Political flexing akin to a boxing weigh-in — think signatures instead of muscles — took place Monday as mayoral candidates turned in nominating petitions of varying heft to get their names not just on the ballot, but, with any luck, up at the top.
Community activist Ja’Mal Green hoped to make a statement by hauling his signatures — about 30,000, he said — in a wheelbarrow decked out with ribbons and bows.
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas’ 6-feet-4-inch frame (down two inches from his youthful apex) — helped him stand out from the crowd Monday at the Chicago Board of Elections Supersite, 191 N. Clark St. Vallas turned in a stack he estimated to have “north of 40,000” signatures.
Vallas didn’t lug the pile of paper to the Loop himself, he joked: “I had a stronger person carry it in.”
Candidates who turned in their signatures first thing Monday morning earned a spot in a lottery to have their names appear at the top of the ballot, a position some believe offers a slight advantage.
Ald. Sophia King (4th) was accompanied by a sign-carrying entourage as she turned in her signatures, an estimated 37,000. Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson said he turned in about 41,000 signatures.
Businessman Willie Wilson said he handed in more than 61,000 signatures and took a moment to knock Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to hand in her signatures on Nov. 28 (the last day possible) and enter a separate lottery for the bottom spot on the ballot, a location also thought to offer a slight advantage.
“It’s obvious, she’s having problems getting signatures,” Wilson said.
Not true, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor’s campaign.
Mayoral candidates need just 12,500 valid signatures to get on the ballot, but often file multiples of that number to project strength and, more importantly, withstand any challenges filed by opponents over some of the signatures.
The deadline for candidates to file those challenges is Dec. 5.
State Rep. Kam Buckner, a former lineman for the University of Illinois football team, had no problem managing the heft of his petitions; he said they contained more than 24,000 signatures.
U.S. Rep. Jes?s “Chuy” Garc?a, a relative latecomer who announced his mayoral bid earlier this month, was absent Monday at the city’s election super site at Clark and Lake.
Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) on Monday bowed out of the mayor’s race and instead will put his signatures toward retaining his aldermanic seat.
The lottery for the top and bottom spots on the ballot will take place Dec. 6.
“I’m ordering an old-fashioned bingo machine as we speak,” Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Max Bever said Monday.
What happened to the device used last time?
“I don’t know. I couldn’t find it around here,” Bever said.
The election to determine the next mayor will take place Feb. 28 — but, if no candidate gets at least half the vote, a runoff between the two top candidates will take place April 4.