Friday, January 30, 2009

IL-05 Primary Roundup Week 1

In Illinois, the first step for getting on the ballot is collecting signatures on one's nominating petitions. a sub-element of this step is staying on the ballot, as four of the 14 democrats competing for Rahm Emanuel's Congressional seat have discovered. The Cook County County Officers Electoral Board has set February 5th hearings for three of the cases (Charles Wheelan, Pete Dagher and Carlos Monteagudo) and continued the process for Roger Thompson. College students connected to the Bryar campaign, Mary Scala and Rudolph Trejo ("son of a former 32nd Ward Democratic Organization precinct captain"), were the objectors for Wheelan, Thompson and Dagher; Thomas Root was the objector for Monteagudo.

The second step (in Illinois elections) is the ballot lottery for those who are first to file their nominating petitions (iow, are in line when the Clerk's office opens up for filing). Charles Wheelan won the first ballot position. The complete ballot order is here:

Charles J. Wheelan DEM
Sara Feigenholtz DEM
John A. Fritchey DEM
Victor A. Forys DEM
Pete Dagher DEM
Jan H. Donatelli DEM
Frank Annunzio DEM
Carlos A. Monteagudo DEM
Paul J. Bryar DEM
Roger A. Thompson III DEM
Tom Geoghegan DEM
Cary Capparelli DEM
Mike Quigley DEM
Patrick J. O'Connor DEM

The sheer number of contestants, and the coverage of other political items of interest (Obama's inaugural/presidency and Blagojevich's impeachment) has kept the media at a bit of a distance from this race. The setup piece for Congressional Quarterly's online operation notes: "The 5th is 'very Catholic, very conservative,' he said. 'Democrats from Chicago are not necessarily like Democrats from San Francisco.'" Many people consider this one of the most ethnically diverse congressional districts in the country. "The district covers 486 Chicago city precincts and 92 suburban Cook County precincts in Leyden and Proviso Townships." While 65% of the workforce was defined as white collar in the 2000 census, and 34% of the population had a bachelor's degree. 23% of the district (not necessarily voters) is Hispanic, but 43% spoke a language other than English. Carol Marin observed this: "The 5th District is demographically diverse but it is also, at its core, a working-class, union, Catholic constituency with more cops and teachers than brokers and bankers."

In other news:

Democratic Party officials could not agree on endorsing any single candidate, and Mayor Richard Daley also has publicly professed his neutrality.

"Barack Obama won nearly three in four votes in the district." Andy Shaw's report about the race can be seen here.

While the traditional media may have had its hands full with other issues, the blogs have quickly filled the vacuum. Progress Illinois continues its superb coverage of Congressional races in Illinois. It banged the drum about negative polling in the race, reported on new media efforts from the campaigns, covered the NOW endorsement, the Claypool endorsement and the Nation endorsement.

Prairie State Blue also continues its tradition of community blogging around elections. wegerje observes Some IL-05 Numbers $ and Polling, Jim in Chicago writes about 15 Democrats file for IL-5 seat as well as the upcoming candidate forum, and Sandra Verthein asks (and answers) IL 05: How to decide? Issues!

Jesse Greenberg writes an interesting piece comparing the use of social networks by the candidates in the race, where he observes that, "The current elected politicians (Feigenholtz, Fritchey and Quigley) are seeing lower levels of support on Facebook than two upstart challengers - Charlie Wheelan and Tom Geoghegan." Greenberg is making a concerted effort to cover this race.

The Big Day (in more ways than one) is Sunday, February 1st, where the Democratic candidates for IL-05 will meet in a Candidates Forum.

5th CD Democratic Candidates Forum
Moderated by Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet

Sunday, February 1st, 1:00 p.m.
DePaul Student Center
Lincoln Park Campus
2250 North Sheffield
Multi-Purpose Room

The event will begin with short opening statements from each candidate followed by a question and answer period. Questions will be asked by moderator Lynn Sweet; some of questions she will ask will be questions submitted by forum attendees or sumitted online at the event website.

