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Local elections open thread *** Updated x2 ***

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2007

The Chicago Reader’s new blog “Clout City” is becoming the place to go for news about aldermanic campaigns.

The major media constantly complains about the quality of aldermen and county board members, yet rarely do any of those news outlets bother to cover the campaigns beyond a few generic roundup stories near the end. The Reader is doing the city a great service. More like this, please.

Later this week the Illinois State Council of the Service Employees International Union is likely to announce its endorsements for the February municipal elections. The list won’t be radically different from the one already announced by the Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella organization that includes several SEIU locals, but union leaders say it won’t be exactly the same, either. For example, in the hotly contested 43rd and 50th Ward races the federation backed Michele Smith and Greg Brewer, respectively. SEIU won’t be endorsing anyone.

Winning the endorsement of particular unions or locals is probably more important than winning the federation’s. For starters, it’s the individual unions who can provide the people needed to knock on doors, hand out literature, and get people to the polls, and not all of the 300-plus CFL member organizations are going to be equally motivated to, say, push Sandi Jackson over Darcel Beavers in the Seventh Ward—a race SEIU says is a priority. In addition, some union sources are quietly saying that the federation isn’t half as interested in committing the cash to back upstart aldermanic candidates as it’s been claiming the past few months.

Maybe, maybe not. Greg Brewer’s 50th Ward campaign told me this week that the CFL has assigned a full-time staffer and cut a sizable check “for starters.” We’ll have to wait and see how much Federation chief Dennis Gannon follows through.

The post continues…

Frankly, no one’s sure what the impact of the unions will be. The amount SEIU is going to spend on the municipal elections is “still up in the air,” according to Marianne McMullen, communications director for the SEIU state council. But she said 1,000 of the 78,000 SEIU members in Chicago have enlisted to work as “lock captains in key aldermanic races, including those in the 7th, 15th, 16th, and 42nd Wards.

Burt Natarus’ 42nd is almost impossible to walk because it’s almost all high-rises. Still, if SEIU has any members in those high-rises, or if they can somehow get members access to them, it will be invaluable to challenger Brendan Reilly’s campaign. For years, Natarus counted on a handful of solidly Democratic African-American precincts in the western edge of his district to carry the day. Those precincts are gone, which is why he barely beat an unknown four years ago.

SEIU has long hoped to create a precinct organization, but until a few years ago it didn’t really have the staff or the capability to pull it off. The union gets better at this with each passing election, but this is gonna be a long, hard slog.

Word is that SEIU has hired a prominent media consultant to handle mail in several races, and I’m hearing that the union will pay for some negative mail against broken-down incumbent Bernie Stone, even though they aren’t endorsing a candidate in the 50th.

By the way, 50th Ward candidate Greg Brewer has a YouTube page that I don’t think I’ve linked to yet. You can find it here. Fellow challenger Naisy Dolar’s YouTube site is here.

On a lighter note, the third challenger in the 50th Ward race, Salman Aftab, is featured in the video below responding to Ald. Arenda Troutman’s alleged statement that “Most aldermen, most politicians are hos.”

I’m starting to build a Chicago politics page at my YouTube site, which you can find here.

This is a local politics open thread, and it’s definitely not limited to Chicago. Discuss your local races and the media coverage they’re getting below.

*** UPDATE *** 42nd Ward challenger Brendan Reilly has a new TV ad and it’s posted on YouTube.

*** UPDATE 2 *** 2nd Ward challenger Bob Fioretti, who is airing ads on local cable TV, has posted his mailers online.

* And 43rd Ward Alderman Vi Daley (who was endorsed by IVI-IPO members Monday night) has put her mail online as well.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Squideshi - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 9:39 am:

    As far as coverage goes, local elections get a little less than nada, zip, and zilch in my area. In fact, the only way that I was even able to tell who was running in the Consolidated Primary was to file a Freedom of Information Request with the County Clerk the day after the certification deadline! How’s that for voter education?

  2. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 9:46 am:

    I think a lot of readers need to know that government workers are to Chicago what auto workers were to Detroit 50 years ago. The largest employers in Chicago, according to Crains, is the US government, State of Illinois, City of Chicago and Chicago city schools.

    If you get the largest union’s endorsement in this city, you pretty much have it made in Chicago.

    Think of it; the largest employers in Chicago are all taxpayer-based. How long do we think we can keep this up?

  3. - Bridget Dooley - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 10:16 am:

    Brendan Reilly’s TV ad is pretty good. Can’t wait for him to beat the hell out of Natarus.

  4. - Bill - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 11:20 am:

    Ditto. The best way to get access to those high rises is by phone. It can happen. Especially if Burt gets mad and goes into one of his patented tirades on camera.

