April 15, 2020


"I've got a whole lot of work to do," conceded sate Senator Robert Martwick (D-10).

He's got that right. Despite raising in excess of $700,000 since Oct. 1 and spending close to $400,000 through March 17, the appointed senator defeated Chicago cop Danny O'Toole with 52.7 percent. The final, official tally was 17,407-14,568, a margin of 2,839 votes.

Martwick, who faces re-election in 2022, won because of his money, his mailings (14), his union endorsements, his hardcore base in the south end of the 45th Ward and the east end of the 38th Ward, and especially the fact that O'Toole, while campaigning relentlessly door-to-door in the 41st Ward, lacked both campaign cash and a ground game outside his 41st Ward base. He raised about $30,000, and had just one district wide mailing, which was a piggyback with state's attorney candidate Donna More. O'Toole will be back.

But the key factor is that voter composition in a partisan Democratic primary is very unlike of that in a general election or a non-partisan Chicago municipal election, as demonstrated by the substantial Kim Foxx and Bernie Sanders vote on the Northwest Side.

Foxx got pulverized in the 41st Ward with just 15.9 percent (1,923 votes), but got 31.1, 23.1, 34.3, and 52.7 percent, respectively, in the 45th, 38th, 39th and 40th wards. Voter registration in those five wards is 36,649, 34,672, 32,936, 32,465 and 31,669, respectively, but turnout in the March 17 Democratic primary was 10,802, 10,400, 8,517, 10,017 and 11,551. As a result, left-leaning voters comprised a disproportionate share. Comparing the Foxx vote to total ward registered voters, her percentages would have been 5.2, 10.3, 6.2, 11.2 and 20.8 percent - hardly a mandate.

The Northwest Side has a sizeable "cop vote." Yet that does not exceed an equally sizeable "socialist vote." Sanders, facing Joe Biden in those five wards, got 26.4, 46.9, 42.9, 42.7 and 51.4 percent, respectively. O'Toole was one of a plethora of first responders who ran. The winners were Ammie Kessem, Michelle Darbro and Jim Gardiner and the losers were Joe Duplechin, John Garrido and Bill Kilroy.

Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) endorsed O'Toole, as did Tim Heneghan, but Alderman Nick Sposato (38th) endorsed Martwick, the ward's Democratic committeeperson, as did Alderman Gardiner (45th), who was running for 45th Ward committeeperson against Ellen Hill, a protŽgŽ of ex-alderman John Arena, a close ally of Martwick. Gardiner in 2019 defeated Arena 7,570-5,382.

Gardiner defeated Hill 5,554-5,269, meaning that about 2,000 of his 2019 voters didn't take a Democratic ballot, while all but about 100 of Arena's did. Bill Conway won the 45th Ward 5,076-3,581-1,917-951, with Foxx second (31.1 percent), while Sanders lost 5,590-5,483, but Martwick won the ward 4,693-3,011 (60.9 percent). The average of the centrist Gardiner/ Conway/Biden vote (4,806/5,076/ 5,590) was 5,157, but O'Toole got 2,000 fewer votes. The average of the left-leaning Hill/Foxx/Sanders vote 4,400/3,581/5,483) was 4,488, and Martwick's vote (3,930) was within that span. Overall, Martwick is seen less as an ideologue and more as an opportunist. His base is amorphous, and eminently crunchable.

Martwick won his 38th Ward 3,821-2,660 (59 percent), a margin of 1,161 votes, while Foxx lost 4,661-2,058-1,348-847, getting 23.1 percent, and Sanders lost 4,554-3,943.

"I had to fish where the fish were," Martwick said and those aquatic creatures were in the district's west end, west of Nagle, which is in the 20th House District. The 10th Senate District contains 171 precincts, 120 in Chicago (where 2020 turnout was 24,704 and 51 the suburbs of Park Ridge, Rosemont, Norridge, Harwood Heights (where 2020 turnout was 8.306, for a total of 33,010.) 2016's turnout was 34,672, so COVID-19 had an impact in Election Day turnout.

O'Toole's 5,312-3,783 blowout in the 41st Ward (59 percent), a margin of 1,529 votes, failed to neutralize his 45th and 38th ward losses. Conway won by 5,490, and Biden by 5,678. It was Martwick's suburban edge of 4,328-2,943 that neutralized O'Toole's 41st Ward edge.

"Democrats in my ward are not 'progressives,'" said O'Toole, noting that 17,791 voted in the 2019 aldermanic race, but just 10,802 voted on March 17. "I needed more money. And I needed more Republicans and independents to vote for me." He added: "I saw polls that had me losing 70 to 30. People want authenticity. He (Martwick) is just another inauthentic politician" concerned "only about himself."

