The race to the ballot box heated up Monday, March 7, as political candidates began filing their signed petitions to officially enter heated state, county and federal races leading up to the June 28 Primary.
Everyone from Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle turned in nominating petitions Monday, seeking to get their names placed in the top slots on the voting ballot in their respective races.
Alderman David Moore (17th) was also there hoping to get the top slot on the ballot over opponents Alex Giannoulias and Anna Valencia in the race for Secretary of State.
Filing petitions in Springfield as well were Cook County Tax Assessor Fritz Kaegi, Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
March 14 is the deadline for candidates to turn in petitions, but many candidates wasted no time in filing their paperwork.
Preckwinkle tweeted a photo of herself with a stack of petitions at the State Board of Elections office in Springfield. In her tweet, Preckwinkle said, “This has been a petition season unlike any other with our delayed primary, cold weather, and pandemic safety concerns, but I’m so proud of how the Party came together to support our slate and get our candidates on the ballot.”
Dowell in a statement said she filed 2,200 nominating petitions in the Elections office. That number is three times the required 400 she needs as a Congressional candidate. She pointed out that her team got to Springfield early to be the first among a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace retiring Congressman Bobby Rush of the 1st Congressional District.
“This is an exciting time for my campaign for Congress. I am grateful for all the hard work and support demonstrated throughout the petition drive,” Dowell said.
“I am very proud that our signatures are from voters from all across the district and every ward in the city. Now, we take the next steps in the campaign as we talk about the needs of the people of the 1st Congressional district, including bringing federal resources back to the district, preventing gun violence, small business development, affordable, accessible health care, and protecting our seniors.”
Alderman Moore in a statement said he was the first in line among his opponents to turn in nearly 6,000 petitions to get his name on the ballot. A photo emerged showing Moore with Jonathan Jackson in Springfield Monday, as Moore waited in line with his petitions.
In his first statewide campaign, Moore said he is excited about the diverse representation of his signatures from throughout the state.
“I believe we are in a good position. Standing in line today, people were coming up to me extending well wishes,” said Moore, alderman of Chicago’s 17th Ward. “People are saying the Secretary of State’s office must remain a servant’s seat.”
The Democratic Primary is shaping up to be an intense one with several key races and a possible referendum that will settle a big battle between Latino and Black aldermen seeking to reshape the city’s 50 wards. The Chicago Black Caucus seeks to hold onto 17 Black wards and the Latino Caucus wants 15, as the city’s largest minority. Both sides have failed to come up with a map that would get the support of at least 41 aldermen at City Hall.
Preckwinkle will go up against former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, a political foe she helped defeat in 2018.
Alderman Pat Dowell is considered one of several front runners to replace Congressman Bobby Rush in Illinois’ 1st District of the U.S. House of Representatives. She will challenge State Senator Jacqueline Collins and Jonathan Jackson of Rainbow PUSH, who are among 18 Democrats seeking to replace Congressman Rush.
Moore is running against Giannoulis and Valencia, who has been endorsed by outgoing Secretary of State Jesse White, Governor J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. Moore has received endorsements from 45 faith leaders throughout Illinois.
The biggest race to watch maybe one involving Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, who will battle Boykin in a race for the Black vote.
Historically, Preckwinkle has won re-election against lesser named candidates. She was swept by Lori Lightfoot in the Chicago mayoral race in 2019.
A tough politician, Preckwinkle has never been popular with Black Chicago voters, many of whom protested her decision to temporarily close the emergency room of Provident Hospital in Washington Park at the start of the pandemic. There was also the abrupt 2020 firing of Terry Mason, the former Chief Operating Officer for the Cook County Health Department. Preckwinkle maintains she had nothing to do with it.
Preckwinkle stood by former Cook County Tax Assessor Joe Berrios as his office was accused of giving big tax breaks to owners of expensive homes while placing a higher share of the tax burden on low-income homeowners, many of whom live in Chicago’s Black and Latino neighborhoods.
Then there is Preckwinkle’s status as chairman of the Cook County Democrats, an organization that snubbed Moore, Steele and Dowell in favor of endorsing three white candidates that include Giannoulias for Secretary of State.
Another possible impediment to her re-election is that many Black voters still remember when Preck- winkle implemented a sugar tax in 2017 that was later repealed.
Boykin was one of few politicians who stood up to Preckwinkle’s sugar tax. When he did, he picked a fight with Preckwinkle that cost him his Commissioner’s seat. When he lost re-election to Preckwinkle’s candidate Brandon Johnson, a political rookie, many credited Preckwinkle for Boykin’s defeat.
Boykin mounted a comeback in 2019 in the race to replace Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown but lost to Iris Martinez. However, Boykin won all 18 Black wards but not impressively.
A native of Englewood, Boykin plans to strengthen his support in the Black community with Brown, who as his campaign advisor, plans to reach out to Black churches, which was Brown’s strong voter base that re-elected her four times in her 20-year career.
Kaegi, who ousted longtime Democrat Joseph Berrios in 2018, will test Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Kari Steele, who reportedly was not in Springfield Monday, but is expected to draw heavy support from Chicago’s Black electorate.
Kaegi has been endorsed by the Cook County Democrats, an organization that in recent years has been criticized for being out of touch with Black voters. Kaegi has been heavily criticized after news outlets reported his office gave overvaluations of commercial properties. Last June, a Sun-Times investigation exposed major errors in the tax office’s Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption program.
Also filing their petitions in Springfield Monday were Metropolitan Water Reclamation District candidate Yumeka Brown, and Attorney Tim Wright, who is running for judge of the 5th Sub-Circuit.