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Taking the Fifth

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 2, 2009 6:37PM

While the Race to Replace Rahm enters the final stretch, the voters of Illinois's Fifth Congressional District are clamoring for change. Or, maybe they aren't. Who knows? Russ Stewart predicts that some 90 percent of voters won't bother to turn out on election day tomorrow, a staggering number for the campaign managers, ward workers and volunteers that will be working tirelessly to get out the vote tomorrow. The Tribune profiled the dash to get voters out of the house on Tuesday and into the voting booth, noting how close the Democratic side of the race. "It's neck-and-neck in this race and I'm freaking out," Feigenholtz field organizer Greg Bales told the paper. Meanwhile, County Commissioner and candidate Mike Quigley was busy going door to door in Melrose Park, meeting with voters face to face. "There is nothing more important than voter contact," he said. "You don't want to leave anything out there untouched."

While Feigenholtz is banking on her warchest and SEIU endorsement, and John Fritchey is counting on Democratic committeemen in the 33rd, 36th, 38th, 43rd, 45th and 47th wards to turn out the vote, another Democratic candidates are looking at other strategies. Charlie Wheelan, the U of C economist and author has run a campaign that has taken a less conventional tack, relying more on viral marketing to get his technocratic message of free market liberalism to voters. Part of that strategy includes the hope that moderate Republicans and independent voters will take advantage of Illinois's non-partisan registration, walk into the polling place, pick up a Democratic ballot and vote for him.

Betting on a significant crossover vote beating out sophisticated GOTV operations and ward organizations is a long shot in a race with an already crowded field. Whether Wheelan will have much of an impact on the primary remains to be seen, although the conventional wisdom is that the Democratic side of the race will be about Fritchey, Feigenholtz and Quigley.