Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Orr: Special Election Could Cost Millions

County clerk suggests holding primary, general election on existing dates next year

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Orr says existing dates of February 26 and April 9 make economic sense.

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Now that Jesse Jackson, Jr. has resigned from Congress, elected officials are trying to figure out the most efficient way to elect his replacement -- economically, that is.

Cook County Clerk David Orr held a news conference Wednesday afternoon and expressed concerns that a special election for the 2nd Congressional District seat could cost more than $1 million. He suggested using a couple of dates where existing election are already being held -- primaries in suburban Cook, Will and Kankakee counties on February 26 and the general election on April 9.

"We want to save money. We're talking about well over a million dollars in expenses if, in fact, we have to have the elections on different days than the scheduled ones," he said.

By law, Gov. Pat Quinn has five days from the date of the vacancy to schedule primary and general elections, both of which must take place within 115 days, which means it would have to take place by April.

"I think it's important to have a schedule of elections especially now, that's as economical as possible, that's done as quickly and fairly as possible, giving all those who want to run for the office a chance to conduct their campaigns," Quinn said Wednesday.

Orr said he may ask a court for a compression of the election schedule in order to get someone in Jackson's vacated seat as soon as possible. With the new Congress being inaugurated Jan. 3, Orr said there's little time for candidates to petition to get on the ballot.

When Rahm Emanuel stepped down from his 5th Congressional seat in 2009, the courts allowed for just two weeks for petition circulation rather than the customary 90 days.

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