Mike Quigley

In many eyes, Mike Quigley scored the biggest endorsement this week when fellow Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool lent his support to Mike's campaign -- an announcement that got the attention of more than one national media outlet. Claypool set up a fund-raising page for Quigley on ActBlue.

While every candidate in the race touts some kind of connection to Barack Obama, Mike Quigley is the only candidate running who was slated by the Obama campaign and ran (as an Obama delegate candidate) district wide in the February Presidential Primary.

The Quigley campaign says that it filed "Little under 3K" signatures on their nominating petitions and, when asked about how much money they've raised, "We're going to full fund our budget." There has been a lot of speculation about what kind of money is required to win this race, but QUigley has amassed a professional staff that includes consultants Pete Giangreco, Saul Shorr, John Anzalone and Kelly Dietrich, as well as Tom Bowen as campaign manager, Magen Ryan as volunteer coordinator and Anna Valencia as field director. They've already released a poll finding Quigley in the lead.

Quigley is using his volunteers in the traditional manner, and Bowen says (about their volunteers): "They've really been outstanding, braving the coldest weather I can ever remember in a campaign." The Quigley campaign is canvassing every day (and we've even had a blogger who has been canvassed by a Quigley volunteer. The campaign is also using volunteers to phone bank (from 9 to 9). The campaign office is at 2035 W. Irving Park and you can sign-up online or email the volunteer coordinator: Magen-at-quigleyforcongress-dot-com.

The Quigley campaign is hosting a Chili Campaign Kickoff tomorrow (Saturday), January 31st, starting at 10am. Volunteers will go door to door with Mike Quigley and then return to the campaign's Open House (2-6 pm) for some homemade chili!

Quigley is using Twitter (sparsely), Facebook (as expected) and Link'dIn. He announced his candidacy on the blogs, including (links to DailyKos postings, which were crossposted elsewhere): Why I'm Running for Congress, My Career Reforming Government and Do you think 700 million dollars is a lot of money? He admits to being a Cubs fan, which might serve him well in his northside district. Mike probably likes mom and apple pie, too.

Mike Quigley has picked up the mantle of change. The campaign responded:

There's only one candidate in this race who has stood up for reform from the beginning. Voters, especially right now, are looking for someone who's different, who not only talks about change, but has actually done it.

They're tired of the politics as usual crowd. They desperately need someone who will look out for their interests right now as they face the worst economy maybe in the last 80 years.

Join us and make change happen.

You can contribute to the Quigley campaign through their website or through their ActBlue page.

From a contrarian point of view, David Ormsby claims that "Quigley’s ground game looks painfully week." I'm fairly certain Tom Bowen has heard that criticism before, when he ran Bill Foster's special election campaign.

John Fritchey

If Quigley got the big endorsement of the week, John Fritchey got the most television exposure. Fritchey, a vocal critic and long-time opponent of the former governor, may wish Blagojevich's trial had continued for another week or so. Regardless, he made the most of the opportunities availed.

Fritchey's connection to Barack Obama comes from the 2003 ethics reform bills they passed in 2003. For almost a year, Fritchey has been banging the drum about impeaching Rod Blagojevich and he was a member of the Special Investigative Committee that led to his removal from office.

Fritchey did win the endorsements of the Chicago Teamsters.

Fritchey has a fan in the writer of the Chicago Clout blog:

I answered my phone today and an unknown voice said hello, Representative John Fritchey! Mr. Fritchey was very nice and kind, I really enjoyed our conversation. John was always very supportive during my difficult times with the City of Chicago.

Fritchey used Facebook to announce his entry into the race (after hinting about running for days -- maybe weeks!).

Fritchey has an "Office Opening" planned for tomorrow (Saturday, January 31) at 1511 West Barry Ave.

