IL-05: Primary Roundup #3

Perhaps the biggest news this week is that the FEC deadline has passed and/or the Chicago Tribune endorsement session.  It may depend on who you are and who you support which you believe is the biggest news.  Others have argued that the dearth of coverage by the traditional media is the biggest news of the week.

What has become increasingly apparent to those who have been paying attention is that the special election in IL-05 enjoys an unusually smart, ambitious field who are working hard to win this election and paying attention to the issues in which voters are interested.  As early voting begins on Monday, this race is turning increasingly from fund-raising and media to the ground game.  Given the extraordinary density -- much of it in single family dwellings -- this has always been true.  Which is also why all the candidates are out knocking on doors and calling voters.

Because of the large Democratic field, the Chicago Tribune editorial board conducted two different interview sessions, one which is the video to the right.  Video for the second session is below the fold, but this article talks about "the rest of the field:"

"It is not an advantage to be an elected official," argued Jan Donatelli, an airline pilot and Democratic candidate who met with the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

"The electorate is crying for change," said Dr. Paul Bryar, an eye surgeon and medical professor at Northwestern University. Bryar noted high taxes in Cook County and deep state pension shortfalls in Illinois, subtle references to his fellow Democratic candidates who are local and state elected officials. "That's not the sort of reform we need to Washington right now," he said.

The session, the first of several gatherings organized by the newspaper's editorial page for endorsement interviews, had Bryar and the two other doctors in the race seated next to each other inside Tribune Tower.

Dr. Victor Forys said he has a "clear path to victory" and will have enough money to get his message out through mailings, television and radio. He noted his Polish ancestry as being an advantage in the immigrant-heavy district.

The Trib's initial reaction to its editorial session with the top tier candidates continued its obsession with a two month old story. Which was strange, if you watch the entire session. There is actually interesting stuff in the session, but we should never, ever forget that the media IS the story. They want to be celebrities, too. And if you ignore them, they will bounce. The Chicago Tribune may not win anyone any votes in this election, but it can certainly make your like miserable. Just ask Sara Feigenholtz's campaign. After watching the entire session, my impression of the so-called news that the Trib reported immediately afterward was that they wouldn't have run the story even if they had gotten a hold of the candidate. Here's a Reality Check for the Chicago Tribune: if you're not going to cover the campaign, you can hardly express surprise when the candidates don't jump when you call.

But the Feigenholtz campaign sent out an email to its supporters last night (2/12) called "Strong," probably in the attempt to change the subject (Reality Check #2 for the Trib: it's a brave new world out here outside the Tower. Candidates can communicate with the public without you!):

Ok, so now for the big news.

As you well know, last night we hit a major fundraising deadline. I'm so proud to say that since the beginning of our campaign we have raised over $550,000! Because of your help, we can communicate our message to the voters in the 5th District.

Our campaign is growing more each and every day. Hundreds of you are coming in to our offices in Lakeview and Portage Park to volunteer making phone calls and canvassing door-to-door reaching our to voters right in your neighborhoods. Thanks to your hard work we've contacted 40,000 Democratic Primary voters to date!

What was interesting here was not that Feigenholtz raised $550,000 -- if anything, this is a lower figure than expected. Feigenholtz went to averaging $65,000 a week in fund-raising to $38,000. Money should get easier to raise as the election gets closer, not harder. No, that wasn't the interesting thing at all. The interesting thing was that the Feigenholtz campaign released its voter contact numbers. I had previously noted that the Geoghegan campaign had a goal of 20,000 contacts by this week, so the Feigenholtz campaign -- which had been in the field for a lot longer, with a lot more people -- number stood out.

So I hurriedly sent out an email to the other major contestants, asking them about their own voter contact numbers. Their feedback can be reduced to this table:

CandidateVoter Contacts$ Raised
Geoghegan20,000 (goal)???

What we have here are the signs of a very tight, very competitive race. Given all the attention given to Sara Feigenholtz, it seems that there is an gentleman's agreement that she is the front runner in the race. The question, then, is: can she hold on for the next three weeks?

