Well THAT was fun. Most election nights find me heading for the door at 5 p.m., casting a wistful look at the gathering newsroom excitement. This year, our political editor asked me to write something about embattled alderman Ed Burke. The City Council's longest-serving alderman, so chatty with the press when plugging a pet cause, wouldn't talk to me leading up to the election, and his press person wouldn't even tell me where his victory party was to be located. But that information was acquired, and I grabbed a cab down to the Red Barrel, at 52nd and Archer, marched in, took a seat at the bar. But before I could say "O'Doul's," I was told this was a "private party" and given the bum's rush outside, where I bumped into sharp young Sun-Times photographer Matt Hendrickson, on his way in. I stood on the curb while he tried his luck, and after he was similarly ejected we retired to his car to warm up and strategize. The City Desk suggested I head back to the paper—we still didn't know how the vote would pan out—while Matt stayed on the scene, and a good thing too, as he eventually snapped a memorable photo of Burke's fedora, a symbol of his old school ways that will perhaps now take him to prison. Meanwhile I hoped to get back and update the holding column I had written with the initial election results. Uber chose that moment to balk, flagging a cab on Archer didn't work, and I ended up shivering up Archer Avenue to the Orange line and hopping an 'L' to the Loop. I can't say I contributed mightily to the Sun-Times excellent Election Night coverage, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
Ald. Edward Burke stopped by a 14th ward polling place Tuesday morning to thank election workers. He didn't take off his raincoat. .
"Pretty cold out there," he said, setting down a box of candy. Burke chatted for a few seconds about turnout, expected to be at a record low. Then he backed out the door.
An Election Day ritual. But that was about all that was usual about Burke’s 13th and perhaps last aldermanic race. Accused by the government of attempted extortion, stripped of his powerful finance committee chairmanship, time may be running out for a man who has wielded clout in Chicago for half a century.
The wonder is he lasted this long.
On March 11 it’ll be 50 years since Burke, 75, was first elected to City Council. Typically he ran unopposed in the ward where he grew up, where his father Joe was alderman before him. This year he was challenged by Jaime Guzman and Tanya Patiño, acolytes of foe Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Together, Guzman and Patiño had raised less than $150,000 in the last quarterly filing. Burke had nearly $5 million, and seemed poised to cruise to victory late Tuesday.
Still, Burke was facing one of the more significant challenges since he won a secret ballet for Democratic committeemen in 1968 by three and a half votes.
The FBI took the warm glow off Burke’s Golden Anniversary by raiding his ward offices in November, and again in December, charging him in January with demanding that a Burger King franchise steer business to his law firm. In return, he would stop opposing the remodeling of the chain’s 4060 S. Pulaski location, the feds alleged.
Will Burke have long to enjoy his victory?
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