After a political rival alleged he didn’t collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, longtime Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale has opted not to run again for the Democratic Party post he’s held since 2000.
Beale filed paperwork to withdraw his candidacy for 9th Ward Democratic committeeman Thursday morning. He was already facing a petition challenge from Cleopatra Draper, who said Beale did not meet the minimum number of valid petition signatures — 674 — to make it on the March primary ballot.
A hearing officer for the city’s board of elections ruled Wednesday that he was short nearly 200 signatures.
Rather than wait for the full electoral board to weigh in with a final vote, Beale pulled the plug himself, making Draper’s objection case moot.
Beale suggested this week that there was likely some “hanky-panky” involved in the objection, after the hearing officer ruled Beale’s own wife and two sons’ signatures were invalid. “That’s crazy,” he said.
But even so, he said the party position was not worth the trouble of fighting the hearing officer’s decision. Ward and township committeemen decide who the Cook County Democratic Party endorses for election and helps fill vacancies in elected office. But members are also expected to donate to the party and contribute to get out the vote efforts.
“Committeeman is more of a pain than anything nowadays,” he said, adding it “doesn’t have any clout” anymore and costs more time, money and energy than it was worth to serve.
Beale’s exit means the ballot position is empty. Candidates still have until the end of the day Jan. 19 to file a declaration of intent to the Chicago Board of Elections to be a write-in candidate. To win, that write-in candidate would need to garner at least 674 votes. If no candidate succeeds, the Cook County Democratic Party would choose an appointment that would be voted on by all party members in April.
Draper, a social work consultant and radio personality on WVON, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told the Sun-Times Wednesday she intended to launch a write-in bid. She lost to Beale when she ran for alderman in 2023 and 2019.