Jason Gonzales carefully waited until the last minutes of the candidate filing period for the 2016 primary to ensure that on March 15 he would face only one opponent: House Speaker Michael Madigan.
But Gonzales, 41, says Madigan allies observing candidate filings at the Illinois State Board of Elections just before the close of business on Nov. 30 acted swiftly when he filed his nominating petitions challenging Madigan for the Democratic nominations in the 22nd Illinois House District. Within minutes of Gonzales' filing, nominating petitions for two other candidates were filed.
As of today, the 44-year incumbent Madigan, who also is chairman of the Illinois Democratic party, will face three challengers: Gonzales, Joe G. Barbosa and Grasiela Rodriguez. Gonzales has filed objections against Barbosa and Rodriguez challenging the validity of their nominating petitions in hope of getting them removed from the ballot.
"I specifically timed it so I had a shot at just me and Speaker Madigan on the ballot. Evidently I didn't time it late enough. I didn't want to time it too close because I was afraid there might be a line or something could have gone wrong where I couldn't have filed. So I was waiting for the last minute and honestly they were not expecting me. I watched the whole thing go down," says Gonzales. "I filed and ... one of Mr. Madigan's lobbyists or assistants... saw me because they thought I wasn't running. There were rumors that I had dropped out of the race and I guess they had sort of staked their belief on that. When he saw me, he jumped up, grabbed a file box, went out into the hallway and I watched him pull two candidates' petitions out of the box. Another assistant prepared them and as soon as I filed, they walked in with other people and filed those candidates right behind me."
Gonzales believes Madigan's longtime campaign foot soldier Shaw Decremer engineered the last-minute filings...
You can read more about Gonzales' allegations here.