Candidates hoping to make it on the March 17 primary ballot have another week to collect the required signatures from local registered voters, but those hoping for the coveted first spot filed that paperwork Monday morning.
Strategists believe being listed above a candidate’s opponents brings in extra votes. Filing on the first day is also seen as a sign of strength – a signal that a candidate has enough volunteers and staff to get the job done, and an indication that voters are on board.
Among the high-profile races for Chicago voters in 2020 are the races for Cook County state’s attorney and Cook County circuit court clerk.
Campaign workers for State’s Attorney Kim Foxx filed re-election paperwork on her behalf, while former prosecutor Bill Conway stood in the long line himself; as both campaigns were there on time, they’ll be entered into a lottery to decide whose name will be first on the Democratic primary ballot.
“I’m running to enact real focused criminal justice reform, get after the gun crime epidemic we have here in Chicago, and get politics out of the state’s attorney’s office,” Conway said.
Others still could enter the race, on either side of the aisle.
Four Democrats filed to run for the court clerk position being vacated by Dorothy Brown: Richard Boykin, Michael Cabonargi, Jacob Meister and Iris Martinez.
Cabonargi is the favored candidate of Cook County Democrats after being slated by local leaders in August.
“I’m proud to be the slated candidate,” Cabonargi said, adding that he’s got a plan for the office he’ll implement on day one that calls for “technology, transparency, talent and a real commitment to social justice.”
Meister says he’s the “reform candidate. I am the only candidate in this race that’s not part of the party machine, the party apparatus, which has so desperately broken the office. I’m also the only one who is an attorney who has practiced in these courts; me, for 29 years, regularly. The county courts need to be reformed, they need to be modernized,” he said. “We need to get the machine out of that office and put transparency in its place.”
As a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, Martinez is a leader in the party, but in recent days she’s done something rare for high-ranking Democrats, taking on Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who also chairs the and Democratic Party of Illinois.
According to reporting by the Chicago Tribune, Mike McClain, a longtime lobbyist widely known to be close to Madigan, coordinated a team of other lobbyists with Madigan ties to drum up $30,000 of work for former Madigan campaign aide Kevin Quinn (brother of Ald. Marty Quinn of Madigan’s 13th Ward). Kevin Quinn was ousted amid sexual harassment claims brought against him by a lower-titled campaign worker, Alaina Hampton.
“I had to come out and say something. As a state central committeewoman, where he’s the party leader of where I sit, I want to speak,” Martinez said. “Women are too afraid to step up, people are too afraid to step up, and challenge the speaker on things. And I think that that’s wrong. I think that we need to be able to have conversations and get to solutions. And instead of fearing we need to work together.”
Madigan has responded to Martinez’s public outcry with an emailed statement issued via a spokeswoman: “If a group of people were attempting to help Kevin Quinn, the Speaker was not a part of it.”
Martinez said she doesn’t buy that, and if Madigan does not give a more fulsome explanation he should step down as party chairman.
“You can’t say you had nothing to do with it, with that group, when … these are your (Madigan’s) lieutenants. These are the people that, you know, answer to you. And that whenever they go out there, they speak on behalf of him. Everybody knows this, you can’t play ignorant to that,” Martinez said.
She said her grievances are not related to the Cook County Democratic Party’s endorsement of Cabonargi.
A similar scene played out in Springfield, where candidates for Illinois Supreme Court, the state legislature and Congress began to file their petitions. All are due Dec. 2.
Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky