Nine candidates have thrown their names into the ring to succeed the late Southland Cook County Comm. Joan Murphy, the Daily Southtown reports, but only a handful of real contenders will make their case to Democratic Committeemen in the 6th District. The group will select her replacement at an open meeting Saturday morning (weighted votes of each committeeman below). While the top contender, according to county staffers and stakeholders, appears to be Worth Township Highway Commissioner and Chicago Ridge resident Ed Moody, another challenger, Donna Miller, believes she can drive voter turnout in 2018.

Other candidates have emerged in the past week, as well. Murphy’s daughter, Tricia Murphy, has joined the fray. She was spotted at Wednesday’s meeting of the Cook County Board, and has been reaching out to committeemen. She was often at her mother’s side on political trips, including to the DNC this year, and on National Association of Counties (NACo) conferences.

Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta has also put his name in for the spot. He described the late commissioner as “a good friend” in an interview with The Daily Line shortly after Murphy’s death, and suggested together they put the Village of Crestwood on the rebound after a water contamination scandal. He could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday, but told the Daily Southtown he didn’t think he’d win.

Brian Bernardoni, a lobbyist with the Chicago Association of Realtors and a resident of suburban Justice, also submitted his credentials, but told The Daily Line he’s withdrawing. “In the future, should an opportunity arise, I’d take advantage,” district native Bernardoni said, “But the weight of the township committeemen are clearly outside areas that I’ve lobbied in or had relationships in.”

Asked who committeemen did seem to favor, Bernardoni only said “Moody.” His is the first name County Board staffers will drop when asked who seems to be in the lead with committeemen, and was the first mentioned to succeed Comm. Murphy in the days after her death. Capitol Fax first reported the rumor last month, describing him as “part of a legendary two-man team along with his twin brother Fred… known for tirelessly walking precincts for [House Speaker Mike] Madigan’s most vulnerable candidates (among other things),” including a strong local organization around Worth Township. Moody did not respond to a request for comment.

Rich Township Committeeman Tim Bradford, the chairman of the selection committee, is reviewing resumes and background information other candidates, and is winnowing the large field down ahead of Saturday’s vote, Orland Committeeman Michael Carroll told The Daily Line yesterday. Each is assigned a weighted vote based on the number ballots cast for Murphy in the 2014 election:

  • Rich (Tim Bradford) = 22.0%
  • Thornton (Frank Zuccarelli) = 19.5%
  • Bloom (Terry Matthews) = 17.1%
  • Worth (John O’Sullivan) = 16.5%  
  • Bremen (Maggie Crotty) = 15.3%
  • Lyons (Steven Landek) = 4.7%
  • Orland (Michael Carroll) = 3.2%
  • Palos (Robert Maloney) = 1.3%

The townships with the biggest turnout in previous elections are predominantly black, according to census data, and have slightly more women, something Donna Miller says she intends to play up in her sit-down with committeemen Saturday.

“I think [Ed Moody] has a lot of connections over on the west side of the district, but most of the votes come from east of [Interstate 57]… At one time, the larger voter turnout was west of 57th, and that’s where [Comm. Murphy’s] base was […] but that’s shifted now,” Miller said in an interview with The Daily Line.

She plans to tout her 30 years of organizing Southland voters, particularly women. She was President of the Democratic Women of the South Suburbs, and served on the League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and Illinois Democratic Women. Name recognition is on her side, too, she says. Miller ran for the open 15th District State Senate seat in 2012, but lost to Napoleon Harris by more than eight points–garnering roughly 8,200 votes to Harris’ 10,100. Her husband, Dr. David Miller, is also a former State Representative.

Sitdowns begin at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow at the Rich Township Family Service Center, 22013 Governors Highway in Richton Park, Illinois.