In a press release distributed this afternoon, state rep John Fritchey announced that he's running for 32nd Ward Democratic Ward committeeman in next year's election.
He'll be up against longtime incumbent Terry Gabinski--if Gabinski runs at all, that is. At 68, Gabinski may be disinterested in the job, and his organization's on the ropes. In the April runoff election Ted Matlak, Gabinski's protege, lost to upstart Scott Waguespack despite having Mayor Daley's support. According to the latest campaign discosure reports, Gabinski's down to $6,040.24 in his fund. Fritchey has $59,069.
There's no love lost between Fritchey and Gabinski . Four years ago Gabinski was set to retire and hand the position over to Matlak. In order to block Matlak's ascension, Fritchey announced he was running. Under pressure from the mayor's office, both Fritchey and Matlak agreed to drop out of the race and Gabinski came out of retirement to run one more time.
This time Fritchey says he's in the race to stay, whether Gabinski runs or not. "I'm running and I intend to win," says Fritchey.
Both men have connections to cogs of the greater Democratic machine. Gabinski got his start as an aide to former congressman Dan Rostenkowski, whose father, Joe Rostenkowski, built the 32nd Ward Democratic organization back in the 30s. Fritchey, who's married to the niece of powerful 36th Ward alderman William Banks, got his big break back in 1996 when alderman Richard Mell backed him in the race to replace Rod Blagojevich, who was leaving the statehouse to run for Congress.
Despite his organizational roots and his close ties to house speaker Michael Madigan, Fritchey says he intends to use the committeeman's job to promote reform. "I think this office has potential," says Fritchey. "You can educate voters. You can register voters. You can effect change."
Committeemen also get to appoint election judges, and they get a role in slate making. Fritchey might get the pleasure of knocking out what's left of Rostenkowski's old organization.