44th Ward Election: Tunney Wins Re-Election, Dealing Blow to Cubs

The Cubs-owning Ricketts family has been vocal in their frustrations with Ald. Tom Tunney

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Ald. Tom Tunney appeared poised to win re-election outright against two candidates Tuesday night, dealing a blow to Cubs organization that tried to oust him from the 44th Ward.

Tunney garnered 63 percent of the vote with 87.8 percent of precincts reporting as of 9:30 p.m., according to the Chicago Board of Elections. Austin Baidas received 26.2 percent of the vote and Elizabeth Shydlowski earned 10.8 percent, results showed.

The race in Chicago’s 44th Ward was largely a battle between Lake View’s longtime alderman and the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs-owning Ricketts family has been vocal in their frustrations with Tunney, Chicago’s first openly gay alderman who has served since his appointment in 2002.

The 44th Ward includes Wrigley Field and the surrounding area - often putting the Ricketts at odds with Tunney over night games, parking, zoning and various projects as the family continues to aggressively buy up and redevelop areas around the stadium. [[505902811, C]]

Late last summer, anti-Tunney mailers began to pop up in the ward, paid for by a group called “Neighbors for a Better Lakeview,” which Crain’s reported was financially supported by the Ricketts.

Tunney faced a challenge from Baidas and Shydlowski, both with connections to Chicago's North Side baseball team. 

Baidas previously worked in finance and as the associate director for Gov. Pat Quinn’s Office of Management and Budget. He also worked as an adviser in the U.S. Department of Transportation under former President Barack Obama, and was a relatively prolific political donor prior to his own campaign, into which hedumped $200,000 of his own money. Baidas also conceded to Crain’s that he has long been friends with Laura Ricketts and consulted with her before jumping into the race. [[504651202, C]]

Shydlowski is a business and nonprofit consultant who has previously worked in government and politics for both Democrats and Republicans, most recently as an administrator for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services under former Gov. Bruce Rauner. She wasn't nearly as well-funded as Tunney or Baidas, though most of her contributions came from Cubs-connected donors - including $10,000 from Tom Ricketts and $5,000 from Todd Ricketts’ wife.

Tunney nabbed the endorsements of both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, both citing his pushback on the Cubs as a good thing for the area. His seemingly easy victory dealt a blow to the Ricketts, showing that the billionaire family's influence has its limits. 

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