Friday, January 29, 2010

Top Races in Cook County

Today we conclude our look at races up and down the ballot with listings of the top races in the state's largest county, the County of Cook. The race for Board President clearly leads the list, but some smaller races also deserve attention.

The four Democrats seeking nomination have raised about $4M, but that cash is not shared evenly. On paper, incumbent Todd Stroger has the most money at $1.5M, most of it raised years ago, though he invested $500,000 of that in CDs last August and it's not clear that he can access that money for next Tuesday's race. This year he has reported a $100K loan from former Senate President Emil Jones. Challenger Toni Preckwinkle shows $1.3M in cash for the primary. Her largest contributors include SEIU at $150K and Fred Eychaner at $50K. Current Water Rec District head Terry O'Brien reports $636,382 in cash for the primary. Over half of that comes from himself, his other political committees, or his family. Current Clerk of Courts Dorothy Brown lags in fundraising, showing $500K in cash for the primary. Top contributors include $25K in loans from a Dorothy Brown who shares the candidate's home address but is listed as General Auditor for the CTA, which position the candidate held some years ago.

The Republican and Green races are far quieter. The Green nomination is uncontested after former Democrat Sean Burke was removed from the ballot, leaving Tom Tresser unopposed. Two Republicans are seeking their party's nomination. John Garrido III reports $81K in funds for the primary, mostly from himself and his relations. Roger Keats reports $21K in cash, with none giving more than $1K.

The race for Democratic nomination for County Assessor shows $1.5M in total receipts, nearly all of that held by current Board of Appeals member Joe Berrios, and nearly all of that from his own many political funds. Berrios, in office for decades, has amassed a fortune spread among 4 active political committees; he has been shunting the monies to one fund for the purpose of this primary. New money to the committee is coming primarily from attorneys. Robert Shaw, the former Chicago alderman and mayor of Dolton and twin brother of the late state Senator William Shaw, reports $36K for the primary, including $5K from former Senate President Emil Jones. Former judge Raymond Figueroa shows $28K for the primary, including $20K from Citizens for Maldonado, the political committee of the former Cook County Board member and current Chicago 26th Ward Alderman and Committeeman Roberto Maldonado.

Tracking contributions in County Board seats has been complicated by the large number of candidates who are filing reports on paper despite raising well above the threshold mandating electronic disclosure. Most egregious is Friends of Derrick Smith, who filed a paper D2 showing $22K in receipts (more than twice the limit for paper filings) and has since filed 4 paper A1s with another $3,600 in receipts.

The hottest county board contest is in the 4th District, between incumbent William Beavers and two challengers. Beavers took over the seat after John Stroger suffered a stroke, leaving the Chicago City Council to do so. He reports $214K for the primary. Main challenger Elgie Sims shows a lead in fundraising, with $268K. Sims, a lobbyist, is largely self-financing, but also shows $5K each from AFSCME and the Chamber of Commerce. Third candidate Karen Sommerfield has yet to form a fundraising committee.

The race with the second highest fundraising is actually the grudge match that wasn't. The race to succeed Forest Claypool was expected to be spirited, as former Chicago Ald. Ted Matlak faced state Rep. John Fritchey. Fritchey has reported $329,602 for the race,, most of it raised before he started circulating petitions, but Matlak hasn't formed a political committee, so if he's campaigning, he's not spending any money on it.

Third is another lopsided race, this for the Democratic nomination in the 16th District. McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski reports $182,974 for the primary. He faces two opponents, neither of whom has an active fundraising committee. The winner will face either incumbent Republican Tony Peraica, who reports $71,843, or challenger Brian Sloan, who shows $5,760; and a Green Party nominee, either Alex Matos or Alejandro Reyes, neither of whom has formed a committee.

Other races do appear to be more closely contested, even the dollar totals are lower. In the 1st District, five candidates combine for $102,420. Challenger Adekunle Onayemi leads with over half of combined reported receipts at $58,807, while a previously mentioned paper filer, Derrick Smith, claims $25,881 and incumbent Earlean Collins is in third with $17,078. Onayemi, an architect, draws heavily from personal funds for the contest.

In the 6th District, incumbent Joan Patricia Murphy shows $69,768 while challenger Nick Valadez reports $63,490. Murphy's money comes from labor (SEIU and the operating engineers) while Valadez is relying on family support. John Fairman, also in the race, shows $24,384 in his paper filings.

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