Obama Replacement Named
Amidst all the hoopla leading to U.S. Senator-elect Barack Obama's coronation -- er swearing-in -- some other interesting Chicago political doings happened this past weekend: Obama's successor for the State Senate was selected and sworn in on Saturday. Chicago City Colleges senior attorney, Kwame Raoul, 40, was selected to fill out the remaining two-year term of the South Chicago lakefront 12th State Senate District. Because the seat was held by a Democrat, Obama's replacement was selected by the Democratic committeemen in the district, in a process much like the selection of Rep. Lipinski's replacement this summer.
But like much of Chicago politics, the real news is in the back story. Why is the seat important? The seat, which runs along the lake from downtown through Hyde Park and into South Shore, has elected two major black powerhouses: Barack Obama and late-Mayor Harold Washington. Who didn't get picked? Among others, Senate President Emil Jones' staffer Will Burns. How was the choice made? The two committeemen with the most weight in the selection, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), had announced last summer that they would vote in lockstep.
What happens next is anyone's guess. Sen. Raoul doesn't seem to be throwing in the towel, as he has already raised $52,000 and says he's on his way to raising $200,000 before 2006. And Burns? Speaking to the Chicago Tribune on Saturday, he was leaving all options open. "There will be an election in 2006, and we'll see what happens then."