News & Election Videos

January 20, 2009

15 Democrats vie to replace Rahm

Chicago voters will need a real scorecard to keep track of the 15 Democrats who filed to run for Rahm Emanuel’s Fifth District Congressional seat (see the full list here), but one last-minute entrant is poised to draw everyone’s attention.

Chicago City Council Alderman Patrick O’Connor filed to run for the special election one minute before the deadline Monday afternoon. A close ally of Chicago Major Richard Daley, O’Connor will be counting on the city's ward organizations (and is undoubtedly hoping for Daley’s assistance) to help him get out the vote – a critical asset in a low-turnout primary.

O’Connor’s candidacy appears to hurt state Rep. John Fritchey, who is competing for the same ethnic, blue-collar voters and also was counting on an endorsement from organized labor. Fritchey has already been endorsed by Chicago Alderman Richard Mell, a key city political player.

Two other leading candidates are running as Chicago outsiders. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley is running on a reform-minded platform of fighting waste and supporting tax cuts. He released a poll showing him leading the crowded primary field, and holding the highest name recognition among all the candidates.

And state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, who represents the liberal lakefront, has the support of leading progressive groups, including the influential feminist group EMILY’s List. And she is expected to be the leading fundraiser in the field.

The special election primary will be held on March 3. The winner will be near-guaranteed to win the special general election, scheduled for April 7.