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Meeks to Retire from State Senate

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 11, 2011 3:20PM

James Meeks' mayoral candidacy wooden nickel from the Chicago Disorder Preservation Society

State Sen. James Meeks announced yesterday he'll retire from political office at the end of his current term. Meeks spokeswoman Tasha Harris said the pastor of Salem Baptist Church on the South side has "served his time."

Meeks has been mulling retirement for months and said in an April WLS-AM interview it was "probably time to concentrate on the church and give them that kind of exclusivity that I was willing to give the office of Mayor."

Meeks was elected to the State Senate in 2001 as an independent running against entrenched Democrat Robert Shaw and quickly established himself as a politician to be taken seriously. Meeks flirted with both mayoral and gubernatorial runs and lobbied for more educational funding in public schools.

His mayoral campaign last year was short lived as voters expressed concern over his nay vote for the Illinois Civil Unions law, his comment that homosexuality was “an evil sickness” and his opposition to abortion rights.

Meeks openly courted the support of African American clergy, politicians and businessmen for their endorsement as the "consensus black candidate" for mayor, an endorsement which eventually went to Carol Moseley Braun, whose dysfunctional campaign sent black voters to the polls to vote for Mayor Rahm Emanuel