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posted: 4/5/2014 8:00 AM

A twist in battle for DuPage Democrat leadership

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  • Robert Peickert

      Robert Peickert

 
 

In the latest twist to the drama about who's going to lead the Democratic Party in DuPage County, state Sen. Tom Cullerton says he won't challenge party Chairman Robert Peickert.

But a Naperville man is planning to run against Peickert during this month's local Democratic convention.

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"I have been committed to electing Democrats for years now," Bill Habel said in a statement. "I have seen the potential to win in DuPage squandered by the polarization of the local party by our current chairman. My main goal is to change that dynamic."

Habel, a business agent for IBEW Local 701, made his Friday announcement at the same time Cullerton issued a statement saying he won't make a bid to become chairman of the countywide Democratic organization.

Cullerton, of Villa Park, said it would be nearly impossible for him to mount a successful campaign because of an amendment of the DuPage County Democratic Central Committee's bylaws that requires elected officers of the organization to have served as a Democratic precinct committeeman for at least two of the last three terms.

Before the amendment, there were no time requirements and officers merely had to be precinct committeemen.

While there's a lawsuit challenging the legality of the amendment, the DuPage judge assigned to hear the case isn't expected to make a decision until April 14 -- two days before the convention.

"In essence, the bylaw has stymied competition for the top seat by not allowing any first-term PC (precinct committeeman) the real chance to run," said Cullerton, who is a newly elected precinct committeeman.

Cullerton said he's supporting Habel's run.

Meanwhile, Peickert said he might seek elected office if he wins his fourth 2-year term as party chairman.

He said he's been asked to challenge DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin in the general election. Cronin ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Even though no one ran for the seat in the Democratic primary, party leaders have until June 2 to select a candidate and gather enough signatures to place that person on the November ballot.

"I am being lobbied heavily to put my name in for that spot," Peickert said.

But Peickert said he won't run for the county board chairman position if Democratic precinct committeemen don't re-elect him as party chairman.

"If the precinct committeemen say I'm not the kind of person they want as chair of the Democratic county organization, that sends me a message that they probably don't want me as chairman of the county board," Peickert said.

The DuPage Democratic convention is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 16 at the Wheaton Community Center, 1777 S. Blanchard St., Wheaton.

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