Chicago runoff muscle: Who's backing whom and with how much cash?

April 4, 2011

The outcome of Tuesday’s 14 aldermanic runoffs in Chicago will obviously be a big deal for the residents of those wards. But the interest extends much further. Labor, business and political groups - along with politicians themselves - have been dumping cash into these contests for weeks. Everyone has a lot at stake, and they’re showing it.

An endorsement can be just that – a line in a press release or a mention on a website. Sometimes, though, the endorser puts some money behind that support. This can come through cash donations (“Here is a check - enjoy”), in-kind donations (“Let me pay for those robo-calls for you”) or independent expenditures (“Without talking to you, I’m going to take it upon myself to attack your opponent”).

So here we go. It’s scorecard time.

(We know these charts aren't easy on the eyes. Click here to download a PDF version. Print it out and keep track of which interests are winning, and which are losing, as the results roll in Tuesday night.)

The new mayor vs. the most powerful alderman

Sure, Emanuel entered some races that Burke has avoided, and Burke got involved in the 46th while Emanuel stays on the Uptown sidelines. But with the exception of the 50th Ward, there are no conflicting endorsements so far from Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Ed Burke. Whatever happened to the big showdown?

Ward Candidates Backed by Rahm Emanuel Ed Burke
6Freddrenna Lyle (i)$35,442 
 Roderick Sawyer  
15Toni Foulkes (i)$14,118$2,000
 Raymond Lopez  
16JoAnn Thompson (i)$34,302$2,000
 Hal Baskin  
17Latasha Thomas (i)$19,573$1,500
 David Moore  
20Willie Cochran (i)endorsed 
 Che "Rhymefest" Smith  
24Sharon Denise Dixon (i)  
 Michael Chandler  
25Danny Solis (i)$37,992$1,500
 Cuahutemoc Morfin  
36John Rice (i)endorsed 
 Nicholas Sposato  
38Tim Cullerton (i)$41,500$6,500
 Tom Caravette  
41Maurita Gavin  
 Mary O'Connor  
43Tim Egan  
 Michele Smith  
45John Arena  
 John Garrido  
46James Cappleman  
 Molly Phelan $1,500
50Bernard Stone (i) $1,000
 Debra Silverstein$49,475 

Labor unions

Topping the list for union expenditures is SEIU's involvement in the 45th Ward, where it's put a lot of money behind graphic artist John Arena. The group didn’t back Arena in the February 22nd election, instead picking Marina Faz-Huppert, who didn’t make the runoff. It looks like SEIU just really doesn’t like Arena's opponent, John Garrido, a lawyer/police officer and former GOP candidate for Cook County board president. SEIU had an even more severe change of heart in the 25th Ward, with a late-game pick of Ald. Danny Solis. The Solis endorsement came after SEIU spent a reported $14,196 in independent expenditures to try to defeat Solis in February.

Ward Candidates Fraternal Order of Police Firefighters Union AFSCME SEIU Chicago Teachers Union Chicago Federation of Labor
6Freddrenna Lyle (i) $1,000$33,710$148,517$2,500endorsed
 Roderick Sawyer      
15Toni Foulkes (i) endorsed$15,000$91,544$2,500$1,000
 Raymond Lopez      
16JoAnn Thompson (i) endorsed$72,925  $19,250
 Hal Baskin      
17Latasha Thomas (i) endorsed  endorsedendorsed
 David Moore      
20Willie Cochran (i) endorsedendorsed  endorsed
 Che "Rhymefest" Smith   $22,000$7,000 
24Sharon Denise Dixon (i)  endorsedendorsed  
 Michael Chandler endorsed    
25Danny Solis (i)endorsedendorsed $5,000 $5,000
 Cuahutemoc Morfin    $7,000 
36John Rice (i)  $7,500 endorsedendorsed
 Nicholas Sposatoendorsed$15,000    
38Tim Cullerton (i)$1,000$1,000$7,500$29,000endorsed$12,500
 Tom Caravette      
41Maurita Gavin$1,000     
 Mary O'Connor endorsedendorsed$48,692endorsed 
43Tim Eganendorsedendorsed  endorsedendorsed
 Michele Smith      
45John Arena   $215,398$5,000$31,000
 John Garrido$5,000endorsed    
46James Cappleman    $2,500 
 Molly Phelanendorsedendorsed    
50Bernard Stone (i)      
 Debra Silversteinendorsed$1,000endorsed$48,764$6,500endorsed

Business interests (and a mysterious PAC)

With the company's big Chicago plans, it's no surprise that Wal-Mart this year again got into the campaign action. While we've only seen reported donations from the company to four candidates in runoffs, that's not the whole story. Wal-Mart has also donated to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce PAC and the Illinois Retail Merchants PAC, both of which are involved in more of these races.

Also in this table (because we don't really know where to put it) we've included endorsements and cash from For a Better Chicago PAC, a political fund controlled by a former campaign aide to both Emanuel and Mayor Daley.

WardCandidatesFor a Better Chicago PACChicagoland Chamber of CommerceIllinois Retail MerchantsWal-Mart
6Freddrenna Lyle (i)$10,000*$1,000**$3,630 
 Roderick Sawyer   $1,500
15Toni Foulkes (i)endorsed $2,500 
 Raymond Lopez    
16JoAnn Thompson (i)$47,396$2,500$7,000 
 Hal Baskin    
17Latasha Thomas (i)$26,000$6,000$2,000$1,500
 David Moore    
20Willie Cochran (i)$10,000$1,000  
 Che "Rhymefest" Smith   $1,500
24Sharon Denise Dixon (i)    
 Michael Chandlerendorsed   
25Danny Solis (i)$25,000$9,500$8,000 
 Cuahutemoc Morfin    
36John Rice (i)$10,000   
 Nicholas Sposato    
38Tim Cullerton (i)$25,515 $7,000 
 Tom Caravette    
41Maurita Gavin    
 Mary O'Connorendorsedendorsed  
43Tim Egan$19,518$25,000$5,000 
 Michele Smith    
45John Arena    
 John Garrido$10,000$15,000  
46James Cappleman    
 Molly Phelan $25,000$2,000 
50Bernard Stone (i) $12,500 $1,500
 Debra Silverstein$10,000 $11,800 

* Ald. Lyle has returned this donation, and is no longer endorsed by For a Better Chicago PAC.

** Despite reporting a donation from the chamber prior to the February election, Lyle does not have the group's endorsement.

Where these numbers come from

We know this list does not include anywhere near the number of unions, business groups or political interests involved in the election. This is just a sampling of some of the most active. The charts contain figures that are accurate as of late Sunday night, calculated from reports downloaded from the website of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Candidates with an (i) next to their names are incumbents. We’ve listed them first in each contest. In races where there is no incumbent, we’ve listed the candidates by alphabetical order.

Money totals are rounded to the nearest dollar, and account for all reported donations (to the candidate or their ward organization) in this year's election cycle, including those made before the February 22nd election. If the chart just says a group “endorsed” a candidate, that means no donations were reported but the group claims to support the candidate. (Keep in mind that donations made this calendar year that are under $1,000 are unlikely to have been reported yet.)

Donations attributed to a particular group or person do not necessarily come from the same campaign fund. For example, SEIU has multiple political action committees. All donations from Emanuel were made via his “New Chicago Committee” PAC. Donations from Burke were made from either the alderman himself, his campaign or Burnham Committee, which is his PAC.

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