59th House GOP candidate sues opponent over campaign literature

Marko Sukovic says he has never met House Speaker Michael Madigan.

But a series of campaign mailers are saying, among other things, that "Mike Madigan and his henchmen are pulling Marko Sukovic's strings," accompanied by an illustration showing the Republican candidate in the primary for the 59th House seat dangling from the strings of the speaker puppeteer.

That mailer and similar campaign literature have motivated Sukovic to sue his primary opponent, Karen Feldman, and the House Republican Organization.

Sukovic, of Lincolnshire, is seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from sending out further information linking him to Madigan and ordering them to issue a public retraction. In addition, he is seeking punitive damages.

When reached for comment about the suit, filed Thursday, Feldman wrote in an email: "I just received news of the lawsuit this afternoon. I am meeting with my attorneys this weekend and will have a better understanding of it next week. However, the lawsuit has nothing to do with me."

Sukovic, a 22-year-old graduating senior from the University of Illinois and owner of a public relations firm, is running to occupy the seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Carol Sente.

He is running against Feldman, a Realtor and Lincolnshire trustee.

"They make a series of just preposterous statements about my associations, my supporters and my campaign. It's either done with malicious intent or reckless disregard for the truth," Sukovic, a Stevenson High School graduate, said about the mailers.

In particular, he said, they make insinuations about him and Madigan, "whom I have never been in the same ZIP code with, let alone take tens of thousands of dollars in cold hard cash from."

The latter refers to one Valentine's Day mailer, replete with photographs of the two inside linked hearts, that states, "Marko Sukovic (loves, as denoted with a symbol of an arrow through a heart) Mike Madigan's money."

Sukovic said there will be political as well as legal ramifications.

"I think the voters of the 59th District, particularly those coming out in the Republican primary, are pretty well-educated," he said. "They know their options. They'll do the research on their own. They don't need some outside group spending tens of thousands of dollars spreading lies about a candidate. And when they see that, I think it will have a reverse reaction."

Sukovic said Feldman's campaign has reported receiving more than $32,000 in contributions from the House Republican Organization, more than $12,000 of which, he said, appears to have been allocated to the mailers.

Attempts to reach Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin were unsuccessful Friday evening.

Joe Woodward, political director of the House Republican Organization, didn't directly address the lawsuit or the mailer in an email Saturday, but said that "Sukovic is upset that HRO vetted both him and Karen Feldman, and came to the conclusion that Karen Feldman is a much stronger candidate for the 59th district."

The initial hearing in the suit is scheduled for March 2.

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