Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=104601
Story Retrieval Date: 5/18/2013 1:51:04 PM CST
U.S. Rep. Emanuel's Web site.
Like a row of dominos, Illinois politicians are quickly falling into new positions as the result of Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency.
Obama made his first major appointment Thursday when Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) accepted the position of White
House chief of staff. That move will vacate the North Side seat he won re-election to just days ago. At least two candidates have thrown their hats into the special election ring.
Illinois State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) confirmed that he has taken steps to run for the open seat. Fritchey said that under normal circumstances the congressional seat would not interest him, but he sees this opportunity as special.
“The opportunity to serve in these historic times is a hard one to pass up, because of that I have taken steps to begin forming a campaign,” Fritchey said.
He cited his 12 years in the Illinois legislature as giving him the experience necessary to represent the 5th district.
“I have worked with Emanuel and President-elect Obama. I think those experiences with those two men make me uniquely qualified to serve as the congressional representative of the 5th district,” Fritchey said.
Emanuel’s opponent just days ago, Tom Hanson (R-Northfield), has said that he plans to run in the special election to replace the future White House staffer.
“We are definitely interested in the special election,” Hanson said Thursday.
On Tuesday, Hanson won just 20.8 percent of the vote. However, he sees an opening now that Emanuel is moving on.
“Maybe people are having buyer’s remorse . . . maybe they feel they spent their vote on him and now he is out the next day,” Hanson said.
Hanson, who identifies himself as a liberal Republican, cites the fact that his campaign Web site received 175,000 hits on Election Day. That was a staggering number for the campaign, which Hanson described as having a “bare ones budget.” He hopes that the more information 5th District voters have on his positions, the more inclined they would be to vote for him.
As far as potential challengers are concerned, Hanson sees an uphill climb in the solidly Democratic district.
“I am guessing [Emanuel] will handpick someone to run in the district,” Hanson said.
The procedures for a special election for the open seat begin after Emanuel officially resigns his seat. Within five days of that resignation Gov. Rod Blagojevich would call a special election within 115 days, an Illinois State Board of Elections official said.
At a Thursday press conference Mayor Richard M. Daley reacted to the news of Emanuel’s appointment by extolling his political knowledge and the benefits that knowledge would bring to the Obama administration.
“It’s a real gain, gain, gain. That’s a big gain,” Daley said.
Obama’s senate seat will be filled with a person of Blagojevich’s choosing. At a Wednesday press conference the governor declined to list those whom he was considering, but expects to reach a decision by the end of the year.