Only time will tell.

The other major news story covering the entire field was this Medill story on a surprising characteristic the defines 20 percent of the entire field (but none of the four candidates in the table above):

The out-of-towners: Five candidates in 5th District race say being there is more important than living there

Stewart isn’t the only candidate on the March 3 primary ballot who hopes to commute his way to win the special election. He’s one of five people in the running who make their beds outside of the 5th—and it’s all perfectly legal.

The federal Constitution lays down some requirements for would-be U.S. representatives, as does Illinois law. But though you must be a certain age (25) and must have lived in the state for a certain period of time (30 days), there is no legal roadblock preventing qualified candidates from running in a district outside of their own.

The Greater Chicago Caucus forums got coverage on the Middle East crisis here and here. The same site also summarized participants' answers in a prior post that I don't believe I had included previously.

Finally (H/T: Progress Illinois), TimeOut magazine had this survey on the cultural preferences of the candidates.

Speaking of Progress Illinois, they have continued their almost daily coverage of this race, including sunday (on endorsements), tuesday (more endorsements) and news conferences, wednesday the next forum and thursday with the latest news.

The Capitol Fax Blog continues to be a good source -- and provoke discussion -- on the race, including monday's and wednesday's roundups.

Mike Quigley

Mike Quigley has been busy. The Chicago Tribune has his questionnaire posted. And the Sun-Times did this biographical treatment:

Cook Co. Commissioner Quigley voice of independents

Unusual among elected officials in Cook County, Quigley has spoken out against some of the sacred cows of Mayor Daley and County Board Presidents John and Todd Stroger, including "blighted" special-tax districts for a booming downtown that divert tax money from schools and the common practice of finding jobs for Democratic officials with the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

Quigley has spoken out about things that commissioners before him rarely spoke out about.

The Quigley campaign put up a new website, urging people to sign their petition to urge Congress to budget more for mass transit. They also translated their website into Spanish -- which I think is the first to do this.

The transit proposal got some play on the blogs. Quigley himself posted on several sites, including DailyKos. Lynn Sweet also picked up the story, and NBC posted Stimulating the CTA.

When asked about how much money they raised, the campaign pointed out that the report was not due until "the 19th, [we're] still counting." ActBlue reports 41 people contributed $10,625 to Quigley through their website. I asked, "Do you feel like you are on pace with your campaign plan, both financially and voter contact-wise?." The Quigley campaign responded:

Voter contact wise, we're flying through much faster than I thought we would due to an outpouring of volunteers. Money-wise, we're on track to hit our budget.

I also asked, "Do you have special outreach activities for Spanish- and/or Polish-speaking voters in the district?"

Yes, literature and speakers for both.

Link to their Spanish-language website is above.

We are advised that there are numerous opportunities to connect with the candidate:

GLBT outreach night tonight, weekly office Meet and Greet with Mike on Saturday at 10 and a hotdog party for Lakeview Neighbors for Obama on Sunday.

The campaign points to the TimeOut interview, observing:

In the Timeout Chicago interview, Mike clearly gave the best answer for ketchup vs. mustard I've ever seen.

Obviously, both Mike and his campaign manager are from Chicago. That is reinforced by this qualification:

Mike's played hockey for a few decades and has 300 stitches to prove he doesn't ever give up.

Quigley picked by the endorsement of Kevin Woghiren, the blogger:

I am confident that Mike Quigley will be a great addition to Congress in fighting for civil rights and gender equality

John Fritchey

Like the other candidates, John Fritchey had his Tribune questionnaire posted. The Sun Times also had this write-up of Fritchey:

Fritchey cultivates rep as an independent

While his in-laws are regular Democrats, Fritchey has cultivated a reputation as an independent in Springfield, breaking with Gov. Blagojevich early and criticizing him before his rivals in this race. He also ousted his uncle-in-law’s ally, 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman Terry Gabinski.

In Springfield, Fritchey pushed through ethics bills that angered the Dem regulars and put him on the side of then-State Sen. Barack Obama, who co-sponsored the bills with Fritchey.