Sara Feigenholtz

Sara Feigenholtz has the "inevitable" thing goin' on. As one news report said:

After raising $300,000 by yearend, Ms. Feigenholtz opened her second campaign office this past weekend and has recruited more than 200 volunteers, according to her campaign.

She's claimed the endorsements of EMILY's list and NOW (National Organization of Women). This might have been more better if there weren't still raw feelings from Chicago Obama supporters towards these critics of Barack Obama and his cabinet choices.

Feigenholtz's campaign has adopted "the Chicago way" of politics, as seen in their own polling efforts:

The day after filing concluded for the special election, we've got the first sign of things getting ugly in the Fifth Congressional District.

Last night on Fox Chicago's nightly newscast, Dane Placko reported on a poll apparently conducted by Sara Feigenholtz's campaign that included negative message-testing against opponents Mike Quigley and John Fritchey. According to Placko, the poll alleged that Fritchey is "paying for his campaign office with taxpayer money" and "took donations from a political action committee with ties to organized crime." Fritchey responded that the charges are false and said, "We're really seeing the two faces of Sara here."

The difference between the Obama approach to politics and this approach couldn't be more stark. Even if politics ain't beanbag.

Feigenholtz has a YouTube page, which includes a testimonial from supporters of Feigenholtz. Others have blogged on her behalf, including Richard Leo Madison here and here. Ellen Malcolm also touted Feigenholtz.

Charlie Wheelan

Charlie Wheelan made a splash today. His message of economics expertise may not be making waves (yet), but it's getting a hearing:

Wheelan describes his target voters as “the NPR crowd,” betting that educated, politically engaged voters with economic concerns are the niche group that can put him out front.

That is the core idea Wheelan nurtures as he, a college professor with no political experience, assembles an improbable strategy to beat at least four old political hands in the race to replace Rahm.

Wheelan supports Obama's move toward stimulus but thinks the money must be smartly spent. He thinks transportation spending pays dividends: reducing congestion, cutting air pollution, improving infrastructure.

Smart economics, though, won't be enough. And Wheelan has proven that he's serious about this contest. Wheelan filed 2,300 signatures and won the ballot lottery (First on the ballot). He's brought in a Campaign Manager, a Deputy Campaign Manager, a Communications Director, a Deputy Communications Director, a Finance Director, a Deputy Finance Director, a Treasurer, and what they call "Robust Field Staff." Their last FEC report showed $110K, impressive enough for someone who's never run before.

Campaign volunteers are being utilized for Direct Voter Contact, including Daily/nightly phone banking and canvassing. Erik, Wheelan's Field Director is the primary contact for people interested in volunteering with the campaign.

Wheelan also has a YouTube page, including a behind the scenes look at his new commercial, a Facebook support page and a Students for Charlie Wheelan Facebook page.

Wheelan's commercial has gotten him national attention. Politico covered it, as did Clout Street. Jesse Greenberg wrote it up, as did NBC's local media.

You can contribute to Wheelan's campaign through ActBlue.

Paul Bryar

Paul Bryar is one of two physicians running in this special election.

The Bryar campaign turned in 2,963 signatures, and "had an additional 713 in reserve" that were not filed or were returned past the due date. It has a full campaign staff, with Joe Woodward (Campaign Manager), April Valdez (Finance Director), Brendan O'Sullivan (Field Director), Brenna Crouse (RFD), Carrie Romano (Communication Director), Elin Boyle (Operations Director). They've raised $238,565.00 to date.

The Bryar campaign will use volunteers to do Voter Contact, Friend to Friend Outreach, Field, Office Administration and hosting events. Right now, they are asking volunteers to display a Yard Sign, come help out in the Office, Write a Letter to the Editor, Make Phone Calls, Talk to their Neighbors, Host a Coffee or an Event, do data entry, Pass Out Literature and Social Networking. Elin Boyle ( is the campaign's contact person for people interested in volunteering.

Unique among the campaigns (near as I can tell) is that the Bryar campaign has developed literature that supporters can download and print on their own. The Obama campaign was very successful at this.

