Barack Obama won three Illinois Senate elections. The Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama began in 1997 after his first election in 1996 to a two-year term in the Illinois Senate representing Illinois' 13th Legislative District in Chicago. He was re-elected in 1998 to a four-year term and re-elected again in 2002 to another four-year term. He resigned from the Illinois Senate in 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate. He resigned from the U.S. Senate following his election in 2008 to become the 44th President of the United States in 2009.
In August 1994, Republican Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley announced the indictment of first-term U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-2) of South Shore and newspapers reported that while Reynolds was unopposed on the general election ballot and would be re-elected in November 1994, state Sen. Alice Palmer (D-13) of South Shore would be the front runner for Reynolds' seat in 1996—or earlier if he was convicted and a special election was held.
In October 1994, 29-year-old Jesse Jackson, Jr. of South Shore was reported to have moved a few blocks into the 2nd Congressional District and to be considering running for Reynolds' seat in 1996. After re-election in November 1994 to a four-year state Senate term, state Senate minority leader Emil Jones, Jr. (D-14) of Morgan Park was reported to also be considering the possibility of running for Reynolds' seat in 1996.
On November 21, 1994, Alice Palmer announced she was launching a campaign committee to raise funds to run for Reynolds' congressional seat in 1996, and suggested that Jesse Jackson, Jr. run for her state Senate seat in 1996 instead of running against her for Congress.
On June 27, 1995, Palmer announced she was running for Congress and would be giving up her state Senate seat instead of running for re-election in 1996. The following week newspapers reported that Palmer-supporter Barack Obama of Hyde Park—who had been announced as chairman of the $49.2 million Chicago Annenberg Challenge on June 22 and whose memoir Dreams from My Father would be published on July 18—would announce he was running and would be a front-runner for Palmer's state Senate seat; Obama began fundraising in July, created a campaign committee on August 7 and filed its statement of organization on September 5. Before entering the race, Obama spoke to about 30 elected officials in the district.
On September 11, 1995, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar set November 28 as the date for a special primary election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Mel Reynolds following his August 1995 conviction. The timing would allow state office holders whose terms expired in January 1997, like state Rep. Monique Davis (D-27) of Beverly, to run in the November 1995 special primary election, and if unsuccessful, still have time to file nominating petitions by the December 18 deadline for the March 1996 general primary election for re-election to their current state offices.
The September 13, 1995 Hyde Park Herald reported that state Sen. Palmer, whose term also expired in January 1997, "may have the most to lose. If unsuccessful in the congressional race, any plans she makes to reclaim her senate seat are likely to be unpopular with her progressive constituents. ... Palmer is committed to the congressional race, according to sources close to her campaign, and has no plans to try and recapture her senate seat if her bid is unsuccessful. The chances of Palmer re-filing for her senate seat are further reduced by the fact that one of her supporters, Barack Obama, is expected to announce his candidacy for her senate post next week."
At 6 p.m. on September 19, 1995—the first day of the thirteen-week period in which candidates could circulate nominating petitions to earn a place on the ballot for the March 1996 primary—34-year-old Barack Obama announced his candidacy for Palmer's state Senate seat to a standing-room-only audience of 200 supporters at the Ramada Inn Lakeshore at 4900 S. Lake Shore Drive in Hyde Park-Kenwood, Chicago in the same room where thirteen years earlier Harold Washington had announced his successful run for Mayor of Chicago. Palmer introduced and endorsed Obama as her successor to supporters that included 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle of Hyde Park, newly elected 5th Ward Ald. Barbara Holt of Hyde Park, state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) of Hyde Park, Cook County Clerk David Orr of Rogers Park, and many other politicians.
The October 25, 1995 Hyde Park Herald reported that two other first-time candidates, Gha-is Askia and Marc Ewell, had announced the previous week that they were also running for the state Senate seat Palmer was giving up.