When asked about how much money they raised, Fritchey's campaign reports:

We are very appreciative of all the donors who helped us raise over $440,000 in under 6 weeks!

Fritchey raised $103,529 from 274 contributors on ActBlue. Fritchey's fundraising numbers got the attention of blogger David Ormsby.

I asked all the campaigns how they thought their candidate did at the endorsement sessions. Fritchey responded:

Newspaper endorsement sessions are an incredibly critical and essential part of campaigns, especially in a race of this length. I thrive in environments where substantive policy debates occur and encourage more forums to educate the voters of Illinois’ 5th. As a 12-year legislator, I am comfortable speaking about the issues Illinoisans face today and how we will work to solve those problems. Whether it’s the fear of losing their job or a family losing their home, voters want to know that their representative is knowledgeable on the current crises plaguing our nation.

The Fritchey campaign reports that he's received the following endorsements:

IVI-IPO | AFCSME American Federation of County State & Municipal Employees AFSCME #993 (State, County & Municipal) | AFSCME Council 31 American Muslim Task Force | Association of Fire Fighters of Illinois ATU Local 241 (Amalgamated Transit Union) | ATU Local 308 (Amalgamated Transit Union) Chicago & Cook County Building Trades Council | Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 Chicago Teachers Union | Electrical Workers Local 134 IBEW Local 21 (Int'l Brotherhood of Elect. Workers) | IBEW Local 9 (Int'l Brotherhood of Elect. Workers) ICHG | IFT Council Jewish Political Alliance of Illinois | Laborer's International Union Operating Engineers Local 150 | Pipe Fitters Local #597 Teamsters Joint Council 25 | Teamsters Local #726 Teamsters Local #731 | UFCW Local 1546 UFCW Local 881 (United Food & Commercial Workers)

We are told this about Fritchey's outreach to voters who speak other languages:

I have given interviews to Spanish-language press, Polish and Ukrainian radio, as well as Chicago’s largest Pakistani radio station. My campaign also boasts a crew of incredible volunteers, some of whom are multilingual and able to answer questions and have discussions with voters that a mail or pass piece cannot provide.

He continues:

I was honored to see the Sun-Times call me a leader in the state house, an independent legislator and a champion of ethics reform. My record is one of accomplishment fighting for the working men and women of our state and I am humbled by the Sun-Times, AFL-CIO and IVI-IPO’s recognition of my work.

My 12-year career in the General Assembly has been one of tireless fighting for the American worker and reform. My leadership to cap skyrocketing property tax assessments, ban pay-to-play politics in Illinois government, and protect workers’ rights have made a difference in all Illinoisans lives. I am proud of my record and, if elected, will continue to fight for you in Congress. Volunteer, donate and tell everyone you know to vote for John Fritchey on March 3.

They list their campaign activities for this weekend:

Our amazing volunteer crew talks to voters each day at El stops and through phone canvassing and encourages them to support my run for Congress. This Saturday and Sunday our team will be door knocking:

Saturday Kickoff: Fritchey for Us Campaign Headquarters 1511 West Barry (Just west of Lincoln) 10:00am

Sunday Kickoff: Fritchey for Us Campaign Headquarters 1511 West Barry (Just west of Lincoln) 11:00am

They have an extensive calendar found here.

John Fritchey held a conference call for bloggers this week. David Ormsby wrote two posts on this, here and here. Progress Illinois also wrote about the call and Jesse Greenberg live blogged the call.

Charlie Wheelan

Charlie Wheelan is still trying to make a splash. His completed questionnaire from the Chicago Tribune can be found here. While they aren't prepared to report how much money they raised, ActBlue reports that 604 donors have given $132,197 to the Wheelan campaign. The campaign also feels like they are on course "on pace" with their campaign plan.

I asked, "How did you feel your candidate did at this week's newspaper endorsement sessions?"

Reports say that Charlie stood apart from the pack when it came to his knowledge of the issues, and his ability to stick to them.

