A heated exchange in the 32nd Ward Democratic Party could be the first of many in the lead-up to the municipal elections in February.
State Representative John Fritchey said he received an email from the office of 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, stating Waguespack would not support Democratic candidates in the midterm elections next week.
But Waguespack says he does support the Democratic candidates, and the email was sent without his approval.
Fritchey, who is also the 32nd Ward Democratic Party Committeeman, wrote in a press release Monday that he was troubled by the email because it says Waguespack is withholding support of Gov. Pat Quinn or senatorial candidate Alexi Giannoulias because some Democratic party members planned to support his opponents in the February municipal elections.
“Alderman Waguespack has absolutely, positively never said he didn’t support Quinn and Alexi [Giannoulias],” said Tom Fendley, campaign spokesman for Waguespack, adding that the alderman appeared at a fundraiser Tuesday in support of both Quinn and Giannoulias.
Frank Coconate, a precinct coordinator for Waguespack, (UPDATE: Fendley said Coconate is not a precinct coordinator. Coconate had signed the email with that title.) sent the email Oct. 12 to a few political insiders. Fritchey received the email second hand, but doesn’t doubt the authenticity. He said he was informed by the sender that it was sent with Scott’s okay.
State Rep. John Fritchey. Official photo from the Illinois General Assembly.
“This is not a political stunt,” said Fritchey. “What this is was Scott getting caught and trying to get out of it.”
Tom Fendley, campaign spokesman for Waguespack, confirmed that Coconate is a paid campaign staff member, but downplayed his role, saying he does service work in the ward, including cleaning out sewers.
“He is absolutely not, nor has he ever been, a spokesman for the campaign and doesn’t speak for the campaign,” said Fendley.
Coconate did not return a request for comment. Fritchey said the email was withholding support for the Democratic ticket
Fritchey said he has been approached by at least four people who want Waguespack’s seat. Fritchey declined to name them. He also said he didn’t know of Democrats siding against Waguespack, but as a nonpartisan election, it shouldn’t matter.
Fritchey said he won’t choose yet who he will support. But it doesn’t seem likely it will be Waguespack.
“We haven’t spoken in well over two years,” said Fritchey. Fendley also said the two are “not on the best of terms.”
“John helped me behind the scenes when I ran for Alderman,” Waguespack told Chicagoist Tuesday. “But once I was elected, he wanted his guys in place for zoning matters and I said no.”
Fritchey supported Waguespack in his 2007 campaign against then-incumbent Ald. Ted Matlak.
“I put my political career on the line to work to get him elected,” said Fritchey. “I asked nothing from Scott [Waguespack] in return.”
Scott Ciseck, political director of the Cook County Democratic Party, declined to comment on the situation.