* My Sun-Times column today takes a look at the 5th Congressional District race. You only get 600 words in the CS-T, so it’s not as complete as I would’ve liked…
Almost nobody wants to make a prediction about the 5th Congressional District special election this coming Tuesday.
A crowded field, very high numbers of undecided voters, a lack of news coverage (particularly by the TV stations) and the fact that none of the candidates has really caught fire all add up to puzzlement for handicappers.
The guesstimates I’m getting from the campaigns have Democratic turnout at between 35,000 and 40,000 — about a quarter to a third of those who voted in the last primary. Somebody could win with as few as 10 thousand or 12 thousand votes. So you can make a case for any number of candidates.
Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley started the race way ahead in the polls, and he’s still at or near the top. That means he’ll do well with people who believe it’s their duty to vote in every election but are still vague about their final choice. He has a loyal cadre of workers, and his campaign believes they have identified more than enough supporters to win. They just have to get them to the polls.
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz has spent the most money by far, both on her own and through huge independent expenditures on her behalf by the Service Employees International Union and EMILY’s List. Women often tend to vote for women, and women dominate Democratic primaries. Feigenholtz’s campaign has been almost purely targeted at female voters, so she’ll get lots of votes from undecided women. Feigenholtz also has a big field operation and enthusiastic support in the gay community.
Like Quigley and Feigenholtz, state Rep. John Fritchey’s base is in the eastern end of the district near the lake. But Fritchey also has the backing of ward and township organizations that control more than half the precincts in the district. Yeah, the Machine ain’t what it used to be, and there are still questions about how hard some of these committeemen want to work, but the reality is that if each of his precinct captains secures 30 to 50 voters, then Fritchey wins this thing.
* Let’s get back to the new Feigenholtz TV ad that set off a firestorm in comments today.
Last year, any Democratic legislative candidate who was directly tied to either Rod Blagojevich or Todd Stroger was toast. The Republicans played the Rod & Todd card in several races, but it didn’t work all that well unless there was a definable connection, like fundraising, jobs or contracts.
So, any TV ad that draws a direct line between a candidate and Stroger is potentially a deal-breaker for voters. That’s one reason why this thing has caused such an uproar.
With that in mind, let’s watch it again…
Does it work? Remember, though, that Quigley has been running a TV ad and direct mail trashing Todd Stroger, most likely in an attempt to inoculate himself from just such an attack.
The Quigley campaign estimates that Feigenholtz only has 270 ratings points behind this latest attack, spread out over last night, through the weekend and part of Tuesday. That ain’t much.
QUIGLEY: This is Sara Nixon. The 11th hour, when its much harder to combat an unfair charge, that’s when you do this, because you know there’s limited ability — frankly, there’s been limited coverage of this campaign and there’s limited interest, just because it’s a special election. So that’s hard to overcome.
This is a swift boat attack. You attack somebody at their greatest strength and you do it at the last hour because you know its much tougher to retaliate and defend yourself.
Then again, this morning’s presser might just bring far more attention to the whole thing.
* Meanwhile, Pat O’Connor has raised a few more dollars, but he’s still close to the bottom and a mailer has gotten him into a spot of trouble…
Is Mayor Daley’s “unofficial floor leader” claiming “unofficial endorsements” from Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Dick Durbin?
No, no, no, Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) is not trying to imply any endorsement by Durbin or Emanuel — the man he hopes to replace in Congress — by running their photos and testimonials in his campaign literature, a spokesman said.
According to the above article, Emanuel’s office also denies that it’s endorsing Rep. Feigenholtz, even though there’s a Feigenholtz yard sign in front of the guy’s house. Still, that certainly sends a message to the neighborhood, if nothing else.
===even though there’s a Feigenholtz yard sign in front of the guy’s house===
The “guy” is married. I know there have been quite a few primaries that my wife and I have not agreed on the candidates. Not sure if we ever canceled each other out with yard signs, as I am usually am the one putting them up, but I know we have cancelled each other out in the voting booth.
- Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Feb 27, 09 @ 2:04 pm:
Comparing Feigenholtz to Richard Nixon? That’s going to go over well. Rich, I think you’re right. I think Quigley just guaranteed this story plays on tonight’s news.
By the way, Claypool might want to be careful about quotes like these:
“I’ve worked with Mike Quigley as a colleague on the county board for 7 years. No one — and I mean no one — has stood up to todd stroger more than him.”
Quigley just might use that in his next race for County Board President, Forrest.
The irony here, of course, is that unlike Quigley, who DID help run Stroger’s campaign, Forrest Claypool took alot of heat for refusing to endorse Stroger.
There’s going to be a bad story on the news on Friday night? Sound like you’ve got them right where you want them.
- Five Thousand West - Friday, Feb 27, 09 @ 2:12 pm:
It is incredible how nutty, personal and vicious the Feigenholtz and Quigley campaigns, staff and supporters have become.
It’s not just here on the blog. I have been accosted at the train stop too. When I stated my support for another candidate the Quigleyite argued with me. Dumb.
This race is absolutely unpredictable. I do not know who is going to win. But i do know that as a Fritchey supporter I am proud of the positive way he has conducted himself, and how his staff has stayed above the petty fray, throughout this campaign.
Capparelli called attention to HR91 in 2005 when Fritchey did NOT support the Pledge in schools on the Geoff Pinkus Show on WIND early this morning.
- Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Feb 27, 09 @ 2:35 pm:
5000 West -
I like Fritchey too, even though I’m supporting Feigenholtz, but neither he nor his supporters have been “above the fray”, although I will give Fritchey’s campaign credit for toning down the negative attacks in the final weeks of the campaign.
Sounds like your experience with the Quigley campaign is about the same as mine: if you’re not supporting Quigley, you’re either stupid, crooked, a traitor, or some combination of the three.
Why would two prominent Republicans back Fritchey? Saviano and Silvestri just did. Both signed a letter that was received today throughout Leydon Township. Apparently they could not find a Republican to back even though there are six to choose from. Of course everybody knows this is an inside job and they are part of the Banks clan. Maybe Saviano and Silvestri should change coats and become Democrats but here’s my take and it is Saviano should resign as Chairman of the House Republicans. This is an idiotic move on his part. Republicans should remove him as he has no business as Chairman if he can’t support the party. Silvestri is a better fit in Lakeview. I am surprised some enterprising writer like Kass or Brown did not pick this up.
Rich, that may be true but is no near being right. That whole crew there are not very straight up and everybody knows that. I still hold my ground that Saviano should resign as Chairman of the HRO if he can’t back one of his own.
I think this race is breaking as we speak. Sara’s massive communications advanatge appears to be kicking in. Over the last several days our id’s for Sara have shot through the roof. If these numbers hold she should pull this off, as long as turnout is reasonable. No way Fritchey can win. This is clearly a two-person race with Sara now pulling ahead. Mark my words boys and girls. You heard it from Laborguy first on CapFaxBlog.
The ad is a wash. Many will interpret it as “two wrongs do not make a right”.
Stroger endorsement and other comments are bad, but for older, single Moms (who struggled to pay for their kids’ healthcare) and families now strugging to keep THEIR kids above water, they HATE being placed in a position to say that they’re not sure about the “healthcare for kids” accomplishment–especially with the economy tanking and results becoming more clearly evident.
SEIU is doing all we can to help Sara! We’ve got a lot of boots on the ground. SEIU vs. THE MACHINE. Its going to be close.
- the ole precinct captain - Saturday, Feb 28, 09 @ 8:09 pm:
Thw winner will be the one who gets his base out. This favors either O’Connor or Frichey who have organization backing. A big push in a few wards may make the difference. Since we are supposed to make a prediction I’ll pick O’Connor due to strong turnout in the 39th and 40th wards. This also expects all other candidates to cut each other to pieces everywhere else. We’ll see on Tuesday.