The campaign reports that they "have new door hangers and Spanish language lit." They say their outreach to non-English speaking voters includes:

Along with our translated lit and targeted canvasses, we now have Spanish-speaking phonebanks on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Their volunteers activities for this week include:

Saturday/Sunday, 12:00: Canvassers meet at headquarters

Monday, 6:00: Young professionals night followed by happy hour at Delilah's.

Monday/Tuesday, 6:00: Spanish phonebank

Daily: phone banks at 6:00, canvasses and mailings during the day.

For more information, call (773) 472-9400. Ask for Erik.

Other events open to the public this week include:

Meet and Greets: (Please call our office for addresses.)

Saturday, 12:00: Meet and greet at headquarters Sunday, 2:00: Lincoln Square, at a supporter's home Sunday, 7:00: at a supporter's home Monday, 6:00: at headquarters Wednesday, 6:00: at headquarters Friday, 7:00: Indian community young professionals event


Monday, 2:00: Access Living forum Monday, 7:00: AARP-ILPIRG-AIDS Foundation forum Tuesday, 6:00: Belmont Harbor Neighbors Candidate Forum Wednesday, 7:00: North River Commission/ League of Women Voters

On Thursday, Charlie will be in DC.

They report that:

Charlie was asked here if he would commit to going on a fact-finding mission to the Middle East if elected. Answer: he already has.

Wheelan has written a blogpost for DailyKos and others. Blogger Jesse Greenberg wonders Can Charlie Wheelan Use Online Video Better?

Paul Bryar

Like the other candidates, Paul Bryar completed the Tribune questionnaire. It is posted here. I asked the campaign how much money the Bryar campaign raised:

Paul Bryar for Congress will be filing early next week, to date, we have raised $252,800.00....

Are they on pace?

Yes, the campaign is pleased with the amount of money raised in such a short period of time. Additonally, we have had over 8,000 contacts by phones and doors and the feedback has been great.

How did your candidate do in the endorsement session?

Paul did great. Paul outlined his plan about his "Made in America" tax cut and addressing his economic plan in detail. He highlighted healthcare reform and had an opportunity to talk with the Trib Ed Board about his backround and committment to community service.

They tell us that the Bryar campaign has "a spanish speaking outreach coordinator as well as hispanic and polish speaking phone bankers getting the word out about Paul Bryar for Congress." Other volunteer opportunities:

Phone banking are running daily from 500pm until 900pm, and canvassing opportunities for each day and every weekend until Mar 3. We encourage volunteers to bring their cell phones since our 6 landlines are usually full every evening.

We are also told that:

Bryar for Congress did not want Mar 3rd to come and go without the highlighting the records of "reform" candidates in this race. Stay tuned.......

Victor Forys

Victor Forys' questionnaire for the Chicago Tribune can be found here.

How much money have you raised?

We're still processing checks and figuring out our final numbers. We'll report them on next Thursday's FEC report. We have exceeded all of our fundraising goals and will give you numbers when we have them finalized.

Through ActBlue, the Forys has raised $17,626 from 137 contributors.

Do you feel like you are on pace with your campaign plan, both financially and voter contact-wise?

Yes, the voter contact is outstanding. The number of voters that are supporting Dr. Forys when contacted is better then 50%. That is a number most campaigns can only dream about.

How did your candidate do at the endorsement sessions?

Dr. Forys showed that he is one of the few candidates that truly understands the challeneges facing the United States of America and he has real nuts and bolts answers to these problems.

The campaign reports having sent out two pieces of mail and they tell us that "our mail campaign has only just begun."

As for their efforts for non-English speaking voters:

Every night our phone banks have a minimum of ten Polish speaking volunteers making calls. We also have a number of Spanish speaking volunteeers making calls. We have purchased advertising on Polish radio and television, visited local businesses and hired bilingual staff.

Anything on your calendar for the next week?

On Friday, February 20 at 6 PM we are having a fund raiser at the White Eagle 6839 N. Milwaukee Ave, Niles. The last White Eagle fundraiser was attended by more than 250 guests on an evening when 10 inches of snow fell so this event should be amazing.

