Illinois Secretary of State Democratic Primary: Valencia take on Giannoulias and Moore

A popular former state treasurer versus a trailblazing rising star in the Illinois Democratic Party, as well as an esteemed South Side councilman and South Suburb nonprofit director?

Or is it an incompetent former banker versus a mayoral insider who allegedly boosted her husband’s lobbying activities, as well as a desperate politician making baseless accusations and a political puppet planted in the race to confuse voters?

It all depends on which candidate you ask for in the four-way Democratic primary race for secretary of state, the only statewide party contest without an incumbent vying for the nomination — forcing Democrats most powerful in Illinois to choose sides.

The looming vacuum left by retired Secretary of State Jesse White – long considered Illinois’ most popular elected official after an unprecedented six terms – has drawn in an ambitious group of hopefuls seeking to maintain control Democrat of the state’s most public office, responsible for driver services and most other record keeping.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White in 2016.

While former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, Ald. David Moore (17th) and Homewood resident Sidney Moore all agree that modernizing technology in the office would be their top priority, they differ on their characterizations of each other.

Giannoulias and Valencia have become favorites in the race, thanks to endorsements from big names in the party and heavy campaign contributions.

Those dollars — more than $4.4 million in the bank for Giannoulias and $1.1 million for Valencia at the end of March, with hundreds of thousands more for each since then — have helped them flood the advertising waves.

Giannoulias, who served as state treasurer from 2007 to 2011, faced the same questions that plagued his lost 2010 bid for Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, all surrounding his tenure as agent. of credit for his family’s doomed Broadway Bank.

The institution approved loans to some with suspected ties to organized crime before going bankrupt amid Giannoulias’ Senate campaign.

Former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for Illinois Secretary of State, speaks during a debate in May.

Former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for Illinois Secretary of State, speaks during a debate in May.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times File

“No one has ever accused me of doing anything unethical or untoward from a distance,” Giannoulias told the Sun-Times. “Like many businesses during the Great Recession, unfortunately my family’s office did not survive.”

But Valencia said Giannoulias and his family “have left immigrant families hanging”, arguing that the failure “raises major red flags” about his ability to oversee one of the state’s biggest offices.

Valencia, who was appointed city clerk by former mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2016 and won a full term in 2019, has herself come under fire over hundreds of emails sent from her city account to or about her lobbyist husband. and its customers.

NBC-5 Chicago reported that Valencia failed to report her husband’s lobbying work on her city’s ethics disclosures — the type of declarations of economic interest that would fall under her purview as secretary of state. . She called it “an honest mistake”.

Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state from Illinois, speaks during a debate in May.

Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state from Illinois, speaks during a debate in May.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times File

“I’m definitely not the first woman who’s had to say my husband doesn’t speak for me,” said Valencia, who would be the first Latinx woman and person to serve as Illinois secretary of state. .

“I wish I had been more careful with mixing my personal and professional emails, but the experience has made me a stronger person and a better public servant.”

Giannoulias hammered Valencia over the controversy, arguing that because the secretary of state oversees lobbyist registrations, “there can’t even be a whiff of anything inappropriate.”

Aldus. David Moore, who is campaigning vigorously with around $100,000 in hand, has tried to capitalize on the rants of other candidates, presenting himself as the only candidate without any ethical baggage to lug around in the general election.

“Voters want someone of good character and integrity, someone who is there to serve them, who is a good financial manager and who is not looking for a political springboard,” Ald said. David Moore, an accountant who has represented his South Side neighborhood since 2015. “They don’t see that from the other candidates. They have a strong official in me.

Sidney Moore, meanwhile, kept a lower campaign profile, with no donations or expenses reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections. He said he was inspired to run after his driver’s license was suspended due to a series of parking tickets.

Sidney Moore, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State.

Sidney Moore, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State.

“Jesse White made this happen,” said the executive director of the nonprofit organization Big Box Charities Inc. “The citizens of Illinois are tired of expecting different results from the same politicians. They will see that there is a candidate here who is not just a politician.

But the alderman of the same surname suggested political shenanigans were afoot with Sidney Moore entering the race. Aldus. David Moore said “someone put him in the race to confuse voters”, although he acknowledged he had no evidence to back up the claim. “We all know Chicago politics,” the city council member said.

Sidney Moore said the alderman was “holding on to straws. We run in some of the same circles. He probably heard me running. I think he tried to jump in front of me.

Giannoulias and Valencia said they barely knew Homewood’s nominee and had nothing to do with his political aspirations.

For his part, Sidney Moore says he would prioritize upgrading technology in driver services facilities to reduce wait times. He also said he wanted to introduce self-serve stations similar to the kiosks that have sprung up in Michigan.

Aldus. David Moore, who is backed by U.S. Representative Danny Davis and many Chicago clergy leaders, said he wants to expand online services to include car titles and use libraries as satellite DMV offices. He also wants to explore digital license plates, which have been allowed in other states as a way to streamline registrations.

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Valencia – which has the coveted endorsement of Jesse White among a host of other elected officials including billionaire governor JB Pritzker and American senses Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin – said it would expand mobile services and flexible hours as it did so at City Hall, moving into Park District facilities and offering evening and weekend services.

Giannoulias — backed by dozens of powerful task forces as well as U.S. Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Bobby Rush, Mike Quigley and more — said he wants to digitize driver’s licenses and IDs. State, and introduce a mobile app to help reduce lines.

The winner of the June 28 primary will advance to the general election against the Republican nominee, either state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, or former central Illinois federal prosecutor John Milhiser.

Another Jesse White will also be on the ballot in November – a Libertarian candidate from downstate Centralia, unrelated to the incumbent secretary of state.

Early voting is already underway.

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