31st Ward
Reinaldo "Ray" Hernandez
Joseph Berrios *

joseph berrios, cook county democratic chair, drew objections. he also lost the lottery to his challenger.

41st Ward
Ralph C. Capparelli *
Mary O'Connor
Patricia A. Mulligan
Frank Coconate

frank coconate drew a challenge, as one would have expected.

two new aldermen are running for to be their ward committeemen against the incumbent committeemen:

7th Ward
Sandi Jackson
William M. Beavers *

this will probably be the most expensive committeemen's race in the city. sandi's husband, and political partner, congressman jesse jackson has asked the federal election commission for permission to transfer almost a million dollars into a local account for this race. you will remember that sandi jackson handily beat beavers' daughter, darcel, for alderman. darcel had been appointed to complete her father's term when he left the city council to fill john stroger's county commission seat.

24th Ward
Sharon Denise Dixon
Dennis Deer
Larry G. Nelson
Roger Washington
Julius Anderson
Reva Williams
Michael D. Chandler *
Joe Ann Bradley

deer, washington, anderson, Williams, chandler, bradley were all challenged.

there were nine democratic committeemen who decided not to run this time. in two of those wards, new aldermen run unopposed for committeeman:

2nd Bob Fioretti
16th JoAnn Thompson

congressman bobby rush, who is currently the 2nd ward committeeman passed petitions but did not file to run for re-election. rich miller wonders why here.

in five of these retirements, the new aldermen in those wards are running for the committeeman's position, but are opposed by other challengers:

3rd Ward
Pat Dowell (ald.)
Kenneth "Ken" Dunkin

ken dunkin faces objections to his paperwork.

15th Ward
Toni L. Foulkes (ald.)
Emma Tate Higginbottom
Michael Smith
Gerald Frazier
Fred McGee

18th Ward
Lona Lane (ald.)
Joseph C. Ziegler, Jr.

lona lane, originally appointed by mayor daley in 2006, faces a challenge to her filing.

20th Ward
Willie B. Cochran (ald.)
Wardell Lavender

wardell lavender is being challenged.

42nd Ward
John Corrigan
Brendan Reilly (ald.)

in two wards, the incumbent committeeman chose not to run, and the incumbent aldermen choose not to run for committeeman:

32nd Ward
John A. Fritchey
Roger J. Romanelli

roger romanelli is being challenged on his filing. finally:

43rd Ward
Tim Egan
Charles E. Eastwood
Michele Smith

so what to make of all this? i'm going to order these contested races from what i expect to be the most competitive to the least competitive. until we know which challenges are upheld and whether any candidates withdraw, it seems that the top two most competitive races will be on the northside, in the 43rd and the 50th wards.

in the 43rd, we have former aldermanic candidates tim egan and michele smith running again (a year since they were on the ballot), this time against alderman daley's chief of staff, charles eastwood. many expect this to be a bloodbath, but it's odd that none of the candidates or their forces challenged another candidate(s). michele smith took vi daley into a run-off, so it would seem that she would be favored. eastwood has not been on the ballot before, and will need to raise his name recognition just to be competitive. egan received only 12% of the february vote, where he was relying on his neighborhood. his last financial disclosure report showed $8,214.00 COH. smith was still reporting a debt of $7,598.80 in her last filing. eastwood has to marshall the machine forces, perhaps bringing in people from other wards, in order to fend off the challenge from the two former aldermanic candidates. he certainly benefits from having two opponents instead of one -- which may be why there's been no challenges. this race starts with all the hallmarks for a close race. only time will tell if it turns out that way.

in the 50th, we have state senator ira silverstein running against incumbent alderman/committeeman bernard stone. silverstein is said to be a reluctant candidate for the spot, and apparently has gotten the mayor's pledge to stay out of the race. jan schakowsky and former aldermanic challengers naisy dolar and greg brewer are supporting silverstein, and it appears that some of the major jewish organizers in the ward are, as well. this should make it a tight race, if silverstein is motivated enough to take an anti-stone message into the east side of the ward where independent voters are predominant. the mythical power of winston towers, five hi-rise buildings with about 1000 voters each, will be negated by a solid showing in the rest of the jewish neighborhoods.

the race in the 3rd ward has all the makings of a tight race. there are a couple of reasons for this. pat dowell, who beat the hat, dorothy tillman, with a tremendous amount of union money and help, has become fairly close to the mayor and his machine. ken dunkin has been on the ballot, too, serving as state representative from the ward. dunkin ended the last report with $78,367.49 COH while dowell found herself with a debt of $5,333.82.

