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Replacing Rahm: The Candidates, Part 1

By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 16, 2009 6:25PM

Early voting has already begun in Illinois's Fifth Congressional District, so Chicagoist figured that with 25 candidates in the race to keep Rahm Emanuel's seat warm for him, we'd look at five each day all this week.

Sarah Feigenholtz
2009_02_16_sara.jpg Feigenholtz has been a life long Chicago resident, growing up first generation in Hollywood Park. Viewed by many as a leading front-runner to the race, Feigenholtz has represented Illinois's 12th district in the statehouse since 1994. Along the way she has built a reputation as being one of the most liberal members of the state general assembly, and has a devoted following in her district, which spans the 42nd, 43rd, 44th and 46th Wards on the lakefront, from Division and LaSalle in the South to Lawrence and Clarendon in the North. Her tenure in the state legislature has been marked by her support for a range of issues, especially around women and families, and her support for those issues, has garnered her several endorsements, including NOW, Emily's List and SEIU. Although Feigenholtz likes to tout her reputation as a reformer (including working with then state senator Barack Obama and her opposition to former governor Rod Blagojevich), there are some holes in her reformer's resume. Ben Joravsky slammed her as "a loyal foot soldier in House speaker Michael Madigan's Democratic legislative army," and the Tribune called her out for doing phone polling that raises allegations about her opposition in the race. "I do not talk about internal campaign strategy," Feigenholtz told the paper's editorial board, refusing to confirm or deny to allegations.

Thomas Geoghegan
2009_02_16_tom.jpg A lawyer in Chicago for over 30 years, Geoghegan has represented some pretty unglamorous clients, from labor unions (such as the United Mine Workers) to the reform movements inside of their ranks (such as Teamsters for a Democratic Union); at a time when the nation is still debating how far down the road of government intervention in the economy we should, Geoghegan is out front for a stronger social safety net, campaigning on expanding Social Security and a single-payer health care system. Unlike Feigenholtz and Fritchey, who've attracted criticism during their tenure in public office, Geoghegan has drawn some pretty flattering press from left-leaning writers, including Thomas Frank. Although the Harvard educated labor lawyer and author hasn't garnered the high-profile endorsements that Fritchey and Feigenholtz has, he's gotten the attention of progressive groups in the city, winning endorsements from Teamsters Local 743, Progress Illinois, the Greater Chicago Caucus and Progressive Democrats of America.

Rosanna Pulido
2009_02_16_rosanna.jpg Rosanna Pulido, the Chicago latina best known for founding the Illinois Minuteman Project seems like a counter-point to the Democrats running to replace Barack Obama's Chief of Staff. Besides vehemently opposing illegal immigration, she's a strong supporter of gun rights and fervently opposes abortion. In fact, those three issues seem to define her platform. With the state GOP weak politically and still deeply mired in political infighting, the Republican side of the race hasn't attracted nearly as much attention as the Democratic field has. It also hasn't garnered the level of support or endorsements that Democrats have, although Pulido is consistently a favorite of activists and bloggers on the right.

Jon Stewart
2009_02_16_jon.jpg The former professional wrestler and author (a screenplay and a children's book), is more than just a business owner, motivational speaker and occasional pundit on Fox News and CNN. Republican Jon Stewart is one of several candidates that don't actually live in the Fifth Congressional District. Because both the constitution and state law don't require congressmen to live in the district they represent, Jon Stewart is able to take a different approach to his campaign. “I’m not just, like, somebody from Tallahassee, Florida, moving up here and running for Congress,” Stewart, who lives in the 10th District, told Medill. “The 5th District is near and dear to my life.” To that end, Stewart is running to make the "current tax cuts permanent", create a flat tax, "protect a woman's right to choose", "legalize ALL undocumented, law abidding [sic] immigrants". But, according to the candidate's questionnaire he turned in to the Tribune, Stewart also wants to refinance Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae backed mortgages down to 4%, issue a $1,500 debit card to all taxpayers, with the stipulation that it be used by July 4, 2009, and invest in Mark Kirk's "Apollo Energy Program", which would use tax and market incentives to promote alternative energy programs and energy efficiency projects in commercial and residential buildings, as well as public transit.

Matt Reichel
2009_02_16_matt.jpg Green Party candidate and Chicago native Matt Reichel graduated fromthe University of Illinois in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in political science. In the years after college, Reichel worked as a peace activist, organizing for Student Peace Action Illinois, which opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2004 he moved to Paris, France to pursue a master's degree. While abroad, he worked on several political causes, including the movement to vote "non" on the European Constitution. He also wrote for several left-leaning publications, including CounterPunch, Dissident Voice and Spectrezine. When he returned to the US in 2007, he moved to Las Vegas to work on Dennis Kucinich's presidential bid, and then moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work on the congressman's re-election campaign. At 27 he is the youngest of the candidates in the race, and argues that he has a fresh perspective on the issues that face congress today, and that his background as an activist and journalist give him a "track record... of consistent progressivism."