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Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barack Obama
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 13th district
In office
January 9, 1997 – November 4, 2004
Preceded byShatiek P. Sanchez
Succeeded byKwame Raoul
Personal details
Born (1961-08-04) August 4, 1961 (age 58)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Michelle Obama (m. 1992)
ChildrenMalia Ann (b. 1998),
Natasha ("Sasha") (b. 2001)
Residence(Kenwood), Chicago, Illinois
Alma materHarvard Law School
Columbia University
Occidental College
ProfessionAttorney / Politician
WebsiteBarack Obama—U.S. Senator for Illinois

Barack Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, when he was elected to the United States Senate. During this part of his career, Obama continued teaching constitutional law part time at the University of Chicago Law School as he had done as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.[1][2][3]

In 1994, Senator Alice Palmer announced her desire to run for the United States House of Representatives, leaving the Senate's 13th district seat open. When filing opened in 1995 for her seat, Obama entered the race. Eventually, his challengers were disqualified and he won the Democratic primary unopposed in 1996. He won re election in 1998 and 2002. During his Senate tenure, Obama was involved with a wide range of legislation.

While serving, he ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in the 2000 elections. In the redistricting following 2000 Census, the Democrats gained control of the Illinois Senate, and Obama became more active in his legislation, which included work in areas such as health care, labor, law enforcement, campaign finance reform, welfare, and community reinvestment.

State elections

First state Senate election, 1996

On November 21, 1994, Senator Alice Palmer, a Democrat of Chicago's South Shore neighborhood announced she was launching a campaign committee to raise funds to run in 1996 for the 2nd congressional district seat of indicted U.S. Representative Mel Reynolds, and suggested that 29-year-old Jesse Jackson, Jr. run for her 13th district Illinois Senate seat in 1996 instead of running against her for Congress.[4][5]

On June 27, 1995, Palmer announced she was running for Congress and would be giving up her Senate seat instead of running for re-election in 1996.[6] 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 for Palmer's 13th district seat,[7][8] which was then a T-shaped district that spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south through South Shore and from the lakefront west through Chicago Lawn.[9]

On September 11, 1995, 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.[10] On September 19, Obama announced his Illinois Senate candidacy to an audience of 200 supporters at the Ramada Inn Lakeshore in Hyde Park-Kenwood.[11] Palmer introduced and endorsed Obama as her successor to supporters that included 4th Ward Alderwoman Toni Preckwinkle of Hyde Park, newly elected 5th Ward Alderwoman Barbara Holt of Hyde Park, and state Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) of Hyde Park.[11]

On November 7, 1995, Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, died of metastatic uterine cancer at the age of 52 in Honolulu.[12] Obama arrived in Hawaii the following day, remained for his mother's memorial service and returned to Chicago soon after.[12] On November 28, after finishing a distant third in the special congressional primary election won by Jesse Jackson, Jr., a disappointed Palmer announced she wouldn't seek re-election and was undecided about again challenging Jackson in the March 1996 primary.[13][14]

On December 11, 1995—the first filing day for nominating petitions—Obama filed his nominating petitions with more than 3,000 signatures; perennially unsuccessful candidate Ulmer Lynch, Jr., also filed nominating petitions.[15] On December 18—the last filing day for nominating petitions—Palmer held a press conference to announce she was running for re-election to the Senate, accepting a draft by more than 100 supporters.[16] Palmer then drove to Springfield to file her nominating petitions; also filing nominating petitions on the last filing day were first-time candidates Gha-is Askia and Marc Ewell.[16] On December 26, Obama campaign volunteer Ron Davis filed objections to the legitimacy of the nominating petitions of Senator Palmer, Askia, Ewell and Lynch.[17][18]

On January 17, 1996, Palmer announced she was withdrawing her bid for re-election because she was around 200 signatures short of the 757 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.[18][19] The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners had previously sustained an objection to the nominating petitions of Lynch because of insufficient valid signatures and subsequently also sustained objections to the nominating petitions of Askia and Ewell because of insufficient valid signatures.[18][19]

Obama therefore won the Democratic nomination unopposed.[20] On November 5, Obama won the race for the 13th Senate district, with 82 percent of the vote; perennially unsuccessful Harold Washington Party candidate David Whitehead (13%) and first-time Republican Party candidate Rosette Caldwell Peyton (5%) also ran.[21]

