"We must conduct a thorough investigation that establishes how inaccurate information was able to make its way into the President's State of the Union Address."
The Southern Illinoisan
Blair opens U.S. Senate campaign
CARBONDALE -- The first official candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Peter Fitzgerald kicked off his campaign in Carbondale Wednesday.
Blair Hull, 60, is a lifelong Democrat, a self-made millionaire who says he wants to use his experience building his own business to help give others the chance to succeed and "live the American dream."
"My parents grew up during the Depression and were hard-working, New Deal Democrats. Like many Americans I lived much of my life just trying to make ends meet," Hull told about 50 supporters at Turley Park Wednesday morning. "My mother taught me compassion, tolerance and acceptance. My father taught me that I could achieve anything I wanted, if I worked hard enough."
Hull is one of seven Democrats running in the March 2004 primary for a chance to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Fitzgerald, who decided not to run for a second term. Hull is the first candidate to officially announce he's running. He also opened his first regional office Wednesday, at 100 N. Glenview Drive in Carbondale.
Hull said after his speech that revitalizing the coal industry is the key to getting the economy in Southern Illinois moving again.
"I have been very concerned that we have more energy in Illinois under the ground in coal," he said. "What we have to do is have technology that will allow us to use it. One of the roles of government is to help in the development of technology and I think we need to make sure we're doing the research to produce clean coal in Illinois."
Hull was raised in California, although his father was a native of Chicago and his mother grew up in Rushville, Ind., southeast of Indianapolis. Hull earned a degree in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1965 and a master's of business administration from Santa Clara University in 1969. In between, he served four years with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He also worked as a high-school math and physics teacher.
In 1980 Hull moved to Chicago and founded the Hull Trading Co., which made electronic equipment used for electronic trading in the Chicago financial exchange. He sold the business four years ago for $500 million.
Hull says the financial independence he achieved with his business will allow him to run without accepting campaign donations from special interests and political action committees. He has placed a $100 limit on donations to his campaign fund.
"There are two things that bother me about Washington," Hull said. "The first is when politicians make decisions for political reasons rather than for the right reasons that will move us forward. The second is that corporate special interests have way too much influence in the decision-making process."
Former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon was at Hull's campaign kickoff Wednesday. He said that although it's too early in the campaign for him to endorse Hull, he likes what he sees.
"I've had a chance over the last couple of years to get acquainted with Blair Hull," Simon said. "He has a commitment (to this campaign), that's evident. He has other qualities that I think are important, one of which is the need to show courage in government, to face our problems."
Ray Lenzi, director of the Office of Economic Development at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, introduced Hull to the crowd. He later said he likes what he sees so far.
"I think it's a breath of fresh air to have a non-professional politician candidate for the U.S. Senate who is, on one hand a very successful, self-made millionaire businessman, and on the other hand shares the progressive values of the Democratic Party," Lenzi said. "When you find it, that's the ideal combination (of qualities)."
by Ken Seeber