The first thing that Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin wants to tell voters about the suddenly wide-open Chicago mayoral race on the last Tuesday in February is this: Don't get overly focused on it yet.
"Two years ago when I was running for [Cook County] state's attorney and [Barack] Obama, was running for president, Obama sucked all the oxygen out of the political arena," Suffredin says. "I think that [the mayoral election] right now is causing people to skip the Nov. 2 election. We all have to be encouraging everyone to vote [on Nov. 2], not just to move on to the next election."
Suffredin thinks Chicago will wind up with about 10 candidates on the ballot, meaning that a lot of those who say they now are going to run will drop out or fail to get enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off will be held in April.
To get on the ballot, a candidate needs 12,500 signatures that pass muster. In reality, a candidate has to gather three to four times that number to survive challenges by other candidates. To get those signatures a candidate needs a strong political organization or enough money to hire paid petition passers. And not everyone willing to take money to circulate petitions necessarily does a good job.
That's why University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor and former 44th Ward Ald. Dick Simpson thinks the final ballot will have only four or five credible candidates.
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