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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Blagojevich v Topinka in Nov, Debra Shore Makes History
by Andrew Davis and Amy Wooten
2006-03-22

This article shared 5992 times since Wed Mar 22, 2006
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Things went pretty much as expected in some of the primary races that took place March 21. However, in the process, history was made in terms of candidates and controversy.

Debra Shore is almost assured to become the first openly gay county-wide official ever after winning one of three Democratic slots for Metropolitan Water Reclamation commissioner. Nine Democrats sought the six-year positions; the Republican party had no candidates, so Shore's victory in the November election is all but assured.

A rookie candidate, Shore described the evening as filled with 'anxiety, excitement, and relief.' She added, 'We worked really hard. I'm so pleased to have so many people out there working to help me today and throughout the whole campaign gathering more signatures than any other candidate and getting more contributions from small dollar donors than anyone else. It's been a real tribute to people being inspired by my candidacy and being able to reach out to a bunch of different constituents.'

Shore captured second place in the Water Reclamation race. She only needed to be in the top three to capture a seat. Shore received 14.38 percent of the vote, trailing close behind Terrence O' Brien, who came in first with 15.41 percent. Frank Avila grabbed the third seat with 12.58 percent. In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, incumbent Gov. Rod Blagojevich withstood a challenge from Edwin Eisendrath, winning handily. In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Judy Baar Topinka fought off a surprisingly tough challenge from dairy magnate Jim Oberweis to prevail, setting up a showdown with Blagojevich in the general election. Meanwhile, Topinka's runningmate for lieutenant governor, Joe Birkett, defeated his challengers.

This race may cause divisions within the gay community, as both Topinka and Blagojevich have frequently campaigned within the gay community. Blagojevich signed the state gay-rights law in 2005, and is seen as a stronger support of a woman's right to choose.

Another hotly contested Illinois race involved the Democratic primary battle for state treasurer. Alexi Giannoulias, a 29-year-old senior loan officer and vice president of Chicago's Broadway Bank, put his financial expertise up against the leadership skills of Galesburg Democrat Paul Mangieri, who offered his leadership skills as Knox County State's Attorney. However, Giannoulias won the primary and will face Christine Radogno in November's election.

By far, the most controversial race of the night involved the Democratic primary contest for Cook County Board President. Soft-spoken Ravenswood attorney Forrest Claypool, a political veteran who twice served as Mayor Richard Daley's chief of staff, mounted an aggressive campaign against 76-year-old incumbent President John Stroger; however, the challenger's negative attacks on his opponent softened after Stroger suffered a stroke on March 14, his political future in doubt. But the March 21 contest involved talk of vote tally delays and faulty equipment.

Although the race was neck-and-neck Tuesday evening, Stroger pulled ahead of Claypool as election officials manually counted ballots Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon, Claypool conceded to Stroger, doubtful of a victory. With 87 percent of precincts reported, Stroger was in the lead with 52.1 percent of the vote.

Election officials planned to manually count ballots Wednesday, March 22.

Another race people watched was the contest for the Cook County sheriff's seat. Tom Dart, outgoing Sheriff Michael Sheahan's chief of staff and handpicked successor who was reportedly so confident that he did not campaign the day before the election, won by a comfortable margin over challengers Sylvester Baker and Richard Remus.

Mike McHale, an openly gay Democratic candidate for Cook County judge, received 100 percent of the votes in the primary for the Hon. John E. Morrissey vacancy because he ran uncontested. He had planned on celebrating with a victory party at the nightspot Sidetrack on March 22.

Gay Judge Tom Chiola also ran unopposed in his retention bid.

In other judicial races, Mary Colleen Roberts, running as an openly lesbian candidate against Lawrence Andolino for the 11th Subcircuit seat, won easily.

Also, Eileen Mary Brewer fell short in her bid to assume the Hartman vacancy in the First District Court of Appeals.

Openly gay state Rep. Larry McKeon was another who won the primary because he was unopposed. He is also unopposed for the general election in November.

In a U.S. Congressional race that many found intriguing, Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth was on her way to upsetting favored Democrat Christine Cegelis in the Sixth District in the early morning hours of March 22.

Dan White, spokesman for the State Board of Elections, told Windy City Times that touch screens, used for the first time in this election, got generally good reviews from the voters although he also admitted that results were a bit slow in coming because people had to merge two types of technology ( touch screens and optical scans ) used in voting. White added that he does think that the touch screens will be utilized in November.

However, after the voting controversy, some officials may reconsider.

Updates: www.windycitymediagroup.com .


This article shared 5992 times since Wed Mar 22, 2006
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