WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is running Illinois delegate slates packed with activists from the labor, progressive and racial justice communities, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
“These core Democratic constituencies are fueling the greatest people-powered presidential campaign in modern history,” said Dan Johnson, a state lobbyist running for delegate who helped organize the Sanders’ slates in Illinois.
The Sanders delegate contenders, taken as a whole, could be considered the Democrats who Howard Dean famously called members of the “Democratic wing of the Democratic party” during his 2004 Democratic presidential campaign.
Wednesday is the last day for presidential campaigns and their delegates to file petitions to get on the March 15 Illinois primary ballot. Different rules govern the election of Republican and Democratic delegates to their party nominating conventions this summer.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, filed delegate slates on Monday for each of Illinois’ 18 congressional districts filled with well-connected political figures who come from the state’s political establishment.
Sanders’ Illinois delegate slates reflect the Vermont senator’s insurgent campaign.
In the case of delegates from Chicago, there is overlap between team Sanders, the Jesus “Chuy” Garcia mayoral campaign and folks calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ouster. That’s not surprising because Sanders endorsed Garcia over Emanuel in the mayoral contest last year.
In Illinois, besides Johnson, the Sanders delegate selection process was led by Clem Balanoff, a veteran Democratic organizer and Garcia campaign strategist; former Rep. Phil Hare, who is also running as a delegate; and Democratic organizer Dave Seman.
Among elected officials, the Sanders slate includes Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th); Ald. Carlos Rosa (35th); Ald. John Arena (46th); state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago; state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, the sponsor of mayoral recall legislation in Springfield; and Will County Board Member Jacqueline Traynere.
Former officials include Brendan Houlihan, once a Cook County Board of Review commissioner, and former state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Champaign.
The Sanders delegates also include Kathleen Hogan, a co-founder of the Heartland Cafe, the East Rogers Park progressive outpost, and Ken Franklin who is president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, which represents CTA employees and includes more than 3,000 members in Chicago.
Sanders also has recruited Tara Stamps, the Chicago Public Schools teacher and Chicago Teachers Union activist who ran for 37th Ward alderman last year; Tim Gaffney from IBEW Local 134; Troy LaRaviere, the principal of Blaine Elementary School, who has gained a reputation as an Emanuel critic; Jan Rodolfo of National Nurses United; and David Hatch of Reclaim Chicago, an organization that mobilized volunteers for Garcia in the mayoral campaign.
That the Sanders slate brings him organization expertise is important because under Illinois Democratic delegate selection rules, delegate positions will be allocated to “fairly reflect” the preference of primary voters for president.
Clinton has a running start in Illinois given that the biggest Democratic leaders, including Sen. Dick Durbin and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are backing her, as is Emanuel, who’s now so politically wounded his support may not be much help.
Despite these advantages, team Sanders thinks they can mount a productive challenge to the Clinton camp if he does well in the early voting states.
No matter the movement fever fueling the Sanders campaign, how he ultimately fares in Illinois has a lot to do with how he finishes in Iowa, with a Feb. 1 caucus, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27, then votes in other states on March 1 and March 8.
“A lot of this depends on the momentum coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire,” said Tad Devine, a senior Sanders’ strategist.
If Sanders does well in the initial series of votes, “then the 15th of March is a big showdown,” Devine said.
The Sanders team will file nominating petitions on Wednesday and hold a press conference in Springfield to discuss the campaign.
FOOTNOTE: On the Republican side, delegate petitions were filed in Illinois for the presidential campaigns of billionaire businessman and reality show star Donald Trump; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The campaigns of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, said they would be filing delegate slates by the Wednesday deadline.
Follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @LynnSweet