What media attention have you received that you'd like people to know about?

Dr. Forys continues almost daily apperences on Polish language radio and TV. He has energized a community that is ready to get back the representation they deserve.

Tom Geoghegan

Tom Geoghegan continues to enjoy tremendous support from the blogosphere. Their challenge is translating that support into votes. Geoghegan's questionnaire for the Tribune is available here. While the Geoghegan campaign has not reported yet how much they raised this period, 1,576 people contributed $159,576 through ActBlue.

The Geoghegan campaign reports their "State of the Campaign" as:

We are absolutely on pace and where we expected to be. Every day brings more volunteers and financial support. Our voter ID program is showing that there's strong support for Tom's message that the economic crisis can only be solved by making families more economically secure.

As for newspaper endorsements, we are told:

Tom had excellent interviews with the Sun-Times and the Tribune. In both cases, he provided a very convincing argument that the surest way to solve the looming economic crisis is to increase public pensions, enact single payer health care, and put an end to the bank bailouts.

The Geoghegan campaign had a slew of new endorsements:

Thomas Frank, Wall Street Journal Hendrick Hertzberg, The New Yorker California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee Teamsters Local 743 Progressive Democrats of America Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) Greater Chicago Caucus BlogPAC

As for volunteer opportunities, they write:

We are canvassing this Saturday and Sunday and phone banks scheduled every day of the week. We also have outreach programs for Spanish, Polish and other constituencies in the district.

Contact Jacob to volunteer:

Jacob Dusseau Tom Geoghegan For Congress 4419 W. Irving Park Chicago, IL 60641 (773) 853-0687

Upcoming Events include:

Monday, 2/16 2:00.m. Access Living Disability Rights Candidates Forum 115 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago

Wednesday, 2/18 7:00 p.m. North River Commission/League of Women Voters Candidate Fair Northside College Preparatory High School 5501 N. Kedzie Avenue

Recent blog posts include: Today's the Day to Donate to Tom Geoghegan, The Interview Show, Jesse Greenberg notes Finally, a Conversation while David Ormsby posts Geoghegan Offers 35-Word Plan to Halt Foreclosures in Illinois.

Sara Feigenholtz

Sara Feigenholtz had a big week. She scores the biggest endorsement to date, that of SEIU. While AFSCME has supreme phonebank capabilities and the AFL-CIO has America Works, SEIU has consistently delivered ground forces. And special elections are nothing if not a ground game.

The Sun Times also did a bio treatment of Feigenholtz:

Upbringing made health care priority for Feigenholtz

Rather than focus on the health care and children's insurance bills she passed with Blagojevich's help in the Legislature, she would like to talk about the family health insurance bill she passed with help from then-State Sen. Barack Obama.

"I passed this bill unanimously and walked it across the rotunda and gave it to my former colleague Barack Obama, who shepherded it through the [state] Senate," Feigenholtz said.

A 14-year veteran of the Legislature, Feigenholtz has the support of the National Organization for Women and other feminist groups as well as the Service Employees International Union.

Her Tribune questionnaire can be seen here.

Elect Women Magazine also did a story on Feigenholtz:

In just a few short months since she got into the race to replace Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Sara Feigenholtz has put together a top-notch campaign staff, secured the services of some of the best political consultants in the country and raised over half a million dolloars. Sara is up against 12 candidates in the March 3rd Democratic primary election. Feigenholtz says she’s up to the challenge:

“With a very crowded field and a short window of time, it’s a challenge,” said Feigenholtz who was recently elected to her eighth term in the Illinois House of Representatives.

The Chicago Free Press also wrote about Feigenholtz.

We've already seen that the Feigenholtz campaign is proud of her fund-raising prowess, but they responded:

We will report that we have raised $550,000 from more than 1000 donors, Our strong ground game and aggressive fundraising are both testament to the to enthusiasm that Sara has generated in the community.

238 donors used ActBlue, for a total of $87,060.

