Candidates angle for party backing in race for Jackson’s seat
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND FRAN SPIELMAN Sun-Times Reporters November 29, 2012 6:58PM
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th)
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:37AM
The field is taking shape for a 2nd Congressional District race as two new candidates announced Thursday they are running to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress and a third says he has a leg up on getting key Democratic party backing.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) both said Thursday they will run in the February special election. Meanwhile, state Sen. Donne Trotter said he believes he has support from two key township committeemen who could give him the edge in Democratic slating next month.
The slating — essentially the party’s endorsement — is scheduled for Dec. 15 and would lend “boots on the ground” to any contender, though it wouldn’t stop any other candidates from running.
“My constituents, they know my work, which is one of the reasons I have what you call a leg up,” Trotter said.
Hutchinson, meanwhile, said she will give her best pitch to the slating committee but also believes in her strength as a fund-raiser.
“You never know how those things are going to turn out until you get closer to the date,” Hutchinson said. “I think it’s time for new leadership and a fresh face.”
Hutchinson, 39, once was the chief of staff to another contender in the race — former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson. Halvorson, who lost to Jackson in the primary, announced her candidacy Sunday.
Beale said he’ll stay in the race, whether or not he is slated by Democratic ward bosses.
The alderman hopes to stand out from the crowd on the strength of his winning crusade to bring a Wal-Mart to Pullman Park, ending a six-year-long battle over the world’s largest retailer’s $1 billion Chicago expansion.
Also in the race is former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, who preceded Jackson in Congress. In 1995 Reynolds resigned and served prison time for having sex with an underaged girl and for misusing campaign funds. Jackson resigned last week amid a federal investigation into his finances. The 17-year congressman also cited health issues.