US Senate Race for Illinois - 2004

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Republican Candidates
Alan Keyes
Jack Ryan
John Borling
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria
Andy McKenna
Jim Oberweis
Steven Rauschenberger
Jonathan Wright
Antonio Davis-Fairman
John Cox
Patrick O'Malley
Jim Durkin

Democratic Candidates
Barack Obama
Gery Chico
Blair Hull
Estella Johnson-Hunt
Dan Hynes
Maria Pappas
Nancy Skinner
Joyce Washington
Frank Avila
Matt O'Shea
John Simmons

Color Codes:
Black - Potential Candidate
Green - Active Candidate
Red - Lost
Orange - Candidate has dropped out or is not running


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It is fundraising time in Chicago and while Blair Hull and Gery Chico's campaigns are in southern Illinois, Obama takes the opportunity to hold a fundraiser on Chicago’s north-side. Yak-Zies, the bar and grill where the fundraiser was held, was packed with Obama supporters and with those who are still trying to sort out a crowded field of candidates for the upcoming primary in March. With over eight candidates, up to ten by some counts, much of the messages and platforms will overlap. Obama is endeavoring to set himself apart by talking about his motives, experience, and political philosophy.

For the most part it seems to be working. He is currently ranked 2nd among all respondents to a poll and 1st among those respondents who have researched the candidates. At the Yak-Zies fundraiser we received a glimpse of the kind of support Obama is getting. His supporters were largely white Democrats in their late 20’s to mid 40’s and many of them were lawyers and other professionals.

Obama has gained much respect among this community, because of his intelligence and experience. He is a professor of constitutional law at the University or Chicago and is the only Democratic candidate with legislative experience. From his students to other lawyers, people just can’t seem to stop talking about how smart Obama is, “he is the most intelligent man I’ve ever known,” said Laura, a student at the University of Chicago law school.

His liberal stance and hard line on the Bush White House and its policies have also gained him much support in the liberal community. In his speech, he highlighted the civil rights which were eroded by the Patriot Act and commented, “if an Arab boy is picked up on the west side and held with out a charge or a lawyer, it isn’t just his problem; we are all in this together, and a violation of his right is a violation of all of our rights.” He went on to talk about education saying, “if there is a little Hispanic boy on the south side who has been left behind by the No Child Left Behind program and can’t read, it doesn’t just affect him it affects all of us. We are all in this together. Now the administration in the White House has a very different view of things. They think that we are all in this alone.” It is this message and rhetoric which has propelled Obama close to the front of this race” As one supporter said, “He is very liberal and he is not afraid to say it or talk about it!”


Obama is also gaining support and endorsements from his colleges in the general assembly. Rep. Ken Dunkin is among the most vocal, saying of Obama, “I support Barack because: Barack represents a lot of what all of us [democrats in Chicago] stand for. Secondly, he is willing to of the political box. He doesn’t need the whole party to be behind him so he can vote for the right thing. And third he’s just a down to earth humble brother, who can get the job done.”

Both Rep. Dunkin and State Senator Obama agree that this U.S. Senate seat is the most important race in the country. “It is an open seat and is the Democrats’ best chance to get some new people in to balance out the White house,” said Obama. This race in Illinois can dramatically change the whole makeup of the Senate, which currently has no black or Hispanic members. The question remains, can Obama pull out ahead of this crowded field in the primary? Ken Dunkin answers, “Hell yeah!”

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Polling Overview
Obama on Tap
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Copyright © 2003 Jeremiah Calvino ALL RIGHTS RESERVED