LYNWOOD | Congressional hopeful Donne Trotter said Saturday he does not want to become a distraction from serious issues being discussed during the upcoming election cycle to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.
Yet Trotter, who has represented Chicago’s Far South Side in the Illinois Senate for 20 years, would not say why he would be a distraction. And he specifically said he was not referring to the weapons charges he faces after a pistol and ammunition were found in a carry-on bag while he tried to board a flight at O’Hare International Airport.
“None whatsoever,” Trotter said Saturday when asked if the criminal charges pending against him are the reason for him staying out of the campaign cycle. “They are two separate issues.”
Trotter spoke during a meeting he held at the Lynwood Village Hall with municipal officials from across the south suburbs.
“We have about 60 days until we have an election that ought to be about issues that will confront Congress, and where we will pick the person who will champion our voice on those issues,” Trotter said.
Among those issues, he said, are high foreclosure rates in the south suburbs, along with trying to attract businesses to locate in the area and improving the quality of public education.
He also cited the health care reform measure touted by President Barack Obama that will begin to take effect in coming years.
“Now that the Affordable Health Care Act is becoming a reality, we need to have someone who will look to protect the concerns of the people,” Trotter said.
He also said the partisan political reality was a factor in his decision. He is a leader of the Democratic caucus that holds a veto-proof majority in the Illinois Senate, whereas he’d be a freshman congressman in the minority party in Washington.
“I had to ask myself where I thought I’d be able to get more accomplished for the people,” said Trotter, who last month was re-elected to a four-year term in the state Senate.
Among local officials attending Trotter's announcement were Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush and Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez, along with Village Presidents Norm Abbott, of Lansing, and Eugene Williams, of Lynwood, and acting Village President David Hanks, of Sauk Village.
Trotter said he has no plans to endorse any of the nearly 20 other people who have expressed interest in the Democratic nomination in the Feb. 26 primary.
“The straight answer is ‘no,’ and for all the correct reasons,” Trotter said. He said of the people he would have run against, “some have been good legislators and some have been good entrepreneurs. But we need to figure out what that means to the community.”
Among those disappointed by the decision is Abbott, who in recent weeks had circulated nominating petitions on Trotter’s behalf.
“He was the best qualified of all the candidates by far and he has been helpful (in the Legislature) to Lansing,” Abbott said.
Frank Zuccarelli, the Thornton Township Democratic committeeman who tried unsuccessfully to get party leaders to slate Trotter for the post, said he was disappointed that Trotter would not continue in the campaign, adding, “Absolutely, I think he could have won.”
Even Trotter expressed that belief, saying his campaign took polls two weeks ago that showed him getting more support than anyone else and that he had 71 percent name recognition, with much of that recognition being positive.
Trotter would not be more specific about his poll, saying, “Let the other candidates do their own polls.”