Rockford, IL

Primary race to be Democratic nominee in November for District 17 creates some in-party rough housing

Robert J Hansen
Democratic candidates for Illinois Congressional District 17 Jacqueline McGowan (left) and Litesa Wallace (right).(Image by Robert J Hansen)

Rockford, Ill.- by Robert J Hansen

This article has been updated from an earlier version which had some inaccurate information.

With about three months to go until the June 28 General Primary, the race for Illinois’ 17th Congressional district is creating some in-party rough housing as some candidates' voter petition filing is being challenged by former State Rep. Litesa Wallace’s campaign.

Former cannabis lobbyist and stockbroker Jacqueline McGowan’s staff claims that Wallace is having one of her supporters attempt to invalidate their signatures, disqualifying them from the election.

Communications Director for Litesa Wallace, Elizabeth Austin, explained that she found many unqualified signatures on McGowan’s petition sheet.

“When you’re saying that somebody signed it in front of me to the best of my knowledge that they’re in my district and it says Wisconsin?” Austin said. “There is a legitimate question regarding these signatures which we have made publicly.”

A review of McGowan’s petition sheet did reveal many invalid signatures.

McGowan conceded that there are some invalid signatures but she has more than the 400 hundred valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

“But she is having someone impersonate one of my team members,” McGowan said.

Jody Coss, a committee member of the Stephenson County Democrats, sent a message to a supporter of McGowan saying they were following up on signatures.

“Can you please confirm for us where you were when you signed the attached petition and if Jackie, the candidate, was present when you signed this petition,” Coss said.

Austin said that it is common for Democrat organizations to circulate candidate’s petition rolls to check for accuracy and irregularities in McGowan’s petition is why Coss asked about where voters were when they signed McGowan’s petition.

“Some of the signatures on the same sheet have addresses on them that are 30 miles apart, that’s why she asked where they were,” Austin said.

A family member of McGowan’s campaign manager said that they had been contacted by a woman representing herself as a supporter of McGowan’s campaign and as a representative of the Democratic party.

According to McGowan’s campaign manager, Janie Cook, the person Coss contacted was one of their relatives.

“I can’t believe they play this dirty,” McGowan said.
(Courtesy of Team Jacqueline McGowan)

In other Facebook posts, Coss publicly displays her support for Wallace which is her right to do.

“It was a pleasure to host Litesa Wallace, the best candidate for Illinois 17th District for Congress today at my studio,” Coss said. Thank you to everyone that came by to meet her, sign petitions, ask questions, and say hi.”

SCD circulated all of the candidate’ petitions equality according to Chairman Renardo Weathersby.

Weathersby said SCS has no knowledge about Coss and her campaign activities with the Wallace campaign or otherwise.

According to McGowan’s campaign manager, Janie Cook, the person Coss contacted was one of their relatives.
Jody Coss and a Facebook post identifying herself as a team member with Candidate for Congressional D-17 Litesa Wallace.(Courtesy of Facebook)

McGowan says that Wallace’s campaign is contesting that half of the signatures her campaign received were by people who do not live at the address they listed.

“Went through and independently audited all of the addresses. We know they’re good,” McGowan said.

“This is not something their campaign is publicly discussing and the tactics they are using are especially slimy,” Trey Hawk, with Team McGowan said.

Austin said they are objecting to two other of her opponents according to documents from the Illinois State Board of Elections and that Wallace’s team worked very hard to acquire the signatures that they have and felt insulted.

“When you’re collecting valid signatures and you know how much hard work goes into it,” Austin said. “The people of the 17th district deserve someone who will represent them that understands the rules and follows them. To suggest that it is a dirty trick for a legitimate candidate to insist that the people’s names who are on the ballot who have done the minimum necessary to go before the voters, I find that deeply troubling,” Austin said.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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