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Candidates flock to state election board to file

SPRINGFIELD —Gov. Pat Quinn and little-known Democratic rival Tio Hardiman submitted nominating petitions to run for governor Monday as did the four Republicans vying to end the Democratic Party’s decade-long grip on the Executive Mansion.

U.S. Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and two GOP challengers, state Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, and Doug Truax, also filed their candidate petitions during a ceremonial kickoff to the 2014 campaign season that resembled an electoral version of Black Friday.

Enduring sub-freezing temperatures, campaign operatives began lining up outside the State Board of Elections Thursday night to be in position when election workers opened the doors to the election board’s Springfield offices at precisely 8 a.m. Monday, when the candidate filing period officially got under way.

Quinn, the heavy favorite in his potential Democratic primary, sent a campaign representative to file on behalf of him and running mate, Paul Vallas.

But Hardiman, the former Cease Fire director once accused of domestic violence by his wife only to see those charges later dropped, vowed to run a competitive campaign against Quinn after filing petitions with running mate Brunell Donald, a Chicago lawyer.

Hardiman reported in October having $1,646 in his political fund, compared to $2.9 million for Quinn.

“For once in an election season, we have to change the perception that people with big money should always be the favorite in these types of elections because right now, the state is broke and we have a lot of problems. So any candidate with $2-3 million or $5 mill, I suggest they donate their campaign funds to charity,” Hardiman said.

Hardiman undoubtedly will face a challenge to knock him from the ballot, but he vouched for his signatures and thanked his consultant, former state Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, for personally “vetting” the names to “make sure the signatures were solid.”

On Monday afternoon, both election lawyer Burton Odelson and Sean Vinck had inspected Hardiman’s nominating petitions. Quinn’s political fund paid Odelson’s law firm $7,500 for legal services in July 2010, state campaign records show. Vinck, meanwhile, is $120,000-a-year chief information officer in Quinn’s office.

Representatives for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, were the first let in the doors, carting several boxes of petitions for House Democratic candidates whose names will be on the March 18 primary ballot.

Those who filed at the 8 a.m. opening and are in contested primaries will be entered in a Dec. 11 lottery to determine whose name will appear atop the ballot.

On the Republican side, two gubernatorial candidates braved Monday morning’s chill to file on their own.

“It’s strategic. You want to be in the lottery and have your name first on the ballot. But it’s also tradition. It’s a fun part of the campaign,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, the GOP’s 2010 candidate for governor who is running for the job again in 2014.

Brady, regarded as a frontrunner in recent polling by the Capitol Fax political blog, was accompanied by running mate Maria Rodriguez, the former Long Grove mayor who sported a pair of elephant earrings as good-luck charms.

“A supporter of Bill’s made those for me,” she said, showing off the jewelry after her ticket’s petitions were submitted. “Isn’t that great?”

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, was near the front of the line himself with running mate, state Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, at his side.

“It shows Rep. Tracy, my lieutenant governor candidate, and I are eager and ready to make Illinois work again,” Dillard said when asked why he showed up personally to file Monday.

Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, another candidate for governor, sent his running mate, Steve Kim, to file on their ticket’s behalf, with Kim offering a frank assessment of why it was important to be at the state election board agency’s offices at the crack of dawn.

“It’s the opportunity to speak to you guys early on. This is an important process. We’re enjoying it,” Kim told reporters, adding that Rutherford was a no-show because he was touring tornado-ravaged Washington, Ill.

Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, the fourth Republican running for governor, had nominating petitions filed on his behalf, as well, but he also was not at Monday’s political event.

“Just submitted 10,000 signatures & officially filed for governor!” Rauner tweeted at about 10:30 Monday morning.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold, of Kenilworth, made the trip to Springfield to file signatures in his run to unseat U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., who defeated Dold in 2012.

“I think it’s going to be a vastly different election cycle in 2014 than 2012,” Dold told the Chicago Sun-Times. “When I talk to the constituents in the 10th District, they’re asking me to run. They just don’t have that thoughtful independent leadership. There’s no courageous leadership right now. What they’ve got is someone who is following. What they need is someone to lead.”

Schneider’s nominating petitions were submitted at the state board Monday morning, as well.

In the Legislature, a battle is brewing on the Northwest Side after five candidates filed for the House seat vacated by former Rep. Deb Mell, D-Chicago, when she ascended earlier this year to the City Council seat vacated by her father, former Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd.

Appointed state Rep. Jaime Andrade drew four primary opponents, including defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein, who represented former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his federal corruption trial; lawyer Nancy Schiavone and lawyer Bart Goldberg. Melainie Ferrand rounds out the list of Andrade challengers