An October 29, 1995 Sunday Chicago Sun-Times article about circulating nominating petitions—legally required to demonstrate a candidate has enough support from registered voters to be on the ballot with signatures that can withstand challenges by rival candidates—quoted Obama's campaign manager Carol Anne Harwell on the importance of volunteers, precinct captains, and campaign aides doing the thankless but essential job of circulating nominating petitions.
By late October 1995—after five of the ten Democrats who had filed to run in the special primary election for Reynolds' vacated congressional seat had been eliminated following challenges to their nominating petitions—polls showed Alice Palmer had dropped to a distant third behind Jesse Jackson, Jr. and state Sen. Emil Jones, Jr., which caused Palmer's fundraising to dry up in the final month of the campaign after having raised over $200,000 during the preceding twelve months.
On November 7, 1995, the condition of Obama's mother Ann Dunham—who had been diagnosed with metastatic uterine cancer and had undergone chemotherapy—acutely worsened and she was hospitalized in Honolulu and not able to respond when Obama's maternal half-sister Maya Soetoro arrived, and their mother died that night. Obama arrived in his native Honolulu the following day and said a decade later that his mother's death at the age of 52 was the worst experience of his life and cited as his biggest mistake not getting to Honolulu in time to be at her bedside when she died. Obama remained in Honolulu for his mother's private memorial service and returned to Chicago soon after.
On November 28, 1995, after finishing a distant third in the 2nd Congressional District special primary election behind the winner, 30-year-old Jesse Jackson, Jr., and 60-year-old Emil Jones, Jr., and dismayed at receiving only 2,917 votes in Chicago and 3,426 votes in suburban Cook County, a disappointed 56-year-old Alice Palmer told a small gathering at a Harvey hotel that she wouldn't seek re-election to the state Senate and was undecided about entering the March 1996 primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
On December 4, 1995, some Palmer supporters—led by Northwestern University professor Adolph L. Reed, Jr. who had recently moved to South Shore, Northeastern Illinois University associate professor Robert T. Starks of South Shore, and 77-year-old City Colleges of Chicago professor emeritus Timuel D. Black, Jr. of Grand Crossing—began a draft movement to persuade her to run again for her state Senate seat after learning she was keeping a promise to back "a relatively unknown African-American attorney."
The December 8, 1995 Chicago Reader cover story was a laudatory eight-page profile of Obama that noted Palmer's endorsement of Obama and her promise not to run against him if she lost the November 28 special primary election for Reynolds' vacated congressional seat.
On December 11, 1995—the first filing day for nominating petitions—Obama filed his nominating petitions with over 3,000 signatures; perennial unsuccessful candidate Ulmer D. Lynch, Jr. also filed nominating petitions for the 13th District state Senate seat.
On December 18, 1995—the last filing day for nominating petitions—Palmer held a press conference at Harper's Banquet Hall in Woodlawn to announce she was running for re-election to the state Senate, accepting a draft by over 100 supporters including Mark S. Allen of Englewood (Jesse Jackson Jr.'s campaign strategist and his successor as Rainbow/Push Coalition national field director), journalist-activist Lu Palmer of Bronzeville, SEIU Local 73 president Tom Balanoff, state Sen. Emil Jones, Jr. (D-14) of Morgan Park, state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-15) of South Chicago, state Sen. Arthur Berman (D-9) of Edgewater, state Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-2) of Humboldt Park, state Rep. Lovana "Lou" Jones (D-5) of Douglas, and 5th Ward Ald. Barbara Holt of Hyde Park (the only local elected official reported to have switched their endorsement from Obama to Palmer). Palmer then drove to Springfield to file nominating petitions with almost 1,600 signatures she said her supporters had gathered in ten days; also filing nominating petitions on the last filing day were Askia and Ewell.
Palmer had originally endorsed Obama to fill her seat, but changed her mind, she said, because of the tremendous support and draft by constituents. "I had said I would help someone else and that is one of the reasons I was reluctant but the draft was so big," Palmer stated.
