After Short Holiday Break, Mayoral Challenges Resume

The Christmas holiday provided a short break in the race for Chicago mayor, but Wednesday the grunt work resumed of challenging candidates to try and knock them off the ballot.

Who’s in, who’s out, and what will the final ballot look like?

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There was some activity over the extended holiday weekend. On Monday, the campaign for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle dropped its challenge of Lori Lightfoot, conceding that she did indeed have more than enough signatures to get on the ballot.

That means the list of those who have survived this round of challenges has grown, and now includes: Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Lightfoot, Preckwinkle, Willie Wilson, Paul Vallas, Garry McCarthy, Gery Chico, Bill Daley and former Ald. Bob Fioretti.

Notable candidates still under challenge include Dorothy Brown, La Shawn Ford and Ja’Mal Green.

Brown on Wednesday called Preckwinkle and Wilson to drop their challenges of her candidacy. She says those campaigns have only challenged candidates of color, and they are trying to narrow the field of minority candidates down because they can’t win on their own.

“If you feel that we are a threat, that means you feel you don’t feel you have enough support to win without trickery,” Brown said. “It’s time out for trickery in the city of Chicago. Let the voters decide who is the best candidate.”

Brown turned in roughly twice the number of valid petition signatures. That means that at least 50 percent of those signatures will have to be valid registered voters who are registered at the addresses they submitted. Rickey Hendon, a representative for the Wilson campaign, said Wednesday he believes her chances are 50-50. He also said it’s hypocritical for Brown to complain about this tactic of challenging petitions when she has employed it herself in her races for mayor and Cook County clerk.

“She challenged black people, she challenged Latinos. Now that it’s her turn in the boat, she doesn’t like it,” Hendon said. “I did look at some of the white candidates’ petitions. Why should I go after Daley or McCarthy if they have enough? Dorothy Brown doesn’t have enough, and that is the bottom line.”

Hendon also defended challenging other minority campaigns. He says if there are too many minority candidates on the ballot, it splits the minority vote. And he revealed that Brown indeed hired him to challenge one of her opponents for city clerk four years ago (she eventually dropped that challenge).

These hearings will continue into the new year but the field of mayoral candidates is starting to take its final shape.

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

Related stories:

Bob Fioretti Focuses on Taxes, Pensions in 2nd Bid for Chicago Mayor

Bill Daley Unveils Partial 2017 Tax Returns

Spotlight Politics: Preckwinkle Drops Petition Challenge

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