Amidst questions about his petitions to get on the ballot, Peter Coffey’s two opponents for 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman dropped out of the race last night, leaving the DePaul University government affairs director unopposed.
The Sun Times reports that the deal was brokered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political operatives to avoid a fight in the mayor’s home ward.
Yesterday the Chicago News Cooperative reported that Peter Coffey’s ballot petitions had notarized sheets with Lincoln Square landlord Tom Fencl listed as a petition gather. Yet Fencl denied to CNC that he had collected the signatures.
Reached this morning, former candidate Paul Rosenfeld said that he dropped out because he realized that having a family, job and being a ward committeeman was too much work.
“What came clear was, I have four young kids. I run my own business and I’m busy with Grow 47. I’ve been absolutely killing myself for the last four months. I couldn’t do it all,” said Rosenfeld. Grow 47 is Ald. Ameya Pawar’s neighborhood education initiative, which Rosenfeld chairs.
Rosenfeld, a lobbyist in Springfield, was also once a staffer for Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) and a top fundraiser for former-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Asked if he thought Mayor Emanuel wanted him out of the race because he was a Mell operative, Rosenfeld said, “Dick did not raise a finger on this thing. You can quote me on that.”
Rosenfeld says he has raised $70,000, not including his own contributions, for the race, and he intends to begin returning all the money starting today.
“These people invested in a campaign, in good conscience I could never keep it,” said Rosenfeld. But, Rosenfeld says he does not rule out running for committeeman again in the future.
Former 47th Ward Ald. Gene Schulter, the incumbent Committeeman and now former candidate, leaves politics with over $823,000 in his campaign accounts, as of the last official reports from July 1. Schulter, in office since the 1970′s, is grandfathered on campaign finance reforms so he will be allowed to keep a significant portion of his campaign funds for personal use, but that still means some hundreds of thousands of dollars will go uncommitted. With his big campaign account balance, it is guaranteed that Schulter will be a significant player in local politics for years to come.
Schulter did not respond to requests for comment by publication.
Peter Coffey, who is out of state visiting family this morning, was unavailable for comment by publication.