Obama said he was disappointed that Palmer had decided to run for re-election because it was partly based on her endorsement that he had decided to run. He said several months ago, Palmer asked him for his support of her congressional candidacy. "Aware of her reputation for integrity and her progressive views on the issues, I wholeheartedly agreed," Obama said. "On Sept. 19, based on Palmer's insistence that she was not running for state senator in the event she lost as well as her enthusiastic support, I announced that I would run for the Senate," Obama said.
On December 20, 1995, after consulting with his supporters, Obama confirmed that he was staying in the race. "I've made a commitment to a great number of volunteers ... people who've gone out on cold days and circulated petitions, raised funds on my behalf and after talking to them, they feel very strongly that we're talking about the right issues. We offer a vision for the future," Obama said.
On December 26, 1995—the last day to file challenges—Barack Obama's campaign filed objections to the legitimacy of the nominating petitions of state Sen. Palmer, and to those of Askia, Ewell and Lynch; a week later hearings began to determine whether their names would be on the ballot for the March 19 primary election.
The January 10, 1996 Hyde Park Herald reported that after conducting checks the previous week, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners' initial findings indicated that all four would-be opponents of Obama, including incumbent state Sen. Palmer, may not have the required number of valid nominating petition signatures. Obama was endorsed by the New Party—a small, progressive party that has since dissolved. On January 13, Obama received the endorsement of the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO). On January 17, 1996—thirty days after her surprise announcement that she was running for re-election—Palmer announced she was withdrawing her bid for re-election because she was left with only 561 valid signatures on her nominating petitions, 196 short of the required 757 valid signatures needed to earn a place on the ballot after almost two-thirds of the 1,580 signatures on her nominating petitions were found to be invalid.
The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners had previously sustained an objection to the nominating petitions of Lynch because of insufficient valid signatures, and subsequently sustained objections to the nominating petitions of Askia—who was left with only 688 valid signatures on his nominating petitions, 69 short of the required 757 valid signatures after almost two-thirds of the 1,899 signatures on his nominating petitions were found to be invalid, and Ewell—who was left with only 671 valid signatures on his nominating petitions, 86 short of the required 757 valid signatures after almost half of the 1,286 signatures on his nominating petitions were found to be invalid. Lynch and Ewell, in separate federal lawsuits, unsuccessfully sued the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners seeking to reverse its decision to remove their names from the ballot.
In the March 19, 1996 primary election, Obama, running unopposed on the ballot, received 16,279 votes in winning the Democratic nomination for state senator for the 13th District. The citywide turnout of 35% was a then record low for a presidential primary election in Chicago and down from 56% in 1992.
In September 1996, the Hyde Park Herald reported that, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Obama would face two challengers on the November general election ballot: Harold Washington Party candidate David Whitehead and Republican Party candidate Rosette Caldwell Peyton.
In October 1996, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times both endorsed Obama for state Senate.
In the November 5, 1996 general election, Democratic Party candidate Obama was elected state senator for the 13th District with 48,592 votes (82.15%); Harold Washington Party candidate David Whitehead received 7,461 votes (12.61%); and Republican Party candidate Rosette Caldwell Peyton received 3,091 votes (5.22%). The citywide turnout of 63% was the record low for a presidential general election in Chicago and was down from 74.5% in 1992. The 1996 election was the last in Illinois to allow straight-ticket voting.
On January 8, 1997, Obama was sworn in for a two-year term as state senator for the 13th District, which was then a T-shaped district that spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from 47th Street in Hyde Park-Kenwood south through South Shore to 81st Street and from the lakefront west through Chicago Lawn (on the north side of Marquette Park) to Central Park Avenue (3600 W).
In the March 17, 1998 primary election, Obama, running unopposed on the ballot, received 16,792 votes in winning the Democratic nomination for state senator for the 13th District, and Yesse B. Yehudah, also running unopposed on the ballot, received 401 votes in winning the Republican nomination.
In October 1998, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times again both endorsed Obama for state Senate.
In the November 3, 1998 general election, Democratic Party candidate Obama was re-elected to a four-year term as state senator for the 13th District with 45,486 votes (89.17%); Republican Party candidate Yesse Yehudah received 5,526 (10.83%).
