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State Senate: Incumbent fends off allegations by opponent in 12th District

State Sen. Steven Landek was appointed office last February fill seretiring Sen. Lou Viveri(D–Burbank). He's also mayor Bridgeview.

State Sen. Steven Landek was appointed to the office last February to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Lou Viverito (D–Burbank). He's also the mayor of Bridgeview.

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Updated: February 18, 2012 4:19PM

Raul Montes Jr. is a community activist with one dominant issue: He says his opponent offered him cash and a campaign job to drop out of the race to represent the 12th Senate District.

Well-financed incumbent Sen. Steven Landek won’t talk about that allegation, first reported by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown. The Bridgeview mayor simply says he is taking his challenge in the Democratic primary seriously and isn’t concerned about demographics that would appear to benefit a minority candidate.

Voters in the newly drawn, mostly Hispanic district — a C-shaped area in western Cook County that stretches from Bridgeview on the south to parts of Berwyn and Cicero on the north — will have a chance to elect one of these two Democrats in the March 20 primary.

In January, Montes accused Landek of an attempted quid pro quo that allegedly occurred when the two met on Dec. 29 at Toyota Park, a meeting that Montes says was recorded by the FBI.

Since that blockbuster allegation, Montes said he has been asked more than 100 times about it by voters as he campaigns door-to-door.

“If it comes up, it comes up. I can’t avoid it,” said Montes, of Little Village. “I don’t want to run a negative campaign. I’m trying to show my platform.”

That shoe-leather approach might be the only way Montes can get that story out — or really anything else about his campaign. He doesn’t appear to have the money for direct mail or advertising because he hasn’t created a campaign committee, as candidates must under state law whenever they receive $3,000 or more in contributions.

Meanwhile, Landek had close to $35,000 available at the end of 2011, having raised more than $28,000 in the final quarter alone.

“Every [campaign] is important, and every one I take seriously,” said Landek, who would not comment on allegations that he offered Montes cash and a job to exit the race.

Landek was appointed last February to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Lou Viverito (D–Burbank).

As one of his legislative successes, Landek pointed to his co-sponsorship of a bill signed by Gov. Pat Quinn that makes it possible for Cook County voters to abolish road districts in their townships, noting that it was “kind of an obscure piece” but saying it’s important for local government.

He said his work on the local government and revenue committees has also been one of his primary focuses during his brief legislative tenure.

When asked if he planned to continue serving as mayor if re-elected to the Senate, Landek said holding two public positions gives him a better understanding of the issues.

“Just like everybody else has two jobs, the fact that I’m elected is just my profession,” he added. “Everyone else has another source of income, so this is what I do.”

Montes said he would like to see state ethics laws changed to prohibit such “double-dipping” by elected officeholders. Landek sees no need for that.

The two candidates differ on legalizing gay marriage: Montes favors it, Landek stops short of that. Landek is ambivalent about letting the 67 percent state income tax increase expire in 2014; Montes favors ending it.

Their positions on gambling expansion are similar. Both favor it, including a Chicago casino.

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