Democrats select candidate for Cook County sheriff

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cook County democrats selected their candidate in the race for sheriff. They have slated retiring Sheriff Michael Sheahan's chief-of-staff Tom Dart. Dart was chosen Monday over four other candidates.

Sheriff Sheahan announced last Monday that he would not seek a fourth term. Dart's selection comes despite some opposition from minority democrats.

The endorsement of Tom Dart was wired from the get-go by his boss and neighbor in the 19th Ward on the Southwest Side -- Michael Sheahan. Sheahan started lining up support for Dart before last week's announcement that he's not running for re-election. Dart was also burning up the phone lines and that -- along with Sheahan's clout -- pretty much wiped out the competition. But it also infuriated black and Latino activists and four other candidates who showed up to pitch themselves Monday -- even if it was a done deal.

"Sylvester Baker will be honest, fair, and inclusive," said Sylvester Baker, (D) Candidate for Sheriff.

"Is there no talent outside of the 19th ward? Do so many politicians have to be only of Irish decent?" said Frank Avila, (D) Candidate for Sheriff.

"I served as alderman for 16 years in this city of Chicago and didn't get indicted," said Robert Shaw, (D) Candidate for Sheriff.

The Cook County Democratic Party listened to five candidates for sheriff at a slate making session Monday afternoon and, then as expected, overwhelmingly endorsed former state representative Tom Dart, chief of staff to the outgoing sheriff, who is backing Dart after deciding not to seek re-election next year.

"I feel that with your support today that I will be successful and I will be run on a ticket that I will be incredibly proud to be associated with," said Tom Dart, (D) Candidate for Sheriff.

"I don't have anything personally against you, but you're just repulsive to me in regards to the fact that you say one thing and do another," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, (D) Chicago.

Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush is accusing Dart of racial insensitivity and calling for an open primary with no party endorsement of anyone. But party leaders overwhelmingly reject that proposal.

"Those who actually work with him will tell you he's been a very fair, objective, and hard worker," said John Stroger, Cook County Board President.

"He's the type of individual we need on the tick. He's young, aggressive," said Chairman John Daley, Cook County Finance Committee.

"I'm very, very excited the Democratic Party has chosen to endorse me. I am so looking forward to the election and I appreciate their support," said Dart.

Some of the other candidates who showed up Monday may actually run against Dart in the Democratic primary in March. But with the party's overwhelming endorsement, Dart is a heavy favorite to win the primary and the general election against republican Peter Garza.

House speaker Michael Madigan didn't vote for or against Dart. He voted present but wouldn't say why. Speculation is he doesn't want competition for his daughter -- the attorney general -- if she ever runs for higher office.

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