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Illinois Politics

Late Night: Despite Last Minute Support from Ald. Dick Mell, Judge Hopeful Greg Ahern Loses… and More

6th subcircuit judicial candidate Greg Ahern failed in his bid despite a last-minute assist from the powerful 33rd Ward Alderman, Dick Mell.

(Chicago, IL) – “I’m With Ya” – Despite an election day switch of support by powerful 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell from the endorsed Democrat in the 6th judicial subcircuit race, Beatriz Santiago, to a will-financed challenger, Gregory Ahern, Ahern still lost to Santiago 3,500 to 5,640.

The race totaled five candidates, including Mark Ferrante, Carlos Claudio, and Ricardo Lugo.

The well-regarded 33rd Ward Democratic Organization’s sample ballot included Santiago in the days leading up to the election, but the Mell’s election day palm card featured Ahern.

“We got the order on Tuesday morning. We are now for Ahern,” said a 33rd Ward political source.

Ahern edged Santiago in Mell’s ward 660 to 645.

A Cook County State’s Attorney, Ahern raised $106,400, including $50,000 from his own wallet, compared to $30,557 by Santiago, who pulled $9,620 from her own purse. In fact, it was the fifth most expensive subcircuit race. The five candidates raised a combined $176,000, according to David Morrison at the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

According to the 33rd ward source, Ahern put a precinct worker in every precinct, paying each $100 for the day and delivering each lunch. It worked.

The workers ate Ahern’s lunch.

A Skilled Hand Snags Two Wins – Seasoned political operative Thom Mannard, an ex-aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), piloted two subcircuit judicial candidates to victory on Tuesday. Mannard executed the political strategy for victorious Judges Larry Axelrood who sought a seat on the 9th subcircuit and Andrea Schleifer in the 12th.

Axlerood edged out both Abbey Fishman Romanek, who was the favorite, and Judge Mary Trew, an openly lesbian candidate. Alexrood had 9,348 or 35.6% to Romanek’s 8,691 or 33.1%. Trew trailed a distant third with 6,207 or 23.6%. Trew had her own top-flight talent, employing ex-Equality Illinois political director Rick Garcia. Trew paid Garcia $2,000 per month for his effort.

For future judicial candidates, Mannard can now be found at the high-powered government affairs firm Fletcher O’Brien Kasper & Nottage. The firm recently tapped Mannard to fill-out their lobbying team in Springfield.

Judge James Shapiro lost his race for an 8th subcircuit seat to Judge Celia Gamrath.

Costliest Judicial Contest – The most expensive subcircuit contest was in the 8th. Candidates Rodney Stewart, Judge Celia Gamrath, Judge James Shapiro and Thomas Osran raised a combined $412,000 up through March 20.

Shapiro reached into his own wallet for $95,000, according to David Morrison at the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Gamrath trounced Shapiro, taking 11,535 or 49.1% to Shapiro’s 7,832 or 33.4%.

Costliest Legislative Duels – The clash between Chicago Democrats Kenny Johnson and Christian Mitchell for an open House seat attracted $586,000 in donations through March 20. Mitchell edged out Johnson. The fight for the senate seat currently held by Chicago Democrat Annazette Collins and challenger Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins saw a torrent of money flow in, totaling $725,000. Of that, $73,000 can from the purse of the winner, Van Pelt-Watkins.

Illinois’ Favorite Sun – President Barack Obama was in Cushing, Oklahoma on Thursday to give the green-light to fast track the permitting process for the southern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a decision which triggered any angry reaction from environmentalists in Washington, D.C., but silence in Illinois.

“President Obama’s capitulation to TransCanada on this project is a slap in the face to young voters across the country. In 2008, we mobilized in record numbers for a President who promised to free us from the tyranny of oil, but now he’s committing to ‘drill everywhere he can,’ and is giving favors out to foreign oil companies,” said the Energy Action Coalition in a statement.

In Illinois, multiple messages from this publication to Illinois Sierra Club director Jack Darin requesting a reaction to Obama’s announcement were ignored. Message received.

Don’t Quote MeRumor and gossip that’s not quite fit to print, but, what the heck, we’re including it anyway as a public service because we’re sure you’ll find it as titillating as we do… Fileted Medicaid on the Menu – Chicago hospital executives from LaRabida, Children’s Memorial and Mt. Sinai reportedly hosted a private dinner for lawmakers at the private Sangamo Club in Springfield on Wednesday night to discuss looming budget cuts to Illinois’ Medicaid program, which provides health care to the poor. Some lawmakers attending the dinner included: State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), State Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago), State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), State Rep. David Leitch (R-Peoria), State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin), and State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon)… Leave the Lights On ­– Despite Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to close the Dwight Women’s Prison, political push-back by female Democratic African-American lawmakers will likely prevent the facility’s closure, according to sources… One Campaign Down, Next Campaign Up – Fresh from his victory over State Rep. Chris Nybo (R-Lombard) for his senate seat, State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) is reportedly now searching for a fund-raiser for an expected 2014 gubernatorial bid. Top on Dillard’s list is Lori Montana… School Sticks and Stones and TIFs – A recent, under-advertised community meeting at Chicago’s Bell Elementary School in the Ravenswood neighborhood, a school with decent state test scores, focused on a multi-million expansion of the facility. Local pols, such as 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar, intend to pour more TIF money into neighborhood schools, including long suffering high schools such as Amundsen and Lake View, hoping to spur a turn around… Chicago Local School Council Elections, Start Your Engines Full slates of parent reformers are now reported at more schools than two weeks ago. The candidate filing deadline was Thursday… Going, Going, Gone – Chicago’s Greek Star newspaper has been sold. The new owners are moving the publication to Winnetka. The move was reportedly on the lips of some White House guests during President Obama’s East Room reception on Thursday evening marking Greek Independence Day, an event that was closed to the press.

Tomorrow’s News?… The Chicago Reader’s Mike Dumke is working on a story targeting the City of Chicago’s use and cost of outside law firms.

What’s a Work Day? Belgian Chocolates – For Governor Pat Quinn, he’s in the Kingdom of Belgium on a trade mission… School Daze – For Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had no public events on Wednesday or Thursday, he and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard will make an announcement at Marie Curie High School on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. … Meet, Leave – For Illinois’ Favorite Sun, President Obama meets with senior advisors at the White House at 10:45 a.m. He departs the White House tonight at 11:45 p.m. for Andrews Air Force Base en route to Seoul, Republic of Korea. Ciao, POTUS.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


2 Responses to “Late Night: Despite Last Minute Support from Ald. Dick Mell, Judge Hopeful Greg Ahern Loses… and More”

  1. Good article! RE: The money spent. Quarterly reports are not due until April 15th, so the amount of money the candidates spent or did not spend will not be fully disclosed until that time.

    Posted by Mark | March 23, 2012, 8:07 AM
  2. Mark,

    The article refers to the money raised, not money spent. The spending and the low-dollar money raised will be in the April 15th reports.

    Thank you for reading.

    David Ormsby

    Posted by David Ormsby | March 23, 2012, 8:12 AM

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