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There’s a Chicagoan running for president – but it’s not who you think it is

by Samantha Abernethy
Oct 07, 2008



Here is the list of candidates as they will appear on the ballot Nov. 4.

Voters have spent months learning about the Republican and Democratic nominees, but there will be other names on the ballot than Barack Obama and John McCain. Like John Joseph Polachek. Of Chicago.

There’re also Green, Libertarian, Independent and Constitution party candidates. But Chicago is the only city with two residents running for the nation’s top job: that Obama guy and New Party candidate Polachek.

Who? John Joseph Polachek, the mysterious man who has no campaign Web site and no contact information filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections other than a street address, which could not be verified.

Polachek’s name appears on the ballot because, as required, notarized forms and a petition were submitted to nominate him on behalf of the New Party.

But get this: Even though he went to the trouble to have the forms notarized, the petition has zero signatures. Not even his own.

The required minimum threshold of signatures for a non-established party is 25,000. Petitions are assumed valid unless they are contested. No one contested Polachek, so on the ballot he is.

The form also did not list a vice presidential or senatorial candidate, which also should have invalidated the petition. According to Illinois State Board of Elections rules, new political party candidates must submit a full slate of candidates.

Trying to find Mr. Polachek, a number of inquiries through state offices led to a series of dead ends. The address Polachek used to register appears to belong to someone else. Listings for a John J. Polachek and a John A. Polachek were found; both were listed twice, both at the same two addresses and phone numbers, but neither could be verified.

Polachek also did not submit information about his political beliefs and has not held any campaign events. That we know of.

It is not typical that Polachek’s petition was not contested. Democrats and Republicans alike have usually contested incomplete third-party petitions, especially when the parties believed the third party could draw votes from their campaigns. In fact, two Green Party bids for House races were contested this year.

The Constitution Party’s petition also did not achieve the signature threshold, with just about 300 signatures; their petition also was not contested. Their candidate for president is Chuck Baldwin of Pensacola, Fla., who is not quite as elusive as Polachek. The party centers its policy goals on a platform of opposition to abortion. Baldwin is on the ballot in several states; Polachek is on the ballot only in Illinois.

The Libertarian Party and Ralph Nader’s campaign each gathered about 50,000 signatures, well beyond the 25,000 threshold.

The Green Party is an established party in Illinois, since gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney garnered more than 5 percent of the vote in the 2006 election.