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Reply #11: His choice divided veteran Chicago political activists. [View All]

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indimuse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 05:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. His choice divided veteran Chicago political activists.
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 05:36 PM by indimuse
Mr. Obama was a 38-year-old state senator and University of Chicago lecturer, unknown in much of Mr. Rush's Congressional district. He lived in its most rarefied

neighborhood, Hyde Park. He was taking on a local legend, a former alderman and four-term incumbent who had given voters no obvious reason to displace him.

Mr. Rush's name recognition started off at 90 percent, Mr. Obama's at 11. Then Mr. Rush's son was murdered, leading Mr. Obama to put his campaign on hold. Later,

while vacationing in Hawaii with his family, he missed a high-profile vote in the Legislature and was pilloried. (One Chicago Tribune editorial began, "What a bunch of

gutless sheep.") Then President Clinton endorsed Mr. Rush.

"Campaigns are always, 'What's the narrative of the race?' " said Eric Adelstein, a media consultant in Chicago who worked on the Rush campaign. "In a sense, it was

'the Black Panther against the professor.' That's not a knock on Obama; but to run from Hyde Park, this little bastion of academia, this white community in the black

South Side -- it just seemed odd that he would make that choice as a kind of stepping out."

The episode revealed a lot about Senator Obama -- now running for president, against the odds again and with a relatively slim rsum. It showed his impatience with

the frustrations of his state Senate job; his outsize confidence; his fund-raising powers; his broad appeal; and his willingness to be what Abner J. Mikva, a former

congressman and supporter, calls "a very apt student of his own mistakes."

<snip>
There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot.
Palmer served the district in the Illinois Senate for much of the 1990s. Decades earlier, she was working as a community organizer in the area when Obama was growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia. She risked her safe seat to run for Congress and touted Obama as a suitable successor, according to news accounts and interviews.

But when Palmer got clobbered in that November 1995 special congressional race, her supporters asked Obama to fold his campaign so she could easily retain her state Senate seat.

Obama not only refused to step aside, he filed challenges that nullified Palmer's hastily gathered nominating petitions, forcing her to withdraw.

"I liked Alice Palmer a lot. I thought she was a good public servant," Obama said. "It was very awkward. That part of it I wish had played out entirely differently."

His choice divided veteran Chicago political activists.

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