Cook County Dems to slate candidate to replace Jackson Jr.
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 27, 2012 10:58PM
Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios also is the county's Democratic Party chairman. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: December 29, 2012 6:35AM
Cook County’s top Democrats will gather in the coming months to endorse a single candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned last week amid a federal investigation into his campaign spending and ongoing mental health problems that prompted him to take a leave of absence.
Roughly a dozen Democrats have been mentioned — or have thrown their hats into the ring — as a possible contender in the race. The 2nd Congressional District runs from Chicago’s South Side to the suburbs, including small sections of Will and Kankakee counties.
Joe Berrios, the head of Cook County’s Democratic Party, says a date for slating hasn’t been set, but he has tapped Thornton Township Supervisor and Democratic Committeeman Frank Zuccarrelli to chair the slatemaking committee. Tim Bradford, the Rich Township administrator and Democratic committeeman, is vice chair.
Berrios said an official party endorsement would go a long way toward helping a Democratic candidate who will have a short window of time to campaign — not to mention raising nearly $500,000 to get the job done — considering the primary and general elections are early next year, Berrios said.
“It’s going to be a very short campaign period — you’re going to have to do things very quick,” Berrios said. “So whoever musters the support will have a leg up.”
He says it would also effectively pare down a seemingly large crowd of Democrats interested in the seat.
To get the endorsement, a candidate must win over nearly a dozen ward and township committeemen representing various areas of the district.
Specifically, a candidate must win 50 percent plus one “weighted vote.”
Each committeeman is accorded a share of the “weighted vote” based on how many Democrats voted in his or her district in the most recent primary.
“Hopefully we can come out with a candidate with the confidence of a majority of committeemen — somebody who can go out and represent the district,” said Berrios, who does not have a vote.
Back in 2009, after then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel stepped down to take a job as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, county Democrats couldn’t unify behind a single candidate, so it was every man or woman for himself or herself during that abbreviated election cycle.
Berrios said they’ll also be working with Democratic leaders in Will and Kankakee counties in the endorsement process, but that the area represents just 5 percent of the district.
If voter trends are any indication, Berrios is confident “whoever comes out of the Democratic primary a winner will be the next congressman.”