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Epton Bows Out Of Chicago Mayoral Race

January 14, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ Bernard Epton ended his second bid to become the city’s mayor after failing to gather enough valid signatures on nominating petitions, a spokesman for the Republican said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Harold Washington appeared to have a lead over former Mayor Jane Byrne in the first publicly released poll since the Democratic primary field was narrowed to two major contenders. The primary will be held Feb. 24.

The withdrawal of Epton, who lost to Washington in a racially divisive contest in 1983, was announced Tuesday after a Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners hearing officer handed down a decision on his nominating petitions.

″He’s not a candidate for mayor any longer,″ said Epton’s attorney, Stanley K. Stewart.

Hearing officer Sam Ruffalo said Epton had only 2,665 valid signatures. He needed 3,100 names to gain a spot on the ballot. Epton had submitted 3,900 names, but many of the people were not registered city voters.

Washington, a Democrat, is the city’s first black mayor. He led Byrne among registered voters by a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, with 15 percent undecided, according to a poll broadcast Tuesday by WBBM-TV.

The station surveyed 511 registered voters in Chicago by random telephone calls Sunday and Monday. The margin for error in the survey was said to be plus or minus 5 percent, and 395 of the voters surveyed said they would vote in the Democratic primary.

Washington’s margin over Byrne was a reversal of results from an earlier WBBM-TV survey conducted Nov. 15-18. In the earlier survey, Byrne led Washington by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, with 12 percent undecided.

The November poll included 661 registered voters, and the margin for error was plus or minus 4 percent, the station said.

With Epton out, the Republican primary will feature Donald Haider, a university professor and longtime Democrat; businessman Kenneth R. Hurst; police officer Chester R. Hornowski; and professional clown Raymond G. Wardingly.

On the Democratic ticket, Washington faces Byrne and Sheila Jones, a follower of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche.

Alderman Edward Vrdolyak, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, is bypassing the Democratic primary to run as the Illinois Solidarity Party candidate in the April 7 general election.

Cook County Assessor Thomas Hynes, another prominent Democrat, is shedding his party label to run in the general election under the Chicago First banner.

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