I’m not surprised that of five candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the 34th state Senate district, only one’s petitions have not been challenged. That’s how the Democratic establishment rolls.
The petitions of Steve Stadelman, Jim Hughes, Marla Wilson and Glenn Patterson have been challenged, but Dan Lewandowski’s have not. It’s too late for anyone to challenge his petitions because the deadline was Monday at 5 p.m.
Lewandowski is the candidate endorsed by the building trades unions. And while the Winnebago County Democratic Central Committee and its chairman Charles Laskonis have not endorsed a candidate, Laskonis, a business agent for Local 364 of the Electrical Workers union, personally supports Lewandowski.
According to Winnebago County Clerk Margie Mullins, the challenges to Wilson’s and Hughes’ petitions were filed by Brad Long, business agent for the Carpenters Union and president of the Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council, and Darren Golden, recording secretary of the building trades council and business manager of the Electrical Workers Local 364.
The petitions of Marla Wilson and Glenn Patterson were challenged by David Antinucci and Connie Riemma, Mullins said. I don’t know them or their affiliations.
Stadelman, who filed nearly twice as many petition signatures as the 1,000 required, called the challenge to his candidacy “politics as usual” and a cynical attempt to limit people’s choices.
“It’s clear Mr. Lewandowski wants no one else on the ballot,” Stadelman said.
Hughes’ campaign manager Larry Anderson accused party Chairman Laskonis of playing favorites.
“You need to remain neutral or resign from your current position (as Democratic chairman). You cannot openly support and work for a primary candidate holding the position you now hold,” Anderson said in a letter to Laskonis.
Laskonis tried to clarify his support of Lewandowski.
“It’s not often the central committee endorses in the primary, and we haven’t done that t in the 34th Senate race,” Laskonis said.
“(Larry Anderson) has told me in conversations that I’m helping Lewandowski. That may be true, but the central committee and I have not made an endorsement.
“I am a private citizen. Dan Lewandowski is a friend of mine, and I have helped Dan Lewandowski, but I help a number of candidates,” Laskonis said.
Word to the wise: Petition challenges are very common around here, from School Board to City Council to County Board to state legislative races. Candidates should expect challenges and avoid getting kicked off the ballot by filing many more signatures than are needed.
Maybe one or more of the four other candidates should have challenged Lewandowski’s petitions. As things stand, he’s on the ballot but the other four have a chance, however slight, of getting kicked off.
It’s too bad for the democratic process, but hey, this is power politics, which is about winning, and nothing else.