A CPD narcotics sergeant, decorated officer and ex-Marine, O'Toole is weighing his 2022 options, which include a bid for sheriff, county commissioner, or senate rematch. Martwick seems unworried. "I (now) have $300,000 on-hand." By March 2022 Martwick will surely have raised $1.5 million.

19TH HOUSE DISTRICT: It's hard to tell the winner from the whiners. But one can be impressed by Lindsey LaPointe's 45.2 percent victory. The appointed state representative won Martwick's former seat 7,295-5,979-2,865 over Patti Vasquez and Duplechin. The conventional wisdom is that Chicago cop Duplechin was the "spoiler," inasmuch as the combined anti-LaPointe vote was 54.8 percent. Duplechin said late-February polls showed all three candidates were within 4 percent, all bunched around 25 percent, with a quarter undecided.

"LaPointe had a built-in base," he said, both organizationally and financially. She raised $290,000, including $50,000 worth of in-kind donations from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Personal PAC, Fund for Democratic Majority, and Chicago Labor Joint Management PAC (for mailings) plus $20,000 from public sector union SEIU. LaPointe said she had a "short runway" to assemble a campaign, and knocked on 200 doors per day after her August appointment, which was engineered by Martwick and Arena.

LaPointe won because she (1) had the ability to raise $290,000, enabling her to crank out over 30 mailers, (2) integrated her ground game into the existing organizations of Martwick and Arena, and (3) went massively negative in the last 14 days. "(She) cares only about power," said an obviously bitter Vasquez, a former WGN radio talk show host, "about staying in office. She cares nothing about the truth. She became an 'insider' overnight."

Vasquez spent $100,000 and had no mailings. Duplechin spent $110,000 and had 6 mailings.

Vasquez was incensed about the "outright lies" in late LaPointe mailers (and robocalls) painting Vasquez as having engaged in "sexual harassment," of being anti-abortion, and of being an "extremist" - these days, also known as a Republican. The facts, according to Vasquez, were that she was being harassed by a WGN executive, took it to upper management, and a she said/he said stalemate arose. The man then filed in court for an Order of Protection (OOP), and got the customary "preliminary" OOP for 5 weeks until service was had for an evidentiary hearing. Vasquez's show, in the interim, was suspended for 7 days. In Jan. 2019, after a hearing, the OOP was dismissed. LaPointe and her staff "knew these facts," charged Vasquez.

Fellow WGN radio personality Steve Cochran donated $500 to Vasquez, but also donated to Bruce Rauner in the past. Hence, the "extremism" angle, which was you know, reaching at best. And the anti-abortion allegation, Vasquez said, is "a total fabrication." The pro-LaPointe CTU had phone banks calling members, telling them that BOTH Vasquez and Duplechin were anti-choice.

Duplechin laments a similar fate.

"There were 5 mailers in the week accusing me of 'not standing up against domestic violence,' with a graphic of a phone cord around a woman's neck." The pretext for the charge was that Duplechin got a donation from a security firm owner who had previously contributed to a former Democratic state representative who had allegedly committed the offense. Another mailer, he said, accused him of wanting to "take pensions away" because he suggested he was "open to options" other than raising taxes to solve Illinois' pension crisis. That was the "reckless."

LaPointe, a former social worker, was unapologetic. "I need to get out my message," said LaPointe. In other words, if her opponents DON'T TELL THE TRUTH about her, then she will TELL THE TRUTH about them, or some plausible approximation which may have some kernel of accuracy. LaPointe "didn't go negative" until she "was attacked," she said. "That is a lie," responded Duplechin. "She went negative first, and then I responded."

Duplechin attacked LaPointe as "soft on crime," highlighting her support for Foxx and the fact that, as a Springfield lobbyist, she wrote a bill which would eliminate felony bail for all non-Class X offenders. "That meant those charged with child molestation, attempt murder, and gun crimes would be back on the streets," said Duplechin. The bill went nowhere.

The district contains the 45th Ward, which LaPointe won 3,432-2,703-1769, and the 38th Ward, which LaPointe won 2,395-2032-1,197. All three candidates live in the 45th Ward - Duplechin in the north (Gladstone Park/Norwood Park), Vasquez in the center (Jefferson Park), and LaPointe in the south (Portage Park and Independence Park). Their vote was arrayed accordingly. LaPointe got a majority in 8 and a plurality in 26 45th Ward precincts and a majority in 5 and a plurality in 14 38th Ward precincts.

"I would have won" a two-person race, declared LaPointe. We'll see about that in 2022, when it will be Vasquez-LaPointe. We'll see about that.