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Thursday, May 18, 2006 06:06 pm

The Hype

The Dems dont show; Frankly speaking; not easy being Green

Opportunity knocks State Republican and Democratic candidates made huge symbolic statements at last week’s annual meeting of the Illinois Association of Minorities in Government — the GOP by showing up, the Dems by, well, not. State Sen. Christine RADOGNO, a Lemont Republican vying for the job Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is leaving, made an appearance. Her Democratic challenger, Alexi Giannoulias, had a previous commitment and couldn’t attend. Andrea Zinga, Republican candidate for the 17th District congressional seat, stopped by, as did state Sen. James Meeks, who’s running for governor, and Steve Reeb, a downstate Republican. Meeks, a political independent from Chicago, delivered a rousing speech titled “Black Folks Must Be Crazy” (for their blind allegiance to the Democratic Party, which, Meeks says, takes the black vote for granted). The speech was aimed in part at Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who skipped the meeting because he had prior commitments. “It’s an election year, and we need to hear from our governor,” says IAMG head Roy Williams, who has criticized Blagojevich’s administration for overpoliticizing the hiring process. Topinka, who had the rostrum to herself in front of about 100 minority state employees at an event that was billed as a candidates’ forum, told Illinois Times afterwards that if she’s elected, what’s in a person’s heart will have mattered more than political affiliation. However, should she have to choose among qualified candidates, Topinka says, “I might lean a little bit more toward the Republican.”
Grounded It looks as if a congressional run for Springfield Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil is over before ever getting off the ground. After a meeting in Galesburg on Saturday, five Democratic nominees were announced to fill in for U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, who’s decided to bow out of the November contest because he has Parkinson’s disease. McNeil had expressed interest in the job but was rarely mentioned as a contender for the post — and he never seemed terribly interested in making a lot of noise on his own behalf. As of last week, McNeil was unsure how the nominating process would work, but he wanted to make a direct appeal to the decision-makers. Apparently that didn’t work out. The eventual nominees were announced Sunday. They are state Rep. Mike Boland, Evans aide Phil Hare, Quincy teacher Rob Mellon, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, and state Sen. John Sullivan.
Extra work Too bad Illinois Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney isn’t pastor of a 20,000-member church, as opponent James Meeks is. To land a spot on the November general-election ballot, candidates representing nonestablished parties — Whitney and Meeks, for instance — must gather 25,000 petition signatures before June 26. “This campaign poses a tremendous challenge,” says Whitney in a letter to supporters. Democrats and Republicans, he says, have written the election code to benefit themselves. So far the Greens have roughly 13,500 signatures. However, their aim is to collect 45,000 — almost double the required amount — anticipating, Whitney says, that the “corporate parties” will challenge their petitions.
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