Monday, November 22, 2010

92 days, and counting, until Election Day

To me, the final day of the time period for filing nominating petitions is always more interesting than the first day.

Admittedly, that first day always sees a mad rush of potential candidates or their aides (the would-be politicos wouldn’t want to risk catching a cold) waiting at the Elections Board office when it first opens that Monday morning – all in hopes of getting that first spot on the ballot.

THE DAYS IN between (which this time consisted of all of last week) usually attract the fringe candidates who didn’t get their nominating petitions in order by Monday morning.

So the fact that fringe mayoral candidates Tyrone Carter and Jay Stone filed on Tuesday and Thursday of last week ought to be reason enough to discount their chances (that, and the fact that Stone's petitions didn't even come close to the minimal support required to survive an electoral challenge). Even fringe candidate M. Tricia Lee managed to be ready to file for her spot on the Feb. 22 ballot by first thing Monday morning.

But it is that last day, which this year occurs today, that has the potential for intrigue.

Because there is always a serious candidate who decides to play the game of wanting to have his name appear last on the list of candidates running for a particular office. This year, it is the mayoral bid of Rev./state Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago, who is trying that gambit.

THE REVEREND COULD make a big splash IF he were to show up just before the Chicago Board of Elections offices were to close, and file his nominating petitions at the last possible second. But what if someone were to get stuck in traffic, and the reverend’s people were to show up just seconds after the office door were locked?

The death of a credible campaign on a fluke? It could happen.

Monday is the final day to file the nominating petitions that let someone run for the right to be the Big Man (or Woman) who walks these halls.

Or what if the reverend’s people show up late in the day and file, only to have someone else manage to slip in at the (literal) last minute to file their own nominating petitions for a ballot slot to run for mayor?

When I look at the list of nine people who as of the weekend had filed their nominating petitions to get on the mayoral ballot, I first notice the absence of the name Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins. She’s the woman who caught my Election Night attention earlier this month by having her radio campaign spots run over and over and over again on WBBM-AM radio, making themselves prominent among all the reports of Mark Kirk’s narrow victory for U.S. Senate, or Pat Quinn’s even closer win for Illinois governor.

I DON’T KNOW definitively what Van Pelt-Watkins is planning to do. Maybe she has given up. Or she may file those petitions and get herself a ballot slot. Could this be a race between the CEO and the pastor to see who can come in last?

And what about that guy who’s living in mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel’s house, is refusing to move out, and a couple of weeks ago tossed out hints that he may run his own campaign for mayor?

If he’s serious about that notion, he has to get those petitions in today – or else he’s as full of hot air as any other political dreamer.

I’m sure some people will be doing a body-watch for him to show up with nominating petitions, although I have to admit to not having too much interest in whether or not he runs.

IF HE DOES manage to get on the ballot, it would be just another fringe candidate on the mayoral ballot. We have enough of those (I’m sorry that I can’t take Stone’s mayoral bid more seriously, because not even his alderman father plans to support him), and I don’t think we need many more.

If there is a real story to that guy’s presence (I’m deliberately not naming him because I don’t want to publicize his ego any more than necessary), it would be to find out who put the idea of a mayoral bid into his head to begin with.

Just as I believe one story we reporter-types should be pursuing related to this mayoral campaign is to find out who is paying the bills that are accumulating related to the attempt to get the courts to knock Emanuel off the ballot on the grounds that he has not (according to the letter of the law) been a Chicago resident for a current-enough period to qualify for a political campaign this election cycle.

Thus far, we have heard about how attorney Burt Odelson and his legal colleague James Nally are handling this particular effort (claiming Emanuel gave up his Chicago residency when he went off to Washington to be President Barack Obama’s chief of staff for 20 months).

PROFESSIONALLY, I RESPECT the legal skills and the work of Odelson – who I have watched for just over two decades. He is an expert at election law, and he is good at getting things done for his clients.

But whose client is he in handling this particular case? I can’t envision he’s taking on this case pro bono just for his own curiosity, although I have heard him identified in recent weeks as being an “adviser” to Meeks’ campaign.

Who is paying the legal expenses for Odelson to work his hardest to knock off Emanuel, and what are the partisan leanings of those particular individuals?

In my mind, I can’t figure if it is just some conservative partisan who dreads the idea of Rahm-bo continuing to be politically relevant (the ideologues would want Emanuel to be unemployed and living on food stamps, so they could then label him a welfare cheat)?

OR ARE WE talking about someone who wants to clear the path for another of the mayoral hopefuls? Does the reverend want Emanuel out of the way so that this becomes the all-African-American political battle?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. I must admit to being more curious about learning those facts, rather than listening to the rhetorical nonsense that we’re going to hear in coming weeks from all the candidates as they try to convince us they deserve the chance to be the person who has to take the blame for being unable to resolve the fiscal mess that confronts city government these days.

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1 comment:

PezChicago said...

I'm going to make a wild prediction and suggest that the total number of candidates who will file today, the last day, will come within 10% of the number of candidates who filed last Monday, the first day. I don't have the numbers historically, but today should break a record as the total number of candidates to file will almost certainly exceed 300.