With help from Olivia Olander
Happy Monday, Illinois. Hoping your long weekend was restful and filled with food, family and friends — and a little exercise. Not that you need it.
The Chicago mayor’s race ramps up today when Mayor Lori Lightfoot and challengers Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Roderick Sawyer, a congressman and alderman, respectively, are expected to turn in their nominating petitions for the February mayor’s race. And Chicago real estate developer John Thomas says he’ll turn in petitions, too.
They join six other candidates who have already submitted their stacks of paperwork.
About the timing: Lightfoot could have handed over her petitions last week but chose to do it today because it gives competitors one less week to dissect them. Garcia joined the race just a few weeks ago — after he won his congressional seat == and needed the extra time to gather petition support. And we hear Sawyer was also working to the last minute to get his petitions together.
The real news: Watch for Chicago Ald. Brian Hopkins, who had mulled a run for mayor, to possibly challenge Lightfoot’s signatures. He’s organized a group to be ready to pick apart her petitions, though a challenge may depend on how many signatures the mayor turns in.
To get on the ballot: Candidates must submit 12,500 signatures from registered voters. If a name on a petition is found to have been forged or a technical mistake is discovered, a signature can be eliminated. Find enough petition problems, and a candidate might not even make it on the ballot. The more signatures a candidate turns in, the less likely they are to be kicked off.
The twist this year: Candidates had a difficult time gathering signatures. Voters are more hesitant to sign petitions presented by people they don’t know— a sign, maybe, of the post-Covid culture. There’s also been a drop in registered voters who are eligible to sign. And there are fewer election attorneys around to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed on the petition forms.
“I’ve been doing this for 50 years, and I think this may be one of the craziest just because of the nature of the mayor’s race and the nature of filling vacancies on City Council,” said elections attorney Burt Odelson, who is advising mayoral candidates Sawyer and Paul Vallas and nearly 20 aldermanic candidates in the petition process. He told Playbook that “the volume of the mayor’s race and volume of aldermanic races” has made gathering petitions difficult, too. A voter can only sign one petition.
Odelson is part of a cottage industry built to help candidates file petitions and challenge opponents. For candidates, it’s a costly process. Those who don’t have a lot of cash on hand aren’t likely to open their wallets to challenge others unless they’re positive they can knock someone off.
Creating a lane: The point of challenging a candidate in a crowded field is to thin the lanes to become a singular choice facing the incumbent. So watch for a Brandon Johnson to challenge Garcia, or vice versa, as they are left-leaning candidates who would pull from the same voter base. Or Willie Wilson might challenge any of the Black male candidates also running for mayor in an effort to give himself an edge.
Council races: All of the city’s 50 aldermanic seats are up for grabs, with at least 20 seats wide open. Incumbents are running in the other 30, though three of those council members have only been appointed in the past eight months. Still up in the air: whether Ald. Ed Burke will run for reelection in the 14th Ward.
The deadline to challenge a candidate’s petition signatures is Dec. 5 for the Feb. 28 election.
— THE JUICE: Joe Mansueto, the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Chicago Fire soccer club, has donated $25,000 to Lightfoot’s campaign.
— ICYMI: Mayoral challenger Willie Wilson criticizes Lightfoot over campaign donations to allies’ committees, by Tribune’s Alice Yin and Gregory Pratt
— The council: Progressives looking to expand amid Chicago City Council departures, by Tribune’s John Byrne
How redistricting shaped the midterms: “Illinois was perhaps the biggest redistricting coup for Democrats. They reduced the GOP footprint to just three districts, shored up retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos’ district and netted a new seat anchored in Springfield. In anticipation of a possible Republican wave, Democratic groups threw some last-minute money to protect Reps. Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood, but both ended up winning by 8 points,” report POLITICO’s Jessica Piper and Ally Mutnick.
If you’re Joe Mansueto, we’d like to hear your thoughts on mayoral and soccer maneuvers. Email [email protected].
No official public events.
She’ll see her reelection petitions turned in.
At Cook County Building at 4 p.m. for a holiday tree lighting.
Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]
— ARRIVED: Chicago welcomed 32 new migrants Wednesday, according to the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. The city has now welcomed 3,716 asylum-seekers bused from Texas since Aug. 31.
— State Rep. Tony McCombie says GOP needs to ‘move forward’ after tough election as she takes over a diminished House caucus: “Representing a largely rural district outside the Quad Cities in northwestern Illinois, she will be the first woman to lead a House caucus for either party, a distinction she downplayed a day after the vote. McCombie told a throng of reporters in her new statehouse office that ‘women get things done’ but said she doesn’t want to be defined by her gender,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
— Delia Ramirez, just elected to Congress, thinks Democrats are blowing it with Hispanic voters, by POLITICO’s Minho Kim
— POT-POURRI: Has interest in weed in Illinois peaked? “The state legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability revised the state’s revenue estimates, reducing cannabis tax fund expectations by $8 million this fiscal year,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.
