State Sen. Donne Trotter formally drops out of congressional race, cites distraction
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org December 29, 2012 9:24AM
State Sen. Donne Trotter announces that he has withdrawn from the congressional race during a meeting at the Village of Lynwood municipal building in Lynwood, Ill., on Saturday, December 29, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 31, 2013 6:49AM
Saying he didn’t want to detract from the issues, state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), one of the front-runners in the race for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s vacant U.S. House seat, formally announced Saturday he is bowing out of the contest.
Trotter additionally said he was dropping out because 2nd Congressional District constituents “need and deserve answers.”
“Thank you for the support and acts of kindness to my family and myself related to my situation,” Trotter said at a news conference in Lynwood where he arranged a conference call with backers to explain his move.
Trotter said his commitment to issues plaguing the community “runs too deep to allow myself or my situation to detract from what needs to be front and center.”
Trotter is stepping out of the 2nd Congressional District race after a weapons arrest this month and scrutiny involving the administration of a state grant. He refused to comment on his gun arrest but said it did not factor into his decision to not vie for Jackson’s seat. Neither did media scrutiny, he said.
“None whatsoever,” Trotter said. “These are two separate issues. My legal issue is a legal issue and this campaign . . . is a totally separate issue.”
Dropping out, Trotter said, was “always in the back of my mind.”
“I love what I do in Springfield . . . Is there work on the table in Springfield? Yes, there is,” Trotter said. “The thing is many people think I can still win the election. This election is not about me. This election is about putting together the best plan, the best people and the strongest people for the second congressional district that is suffering. There is not a cloud over me. There is a cloud over this district, with the highest number of foreclosures . . .”
Other candidates in the race are jockeying behind the scenes, trying to win over Thornton Township’s backing — and the political muscle that comes with it.
That includes Ald. Anthony Beale, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, former state Rep. Robin Kelly, and a slew of others — including Mel Reynolds, who once resigned from the same seat in disgrace.
The primary is Feb. 26.
Before addressing the press Saturday, Trotter took questions from a roomful of supporters.
When one woman asked if he would endorse another, he replied, “the straight answer is no.” But later he said it was too early in the campaign to make such a decision.
Jackson’s resignation amid a federal investigation into his campaign finances has triggered what could be a wide-open contest. Trotter had appeared to be among the front-runners in the before he was arrested on Dec. 5 and charged with a felony for allegedly trying to bring a gun onto a flight at O’Hare Airport.
But his candidacy suffered another blow when the party’s slate-making panel met on Dec. 15 and did not issue an endorsement in the race.
Trotter’s announcement ended with applause, as supporters and politicians pledged their ongoing support. But some were dismayed.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Thornton Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli. “I still know that he’s the best candidate and he would be the best congressman. I just wish he had stayed in the race. But it’s his choice and I respect that.”
Trotter said informal polls showed he was in the lead, and that his numbers were “getting higher and higher.”
Still, he said he had doubts about the election since the beginning: “It’s been ongoing. It’s been since day one. It started with my wife on day one saying ‘Do you really want to do that?’” Trotter said. “It didn’t just start. It’s something that I had grappled with.”