On Saturday, the Cook County Democrats are scheduled to slate a candidate in the race to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned his seat in late November. The Democratic contenders for the seat will make their pitches to be slated as the chosen candidate, but it's possible no one will win: A candidate needs over 50 percent support to be slated, and the committee can simply not make a decision or punt it. With a crowded Democratic field and the primary coming up on February 26, here's what to look for tomorrow:
The Chicago Sun-Times breaks down how the vote is calculated:
• 7th: 7,400 or 11 percent (Sandi Jackson) • 9th: 6,600 or 9 percent (Beale) • 5th: 3,700 or 5 percent (Leslie A. Hairston) • 8th: 2,800 or 4 percent (Michelle Harris) • 10th: 3,400 or 5 percent (John Pope) • 34th: 2,000 or 3 percent (Carrie Austin)
Township committeeman have a total of 44,000 votes or 63 percent of the total• Thornton: 20,000 or 29 percent • Rich Township: 11,000 or 16 percent • Bloom Township: 8,900 or 13 percent • Bremen: 4,100 or 6 percent
The weighting is calculated from the number of Democratic primary ballots cast in each area, and one person represents each ward or township in slating. Thornton, with 29 percent of the vote, is key -- and it will be difficult for any candidate to win without it. Thornton Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli has said he supports Donne Trotter (the state senator who was arrested last week for trying to bring a gun through airport security). Indeed, with Zuccarelli's support, Trotter is thought to have the inside track on slating.
But many think that no one will be slated.
Alderman Anthony Beale, who has a vote, says he doesn't expect anyone to garner the support necessary. "I've talked to all the committeemen," Beale told the website DNA info earlier this week. "The way I see it, it's going to be hard for anyone to get slated."
Alderman John Pope also told the website it would be tough, saying that "there's some hesitancy by some folks to endorse," and Alderwoman Leslie Hairston said she hadn't picked a candidate yet. Meanwhile, Rich Township Committeeman Tim Bradford, controlling the second largest amount of the vote at 16 percent, said he supports former state Rep. Robin Kelly.
"My guess is they're not going to be able to get together and agree on a single candidate," Chicago consultant Don Rose told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I think there's too much competition and everyone has a favorite son or daughter in that race."
The field also includes state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris, former Reps. Mel Reynolds and Debbie Halvorson and Kelly. Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson, who has a vote, has said she doesn't intend to run. Additional candidates could also turn up at the slating.
How much the slating actually matters is another question. Certainly, if someone is slated, it will be a boost to their candidacy in a fast special election where any small advantage helps. But one Chicago political observer notes that some candidates need it more than others, citing Hutchinson as one who will try to put together a broad union coalition and can do without it, and Trotter, Beale, and Kelly as candidates who need it more. And Halvorson has said she won't even attempt to get the endorsement.