"Hold your pen tight in your hand - that keeps the ink from
freezing," said Todd, working for mayoral hopeful Amara Enyia.
Todd was one of an army of campaign workers around the city this
week scrambling for signatures before a Monday deadline to get a
ballot spot to challenge incumbent Rahm Emanuel in February's
The third-largest U.S. city has the toughest ballot requirements in
the country, said Richard Winger, an expert on ballot access legal
issues. Contenders for mayor must file 12,500 voter signatures with
the elections board, compared with 3,750 in New York and no more
than 2,000 in Los Angeles.
"I'm not aware of any cities large or small that require more than
5,000 signatures," said Winger, who noted that most cities depend on
filing fees instead. He called the Chicago process "very unfair,"
especially when it is cold.
Serious Chicago candidates typically gather two or three times the
required number to survive expected challenges to the signatures'
Emanuel has already filed 43,000 signatures. His best-known
opponents, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Alderman
Bob Fioretti, say they will have more signatures than they need by
"If the mayor decides to challenge our petitions, we have a plan in
place," said Fioretti spokesman Michael Kolenc.
The election is non-partisan, and the winner must get 50 percent of
the vote plus one to avoid a runoff.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who had been favored
over Emanuel in polls, decided in October not to run due to a
[to top of second column]
Lewis endorsed Garcia. A survey commissioned by the CTU this month
found that in a three-way race, Garcia and Fioretti could force a
runoff - voters favored Emanuel by 33 percent, Garcia by 18 percent
and Fioretti by 13 percent.
Chicago political experts say that while petition challenges are
typical, it is not clear at this point who will challenge whom.
Emanuel survived a residency challenge before his 2011 election.
That fight won Emanuel positive press, so he may decide to skip
challenges altogether, said Dick Simpson, political science
professor at University of Illinois-Chicago.
"He risks looking like a bully," Simpson said.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.