Second state Senate election, 1998

Obama was up for reelection in 1998; Illinois state senators serve one two-year term and two four-year terms each decade. In the March 17 primary, Obama won re-nomination unopposed, and first-time candidate Yesse Yehudah won the Republican nomination unopposed.[22] At the November 3 general election, Obama was re-elected to a four-year term as state senator for the 13th district with 89% of the vote; Yehudah received 11% of the vote.[23]

Third state Senate election, 2002

Obama won both the March 19 Democratic primary election and November 5, 2002 general election for the newly configured 13th district unopposed. [24][25]

Early Senate career

On January 8, 1997, Obama was sworn in as senator.[26] Early in his first term, the just-retired U.S. Senator Paul Simon contacted longtime Obama mentor, judge and former congressman Abner Mikva suggesting that Mikva recommend Obama to Emil Jones, Jr., the powerful Democratic leader of the state Senate. "Say, our friend Barack Obama has a chance to push this campaign finance bill through," Simon said in a telephone conversation, as recounted by Mikva in a 2008 interview, "Why don’t you call your friend Emil Jones and tell him how good he is." With Jones' support, Obama helped shepherd through a sweeping law that banned most gifts from lobbyists and personal use of campaign funds by state legislators.[27]

During his first years as a state senator, Obama was a co-sponsor of a bill that re-structured the Illinois welfare program into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. He also helped get various pieces of legislation that established a $100 million Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, increased child care subsidies for low-income families, and required advance notice before mass layoffs and plant closings passed.[28]

Campaign for Bobby Rush's congressional seat

In September 1999, Obama and fellow Senator Donne Trotter (neither faced re election that year) both announced their candidacies for the March 2000 Democratic primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives seat, held by four term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush.

Rush had been badly defeated in the February 1999 Chicago mayoral election by Richard M. Daley — who won 45% of the African-American vote and even won Rush's own ward — and was thought to be vulnerable.[29] The support of some veteran Democratic fundraisers who saw Obama as a rising star, along with support of African-American entrepreneurs, helped him keep pace with Rush's fundraising in the district's most expensive race ever.[30]

During the campaign, Rush charged that Obama was not sufficiently rooted in Chicago's black neighborhoods to represent constituents' concerns, and also benefitted from an outpouring of sympathy when his son was shot to death shortly before the election.[29] Obama said Rush was a part of "a politics that is rooted in the past" and said he himself could build bridges with whites to get things done.

But while Obama did well in his own Hyde Park base, he didn't get enough support from the surrounding black neighborhoods.[27] Starting with just 10 percent name recognition, Obama went on to get only 31 percent of the votes, losing by a more than 2-to-1 margin despite winning among white voters.[31][32][33][34]

Later Senate career

After losing the primary for U.S. Congress to Bobby Rush, Obama worked to repair relations with black politicians and clergy members, telling them he bore no grudges against the victor. He also became more responsive to requests for state funding, getting money for churches and community groups in his district. Senator Trotter, then the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in 2008 that he knew Obama was responding more to funding requests "because the community groups in his district stopped coming to me".[27]

In September 2001, Democrats won a lottery to redraw legislative districts that had been drawn ten years earlier by Republicans and had helped ensure ten uninterrupted years of Republican control of the Illinois Senate.[35] At the November 2002 election, the Democratic remap helped them win control of the Illinois Senate and expand their majority in the Illinois House to work with the first Democratic Illinois governor in 26 years.[36][37]

In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, after six years on the committee and four years as its minority spokesman. The new Democratic majority allowed Obama to write and help pass more legislation than in previous years. He sponsored successful efforts to expand children's health care, create a plan to provide equal health care access for all Illinois residents, and create a "Hospital Report Card" system, and worker's rights laws that protected whistleblowers, domestic violence victims, equal pay for women, and overtime pay.[28]

His most public accomplishment was a bill requiring police to videotape interrogations and confessions in potential death penalty cases. Obama was willing to listen to Republicans and police organizations and negotiate compromises to get the law passed.[38] That helped him develop a reputation as a pragmatist able to work with various sides of an issue.[27] Obama also led the passage of a law to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they stopped.[39][40]

