Emanuel Replacement Race Updates: Quigley Endorsed, Feigenholtz And Wheelan Run Ads, Mud Thrown

Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley racked up the first major newspaper endorsement of the campaign Saturday, earning the backing of the Sun-Times.

In an editorial published Saturday, the paper described the ballot as "filled with impressive and thoughtful candidates" but felt that Quigley "stood above the rest."

Quigley, 50, is that rare candidate who promises reform -- and delivers.

He's the real deal.

He has proved himself at the County Board and deserves a shot at proving himself in Congress.

The race to to succeed Rahm Emanuel in Congress has finally gone to the airwaves.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz began airing her first ad on broadcast TV Friday. In it, Feigenholtz uses the story of her mother, an immigrant who "put herself through medical school," to underscore her commitment to public service and bolster her claim as the health care candidate. Watch:

The ad dovetails with Abdon Pallasch's profile of Feigenholtz in Friday's Sun-Times:

What's a health care/social services-focused legislator such as Sara Feigenholtz to do when a Democratic president takes office promising to reform the health care system?

Run for Congress to help.

Though the Feigenholtz campaign announced Thursday that it had raised $550,000-- making them the likely money leader among candidates-- it nevertheless used the ad to solicit more contributions.

From a Friday morning email to Feigenholtz supporters from campaign manager Mike Rendina:

The Chicago media market is one of the most expensive in the country. For Sara to place an ad on broadcast TV during primetime it will cost at least $500 and an ad on Oprah costs as much as $2500.

Sara needs your help to stay on the air. I know many of you have already made generous contributions to the campaign. But please consider reaching down deep and giving another $50, $100, or $150 today.

Feigenholtz's ad buy is for around $93,000, according to Rich Miller at Capitol Fax.

Feigenholtz's Springfield colleague John Fritchey is hot on her heels in the money race, according to David Ormsby. Ormsby reports that Fritchey has compensated for his late start, raising between $400,000-$450,000 since January 1.

Rep. Fritchey is expected to have his own ad running soon and will benefit from a Friday night fundraiser thrown by State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Labor lawyer Tom Geoghegan, who was spurned by the major unions SEIU and AFL-CIO, was endorsed by the Greater Chicago Caucus and Progressive Democrats of America, Progress Illinois reports:

"During these tough economic times, we need someone with Geoghegan's proven track record of fighting for working people," said Connie Baker, Executive Director, GCC. "We are proud to endorse the other skinny, Harvard graduate who has dedicated the past 30 years of his life to fighting for justice, pensions, healthcare and better wages."

Not all news was as positive. Rep. Feigenholtz was slammed by the Tribune for her refusal to say whether her campaign was behind a poll that made damning allegations about two opponents:

One of the leading Democratic candidates to replace Rahm Emanuel in Congress repeatedly declined to say Thursday whether her campaign conducted a phone survey last month in which pollsters raised allegations about foes in the March 3 special primary.

Voters were asked if it would concern them that state Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) took campaign contributions from groups the poll alleged were associated with organized crime. The pollsters also attempted to link Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) with County Board President Todd Stroger, whom Quigley often opposes.

The survey concluded with a plug that state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) is an independent champion for women and immigrants. In an appearance before the Tribune's editorial board Thursday, Feigenholtz was asked at least a half-dozen times about the issue, but would neither confirm nor deny her campaign was behind the negative poll. She maintained she's running as a reformer.

The Reader's Ben Joravsky also sought to puncture Feigenholtz's reform image:

I've got a message for the Trib, Fritchey, Quigley, and everybody else out there: Feigenholtz isn't a reformer. She's never been a reformer and she's never going to be a reformer. Instead, like Fritchey, she's a loyal foot soldier in House speaker Michael Madigan's Democratic legislative army. The last thing any of these folks want to do is reform this system.

Fritchey and Quigley have both tried to capitalize on chinks in Feigenholtz's reform armor. Fritchey acknowledged to the Tribune editorial board that his campaign has conducted phone surveys telling voters that Feigenholtz sponsored job seekers on the "clout lists" of disgraced former Governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. And Quigley's campaign, which sent a fundraising email on the heels of the push poll that Feigenholtz refused to discuss, blasted her Wednesday for missing an ethics vote in Springfield allegedly to raise money for her campaign.

Crain's notes that controversial lobbyist Al Ronan donated $500 to Feigenholt'z campaign. Ronan's lobbying firm, Ronan Potts LLC, disbanded after pleading guilty in 2004 in a bid-rigging scheme at McCormick Place that "involved Scott Fawell, a pal of Mr. Ronan's and one-time aide to [imprisoned] ex-Gov. George Ryan," Robert Herguth writes.

Feigenholtz downplayed the donation and insisted Ronan has no role in the campaign:

"Al Ronan is an old friend of mine. He's not really involved in the campaign, he just made a contribution because he's someone I called," Ms. Feigenholtz said.

Feigenholtz's campaign manager pointed out to Crain's that Quigley took $1,000 from Ronan's former company in 2001-02 and Fritchey received $200 from a Ronan-controlled political action committee in 1995.

Other notes from the race:

Whichever candidate wins the seat may not hold it for long. Lynn Sweet reports in Saturday's Sun-Times that Rahm Emanuel is hanging on to his $1.76 million political war chest while serving as President Obama's chief of staff, thereby leaving the door wide open for a return to elected office.

After blogger Jesse Greenberg took the Quigley campaign to task for "questionable Twitter ethics," campaign manager Tom Bowen responded and the resulting email dialogue is a substantive exchange on online campaign outreach. Greenberg has done yeomen's work chronicling the campaigns' online presences.

University of Chicago economics lecturer Charles Wheelan followed-up his attention-getting "Underwater" ad with a new, equally unconventional spot, "Upside Down." Watch:

Like his first ad, "Upside Down" is intended to garner online attention will barely air on TV.

Prairie State Blue's Bored Now (who has been on top of the race for months) interviewed Quigley on the reason's for his run. Watch it here.

Tom Geoghegan spoke with Chicago's Drinking Liberally. HuffPost blogger Matthew Filipowicz has pictures of the visit. And Mark Bazer had a fairly extensive talk with Geoghegan on "The Interview Show." Watch it in full here.

Access Living is holding a candidate's forum Monday afternoon at 115 W. Chicago

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