Quigley faces three opponents in first primary challenge

  • Upper from left, Sameena Mustafa and Mike Quigley and, lower from left, Steven Schwartzberg and Benjamin Thomas Wolf, are Democratic candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat.

    Upper from left, Sameena Mustafa and Mike Quigley and, lower from left, Steven Schwartzberg and Benjamin Thomas Wolf, are Democratic candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat.

Updated 3/9/2018 7:22 PM

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley is facing his first primary challenge since being elected to Congress with three opponents trying to position themselves to his political left.

Quigley, 59, the Chicago Democrat elected to the 5th Congressional District seat in 2009, is the lone Illinois member of the House Appropriations Committee, where he helped secure $1 billion for modernization of the CTA Red and Purple el lines in Chicago. But it's his position on the House Intelligence Committee -- the panel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 elections -- where Quigley has risen to national prominence in recent months.


"The investigation into Russian interference in our elections is one of the most important investigations in our modern history," said Tom Bowen, a Quigley campaign spokesman. "Mr. Quigley is at the center of this. It's not just about standing up to the things Paul Ryan and Donald Trump are doing on health care and taxes, it's the future of our democracy."

Of Quigley's three challengers, one has garnered national headlines of late -- Benjamin Thomas Wolf, the self-described "cannabis candidate," who touted his support for marijuana legalization by smoking a joint in a campaign ad. In a separate video ad, Wolf holds an AR-15 while arguing such weapons should be banned. He also has bought ads on a porn website.

This week he faced accusations of abusive behavior toward a former girlfriend and of inflating his resume.

Wolf, 42, has denied the allegations of his ex-girlfriend and campaign intern, who told Politico that he was frequently physically and emotionally abusive.

Some Wolf campaign news releases and Facebook posts have identified Wolf as a "former FBI agent," though an FBI spokeswoman said he was a professional support employee, not a special agent.

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Wolf, now a Logan Square restaurateur, has also touted his background as a former special agent in the U.S. State Department and diplomat who spent time in Iraq and Africa, as an adjunct professor, and as president of Keep Chicago Livable, which sued the city over its home-sharing ordinance.

Sameena Mustafa, 47, a commercial real estate tenant advocate and former Planned Parenthood manager, is challenging Quigley over his acceptance of campaign contributions from corporations and his votes on defense spending and trade. She also criticized him for avoiding, canceling or sending surrogates to speaking engagements in the district.

Steven Schwartzberg, 55, the former building and office manager for Church of Our Saviour in Lincoln Park, identifies as a social Democrat, supporting an expansion of Medicare for all and a "freedom budget" to support the poor and working class. He also advocates for American Indian tribal sovereignty, in which the federal government would reopen a treaty making process and "cease attempting to rule over them as if they were in any way our subjects or subject to our jurisdiction," he said.

The 5th Congressional District covers much of Chicago's North Side and a suburban area that includes parts of Rosemont, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Bensenville and Oakbrook Terrace. All four candidates are Chicago residents.

The winner will face Republican Tom Hanson of Chicago in the general election.

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