*Dear reader: we've added Anne Shaw to this post.
Perhaps the most exciting and consequiential races of this election season are among the least watched. That's the race for Democratic committeeman.
Committeeman is the Ward's political boss, the guy who handles voter registration, organizes community forums and facilitates elections. Each party has one, but the Dems have the power.
Below is a rundown on the most interesting races for Democratic committeeman.
1st Ward: Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno is running against incumbent Jesse Ruben Juarez. Both are proteges of former Ald. Manny Flores, who handed his committeeman’s seat to Juarez and his City Council seat to Moreno. Moreno says Juarez is too closely connected to Cook County Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios, and hasn’t allowed enough public input into appointments to the county board and state senate. Juarez told Time Out Chicago that Moreno should concentrate on being an alderman, not on politics: “He’s supposed to be the new hipster, the new thing. I just wish he would focus on ward service, like Manny done.”
*Also, Anne Shaw is running in the 1st district. We added her name to this opinion piece about the most interesting races after much correspondence from her supporters.
5th Ward: In a ward where the alderman’s and committeeman’s job have often been separate, Ald. Leslie Hairston is being challenged by Anne Marie Miles (who lost the race for alderman last year) and political newcomer William Garard Godwin.
29th Ward: Congressman Danny Davis, the biggest name in West Side politics, is trying to take this seat from Ald. Deborah Graham. Russ Stewart, columnist for Nadig Newspapers, has this theory: “Davis, age 70, may retire in 2016. He wants to be the committeeman to have input into his succession, and he does not want Graham to be his successor.” Graham told the Austin Weekly News that Davis “can’t run the committeeman seat from Washington.”
31st Ward: Alonso Zaragoza, who is challenging Joe Berrios, took out a Valentine’s Day ad in the Sun-Times, purportedly from Berrios family members thanking “Uncle Joe” for the “jobs and promotions.” Berrios didn’t have much of a sense of humor about the ad. “If that’s how low he thinks he’s got to stoop — then that’s up to him,” The Boss told the Sun-Times. “If he can’t put his name on something like that, it just shows how big a coward he is.”
32nd Ward: This was supposed to have been a grudge match between Ald. Scott Waguespack and County Board Member John Fritchey, the incumbent committeeman. Fritchey dropped out last week citing ward remapping concerns. Read his statement here.
47th Ward: This is another committeeman’s race that didn’t happen. Some political pros think Ald. Ameya Pawar blundered by not challenging Committeeman Gene Schulter himself. Pawar, who wants to keep the alderman’s office separate from politics, instead supported lobbyist Peter Rosenfeld. This is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ward, so he stepped in to prevent an antagonistic election. After his New Chicago Committee inserted DePaul lobbyist Paul Coffey into the race, Schulter and Rosenfeld dropped out.
49th Ward: Rogers Park is one of the few neighborhoods with an Occupy chapter, so it’s no surprise that an Occupy activist, Jim Ginderske, is running for committeeman, against incumbent David Fagus. Ginderske dressed as a cop at an Occupy demonstration outside the City Council chambers in January. Fagus was an early Barack Obama supporter who brought the Senate candidate to the Heartland Café in 2004.
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