A challenger for the 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman spot is kept his election hopes alive Friday evening with an order for an emergency Illinois Appellate Court hearing, despite a ruling by the Chicago Board of Elections and a judgement from the Cook County Circuit Court to remove him from the ballot. Jesus “Jesse” Iniguez, Committeeman challenger to incumbent and 15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez, has been fighting a challenge to signatures on his ballot petition for close to three months. The players in the ballot case are all linked to a complicated, messy campaign for Democratic Committeeman in the 12th Ward, where Lopez is managing the challenger’s campaign.
Iniguez’ attorney, Thomas Condon, Jr., is from Reyes Kurson, a firm led by public affairs consultant Victor Reyes. Reyes is a close ally of 12th Ward Committeeman and State Senator Tony Muñoz. Muñoz is currently in a fight to the wire for the 12th Ward spot with his former ally, 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas. Cardenas’s campaign manager is incumbent 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman and Alderman, Raymond Lopez.
Lopez is represented by election attorney Jim Nally.
The expedited Appellate Court hearing, ordered on late Friday afternoon, is set for Tuesday, March 8, with briefs due today, according to an order written by Appellate Judge Mat DeLort. DeLort is a former, well-known Cook County election attorney.
Election attorney Rich Means called it “highly unusual” for the Appellate Court to overturn a case based on whether or not there were valid signatures.
Asked Sunday evening how the Board of Elections might get ballots to voters with just a week before elections–after early voting had already begun, Board spokesman Jim Allen was circumspect. “I don’t want to speculate.”
“Desperation at its finest,” Ald. Lopez said of the possible last minute challenge.