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Mr. Quigley goes to Washington, probably, with victory in Democratic special primary election

by Alex Keefe, Kate Gardiner, Tim Taliaferro, Walter Morris, Lauren Hansen, Yana Kunichoff, H. Jose Bosch and Liz Hoffman
March 04, 2009

He didn’t win the money race, but Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley handily topped a crowded field to win the Democratic nomination Tuesday night in the primary to fill Rahm Emanuel’s term in the 5th Congressional District.

Despite being substantially out-fundraised by two of his opponents, state Reps. Sara Feigenholtz and John Fritchey, Quigley polled enough votes to secure the Democratic spot on the April 7 special ballot, facing Republican Rosanna Pulido and Green candidate Matt Reichel.

Quigley posted a solid victory, winning 23 percent of his party’s vote. Fritchey came in second, with 18 percent of the vote; Feigenholtz garnered 16 percent.

“He’s somebody nobody sent,” 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney said of Quigley at his Tuesday night victory party, referring to the title of a book about the old Democratic Machine called “We Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent,” referring to the closed system of party sponsorship in seeking office.

Quigleys opponents in the special general election are outspoken illegal immigration opponent Pulido and peace activist Matt Reichel.

Emanuel resigned from the seat in January to become Obama’s chief of staff, prompting a special election scramble that found 23 candidates in three separate primaries vying for the right to succeed him.

Turnout, as predicted, was low, with about 18 percent of the district’s nearly 349,000 registered voters going to the polls.

Quigley was jubilant as he arrived at his campaign's election night party about 9:30 p.m., by the time almost all of the votes had been tallied. The lead he had held all night was secure and his opponents had called and conceded.

 "For a guy who was accused of not smiling enough," Quigley told supporters, "I'm smiling now."


Sara Feigenholtz was game in her consolation speech, joking that instead of going to Washington, where the deficit is in the trillions of dollars, “here I am, headed back to Illinois with its $9 billion deficit.”


Standing less than a mile from the North Side school he attended, Patrick O'Connor said he was proud to go back to his job at 40th Ward alderman. O'Connor, the machine insider who entered the race late and never got the boost he was looking for from City Hall, found himself on the outside looking in as the results came in Tuesday night.

"Maybe the party perspective is on the way out," he told a crowd of about 150 supporters at Juliana, a Northwest Side Restaurant. "Maybe running from the outside is how it's going to go from here on out."

He lamented the amount of money spent on the race -- all candidate spending combined amounted to about $100 for each of the 43,000 votes cast Tuesday -- but said he believed in the message of his campaign.

"Wayne Gretzky said you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take," O’Connor said. "When there's a shot like this, you have to take it.When you miss it, it's unfortunate, but I think worth the attempt."


When the hand-shaking, hugging and envelope-passing goes on longer than the post-results speech did, you know the election is lost, but that your support base isn’t.

John Fritchey’s post-election party featured a cross-section of dress and age -- men in suits and baseball hats, men in sweat pants and baseball hats, women in heels and baseball hats, all drinking, all searching the results on their iPhones and asking after each other’s children.

But that didn’t make the result, which didn’t go their way, any easier to take.

Fritchey’s campaign finance manager simply said, on multiple occasions over the course of the evening, “There is nothing cogent coming to my mind right now.”

Fritchey himself bit his lip during his acceptance speech, thanking those who had helped him, saying, “We’ll fight another day.”


Tom Geoghegan’s election-night party had the look of an AARP meeting, but it was proof of his effectiveness in picking up the older vote, part of his strategy in this race.

“What we tried to do,” Goeghegan told his supporters, “is [write] the very first draft of the post-meltdown progressive movement.”

Geoghegan told a reporter, “The main thing is not to let yourself be defeated permanently.”


At a victory party at which all but one of the Republican candidates participated, nominee Rosanna Pulido let her opponent know that she was ready for a spirited contest. She said, “Mr. Quigley has a voting record and it’s one that I have taken notice of way before today.”

“He’ll have his voting record come back … the chickens are going to come home to roost.”

Pulido, who received 912 votes to win the Republican primary, told the audience of 50 people that she wanted to return to the basics in the 5th District and defend the rights of the American worker.

“We need to get back to common sense,” Pulido said. “Gun owners should be able to protect themselves and their property and not be treated like criminals. We should be taking care of our seniors and our wounded veterans, not illegal aliens. And we should give businesses the tools they need to make sure the people they’re hiring are legally authorized to work in the United States.”

Spirits were high and Republican Party unity was the theme of the evening. All of the Republican primary candidates, minus Tom Hanson, joined the celebration at the Banquets by Biagio Hall.

After conceding to Pulido, Jon Stewart said, “I feel great that the Republican Party… is putting a new foot forward, and that’s the message tonight. Rosanna’s a great candidate and we’re all going to be behind her and do whatever it takes to help her win."

Greg Bedell even joined Daniel S. Kay and David “Dr. Dave” Anderson onstage for their brief concession speeches. Bedell told the crowd, “Our party is alive, it’s strong, and it’s moving.”

Going into the general election, Pulido said she is not worried about the Democrats’ traditional stronghold in the 5th District.

“The truth of the matter is the voters have never had a conservative candidate to vote for," Pulido said. "[In this election] we’ll all be getting an education.”


For every 100 Democratic votes cast Tuesday, the Green party received one.

“It’s not about the numbers,” said Green party candidate Matt Reichel. “We’re building from the ground up.”

Tuesday’s election marks only the second time voters could get the Green ballot in Illinois.

“We couldn’t realistically expect to get a lot of votes,” Reichel said. The progressive crossover vote, he said, will be their shot at taking down what he called the Democratic Machine on April 7.

Reichel kept a 10 point margin for most of the night, but the race against top contender Deb Gordils was still too close to call by midnight.

Gordils was happy with her campaign. “I feel at peace,” she said. “I did the best that I could do.”