The Bryar campaign has been endorsed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology PAC and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Eye Pac. Bryar is an eye doctor. You can find regular press releases from the campaign here.

The campaign reminds us that:

Paul Bryar is a nationally recognized eye surgeon at NorthwesternUniversityMedicalSchool. He has had enough with corrupt politics in Illinois and with politicians playing musical chairs at the expense of the people. Paul wants to work to restore trust in government and bring Republicans and Democrats together to pass legislation that will get Illinois and our country on the right track.

Paul is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, GeorgetownUniversity and the University of Illinois at ChicagoMedicalSchool. Bryar for Congress launched on January 7th and has raised over $235,000 as of today.

Paul is one of seven brothers and sisters, including an identical twin brother named Colin. Paul ran the ChicagoMarathon in October of 2007 to raise money and awareness for treating blindness.

Bryar has a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, which includes his first commercial, and a Twitter feed that doesn't look to be in use.

You can contribute to the campaign here.

Victor Forys

Victor Forys is the other physician in the race. He's running on the "prescription for reform" mantle, although the Solidarity banner is prominently displayed on his website.

Approximately 17% of the 5th's residents are of Polish descent. Many Poles are still bitter that this did not translate into success in the 2002 primary. The Forys campaign filed petitions with 3,088, but they observe that "We did not turn in all the pages we collected. We did not turn in pages we felt did not meet the standards."

Brian Doory, former Campaign Manager for Debbie Halvorson's winning campaign for Congress is the Campaign Manager for Dr. Forys. Gerald Galloway, former longtime Political Director for Lt. Governor Pat Quinn is serving as Chief Strategist. Karen Polet, former Finance Director for the Coordinated Illinois Democratic Congressional Campaign is Finance Director. Rick Bohn, former Field Coordinator for Nancy Kaszak, is Campaign Director and Field Director for Dr. Forys.

They report that, "As of the close of the last filing period, we had raised $160,000. This report was just filed. We have raised considerably more since then." As for volunteers:

We are recruiting and empowering our volunteers as organizers to contact their neighbors. We are doing phone banking, canvases and neighbor to neighbor outreach. We have given our volunteers specific responsibilities and goals to meet for our field campaign. We also use our volunteers to network and ask their friends for low-dollar contributions. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our campaign.

On Saturday the 31st from 1 to 3pm, we are having the "Grand Opening" of our second campaign office on West Belmont Ave., despite the fact that it has been opened for more than two weeks. 6115 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago, 773-322-8608

Volunteers can ask for Katie or Langston by calling 773-682-1120 or emailing .

Polish News continues to cover the campaign, including:

His campaign is about reforming health care, immigration, and our economy. In light of the recent troubles Illinois's Governor is facing, what better person to send to Washington D.C. than a professional business owner, rather than some other professional politician.

It is also covering what it calls Feigenholtz's negative campaigning:

"Professional Springfield politicians like Feigenholtz would rather protect insurance companies than patients. The professional Springfield politicians like Feigenholtz and Rod Blagojevich have promised health care reform time and again, and time and again the people have been let down because of campaign contributions from the insurance industry," said Victor Forys, M.D.

The Forys campaign has a blog, as well as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel to follow the campaign.

You can contribute to Dr. Forys' campaign here.

Jan Donatelli

As Anita Alvarez discovered, there is an advantage to being the only woman in a crowded field. Jan Donatelli is not the only woman competing in this race -- but there are some who might like you to think that they were (the only woman in the race).

The Donatelli campaign holds their campaign headquarters Open House tomorrow (Saturday, January 31st) at 477 W Deming Place in Chicago. They filed 2300 signatures on their nominating petitions, after having struck 50 from them. Their staff includes Rick Fromberg (Campaign Manager), Andy LaVigne (Field Director) and Kara Ratliff (Finance Director).

