Froylan Jimenez

There will not be a contested election in the 1st Illinois Senate District after all. Independent challenger Froylan “Froy” Jimenez has been knocked off the ballot by a petition challenge. 

On Sept. 9 the three-member Chicago Board of Election Commissioners upheld a hearing officer’s ruling that Jimenez came up 26 valid signatures short of the 3,000 valid signatures required on his nominating petitions. 

This means that Javier Loera Cervantes will have no opponent in November and will replace his future father-in-law, state Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) in the Illinois State Senate.

Jimenez told the Landmark that he will not appeal the decision to the Cook County Circuit Court.

Javier Loera Cervantes

“I don’t have the resources to take it to the next level,” said Jimenez, who works as a civics teacher at Hancock High School on the Southwest Side of Chicago. 

The redrawn 1st District ranges from the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago west to Brookfield and includes the portion of Riverside south of the BNSF railroad tracks as well as much of Brookfield.

Jimenez said that 48 disallowed signatures were supported by sworn affidavits before a notary republic, but they still were disallowed because the signatures on the petitions didn’t look like the signatures on the voters’ registration cards.

“It’s unfortunate because it was so close, 26 of 3,000 — it’s minuscule,” Jimenez said. “These things happen. I know that I’m not the only person who has had to deal with this. It’s a system that’s not very welcoming to independents or to people who are just not connected. It’s unfortunate, because now the race goes uncontested.”

Jimenez originally submitted 4,716 signatures on his nominating petitions. But a petition challenge was filed by a Robin Ramirez of Chicago and 1,847 of those signatures were deemed invalid for various reasons after a records exam. Jimenez managed to rehabilitate 105 of those signatures but still came up 26 signatures short of the 3,000 needed to get on the ballot as an independent. Only 650 valid signatures are necessary to get on the ballot in the primary election.

The lawyer handling the petition challenge for Ramirez was Adam Vaught, a politically connected partner in the Chicago law firm of Hinshaw and Culbertson who was the campaign manager for former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride when he ran for the Supreme Court in 2010. Vaught also has represented former Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan in the past 

Cervantes is succeeding Munoz in an orchestrated maneuver common in Illinois politics. Munoz, who was first elected to the state Senate in 1998, filed to run for re-election on the first day that nominating petitions could be filed, a maneuver designed to discourage other candidates from filing. 

Then Cervantes, who is engaged to Munoz’s daughter, filed to run on the last day nominating petitions could be filed in the primary. Munoz eventually withdrew from the race. 

Cervantes told the Landmark a couple of months ago that Munoz encouraged him to file to run for the office. Jimenez lost to Munoz in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Cervantes has worked as a labor organizer for the Service Employees International Union and as an aldermanic aide. There is no Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic district.