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Polls suggest Toni Preckwinkle has surged into the lead in the race for Cook County Board president—and so does the flow of money coming into the campaign.
Over the last week water reclamation district president Terry O’Brien led the field in fund-raising, rounding up $249,550 for a final-week push. He found most of it at home: $130,000 came in the form of a loan from his wife, Julie.
That sort of donation doesn't say anything about voter support, but money is money, and it can buy you time ... at least on TV. And there are others trying to give O’Brien a boost. Unions have been among his biggest sources of campaign funds for months, and over the last week the laborers, iron workers, building and construction trades, and operating engineers have all kicked in. He also got a $5,000 check from Wirtz Beverage, the liquor distributor whose president, Rocky Wirtz, also heads the Blackhawks.
But the Preckwinkle bandwagon is on the road and the well-connected are jumping aboard. The alderman slightly trailed O’Brien by collecting $241,306 over the last week. And she had her own sugar daddy: $150,000 was donated by SEIU. It's not terribly surprising that they'd step in to help her out—for a couple years she’s worked closely with the union to organize a progressive caucus in the City Council.
More notable are much smaller donations from a pair of Mayor Daley’s buddies, attorney Terry Newman (who gave $500) and developer Judd Malkin ($1,000). Mayor Daley has more or less stayed out of the race himself, but friends are tip-toeing in.
Circuit court clerk Dorothy Brown and incumbent president Todd Stroger are lagging in the money game, with Brown receiving $35,565 in the last week and Stroger $29,500.
Brown’s biggest donations were for $5,000 each, from Jinny Beauty Supply Company in Niles and Paul Pinkney III of Wilmington, Delaware.
Stroger’s largest contribution came from Elkay Enterprises on the south side, which gave him $10,000. He also received $1,500 from ComEd and $1,000 from Riteway-Higgins Construction Services, one of the city’s and county’s biggest minority contractors.
He's going to need a whole lot of something to fire up his campaign enough to make a difference by next Tuesday. Money wouldn't hurt.