On September 5, 2001, Democrats won a lottery that added a tie-breaking ninth member (Michael Bilandic) to the bipartisan state Legislative Redistricting Commission, which on September 25, 2001, by a 5–4 party-line vote approved the Democratic map called "Currie II as amended by the Bilandic Amendment" after its Legislative Redistricting Commission member authors, state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) of Hyde Park and former Chicago Mayor Bilandic.
After redistricting, the new 13th District spanned Chicago lakefront neighborhoods from Goethe Street (1300 N) in the Gold Coast south through South Chicago to 98th Street in the Vets Park neighborhood of South Deering; with a Census 2000 total population that was 66% black (voting age population 62% black), versus a Census 2000 total population that was 77% black in the old 13th District.
In the March 19, 2002 primary election, Obama, running unopposed on the ballot, received 30,938 votes in winning the Democratic nomination for state senator for the new 13th District.
In the November 5, 2002 general election, Democratic Party candidate Obama, running unopposed on the ballot, was re-elected to a four-year term as state senator for the new 13th District with 48,717 votes.
In the 2nd Congressional District, which cuts through the South Side of Chicago and some south suburbs, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds won renomination on the Democratic ticket, easily beating back challenges from state Sen. William Shaw and Chicago Ald. Allan Streeter (17th).
Jones said that he has about $750,000 in his campaign fund. If Jones doesn't run for city treasurer, he's also evaluating a 1996 bid for Congress in the 2nd District. State Sen. Alice Palmer is viewed as the early favorite to oust the beleaguered Mel Reynolds in the '96 2nd District primary
Talk of who might replace Palmer, assuming she wins the race, has already begun. One front-runner might be Palmer-supporter Barack Obama, an attorney with a background in community organization and voter registration efforts. Obama, who has lived 'in and out' of Hyde Park for 10 years, is currently serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama said that even though the election would be years away, 'I am seriously exploring that campaign.'
Polpourri: . . . Barack Obama will announce he's running for the state Senate seat occupied by Alice Palmer, who's running for Reynolds' U.S. congressional seat. Obama, who has worked with Palmer, is an attorney at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland and newly published author of Dreams from My Father.
her attorney said today at the opening of Reynolds' trial.
Box 'em . . . An update on boxer Muhammad Ali, spotted by a Sneed source passing out Muslim religious literature outside a Las Vegas hotel—and unable to sign autographs. "Most of the time that's not the case," said Gha-is Askia, who says he's a close friend.
Groundbreaker: No one we talked to can remember a Muslim getting elected to the Illinois Senate, but that's the goal of Gha-is F. Askia, who's holding a funder Saturday in the American Islamic College here. Askia works in Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan's office, but will run as a Dem for Alice Palmer's seat in the 13th District. Palmer is challenging U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds. An Askia rep was quick to tell us their man is not associated with Louis Farrakhan.
Palmer was the first to announce her bid for the seat, even before Reynolds' problems began to surface. Palmer, gambling her current political office, which she has to give up to run for the 2nd District, ...
The 13th district will also be up for grabs in the November 1996 election. Current senator Alice Palmer, who is running for Congress, has said she not run for re-election to her state seat regardless of the result of the special congressional election on November 29. Three candidates have announced their intentions to run for Palmer's job: Hyde Parker Barack Obama, Marc Ewell and Gha-is Askia.
A disappointed Palmer told a small gathering at a Harvey hotel that she wouldn't seek re-election to the state Senate and was undecided about entering the March primary for the 2nd District seat.
William T. Murphy, congressman for the southwest side 3rd District has resigned as 17th ward Democratic committeeman and will be succeeded by William H. Shannon, the ward organization secretary.
Aldermanic candidates, by wards, whose nominating petitions have been challenged are: ... 17th, Bennie Guthrie, Oscar H. Haynes, John R. Porter, and Ulmer D. Lynch, Jr., ...
In now state Sen. Chew's old ward, the 17th Democratic ward committeeman William H. Shannon is a heavy favorite. He faces four other candidates. They are ... and Ulmer D. Lynch Jr.
