* Russ Stewart takes a look at the political landscape in former Rep. Luis Arroyo’s district…
The 3rd District, which stretches from Montclare east to Central Park in Avondale, is over 65 percent Hispanic, mostly Puerto Rican. But there is a sizeable white voter base. [Sen. Rob Martwick] is backing his longtime political operative Dave Feller, who lives in Portage Park, in the March 17 primary. Feller did not present his credentials on Nov. 15, calling the meeting a “sham. Let the voters decide.” [Sen. Iris Martinez], who is running for Circuit Court Clerk, said the replacement of Arroyo by a non-Latino would be “racist.”
Nine candidates appeared [at the ward committeeman meeting to choose the replacement] on Nov. 15: [Eva-Dina Delgado, who was chosen to replace Arroyo], firefighter Joaquin Vasquez, Belinda Cadiz from the 33rd Ward, Ruth Cruz and Otilio Serrano from the 30th Ward, Alonzo Zaragosa, a perennial candidate against Berrios in the 31st Ward, former 1st Ward alderman Jesse Granato, TV broadcaster Ruben Calderon, and Jacqueline Baez, who announced months ago and is circulating petitions for both state representative and for 36th Ward committeeman, which will set up a three-way contest for Arroyo’s party post between her, Feller and Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th), Arroyo’s ally. But Vasquez, Baez and Zaragosa walked-out with [Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa] (but Vasquez came back), sources said.
The March 17 primary will feature Feller, Delgado and Baez against Nadia Carranza, a teacher and CTU member who is Ramirez-Rosa’s candidate, and also backed by state Representative Delia Ramirez (D-4). Ramirez-Rosa is a “democratic socialist” and chairman of the Chicago Socialist Party, and he and his organization will be working fervently for Bernie Sanders. To win, Delgado needs equally fervent support from Reboyras, Villegas and Alderman Felix Cardona (31st), who is running for the retiring Berrios’s post.
Whether Delgado does or does not get seated is a critical factor. She can position herself as a martyr, a pristine victim of either Arroyo’s wrongdoing or of Madigan’s arrogance. Or, as Martwick predicts, she will be revealed as a self-promoting insider with connections to Arroyo. It is a fact that Delgado, who now works for Peoples Gas, Edison, was a lobbyist in Springfield for Chicago for many years, and that her husband Erik Varela has a top county job under Toni Preckwinkle and multi-tasks as a lobbyist for Union Pacific. Arroyo, chair of the House Latino Caucus, put Varela on the board of the Latino Caucus Foundation, which doles out college scholarships, primarily to children of undocumented immigrants who can’t get aid elsewhere. This “Arroyo connection” will surely surface during any expulsion hearing. Delgado’s name ID will rise exponentially, but not necessarily favorably.
The 3rd District primary turnout in 2016 was 15,860 and in 2018 was 7,906. Whoever gets 33-36 percent will win. About 4,500 votes will do it. That leaves out Feller and Baez. Give the edge to Carranza, who will have CTU money and no baggage.
I’ve been telling subscribers about Carranza for a while now. She is definitely one to watch and Feller’s presence on the ballot could siphon some “regular” votes away from Delgado.
…Adding… From the Cook County President’s office…
Erik Varela no longer works for Cook County and hasn’t for some time. He left the County more than a year ago. Additionally, he never multi-tasked as a lobbyist for Union Pacific while working for the County. He left his County position to take the Union Pacific job. There was never an overlap in employment.
*** UPDATE *** From Gov. Pritzker’s press conference today…
I want the voters to have a representative that is chosen in a proper fashion, that will truly represent them and not be part of an air of corruption. It’s important to me that we look closely at this process and ask the question ‘Is this the right process?”
He also noted that the House will now decide whether to seat Delgado and noted that Speaker Madigan has already said what he plans to do.