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Dorothy Brown files early for March primary — Ald. Michelle Harris does not

Despite being hobbled by a federal investigation of her office and a loss of crucial Democratic support, Dorothy Brown filed to run for re-election Monday for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk.

But the woman to whom the Cook County Democratic Party tossed its backing — Ald. Michelle Harris — did not.

Monday was only the first day to file nominating petitions for the March Primary, so the 8th Ward alderman still has a week to officially enter the race. But typically, candidates like to file on the first day, to get a chance at being first on the ballot and as a show of strength.

Incumbents and challengers alike waited in line in Chicago to file their petitions for Cook County offices and in Springfield for state posts.

Brown was one of the county candidates who filed when the Cook County Clerk’s office opened at 9 a.m.

Harris did not return repeated telephone calls, seeking information on her filing plans. She only launched her candidacy a month ago when the Cook County Democratic Party rescinded its earlier endorsement of Brown and threw its support to Harris.

Brown lost the endorsement after reports that her office was under federal investigation.

The four-term incumbent has insisted that she has done nothing wrong and essentially thumbed her nose at the party bosses who abandoned her.

“We have supporters. People on the street have been stopping me, hugging me, talking to me about how they support me from all different backgrounds, all different ethnicities. I do believe we will have the support,” Brown said on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” last month.

But just last week a lower-level employee in Brown’s office was charged with lying to a federal grand jury “investigating the purchasing of jobs and promotions” in the clerk’s office. One of the charges was that Sivasubramani Rajaram lied about whether he had spoken to Brown after he was rehired.

Activist Jacob Meister was the only other Democrat to file Monday for the Circuit Court clerk’s race.

Candidates for state, county and most federal offices have until next Monday to file, but only those who file on first day are entered in the lottery for top spot on the ballot.

Presidential candidates and their delegates don’t file their petitions until January.

In other county races, States Attorney Anita Alvarez filed for re-election and picked up an expected challenge from Kim Foxx, a former aid to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Former prosecutor Donna More did not file Monday, but a spokesman said she would do so before the filing period closes.

In statewide contests, state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston opted out of the Democratic race for comptroller, throwing his full support to Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza.

In a letter to supporters, Biss said Mendoza was racking up the endorsement of most of the state’s Democratic heavy hitters.

“This left me frankly quite uncertain about our chances of success, but one thing was very clear to me: in order to win, I’d need to wage an extraordinarily expensive, very divisive campaign,” Biss wrote. “It was a sure-fire recipe for all sides to squander resources and generate ill will.”

Biss said he decided it was more important to stay in Springfield and fight for a state budget and win the “existential battles” created by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Assuming no other candidates enter the race in the next week, Mendoza — an ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel — will face Republican incumbent Leslie Munger, who was first appointed to the post by Rauner. Munger filed her petitions on Monday.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk filed to run for a second term. Oswego businessman James Marter filed to challenge Kirk in the GOP primary.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Tammy Duckworth and former Urban League President Andrea Zopp filed their petitions for the U.S. Senate race on the first day of filing, but state Sen. Napoleon Harris, who kicked off his campaign last week, did not.

“We’ll be filing very, very soon,” Harris’ spokesman, Sean Howard, said, refusing to elaborate.

In state legislative contests, former Ald. Bob Fioretti, who waged a failed bid for mayor this year, filed to challenge state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt in a district that stretches from Lincoln Park to the West Side. Also, filing to run was Jeff Johnson, a Chicago 911 emergency dispatcher and union activist.