Patrick Doolin had planned to ride with his family in Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Of course, Doolin thought he would be riding as a candidate for mayor in the April 17 general election, but after finishing third in the primary last Tuesday, Doolin failed to advance.
His three children were disappointed, mostly because they had looked forward to taking part in the festivities.
But Doolin had an idea. He called second place finisher Terry Steinbach, usually his ally on the village council but his chief rival in the primary, and offered her the use of his 1969 Cadillac convertible. He decorated the car with Steinbach’s signs and drove with his three young children in the back seat while Steinbach sat perched above them waving to the crowd.
“My kids were as happy as could be because they thought by me finishing third they weren’t going to be able to be in the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” Doolin said. “We turned a negative into a positive for them.”
And that’s the approach Doolin is taking to his disappointing third place finish in the primary. Doolin received just 456 votes (18.33 percent) finishing 282 votes behind Steinbach. Mayor Anthony Calderone received 1,294 votes, or 52 percent, as he and Steinbach advanced to April’s general election.
“I feel fine,” said a reflective and relaxed Doolin on Sunday. “To a certain extent it’s a relief. My life gets to return back to normalcy.”
Doolin said he is looking forward to life as a private citizen, which he will be once the new council is sworn in late next month.
“It is, for all intents and purpose, over for me as far as politics, at least local politics here in Forest Park,” Doolin said. “It’s time for me to get back to what I was doing before and again regain the semblance of normalcy in my life.”
His wife Bonnie certainly sees the positive side of her husband’s defeat.
Bonnie Doolin never enjoyed the stress that came with politics, and as the results became clear on election night she walked by her husband and asked a hopeful question: “Does it mean that you’ll go back to selling real estate?”
His campaign committee, Citizens for Doolin, raised $19,932 according to state records, more than double the amount Steinbach raised. Doolin loaned his campaign committee $10,000 in February.
Doolin used his campaign war chest to fund two mass mailings, two targeted mailings and automated phone calls. He hired a professional campaign manager, Ryan McLaughlin. McLaughlin managed Republican Peter Roskam’s successful campaign for Congress against Tammy Duckworth in one of the most expensive Congressional races in the county in November. McLaughlin worked for Doolin on a part-time basis for the campaign.
“We had all the ingredients for a successful campaign,” Doolin said. “We had money, we had volunteers, we had a plan, we had the endorsement of the paper and we had good issues. I was a viable candidate.”
But what he didn’t have were the votes.
Even after living in Forest Park for 13 years Doolin is likely seen as an outsider to some. He didn’t have the network that lifelong Forest Parkers Calderone and Steinbach have. In his four years on the village council Doolin made a lot of enemies and some saw him as a hot tempered individual. He was a staunch supporter of former police officers Dan Harder and Steve Johnsen in their disputes with Police Chief James Ryan.
“I don’t know if it was one thing or a combination of things or what it was,” Doolin said. “We gave it our best shot and it didn’t work out.”
In any case, at Doolin’s small office on election night, huddled in a small room with family and friends, Doolin seemed stunned as the votes came in and he was in third place. But now he says he has moved on. In a continuation of his quest to unseat the incumbent, he is backing Steinbach in the general election.
“She absolutely has my full support,” Doolin said. “There needs to be a change and I think she offers the best hope for the future of the village.”
Doolin said he did not know if he will contribute financially to Steinbach’s cash-strapped campaign. Steinbach hasn’t asked him for a contribution, but said she would be happy to accept one.
“If he wants to contribute he’d be more than welcome,” Steinbach said. “He ran a good race and it’s been a pleasure serving with him as commissioner for the past four years. Forest Park is better today because of his contributions as a commissioner.”