in the 24th ward, alderman sharon denise dixon sets up a rematch with the man she beat (michael chandler) in the april run-off. this west side ward tends to be decided more by who gets out on the streets than how much money is spent. dixon spent a measely $42,399.49 to win her aldermanic seat, and ended the last reporting period with $24,432.75 COH. chandler spent $143,398.26 in the attempt to fend off dixon's challenge, and ended up with $2,493.26 COH. whether or not he can compete against dixon and a beavy of other challengers depends on whether he retained his ward organization having lost the ability to keep people in jobs. it also depends on whether chandler can convince ike carothers or perhaps jesse white to help him out. dixon has proven to be an effective organizer; the question now is, how good a politician is she? i suspect that one or more of the other opponents will not survive the challenges made to their paperwork.

this is the first political test for alderman toni foulkes in the 15th ward, who's running to replace the man she beat (ted thomas) in april as committeeman. her main opponent is emma tate higginbottom, who runs the major food pantry in the ward. higginbottom expects substantial support from the daley machine. foulkes, who had major support from the unions (she was a member of the ufcw union), will need to re-energize her support base if she wants to take thomas' other seat. foulkes ended the reporting period with $4,207.25, having spent $176,977.74 to defeat the incumbent alderman last spring.

in the 41st Ward, ralph capparelli faces another tough race, four years after he lost his long held state representative seat to fellow incumbent michael mcauliffe (a republican). his main challenger appears to be edison park chamber president and local business owner mary o'connor, who may benefit from the alliances she has with mcauliffe, cook county commissioner peter silvestri and alderman brian doherty, all republicans. if she can combine their organizations with her business alliances, she will be formidible. russ stewart calls capparelli's organization decrepit. the 41st has become a haven for chicago police and firemen, who may prefer an o'conner to a capparelli. if capparelli can only mobilize a dozen precinct workers, he can only rely on about $6,055.06 in his ward organization and another $3,180.78 in his person account.

there's a lot of expectation that the 7th Ward race between alderman sandi jackson and democratic committeeman (county commissioner and former alderman) william beavers will be competitive. i don't buy it. the jackson/beavers feud seems to be long-standing, and the jackson's have figured out how to take the beavers' to school. this race may be getting national exposure, but all the more reason for jackson to wipe the floor with beavers. jackson is seeking permission from the fec to spend up to $827,869 in his congressional campaign account on this race. he is supposed to hear back sometime in december. this race might be competitive -- it is beavers' last gasp -- but i'm extremely sceptical. he doesn't have the energy, nor the power in the ward anymore, to motivate his once loyal followers in what is increasingly seen as nothing more than a family feud.

in races less likely to be truly competitive, lona lane faces an aldermanic rematch in joseph ziegler. lane got 49% in february, against ziegler's 11%, 6458 votes to 1495. lane ended the last reporting period with $39,792.56; ziegler had $5,774.04.

there is another aldermanic rematch in the 17th Ward. latasha thomas, protege of terry peterson, faces challenger yvette williams for the committeeman seat that thomas holds. thomas got 66.55% of the february 2007 vote, with 5948 votes. williams was third, with 1196 votes and 13.38%. thomas has $28,549.95 COH left over from her aldermanic race, williams raised so little (<$5000) that she filed on paper.

in the 20th Ward, new alderman willie cochran faces wardell lavender. i just don't know enough about this race to know if lavender can be competitive. cochran ended the last reporting period with $5,671.24.

in the 25th Ward, we again find an aldermanic rematch for the committeeman's seat. alderman/committeeman danny solis faces former alderman ambrosio medrano (who solis had kicked off the aldermanic ballot) and former aldermanic candidate temoc morfin, who would have forced a run-off with solis if votes for medrano would have been counted. temoc has kept his insurgent group of supporters together since the aldermanic election, and it remains to be seen if morfin and medrano can get solis into a shoot-out. solis had $63,347.25 COH at the end of the last period.

in the 22nd Ward, ricky munoz faces nominal competition in an aldermanic rematch with jose gutierrez. gutierrez got 1079 votes in february 2007, or 24.87%, against munoz's 2466 votes and 56.83%. gutierrez spent $80,521.92, with $3,473.55 left over to get his thousand votes. munoz had $33,405.82 COH at the end of the last reporting period.

races i expect won't be very competitive (or candidates will withdraw) at all: it hard to see how local economic development organization director roger romanelli competes against progressive state representative john fritchey in the 32nd ward. i question whether john corrigan will stay in the race against his friend, brendan reilly in the 42nd ward. in the 31st ward, ray hernandez gets far against joseph berrios (who will be on the ballot above this slot). and the same factor applies to the 28th ward, where ed smith will be on the ballot for recorder of deeds...


Yellow Dog Democrat said...

bored now - Great analysis, except for one point. In the 42nd Ward, it is Alderman Reilly who will step aside. Corrigan is his hand-picked candidate, and Reilly has gone to great lengths to help line up key endorsements, raise money, and clear potential rivals out of the way for Corrigan.

bored now said...

well, you'd have the inside dope on reilly, so i will defer to your superior knowledge. you know that there was a lot of speculation that natarus would run again, and i assume that's why reilly filed petitions. i figured one of them would withdraw; to be honest, it never occurred to me that it would be reilly...