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Do You Know What's Happening Down Ballot?

This book tells the legendary story of Rosemary Mulligan and Penny Pullen's battle for state representative in suburban Chicago in 1990. At one point decided by a coin toss, the race came down to 31 votes, a heated recount battled over "dimpled chads" cited later in the 2000 Florida recount, and a heated rematch. The race gained national attention as a proxy war on the issue of abortion following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling the year before.

Most issues of consequence today are decided in state capitals, not in Washington. On each side of these issues, there's a Penny Pullen or a Rosemary Mulligan advocating passionately for their side. The point of this story is to evoke in each reader a simple question: Do you know what's happening down ballot?

Elise Jordan, NBC News and MSNBC political analyst

"Patrick Wohl’s important, entertaining book illustrates what we lose when local news is replaced with nationalized political coverage. Anyone who thinks local politics is boring hasn’t heard of the Pullen-Mulligan race."

Jon Allsop, media and politics journalist, Columbia Journalism Review

"Stacked with stranger-than-fiction details from decades ago, the story of Penny Pullen, Rosemary Mulligan, and their ferocious rivalry also serves as a timeless reminder of the centrality of local politics to the everyday life of every American--and what every American loses when there’s no one left to cover it."

Madeleine Doubek, former Daily Herald political reporter and executive director of CHANGE Illinois

"The Pullen-Mulligan race was unlike any other I covered in thirty-plus years in journalism on so many levels. It absolutely underscores the importance of paying attention to local races and to the critical role local media play in our democracy."
  • Are resources available for book clubs?
    Yes! Sample discussion guides and questions are available free for book clubs and there is a 30% discount available as well. Please reach out for more information.
  • How do I contact Patrick?
    Send him an email at
  • Why is the hardcover version so expensive?
    The hardcover version is a "cloth" book intended for libraries. These copies are specially made to last a long time. This is standard for university presses.
  • Patrick has a background in politics. Is this book political?
    No! This book tells the story of a campaign that gained national attention in 1990/92 and the parallels that can be drawn today. It's not, however, written to express any views on the political issues discussed in the book.
  • I'm a journalist or book reviewer. How do I obtain a copy?
    Contact Michael Roux: Michael Roux Marketing Manager University of Illinois Press 217-244-4683

About the Author

Patrick Wohl is the author of "Down Ballot" (3 Fields Books / University of Illinois Press). He is a former campaign staffer on campaigns for president, governor, state senate, state rep, and ballot initiatives across the country. 

He is currently pursuing his JD from Georgetown University and received his BA from The George Washington University. 

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