CHICAGO (CBS) -- A woman challenging Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) for his Southwest Side legislative seat says she's not discouraged.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the candidate, Michele Piszczor, appears to be the first active opponent Madigan has had in years.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Piszczor called a news conference Friday to complain about her yard campaign signs being stolen with no consequences for the thieves. But she also explained why voters should think a young former legal assistant could do a better job than Madigan – arguably the most powerful Democrat in the state.
"What has his 42 years of experience gotten us? What? We're one of the last-ranking states in this country when it comes to employment, when it comes to corporation investment, so you've got both ends of the spectrum," Piszczor said. You've got one man who's been in there for 42 years and has nothing to show for what he's done for Illinois to help his community."
Piszczor, 25, admits that taking on Madigan, 69, who is also state Democratic Chairman, is a David-and-Goliath proposition. But she thinks residents of the district are the stones in her slingshot.
"There are people in the 22nd District – lots of people; hundreds of people – who cannot stand Madigan and hate him," Piszczor said, "but they've never had an opportunity to voice that in a polling booth, because there has never been a legitimate candidate to run against him."
She calls the other primary contenders "plants," and there is no evidence that any of them are actually campaigning.
She admits there are a lot of Madigan campaign signs around the district, but she says one woman she spoke to was typical. The woman had four signs on her porch.
"I said, 'You know, ma'am, if you don't mind me asking, why do you have so many Madigan signs on your porch?' She's like, 'Honey, every single day, I have these idiot's signs on my yard and I have to keep removing them," Piszczor said.
On her campaign Web site, Piszczor says she will be a "voice for the unheard," with state government lacking any solution to fix its own financial situation and help improve the economy.
Piszczor, a former administrative assistant at a law firm, has already met with some controversy during her campaign.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights protested that Piszczor had received the backing from a political action committee run by millionaire Republican businessman and Tea Party activist Jack Roeser. Last year, Roeser angered immigrant rights activists for fighting against the Illinois DREAM Act to help immigrant youth toward college education, and calling the act the "Illinois Nightmare Act."
Piszczor responded in an interview with the group last month that she supports the Illinois DREAM Act, and pointed out that her grandparents were Mexican immigrants.
In the often confrontational interview, the group also asked several questions about Roeser, to which Piszczor replied: "Why are we concentrating on Jack Roeser when he has nothing to do with me?.... I ask all of you guys to go on my Web site and go on the state Board of Elections – what checks has Jack Roeser made to me?"
Olivia Trejo and Mike Rodriguez are also on the ballot for the 22nd House District Democratic primary. The Illinois Primary is coming up Tuesday.
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