My Take on Five
Given that the district devotes about two-thirds of its votes in presidential elections to Democratic candidates, the bulk of the attention has been centered on candidates in a single party. It was the 5th District that repeatedly sent the powerful chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski, to Congress until he was sent to prison in a federal corruption scandal. A Republican, Michael Flanagan, won the aftermath 15 years ago, but Rod Blagojevich soon replaced him. Emanuel took Blagojevich's place when the since impeached and removed governor first ran for the office.
The Democratic field is twelve strong, but four of them stand most prominently in an election where turnout is expected to be light. State Rep. Sara Feigengholtz is the best funded candidate, and this matters in an abbreviated contest of this nature, but her ties to Blagojevich may sink her ship.
State Rep. John Fritchey has been a persistent Blagojevich critic in the oast couple of years and boasts the support of powerful local unions and politicians, including the disgraced former governor's father-in-law, Ald. Dick Mell. His role in the recent impeachment proceedings, where he railroaded Republican questioning of Roland Burris, has come under increasing scrutiny in light of last week's revelations.
Ald. Patrick O'Connor is Mayor Daley's unofficial floor leader in a "rubber stamp" city council, and is unabashedly pro-establishment at a time where change lingers in the air. He is searching for an opening in a race where Hizzoner has refused to pick a horse.
Commissioner Mike Quigley is a member of the Cook County Board and a self-titled reformer. He gained the support of the editorial board of Chicago's two major newspapers (Tribune and Sun-Times), and may have his finger on the pulse of the times.
On the Republican side, the field is composed of six lesser-known candidates, including businessman Tom Hanson who ran against Emanuel last fall and styles himself as a "liberal" member of the party, and lawyer Greg Bedell who gained the endorsement of the Tribune (the Sun-Times failed to endorse a Republican candidate).
Five members of the Green Party also seek the office in a primary of their own.