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Bill Daley’s spot on mayoral ballot safe after Jerry Joyce ditches challenge

Mayoral candidate Bill Daley (right) files roughly 45,000 signatures on the final day of filing. File Photo. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate Bill Daley (right) files roughly 45,000 signatures on the final day of filing. File Photo. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate Jerry Joyce on Wednesday ditched his petition challenge against Bill Daley — claiming although his team found a “widespread pattern of forgery and fraud” the campaign’s manpower and resources must be spent elsewhere.

The withdrawal of the challenge means Daley — the former U.S. Commerce Secretary — will be on the Feb. 26 ballot, since no one else challenged his petitions.

Joyce’s campaign said the challenge was complicated because Daley’s petition circulators disappeared.

“It’s so hard to find them,” Joyce spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. “Volunteers are driving, spending the day chasing down these guys who, you know, were instructed or they knew to go to ground. They’re not there.”

Attorney Jerry Joyce will appear first on the crowded ballot for Chicago’s mayor in the February election

Jerry Joyce. File Photo. | Tina Sfondeles

Joyce’s campaign in a statement threw in some digs about Daley’s signatures, claiming three people collected more than 11,000 signatures, all using the same notary. The Joyce campaign claims Daley’s petitions included “thousands of examples” of incorrect addresses, unregistered voters, forged names and duplicate signers.

“In the end, we’re withdrawing our challenge,” Zielinski said in a statement. “We can’t spend the next months scouring the earth for purported circulators who, in many cases, are gone with the wind or who don’t live at the addresses that were provided.”

Daley’s campaign aides declined to respond until they receive official word of Joyce’s withdrawal from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Those who filed petition challenges are trying to match up voter registrations and are also looking at signatures filed with the board of elections. They’re also looking for a pattern of fraud, which is hard to prove.

Last week, Joyce landed the first spot on the crowded ballot after a lottery. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in February, the top two will face each other in an April 2 runoff.

Other petition challenges include former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas challenging former Chicago Police Dept. Supt. Garry McCarthy’s signatures; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle challenging Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s petitions, as well as those of philanthropist and businessman Willie Wilson and former Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot; and other mayoral candidates challenging the signatures provided by Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and activist Catherine Brown D’Tycoon. Wilson is also challenging the petitions of activist Ja’Mal Green.

Hearings on the objections began on Monday and are open to the public.

Candidates for mayor need signatures from 12,500 registered Chicago voters to earn a spot on the ballot. Most try to submit petitions containing at least three times that many signatures to provide a buffer to withstand any legal challenge.

When he filed on the last day of the period last month, Daley, the son and brother of Chicago mayors, submitted an estimated 45,000 signatures. That means Joyce would have had to prove that more than 32,000 of them were invalid to knock Daley from the ballot.

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