Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Political challenges can hurt even if candidates successfully fight them off

Much is being made of the fact that two of mayoral hopeful Toni Preckwinkle’s political challenges to opposing candidates failed to get the opponents kicked off.
Would like to exchange county seal for city

It’s supposedly exposing Preckwinkle herself to be little better than the political hacks she’d like us all to think she will challenge, should she manage to get herself elected mayor in the upcoming Feb. 26 election (and likely April 2 run-off).

YET I’VE SEEN enough partisan politicking throughout the years to realize there is a strategy to a candidate challenging would-be opponents to try to get them kicked off the ballot.

Yes, it may seem that Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot WILL be on the ballot for the Feb. 26 election. Voters will have a legitimate option to pick either of them.

Those two are not in the same league as someone like Ja’Mal Green, who did manage to get booted from the ballot for inadequate signatures of support on his nominating petitions.

They’re certainly in a different league as people like Conrein Hykes Clark or Catherine Brown D’Tycoon – whose challenges by the Preckwinkle people are still pending.

BUT NO MATTER how people try to spin it, the Lightfoot and Mendoza mayoral campaigns have taken a blow – one they may not be able to overcome during the next couple of months.
Lightfoot lives to fight another day, … 

The fact is that I’m sure both would have preferred to have used the past few weeks since filing their nominating petitions trying to gain public attention and build support amongst would-be voters.

They would have liked to have talked about themselves and tried to spread the message about why people should seriously consider casting a ballot for their candidacies.

Instead, they have had to spend time in consultation with attorneys who guided them through the legal morass that predominates the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Election law can be an arcane process – one with a confusing mess of law that really can be vague enough to allow for people to be kicked off the ballot for whatever obscure excuse the political people concoct in their minds.
… as does Mendoza

IN SOME CASES, the petition challenges are filed knowing they may not succeed. But instead may cause enough chaos to knock a campaign from gaining any traction. Meaning the person who might have had a serious shot at prevailing instead flounders.

Which is something that could happen to both Lightfoot and Mendoza – both of whom have their supporters who seriously think the two would make fine public servants.

But that may not be enough, and it could be what causes them to fall behind in such a crammed field of candidates to where they can’t even qualify for a run-off election. For Feb. 26 will be a day in which finishing third won’t be any better than coming in eighth or ninth or however far back amongst the candidate field one can sink.

It’s going to be Numbers One and Two who will make it to the head-to-head challenge against each other – unless, by some political miracle, Number One manages to gain so much support they can take an immediate majority and avoid the need for a run-off.

AN INSTANCE NOT likely to occur.
Who will be Chicago's next mayor?

As for Preckwinkle, I suppose there’s the chance that her challenging tactics will offend so many people that when they cast their ballots for a run-off, they get it in their heads that they’ll vote for Anybody But Toni!

But I can also see how those people would be so un-unified that they won’t be able to agree on anything. It may well be that the eventual winner of the Chicago mayoral election of 2019 will be someone whom a majority of would-be voters right now would feel complete apathy for.

Which means we should start preparing now for the four years of contempt we’re going to feel for our city government – being fueled in part by these endless rounds of challenges to try to keep people from running for office to begin with!


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