When the Cook County elections board removed Al Sanchez from the list of candidates wishing to challenge County Commissioner Stanley Moore, D-Chicago, it was following what has become the trend for this year’s election cycle.
The Illinois State Board of Elections and its Cook County counterpart have been busy in recent weeks ruling out challengers.
The way things stand now, one of the few competitive campaigns in the south suburbs is state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, fighting off a challenge from Kenneth Williams.
Williams is the former School Board president for Thornton Township High School District 205 who was removed from that post by a Cook County judge because of his 29-year-old felony conviction in Indiana. State law says he can run for county, state or federal posts.
But even in that campaign, the state electoral board considered challenges to a third candidate — Rene Chandler, who operates the Walking By Faith Ministries out of his Calumet City home. He withdrew from the ballot before the board could rule on his case.
Paul Green, director of Roosevelt University’s Institute of Politics, said it should not be surprising that incumbents would want to clear the field for their re-election.
“Most candidates don’t really like to campaign,” he said. “They’d rather be able to run unopposed.”
Sanchez, of Chicago’s East Side neighborhood, was the most recent candidate in an area election to be removed from the ballot. County elections officials ruled Thursday he was ineligible because, even though he was released from prison following a 2-1/2 year term, he remains on parole.
Under the decision the elections board made, Sanchez could run for office once his parole is complete — which will be later this year. Sanchez’s attorneys had argued he could run now because his parole will be complete before he would actually hold office beginning in December.
Sanchez is the former Chicago Streets & Sanitation boss who went to prison on corruption charges. Federal prosecutors say he hired people for his city agency as payback for their support of the one-time Hispanic Democratic Organization he headed.
Moore said he is pleased Sanchez is off the ballot, because he thinks it would have been a “distraction.”
“Al has gotten all the press, I haven’t got any,” Moore said.
Not that Moore doesn’t still have opponents on the March 18 Democratic primary ballot. Nicholas Smith remains, although he has significantly less name than Sanchez.
“Yes, I’m confident I can win,” Moore said. “I’m proud of the work I have done, even if many people haven’t noticed.”
The Illinois elections board also has been busy in recent weeks, clearing away so many challengers that most south suburban legislative candidates will be unopposed for the March 18 primary.
Green said the reality is many people who file nominating petitions to challenge incumbents are not fully legitimate candidates and that electoral boards are performing a service by getting them off the ballot.
“Most people who challenge incumbents are lacking in the expertise to govern, or the dollars needed to satisfy the ballot requirements,” Green said.
Former Riverdale village President Deyon Dean had hoped to run for the Illinois House of Representatives. But he withdrew from the ballot on Tuesday before the elections board could rule on allegations of insufficient valid signatures of support on his petitions.
That leaves state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, unopposed for the primary and general election.
Also unopposed is state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields. The state electoral board removed McStephen O.A. “Max” Solomon, of Hazel Crest, from the ballot, while Linda Jernigan, of Richton Park, withdrew earlier this month.
State Rep. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, is unopposed in the primary, as the elections board removed Richard Wooten, a Chicago Police officer, from the Democratic primary ballot.
Two people wishing to run for Sims’ seat as Republicans — Mark Ekhoff, of Grant Park, and Fatimah Macklin, of Chicago — will challenge each other in March, with the winner facing Sims in the Nov. 4 general election.
Other area state legislators who no longer have opposition include state Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor, and state Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, having their challengers either removed or withdrawn.
State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, and Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, D-Crestwood, are running unopposed because they had no challengers to begin with.