Illinois Green Party Primary Apparently Raided by Democratic Party Activist

Last month, the Green Party of Cook County, Illinois, recruited a well-known candidate to run for the party’s nomination for Cook County Board President, a partisan office elected by all the voters of Cook County. He is Tom Tresser, one of the founders of “No Games Chicago”, the leading organization in Chicago to oppose the idea that the 2016 Olympics should be held in that city. Another Green who had planned to run for that office dropped out voluntarily and endorsed Tresser.

When filing closed on November 2, Greens were surprised to see that a person previously unknown to them had also filed petitions to run in the Green Party primary for that office. He is Sean Burke, whose name was listed on the Cook County Young Democrats web site as the administrative contact for that page. Two Green Party leaders attempted to telephone Burke to learn more about him, but he did not return calls, and the Young Democrats web page has now been emptied of its content. So, Greens have challenged Burke’s petition. See this NBC News story. Tresser’s web page is here.


Illinois Green Party Primary Apparently Raided by Democratic Party Activist — 11 Comments

  1. Sean Burke answers the allegations here:
    See Sean’s post below the story.

    Sean Burke’s candidacy is a good thing for the Green Party. Competition is healthy within the Green Party. It has already drawn attention, created controvery, and mainstream TV news coverage.

    Reality of modern American politics is – you can’t NOT buy that kind of advertising. For the Green Party, like the two larger parties, the only bad publicity is no pubilicity.

    I suggest everything isn’t a conspiracy. Rather that young Sean, who is after all only 24 years old, and a political novice, thinks that the Green Party is the best place for his new ideas to be heard. A great many young people think the Green Party is exactly that.

    Give the kid a break, some encouragement. Next year he can actually run for something within the Green Party and get the nomination.

    The Green Party needs thousands of new candidates for local, state, and federal office every year.

    I for one applaud Sean Burke’s courage to run as a Green.

  2. But there are oodles of partisan offices to run for in Cook County in 2010. Why didn’t Sean Burke pick a race that didn’t already have a top-flight Green running?

  3. Interesting story.

    When I mentioned it to Ian, he came up with one of the Suffolk Green Party’s famous and creative political strategy ideas:

    We should use Sean Burke as a poster boy for Democrats who realize they should switch green.

    Think of the press release, “Former Young Democrat rejects the Democratic Party and switches to Green. Young people are so disenchanted with the old party of the left, the Democrats can’t hang on to them…”

    We almost had to do a similar strategy in Suffolk. A conservative judge was playing a maneuver to get on the Green Party line. One of our responses was going to be, that if he won, we would put up signs around town that would embarass him to pieces. Such as “Candidate for Judge XXXX and the Green Party want to legalize marijuana.” And, even wilder platform ideas that people would not want to feature in signs in suburban Long Island. (This idea largely came from our then-college folks, Wendy and Walter)

    It turned out back then that we won in the primary (our own primary) by doing a write-in against him. So, we did not have to apply the strategy above…

  4. Two possibilities here:

    1. Sean Burke is a young Democrat who saw the Green Party as a better fit for him politically, and decided to jump into the primary for Cook County Board President.

    2. Sean Burke is a young Democrat who decided to slip into a contested Green primary so the Democratic machine could register enough people as Green before the primary to remove a well-known Green challenger from the competition.

    Let’s examine #1. Why didn’t Burke get in touch with the Green Party, or return their calls when they found out about him? Collecting enough signatures to get on the primary ballot is no small task – Tresser had 75 volunteers working on it. Apparently Burke had enough help without the Greens even knowing of his existence.

    The last time I heard about an instance like this, it was when five ‘mystery Greens’ appeared in select races in Florida. Most were young former Republicans and didn’t return calls from the Green Party. At least one had apparently taken a loan from a Republican party official to pay the filing fee.

    We can be naive and pretend that no one wants to sabotage the Green Party. Or we can be wise to our own history, and the history of the Cook County Democratic Party.

  5. I think Burke may be willingly entering inro a hazing process in the interest of forwarding his future ambitions. I think if a candidate can run as a member of an unpopular party, or as an unpopular candidate within a party primary, and do well in losing, they can get the attention of the local dominant party and have a shot at winning future races. Case in point: My beloved town of Albany, NY is very Democratic. In our 11th Ward, a guy name Anton Konev just won the race for common council, as a democrat of course. Two years ago he ran for County Legislator as a Republican and lost, but polled better than expected. After he got the Democratic Party nomination for this years race, he had a long list of local politicians endorsing him. Generally, I think doing well in a race where you’re expected to lose can help your standing for future races.

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  7. A young guy named Burke is listed on a Young Democrat website and is able to get enough signatures to get on the ballot. Here is my question. How closely related is he to Eddie and Annie Burke?

  8. I think, having reviewed the signatures on the petition against the actual voter signatures that there were sessions that is typical in these races. I saw three sheets in the petition that had the same voter signatures in parts. Some people signed who were not even registered voters, or the signatures for some did not match.

    I think that Burke felt that no one from the Green Party would challenge his petition and that given his surname and possible assistance by a few people (in the Democratic Party) that he and his supporters could win the primary. I say Democratic Party because this tactic of turning in signatures that one knows are bad to obtain ballot access was perfected by the Democratic Party.

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