May 10, 2023


Be careful what you wish for.  You might get it. And you might regret it.

Rumors abound that state Representative Jaime Andrade Jr. (D-40) will be the area Democratic committeepersons’ pick to fill the soon-to-be-vacant 20th District state Senate seat, from which incumbent Cristina Pacione-Zayas will depart on May 15. The senator will become new Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first deputy chief-of-staff for policy and director of intergovernmental affairs.
I remember talking to then-state Rep. Rob Martwick in June of 2019 about who would fill state Senator John Mulroe’s (D-10) seat, who had been appointed a judge. “I’m staying in the House,” Martwick insisted. “I’m chair of the Pension Committee.” Two weeks later he was a senator.

For an Illinois state rep, who represents half of a state senate district, being, as they say, kicked upstairs, has long been deemed a promotion. It’s more prestigious. Instead of being one of 118 they are one of 59. Instead of five 2-year terms over a decade, a senator gets two 4-year terms and one 2-year term. Not so fast, said Andrade, who is not sold on the idea. “There is no vacancy yet,” he said.

Besides, he added, he would take a pay cut and double his district workload. All Illinois legislators are paid a flat $67,836-per year and a $111-per day per diem when in session. A “promotion” from House to Senate means no pay hike and Andrade, who gets a $10,000 annual stipend as chair of the Vehicles and Safety Committee, would lose that to become the Senate’s most junior member. Illinois’ population is 12,582,032, so each House district has roughly 106,700 constituents and each Senate district double that (213,300). And also doubles the amount of on-street campaign time and expenses.

The 20th District has 164 precincts in parts of 11 Chicago wards, with the most being in the 31st (37), 32nd (34), 33rd (27), which contains Albany Park, Andrade’s Latino base, 35th (21) and 30th (21), with 5 precincts in the 45th Ward’s Old Irving area and another 5 around Independence Park, formerly in the 45th. Turnout in the uncontested 2022 Democratic primary was 19,000, but will spike to 24-25,000 next March 17. Under state statute the elected committeepersons of the party holding the legislative seat must call a public meeting within 30 days to fill a vacancy.

If Pacione-Zayas exits May 15 each committeeperson casts a weighted-vote based on the Democratic vote in their ward in the district. Since committeepersons Ariel Reboyras (30st), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Iris Martinez (33rd), Gil Villegas (36th) and Jim Gardiner (45th) have 89 of the 20th’s 164 precincts in their wards, thereby giving them over half of the weighted-vote, Andrade’s pick is a done deal – if he wants it. Likely add the 31st Ward’s Felix Cardona’s (37) vote.

And that then opens up Andrade’s 40th District, which contains 73 precincts in parts of eight wards, the most being 27 in the 33rd Ward (Albany Park, Ravenswood Manor), with 15 in the 32nd (Wicker Park), 14 in the 35th and 10 in the 30th (both Belmont-Cragin-Avondale). That pick, would be sometime in mid-July, and be dictated by a Martinez/Waguespack or a Martinez/Reboyras majority. It should be remembered that (1) there is no “Martinez Machine” in the 33rd Ward and (2) nominating petitions hit the streets after Labor Day.

Rossana Rodriguez beat Deb Mell by 13 votes in the 2019 aldermanic runoff and was easily re-elected on Feb. 28 (see chart), topping Martinez-backed Samie Martinez 5,514-3,604, a 54.7-33.9 percent margin in a 10,630 turnout. Johnson, whom Rodriguez endorsed, beat Vallas 7,161-4,339 in the runoff, a 62.3 percent win. Martinez, the 20th’s state senator from 2003-20, was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court in 2020. She faces re-election in 2024. The Clerk’s office, with 1,700 jobs, used to be a fountain of patronage. The non-Woke/Leftist base in the ward is barely 35 percent. That’s not going to be enough, perhaps as soon as next year, to keep the 20th and 40th seats.

And then there is the 39th District, the other state rep seat in the senate district, currently occupied by Will Guzzardi (D), a Johnson booster. Guzzardi won fame in 2014 when his relentless 2-year door-knocking campaign upset Toni Berrios, daughter of ex-assessor and 31st Ward boss Joe Berrios. Guzzardi may want the senate seat himself.

The 39th District takes in 98 precincts, runs south to Logan Square in the 1st and 26th wards, with the bulk (37) in the 31st Ward (Hermosa-Avondale) and the 32nd Ward (20). To win and keep the senate seat Andrade will require strong support from Guzzardi, Cardona, Waguespack and especially senate president Don Harmon (D), who will decide how much money to spend to save his incumbents. Harmon delivered big for Martwick in 2020 and 2022.

Andrade has a very plausible misgiving about a job hop: He could stick around in the House for another decade or more by staying under-the-radar and voting like a “progressive” in Springfield. He was appointed in 2013 to replace Deb Mell who was appointed by the mayor to replace dad Dick Mell as 33rd Ward alderman. The Mell Machine, of which Andrade was a cog, is history. Or he could grab the 20th District seat in 2023, be on the ballot in both 2024 and 2026, and face Democratic primaries where Woke/Leftists dominate.

“I’m not one of them,” Andrade admitted. “But I am a ‘progressive’,” he said. Thus far he does not have a target on his back. If appointed senator he knows that will quickly change. He knows they’re coming. According to area sources the Leftists, led by democratic socialist alderpersons Rodriguez (33rd), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Daniel LaSpata (1st) and county commissioner Anthony Joel Quezada (8th) are plotting to hold “People’s Forums’’ this summer to showcase and choose candidates. The goal will be to demonstrate the “illegitimacy” of the process and create political turmoil.

The 2022 congressional win of Delia Ramirez (D-3) has been a catalyst for the Far Left as was Johnson’s wins in 7 of the 13 Latino wards. As shown in the attached chart, Johnson had a coalition of younger Whites and Puerto Ricans in the inner-core of North Side wards, but that diminished moving northwestward. Vallas carried the Reboyras’s 30th and Cardona’s 31st by 56.4 and 54.2 percent, respectively, and lost Villegas’s 36th (Montclare, Ukrainian Village, West Town) by 118 votes.

Turnout was, as usual, anemic on the mostly Mexican-American Southwest Side. Vallas won big in the far Southeast 10th Ward, as did aldermanic candidate Peter Chico, and won more narrowly in the 12th, 14th and 15th wards – where turnout averaged under 5,000 in each. Latinos are 29 percent of the city population but under a third voted in 2023.

COUNTY COMMISSIONER (1st District): Another party pick, this time for Johnson’s West Side/Oak Park County Board seat. I doubt there will be any People’s Forums. Likely choice will be Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church. State rep Camille

Lilly wanted the spot but lives one block outside the district.

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