One Mom Fights the Chicago Machine to Stay On the Ballot

During the 1996 Illinois Senate race, an aspiring Chicago politician hired skilled attorneys to exploit election rules and challenge his primary opponents’ right to be placed on the ballot. This novice politician was Barack Obama who cut his teeth on Chicago politics and effectively removed his opponents from the ballot.


Not much has changed in Chicago since 1996 – politicians are still looking out for special interests, increasing taxes, and creating hurdles to keep legitimate candidates from the ballot.

I am Cedra Crenshaw and I am running for the Illinois Senate in the 43rd District. Until a few months ago, I was just one mom in a process of political evolution. After a brief career in auditing, my husband and I started a family and thus began the trifecta of marriage, mortgage, and motherhood which catapulted me into the conservative that I am today. I stepped from being reactive to pro-active when I ran for Precinct Committeeman this past February. I wanted to carry the message of conservatism to my neighbors and help influence my local party with my principles and values – but I’m just one mom. I’m one mom who waited for someone to step forward and challenge incumbent State Senator Arthur Wilhelmi and force him to defend his record, which has helped to decimate this state. But no one came forward and I’m not waiting any longer. I’m going on offense. And today I’m one mom who is taking on the machine of Chicago patronage politics as represented by Senator Arthur Wilhelmi.

When I arrived on the scene as one mom against the Chicago political machine, it didn’t take career politicians and their hired help long to line up a challenge to my candidacy.

The Will County Electoral Board has heard a frivolous objection filed by Joliet resident Robert L. Davis which challenges the signatures on my nominating petitions. My opponent, State Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi is represented by Michael Kasper, who is one of the country’s top election attorneys. Kasper’s client list includes former President Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Michael Madigan, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Phil Hare and, that once aspiring Chicago politician, President Barack Obama.

Referred to as “one of Michael Madigan’s favorite weapons.”, Kasper has a new screwdriver in his tool box with a state law dated January 1, 2010, which regulates placing candidates in vacancies. The new law deems that candidates must collect the same amount of signatures from residents as the candidate who ran in the primary. Additionally, the candidate must be chosen by their party and collect the signatures within a 75-day time period that begins the day after the primary.

While Kasper baselessly contends that some of my signatures were collected prior to the moment I officially became a candidate, the fact remains that I have met all of the requirements of the new law.

This stands as another example of career politicians avoiding the will of the people by denying them the right to select their state senator. By eliminating an expensive race, incumbents are able to preserve their war chest and glide unopposed into another four-years of tax and spend politics.

Wilhelmi is part of the Chicago political machine that has decimated Illinois. He voted to hike the income tax by 66 percent. And when he wasn’t voting for more taxes, Wilhelmi stood in the way of reform, as he voted “present” on giving the people of Illinois the option to recall former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And now, his actions clearly indicate that he is running scared from his voting record, the electorate, and myself.

The fate of my candidacy rest in the hands of the Will County Electoral Board. The Board is comprised of one Republican and two Democrats. Following a May 24 hearing, the board stated they would consider the issue and announce their decision in writing at an unspecified date. The citizens of the 43rd Senate District still don’t know if they will get a competition for their vote this Fall, or a coronation for a cog in the Chicago Democrat Machine. As I await their decision, I continue my quest to put more accountants and fewer lawyers in Springfield.

[Ed Note: If you’re interested in helping Crenshaw in her fight against the Chicago machine now spread to Will County, Board members numbers are Mary Petro — 815 727 8453; Pamela McGuire — 815 727 8592; and Sandra Schultz Voots — 815 740 7615.]