Daley's Candidate in the Illinois Fifth Congressional District Election: Feigenholtz?

04/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • David Ormsby Public Relations Consultant, Ex-Press Secretary, Democratic Party of Illinois

Is State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz Mayor Richard Daley's favored candidate in the Illinois 5th Congressional District special election on Tuesday?

Is Daley trying to nudge Feigenholtz over the finish line by giving a last minute shove to ostensible Feigenholtz rival 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor, Daley's unofficial City Council floor leader?

Rich Miller reported in his Capitol Fax newsletter on Friday that the Mayor is making his move to boost O'Connor's campaign.

"Word is that a political organization strongly affiliated with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is sending troops in to help Ald. Pat O'Connor's 5th Congressional District race. That move will likely damage Rep. John Fritchey's campaign because Fritchey is relying on "regular" ward organizations for a big chunk of his support," Miller wrote.

A Daley push for his longtime ally would no hold realistic expectation that O'Connor could actually win. Without the hoped-for early and overt Daley endorsement, O'Connor has run a virtual ghost campaign. As of Friday, O'Connor had raised only $102,000. And he has mustered only a single, meek cable ad in the TV air war.

In fact, Chicago political analyst Russ Stewart last week predicted that Fritchey would swamp O'Connor and win the race on the back of the Democratic Ward chiefs.

But Stewart's prediction gave Fritchey a wafer-cookie-thin-and-brittle edge over Feigenholtz. He allocated 10,250 votes to Fritchey, 9,000 to Feigenholtz, 8,000 to Mike Quigley, 3,100 to O'Connor, and 4,650 to the other nine Democratic contenders.

In theory, mayoral forces would need to flip only 1,251 votes from Fritchey to O'Connor based on Stewarts's numbers. The votes would likely come from seven key Fritchey wards--32, 33, 36, 38, 43, 45, and 47--most of which are in O'Connor-friendly territory--several of those committeemen had originally pledged to back O'Connor.

Do you think Mayor Daley's troops could find 1,250 plus votes in 275 precincts if they pushed and asked pretty please?

In addition, any mayoral effort to heave O'Connor forward will also undermine the other top candidate in the race, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley.

According to a poll conducted by Quigley early in January the top candidates stacked up this way: Quigley 19%, Feigenholtz 11%, and Fritchey 8%. However, when O'Connor was included, Quigley's lead over Feigenholtz shrunk by four points to 14% - 10%, and O'Connor edged Fritchey 8% to 7%.

Any O'Connor surge seems to help Feigenholtz.

But why would Feigenholtz have the Mayor's favor? Because the others seem to have his disfavor.

During a candidates forum in February all candidates came out against the Mayor's planned privatization scheme of Midway Airport, but Fritchey was the only one that actually spoke up clearly against the plan. That pluck earned him Daley's special brand of ire.

And Quigley? The mention of Quigley's name causes the Mayor to sputter all sorts of unpleasantness, according to numerous sources. Quigley has persistently criticized the Mayor's policy on Chicago's tax increment financing (TIF) districts, criticism that tap dances on the last mayoral nerve.

Feigenholtz, it seems, has managed to keep her head down.