More candidates enter Ill. Senate race

June 15, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Political campaigns are supposed to be about building support to win a majority on Election Day.

According to an independent poll released today, the major party candidates in the race, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, are losing support, perhaps opening the door to some unexpected contenders.

One is LeAlan Jones, the assistant football coach at Simeon High School. He has focused on helping young people as a journalist and television producer, and now as Green Party candidate to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate.

"These issues that I'm talking about are not new," said Jones. "These are issues I've been consistent with over the last 18 years even though I'm only a 31-year-old."

In a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of 552 Illinois voters last weekend, Giannoulias led Kirk 31 to 30 percent, with Jones a resurgent third at 14 percent and 24 percent undecided.

Since the last PPP poll in April, Kirk and Giannoulias have lost seven and two points respectively, with Jones picking up their lost support and some of his own.

"You have two candidates that are talking about each other as opposed to the issues that matter to the people," said Jones.

Giannoulias' support tailed off during and after the April failure of his family-owned Broadway Bank, while Kirk's numbers have fallen drastically since he admitted misremembering his military records.

The weekend poll suggested only ten percent of voters thought the congressman had been truthful about his exploits in the navy reserves.

"There's a lot of angry people out there," said Mike Niecestro, who has plans to file petitions for candidacy. "There's a lot of people that have had it and are fed up with politics."

The falling numbers of the major party candidates are another reason Niecestro will file petitions next week to enter the Senate race as an independent.

The 51-year-old west suburban mortgage banker says he has at least one million dollars of his own money to spend. He is a fiscal and social conservative who is not concerned that he might wreck Republican Kirk's chances in November.

"I'm not doing this to be Mark Kirk's spoiler," said Niecestro. "I'm looking to do this to win the seat, and I'm not gonna get into a match with the Republican or Democratic party and try to outwit them and outspend them, because I can't afford to do that. The only thing I can do is use my resources as best as possible to outsmart them."

Niecestro says he hopes to file 45,000 signatures next Monday to get on the November ballot. 25,000 valid voter signatures are required.

The fact that LeAlan Jones polled 14 percent would seem to make him eligible to be included in debates.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.