Tag: Brenda Smith

Real Quick Politics: Live Blogging Election Night 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 || By Michael Romain

7:55pm – Maya del Sol, Oak Park, IL 

Oak Park Democrats are here in force. State Senator Don Harmon (D-39th), whose district now covers a sliver of Maywood’s north side, is here; as is State Rep. Camille Lilly (D-78th). As of yet, no sighting of Blake Sercye, candidate for First District Cook County Commissioner. Presently, with 55 of 92 suburbanprecincts reported, Sercye is leading the field of five in the suburbs with 41 percent of the vote. Richard Boykin currently has 21 percent; Brenda Smith has 15 percent; Isaac “Ike” Carothers has 11 percent; and Ronald Lawless has 4 percent (percentages are rounded). Click here for up-to-date results.

While here, I had the opportunity to speak with Sen. Harmon, whose been representing the 39th district since 2003. Sen. Harmon, who faces Democratic challenger Bob Galhotra, has a commanding lead, with at least 83 percent of the vote (72 of 88 precincts reported).

Mr. Harmon on representing a portion of Maywood:

Don Harmon
Sen. Don Harmon

“Maywood’s new to my district. For the first ten years in the General Assembly, I didn’t have Maywood. But municipal districts are all artificial. We’re all neighbors and we rise and fall together.” 

8:20pm – Maya del Sol, Oak Park, IL

Blake Sercye just arrived. Room is filling up. A news crew is here, but which station I don’t know. Other election returns: Current Democratic Committeewoman Karen Yarbrough leads challenger James “Papa” Brewer 72 percent to 28 percent. Governor Pat Quinn and Paul Vallas lead Democratic challengers Tio Hardiman and Brunell Donald 80 percent to 20 percent (percentages rounded). Sidenote: Mr. Hardiman’s has a satellite campaign office inside of Maywood’s Global Business Center, along with commissioner candidate Ronald Lawless. More election results here.

9:07 pm- Carleton of Oak Park, Grand Ballroom, Oak Park, IL

Richard Boykin campaign headquarters very lively. Michael Jackson blaring over the speakers. No sign yet of Mr. Boykin. Mostly volunteers present. I encountered candidate for Cook County Subcircuit Judge (11th District) Gina Crumble. District-wide returns have Boykin leading Mr. Sercye by about 400 votes. For more in-depth election coverage, visit oakpark.com.

9:26pm- Carleton of Oak Park, Grand Ballroom, Oak Park, IL

Raw numbers from Boykin campaign volunteer:

  • Boykin: 5822
  • Sercye: 5331
  • Carothers: 4221

Most precincts that have yet to report are in the City of Chicago.

9:41pm —  Carleton of Oak Park, Grand Ballroom, Oak Park, IL

The room erupted in applause during entrance of Rep. Danny K. Davis. It’s being murmured that Mr. Boykins has just been declared the winner. VFP

Real Quick Politics: As 1st Dist. Commissioner’s Race Heats Up, Boykin Campaign Claims 20-Point Lead, Sercye Lands Another Major Endorsement

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 || By Michael Romain

As early voting in the 2014 Illinois Primary Elections gets underway, the down-ballot, but most intriguing, Democratic race to replace First District Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins is heating up. Today, the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Early & Often blog reported that an internal poll conducted by the campaign of Richard Boykin, the attorney and former chief-of-staff for Congressman Danny K. Davis, showed Mr. Boykin with a 20-point lead. The Early & Often post states that the poll’s numbers “show an incredible surge by Boykin since January and a steep drop by former Chicago Ald. Ike Carothers.”

Even more interesting: “The poll also shows that despite Blake Sercye’s high-profile endorsements — including from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Secretary Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — he is in fourth place, behind Carothers and activist Brenda Smith. Ron Lawless is also running in the crowded March 18th primary.”

Just yesterday, Karecki broke the news that Sercye had picked up the endorsement of yet another Democratic big whig–Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White–in a move that Karecki claimed is a “snub” to Congressman Davis.

According to the posting, White said of Sercye:

“Blake Sercye is from our neighborhoods and has exhibited the personal resolve and perseverance to overcome so many of life’s obstacles. He is a natural leader and good man who will serve with integrity, honor and commitment.”

The Boykin poll, which surveyed 400 likely general election voters from February 25 to February 27, was conducted by Washington, D.C.-based GBA Strategies and shows Boykin in the lead with 34 percent of likely voters, “Carothers with 15, Smith with 13 and Sercye with 10. The survey, however, shows 23 percent undecided, meaning there is some room even with less than three weeks to go,” wrote Karecki, who neglected to mention Ronald Lawless’s 5 percent. She also didn’t mention the poll’s margin of error, nor its methods for collecting that data (i.e., where the survey was concentrated; whether it was conducted via land-line or wireless phones, or over the internet; etc.–all factors that may contribute to the survey’s overall accuracy).

On February 24, Richard Boykin’s Twitter feed announced that Capital Fax released a poll that morning that had his campaign up by just 5 points. Representatives from the Boykin campaign could not be reached for comment.

A confidential source within the Sercye campaign said that the Boykin poll doesn’t reflect the bounce that they expect from the recent succession of high-profile endorsements that have come their way.

“The survey was done before any of our main endorsements and before we even sent out a single mail piece. I think the momentum looks like its leaning our way more than his way and this looks like an effort on the part of Boykin to appeal to democratic voters,” the source said. “We’re not putting much weight into [the Boykin poll]. We know we have the momentum.”

Ronald Lawless dismissed the survey much more explicitly.

“It’s an internal poll, its his poll, he needs that poll because he know he’s falling,” Lawless said. “He needs to try to sale to people that he is the front-runner. We don’t know what kind of questions were asked, how leading they were. It’s a useless poll. It’s irrelevant.