Do you feel like you are on pace with your campaign plan?

Our energized and excited base of grassroots volunteers has helped tremendously in the past few weeks as Sara has increased her fundraising edge and continued to spread her message to all corners of the district. In a little more than four weeks, we have recruited over 300 grassroots volunteers who have made more than 40,000 voter contacts. Both of our campaign offices see a steady flow of volunteers for phone banks and canvassing every day of the week.

How did you feel your candidate did at this week's newspaper endorsement sessions?

With our health care system on the brink of collapse, Sara articulated how, for 14 years in the legislature, including 6 years as chair of the Human Services Appropriations Committee, she has made a priority of expanding health care and promoting health care reform that has impacted hundreds of thousands of women, children and families and that she is best positioned to go to Washington to become an impact player in the national health care debate. She partnered with Barack Obama in the Illinois legislature to expand health care to uninsured working families and wants to be the President's partner in Washington to expand health care to all Americans. She also stressed the importance of tying health care to jobs and the economy, since health care is one of the largest drivers of our economy, and that we must invest in human infrastructure as well as brick and mortar infrastructure to make sure both that people are put back to work and families are able to access the health care they need in these tough times.

Sara made a strong case for being the right candidate at the right time to represent the families of the fifth district.

They tell us that, "We launched a paid mail program to voters across the district last week and we have released three pieces." As for their bi- or multi-lingual efforts:

We are the only campaign to open a second office in the Western end of the district. Our Portage Park Office is staffed with a field team focused on outreach to Spanish and Polish speaking communities. We have literature printed in both Polish and Spanish, several bilingual staff and volunteers and a full-time field organizer focused on outreach to minority communities.

What about your volunteer opportunities for the next week?

With less than three weeks left, we recognize that volunteers are the key to winning this campaign! We are phone banking every day and knocking on doors every day.

Volunteer Hours for Both Offices:

Monday thru Thursday:Phone Bank: 11am-9pm, Canvassing: 11am-6pm Friday: Phone Bank: 11am-6pm, Canvassing: 11am-6pm Saturday: Canvassing: 10am-6pm, Phone Bank: 10am- 4pm Sunday: Canvassing: 12pm-5pm, Phone Bank: 5pm-9pm

Anyone interested in volunteering in their community should call Stacey at our Belmont Ave headquarters, 773-327-3792 or Greg at our Portage Park office,773-283-9580

They promise:

We're up on television. This Friday, Sara Feigenholtz became the first candidate to go up with a significant buy on television and we'll be up through election day.

The candidate posted at BlogHer:

I’ll report back over the next three weeks to share with you more of my thoughts on these big issues facing our country and my experiences on the campaign trail. If you’re in Chicago, I’d love your help. Our website,, has information about events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways you can help our campaign. And, I welcome your comments and questions, so ask away!

Feigenholtz's first ad got attention. The Hill blog wrote it up. So did Jesse Greenberg and David Ormsby. Archpundit wrote about Feigenholtz's Fundraising Lead and David Ormsby also cover her fund raising.

Tags: Candidates, IL-05, Special Election (all tags)



Re: IL-05: Primary Roundup #3

I've been calling for Tom for the past few days.  I've called for 7 campaigns in my activism and here are some of the differences I'm seeing:

- very low awareness of the election (not surprising, but different than other elections)

  • very low commitment to any candidate.  
  • no mention to me of support for any candidate other than tom.  i realize they are less likely to tell me, but it is unusual not to have 1 mention of another candidate during calls
  • people who do talk about tom are enthusiastic about support him

i thought sara and mike were going to be clearly in the lead at this point, and that isn't what i'm hearing.  definitely motivating me to keep on calling.  join in if you are interested to elect a progressive to office.

by passionateprogressive 2009-02-14 09:09AM | 0 recs
my own expectation...

is that people are going to vote for the people who have contacted him.  there will be no casual voters, and no undecideds going to the polls on election day.  if they have not been convinced by a validator, they are staying home (or at work)...

by bored now 2009-02-14 02:30PM | 0 recs


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