Berrios challenger loses another round in ballot battle

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Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, left, at the Erie Cafe last year. File Photo. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times; Challengers Andrea Raila, center, and Fritz Kaegi, right, address the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board last month. File Photos. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Democratic candidate for Cook County assessor Andrea Raila faced an electoral board on Thursday with a “victory rose” in hand — only to hear that she was being kicked off the ballot.

The Cook County Electoral Board ruling means longtime incumbent Assessor Joe Berrios will face challenger Fritz Kaegi head on.

That’s potentially bad news for Berrios, who’s been under the microscope for media reports that his evaluation of properties unfairly cost low-income homeowners and give breaks to wealthy property owners.

Polls released last week show Berrios could be in trouble. Political observers believe he benefits from a multi-candidate field, because it could split the opposition vote.

Raila indicated she plans to appeal the ruling.

“Circuit Court,” she and her supporters said immediately after the ruling was announced.

“This is a process that keeps people off the ballot, it’s wrong,” Raila said. “I will go to the Circuit Court.

“That’s why when you look around, everybody has this,” she said, pointing to “she persisted” flyers — a remark that originated in the U.S. Senate but has become a mantra of sorts for some politically active Democratic women.

Her attorney said he expects to complete the process within a week.

The board, made up of representatives from the Clerk of Circuit Court and the State’s Attorney’s offices, stuck to its findings of widespread problems with the signatures on Raila’s nominating petitions, ruling her campaign “engaged in a concerted, intentional pattern of fraud, both as to circulation, as well as notarial acts.”

“The Cook County Electoral Board conducted a fair and thorough examination of a mountain of evidence, which clearly indicated that Andrea Raila and members of her inner circle purposely and intentionally engaged in a pattern of fraud to circumvent the rules,” Rebecca Reynolds, Kaegi campaign manager, said in a statement.

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