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Candidates vying for Rahm's seat

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A crowded field of candidates will be campaigning for the 5th District Congressional seat vacated by Rahm Emmanuel. A special election is scheduled for April 7.

The 5th Congressional District on the Northwest Side of Chicago was run by legendary Democratic powerhouse Dan Rostenkowski for three decades. Then a bit later a Democrat named Rod Blagojevich won the seat. After that, Barack Obama's soon-to-be chief of staff, Democrat Rahm Emanuel, took it over. So Rahm's replacement is likely to be the winner of the Democratic primary on March 3, and there could be as many as 10 candidates in that race, all of them running away from scandal-scarred Rostenkowski and Blagojevich, and right next to Obama.

Sarah Feigenholtz is a veteran state lawmaker from the Northwest Side of Chicago who wants to carry her fight for women's and children's health issues from the state capitol in Springfield, where she teamed up with a state senator named Barack Obama, to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., where she'd like to team up with a soon-to-be president Barack Obama.

"It was Barack and I who successfully led an effort to extend health care coverage to working parents who can't otherwise afford health care," said State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, (D) 5th District candidate.

John Fritchey is another state rep from Chicago who is jumping into the congressional race officially Tuesday after teaming up with House Speaker Michael Madigan to battle Governor Rod Blagojevich and with Barack Obama to pass ethics legislation.

"I believe my record is unmatched when it comes to working on reform and ethics. I worked with Barack Obama years ago when we were both in the legislature in 2003," said State Rep. John Fritchey, (D) 5th District candidate.

The Democratic primary also includes transportation and security expert Justin Oberman, the son of a former Chicago alderman, Charles Wheelan, an economics and business expert, labor lawyer Tom Geoghagen, and Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, who has been battling the Stroger machine for nearly a decade.

"We're the ones with the bullet holes in our back. We took on powerful interests to help the working people of Cook County," said Commissioner Mike Quigley, (D) 5th District candidate.

Mayor Daley would probably back his City Council floor leader, Alderman Pat O'Connor, if O'Connor decides to run. But he was not returning phone calls Tuesday afternoon.

The Democratic primary is likely to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, and the candidates have less than two months to raise it. They can start filing petitions next Monday.

There will be at least one Republican in the race, activist Rosanna Pulido, from the anti-immigration group known as the Minutemen. She is not likely to win, but she will probably be provocative and interesting.

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