Here's a roundup of election news that was on The Chicago Reporter's political radar last week:
- Voter registration numbers released by the Chicago Board of Elections hit a 70-year low. After crunching some of the ward-by-ward numbers, though, the Reporter found that the sharpest drops in voter participation were clustered almost entirely in predominantly African-American wards. In fact, African-American wards accounted for the top 12 that saw the highest percentage drops in voter participation from 2008 to 2012. Latino communities saw some of the largest percentage gains. Nonetheless, low registration numbers are dogging just about every ward.
- The 5th District state Senate race is getting uglier by the hour. And the the public war of words is no longer just between candidates Annazette Collins and Patricia Van-Pelt Watkins. Last week, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who supports Van-Pelt Watkins, compared Collins to corrupt former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He also said Collins was the "most unethical person in government." This week, Collins countered by threatening to sue, but reportedly backed down. Collins and Van-Pelt Watkins are competing for Rickey Hendon's longtime seat in this mostly black West Side district.
- In his budget speech on Wednesday, Quinn asked that lawmakers take on a number of politically risky issues this election year--like approving a $2.7 billion cut in spending on health care for the poor. The cut in Medicaid funding would encompass everything from reduced doctor reimbursement rates to a limitation on the number of state-funded eyeglasses Medicaid patients can have. Cutting social services is always politically dicey, but 12th District state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz said the reductions are practical and stand a good chance of passing. The Chicago Democrat and every other member of the general assembly is up for re-election this year, though, and cuts to Medicaid spending could anger some voters. What's more, even with the reductions, there would reportedly still be a $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills.
- In other election news, Dorothy Brown, who is seeking re-election as Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, continues to be publicly dogged for allegedly "making a mess" out of the office. Appellate Court Judge Aurellia Pucinksi is Brown's latest critic. She said this week that Brown's employees frequently misplace files, and that the clerk's office is generally unorganized. Brown fired back by saying she had to "clean up" Pucinski's mess. Pucinski was Brown's predecessor as the clerk. "[Brown has] been there 12 years--she owns it now," Pucinski said. Pusinski is running for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court. She supports 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz, who is running against Brown for the clerk's seat.
© Community Renewal Society 2012