A Republican candidate for Illinois State Senate made national news a few weeks ago when her Democratic opponent attempted to have her removed from the ballot. She decried the challenge as typical of underhanded Chicago Machine politics.
But as Republican News Watch reported Monday, the Illinois GOP is moving forward with a wide array of similar ballot challenges, despite crying foul over similar Democratic tactics.
Cedra Crenshaw was brought into the spotlight by Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog, on which she wrote a guest post entitled "Chicago Machine Democrats Deserve NAACP Condemnation, Not Tea Party." In it, she accused Illinois Democrats of racism in their attempt to remove her from the ballot on a technicality. At a time when the Tea Party was under fire from the NAACP for racism, she became a darling of Breitbart and others, with the conservative pundit mentioning her situation in a Fox News segment.
When she got her four minutes of fame, in the form of an interview on "Fox And Friends," Crenshaw left the racial angle behind and concentrated on criticizing machine tactics. "My opponent wasn't even man enough to take ownership for this challenge, which he has orchestrated," she said.
The show's hosts relished the opportunity to rip on "old-school, Chicago-style politics," in a less-than-subtle dig at the Obama administration.
But Doug Ibendahl at Republican News Watch warned of a bit of hypocrisy in these claims:
[W]hat you probably don't know is that the Republican Machine is putting the Democrat Machine to shame right now in terms of petition challenges filed.
The Illinois Republican Party is behind 11 petition challenges right now, all of which are in litigation at the State Board of Elections. The Democrats and the Green Party are pikers in comparison.
According to Ibendahl, the GOP recruited two men, surnamed Heffernan and Nekic, to file objections on its behalf -- the same tactic Crenshaw derided as unmanly. Instead of going after Democrats, Republicans are concentrating much of their fire on third-party candidates who might split their vote share.
Indeed, two of the eleven challenges are against entire slates of candidates. Heffernan and Nekic have called into question the Libertarian and Constitution Party slates, each of which represents seven candidates.
Petition challenges are a tried-and-true political tool, in Illinois and elsewhere -- Barack Obama even eliminated his opponent's poorly-gathered signatures when he was running for Senate. But, as Ibendahl's article explains, the Republican Party can't exactly stake claim to the moral high ground on the issue.