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Ill. Race Turns on Change

“The last time the Daley machine worked for anyone besides Daley was for Rahm Emanuel,” said another Democratic operative knowledgeable in Chicago politics.

By most accounts, O’Connor and Fritchey would most likely benefit from a well-oiled machine. Fritchey has the support of several aldermen, including presumably his father-in-law. O’Connor is an ally of the mayor, and initially it was reported he would not get in the race unless he had Daley’s backing. But the mayor has yet to endorse O’Connor or anyone else.

“The mayor is concerned, I think, and this is my surmise ... that when the mayor comes out and endorses somebody, if that person loses then people say it was a loss for the mayor, his clout couldn’t get the candidate elected,” O’Connor said.

On Sunday morning, O’Connor worked the room at his annual fashion show brunch just outside of the district in Niles, Ill.

Phyllis Cypcar, a red-headed woman in her 50s, ranted to O’Connor about the problems with nearby O’Hare International Airport and road conditions in her neighborhood. Although they recently moved outside the 5th district, Cypcar said her husband still volunteered to campaign for O’Connor.

“I’m kinda of pissed at Daley, because Alderman O’Connor has done a lot for him,” Cypcar said. “And I just don’t like that he didn’t come out and say [he was] for anybody even. He’s not backing anyone. And I just don’t like that. I think people are getting tired of Daley, too.”

More than 600 women gathered at the Polish reception hall, where they sipped Bloody Marys poured by their husbands and sons — the substitute bartenders for this special event. For O’Connor, the annual show is a pep rally for his army of supporters.

“You know, in Chicago, if they ever tell you to vote twice, just bring somebody with you,” O’Connor quipped to another supporter.

Candidate of Change?

Quigley, a scrappy hockey player in a well-worn blazer, put his silver titanium briefcase on the table at campaign headquarters. He then closed the door on his own campaign aides — leaving them on the outside asking him whether he wanted them to sit in.

“He is his own best press secretary,” one aide said after the fact.

And the press, it seems, does love Quigley. He was endorsed by both of Chicago’s major newspapers, which could actually make a difference in the largely unnoticed special election.

On the other hand, the media’s love for Quigley could have more to do with their disdain for his nemesis, Cook County Commissioner Todd Stroger. Quigley’s campaign has openly promoted his rivalry with Stroger, who is unpopular in the district, in his first television advertisement in the final week of the campaign.

Quigley likes to say he was the change candidate before it was fashionable — since Obama rode the message of change from the state Senate to the White House. Still. he says, not much has changed in Illinois since Obama was elected.

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