The campaign is using volunteers in Voter Contact (canvassing, phone banking, visibility) and research. Their phone banks operate every weeknight from 4-9, and their are other opportunities for volunteers. Learn more by emailing the campaign directly ( or sign up on the web at They have a Facebook page, a Linked in page and a profile at

Donatelli has won the endorsements of:

Veterans and Military Families for Progress (
Association of Flight Attendants - AFA-CWA
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Airline Pilots Association - ALPA

The campaign informs us that:

Jan Donatelli is a candidate for Congress in Chicago's Fifth District Special Election. As one of the first female Navy Pilots entrusted with Strategic Mission Command for the United States' nuclear fleet, she has been a trailblazer in defense of our nation. A commercial pilot, union member and working mother of six, Jan Donatelli brings a fresh, outsider perspective to the race for Congress

You can donate to the Donatelli campaign here.

Tom Geoghegan

In a crowded field, someone has to be last. Tom Geoghegan has been making the rounds (he was in Washington, DC midweek). Tom has had a big week, hob-nobbing with Joe Trippi and getting the Nation endorsement.

To say that he has a following on the progressive blogs (which, if you haven't figured out, is why I put him last) is an understatement. The question has always been, can he translate that support to support in the district.

There's some evidence that he can. The Geoghegan campaign filed 3000 signatures and opened up a district office at 4419 West Irving Park Road in Chicago. They have brought in Julie Sweet (Campaign Manager), Joe Costello (Communications Director), Joanna Belinger (Finance Director), Sarah Geoghegan (Assistant Finance Director), Jacob Dusseau (Field Coordinator) as well as 3 Field Staffers and John Amdor (Scheduler). They've raised over $150 thousand in four weeks, most of it online.

Volunteers for the campaign will Phone, walk, mail and GOTV. The campaign tells us, "Our campaign is moving forward and knocking on doors in the district, we need your help." To volunteer, you can email Jacob at

Tom Geoghegan has numerous blog entries up, including his campaign announcement and an Interview with William Greider. Others supporting Geoghegan with blog posts include Joe Trippi, David Sirota and AdamGreen.

Geoghegan has a Facebook page, a Twitter page and a YouTube channel.

You can contribute to Tom Geoghegan here.

Superbowl Sunday represents the sprint to the finish for the special election in the 5th Congressional District. Both Mike Quigley and Sara Feigenholtz have been claiming front runner status, and there's some truth to it. But there are also indicators that this could be an exceptionally competitive race. In reality, we will have a better idea after Sunday, when the candidates gather in their first real face-to-face forum (the campaign's calendars suggest that they may be unaware of the Saturday forum). It is one thing to compete in your own environment, where everything is familiar. But how will the candidates perform when they are in a room together? Will anyone rise above the rest? Who will stumble.

We don't know yet whether this will be the first candidate's forum of many or only a few. So we really don't know what the stakes are yet for Sunday's forum. We may never know until it is too late. The Cook County State's Attorney candidates probably had too much time together, and it certainly gave Anita an opening that she successfully exploited. The starting gun has fired. The race remains to be run...


publicaffairs2point0 9:46 AM  

Rich, thank you for the most comprehensive description of each candidate. This extremely helpful and a must-read for anyone looking to stay informed about the IL-5 race.


bored now 10:19 AM  

thanks for calling me rich!

you're doing a good job, as well, and i'll make sure i look in at your blog for each one of these posts...

Anonymous,  12:08 PM  

I wonder if the Bryar campaign will own up to the fact they they are behind the petition challenges of several of the other candidates.

Anonymous,  5:46 PM  

Great overview of the race. Keep it up!

One caveat though, before you present David Ormsby (who is a solid political operative) and his blog as an independent alternative view on the race, you should check his bias first. David is a big Sarah Feigenholtz supporter and historic contributor to her campaigns.

FYI - I just saw today on Cap Fax another poll was released by the Bryar campagin. Might be good to update this post with those results as well.

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