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Loyalty elected Smith, Jesse Jr.

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Updated: December 9, 2012 7:40PM



African-American voters are loyal, not stupid. That’s really why two controversial candidates easily won re-election even though the media did its best to beat them back.

Just as some observers believe President Barack Obama’s resounding victory was the result of a backlash to the backlash, the same can be said for the races involving Derrick E. Smith and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Smith easily defeated third-party challenger Lance Tyson. It apparently didn’t make a difference to voters that Smith was expelled from the Illinois House after he was indicted for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe.

“Either we believe in democracy or we don’t,” noted Victor Henderson, the attorney representing Smith on the bribery charges.

Henderson argues that it is insulting to assume that 24,276 voters were “sleepwalking” when they chose Smith over Tyson.

“If the rule is once you are accused of a crime then you’ve got to go, that is one thing. But that is not the rule,” he said.

Moreover, because many African Americans know someone who has had an encounter with the criminal justice system, they are much more likely to withhold judgment until the matter goes through the legal process. With respect to Smith, there is more at stake than a House seat, Henderson said.

“We either believe people are innocent until proven guilty, or we don’t. Which one is it?”

Under the Illinois Constitution, Smith can’t be expelled from office twice on the same charges. If convicted, however, he will be removed from his seat. But for now, Smith has the last laugh.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. won a ninth term in office, garnering 60 percent of the vote without making one negative commercial. Jackson, who is being treated for a bipolar disorder, hasn’t made a public appearance since June.

Jackson’s re-election sounds absolutely absurd until you consider a story I heard on the radio while driving into work Wednesday.

Sen. Mario Gallegos of Houston won re-election on Tuesday despite his death two weeks ago. Gallegos got 71 percent of the vote compared to his Republican opponent.

Gallegos’ widow, Theresa Gallegos, told supporters her husband wanted to help keep the district in the hands of a Democrat.

Gov. Rick Perry will have to call for a “special election” to fill Gallegos’ seat early next year, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Besides being on a medical leave, Jackson has federal charges possibly hanging over his head. But Jackson is a Democrat and that status apparently trumped the allegations. If Jackson does decide to step down, my money is on someone in the Jackson family stepping up to take his place.

On Tuesday, I got an up-close look at why Obama doesn’t hang out in Chicago too often. When you shut down any portion of Lake Shore Drive north of 31st Street, the Loop becomes one huge parking lot. Every time I was on the move, the president was on the move, which meant I wasn’t going anywhere.

Obama’s visit to Attack Athletics, 2641 W. Harrison, for his Election Day pickup basketball game was especially intriguing since the facility has such a storied history.

The multimillion-dollar, 60,000-square-foot complex has four NBA regulation courts and was built by Tim Grover. Grover has worked with a slew of celebrity athletes, including Michael Jordan.

But the bank foreclosed on the property, according to published reports. Now the lender has decided to give the entire facility to Chicago Hope Academy, a private school operated by Bob Muzikowski.

Muzikowski has a long history of helping inner-city youth through sports programs. Within hours of his pickup game, the president’s visit to the gym was noted on “Wikipedia.”

I hope the next time Obama’s in town he considers shooting a few hoops at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center on the far South Side. I’m in awe every time I step foot through the center’s doors.

The $47 million facility has an NBA-quality basketball court as well.

There won’t be any celebrities about, but there will be plenty of young people who will never forget the day the president of the United States came to town.



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