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Kadner: Public invited to Dem Party powwow

Frank Zuccarelli (center). File Photo

Frank Zuccarelli (center). File Photo

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Updated: January 14, 2013 7:25AM



As many as 15 candidates for the 2nd Congressional District seat formerly held by Jesse Jackson Jr. are expected to appear Saturday at a Democratic Party slating session in South Holland.

The public will be allowed to attend the session in the board room of South Suburban College, 15800 State St., beginning at 10:30 a.m., according to Bob Storman, a spokesman for Thornton Township Democratic committeeman Frank Zuccarelli.

Each candidate will be introduced and will have approximately 10 minutes to plead his or her case to the township and ward committeemen in the 2nd District. The committeemen then will cast their votes in closed session but return to open session to announce the results.

The committeemen cast weighted votes based on the number of people who voted in the 2nd District Democratic primary election in March.

That mean’s Zuccarelli’s support would represent 20,156 votes, the most among the committeemen. Zuccarelli is expected to support state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago).

Rich Township committeeman Tim Bradford has a weighted vote of 11,393; Bloom Township committeeman Terry Matthews has 8,929; Bremen Township committeewoman Maggie Crotty has 4,013 and Calumet Township committeeman Robert Rita, 161. Bradford has said he will support Robin Kelly, a top Cook County administrator and former state representative.

Six Chicago ward committeemen will also vote for the party nominee. The greatest weighted vote from Chicago is that of 7th Ward committeewoman Sandi Jackson, the wife of the former congressman, at 7,723 votes.

I am told Jackson has not indicated whether she will attend the meeting or if she would even send a proxy to cast her vote.

Others on the slate-making committee from Chicago include 5th Ward committeeman Leslie Hairston, with 3,937 votes; 8th Ward committeeman Michele Harris, 2,862 votes; 9th Ward committeeman Anthony Beale (who’s a candidate for the 2nd District seat), 6,845 votes; 10th Ward committeeman John Pope, 3,672 votes, and 34th Ward committeewoman Carrie Austin, 2,155 votes.

The district extends from Chicago’s Hyde Park community through the south suburbs to Kankakee, so Democratic officials from Will and Kankakee counties will also cast weighted votes Saturday. Larry Walsh, the Will County Democratic chairman, will have 4,530 votes and Kankakee County Democratic chairman John Willard 4,500 votes.

The total weighted vote is 80,876. To win the endorsement, a candidate needs a simple majority plus one — or 40,439 votes.

“I’ve been trying to add up the numbers, and I don’t think anyone’s going to get the necessary votes,” one party insider said.

Trotter is supposedly the early leader with about 27,00 votes committed to him and Kelly and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) appear to be in a close race for second place.

Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson received early support from Walsh, but a source told me he thought Walsh might eventually commit to Hutchinson, who’s considered the leader for support in Kankakee, where she has an office.

Other notable candidates expected to appear at the slating meeting include state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris and former state Rep. David Miller.

“I had a guy call me saying he wanted to be considered because a lot of people know him,” Bradford said. “I asked him who those people were, and he told me he used to be a mailman and everyone on his route knows him.”

I’m not sure how much the Democratic Party’s endorsement would mean, but 80 percent of the voters in the 2nd District cast Democratic ballots Nov. 6, so putting the party’s endorsement on campaign literature could sway some people.

“I would obviously like to see Kelly slated since I’m backing her,” Bradford said, “but I think the best thing for the party might really be an open primary. Let the voters decide who would best represent them, not party insiders.”

Trotter still enjoys the support of Zuccarelli despite facing a criminal charge that he attempted to bring a gun aboard a United Airlines flight at O’Hare International Airport.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office on Wednesday said it plans to present the case to a grand jury, but Trotter told newspaper reporters he’s still running for Congress.

Saturday’s session is likely to be a long one, with more than a dozen politicians scheduled to tell slatemakers why they deserve their support.

Most will talk about their long history of representing areas of the district in the Illinois House, Senate or in Congress. Others will boast of their civic and business contributions.

With so many doing so much for the 2nd District, you might believe it’s one of the best places in the country to live. But unemployment and home foreclosure rates are high, many businesses have closed their doors and property tax rates have skyrocketed.

You have to wonder if life for the average person would be any worse in the district if none of these people had ever held office.

They’ve all done very well on the public payroll. The public has not.

Democratic slatemakers aren’t likely to confront their candidates at this meeting.

But I would certainly like to hear how they would respond.



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