  5. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 11:27 am:

    Brendan Reilly has a good chance, but is an arrogant jerk.

  6. - observing Observing - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    Anonymous name calling? Sounds like Reilly isn’t the one who’s a jerk.

  7. - ChicagoGirl - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    Thanks for the link to the Reader blog, Rich. I didn’t know about it. It will be nice to find some decent info about local races. I live in the 46th ward and I have already met the challenger — James Cappleman — twice at my morning bus stop! There is definitely something in the air this year.

  8. - Bill - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 11:42 am:

    I haven’t met Brendan yet but Burt takes the award in the arrogant jerk category.

  9. - Pat Hickey - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 12:42 pm:

    Someone took very strong
    Exception to remarks that
    I made concerning the influence of a
    Union that really is not doing workers much good.

    My remarks were deleted. Ok, that group is off limits and not answerable for their methods or motives.

  10. - Number 8 - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 1:11 pm:

    I saw Brendan’s ad last night on Comedy Central during the Colbert report. I’m assuming that he is running ads during the Daily Show as well. Smart move. Young people who live in the 42nd ward who cant be reached because they live in high rises watch these shows. Smart way to have an inexpensive buy make a big impact.

  11. - Bridget Dooley - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 1:42 pm:

    I have not met Brendan Reilly yet either, but I have heard good things about him from colleagues and family. I agree that Burt Natarus wins the “jerk award” in that race. No question!

    I did have the pleasure of meeting James Cappleman last month and I was extremely impressed. He has quite a resume and an obvious gift for connecting with people. I haven’t paid much attention to the 46th race other than to watch those awful (but entertaining) irishpirate videos. I have no idea what Cappleman’s chances are and I’ve not met Helen Shiller. But I’ll tell ya’ what, if I was an average voter and Cappleman was the only one to knock on my door, he’d have my vote.

    Obviously, I have a stake in the 50th because I work as the field director for Greg Brewer.

  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 3:57 pm:

    If calling a female political reporter a “p#ssy,” saying the reason mail delivery is slow is because black postal workers are lazy, shouting down your own constituents at community meetings, and publicly castigating the heads of both the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce makes someone an “arrogant jerk,” then yes, Burt Natarus is an arrogant jerk.

    Personal tip for Natarus: If everybody you know is “difficult to work with,” maybe “everybody” isn’t the one with the problem.

  13. - Dominic - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 6:18 pm:

    I like the
    also the Latinos have a blog with the Chicago Latino Network and Jamie Viteri
    on aldertrack they have
    the Russ Stewart articles
    and the Election 2007 Campaign interviews including Frank Avila, Russ Stewart, and Jeff Berkowitzon Cable Access Network that are linked on aldertrack and also can be found to link off
    or a google VIDEO search

  14. - Marcos - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 6:27 pm:

    I loved the Ho comment by Slaman Aftab

  15. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Jan 24, 07 @ 11:51 pm:

    For clarification purposes… I agree Natarus is an arrogant jerk too.

  16. - FanofJeff - Thursday, Jan 25, 07 @ 5:38 pm:

    Check out the Jeff Berkowitz show on the 42nd Ward and Jeff Berkowitz

  17. - Mike Williams - Thursday, Jan 25, 07 @ 7:07 pm:

    Fioretti isn’t going anyplace. He will spend all of his money and lose anyway. He sure is making a lot of college kids happy, however! He is hiring all of them to do his organizational work. He has no volunteers from the ward itself.

  18. - southlooper - Thursday, Jan 25, 07 @ 10:20 pm:

    Mike Williams… you have no idea — their office is open till 11pm. Fioretti is working hard and he is going to win… you can take that to the BANK!!!

  19. - Danielle - Thursday, Jan 25, 07 @ 10:33 pm:

    I assume that I am one of those “college kids” you are talking about who is “organizing” the Fioretti campaign. I am, in fact, a college graduate and an accomplished young adult. I work on Bob’s campaign because I believe in him and his ability to affect change. Bob has over two hundred volunteers from the 2nd Ward who feel the same way.

  20. - Danielle - Thursday, Jan 25, 07 @ 10:37 pm:

    Feel free to e-mail me anytime at or give me a call at 312.263.9273 with your questions or concerns.

  21. - Mike Williams - Saturday, Jan 27, 07 @ 2:53 pm:

    good to see that the Fioretti people are trolling and taking others Nicknames. That post at 10:33pm did not come from me. I believe that is known as “trolling”?

    Also, who in the world said I was a staffer for the Doody campaign? Why would you assume that?

    In fact, I am leaning towards voting for Kenny Johnson.

  22. - Danielle - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 7:36 pm:

    “Fioretti people” such as myself are taking the high road. It was not a member of our campaign who posted that.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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