In February 2002, Obama introduced SB 1789, which would have adopted instant-runoff voting (IRV) for congressional and state primary elections in Illinois and authorized IRV for local elections, although it did not ultimately pass.[41] He resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate.[42]


  1. ^ "Statement regarding Barack Obama". University of Chicago Law School. March 27, 2008. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  2. ^ Sweet, Lynn (March 30, 2008). "No 'Professor' Obama at U. of C." Chicago Sun-Times. p. 11. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  3. ^ Pallasch, Abdon M (February 12, 2007). "Professor Obama was a listener, students say". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 5. Archived from the original on November 2, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  4. ^ Kuczka, Susan (November 22, 1994). "State Sen. Palmer ponders a bid for Reynolds' 2nd District post". Chicago Tribune. p. 2. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  5. ^ Neal, Steve (November 25, 1994). "Palmer beats Jackson Jr. to punch". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 49. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  6. ^ Hardy, Thomas (June 28, 1995). "Palmer seeks to replace Reynolds; 'Pray for him, vote for me,' legislator says". Chicago Tribune. p. 3. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Knapp, Kevin (July 5, 1995). "Alice Palmer to run for Reynolds' seat". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  8. ^ Hevrdejs, Judy; Conklin, Mike (July 7, 1995). "Hevrdejs & Conklin INC. Something different, Democrats don't add a Senate candidate". Chicago Tribune. p. 20. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  9. ^ White, Jesse (2001). "Legislative Districts of Cook County, 1991 Reapportionment". Illinois Blue Book 2001–2002. Springfield: Illinois Secretary of State. p. 65. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 11, 2007. Retrieved January 23, 2009. State Senate district 13 = legislative districts 25 and 26.
  10. ^ Pearson, Rick; Locin, Mitchell (September 12, 1995). "Voting set on successor to Reynolds; November 28 primary OKd; filing to begin October 2". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (September 13, 1995). "Politicians scramble in wake of Reynolds resignation". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Strausberg, Chinta (September 19, 1995). "Harvard lawyer eyes Palmer seat". Chicago Defender. p. 3.
    Mitchell, Monica (October 4, 1995). "Hyde Parker announces run for state senate seat". Hyde Park Herald. p. 3. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (October 25, 1995). "Local senate race heats up". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Maraniss, David (August 22, 2008). "Though Obama had to leave it to find himself, it is Hawaii that made his rise possible". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2009. (online)
  13. ^ Hardy, Thomas; Rubin, Bonnie Miller (November 29, 1995). "Jesse Jackson Jr. rolls over veteran opponents". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  14. ^ De Zutter, Hank (December 8, 1995). "What makes Obama run?". Chicago Reader. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  15. ^ Strausberg, Chinta (December 5, 1995). "Draft Palmer campaign launched". Chicago Defender. p. 4.
    Knapp, Kevin (December 13, 1995). "Palmer may re-enter state Senate race". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (December 13, 1995). "List of next year's candidates is sparse". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  16. ^ a b Hardy, Thomas (December 19, 1995). "Jackson foe now wants old job back; Palmer must now battle own endorsee". Chicago Tribune. p. 3 (Metro). Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Strausberg, Chinta (December 19, 1995). "Palmer OKs draft to run for re-election". Chicago Defender. p. 3.
    . (December 19, 1995). "State Senator Alice J. Palmer announces run for re-election" (PDF). South Street Journal. p. 9. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (December 20, 1995). "Palmer caught in campaign draft". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (December 20, 1995). "Candidates file petitions for local political offices". Hyde Park Herald. p. 2. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Hevrdejs, Judy; Conklin, Mike (December 25, 1995). "Hevrdejs & Conklin INC. Early Christmas for Bill Melton: the gift of life". Chicago Tribune. p. 2. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  17. ^ Morales, Carlos (December 24, 1995). "Candidates prepare to wage battles over nominating petitions". Chicago Tribune. p. 2 (Metro). Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (January 3, 1996). "Candidates face petition challenges". Hyde Park Herald. p. 3. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (January 10, 1996). "Petition challenges shape political ballot". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (January 17, 1996). "Primary ballot gets face-lift from board". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  18. ^ a b c Knapp, Kevin (February 21, 1996). "Ex-candidates sue election board". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (February 28, 1996). "Court rules candidate off ballot". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Castillo, Ruben (U.S. District Judge) (March 4, 1996). "Marc Ewell, Plaintiff, v. Board of Election Commissioners, Michael J. Hamblet, Chairman, Defendants. v. Barack Obama and Ronald Davis, Intervening Defendants. No. 96 C 823". U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ a b Ryan, Nancy; Hardy, Thomas (January 18, 1996). "Sen. Palmer ends bid for re-election". Chicago Tribune. p. 6 (Metro). Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Strausberg, Chinta (January 18, 1996). "Palmer throws in the towel; Lack of signatures forcing State Senator not to seek re-election". Chicago Defender. p. 3.