17th Ward. William R. Shannon [D.], 6,369; John R. Porter, 1,090; Gertrude Jones, 853; Ulmer D. Lynch Jr., 678; Oscar H. Hayes, 226.
Ald. William Shannon, 58, a real estate broker who was first elected to the City Council in 1967, is going for a third term. Ulmer Lynch, 48, a former building manager and ex-city employee, is out to stop him.
Reverse play: Now that state Sen. Alice Palmer has flip-flopped and decided to run for her old job after losing to Jesse Jackson Jr. in a congressional race, she has given Barack Obama a perfect rallying cry. Obama is the highly qualified Chicago lawyer Palmer had endorsed for the Senate seat. "Since she endorsed me, I can always use, `Even my opponent wants me' as a campaign slogan," Obama said.
Obama not only refused to step aside, he filed challenges that nullified Palmer's hastily gathered nominating petitions, forcing her to withdraw. . . . "He wondered if we should knock everybody off the ballot. How would that look?" said Ronald Davis, the paid Obama campaign consultant whom Obama referred to as his "guru of petitions." In the end, Davis filed objections to all four of Obama's Democratic rivals at the candidate's behest.
Scoopsville . . . It's a shocker: Watch for state Sen. Alice Palmer to be knocked off the ballot in her re-election bid. Why? Palmer, who just lost a bid to capture former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds' seat to Jesse Jackson Jr., did not have enough valid signatures on her nominating petition. (She needed 757 valid signatures and sources say she is going to be a couple of hundred short.) Unbelievable.
We're also backing Danny Davis in a Congressional race, Barack Obama for state representative, and judicial candidate Patricia Martin.
I first covered Obama a dozen years ago, when he was running for the Illinois state senate as a candidate endorsed by the New Party, the labor-left movement of the mid-1990s that declared "the social, economic, and political progress of the United States requires a democratic revolution in America-the return of power to the people." When we spoke together at New Party events in those days, he was blunt about his desire to move the Democratic Party off the cautious center where Bill Clinton had wedged it.
Palmer's decision to seek reelection split the small army of Hyde Park's independent voters into two camps. While a few IVI/IPO stalwarts, including Ald. Barbara Holt (5th) chose to back Palmer's rushed reelection campaign, many chose instead to support candidate Barack Obama—just as Palmer had urged them to do last September when Obama first announced he was seeking Palmer's job.
Palmer out again. State Sen. Alice J. Palmer (D-Chicago) did another political about-face Wednesday, canceling her on-again, off-again re-election plans. The South Shore Democrat said she was withdrawing to avoid losing a legal challenge to the nominating petitions she filed with the state Board of Elections. In a surprise move, Palmer, 56, announced last month that she would seek re-election, a reversal of an earlier decision to step down after she lost the election for the congressional seat vacated by Mel Reynolds. Her re-entry prompted supporters of rival Democrat Barack Obama, 34, whom Palmer had previously endorsed, to file the objection to her petitions.
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|url=value (help)The 8-member state Legislative Redistricting Commission included former state Rep. Raymond W. Ewell (appointed by Illinois Senate Minority Leader Emil Jones, Jr.). Pearson, Rick (2001-09-06). "Democrats win lottery for remap; Bilandic to break deadlock on state redistricting". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-01-18.Finke, Doug (2001-09-18). "Legislative map unveiled; Districts must be OK'd by panel". The State Journal-Register. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-01-18. The remap was called "the Currie plan" after its author. Ramsey, Mike (2001-09-25). "Democrats' new redistricting plan kinder to Republicans". The State Journal-Register. p. 9. Retrieved 2009-01-18.Pearson, Rick (2001-09-26). "Democrat remap clears panel over GOP protests". Chicago Tribune. p. 1 (Metro). Retrieved 2009-01-23.White, Jesse (2003). "Congressional apportionment and redistricting" (PDF). Illinois Handbook of Government 2003–2004. Springfield: Illinois Secretary of State. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-01-23.