- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CHICAGO | Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley isn't taking anything for granted even though he's the favorite in a heavily Democratic district to replace former Rep. Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, in Congress.

Mr. Quigley, who campaigned as a reformer and fiscal watchdog, has swamped his challengers in fundraising and received three times as many votes as all six Republican challengers combined, including GOP nominee Rosanna Pulido, in last month's special primary election.

Still, Mr. Quigley, an avid ice hockey player, isn't ready to say he'll put the puck in the net during Tuesday's general election. He wants to temper the perception that he's the favorite because he doesn't want apathy to keep voters away from the polls.

“We don't take it for granted. We're going to do our mailings, we're going to do our door-to-door, we're going to do our phoning and Election Day operations as if it was the primary all over again,” said the 50-year-old Quigley, who beat out 11 other Democrats to earn his party's nomination.

Mr. Quigley, Miss Pulido and Green Party candidate Matt Reichel are after the 5th Congressional District seat Mr. Emanuel first won in 2002 but gave up to follow Mr. Obama to the White House.

The winner will fill the remainder of the two-year term Mr. Emanuel won in November. It's the same congressional seat once held by impeached Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and by former House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski.

The district - which includes Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs - is a Democratic stronghold stretching from Chicago's wealthy North Side lakefront to ethnic neighborhoods on the northwest side and neighboring Cook County suburbs.

Miss Pulido has made bold predictions about Election Day and said she isn't intimidated by Mr. Quigley's big money lead. Mr. Quigley had raised $512,932 in the election cycle that started after the November election, while Miss Pulido collected less than $21,000, according to the Federal Election Commission filings as of March 30. Mr. Reichel, a 27-year-old French teacher and translator, said he hadn't yet filed an FEC report because he hadn't raised $5,000.

“I feel like it's a David and Goliath scenario, but the end of the story is David wins,” said Miss Pulido, director of the Illinois Minuteman Project, part of a national volunteer civilian border patrol group that wants to stop illegal immigration.

Miss Pulido is counting on a scandal-weary public to back the GOP in the wake of scandals surrounding Mr. Blagojevich and his appointment of Democrat Roland W. Burris to the U.S. Senate.

But Miss Pulido, 52, is in the race without the backing of national Republicans, support she said she doesn't want.

“I'm their Sarah Palin. I'm the conservative that they don't want to go conservative. They want to go moderate,” Miss Pulido said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to comment on Miss Pulido, who has had to apologize for posts on a conservative Web site that some deemed offensive.

In editorials endorsing Mr. Quigley, the Chicago Sun-Times called Miss Pulido “well outside the mainstream” and the Chicago Tribune quoted Miss Pulido last year as calling Republican presidential candidate John McCain “another politician that acts like he was elected to represent the Mexican government” on immigration.

Both newspapers praised Mr. Quigley for being a reformer in Cook County government, where he has served as a commissioner since 1998.

Mr. Quigley has said government transparency and environmental issues would be among his key priorities in Washington.

Mr. Quigley has the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's backing, but the group hasn't had to pump any money into his race.

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