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Campaign notebook: All politics local

State house candidate Jeff Smith locked up endorsements from much of the political elite in his north Evanston neighborhood this week.


State house candidate Jeff Smith locked up endorsements from much of the political elite in his north Evanston neighborhood this week.

Smith announced he has backing from three people who’ve been 7th Ward alderman — the newly elected Jane Grover, the immediate past alderman, Elizabeth Tisdahl, who’s now Evanston’s mayor, and Tisdahl’s predecessor, Steve Engleman.

In the neighboring 6th Ward, where Smith lives, he’s getting backing from newly elected alderman Mark Tendam and from one of Tendam’s opponents in this year’s race, Christopher Hart.

Smith also announced backing from his long-time next door neighbor and fellow attorney, Steve Gilford, a former president of the Evanston Township High School board.

Engleman, who also is Smith’s former law partner, showed he still cares with a $2,300 donation to Smith’s campaign earlier this year, and state campaign finance records show Tendam and Tisdahl have made smaller financial contributions.

Conspicuously absent from Smith’s north-Evanston love fest so far is former 6th Ward Alderman Edmund Moran. Moran, who is almost as loquacious as Smith, is reportedly still pondering entering the state house race himself.

Smith also has ties to many of those who endorsed him through his long involvement with the Democratic Party of Evanston.

Smith’s other cluster of endorsements came from Betty Sue Ester and Carol Balkcom, fellow board members with Smith on the Citizens’ Lighthouse Community Land Trust, an affordable housing group that after several delays finally managed to wrap up its first project earlier this summer — selling the single family home it had rehabbed.

Smith’s backing for affordable housing may also have helped win him the endorsement of 2nd Ward Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, whose ward includes the land trust property.

Meanwhile, on the online fund-raising front, Smith, 52, is doing less well than his two much younger competitors.

Act Blue, the fundraising site for Democractic candidates, shows that Eamon Kelly, 29, has raised $33,530 from 175 donors, Patrick Keenan-Devlin has raised $10,199 from 77 donors, while Smith has raised $6,155 from 43 donors.

The Act Blue totals don’t reflect what the candidates may have raised offline, and on that score the state records show that as of June 30, the cutoff date for the most recent reports, Smith was in second place.

Robyn Gabel, the fourth candidate who has announced for the race to replace 18th District representative Julie Hamos, cancelled a scheduled interview with Evanston Now this week, saying it might be several more weeks before she’s ready to discuss her campaign. It also appears she has not yet filed campaign committee organizing papers with the state elections board.

The 18th District includes most of Evanston, the eastern portion of New Trier Township and parts of Chicago’s 49th Ward. Hamos is running for the U.S. House in the 10th District.

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