“What he needs to address are more important issues other than polls like the homeowner exemption issue. He needs to do a poll asking voters what they would do about him having more than one homeowner exemption and whether or not they would vote for him then,” Lawless said.

“The real poll will be on March 18th–the people’s poll.”

A representative for the Carothers campaign said that he hadn’t looked at the poll closely enough to form a strong opinion. The campaign of Brenda Smith could not be reached for comment.


Regardless of the polling minutiae, however, the Boykin campaign seems buoyed by its own momentum, with the candidate holding press conferences throughout the first district at a rapid-fire rate. Last month, on February 20, the Boykin campaign held a press conference with various west suburban government, community and faith leaders to highlight the County’s Land Bank program and to “appropriate uses for vacant properties located on Chicago’s West Side and West suburban communities.”

And a week later, on the February 27, he issued a press release “calling for community justice centers to serve Proviso Township and Garfield Park communities.”

“In serving the First District as Cook County Commissioner, I will strongly advocate for the resources necessary to develop two community justice centers for the Proviso Township and Austin,” Boykin said. “Too often, Cook County residents lack access to vital legal resources. The creation of these centers would fill that void.” VFP

From the Review: Big Endorsements Change 1st District County Commissioner’s Race

The Forest Park Review is Now Partnering with The Village Free Press

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

All five candidates for 1st District Cook County Commissioner primary race faced off Saturday, February 22, 2014, at the Maywood Public Library for the Think Democracy Candidates Forum. The forum was sponsored by The Village Free Press, Forest Park Review, Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO) and other community organizations.

The five candidates were former 29th ward alderman Isaac “Ike” Carothers; attorney Blake Sercye; attorney and lobbyist Richard Boykin; educator and consultant Ronald Lawless, and community activist Brenda Smith. This was the first forum in which Smith has participated.

Many of the same issues, such as the County Land Bank, taxation and the budget, were brought up by all five candidates.

The difference on Saturday was that, with the Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle endorsing 27-year-old attorney Blake Sercye, the dynamics of this race have changed. What many may have considered a two-man duel between Carothers and Boykin has turned into a race of three.

Carothers, who carries the baggage of 2010 corruption charges, to which he pleaded guilty in exchange for a 28-month prison term, urged attendees to look at his record of achievements while an alderman in the 29th ward. Among the achievements he touted were a new school and a senior housing complex.

“I’d like to provide the same leadership I provided for the 29th ward,” he said.

Smith heralded her status as the only female on the ballot and stressed that as commissioner, “excellent service” would be her priority.

“I’m Richard Boykin–unbought, unbossed and unafraid,” said Boykin, in what sounded like a rhetorical pivot following the Emanuel-Preckwinkle endorsements.

During a February 18, press conference, Preckwinkle said that she and Mayor Emanuel plan to pull no punches in helping Sercye get elected–even to the point of pledging to commit more than $50,000 each to his campaign. The development seems to have motivated Sercye’s opponents to overplay the underdog card.

“You have a clear choice on March 18,” said Boykin, Congressman Danny K. Davis’s former chief of staff, during his closing statement. “You can go with the machine or the people’s candidate.”

Funds Preckwinkle pledged have yet to fully materialize according to sources inside the Sercye campaign and public records show Boykin has a clear fundraising advantage. Yet that still hasn’t stopped Boykin and Sercye’s other opponents from painting him as the puppet candidate of forces bigger than himself. A Manchurian candidate, of sorts.

During his opening comments, Sercye didn’t directly address the backlash surrounding the endorsements. Instead he talked about his personal story as the son of a single mother who was able to go to Princeton. He framed himself as an honest alternative to his older opponents.

“I can talk until I’m blue in the face about policy, but what matters most is a commissioner who you know is ethical and trustworthy,” said Sercye in what may have been a subtle reference particularly to Carothers’s corruption charges and questions regarding Boykin’s official residency and his acceptance of multiple homestead exemptions.

Lawless was the first candidate to explicitly bring up the endorsements, when he said during his opening comments that endorsements don’t win elections–people do. And people, said Lawless, appear to have had it with Mayor Emanuel, a claim that, if true could turn a major endorsement into a major liability for Sercye.

“I’m the only candidate who has the people’s endorsement,” said Lawless. “You have to be true to yourself… anyone who will close 50 schools in Chicago is not a friend of mine and he’s not a friend of yours … if [Emanuel] got his city right, he wouldn’t have to worry about the county.”

Carothers said he didn’t understand Emanuel’s reasoning for getting involved in a county race, since his jurisdiction is the City of Chicago.

“Why aren’t they [Emanuel and Preckwinkle] endorsing all those other races that are down ballot?” Carothers asked.

Since he landed those major endorsements, it’s been a common complaint lodged by Sercye’s opponents that his campaign is now being bankrolled by interloping heavy-hitters bent on pulling the West Side and the western suburbs into their sphere of influence.

“We have nothing against Mr. Sercye,” said Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin and a supporter of Boykin at a Boykin campaign press conference held on the same day of the Emanuel-Preckwinkle announcement. “But we do resent when the Mayor sits in his ivory tower and tries to select our leadership. You have too much of this already. The previous mayor [Richard Daley] picked his aldermen and councilmen. Madigan picks his state representatives.”

Coming from Carothers, once one of the most powerful political figures in Chicago, and Boykin, the establishment frontrunner, seemed rather odd, to Lawless. He humorously incorporated it into his closing comments.

“Last week, I was the only people’s candidate,” Lawless said. “Now we have three people’s candidates … Rahm has shifted everybody.” VFP

Full video and more in-depth coverage from this event will be available soon.