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Dems Create Third Party To Take Out Indicted Democrat

By Samantha Abernethy in News on May 16, 2012 8:40PM

Photo of Smith's website
A group of Democrats have created a new political party, the 10th District Unity Party, to choose a candidate to challenge state Rep. Derrick Smith in the general election this fall. Secretary of State Jesse White is leading the group of West Side Democratic ward committeemen, who want to see the indicted state legislator out of office. White coincidentally is the same person who led the panel that choose Smith to fill the vacancy in 2010.

Smith was arrested a week before the March primaries on federal bribery charges. Authorities said Smith took $7,000 in cash in exchange for writing a letter on behalf of a daycare center that he believed was seeking a $50,000 state grant. The conversations with a government informant were allegedly caught on tape.

In the week leading up to the election, Democrats encouraged voters to back Smith despite his arrest because he was facing a faux-Dem in the primary. Smith won with more than 70 percent of the vote. After the primary, though, Democrats were quick to call for his resignation. Smith refused, then didn't go to work. Fellow legislators, including Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), told him to either show up to work or give up the job. Ervin is one of the Democratic committeemen involved in creating this new party. On Sunday Lance Tyson, a municipal bond lawyer who was chief of staff to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, said he’ll run against Smith.

The 10th District Unity Party will begin interviewing candidates next week. Potential candidates will be asked 47 questions, including whether or not they have committed a crime. They will hold a hearing May 22 at the painter’s union hall at 1645 W. Adams to review applicants