    Knapp, Kevin (January 24, 1996). "Final primary ballot takes shape". Hyde Park Herald. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  20. ^ Chicago Democracy Project (2005). "Election Results for 1996 Primary Election, Illinois Senate, District 13 (Democratic Party)". Chicago Democracy Project. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  21. ^ . (September 25, 1996). "Two candidates to challenge Obama for state senate seat". Hyde Park Herald. p. 2. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (October 23, 1996). "Two 'stealth candidates' on ballot in state senate race". Hyde Park Herald. p. 3. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
    Knapp, Kevin (November 13, 1996). "Election holds no surprises for local candidates". Hyde Park Herald. p. 2. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
    Chicago Democracy Project (2005). "Election Results for 1996 General Election, Illinois Senate, District 13". Chicago Democracy Project. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  22. ^ Illinois State Board of Elections (1998). "Ballots Cast - General Primary - 3/17/1998". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  23. ^ Illinois State Board of Elections (1998). "Ballots Cast - General Election - 11/3/1998". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  24. ^ Illinois State Board of Elections (2002). "Ballots Cast - General Primary - 3/19/2002". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  25. ^ Illinois State Board of Elections (2002). "Ballots Cast - General Election - 11/5/2002". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  26. ^ Finke, Doug; Bush, Bill (January 9, 1997). "Power sharing begins; Madigan urges school reform as Democrats take over House". The State Journal-Register. p. 1. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  27. ^ a b c d Becker, Jo; Drew, Christopher (May 11, 2008). "Pragmatic politics, forged on the South Side". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
  28. ^ a b . (January 14, 2008). "Highlights of Obama's strong record of accomplishment in the U.S. and Illinois Senate". Know the Facts. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
  29. ^ a b Kleine, Ted (March 17, 2000). "Is Bobby Rush in trouble?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  30. ^ Osnos, Evan (February 20, 2000). "Rush could face his toughest test; 2 key state senators among primary foes". Chicago Tribune. p. 1 (Metro). Retrieved November 2, 2008.
  31. ^ Federal Election Commission, 2000 U.S. House of Representatives Results
  32. ^ Gonyea, Don (September 19, 2007). "Obama's loss may have aided White House bid". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  33. ^ Scott, Janny (September 9, 2007). "A streetwise veteran schooled young Obama". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved April 20, 2008.
  34. ^ McClelland, Edward (February 12, 2007). "How Obama learned to be a natural". Salon. Retrieved April 20, 2008.
  35. ^ Pearson, Rick (September 6, 2001). "Democrats win lottery for remap; Bilandic to break deadlock on state redistricting". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  36. ^ Finke, Doug (October 21, 2002). "Democrats try to sweep state elections; Legislative control comes down to just a few contests". The State Journal-Register. p. 1. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  37. ^ Finke, Doug (November 6, 2002). "Democrats take charge of General Assembly". The State Journal-Register. p. 5. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  38. ^ Peters, Charles (January 4, 2008). "Judge him by his laws". The Washington Post. p. A21. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
  39. ^ Scott, Janny (July 30, 2007). "In Illinois, Obama proved pragmatic and shrewd". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  40. ^ Pearson, Rick; Long, Ray; Ray Long (May 3, 2007). "Careful steps, looking ahead". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2008.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ Record of Illinois 92nd General Assembly Bills
  42. ^ . (August 24, 2000). "13th District: Barack Obama". Illinois State Senate Democrats. Archived from the original (archive) on August 24, 2000. Retrieved January 14, 2008.

External links

Illinois Senate
Preceded by
Alice J. Palmer
Illinois Senator from 13th district
January 8, 1997 – November 4, 2004
Succeeded by
Kwame Raoul
This page was last edited on 7 December 2019, at 22:28
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