Democrat Chris Spanos said he believes Mayor Jim Ardis’ use of what appeared to be city of Peoria stationery to support his opponent’s campaign “has the potential to affect” the Nov. 2 outcome of the 10th Judicial Circuit race.
A host of political observers, though, do not believe the recent media attention in the otherwise nondescript judicial race will resonate with voters much come Election Day.
“I believe people understand that Mayor Ardis’ support is based on politics, not legal ability,” Spanos said in an e-mailed response Thursday. “And this race should clearly be about legal ability and qualifications, not who you grew up with.”
Republican John Vespa declined to comment Friday about Ardis’ letter. He also declined to comment on Spanos’ response.
In the letter, the mayor asked potential donors to support Vespa’s campaign with $25, $50, $100 or more.
The letter with Ardis’ position as mayor listed on it was distributed from his personal campaign database to 200 people.
Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons is reviewing the incident to see whether it merits criminal charges.
William Hall, professor of political science at Bradley University, said there will likely be minimal effect from the mayor’s activities, and the media attention that has followed.
“I suppose if someone didn’t like the mayor for whatever reason, it wouldn’t be helpful for candidate Vespa,” Hall said. “On the other hand, if you like the mayor and things he’s done, in a totally even situation, it might (help).”
Hall said he doesn’t believe the Peoria mayoral position has the clout, such as a mayor in a major metropolitan city, to impact a local election.
“Our mayor is like the mayors in 99 percent of cities across America,” Hall said. “When it comes time to (elect) the judge . . . I just don’t think a lot (of an impact) will occur because Jim Ardis likes John Vespa.”
Andrew Civettini, assistant professor in the department of political sciences at Knox College, said voters are likely to pay more attention to the candidate’s party affiliation when selecting who might be the best judge rather than the recent controversy.
“The truth of American politics is we pay little attention to down ticket races,” said Civettini, whose specialities include voting behavior and emotions.