— Formerly incarcerated students can now Zoom back into prison to finish their degrees, by WBEZ’s Anna Savchenko
— Understaffing problematic at McFarland Mental Health, by Illinois Times’ Dean Olsen
— In Springfield, Wards 5 and 7 will have contested races in 2023 election; filing closes today, by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie
— Courthouse leader Vincent Gaughan set to retire after handling Chicago’s biggest cases: “Caustic but fatherly, autocratic but skilled, temperamental with everyone in his courtroom except — usually — the defendants themselves,” writes Tribune’s Megan Crepeau.
— Crystal Gardner is associate political director for United Working Families. She previously was an organizer with AFSCME Council 31. She’s the daughter of the late Joseph E. Gardner, an MWRD commissioner and mayoral candidate, and Mary Russell-Gardner, who worked for Cook County Forest Preserve.
— McHenry County College extends president’s contract through 2026, by Shaw Local’s Emily K. Coleman
— What will Obama center mean for nearby home values? “Wary of being priced out, groups push for housing benefits and protections,” reports Tribune’s A.D. Quig.
— Covid risk could rise again as federal funding drains, Chicago’s top doc warns, by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase
— River North restaurants cut hours more than any area in U.S. during Covid, according to survey, via Sun-Times’ David Struett
— Ukraine supporters gather to rally against Russian invasion, and remember a tragic event from the past, by Tribune’s Jake Sheridan
— Edgewater’s ‘Young Lincoln’ statue vandalized on Thanksgiving by group advocating indigenous rights, by Block Club’s Joe Ward
— Get home safe and don’t be this guy: Bomb in baggage joke not funny to bomb squad at O’Hare, police say, by Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol
— Vote set in Evanston to limit power of lone alders: Mayor Daniel Biss wants referred items to “have some meaningful support before they consume a lot of staff and committee time,” reports Evanston Now’s Bill Smith.
— ‘I thought I would make it’: The strange psychology behind the crashes at Long Grove’s covered bridge, by Tribune’s John Keilman
— Al Capone’s grave in Hillside is defaced, by Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo
We asked for your cringe-worthy moments:
Andy Shaw: “Falling asleep at the wheel and almost plunging hundreds of feet into the sea on a Yugoslavian mountain road in 1968 — saved when my traveling companion woke up and screamed in time for me to wake up and keep the car on the road. Still gives me the chills.”
John Straus: “When I met Bill Clinton, during the Monica Lewinsky matter, and complimented him … on his tie.”
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about your family history? Email [email protected]
— At the White House: There are 77 Christmas trees. More than 83,615 holiday lights decorate the trees, garlands, wreaths and displays. There are 25 wreaths adorning the north and south facades. And the Gingerbread White House creation includes 20 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 30 sheets of gingerbread dough, 100 pounds of pastillage, 30 pounds of chocolate and 40 pounds of royal icing.
— White supremacist, Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes who met with Ye, Trump: He was raised in suburban Chicago, by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet
— The GOP’s great Trump reckoning begins at the state party level, by POLITICO’s Adam Wren, Holly Otterbein, Natalie Allison and Lisa Kashinsky
— Progressives’ message for the Fed: Stop punishing workers, by POLITICO’s Victoria Guida
— Conservative states blocking trans medical care. Families are fleeing, by POLITICO’s Annie Connell-Bryan, Joanne Kenen and Jael Holzman
— Newsom told the White House he won’t challenge Biden, by POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin
— Remembering Harold Washington: “Friends, supporters and former staffers gathered at Oak Woods Cemetery to remember Chicago’s first Black mayor near the anniversary of his death in 1987,” by Sun-Times’ Anthony Vazquez.
— Today is the funeral for Tim Degnan, who served so many leaders and mentored even more. Visitation is 9 a.m. to noon and funeral immediately follows at Church of the Holy Family, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road.
— Justin DeJong and Joel Muilenburg were engaged during a pre-Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii. DeJong is communications VP of the American Medical Association and a notable name on the political fundraising circuit, and Muilenburg is a director at PwC. The two met via Tinder during Covid and have been together ever since. Pic!
WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Ted Robert McClelland for correctly answering that William Henry Harrison, aka “Old Tippecanoe,” was the first presidential candidate that Abraham Lincoln publicly supported.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was nicknamed the “professor” for his knowledge of Chicago City Council rules? Email [email protected]
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, Executive Ethics Commission’s Patty Schuh, not-for-profit and political fundraiser Lisa Wagner, Strategia Consulting chief comms officer Judy Pardonnet Hilkevitch, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago chief of staff Michael Crowley (a former mayoral comms director) and John Straus, former head of Illinois Commission on Science & Technology.