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Preckwinkle concedes defeat, drops petition challenge against Mendoza

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, left, meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board in October. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times; Susana Mendoza, right, files ballot petitions on Nov. 26. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times.

Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday dropped her bid to knock Susana Mendoza off the mayoral ballot. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times; Susana Mendoza, right, files ballot petitions on Nov. 26. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times.

Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday dropped her bid to knock Susana Mendoza off the mayoral ballot after it became clear that Mendoza would survive the challenge that had competitors portraying Preckwinkle as a bullying party boss.

“Being Mayor of Chicago is a tough job. That’s why there are high standards for getting on the ballot. While the campaign is dropping its challenge to Susana Mendoza’s petitions, Chicago voters should know that she just barely met the bar to be included on the ballot,” Preckwinkle’s spokesperson Monica Trevino was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

“This fits a pattern of Mendoza being unprepared to tackle the critical duties of the office. Since getting into this race, Mendoza has repeatedly dodged questions and failed to bring any new ideas.”

Mendoza could not be reached for comment about the hard-fought victory over the Cook County Democratic chairman she views as her No. 1 rival.

Hours earlier, the Mendoza campaign declared that, based on the “current status of the records exam,” its count showed more than 13,000 valid ballot petition signatures, with almost half of the challenged signatures still left to review.

That’s 500 signatures more than the 12,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot.

Under the headline “Mendoza Campaign Crosses the Signature Threshold,” the statement declared that Preckwinkle’s “political motivations” for the “desperate attempt to knock Mendoza and four other women of color off the ballot while draining taxpayer money” had been fully exposed.

“As we’ve said from the start, Susana Mendoza will be on the ballot,” campaign manager Nicole DeMont was quoted as saying.

“Preckwinkle’s petition challenge is nothing more than a desperate political attack made by a party boss willing to waste taxpayer dollars to maintain her grip on power.”

Mendoza had questioned why, especially during the “year of the woman,” the highest-ranking woman in county government and the Democratic party would choose to try and bully five women of color off the ballot instead of encouraging them to run.

But Preckwinkle made no apologies for those challenges during a free-wheeling interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last Friday.

“The first hurdle that you have to overcome in order to be a candidate is to get sufficient signatures. The signature requirement for mayor of Chicago is 12,500. It’s not an insignificant number,” Preckwinkle said then.

“We turned in 60,000 signatures. We gathered them all across the city in all 50 wards. We had a diverse army of volunteers. If you can’t get yourself organized and have sufficient support across the city to get the required minimum number of signatures, how on earth can you govern? … How on earth can anybody have any confidence you can do the job?”

After Preckwinkle threw in the towel, DeMont issued another statement claiming Preckwinkle dropped the “bogus petition challenge” only because, “She knew it was nothing more than an attempt at a self-coronation and a complete waste of nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars. “
She added, “The boss of the party bosses desperately tried to keep Susana out of the race and she failed….There will be an election and voters will hold her accountable for her record of raising taxes first and providing transparency last.  Her political games are exactly why Chicago needs a mayor focused on the next generation, instead of just the next four years.”