Mud Wrestling for Rahm's Old Job

Commentary: Candidate Sara Feigenholtz provides the mud

The race to replace Rahm Emanuel in Congress already has a wrestler and some mud.

The wrestler is a Republican named Jon Stewart.  The mud is courtesy of North Side state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz.

First, Dane Placko of Fox News Chicago reported on a Feigenholtz telephone pollster who asked potential voters to respond to negative statements about some of her opponents, including claims that state Rep. John Fritchey is using taxpayer money to pay for his campaign office and that he accepted money from a political action committee tied to the mob.

The Feigenholtz pollster also ask for voter response to the notion that Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley doesn’t have the judgement for a congressional seat because he supported Todd Stroger. Quigley is a noted critic of Stroger, though he has tried to broker compromises with him at times.

Feigenholtz office would not respond to Placko’s report. Instead, it issued a hazy statement saying “We don’t comment on internal polling or startegy. With at least 15 people in the race, anyone could be polling.”

Several residents of the 5th District who were called by the Feigenholtz pollster commented at Progress Illinois that the poll also seemed to be testing negative lines of attack against Feigenholtz, though by the end of the call, as one commenter said, “It had shifted to lines of attack against Fritchey and Quigley, and then it closed with a reading of Feigenholtz's record, with questions on which aspects seemed most favorable.”

Capitol Fax blogger Rich Miller then jumped into the fray.

“I was told not to use this by the Sara Feigenholtz for Congress campaign, but the story about how they got it appears to be false, so I’m gonna use it anyway,” Miller writes. “I asked about what 'mob' money Fritchey could’ve taken and was eventually e-mailed this story which they claimed came from a simple Google search.”

The story was a Sun-Times article from 2005 that Miller said wasn’t actually wasn’t on Google.

The story in question is, however, available in the NewsBank archives. In part, it says this:

“Within the last year, three Chicago aldermen and three members of the state Legislature have accepted donations from the political action committee of Liquor & Wine Sales Representatives Local 3, state records show.

“The politicians are Ald. Patrick Levar (45th), Ald. William Banks (36th), Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), state Rep. Angelo ‘Skip’ Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), state Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) and state Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago), records indicate. Together, they and their organizations accepted more than $5,000 from Local 3 's political account in 2004 alone.

“Local 3 represents around 1,700 liquor distribution workers and others and is run by Patrick Duff and his elder brother, John 'Jack' Duff III. While Patrick Duff hasn't been accused of wrongdoing, Jack Duff III is another story.”

Jack Duff III is the son of John “Jack” Duff Jr., of the controversial Duff family.

The story goes on:

“Banks was another big recipient of Local 3 money. He has gotten around $6,500 since 1999, including $1,300 in 2004 to his campaign and his ward organization. Banks' brother Sam is an attorney whose law firm has represented the Duffs for years.

“Sam Banks' son-in-law is Fritchey, who suspects the union contributed to him because of his pro-labor stances and because of the relationship between the Duff and Banks families.

"’My view is -- the facts are the facts, you know who you know,’ Fritchey said. ‘They don't need me to come to their defense, nor is my role to come to their defense. But at the same time, it's disingenuous for people who do know somebody to all of a sudden say, I don't know who they are, once there's a problem.

“Fritchey didn't mention Mayor Daley, but that's whom he appeared to be alluding to. Daley has been pals with the Duffs for years but since their troubles has downplayed the connection.”

Miller reports that Quigley is trying to raise money based on the Feigenholtz attack.

“Let’s show Sara’s campaign that old-school politics are behind us,” he wrote in an e-mail solicitation.

In the original Fox report, Fritchey said, “I think we’re starting to see the two faces of Sara here. She will tell her supporters that she’s a reformer, but they’re making anonymous phone calls that really smack of old-school Machine-type politics.”

A special election will be held for the 5th District Congressional seat on March 3.

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