5th District primary results almost official

Quigley, Pulido, Reichel to face off for Emanuel's seat
March 4, 2009 4:27:21 PM PST
We know the Republican and Democratic winners in Tuesday's special primary election to replace Rahm Emanuel in the 5th Congressional District.And the Green Party primary is not official yet. Matt Reichel leads Deb Gordils by a narrow margin.

Tuesday's special election will be remembered for its record low turnout. Only 12 to 13 per cent of the voters in the 5th Congressional District came out to choose among 23 candidates from three different parties.

The Democrat winner is the clear favorite to win the general election in April. Mike Quigley was greeted on Wednesday morning at his current elected workplace.

It was mostly best wishes on Wednesday morning at the Cook board meeting where Commissioner Mike Quigley was congratulated by his colleagues for winning Tuesday night's special election. Another self-styled reformer on the board, Forrest Claypool, easily was the most proud of Quigley.

"He was the champion of reform, stood up to the chicago machine for more than a decade," said Forrest Claypool, (D) Cook County commissioner.

But President Todd Stroger - who has fought the Quigley-led faction within his own Democratic party and became a whipping boy in Quigley campaign ads - was not impressed. He said the fact so few people turned out to vote says everything a person needs to know about Quigley.

"People weren't excited by the candidates this time," said Todd Stroger, (D) Cook County board president.

The turnout in the election was abysmal by any standards. Just over 50,000 of the 300,000 registered voters in the 5th District cast ballots.

The turnout was abysmal by any standard. Just under 50,000 of the 330,000 registered voters in the district turned out.

Republican Rosanna Pulido won her party's five candidate primary with just under 1,000 votes. She believes she has a chance to beat Quigley next month.

"They have never had a social conservative to vote for. Here I am," said Rosanna Pulido.

And Matt Reichel, who leads the Green Party primary with about 165 votes, says, "We're going to rally progressives and there is the potential to extract Republicans" to win the April general election.

Back at the county board, the question looms: who will the democratic central committee select to replace Quigley? Another reformer or somebody to tow the party line?

"I expect them to pick someone who will take the role of being commissioner seriously and the role of trying to be sure we know what we're doing," said Quigley.

The committeemen will choose Quigley's replacement after the April 7 general election. The so-called "weighted" vote will include only the committee members whose wards are included in the 5th Congressional District.

Quigley is considered the overwhelming favorite in the race. Over 95 percent of those who voted yesterday chose the Democratic ballot.

Quigley wins Democratic nomination

Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley won the Democratic race. His 22 percent of the vote was enough to beat John Fritchey. Sara Feigenholtz and nine other challengers.

On Wednesday morning, Quigley thanked voters at the CTA Brown Line stop near Southport and Roscoe.

The 5th district is a Democratic stronghold. And many call Quigley the odds-on favorite to win next month's special election. On Tuesday night, he told supporters he's ready to go to Washington.

"We're the second-lowest ranking congressman when we get sworn in. It's a daunting task. We can't wait to take that challenge," Quigley said.

On the Republican side, Rosanna Pulido won the primary with 24 percent of the vote. Pulido founded the Illinois Minuteman Project. She says it's time for the GOP to come together.

The Green Party primary is still undecided. Matt Reichel has a slim lead over Deb Gordils with 98 percent of the votes in. Votes still must be counted in seven precincts.

The special election for the 5th district seat is April 7.

"After all we've been through in Illinois in the last six months or so, this is really the first chance the voters have had to say 'Enough is enough, we're voting for change and reform,"' Quigley told supporters.

Quigley, who has been a Cook County commissioner since 1998, campaigned as a reformer and fiscal watchdog. His reputation for taking on establishment Democrats in Cook County earned him the endorsements of both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

Fritchey had 9,603 or 17.9 percent of the vote and Feigenholtz had 9,025 or 16.8 percent of the vote. O'Connor had 6,184 or 11.5 percent.

"Mike is going to make a great congressman and I am going to be proud, along with all of you, to have him as the next congressman of the 5th District," Feigenholtz told supporters.

Quigley said he thought the race would be closer, saying he was humbled, appreciative and honored by his win.

"We've been fighting for reform for 10 years," Quigley said.

The race also included six Republicans and five Green Party candidates in a district that stretches from Chicago's wealthy North Side lakefront to ethnic enclaves on the northwest side and neighboring Cook County suburbs.

Voter turnout was low at 17 percent in the district, which has 348,678 registered voters in the city of Chicago and Cook County suburbs.

"It's always low in a special primary," said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections. "There's a short amount of time to get to know the candidates. There's not as much enthusiasm or knowledge as you'd have with a presidential or gubernatorial election where there are months of buildup or scrutiny."

The race to the Tuesday's special primary was more like a sprint. Candidates had just two months to campaign and will have another month before the April 7 special election that will decide the district's next representative.

Voting traffic at the Lakeview East Cooperative Tuesday morning was steady but it wasn't busy, poll workers said.

Don Doughman liked that Quigley drew support from Cook County politicians he considered reform-minded, including Quigley's fellow commissioner, Forrest Claypool.

"We need some cleaning up in this county," he said.

But it didn't take Ken Bellis, 44, long to cast his vote for Feigenholtz.

The 12-year district resident, who had voted for Emanuel, had previously voted for Feigenholtz as a state representative because of her support for gay rights and issues affecting people with disabilities.

Martin Plesha emerged from the polls with a one-word answer for how he voted: "Republican."

The 47-year-old, who runs a program business at Wrigley, said he always comes out for elections, even primaries. He said he thought it was important to get out the Republican vote in the Democratic stronghold.

The largely white district of Poles, Germans and Irish with a sizable Hispanic population has been Emanuel's since 2002. The district has voted overwhelmingly Democratic in past elections for Emanuel. It's the same seat once held by Blagojevich and former House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.